This is the third post in our blog series highlighting cool features slated for Fedora 13. Our first spotlight looked at the enhancements in NetworkManager, and the second covered the innovations planned for Python developers. With this blog, we’re focusing on a feature that affects everyone, from the newest users exploring the rich environment of open source, to the most diehard developers of the Linux kernel: video drivers.
Manufacturers today produce a dizzying array of video hardware whose graphics processing power alone outstrips entire computer systems of just ten years ago. However, it’s not always been easy for Linux users to take advantage of this hardware. Until recently, the more exotic 3D acceleration features in particular have often required introducing closed source, proprietary drivers.
Closed source drivers make life more difficult for Linux uses. Since they are impossible for the community to debug or improve, it can be very frustrating when they cause work interruptions or system crashes. Following on the capabilities for the drivers for Intel and ATI based graphics cards, in Fedora 13, the Nouveau driver provides 3D hardware acceleration and is designed to support a wide array of NVidia based graphics cards. Because these drivers are fully free (as in freedom), open source software developers can build additional software against the functions they provide, taking fuller advantage of the hardware that users have purchased.
This support has already allowed Fedora developers to improve and accelerate the boot process and heighten the overall user experience in Fedora. But we believe that it also provides a solid platform for future capabilities of the open source desktop environment that can build on this complete open source software stack. For instance, the user’s desktop environment can take advantage of 3D acceleration to provide a richer and more elegant interaction model, as in the next-generation GNOME desktop. Users can also enjoy a variety of 3D games already packaged and freely available in the Fedora software repository.
In the video below, Colin Walters, a Red Hat software engineer, talks about the benefit of truly free video hardware drivers, and how users can take advantage of them now and in the future.
Free video drivers, though, are only part of the story of Fedora 13. There are numerous other enhancements involving hardware such as automatic print driver installation and a color management system for devices. The Fedora community has produced a set of detailed interviews on these features with the Fedora contributors who created them.
To see these features in action, download and try the Fedora 13 Beta pre-release, available here. The final release of Fedora 13 is currently scheduled for late May.