There's never a dull moment in the land of Linux, and recent weeks have been no exception. Since no outlet can hope to give full coverage to every development that occurs, here's a roundup of some of the key events.
1. Fedora 14 Beta: Desktop Virtualization and MeeGo
The next release of the Fedora Linux distribution won't be out until early November, but yesterday saw the debut of the first beta version of Fedora 14, which is also known as "Laughlin." Perhaps most notable among the Red Hat-sponsored release's new features is desktop virtualization courtesy of "Spice," or Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments.
With considerable potential benefits for businesses, the Spice framework allows end users to enjoy features such as accelerated 2D graphics, encryption and audio playing and recording, all while working in a virtualized environment.
MeeGo 1.0 is also included in the new release (targeting tablets, perhaps?) as is a feature that nearly halves the time it takes to load and save JPEG images on most modern machines, the project's developers say. A raft of other features, meanwhile, will benefit systems administrators in particular, including heightened support for the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI), the D systems programming language, Python 2.7, new memory debugging tools, and "Rakudo Star,'' the most actively developed implementation of Perl 6.
As with any beta version, Fedora 14 is not recommended for production environments. It can be downloaded from the Fedora site.
2. Mandriva Returns as 'Mageia'
In a move similar to what the Document Foundation just did with respect to OpenOffice.org and Oracle, the Mandriva community last week forked the languishing distribution into a new one called Mageia.
"We do not trust the plans of Mandriva SA anymore and we don't think the company (or any company) is a safe host for such a project," the announcement read. "We believe a fork is the best solution and we have decided to create a new distribution: Mageia."
Among the goals for the new distro are to make Linux and free software straightforward for everyone to use; to provide integrated system configuration tools; and to "keep a high-level of integration between the base system, the desktop (KDE/GNOME) and applications," including improving integration with third-party software.
Also on Mageia's list of objectives: "target new architectures and form-factors." There's that tablet possibility again.
3. The FCC Goes Open Source
It was just about a year ago that the Obama administration announced it had adopted the open source content management system Drupal for the Whitehouse.gov Website, and recently the Federal Communications Commission followed suit.
In a move announced last week, the FCC is embracing Drupal as well to rebuild FCC.gov. "This decision is a significant step towards modernizing our own underlying online infrastructure," FCC managing director Steven VanRoekel explained.
The FCC is also planning to engage actively with the open source community--following, perhaps, in the steps of Whitehouse.gov, which has even contributed custom code that it's written back into the public domain.
4. Solothurn Abandons Linux
Last--and certainly least far-sighted, in this blogger's opinion--is that the Swiss canton of Solothurn has decided to abort its Linux migration project and equip all its desktop computers instead with Windows 7.
Announced last week, the move comes a full nine years after Solothurn first decided to migrate its computers to Linux, and it's caused considerable dismay throughout the Linux community, not least because of generally strong support for open source in Switzerland and Europe as a whole.
Debian Linux, OpenOffice.org, the Scalix e-mail system, Firefox, and several KDE desktop applications were part of the original migration plan, which has reportedly been plagued by unachievable goals, frequent delays, poor application choices, management problems and hostile press coverage, according to a report in The H.
Whatever the reasons, next year the canton's desktop computers will apparently be migrated to Windows 7, while Outlook will replace the Scalix Web mail client. The move isn't entirely anti-open source, though; OpenOffice.org will reportedly remain on the canton's computers.
Still, it's a good reminder of the importance of management skills in any technology migration, including management of expectations. Linux isn't Windows, it's true--but it isn't hard to use, either. Change is what can be hard.
Then again, so is paying exorbitant software fees and submitting to a lifetime of malware and vendor lock-in. All I can say is, Solothurn, you'd do well to reconsider.
Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.