Red Hat rolls out Fedora 14

The latest release of Red Hat's desktop-oriented distribution includes a raft of new virtualisation and developer features

Red Hat has released Fedora 14, the latest version of the company's Linux distribution aimed at developers and desktop users.

Fedora project leader Jared Smith announced the release in a post on Tuesday to Red Hat's announcements mailing list.

"I'm very proud of the work that has been put into Fedora 14," Smith said in a statement. "A myriad of contributors have helped to make free and open source software more pervasive with this release."

Fedora is designed to include cutting-edge technologies that will eventually find their way into the business-centric Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution. In that respect the distribution is similar to Sun's OpenSolaris, the development of which was terminated following Sun's acquisition by Oracle.

Fedora 14, code-named 'Laughlin' after Nobel Laureate and physicist Robert Laughlin, includes new desktop virtualisation technology, updated programming tools and tools for system administrators. The administrator tools include new software for migrating virtual machines based on the Xen hypervisor to the kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) technology favoured by Red Hat, Smith said.

The distribution nearly halves the amount of time it takes to load and save JPEG images, thanks to a feature called libjpeg-turbo, he said.

Fedora 14 also adds basic support for Spice (Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments). The technology is designed to enhance the remote desktop experience, with features such as accelerated 2D graphics and encryption.

New debugging features for developers include improved memory usage tracking and faster launch, according to Red Hat. The release includes an updated technology preview of the Gnome shell environment, part of the upcoming 3.0 release of the Gnome desktop software. A shell is an interface providing access to the operating system's kernel services.

Other developer features include support for D, an emerging programming language, as well as updates to popular languages such as Python 2.7, Erlang R14, and the Rakudo Star implementation of Perl 6.

In addition, Fedora 14 includes a subset of the MeeGo software, which is aimed at providing an improved experience on netbooks and small devices.

The OS update is based on Linux Kernel 2.6.35, which introduces graphics stack improvements and the ability to spread incoming network loads across CPUs. Red Hat said it has also redesigned its community-supported website,

Smith said work has already begun on Fedora 15. "Our next release, Fedora 15, is already being developed... and has been open for active development for several months already," Smith wrote. "We have an early schedule for an end of April 2011 release."

Fedora receives a milestone release roughly every six months, with the last — Fedora 13 — having arrived in May. Key improvements in that version included kernel updates and improved virtualisation tools that support stable PCI addresses for virtual hardware components such as graphics cards, storage adapters and network interfaces.