On Tuesday, Red Hat announced the general availability of Fedora 19, its Linux operating system codenamed Schrodinger’s Cat. Fedora 19 packages a variety of open source technologies that have been integrated into its Linux distribution and are subsequently available for download and modification. Because Fedora represents the testing platform for Red Hat’s flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution, the distribution’s evolution is watched closely since it provides insight about the future of RHEL, one of the most widely used enterprise-grade distributions of Linux.
With respect to ongoing deployment, monitoring and management functionality, Fedora 19 contains OpenStack Grizzly, the latest version of the popular open source IaaS collaboration of which Red Hat is a Platinum Board Member and vigorous contributor of code. This release also includes virtual storage migration that empowers users to move virtual machines without requiring shared storage between host machines. Finally, Fedora 19 boasts “Systemd Resource Control” and “Checkpoint & Restore” functionality to dynamically update service settings and baseline and restore processes and system parameters.
Robyn Bergeron, Fedora Project Leader, noted that agility was the defining attribute of Fedora 19 as follows:
In this release, the Fedora Project community has absolutely demonstrated that agility matters. From high-level features for enabling cloud and virtualization infrastructure, all the way down to process-level and virtual-machine level portability, combined with the newest developer toolchains, Fedora 19 contains cutting-edge technologies that enable scalability, resilience, and flexibility that are vital in a technology world increasingly focused on rapid delivery of solutions, services, and information.
Here, Bergeron touches upon the release’s compatibility with “cloud and virtualization infrastructure” as evinced by OpenStack Grizzly and OpenShift PaaS as well as the “flexibility” inherent to its developer tools and improved everyday experience by means of CUPS enhancements that enable faster printing, federated Voice-over-IP (VoIP) that allows users to make calls using a user@domain address, in addition to desktop choices such as GNOME 3.8, KDE Plasma Workspaces 4.10 and the MATE 1.6 desktop environment.
The most significant innovation of Fedora 19, however, concerns its use of MariaDB as opposed to Oracle’s MySQL out of concern that MySQL lacked sufficient transparency and openness. Jaroslav Reznik, Fedora’s Project Manager, elaborated on Fedora concerns about MySQL’s transparency in January of this year as follows:
The original company behind MySQL, MySQL AB, were bought out by Sun which was then bought by Oracle. Recent changes made by Oracle indicate they are moving the MySQL project to be more closed. They are no longer publishing any useful information about security issues (CVEs), and they are not providing complete regression tests any more, and a very large fraction of the mysql bug database is now not public.
MariaDB, which was founded by some of the original MySQL developers, has a more open-source attitude and an active community. We have found them to be much easier to work with, especially in regards to security matters.
MariaDB is a MySQL fork whose development was led by the original developers of MySQL over concerns about the stewardship of MySQL by Oracle. MariaDB is intended as a “drop-in” replacement of MySQL and supports MySQL’s open source storage engines and additional storage engines and features as well. Returning to Fedora 19, future versions of Fedora may not even feature MySQL alongside MariaDB as noted by Jaroslav Reznik:
MySQL will continue to be available for at least one release, but MariaDB will become the default. Also, we do not intend to support concurrent installation of both packages on the same machine; pick one or the other.
MySQL may well be gone from Fedora 20 or Fedora 21, but the more interesting question concerns whether RHEL 7.0 will be released with MariaDB as its default database management system (DBMS). In an interview with ZDNet, Senior Director of Product Marketing for RHEL Mark Coggin refused to confirm that RHEL 7.0 would be shipped with MariaDB as its default DBMS, although he did specify that Red Hat Software Collections 1.0, which has been offered in Beta to RHEL 6 customers, contains MariaDB version 5.5, MySQL version 5.5, and PostgreSQL version 9.2. Red Hat intends to offer the languages featured in Red Hat Software Collections 1.0 in RHEL 7.0, although the question of the default DBMS remains. If Red Hat does decide to ultimately dispense with MySQL, however, it will be significant news for Oracle, which has thus far been used to being involved in the powering of LAMP technology stacks, especially as the meaning of “LAMP” undergoes redefinition.