The Fedora Project has announced Fedora 11, code-named Leonidas, has been moved to beta and is ready for a tire kicking before it tries to take on the massed ranks of freebie Linuxes, commercial Linuxes, Unix, Windows, and other proprietary operating systems out there.
The choice of Leonidas as a code name is somewhat perplexing, since he was the king of Sparta who fought a last-stand battle with his 300 Spartan warriors and another 1,100 fellow Greeks in an effort to hold off the Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. That last stand allowed the Greek army to escape a vastly larger Persian force.
While there is a lot of talk (here and here), and a graphical novel and film about how the Greek resistance at Thermopylae proved that patriotism, training, and using the ground to advantage could allow a small band to hold back an onslaught, the fact is, they still lost.
Fedora 11 if not a last stand, is more the latest in a long line of development Linux releases that are widely used even though there is no commercial support for the product.
According to Red Hat, even though the alpha release that came out in February was only intended for a small audience of hard-core Linux heads, that alpha had more than 40,000 downloads in a little more than a month. And now, with the beta release, the Fedora Project is hoping to get an even wider audience to try the code and offer feedback so bugs can be fixed before Fedora 11 is released at the end of May.
The Fedora Project has said the feature list for the 11 release "dwarfs any previous release," including enhancement to the PackageKit cross-distribution package manager to support the automatic installation of fonts and other applications to open files.
The goal is now to get to the login screen in under 20 seconds and then boost as fast as possible from that point. The way video drivers from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel are started up has been changed to accommodate this fast booting using a new kernel mode.
The virtualization management console now supports a mouse (this seems trivial, but necessary), and SELinux mandatory access security is now integrated into guest virtual machines. This will prevent a security bug in the hypervisor from allowing guest VMs to attack one another or the host, according to the project.
Fedora 11 will also have the MiniGW compiler environment, which allows C, C++, Fortran, OCaml, Objective C, and Objective C++ applications intended to be compiled for Windows operating systems to be done within the confines of Windows. In other words, you can compile code for that Windows environment without ever having to touch it. (Ew.)
You can download your copy of Fedora 11 here. ®