My last review was about Fedora 15 with GNOME 3 interface. That is the first ever implementation of GNOME 3 in widely released system.
Fedora is not GNOME-only oriented system. It features several “spins” with different desktop environments: KDE, LXDE, XFCE. 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.
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 (13, 14, 15) 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.
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 KOffice. Fedora 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?
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.
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