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The Fedora project team on Tuesday posted a preview edition of Fedora 9, its final stage of development during which users and contributors can provide feedback about bugs missed during beta testing. The latest Fedora distro is based on kernel 2.6.25; more on that later. General release is set for mid-May.

Fedora 9 went to beta (and feature freeze) last month, with stable integration of GNOME 2.22. This update to GNU’s desktop replaces GNOME VFS with the faster and more feature-rich GFVS and GIO. According to the beta release notes, GFVS vastly improves performance and can queue multiple file transfers. Security is improved via enhancements to Fedora-developed PolicyKit introduced with Fedora 8.

The new desktop also includes a new GNOME Display Manager, which can dynamically configure displays, control power management at login and works better with PolicyKit. GNOME now connects with Bluetooth-enabled Palm devices and can share files via Bluetooth right through the desktop, rather than through multiple discrete apps.

Developers will take note of a new multimedia API, called Phonon, a hardware integration framework named Solid and a rewritten Plasma desktop and panel. These updates are part of KDE Desktop 4.0.2, the default desktop, some of which has been ported to TrollTech’s Qt 4 cross-platform GUI libraries.

Also notable is the inclusion of compatibility packages “to ensure that applications not yet ported to KDE 4 will continue to work,” according to the release notes.

Improvements to NetworkManager include compatibility with PolicyKit for network configuration and support for ad-hoc wireless networks and PPP over mobile broadband cards (GSM and CDMA).

With its tweaked address bar and new Places bookmark replacement, the Firefox 3 beta 5 browser finally has Fedora-like look and integrates with the desktop. Fedora now ships with a browser plug-in for playing Flash animations, videos and games.

Version 2.6.25 of the Linux kernel reportedly features CPU group scheduling, avoidance of memory fragmentation, tickless support for x86-64/PowerPC and other architectures and SPI/SDIO support.

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