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Red Hat lives on the edge with Fedora 9

The ninth incarnation of Red Hat's hobbyist version of Linux made a jump Ubuntu couldn't: KDE 4.

Red Hat on Tuesday released the ninth incarnation of its enthusiast version of Linux, making a move that rival Ubuntu couldn't: the inclusion of the KDE 4 user interface.

That's because Fedora and Ubuntu have different approaches to new projects such as KDE 4, which is new, significantly different from KDE 3.5, and not yet settled down.

Fedrora 9
Red Hat

Red Hat has two versions of Linux, the free that's designed as a proving ground that can get new projects into the hands of early adopters while helping those projects to mature, and the subscription-fee-based Red Hat Enterprise Linux that's supported for years and certified to work with assorted hardware and software.

There's only one Ubuntu, in contrast, and it's free; support can be purchased separately. Founder Mark Shuttleworth deliberately founded Ubuntu with that philosophy because he wasn't happy with the way Red Hat and Novell's Suse Linux had split their products into separate lines.

Ubuntu's Hardy Heron, though, Canonical's latest version of Linux and only its second to come with long-term support, couldn't support KDE 4 because the company needed it to be more mature. With no real support requirements and a short product lifespan, Fedora can accommodate bleeding-edge projects.

To address KDE 4 demand--roughly a third of Ubuntu users prefer it to the more widely used GNOME--Ubuntu programmers took a Fedora-like approach. They're working on a KDE 4 version of Hardy Heron, but it doesn't come with the support promised regular Ubuntu.

Fedora 9 also includes OpenJDK, the open-source Java software from Sun Microsystems, GNOME 2.22, the Firefox 3 beta 5 Web browser, FreeIPA to let sysadmins manage identity policy, and an improved NetworkManager package to deal with better use of multiple networks.

The software can be downloaded through the Fedora Web site. The site also has a link to the Fedora 9 release notes.