Fedora Linux has not typically been closely associated with the business world. That realm was instead the purview of Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), which sponsors Fedora as a community project and uses it as a proving ground for technologies that often later appear in Red Hat Enterprise Linux. But if the upcoming release of Fedora 18 is any indication, the open source operating system may be poised to become more business friendly in its own right.

Currently, Fedora 18 is not scheduled to be released in stable form until Nov. 27, 2012. But with the alpha version out last week and most planned features already largely implemented, users enjoy a pretty good idea of what the final product will look like.

Gearing Up for Business?

And while Fedora 18 will introduce a slew of new features, some of the most notable are those that make it a stronger candidate within commercial environments. These include:
  • Out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Active Directory. It's long been possible to join any Linux machine to an AD environment, of course, but by making the configuration quick and painless, Fedora will gain a default feature of key importance for many commercial organizations.
  • Better support for automatic discovery of printers and other devices via Avahi. Automatic printer detection is also a major requirement for many business environments.
  • Support for NFSometer, a tool for measuring the performance of networked file shares based on the open source NFS protocol used in many enterprise environments.
  • Packages for Eucalyptus, an open source platform for building private clouds. This feature will make Fedora a stronger candidate for organizations with serious cloud computing needs.
  • Along similar lines, the open source data syncing platform ownCloud will also be packaged for Fedora 18, allowing users to create their own infrastructures for sharing data across devices.
  • And last but not least for organizations interested in the cloud, the latest stable release of OpenStack, codenamed Folsom, will be available for Fedora 18.
It would be silly, of course, to position Fedora as the up-and-coming business desktop of the open source world. Business has never really been Fedora's focus, and the commercially-oriented features new to Fedora 18 represent only a small subset of the many enhancements set to debut with the release in November.

Still, the features listed above will help make Fedora a more attractive operating system for businesses. Perhaps Canonical -- which has had its sights fixed on the business market for some time but whose main product, Ubuntu, still lacks features such as out-of-the-box AD integration -- should look to Fedora 18 for some inspiration.