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The Beta release of Fedora 13 (codename "Goddard") blasts off today, true to its namesake, scientist and liquid-fueled rocketry pioneer Robert Hutchings Goddard. The Fedora 13 Beta release gives an early peek at open source technologies that reach new heights of functionality and usability. The Beta milestone is when the Fedora Project encourages users, developers, and administrators of all types to download and try out the release early. While generally the Beta is reasonably stable, this is the time for users to exercise their favorite parts of the system and report any lingering bugs before the final release. The available Live images make it easy to try out Fedora – if you write one to a USB key, you can even add personal data and your favorite applications as you go. Here are some of the changes that are propelling the Fedora 13 Beta:

  • Throughout the last several releases of Fedora, it’s been our goal to automate some of the hardware and software enablements that help users get their work done with a minimal amount of fuss. When the user plugs in a USB or parallel printer, inserts a specialized CD such as collections of music files as opposed to a standard audio CD, or downloads or opens an archive file, using powerful back end desktop technologies, PackageKit is designed to detect the user’s action and offer to install software helpers. With free and open source software, there is no artificial scarcity of software, and no need for the user to buy expensive upgrades for basic, expected functionality.
  • We expect software developers will continue to find Fedora an optimal platform for development, especially with some of the new features found in Fedora 13 Beta. Python is one of the most popular and powerful programming languages in the world because of its shallow learning curve, readable syntax, wide-ranging libraries of useful functions, performance, and scalability. The Fedora 13 Beta allows developers to install and try a parallel-installable Python 3 stack for the first time. This feature allows developers to write and test code using either the current Python 2.6 or the next-generation Python 3 language, to optimize their work for the future.
  • In addition, there are new functions in Fedora 13 Beta for the GNU debugger, gdb, that allow it to deliver unified information for C/C++ libraries and Python in the same running process. Programmers who are writing Python code that wraps or calls C/C++ functions to enhance performance and rapid development can now more quickly and efficiently detect and debug problems in their code using this work. Fedora contributors did a substantial work on this feature. As part of the Fedora practice of being good citizens in the open source ecosystem, it has been contributed upstream where it will later become part of other platforms as well. And when combined with applications like Eclipse, we believe that programmers will have a premier development environment where they can turn the next generation of open source ideas into code.
  • System administrators can also try out some of the advanced file system improvements in Fedora 13 Beta. New features in the btrfs file system allow for rollbacks of entire file system states, making application testing and system recovery more powerful than ever. Using this next-generation file system is easier than ever with the improvements in the Anaconda installer, which sports more comprehensible interface options, including choices for advanced storage types.
  • During its development cycle, Fedora 13 also featured for the first time an installable package of Zarafa, a drop-in groupware replacement for Exchange with full featured email, calendaring, and other collaboration tools for use by both Linux and Microsoft clients. A highly usable, comfortable, and familiar Web interface for users, and support for POP/IMAP and other protocols are included, along with tools for integration with existing Linux services.

These are just a few of the enhancements, improvements, and brand-new features found in the Fedora 13 Beta. To launch your own journey and discover the latest and greatest free Fedora software, visit http://fedoraproject.org/get-prerelease and download a copy of Fedora 13 Beta. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available, as well as links to getting involved in the Fedora community, and helpful support information.

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