Last week we saw release of freshest version of Fedora, community Linux distributions supported by RedHat. The most popular option of Fedora is GNOME, and Fedora 16 includes the most recent version of it, GNOME 3. You can read my review of that system here.
But as soon as I am KDE fan, I could not miss a chance to try another option of Fedora, this time with KDE desktop environment.
Image size for Fedora 16 KDE is just under 700 Mb. It is much more than GNOME3 option, and the reasons are quite clear. I'll tell you later.
I downloaded ISO image from the torrent, which worked pretty well, as usual.
Having troubles with creation of Live USB from Debian and Ubuntu ISO images, I was scared that Fedora wouldn't work in Live USB mode either. But anyway I gave Untebootin a chance... Let's see if it works...
Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!
Surprise for me! Really nice surprise! Live USB mode of Fedora 16 worked on my laptop! Most likely because Fedora does not use hybrid ISO images, but I can't tell for sure.
Another nice surprise was just after I saw the booting started. I did not finish to express my excitement when... booting was finished! Boot time of Fedora 16 KDE from Live USB was amazingly quick! I honestly did not expect that!
When booting, I saw my screen flicked several times - similar story to Fedora 16 with GNOME3. But finally I saw default wallpaper with 20000 Leagues Under the Sea-inspired picture. KDE-style icons appeared one by one at the bottom of the splash screen. And I am in Fedora 16 default KDE desktop.
Default desktop wallpaper image in Fedora 16 KDE is good enough. As I said, it is the same image as in GNOME3 version of Fedora 16. Unfortunately, the only other choice is striped image - not sure if it is much better than default one.
Desktop itself in Fedora 16 KDE has Desktop view by default (sounds funny, doesn't it?). There is one folder open on it, and the only icon in the folder is for Installer.
|Image by Johnny Ashburn|
Freshly booted Fedora 16 KDE system uses about 246 Mb of memory, which is average, but not too much.
System itself has KDE 4.7.2 based on Linux kernel 3.1.0. Both kernel and KDE version are fresher than ones used in Kubuntu 11.10, which was released about a month before Fedora 16.
Default panel only has one icon next to KMenu button. Same as in Kubuntu 11.10, it is Activity manager. Other parts of the panel in Fedora 16 KDE are well known and they are not very different between different KDE-based distributions.
Clocks are on the right part of the panel. It showed strange time. I assume Fedora understood my computer settings as UTC, not as actual local time, and adjusted it to its default timezone - New York (EST).
KMenu is in Kick-off style, and still has only "breadcrumbs" navigation at the top of the menu, no arrows on the left and right to move between the menu parts. I assume that's not fault of Fedora or Kubuntu, but rather some short-sighting of KDE team. If anyone knows a way to get arrows navigation back, please share!
Menu itself in Fedora 16 KDE is slightly different from other KDE-based distribuions, and sometimes it is confusing. For example, Settings part of menu is empty. Instead, there are 2 other parts: Administration and Development.
Let's have a look what is inside the menu.
Default and the only browser in Fedora 16 KDE is Konqueror. Other than that, Internet section of menu is full of KDE-native tools like KTorrent, Kopete, KGet, Akgregator, Blogilo. I tried to use Blogilo for this blog, but it was not able to auto-configure to my Blogger connection.
Konqueror browser itself is pretty much stable. I started drafting this blog post in it, and it worked fine. But Konqueror does not support built-in editor for Blogger. That's why I had to search for alternatives.
As you may know, my favourite browser is Chrome(-ium). Unfortunately for me, neither Chrome nor Chromium are in default repositories of Fedora 16. That's why I had to install Chrome from Google's site. It's an easy task though.
Fedora 16 KDE includes 3 games: KPatience, KMines and KMahjongg. It is quite funny that desktop-oriented (including home computers) OS like Fedora has less games than corporate-oriented Pardus Kurumsal.
Graphics section of Fedora 16 menu contains a couple of viewers (Gwenview and Document viewer), KolourPaint, KSnapshot and couple of other useful tools. You can see here a difference from GNOME3. Even though KolourPaint is not the most powerful graphics editor, it is still better than nothing. Of course, one could argue that GIMP is de-facto standard tool for image editing in Open Source Operating Systems. But it takes too much of valuable disk space. That's why I am more or less happy to see at least something.
Multimedia part of Fedora 16 menu is full of players: KsCD, Amarok, JuK, Dragon Player are here. Plus, of course, K3B disk burning tool and KMix. I am not 100% sure Fedora has to include so many players in the default distribution. Again, if I had a choice between Amarok and GIMP, my choice would be definitely for GIMP. Fedora developers, will you listen to my voice?
Opposite to GNOME-based Fedora release, which, I'd remind you, does not contain any Office package at all, KDE-based Fedora ships KOffice. KWord, KSpread, KPresenter are included in distribution. Other than that, Office part of system contains Kontact, KOrganizer and few other utilities.
System part of menu contains usual set of utilities: Bug reporter, K3B, Dolphin, Krisader, Konsole etc.
Some of those programs are also listed in Utilities part of menu: Krisader, Disk Utility, KJots, KNotes, KWrites and many others.
As you can see, list of applications in KDE version of Fedora 16 is bigger than in its GNOME3 twin sister. I promised you earlier to explain why KDE-based Fedora 16 has image size 100 Mb bigger than GNOME-based. I think answer is obvious now: it has more software included. Office tools, lots of Internet tools, KolourPaint are worth those megabytes! Sure!
What if you need more software to be installed on Fedora? There are 2 options here. First, look for the RPM file with your application on developers' site. Many developers release their programs in this packaging format. Second, try to use Software Centre from Fedora itself. I would recommend you to start from the second option actually
This Software Centre in Fedora 16 is not the best I've ever seen. But it still allows you to search for applications, install and uninstall them.
What is available? I did a quick search just out of curiosity.
- VLC is not in the default repositories.
- Qutim is there.
- Midnight Commander, of course, is there.
Next step of my usual system checking was connection to external network drive.
Fedora 16's default file manager Dolphin was able to mount this partition with full support of Russian characters with its built-in smb:/ mounting tool.
Also I could mount same partition from command line using mount -t cifs... command. It means that smbclient is included into Fedora 16 distribution by default.
But does mounting network partition helped with my end task for this - listening to the music which is stored on network drive? Unfortunately not. At least, not out of the box.
Neither of 3 players: Amarok, JuK, DragonPlayer - was able to start MP3 file straight away. Moreover, 2 of them, Amarok and JuK, wanted to copy file from remote location first when disk was mounted via Dolphin's tool. I stopped this copying myself.
JuK was able to start MP3 file from remote partition when mounted via mount command without copying. But still was not able to play it, because plugin was missing.
When playing from local drive, Amarok also produced a message that plugin is missing. But it could not find plugin from default repositories.
Yes, you're right. That is usual story about MP3 and Fedora. You need to make some shaman dances to enable it. First of all, I tried a method recommended in comments for my previous review of Fedora 15. No luck. Finally, solution was found in Post-installation guide to Fedora 16. And it worked! MP3 files played in my Fedora 16 KDE run!
Another part of multimedia hell in Fedora and many other Linux distributions is Flash. I have mentioned above that Chrome installation was one of he first things I had done in Fedora 16 KDE Live run. And Flash was available in Google Crome immediately.
|Fedora 16 KDE - Chrome plays Flash videos|
out of the box
But that's not a merit of Fedora. It's a merit of Chrome. Why? Because Konqueror did not have this ability. You need to install Flash plugin separately for this browser. I suppose it will be the same issue with other browsers. I have tried this installation in GNOME3 version of Fedora 16, and I can tell you: there's nothing impossible or even difficult to stop you.
Finally, I'd like to talk a little about integration of laptop built-in hardware into Fedora distribution.
The most important part of laptop is touchpad. You can always use it, even when the mouse is not an option. Unfortunately, scrolling in touchpad was not working by default in Fedora 16 KDE. To enable it, I used good how-to. Couple of commands, and magic happened.
Fedora 16 KDE had same issue with my semi-hardware sound volume controls, as any other Linux distributions I've seen so far. It could not correctly process key combinations Fn-F5 and Fn-F6.
I also need to note that I had some stability issues in Live USB run of Fedora 16 KDE. System froze several times during some high-resource required operations, like when I tried to switch desktop theme from standard to Air.
Also, I was not able to see Desktop Cube, even when I activated it in System settings.
And finally, when shutting down, there was a message about crash in some security component. It means I could not properly check normal shutdown process.
But I believe all these points above are just issues of Live run. They are unlikely to repeat in normal installation.
In general, Fedora 16 KDE left very good impression on me. Its performance was amazing. If Fedora 15 KDE was a great system, this new release is truly improved perfection.
Does it mean I will consider trying it in installed version? Why not?
If you want to try Fedora 16 (GNOME or KDE version) yourself, why not purchase CD with this Linux distributions from this site?