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Fedora tips its hat to mobility, cloud, big data

Maria Korolov | April 1, 2014
The latest release of Fedora, nicknamed "Heisenbug," is a step towards making Fedora a player in the mobile arena. Fedora 20 also includes more support for cloud, and this is also the first release that supports cheap, low-power ARM processors as a primary architecture, in addition to Intel and AMD chips.

The previous release, Fedora 19, included First Class Cloud Images, versions of Fedora ready to run on Amazon's cloud. With this release, the cloud images are presented as equal options to the other alternatives, the traditional desktop installer and CD-based images. The cloud images are now developed and tested as part of the regular development process.

"We continue to push towards making capabilities available in the cloud," says Red Hat CIO Lee Congdon. That includes JBoss middleware and other development tools, he says. These tools also come into play when building solutions that are delivered to mobile users. "We're continuing to invest in that space," he says.

Fedora isn't quite making the mobile strides that Ubuntu is, however, which actually released a mobile version of the operating system with Ubuntu Touch last fall.

Not all of Fedora's cloud-related features are about the enterprise, however. For example, Gnome Documents allows users to connect to their online accounts at Google Drive, Facebook, Flickr, ownCloud, and other online services.

This seems similar to the Unity Smart Scopes feature recently added to Ubuntu. One advantage of the Gnome approach, however, is that it doesn't needlessly clutter up the search results with Amazon, Etsy, Wikipedia and Reddit results.

Adding a cloud service was simple, by clicking on the service on the Online Accounts setting page and entering login credentials. For platforms such as Google Drive, that offer documents, mail, contacts, and other features, you can turn each one on or off individually. Adding Google Drive, for example, pulled in all my documents and folders though not files and folders that had been shared with me.  

As a result, I could open and view a Google document from within Gnome Documents. Making changes to it, however, requires signing in to Google Drive.

Since all these features are relatively new, I'd be hesitant about using Fedora as my central control point for all my online accounts just yet, but I can see how it can potentially be very useful.

Drivers and devices a mixed bag
Fedora is a pure open-source operating system, meaning that it doesn't come with proprietary tools like Flash. Depending on the use case, this may be a good thing or a bad thing. For casual end users, it's definitely a problem, since installing Flash can be cumbersome. It's not available in the official Fedora software repository, and users need to enable the RPM Fusion repository instead.

The same goes for Nvidia's and AMD's proprietary graphics cards drivers and Skype.

Another issue that could cause problems is the upgrade from Bluez 4 Bluetooth management to Bluez 5. This is the most cutting edge release of Bluez, and not all Bluetooth devices are supported. Some Bluetooth headset users, for example, may need to downgrade back to Bluez 4 or hold off on upgrading to Fedora 20 until their devices work.


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