Monday, October 31, 2011

Looking ahead to Fedora 16

We are only a week or so away from Fedora 16, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to preview what's ahead in this release.

I happen to prefer Fedora as my Linux distro. While I usually install the "alpha" and "beta" releases on a USB flash drive, and test-drive it there, I haven't been able to do that with Fedora 16 yet. The installer for the test releases had a bug that prevented me from making the flash drive bootable. This has been fixed with an updated installer (which has been tweaked at least twice since) but too late for me to test it out here.

I'll see Fedora 16 when everyone else does, I guess.

There are many changes "under the hood", but I'm most interested in several key features for the desktop. The Gnome desktop is now at version 3.2, and includes these changes:

New login screen

Gnome updated the desktop in the previous version. In this release, the login screen has been given an overhaul to more closely match the Gnome desktop theme. This should give a more consistent feel to everything.



Support for online accounts

System Settings will gain an "Online Accounts" panel, which provides a central point for managing online accounts like Google, Facebook etc. For example, setting up a Google account in this panel will make Gmail, Contacts and Calendar in Evolution (the standard email/calendar desktop client) work "out of the box". The Gnome Shell Calendar (what you see when you click on the date/time at the top of the screen) will be populated from online accounts, as well. And Empathy(the standard chat client) will have Gtalk set up automatically.

As a user with several Google accounts, I'm very excited about this one! Finally, I can integrate my Google accounts into my desktop.


Integration with social contacts

We have lots of places where we can store our contact information. Many of my friends are on Facebook, or may be frequent chat contacts. Wouldn't it be great to tie into those contacts in Gnome?

Gnome Contacts uses multiple sources of contact data, linking pieces of contacts into a whole. For instance, it can get IM contacts and information about them, including presence status. It can also connect to social websites such as Facebook or Twitter.

This integrates with Empathy, Evolution and the new "Online Accounts" settings panel, pulling all your contacts into one address book.


As I said, there are lots of other changes too, but they may not be as visible. Check the feature list if you need details.

Fedora 16 is currently due on November 8.

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