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New Fedora Core Big on Community

Red Hat's community Linux project released Fedora Core 3 today. Fedora Core 3, codenamed Heidelberg, is loaded with the latest versions of many open source applications and represents the bleeding edge of Red Hat's Linux efforts.

Fedora Core 3 (FC3) improves upon features included in Fedora Core 2, including the latest versions of SELinux and the Linux kernel 2.6.9.

SELinux in FC3 has a new policy management system enabled by default. The so-called targeted policy is intended to be less intrusive in monitoring specific system daemons than the strict policy in FC2.

According to the Fedora Project's SELinux FAQ, the strict policy that was first enforced was helpful for testing purposes, as it identified "hundreds of problems" in the strict policy itself. Based on that experience, Fedora developers concluded that rolling out a single strict policy for all Fedora user environments wasn't workable.

"At this point, the SELinux developers reviewed their choices and decided to try a different strategy," the FAQ states. "It was decided to create a policy that focuses on locking down specific daemons, especially ones vulnerable to attack or to devastating a system if broken or compromised. The rest of the system is allowed to run as if under standard Linux security, i.e. run the same if SELinux is enabled or not."

FC3 also includes the latest version of the Novell Ximian-backed Evolution groupware application, as well as GNOME 2.8, KDE 3.3 and the latest X.org X11 windowing system.

"The release really shows the commitment of all parties involved in the project to put together a stable, feature-rich and yet cutting edge distribution," Fedora Project community member Jack Aboutboul told internetnews.com. "Core 3 incorporates the latest versions of many user-favored applications, i.e. X.org, GNOME, OOo etc., as well as the latest in progressive code from up and coming advancements, such as SELinux and stateless Linux."

Colin Charles, another Fedora Project community member, mentioned that the improved desktop features of FC3 are also a notable aspect of the release.

"I think Fedora Core 3 is the best release since, with its extreme focus on desktop usability, it makes users more productive," Charles told internetnews.com. "Automatic hardware detection and great support for laptops in a constantly changing network environment (NetworkManager) -- it really just rocks."

Red Hat created Fedora Core as a community sponsored project after it terminated its Red Hat Linux product line to concentrate on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Fedora Core is also intended to serve as a test bed for technologies that will eventually end up in RHEL. The community project is structured to deliver two or three new releases every year (this year it was two) as opposed to RHEL, which is on an 18-month cycle.

Red Hat's competitor, Novell SUSE Linux, also follows an 18-month cycle for its enterprise project (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) and a shorter six-month cycle for its personal and professional product line.

The difference, though, is that Fedora is supposed to truly be a community project; it is offered for free and there is no commercial version available. Many pundits worried that Red Hat would only pay lip service to the community while it still pulled the strings. But according to at least one Fedora community member, the community is pulling its weight.

"As a member of the community, this release signifies not only Red Hat's commitment to the project and its prosperity, but to the open source community at large," Aboutboul said. "Furthermore, it shows that the community continues to play an ever-growing role in the design and development of all things surrounding the Fedora Project. Things would not be where they were today had it not been for the amazing contributions of community members."

"Steps are always being taken to make the process more open and people are stepping up to the plate," he continued, "which gives me faith in Red Hat's decision to create the Fedora Project, and in the power of the free and open source development model."