Red Hat And Its Fedora 8 Friends

SAN FRANCISCO — Make no mistake about it. Red Hat is a key part of the Linux
world, even though you won’t find the company on the exhibition floor at LinuxWorld. Not
officially at least.

Red Hat is represented by Fedora, its community project which this week
released the first test version of Fedora 8. In a birds of a feather (BOF)
session, Jack Aboutboul, community engineer for Fedora at Red Hat, discussed
some of the highlights of Fedora 8, as well as some recent changes in how
Fedora is run.

The BOF session also had a raucous discussion among
participants about Dell, Ubuntu and the leadership role of Fedora in the
Linux community.

In the Dell keynote at LinuxWorld, company CTO Kevin Kettler demonstrated how easy it was to
set up virtual machines on Ubuntu. Aboutboul noted that Ubuntu had made use
of the “libvert” tool, which actually originated with Fedora.

“Every innovative thing is coming from Fedora,” Aboutboul said. “We’ve been
telling this to people all along and libvert is one example. Everyone else
pulls from us; we had it first.”

The fact that Ubuntu was chosen by Dell as its Linux desktop of choice for
the consumer marketplace also didn’t sit too well with Aboutboul.

“Am I pissed off? No,” Aboutboul said. “If you want your desktop Linux to
look like Windows, Ubuntu is great. Otherwise use us, you’ll have a better

As it turns out, a key member of the Fedora community is a Dell employee who
attended the BOF. Matt Domsch is a Linux technology strategist in the Dell
office of the CTO and is a member of the Fedora board. Domsch explained that
Dell is a contributor to Fedora by providing donations of hardware in addition to
Dell engineers maintaining some application packages for Fedora.

The idea of Dell, or another external party managing Fedora packages, is
something that is now easier thanks to the merger of the Fedora Core and
extra repositories that occurred ahead of the Fedora
7 release

“Core was a dirty word,” Aboutboul said. “When people heard it they thought
that’s all the stuff that Red Hat won’t let us touch. and we didn’t want
that to be the case, so we dumped everything into the same repository and
it’s one huge package galaxy now.”

Dell’s Domsch said that, since the merger, he has seen hundreds of Fedora
community members step up and take responsibility for packages. The new
model is also working well for Dell, too.

“Before the merger someone at Red Hat had to pay attention to get my stuff
in,” Domsch explained. “Now, for example, I maintain a separate patch for
Dell monitors, and it gets built and I don’t have to go and poke and cajole
the Red Hat guy to get that done.”

When it comes to expanding the core feature set of Fedora, though, Fedora 8
has a lot to offer. Aboutboul explained that a new dbus service launch
service will aim to cut down boot time by minimizing the number of services
that start when a machine powers up.

On the identity side, Fedora 8 will include something called freeIPA
(Identity, Policy, Audit), which is intended to be an easy way for system
administrators to install, setup and administer centralized identity
management and authentication.

“We’re building up a version of what a standard directory server should be
with freeIPA,” Aboutboul said. “Something for a small business or a project
like Fedora that needs to manage user access and credentials.”

Fedora 8 is not expected to be released as a stable product until October

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