Fedora 9 is ready for testing by early adopters after the Fedoraproject.org released a beta version of the open-source software.
Fedora 9, codenamed Sulphur, adds a number of improvements including FreeIPA, which helps administrators centralise authentication and identity management.
FreeIPA (identity, policy, audit) includes Fedora, Fedora directory server, FreeRadius, MIT Kerberos, NTP, DNS, Samba and web browser or command line tools for provisioning and administration.
"There is already a roadmap for further work to integrate certificate management and later on down the road to do centrally managed group access control and collection of audit logs," says Paul Frields, Red Hat's project leader for Fedora. "A lot of administrators tend to cobble their own solutions together and FreeIPA is a way to make that work easier, but yet have the capability and flexibility of open source."
The Fedora Project is an independent community effort sponsored by Red Hat and many of the improvements developed for the open-source Linux distribution find their way into Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
Frields said while he doesn't make decisions on RHEL he believes FreeIPA appears to be a compelling feature set for future versions of the Linux operating system.
Fedora 9 also includes Gnome 2.22, which adds security, power management and file system enhancement; and KDE 4.0.2, which includes a new desktop, integrated desktop search, and a new hardware integration framework.
The beta also includes Firefox 3 Beta 5, support for resizing ext2, ext3 and NTFS partitions during install, support for creating and installing to encrypted file systems and the 2.6.25-rc5 Linux kernel.
The beta software also includes PackageKit, a sort of unified installer of open source packages. The backend of PackageKit is built on Yellow dog Updater, Modified (YUM), an open source command line package management utility.
Fedora 9 preview release, which is aimed at final testing by users and contributors in the free software community, is slated to ship April 10. A Release Candidate 1 will follow April 22, and final release of the software is pegged for April 29.