Fedora 13 update revamps virtualisation

The free Red Hat-sponsored Linux distribution now comes with a month-old kernel and with features to bump up virtualisation performance
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Project developers on Tuesday released Fedora 13, updating the free Red Hat-sponsored Linux distribution with a recent kernel and improvements in areas such as virtualisation.

Fedora is released roughly every six months and is intended to include cutting-edge technology that may later find its way into enterprise-oriented distributions such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

Red Hat said the new release integrates technologies from a wide range of open-source projects. "The Fedora Project reciprocates by contributing everything built in Fedora back to the open-source community," said Paul Frields, Fedora project leader at Red Hat, in a statement.

Fedora 13 — available from the Fedora website — is code-named Goddard, after the rocket scientist Robert H Goddard, and is being promoted with the slogan 'Rock it'.

On the virtualisation front, Fedora 13 supports stable PCI addresses for virtual hardware components such as graphics cards, storage adaptors or network interfaces. The feature improves the possibilities for large-scale automation of virtualisation, the Fedora project said.

A feature called Virt x2apic improves performance, particularly in guest systems with multiple CPUs, it added, while Virtio-serial simplifies communications between guest systems and their hosts.

The software's kernel includes vhost-net, designed to reduce latency significantly when guest systems transfer data to other machines via the virtual Virtio network hardware. Like RHEL, Fedora uses the KVM virtualisation technology.

Fedora 13 uses a kernel based on Linux version, which was released in April.

Fedora is offering various customised versions of the operating system, including a version for netbooks that includes the Moblin desktop. Version 13 does not, however, include a PowerPC version, as did previous releases. It is only available for x86 systems with 32-bit and 64-bit processors, Fedora said.

The project said the user interface for the Anaconda installer has been changed to simplify handling of storage devices and partitioning. Driver installation for printers is more automated, and new software for instant or scheduled data backups, photo management and scanning has been added.

The new software offers the ability to 3D-enable various Nvidia graphics cards, as well as new DisplayPort connectors for ATI and Nvidia cards.

For developers, Fedora 13 provides more complete information when debugging with GNU Project debugger, a feature intended to simplify application development. It also includes a utility called SystemTap, which gathers information about a running Linux system, with support for static probes.

The open-source B-tree file system (Btrfs) has been updated with support for filesystem snapshots, allowing administrators to experiment with software updates and revert to previous system states as needed.

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