Fedora's Linux distribution may be competing with Ubuntu for the title of silliest update name, but that doesn't diminish the impact of what are often significant revisions. See the just-launched Fedora 18 as an example: while it's called Spherical Cow, it introduces both a simpler installer to replace an aging predecessor as well as the option of using the Gnome 3-based Cinnamon desktop we recently saw in Linux Mint 13. There's also FedFS, a file system that provides unity between multiple file servers, and newer versions of both Sugar and XFCE for those who prefer different interfaces. If these and many under-the-hood updates can overcome the giggling over rounded bovines, Fedora 18's download and release notes are ready at the source links.
We've taken you through a tour of Window Managers in Linux, and now it's time to show you the Window Manager's bigger brother: the desktop environment, or DE for short. With a sea of choices out there, we can see where Linux newbies might feel a bit overwhelmed. Catch us after the break and we'll show you some of our favorites, along with a few honorable mentions.
When it comes to Linux distributions, Slackware could well be called the archetype. It's not just one of the longest-serving releases at nearly 20 years old -- it's designed to be "pure" and cut back on customized apps, many graphical interface assistants and the requirement to download anything during the installation process. Pat Volkerding and team have nonetheless given us a bit of a break with the launch of Slackware 14.0. While many open-source fans will be downloading a copy for the more recent Linux 3.2.29 kernel and other updated packages, ease of use is the guiding principle for the new build: there's now a graphical NetworkManager interface to manage wired and wireless connections, for a start. In tandem with the newer kernel, updated versions of the KDE and Xfce desktop environments also result in much broader hardware support than many veteran users will remember. Slackware is now much more savvy about removable storage, accelerated 3D video, SATA and other features that have sometimes demanded command line trickery. Anyone can download the revamped distribution for free, including for ARM-based devices like the Raspberry Pi, although we'd consider springing for the $33 subscription to CD-based copies of Slackware to fund Volkerding's long-term efforts.