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Fedora 13 Alpha!

Our first major test release for this cycle, Fedora 13 Alpha, is now available! You can read all about it in the release announcement on the wiki.

I’m running it here and would encourage contributors and early adopters to try it out. We could really use your help in finding remaining bugs so we can squash them before the Beta release near the end of this month. You can find a list of common bugs on the wiki as well.

Karma made easy.

Till Maas constructed a truly useful Fedora Easy Karma script in Python. There’s a wiki page about it already, and it’s very easy to use. I just used it to test and give karma to a handful of packages in the pre-release Fedora 13 updates-testing repository in just a few minutes. It’s a great enabler for our community. You do need to have the latest fedora-packager package installed (currently in updates-testing) to use it.

Nice work, Till!

Catching breath, no. 75.5.

Upgrade went smoothly, although I did run into this common bug at the very end of the process. Not only was the bug known about, it’s already been fixed, so no one should see it in the next test release. Nice work Anaconda guys!

The bug’s been written up on our “Common F13 bugs” page as well. That page is where we record issues that we’ve seen in the test release, to lower the surprise factor even for people who are gearing up to test our pre-release software. As we go through the release cycle and these bugs are stomped out, we edit this page as needed. Because it’s a wiki we invite our community to help us document problems there and track them throughout the release cycle — a great way to collaborate that can help innumerable other people helping to test Fedora.

Other than that issue — which itself required no mitigation on my part anyway — the update was extremely boring (just the way it should be). I’ve already noticed a few things worth calling out:

  • The NVidia 8400M GS video card in my laptop supports 3D and compositing out of the box with the new nouveau driver and the mesa-dri-drivers-experimental package. The compiz compositing manager seems to work fine, and although GNOME Shell is still in the process of being ported to the new Clutter toolkit version, I expect that will be giving me joy shortly too. I’m thrilled to see NVidia joining the advances made in the free ATI radeon driver in our last release just a few months ago. That’s walking the walk when it comes to free software!
  • Mozilla Firefox 3.6.1 showed me a standard notification that I had some add-on updates available — integrated perfectly with my desktop. Unexpected and very cool!
  • The new cursor theme has thicker action forms (or whatever it is you call the shapes into which it changes as you move it over actionable things), and makes it much easier to discern shapes and expected actions.

That’s just what I saw in the first few minutes. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the other excellent new features coming in Fedora 13. Our first pre-release, Fedora 13 Alpha, is due next Tuesday, March 9. If you’re a savvy Linux user who wants to see the latest and greatest new technologies, you can pick up a copy and help advance the future of free software by testing the pre-release and reporting bugs. The more we squash in the pre-release, the better the final Fedora 13 will be. With 0ur recent move to a special pre-release branch,

I’m expecting a very solid release — but nevertheless I am very much looking forward to exploring the nooks and crannies of Fedora 13 Alpha, especially if what I’m using now is any hint of what’s to come!

Into the future.

Because we’re trying to stomp out a handful of nasty bugs — some of which appear to be thoroughly smooshed, and some of which we’re still attacking with the Rolled Up Newspaper of Free Code Wrangling — the Fedora 12 Beta will be pushed back one week.  We expect right now to release it on Tuesday, October 20th. Of course the schedule has already been updated to reflect the latest schedule news.

We’re still working out what this portends for the final release. Generally the QA team’s cumulative wisdom is that changes like this need to echo down the schedule, so that we don’t compress periods of public testing. Many people in the community don’t keep up with daily Rawhide, and depend on a DVD, CD, or Live image release to do their testing. (More on this in a moment.) We want to make sure that the Beta, which is the last release before final Fedora 12, has the chance to be tested by as many people as possible.

This used to be the position and purpose of the so-called “Preview Release” that happened several weeks before GA. However, in an attempt to make our test releases less confusing, we have gone to the industry-standard practice of making Beta the release that is meant to be code-frozen, and ready for wide public testing. The only changes that are supposed to go into Fedora during this period are fixes for problems detected that would make it unsuitable for release.

In which a wrinkle enters the fabric.

To make that testing period as long as originally intended, we’d have to make the final Fedora 12 release a week later as well. There’s a thorny problem in that plan, however. Part of the Fedora infrastructure will soon be undergoing a relocation from one physical facility to another, and that’s scheduled to begin some time around the 18th of November. This is happening toward the end of a longer process that is supposed to be fully complete by no later than November 30th. Currently our final Fedora 12 release is scheduled for November 10, but if we were to echo this Beta slip down the rest of the schedule, that would mean a release on November 17. Moving infrastructure the day after a major release? Our community Infrastructure team is the very definition of awesome, but… Yikes!

So, moving pieces of infrastructure around the day after release doesn’t seem like a great plan. And neither does shortening the period for public testing. We’re looking into whether our infrastructure relocation can be postponed, but of course the week of November 24th has a major US holiday, making rescheduling difficult.

In which you, Dear Reader, play the starring role.

Well, for one thing, by testing the currently available bits for what will be Fedora 12 Beta. The few changes still landing are mainly correcting problems found and noted in filed bugs, but the critical stuff in Rawhide, our development branch, is frozen. When we spin those packages into a release of DVD, CD, and Live media, it takes several days to prepare all of it and get it shipped to mirrors in time for the release date.  And during the days even before that, leading up to the spinning, you can test the vast majority of what will be in the Beta. Here’s how:

  1. Download the boot.iso file found in the images folder for your architecture, whether that’s 32-bit (i686), 64-bit (x86_64), or PowerPC (ppc). It’s under 200 MB in size and contains everything you need to run the installer. Burn the ISO file to a disc and boot your system from the disc.
  2. Proceed through the installation per usual, up until the screen for selecting capabilities and packages.
  3. When the time comes to install packages, the Rawhide repository is selected and will be accessed from the Internet. If you have a local or preferred mirror, you can edit the repository to point directly to it. If you don’t, our MirrorManager will provide you with a reasonable, nearby choice. Make your package selections as usual after the information is loaded from the repository.
  4. Packages will be downloaded from the Internet and installed to your system.

This method may take some additional time, depending on the speed of your connection to the mirror you’re using, but the bits are the same ones that Fedora experts are using every day for installation, updates, and testing of the latest software that will go into Fedora 12.

And most importantly, if you find problems, FILE A BUG! Remember, we’d rather hear about a problem twice than not at all. We have a Bugzilla primer that will tell you what you need to know to file a more clear and useful bug. It’s vital that we get great testing during Beta phases so that we can make the final as good as possible. All software has bugs, but what makes free software improve faster than alternatives is that we can all help stomp them out through an open, collaborative process. You can be a part of that process!

Moblin in Fedora 12 pre-releases.

Yes, you heard it right — among the other cool features in F12 Alpha, you can now take a look at Moblin directly in Fedora proper, regardless of your hardware platform.

To check it out, refer to this posting from Peter Robinson, ace maintainer from the Fedora Mini SIG (special interest group). If you’re running Fedora 12 Alpha or you’ve been keeping up with Rawhide, our bleeding-edge development branch, you’re in prime position to check it out.

As you’ll hear from quite a number of Fedora users (not to mention this guy) :-) we have fairly good coverage of mini systems and netbooks in Fedora, but we’re always looking to improve. With Moblin software in Fedora proper, we have the chance to offer a very interesting derivative to people on sub-laptop equipment, and show the flexibility and functionality of free software. In the future it should be pretty easy to extend those offerings through a custom spin or other provision.

Nice work by Peter and the Mini SIG here. I’m off to try this out on a virtual machine right now, courtesy of our excellent virtualization support through KVM.

Fedora 12 Alpha!

Today marks the Fedora 12 Alpha release, hot off the presses! You can pick up a copy to try all the latest technologies here:

http://fedoraproject.org/get-prerelease

I’ve been running the Alpha version for about a week or so on one of my home machines. While there are some minor foibles here and there, most of it seems to be working like gangbusters — and better than ever. The PackageKit “command-not-found” plugin is pretty cool, and I’m also enjoying some of the other sweet new features like the new Virtualization Manager upgrades.

Not everything is guaranteed to work perfectly, because there are some pretty new bits in there. But we do encourage people to at least grab a Live ISO image and run it from a CD or USB stick. And of course, it’s very important that you FILE A BUG if you find something that’s wrong! Remember kids, Twitter and Identi.ca are not substitutes for good open source practices — they’re a good way to encourage people to check your work, though, if you’re looking for a second opinion. I hope everyone trying F12 Alpha will blog a little bit about the bits they find that they like — and if you don’t like something, tell us about that too, and let us know how it can be made better. Then file a bug about it!

You can tell I’m big on the bug filing today. That’s because we seriously want your help in testing the release. Yours, and everyone you know! The more problems we can find and knock out before the Beta, the better Fedora 12 “Constantine” will shine in November! I, for one, started using the command-line bugzilla client for doing this quite often, and it’s very convenient when I’m in a terminal or otherwise not using a Web browser. You just run bugzilla login and bugzilla new — the latter with a bunch of required options — and you’ll get a reply with your bug number assigned.

I hope you enjoy this very early sneak preview of what’s coming Fedora 12! And thanks as always to our awesome Release Engineering and Infrastructure teams for their usual fantastic job at getting Fedora out the door into the hands of our millions of users.

Speaking of which: Only 10 weeks into our release, our latest stable offering, Fedora 11 “Leonidas,” has surpassed one million registered updating IP addresses, as noted on our statistics page. That’s almost 40% higher than our uptake from the previous and very well-regarded Fedora 10 release. I also see that our number of completely unique IP addresses registered for updatesm from Fedora 7 through Rawhide is now at slightly over 15 million for the first time. There’s some helpful information floating around about how that might translate to user numbers, but for my part, I just love being able to just look up these numbers in our completely open and transparent infrastructure — another reason to enjoy being part of a project dedicated to building 100% free software for you and yours.

Sad daily confessional: I meant to have this out in the morning but the upcoming Red Hat Summit has me hopping more than usual. Sorry about the delay and hope to see you in Chicago next week!

Update: Fixed the “sweet new features” link above, thanks Rahul!

Try installing F12 Alpha early.

According to this posting to the fedora-test-list by Liam, there’s going to be some installation testing for the Fedora 12 (Constantine) Alpha candidate next week, on Wednesday July 29. This is a chance to shake out some of the new features in the Anaconda installation application that have come in over the past couple of months. The more testing we can get on the installer early, the more bulletproof we can make it for our final release by the time code is frozen in the fall.

I find that the easiest way to do installation testing is to maintain a local Rawhide mirror — a copy of the Rawhide repository on a machine on my home network, shared out via the Web. But there are complete instructions on the wiki for the many ways you can test Rawhide, specifically a section on doing a direct daily installation. You don’t even have to have a local mirror. You can download a small-ish boot.iso image for either 32-bit or 64-bit architecture, and install directly from the Internet if you have a broadband connection.

It’s easy to get involved in testing, and there’s even a matrix of results that we’ll be filling out on July 29 to see what works, and what needs work. This is a great opportunity for anyone to become a contributor to Fedora by helping with Anaconda, which is used not just in Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but also in CentOS, Scientific Linux, and many other derived distributions. See you on the 29th for an awesome installer validation day!

This. Is. ALPHA!

[This post was supposed to be out yesterday, but somehow I managed to brush my touchpad the wrong way and... well, the dog ate my homework. Or WordPress did. Either way, sorry about the lateness of the hour, and all that. Revised now for more contemporary enjoyment. -- Ed.]

Yes, that 300 joke isn’t getting any funnier. But it’s not getting any older either! Well OK, maybe it is, but remember that “beta” works just as well there, so you may have to endure it one more time, sorry.

Anyway, yesterday our Fedora 11 Alpha release hit the wires, and they are humming hotly even as we speak with flying bits. We’ve provided a brief set of release notes where you can see some of the major changes called out.

I often get questions from people asking, what’s the point of an Alpha anyway? Well, essentially it’s to ensure we can effectively compose a Fedora release that can be installed by most people, and once that’s done, to give our community a chance to test the current state of features from a known starting point. Testing is, in fact, our focus once an Alpha release of Fedora is out the door, and every bug you file can make a big difference in the quality of the final Fedora release.

Typically people will install Fedora 11 Alpha on a test machine, and then update to the latest Rawhide packages. You see, Rawhide, our development branch of Fedora, keeps moving after we’ve started working on an Alpha release, so some bugs might be fixed with that update. On the other hand, you might also see totally new ones. It’s very early in the development cycle, so don’t expect a Fedora 11 Alpha system to necessarily be ready for your daily non-testing use (although I do know people who essentially run on the development branch almost all the time, and my hat’s off to them).

The point is, once you have your system running, we’d love to receive bug reports from you. That helps us eradicate problems early and provide a better release by the time the Beta, Preview, and final emerge.

Interestingly, there were hardware-specific bugs in previous releases reported by numerous people that could have easilly been found, had someone taken time to test an Alpha installation or boot on their hardware. So by testing, you really can be a big help to the overall Fedora community! You can often file bug reports straight from the installer, for instance, if your network hardware is supported. You can also use our helpful wiki page to learn how to file a bug. By the way, if you find a problem on that page, you can use its discussion page to tell us what needs improvement.

Basically, it’s a great time to try out the beginnings of Fedora 11 with our Alpha release, and let us know how you fare. And when you do, you’re part of the enormous (and still growing) Fedora community.

© 2002-2014 Paul W. Frields License: CC BY-SA 3.0. Some rights reserved. -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

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