Fedora 18 Spherical Cow lands with MATE, Eucalyptus, KDE 4.9

After being postponed seven times over two months, one of the strongest Linux operating systems – Fedora – has released its latest version — Fedora 18, or the Spherical Cow.

The biggest attraction about the release probably that it’s finally out. Unlike the six months that it usually takes, the release has taken about eight, and kept fans on tenterhooks for the longest period.

Thanks to postponements, 2012 can claim to be among those rare years which have seen only one Fedora release.

As for features and improvements, the biggest change is perhaps the addition of the MATE desktop interface. MATE Desktop is based on GNOME 2 and provides a more traditional, Windows 7-like interface, complete with a task bar at the bottom (or top).

Fedora was the first operating system to move away from traditional computer interface on to the Gnome 3 approach which focuses on mouse gestures to move from one window to another, instead of the traditional click-and-swap method.

Though sexier, the new method caught many traditional users by surprise, leading to much negative feedback. The MATE desktop option is likely to attract some of those still holding out against the new approach.

For those who don’t mind the new approach, the Gnome interface has been bumped up to version 3.6, which is much more stable than 3.4 or 3.2, and less memory consuming. Ubuntu moved to 3.6 three months ago.

For the fans of KDE, Fedora 18 comes with the spanking new 4.9 version, leaving the 4.8 behind, and for those who prefer Xfce’s look and feel, the version is 4.1 (up from 4.0).

Another handy improvement is the new wireless (Wifi) hotspot feature. “The enhancement to Network Manager will enable easy-to-use AP-mode for supported hardware, which solves compatibility problems and provides a smoother user experience,” according to the description.

Another ‘fun’ update will be multi-colour terminals, a feature that was already there in many other Linux operating systems. So, the new terminal programs will support 256 colors instead of 8 earlier.

Fedora 18 will also support “offline updating” that will make the process “more reliable by doing it in an minimal, controlled environment.” The Spherical Cow also comes with UEFI “Secure Boot”, just in case you ended up buying one of those new Windows 8 machines that don’t let you install anything that has not been signed.

The feature is required to be enabled on all machines bearing the Windows 8 Client logo.

Work has also been done on simplifying the installer, and has improved both the end-user experience as well as ease of implementation of new features, particularly new storage technologies, for developers, Fedora developers said.

Another noteworthy addition is Eucalyptus – a cloud computing software platform for on-premise (private) Infrastructure as a Service clouds. It uses existing infrastructure to create scalable and secure cloud resources that are compatible with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The software is available on the Fedora torrents page.