June 1, 2012

Fedora 17 Enterprise Preview

Fedora is always loaded with new technologies, and the new Fedora 17 release has the most ever. Get a head start on what's going to appear in Red Hat Enterprise Linux by grabbing a copy of the new Beefy Miracle.

Fedora Linux is a high-quality community-supported distribution, and a showcase for new technologies. SELinux, Systemd, PulseAudio, new kernels, new Gnome and KDE releases – if it's bleeding-edge chances are you will find it in Fedora. Some call Fedora a testbed for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a characterization that the nice RH folks don't always agree with. Regardless of what you call it, new features appear first in Fedora, get pummeled by users, and then work their way into RHEL. It's a great way to get an early look and start testing new goodies.

Fedora 17, the Beefy Miracle, was released May 29 and is nine, count 'em, nine gigabytes of hot Linux goodness. You don't have to use all those gigabytes, of course, just install the bits you want. It comes in 32- and 64-bit flavors, live CD, DVD, live USB, and multiple spins. Some example spins are Fedora Security Lab, Scientific KDE, Robotics, and Design Suite. Fresh Fedora 17

Cloudy Stuff, Of Course

While cloud technologies are not quite as miraculous and revolutionary and exciting as the hypesters want them to be, they are important and useful, and Fedora 17 ships with a full complement. Fedora 17 gives us OpenStack, OpenNebula, Eucalyptus, and Open vSwitch.

OpenStack is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud. It is an open software stack (Apache license) that was initially developed by Rackspace and NASA, and it is now supported by a consortium of over 150 companies including Red Hat, SUSE, and Canonical. OpenStack supports both private on-premises clouds, and hybrid clouds using commercial hosts like Terremark, Rackspace, and Amazon Web Services.

Fedora 17 includes Essex, the most current OpenStack release. Essex has a number of excellent new and improved goodies such as an improved, more integrated management dashboard, and the Quantum "networking as a service" framework. Quantum manages functions like VLANs, routing, tunneling, QoS, VPNs, firewalls, and datacenter interconnects. Other modules handle regulatory compliance, identity management, provisioning, and disaster recovery.

Want to test OpenStack the easy way? Check out TryStack, the free OpenStack sandbox.

OpenNebula can be thought of as a virtualizer for virtualized environments. It's a modular management toolkit for monitoring, storage, virtualization, and managing private, public, and private Xen, KVM and VMware clouds.

Eucalyptus, like OpenStack, is an IaaS cloud that supports both private and hybrid clouds. Eucalyptus has a head start on OpenStack, and has been included in Red Hat since RHEL 5.5. Eucalyptus is tailored for tight integration with Amazon Web Services.

Open vSwitch is a multi-layer open virtual switch. What, you say? It's not real? Of course it's real, it just doesn't hang on the wall and make blinky lights. It's a software network switch for managing network services between virtual networks and physical networks.


The new sandbox tool streamlines creating new secure libvirt containers, which are for securely isolating services and applications. sandbox sets up everything you need to run an application in a container, including an SELinux context. It then runs your application in isolation from other processes, and it can still share data.

Speaking of libvirt, version 0.9.10 in Beefy Miracle has a number of improvements: resizing storage volumes, support for QEMU guest agents, and sVirt (integrates Mandatory Access Control (MAC) in Linux virtualizers) in the LXC driver, which is the libvirt container driver.

The oVirt virtual datacenter manager makes its debut appearance in Fedora. oVirt is an integrated management platform for KVM for managing storage, users, virtual machines, high availability, live migrations, and reporting; a complete platform for all KVM + libvirt functions. In my somewhat-humble opinion oVirt looks like an open source competitor to VMWare, and that is a good thing because VMWare's management tools are first-rate.

Network Manager Gets Grownup Tools

Network Manager is getting turbocharged with enterprise features like VLAN, Ethernet bonding, bridging, and IP-over-Infiniband. These aren't quite complete yet, but they are important for managing virtualization, so they soon will be.

Support for DNSSEC on workstations is complete, but it is not installed or enabled by default because Network Manager integration is not quite complete. The plan is to have Network Manager do all the work, including automatic hot spot management and name services. The DNSSEC on workstations tells how to install and test it.


Btrfs is a conspicuous no-show in the Beefy Miracle installer, because the Anaconda installer needs some major modifications to support btrfs. You can install btrfs after installation, and Anaconda support should be ready in Fedora 18. Fedora 17 uses the latest efs2progs, so now you can have Ext4 filesystems up to 100 terabytes in size, which is a bit of an increase from the previous limit of 16 terabytes.

For encryption we get almost the latest cryptsetup package, version 1.4.1. (The latest release is 1.4.2, released April 12.) 1.4.1 is not very different from 1.4.0, which had a number of significant changes: removed deprecated API calls, added a --shared option for sharing encrypted segments on a single device, and LUKS headers can be detached and stored in a different location with the --header option.

Odd Lots

Fedora 17 also includes Java 7 and JBoss Application Server 7; a single system-wide password-quality checker; Ruby 1.9.3, the latest stable version; GCC 4.7, the newest release; and a new SELinux option, deny_ptrace, which hides processes from each other, and from debugging toold like ptrace, sys_ptrace and gdb. And of course a wealth of improvements for desktop, scientific, embedded development, and other users.

In short, it's a treasure trove for the curious Linux user who wants to explore the latest and greatest Linux has to offer.