Improved laptop support.
What does this mean?
Well I got a new laptop recently, a Dell XPS 1330. Some stuff didn't work out of the box, but we have new facilities to submit info about laptops and get things working. An install of Fedora 8 on this laptop would give you:
Working wireless out of the box. Intel 4965 firmware is in, works well, and NetworkManager rewrite leaves me with some pretty damn good software to manage it. Better than anything I've seen on any other OS, except for perhaps OSX (which has it's own problems, like recognizing an AP that changed it's auth method).
Working suspend/resume. There was a small issue with the backlight upon resume, but now there is a proper hal-info quirk to support it. It Just Works.
Working function keys (eject, stop/play-pause/ff/rw, volume up/down/mute, brightness up/down) all with really snazzy looking onscreen indicators. Again rivals OSX. As a side effect, the little remote that came with my laptop just works too.
Working monitor out. Using xrandr I can easily on the fly bring up a display connected to the VGA or the HDMI output. Connections are autodetected, size capability figured out on the fly, it just works and it is so sweet and slick. All that's missing is some slick UI to control it, and I bet we'll have that before F9.
Good battery life. Our power consumption is getting better and better all the time. We've fixed a lot of apps that woke up too much and added a bunch of good options to reduce power usage when on battery. Having working kill switches for devices helps a lot here too.
Good audio. With pulse now rockin I get great sound from all my apps, many at the same time. While the kernel alsa in the Fedora 8 release may not let my speakers work, I know there is a kernel update coming soon with new alsa that makes it all work. Just a tad too late for Fedora 8 final, but an easy update once it gets some testing.
My out of the box experience with this laptop is amazing. I just can't believe how well we're doing. If I tried to put Windows back on this I know I'd be playing the driver game, looking at craptastic network control tools, wishing I had a second battery and generally hating life. The fact that we can rival the OSX experience, and we've got /way/ more than a couple platforms to program for continues to amaze me. The fact that we write opensource software like say NetworkManager means that any other Linux distribution can take advantage of it and have a really good shared experience. What we lack in a constrained platform to program for we gain in a big way, a huge number of developers programing for open source and often times working in the same direction. Each Linux distribution doesn't have to reinvent the wheel, they can use the same wheel, do their own improvements and provide it back upstream. This is why I work on open source, and this is why I LOVE my job.