It is time yet again where the next Fedora Core installment (this time, Core 6) begins to grab the attention of red-hat-wearing penguins and other GNU/Linux enthusiasts. Yesterday was the inaugural test release of Fedora Core 6, which is targeted at die-hard Fedorians, and any other users wishing to get a glimpse at what Fedora Core 6 will hold in store. Of course, Fedora Core 6 Test 1 is not a stable release for use with production machines, so proceed at your own risk. We have been experimenting with Fedora Core 6 Test 1 for about 24 hours now, and have a few thoughts to share. Fedora Core 4 Stentz shaped up to be a competitive release, and Fedora Core 5 Bordeaux continues to be one of the best Linux distributions to date, so how will Fedora Core 6 fare in this competitive open-source world?
Before moving onto raving or ranting about the Fedora Core 6 Test 1 release, it is important to point out that this article is not intended to be a traditional review of Fedora Core 6 so to speak, but rather an outlook at what FC6 will hold in store for Linux desktop users. It is also not possible to cover everything at this time, since this is simply the first test release, while many more features will be added down the road. This article is based upon the Phoronix experience after using Fedora Core 6 Test 1 for approximately 24 hours. Even with a day of tampering, we have not had enough time to cover all of the angles of Fedora Core 6; however, we will certainly have additional information to come along soon. Prior to jumping to the distribution release itself, the present Fedora roadmap places the final Core 6 release on September 27, 2006. Fedora Core 6 Test 1 was released yesterday morning (June 21, 2006) at 10:00AM EDT; the official development freeze for FC6T1 started on June 14. Fedora Core 6 Test 2 is scheduled for July 19, followed by Fedora Core 6 Test 3 on August 23. As always, it is important to keep in mind that these dates are very fluid, and may change at the last minute; similar to what had occurred with the Fedora Core 5 cycle. In fact, last night David Nielsen had already proposed on his blog that FC6T3 be pushed back to September 6, similar to the release candidate build with Ubuntu, and is the release date for GNOME v2.16.0.
For this article, we had used multiple systems for testing of Fedora Core 6. One system was based upon a Tyan Tomcat i7230A S5160 (E7230 + ICH7R), Intel Pentium 4 530, 2 x 512MB DDR2-667, MSI 16x DVD-ROM, Hitachi 80GB SATA, and an ATI Radeon X1300PRO 256MB. The other primary system for testing was the Tyan Tempest i5000XL, Intel Xeon 5080 3.73GHz CPU, 4 x 512MB FB-DIMM DDR2, Seagate 200GB SATA NCQ drive, and a NVIDIA GeForce 7800GTX. We had also already tried Fedora Core 6 Test 1 on other types of hardware, and so far, we have not run into anything extraordinary in the way of out of the compatibility problems. Both NVIDIA and ATI currently lack proprietary Linux display drivers supporting X.Org v7.1, due to ABI changes, however, for those users needing these drivers, they should be available in the coming months. One of the hardware features for this new release is support for the Intel-based Macintosh platform. However, at the time of writing we have yet to personally try out FC6T1 on any of these Intel-based Macintosh computers.
Starting with the Anaconda installer for Fedora Core 6, there are barely any visual changes between this and Fedora Core 5. If you will recall from our interview with Greg DeKoenigsberg prior to the FC5 launch, the new graphical installer boasted a completely redesigned interface, as well as underlying improvements when it comes to the introduction of yum as a dependency resolver. With Core 6 Test 1, not many visible Anaconda changes have been implemented. However, one of the notable features is IPV6 support in the installer. Anaconda had locked up a few times when attempting to detect previously installed Fedora installations, or even when clicking the next button. With the i386 DVD we had also run into a problem with the repodata being for the FC6 i386 CDs, thus during the installation process we were asked for the CDs even though all of the packages could be found on the DVD. One of the features that will hopefully make its way into Fedora Core 6 is the ability to add the Fedora Extras, or other custom RPM repositories, to Anaconda and have the ability to retrieve additional packages from these places at install-time.
Some of the package updates in Fedora Core 6 Test 1 include GNOME v2.15.3, KDE v3.5.3, Linux kernel 2.6.16-1.2289_FC6, and X.Org v7.1. Other packages included ALSA v1.0.11, CUPS v1.2.1, Firefox v184.108.40.206, and GCC v4.1.1.