28 May 2011

Fedora 15 KDE: When New Old Is Better Than New New.

My last review was about Fedora 15 with GNOME 3 interface. That is the first ever implementation of GNOME 3 in widely released system.
But Fedora is not GNOME-only oriented system. It features several “spins” with different desktop environments: KDELXDEXFCE. Actually, there are some other spins for specific purposes, but that is not part of our today’s discussion.
Having used different distros for some time, I still prefer KDE to any other desktop environment. That’s why I could not pass by opportunity to try Fedora’s KDE spin.
Image file of this spin is much bigger than Fedora GNOME. It weights just below 700Mb.
As in my previous review, I tried to use Fedora’s tool to “burn” image file to USB stick. Unfortunately, this time I had no luck again. And again, old good dd command worked fine.
USB stick is in the port. Reboot. Chose to boot from USB. Let’s go!

The only question, which I had to answer before seeing Fedora KDE’s desktop, was about boot options. You can wether boot system as default, or use less risky video drivers. I tried default option, because I have never experienced any issues with video card so far.
Few seconds passed, and desktop wallpaper appeared in front of me. To be precise, Fedora 15 KDE boot time is 137 seconds, including network connection (more about that later). Is it much? You can check yourself in Racecourse Scoreboard. I'll just tell you that this is currently worse result among all USB-booted systems, and this is 30 seconds worse than Fedora 13 GNOME.
If you used to see KDE splash screen with different icons (Hard Disk to KDE logo) at the centre of the screen, you will be surprised. Fedora 15 KDE team placed these items not at the centre of the screen, but at the bottom, next to Fedora logo.
Fedora brings you KDE 4.6.2. This is the most recent stable version. If you have never used this version before, you can find new feature here. Right click on application on taskbar, then Advanced. There is option "Show a launcher for ... when it is not running". It is quick and effective way to create quick launch bar.
I saw this feature for the first time in Windows 7, and I like it. Although, it works slightly different in Windows 7 and KDE 4.6. Windows 7 has all the applications as icons on the bar, whether they are running or not. KDE 4.6 has icons for inactive applications and proper buttons for running ones.
WiFi connection was established the same way as in GNOME edition. The only things I had to do were to select network and enter access key. Job’s done, and I am connected to my home network and to the Internet. This is huge benefit of Fedora compared to many other systems: all the versions I have tried so far (131415) support my WiFi card Broadcom 4311 out of the box. No tweaks, no LAN connection to download driver, nothing. Just switch laptop and enjoy connection!
As in other systems, KDE in Fedora features Plasma and plasmoids. First of all, I added my favorite ones: CPU, network and memory usage. That’s why I can tell you that freshly booted and connected to WiFi network Fedora 15 KDE takes about 250 Mb of memory. Not the lowest among all the operating systems, but tolerable for modern computers. For comparison: Kubuntu 11.04 needs 218 Mb to boot.
Adding Russian keyboard is an easy task, as usual in KDE 4. Few clicks in Keyboard configuration, and I am able to type Russian, as well as use UK keyboard instead of default US.
Fedora 15 KDE comes with only one wallpaper, which is called "Lovelock" - the name of this version. Nice picture, by the way, I would not mind leaving it on my desktop if I decided to install Fedora. Of course, you can download more from the Internet or set up your own.
What is in Fedora 15 KDE in terms of bundled software?
I have told you about permanent benefit of Fedora just few lines above. But there is also permanent issue I have with Fedora: it never includes office applications. I complained about it in every single review which I linked above. But all these reviews were based on GNOME editions. Fedora 15 KDE does not have this issue. Yes, there is office package in this version. Expectedly, this is KOfficeFedora 15 KDE also includes KWrite. But for some reasons there is no Kate. If you do not like KOffice (and it is quite specific, I wrote about it), you can install Libre Office which is included into Fedora’s repository. You can either pick individual components, or do yum groupinstall "Office/Productivity", as advised in comments to my Fedora 15 GNOME 3 review.
Looks like Fedora KDE team likes KDE-specific applications a lot. That is not bad, but some of them are arguable. Network tools include Blogilo - KDE tool for bloggers. I have tried it for few minutes several months ago, but was not impressed. Should I try to use it again? Does anybody have experience with this tool? Do you have any recommendations around compatibility of Blogilo and Blogger?
Other internet tools also are represented by KDE-standard ones: Akgregator, Kopete, Konversation, Kmail. Of course, web browser is Konqueror. Unfortunately, this is not the best and modern browser  in the world. It gave me lots of javascript errors when I pointed it to Blogger statistics page. GMail works in HTML-based version in it.
As in GNOME version of Fedora, Youtube video did not start immediately, but suggested to install Flash plugin from Adobe site. First attempt to install it did not work. Second attempt made some downloading, installation, hard disk work etc. But at the end of the process I still saw same message asking me to download the plugin. Is it failure of Konqueror, Live version, Adobe or all three?
Fedora 15 KDE includes several multimedia players (Amarok, JuK, KsCD, Dragon Player). Of course, K3B is here for disk burning. Amarok is default player for MP3 files. But neither of players supports MP3 out of the box. This is normal for Fedora. Jpalko pointed to official explanation in his comment to my Fedora 15 GNOME 3 review.
Obviously, there are 2 options to solve MP3 issue: to install required plugin, or to install player which includes it. As I strongly prefer VLC to any other player, I went second route. Yes, you can easily install additional software in Live run, not like in some other systems. VLC installation went smoothly. Right after that I was able to play MP3 files.
Fedora 15 KDE includes several graphical tools, but no GIMP. I assume there is simply no space left for this useful tool on the CD image.
You see that Fedora 15 KDE is well-packed. Enough to help with everyday tasks of average user. If you need more software, you can either use yum in CLI, or run graphical tool KPackage Kit. It is responsible for software management in Fedora KDE. This tool looks very similar to Kubuntu's application, although has some differences. What I found strange that KPackage Kit immediately found more than 100 updates for my system, even though it was released just couple of days before my test.
In terms of speed, Fedora 15 KDE works relatively fast. Although I had some lags in graphics, especially after attempts to install Flash player and VLC installation. It also started to use processor extensively after that. I assume something went wrong and slowed down the system.
Dolphin, as usual, has a feature to browse the network. Unfortunately, it did not find anything in my network because for some reason did not see workgroup. That’s strange, but I am not much worried. Command mount works as usual. I managed to mount my network external drive in a matter of seconds. As in Fedora GNOME, Russian filenames were recognised by default.
By the way, mount command requires superuser (root) rights. By default, liveuser is not in sudoers file. You cannot do sudo in Live session. Need to use su in this case.
Another small issue which I noticed was linked to driver for touchpad. It does not understand scrolling when sliding finger at the edge of device.
You can see that Fedora 15 KDE did not disappoint me at all. Yes, there are some issues, but most likely they are caused by Live run. But final impression was slightly spoiled. I had same issue with shutdown. Fedora did not unmount network drive before switching off the WiFi network. I have same issue as Ubuntu 11.04. It makes system to wait significant time for network timeout before shutting down. After all I had to use power button to switch off laptop.

What is my overall impression about Fedora 15 KDE? It is very good. Slick system all around. Familiar polished interface, supported by company with big name. Unfortunately, issues with power off functions may affect my desire to install Fedora instead of one of *buntus on my quadro-boot laptop. Or may be not. I’ll try to use Live version for few more days before making final decision.
Do you want to try Fedora yourself, but cannot download image and burn it to CD yourself? You can check the page Buy Linux CDs and make an order there.
If you already own Fedora, you may be interested in reading books about it.

PS. Having USB drive with system on it, why not to try Fedora on different hardware? I booted my Toshiba L500 laptop with it. It ran well, but WiFi network card driver for Realtek 8191 is not included into Fedora 15 distro. Card itself is listed in lspci, but I could not activate it. That is OK, since only few OSes managed to make this card working.

Useful links:
http://pbs01.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/fedora-15-kde-first-impressions/ - another review of Fedora 15 KDE
http://www.fedoraforum.org/ - forum about Fedora


  1. After upgrading from F14 to F15 and trying to use it for a few days I just gave up. GNOME 3 Shell is just broken beyonf repair. This prompted me to try the KDE spin and I soon found out why you prefer KDE over anything else. It is just awesome, a lot of very nice features like tagging files and a lot of ways to customize it. I'm really liking KDE and it appears I'm turning into a KDE fan.

  2. @Nemanja:
    Thanks! Welcome to the club of KDE fans.

  3. "prefer KDE [...] a lot of ways to customize it"

    Funny that. That's exactly why I build Linux From Scratch. It's been a few months and I'm not yet finished customizing it.

    In the meanwhile, when I want/need to get rl work done I boot F15+Gnome3.

  4. @Anonymous:
    I think your understanding of "customize it" is different from previous. You're trying to customize the system itself whereas Nemanja wants to customize desktop environment on top of existing system.

  5. Nice reading. By the way for those who like KDE. The new Pardus 2011.1 are not far away now:

  6. @Anonimous:
    I hope new Pardus will be even better than old one.

  7. I used F14+Gnome 2.xx and I was very satisfied with it until I upgraded to F15+Gnome3. Gnome 3 is elegant but I am not pleased with it. I always need a full desktop and no menu bar but there isn't a way to hide the menubar. I cannot even right click on the desktop to find a pop-up menu allowing me to change the desktop wallpapers ... My needs are rather primitive but then G3 just doesn't have them.

    I tried KDE spin and it satisfies my needs. There is one thing if I might ask though - is there a way I can have the system automatically boot up with the network 'activated'? The 'Conect automatically' check box in the KDE Control Module is checked but the 'System connection' checkbox is grayed out. I have to manually 'activate' it in order to have internet access, that I won't have the connection in runlevel 3 (aka multi-user.target mode)

    Any thoughts perhaps? Thanks!


    1. Hi,

      I have been trying to solve the problem of network connection time out issue in KDE for Fedora16. I have to do "enable networking" every time I login. By any chance, do you have an answer to this?


    2. @Anonymous:
      This post is about Fedora 15. If you would like to read about Fedora 16, please click here.
      I experienced no issues with network connection when I had Fedora installed on my laptop. Although it was for a short period of time, but definitely more than several logins. Maybe it is hardware or driver issue.

  8. BTW, I tried OpenSuSE 11.4+KDE 4.6 too. I somehow went back to Fedora...

  9. @lonersam:
    You repeat way of many Ubuntu users who are not satisfied with Unity. They switch to other DEs, and KDE is now very mature to be considered as good replacement. I personally prefer KDE anyway. Unfortunately Fedora users do not have [even temporary] fall-back option to return to GNOME 2, as Ubuntu users.
    Unfortunately I don't have solution for your question.

  10. That's alright DarkDuck. I spent the whole afternoon configuration the KDE4 environment and all, I am now using it with F15. Other than the issue I mentioned which I still can't resolve, things appear alright.

  11. I have shifted to Fedora 15 KDE on my main computer after 5 years on Ubuntu. I didn't like Unity, I preferred GNOME 3 but felt it was too dumbed down for a power-user like myself. So far I'm happy with Fedora because it's uncluttered, I made needed to make a few tweaks, installing Firefox, flash, Libreoffice. Working out how to get MP3 support was certainly non-trivial, shows me how Ubuntu has warped my expectations of linux distros and almost killed the part of me that loves tinkering with the OS's internals. I'll likely never go back as long as I can get the mrs on side!

  12. @dnel:
    Why Fedora? Can you give me reasons?
    I am currently also looking for *buntus replacement. I waited to Fedora 15 and got slightly disappointed.
    I tried Mageia yesterday, and it looks rather good. I think I'll wait for Mandriva and Pardus releases in coming couple of weeks before making final decision.
    But I'd like to see your reasons for Fedora choice, if you don't mind.

  13. I'd made the decision to switch to KDE so I tested Kubuntu, Mint, OpenSUSE 11.4 and Fedora 14, of those I found OpenSUSE to be my favourite, then Fedora 15 came out I tried that and I found it about on par with OpenSUSE.

    I am currently using OpenSUSE at work and Fedora at home in a real-life trial. I've burned my bridges and deleted my Ubuntu installation. I would've gone OpenSUSE all out but I've had some issues with package management that's put me off committing to it.

    I'm not scared of the CLI but I'm very rusty on anything outside of the Debian family tree and this was why I wanted to broaden my horizons.

    I wanted a major distro with good documentation and community support. Both distros have the latter but I'm finding the OpenSUSE documentation better. I worry though that YAST2 could keep me lazy in the same way Ubuntu has whereas Fedora is more exposed to the user.

    Mageia looks interesting but I'm scarred by bad experiences of Mandrake so I'm wary of that whole family line, irrational I know.

    My 3rd option is Arch which I intend on trying out but I don't have the time right now to spend getting it just right.

  14. @dnel:
    thanks for such a detailed answer. Have you tried Slackware and Pardus?

  15. No, I've not tried either.

  16. For System connection support question... There's no support in F15 but you can try a new knm from kde-unstable repository. It supports NM 0.9 and thus system connections. But it's still early one and there's no automatical migration, so we prefer not to push it to F15 now.

    Thanks for review!

  17. Where can we find instructions on installing the knm in kde-unstable? I'd prefer to minimize the unstable portions I install and as is on F15 KDE I can't even figure out how to enable ip masq.

  18. Fedora 15 KDE booted from usb on my machine for just 10-15 seconds.

  19. @Вальо ЙОЛОВСКИ:
    Happy to hear! That probably depends in hardware.
    My laptop is 4.5y.o. The best I have seen so far was Ubuntu 11.04 with 43 sec. from cold start to desktop.

  20. I just loaded up Fedora 15 from the full DVD spin. It includes everything. I use "customise software" on install and once its installed its all ready to go.
    I have always used Gnome but this time I am not happy. There is a bar at the top of the screen, but I could not place shortcut widgets on it. It is inefficient use of space. I want a desktop with a tool bar- icons to start programs, and icons for running programs. Easy to start and easy to hop between. I did not like two clicks to hop between screens, or starting applications.
    I do like the new "applications" screen- very good.
    I got used to alt-tabbing between programs but overall I did not like Gnome and I was suspicious- why does it have an "airplane mode" switch? What are they planning? another Android? They need to fork it - one Gnome for smartphones and tablets and another for desktops.
    And my ancient PC was crashing a lot with gnome. It would just lock up, and I would need to ctrl-alt-backspace and relogon.
    I switched to KDE and after an hour I had learned enough to set it up and I am very happy with it.
    I boot from hard drive and it is noticeably slower than Fedora 14.
    Fedora is still my choice and I like it a lot.

  21. @Rich Purdie:
    Your comment is like standalone review.
    Thanks for sharing!

  22. I have a Gateway Mini LT3103u I am have an issue with Gnome ATI Radeon driver in which the whole display will become garbled and Ive sent a few bug issues to the forums and even tried the new ATI driver install listed in the user forum on Aug 15 2011 which completely broke my install are there any known video/graphic card/AMD 64 issues

  23. @Anonymous:
    Sorry to hear about that... Unfortunately, I have no clue how to help you here...

  24. I've used some distros running KDE: Kubuntu, PCLinuxOS, Fedora15. On a cd I'm trying Mandriva2011 and Mageia.
    The one I prefer is Fedora 15. It works perfectly. It ships without proprietary software. So, if you want to play mp3 files or dvd or flash content, you have to install multimedia codecs, libdvdcss and flash. But after that the system is really stable (notwithstanding is cutting edge), robust and works perfectly (on the contrary, I'm experimenting flash crashes in Firefox running PCLOS). You can install those programs by yourself (I prefer) or running script programs like "autoplus". You have to work a bit, but is not difficult. It has great support and documentation (thanks to Red Hat). I agree that Mageia is a very good O.S. too (maybe I'll install it instead of PCLOS).
    Keep up the good work!
    Cheers, Luca.

  25. @Anonymous (Luca):
    Thanks for commenting!
    Fedora is really good system. Unfortunately, Fedora 15 has some illness which prevents me from using it.
    Please try Mageia. I am using it and enjoy a lot.

  26. @DarkDuck : I also have Toshiba Laptop (A505 S6033). A kernel update should fix the wifi issue. Command is sudo yum update kernel.

    I saw you asking reason for using Fedora. Once everything is updated, the system works pretty well and responsive than *untu distros.

    I am totally disappointed about Gnome 3, as a regular user I need everything in reach. Tweaking Gnome 3 to make it usable was a little bit tricky and time consuming, but good thing happened because of that, I tried KDE after many years - which I disliked many years ago.

    I found KDE is working very well for me right now, everything is right there and easy to tweak.

    Thanks for your article which will aid in guiding people to the right direction. :)

  27. @Arun Vasudevan:
    This post was written about Fedora 15. I have not tried new Fedora 16 on that laptop yet. Will do later.