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Long-delayed Fedora Linux 18 arrives at last

'Spherical Cow' brings updates for desktop, cloud, and more

The latest version of the popular Fedora Linux distribution has finally been released, just one week later than the already-delayed ship date that was announced in November.

Fedora 18, codenamed "Spherical Cow" by its developers, was originally due to arrive on November 6, but a number of thorny problems caused the final release to slip into 2013. The code has spent the last seven weeks in beta as developers worked to shore up outstanding bugs.

Among the showstoppers was compatibility with UEFI Secure Boot, the new firmware technology that requires operating systems to be digitally signed before they can boot on newer hardware, which initially made it impossible to dual-boot between Linux and Windows 8. Fedora developers say they've got that problem licked in their latest release, although some users have reported lingering issues.

Another cause for delay was the radically revamped user interface for Anaconda, the distro's installation program. The Fedora Project says the bugs in that code have now been sewn up, too, and that the new installer is faster, safer, and more modular than the previous one.

Other than those major hurdles, Fedora 18 has been updated throughout to include the latest versions of many of its major software packages.

Cloud computing fans, in particular, will be buzzing about Fedora 18, because it bumps its bundled OpenStack components to the "Folsom" release, a significant update that makes building infrastructure clouds much easier and accessible to more users. It also includes the Eucalyptus cloud stack for the first time.

Other updates have their pluses and minuses. In the plus column, Fedora 18 now ships with Samba 4, the latest version of the open source Windows networking stack, which means Fedora machines now have full compatibility with Active Directory.

On the minus side, the default desktop for Fedora 18 is GNOME 3.6, the latest version of a release that has drawn widespread criticism and that no less than Linus Torvalds himself has described as an "unholy mess." But even this bummer has a silver lining, as Fedora also now also includes the alternative MATE and Cinnamon desktops for those who just can't abide GNOME 3.

A full list of the changes and updates in Fedora 18 can be found on the project's formal community release announcement. Users who prefer to just charge right in, on the other hand, can proceed directly to the download page.

Or they might prefer to just wait a while. The Fedora Project aims to release a new version of its distro every six months, and the delayed Fedora 18 release hasn't affected the ship dates of future versions. As it stands, Fedora 19 is scheduled to arrive just four months from now, in late May 2013. ®

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