The past few weeks have been good ones for the open source ecosystem. Three major Linux-based operating systems -- Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora and Ubuntu -- have debuted in final or beta form. Here's a look at what's new in all of them.
Canonical was the first in the pack to launch a new OS recently with the release on April 21 of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Code-named Xenial Xerus, the release not only adds to Linux fans' vocabularies, but also introduces several key new features. Highlights include:
- Full support for LXD containers, Canonical's answer to Docker and CoreOS.
- The introduction of snap packages, which provide a new way to install and update software alongside venerable apt-get.
- Enhanced support for the CephFS and ZFS distributed cloud storage systems.
The feature updates in Ubuntu 16.04 are notable because Canonical has tended in the past to avoid introducing big changes in LTS versions of Ubuntu, which it supports for much longer than other releases. Canonical's decision to pile so many new features into the OS seems to signal the company's desire to set a new tenor for the next couple of years of Ubuntu development, when Ubuntu 16.04, as the most recent LTS release, will set the base line for future versions of the Ubuntu platform.
The Red Hat world has seen some significant changes lately, too. On May 10 Red Hat announced the release of RHEL 6.8, as well as the beta version of Fedora 24, the community-supported Linux-based OS that Red Hat uses as a proving ground for RHEL development.
As a point release, RHEL 6.8 did not introduce any huge new features, but it did update security by replacing openswan with libreswan, an enhanced implementation of IPsec-based VPNs. Red Hat also added new monitoring and backup-and-recovery tools to RHEL.
The latest beta of Fedora features more changes. Chief among them is enhanced support for OpenShift Origin, the Red Hat/Fedora Kubernetes distribution for developing and managing Docker containers. With official OpenShift packages for Fedora now available, the operating system is one step closer to becoming a production-ready platform for containers.
Also notable is updated support for the Wayland graphics server in Fedora Workstation, the desktop iteration of the OS. Wayland is a relatively new display server protocol, which promises to make life easier for programmers than X, the display software that has powered most GNU/Linux distributions for many years. Of Wayland, Red Hat says it has the "intention to fully implement it as the default graphics server (replacing X) for future versions of Fedora."
The final release of Fedora 24, which also features an updated version of the GNOME desktop environment, is currently set for June 14, 2016.