Starting this week, Red Hat's open-source, community-supported Fedora Linux project is becoming even more open, with the release of its Fedora 7 Linux operating system.
The biggest change is that Fedora 7, which drops the old Fedora Core title, has a more open development chain, providing community members with wider involvement in Fedora's step-by-step development. Previously, only Red Hat developers could make key changes in the Fedora code to maintain the project, but now community members will be given more latitude to help maintain the code.
"Red Hat still has protocols to follow, but trusted community members can now help to maintain the Fedora packages," said Greg DeKoenigsberg, community development manager at Red Hat.
By allowing members to be directly involved earlier in the development process, Red Hat is recognizing that some of the best quality improvements that make their way into Fedora come from the community outside the company's developers.
"It's a fundamental shift in the way we build Fedora, which will lead to a better Red Hat Enterprise Linux [the company's key enterprise Linux products] over time," DeKoenigsberg said.
Highlighting the change is the immediate merger of what formerly had been two distinct development paths for Fedora -- the former "core" operating system, which had been maintained by Red Hat developers, and a separate community-supported "extras" path, where community members were free to use their imaginations to invent whatever features and add-ons they wanted to try out with Fedora.
Community members were previously able to make direct changes to source code packages only in the extras environment.
By bringing both paths together, Red Hat is helping to set the course for Fedora's future, DeKoenigsberg said. "Fedora 7 is essentially the finish line" in the timeline of the product's development process.
Also new in Fedora 7 is the inclusion of a wide range of feature-rich tools that previously were available only to Red Hat engineers. These tools allow users to create customized versions of the operating system.
With the tools, a user could make a customized Fedora operating system that could be run off a USB thumb drive, a live CD or DVD that doesn't require operating system installation on a hard disk drive. The idea, DeKoenigsberg said, is to give users the maximum flexibility to do what they want with Fedora, even to the point of having multiple, customized versions of the operating system that include different features and desktops for different machines.