Fedora 7 tips its cap to the community

Fedora 7 allows users to create custom-built Linux distributions

Fedora 7 was released last week with the ability for users to create custom-built Linux distributions based on the open source version of Red Hat's commercial Linux operating system.

The latest Fedora release merges the previous two development tracks for Fedora: Fedora Core, which developed Fedora packages and code internally by Red Hat programmers; and Fedora Extra, where code was built in the wild by the community.

With Fedora 7, both versions are being collapsed into one, with all development changes being opened to the community. "The new single Fedora repository is accessible to Red Hat employees and community members alike, giving the community more influence over Fedora than ever before," Red Hat says. Along with the new development model, Fedora 7 also includes new capabilities for quickly creating special-purpose, or appliance-based Linux distributions.

Fedora 7's public distribution building system allows users to create their custom machines entirely online. Externally-hosted source code management, RPM building and compiling are all hosted on external, community-accessible servers. A GUI-based tool called Reservoir can be used to pick and choose packages, features and other components of a Linux distribution. Kickstart files can also be used to automate system creation, instead of the GUI-based tool, Red Hat says. The Fedora 7 systems users build can be downloaded onto CD, DVD or USB storage, and configured to run as bootable images, without the need for installing the systems on a computer's disk.

Besides the revamped development strategy and appliance-building environment, Fedora 7 is also packed with new features and improvements, developers say. Among the upgrades are the inclusion of Kernel-based Virtual Machine technology, along with Xen virtualisation support. Hardware support improvements for FireWire and plug-and-play display devices are part of the package. An enhanced administration tool for configuring Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) is also in the mix, Fedora developers say.

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Phil Hochmuth

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