22 Jul 2012

Is Fedora 17 GNOME Really a Miracle?

I had a dilemma last week: whether to start my approach to Fedora 17 Beefy Miracle from the KDE or GNOME spin of this operating system. The decision was to take on the KDE release first. I was not disappointed by it, but I was not overly impressed.

This time around I had no dilemma: Fedora 17 GNOME was still waiting for me.

The image size of Fedora 17 GNOME is about 645 Mb, and is available either from torrent or one of many mirrors. However, to look ahead slightly, I should tell you that the image size depends on where you’re looking at it.

I created a Live USB using the Unetbootin tool. So, the USB stick is in the port of my laptop Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505. Reboot. Choose to boot from Live USB. Let’s go!


Booting up

Boot time of the Fedora 17 GNOME Live USB was average, maybe a little bit less than average. The first screen had exactly the same issue as I've seen in Fedora 17 KDE: Unetbootin listed both normal boot menu items and .iso files.

The splash screen of the GNOME version of Fedora 17 is the same as in KDE: the small Fedora logo in the centre of the screen. It soon changed to the desktop wallpaper.

At the end of the boot process, I saw a window very similar to the Ubuntu one: a choice between a Live run and installation. Even though I selected the Live run, Fedora 17 GNOME decided to remind me again that installation is possible from the relevant menu item. And then, Fedora left me by myself.
Fedora 17 GNOME desktop
Fedora 17 GNOME desktop
uses about 250 Mb of memory when idle
The freshly booted system took just over 250 Mb of memory, which is less than the KDE version of the same operating system.

Fedora 17 GNOME runs Linux kernel 3.3.4-5, and the GNOME version is 3.4.

Pure GNOME Desktop

The default screen in Fedora 17 GNOME has exactly the same wallpaper as the KDE version of this distribution: night sky in blue tones with fireworks in the top right corner. There is a choice of 20 alternative wallpapers in the distribution. However, you can't access desktop background configuration from the right-click menu on the desktop itself, simply because there is no right-click menu as such. Instead, there is a Background section in the System Settings.

The desktop itself is empty. There are no items on it.

There are 3 panels available in the Fedora 17 GNOME by default, as in any other distribution with vanilla GNOME 3. They are:

  1. quick access panel and dock at the left side,
  2. virtual desktop switch at the right side, and
  3. system panel at the top.

The left and right panels are not visible until you move the mouse cursor to the top left corner, press the Activities button or hit the Super (Windows) key on the keyboard. Moreover, the virtual desktop panel is half-hidden until you move the cursor over it.

Any of the three actions I named above have the same effect: existing windows become smaller to enable the switch between them, the system Activities menu is called up and both side panels are shown. From there, you can switch to the Applications section of the Activities menu, which will replace the preview images of active windows.

The left panel in Fedora 17 GNOME, by default, has some applications for quick access, like Rhythmbox music player, Nautilus file manager, Firefox browser, Evolution mail client, Shotwell photo manager and the Install Fedora icon. When you run another application, the dock also shows it.

The top panel has Activities button in the top left corner, clocks in the middle and the system status area at the right. The panel itself is black, which cannot be changed, to the best of my knowledge. Clocks showed me my local (London) time minus 4 hours, the same as Fedora 17 KDE. The notification area has a more or less standard set of items: volume control, network manager, power indicator and the button with current user name, which calls up a submenu for notifications, online accounts, shutdown and system settings. As in previous versions of Fedora, there is no Shutdown option in this menu. It appears only if you press the Alt key.

As you can see from here, the appearance of Fedora 17 GNOME gives you a vanilla GNOME 3 experience. Is it bad or good? It depends on whether you like GNOME 3 or not. For example, if you haven't seen the GNOME 3 Shell yet, you can run Fedora GNOME to get your own experience of it. If you don’t know how to create a Live CD with Fedora 17 Beefy Miracle, then you can probably order a Fedora CD using the BuyLinuxCDs.co.uk service.

The "Vanilla" GNOME 3 Shell, like the one in Fedora 17, is not the only incarnation of GNOME 3 functionality. Others are available in Zorin OS, where GNOME 3 is reworked to appear closer to the Windows interface, and the Mint team's Cinnamon, which aims to be closer to GNOME 2 style.

Network

Fedora 17 GNOME automatically recognised and configured my wireless network card, Intel 3945 ABG. My home network was available in the list when I clicked the Network Manager icon on the panel. It only took me a few seconds to type in the security key, and I was on-line very soon.

Keyboard Layout

When I searched for "keyboard" within the Activities menu in Fedora 17, GNOME Shell gave me several options. My first choice was for Keyboard. It is quite logical, isn't it? Especially if you’ve tried KDE before. But that's the wrong place to go, if you want to configure keyboard layouts. The correct place is Region and Languages.

The actual process of configuring layouts is not any different from the majority of GNOME or Unity based distributions. The default layout in the system is English US, and I easily replaced it with English UK + Russian, specifying Ctrl-Shift as a switch hotkey.

Fedora 17 GNOME automatically placed the language indicator in the top panel. However, you cannot choose the indicator style between text and flag, as you do in KDE. The only option is text, which is probably OK from the style point of view.

Fedora 17 GNOME automatically configured the touchpad of my laptop. It enabled edge scrolling. Unfortunately, taps were not enabled by default. I easily fixed this in the System Settings item called Mouse and Touchpad.

Applications

GNOME 3 Shell does not have a menu in a classical sense of this word, like we used to see it in other desktop environments: GNOME 2, KDE, XFCE, LXDE or Windows. Instead, there is a large list, which includes all available applications in one flat grid. Certainly, there are ways to navigate through the list.

First of all, there are sections, which remotely recall the menu sections. They are listed in the right part of the applications list.

Second, there is a search function. It allows you to search by typing in the keywords. But, as in Unity, the search is far from ideal. For example, a search for the word “internet” gives you zero result, even though there is a whole Internet group on the right. That's not convenient at all, from my point of view.

Another inconvenience is that the menu does not show the application name. For example, Nautilus is shown as Files. You can type Nautilus, and find it, but why not show Nautilus somewhere in the description of the menu item as well, like it is in KDE Kickoff menu? Even here, I found some inconsistency. For example, Brasero is listed under its own name, rather than Disk Burner.

Anyway, let’s leave my rants aside. Let’s check what is available in Fedora 17 GNOME out of the box.

Firefox 12.0 is the only available browser in Fedora 17 GNOME. Other than Firefox, there is Empathy instant messenger, Transmission torrent client, Remote Desktop Viewer and Desktop Sharing applications.

The Office part of the menu includes Dictionary, Document Viewer and Evolution mail. You may wonder about two things here. First of all, why Evolution is in the Office section, rather than in Internet. Unfortunately, I don't know the answer. Second, you may ask where are all the productivity applications like spreadsheet processor, document editor and so on. The answer is in Fedora’s policy or tradition: Fedora GNOME does not include any office suite at all. Of course, you can install your favourite packages from the repository, but they are not available out of the box.

The Graphics section of Fedora 17 GNOME includes Document Viewer, Image Viewer, Shotwell photo manager and Simple Scan. As you see, there is no graphics editor in the default distribution. Even the Screenshot utility is not listed in the this section.

There are a half dozen different simple games in Fedora 17 GNOME, like Sudoku, Miner or Solitaire.

Multimedia applications are represented by Rhythmbox player, Brasero disk burner, Sound Juicer CD extractor, Movie Player and Cheese webcam tool.

There is a usual set of applications in the Accessories section: Gedit, Files (Nautilus), Contacts, Calculator, Archive manager, Screenshot and so on. I was quite surprised to see a Disks item in the Accessories. I would rather see it in the System menu, because this is a very system-critical application. Anyhow, the disk-partitioning tool exists in Fedora.

I should come back to the fact I hinted at the very start of this article. While running Fedora 17 GNOME in the Live mode, I checked the size of the ISO image, which was stored on the hard drive of my laptop. Nautilus showed it as… 675 Mb instead of actual 645 Mb. The same with KDE version: Nautilus told me it is 728 Mb, whereas I was absolutely sure it was below 700 Mb. Is this right? Maybe Fedora / GNOME / Nautilus developers forgot about the fact that 1Kb is 1024 bytes, not 1000; and 1 Mb is 1048576 bytes, not 1000000?
File size is shown wrongly in Fedora GNOME
File size is shown wrongly in Fedora GNOME
The System Tools section, in its turn, lists Terminal, System Monitor, Disk usage analyzer, Software Update, Package manager (Add/Remove Software) and some more similar items.

There is a separate section called Other, which includes tools like Firewall, Printing, User and Groups, Software Settings and so on.

In other words, system-critical tools are spread in three different menu areas of Fedora 17 GNOME: Accessories, System Tools and Other. That's a mess.

From my perspective, the organisation of the menu itself in GNOME 3 in general, and Fedora 17 Beefy Miracle in particular, is very confusing. This simple fact may stop me from using GNOME 3 in the foreseeable future.

Because Fedora 17 GNOME lacks some important things you might need in your everyday work, like an office suite or graphics editor, it is very likely that you will use the package manager from the very early stages of your life with Fedora, if you ever run it. The Add/Remove Software tool is the way to manage packages in this operating system. It comes in the distribution without a list of available packages. To make it usable, you need to update the repository. But then, the speed of its work is unacceptably slow. I am not sure whether this was due to the Live run of Fedora 17 GNOME or not, but for me it was still a very annoying "feature". It looked like the package manager queried a remote server for the word I typed in the search field, although I could not prove it.

What I managed to check in the default repository?

  • Opera browser - no
  • Chrome browser - no
  • Chromium browser - no
  • Pidgin - yes
  • Qutim - yes
  • LibreOffice - yes
  • GNOME Office (AbiWord, Gnumeric) - yes
  • OpenOffice - no
  • CalligraSuite - yes
  • Skype - no
  • VLC - no
  • Gigolo - yes

To test the package manager, I installed Gigolo from the Fedora repositories. The installation process went smoothly, and, at the end of it, I received an option to run the freshly installed package: a nice touch.

The Installer properly added the new package in the menu, and I was able to find it either by its name (gigolo) or in the System Tools section.

Network partition

The Nautilus file manager in Fedora 17 GNOME includes an option to browse the network. Unfortunately, even this feature did not enable the option to see my home file server from Nautilus.

That was a time for Gigolo to come into play. It successfully managed to mount my external network partition as "Windows share". Although, at the same time I got an error message that process /usr/libexec/tracker-miner-fs was killed. Anyway, I have not noticed anything serious after that.

Multimedia

Even though I was able to navigate to MP3 files stored on my network share, I was not able to play them in Fedora 17 GNOME out of the box. Neither Rhythmbox nor Movie Player was able to do so.

Movie Player threw me an error about the missing plugin. That was an expected behaviour: Fedora 17 GNOME, as any other version of Fedora, comes without multimedia codecs. You need to activate a separate RPMFusion repository to download and install them.

If Movie Player's behaviour was predictable, the Rhythmbox's one was absolutely ignorant. It did not recognize any files, did not put them into the playlist section on drag&drop, did not throw any error. It simply ignored me. Brrrr!

Of course, Flash player is not in Fedora 17 GNOME. Instead of Flash, I tried to install a free open source alternative (Gnash) from the default Fedora repository, together with Gnash-plugin for the Mozilla browser. The installer listed some dependencies and processed them without any error.

But unfortunately, this did not help to resolve the problem of video playback. Gnash tried to play YouTube videos, but failed. This is because Gnash does not include the necessary codecs, like h264 or audio-mpeg.

What's the way out? Probably the only option is to resort to the RPMfusion repository, which I linked above, and to install the codecs. I believe this operation is not the most difficult one, and I won't describe its result here.

Shutdown

As I have mentioned, the boot screen of Fedora 17 GNOME is very similar to the KDE version. What about shutdown? Unfortunately, it is very similar to the KDE example too. That's not good. If you remember, the only way for me to shutdown the computer running Fedora 17 KDE Live was to use the Power button. I had to use the same method in the GNOME spin too.

The Bitter Truth

I spent several hours running Fedora 17 GNOME in Live mode. The truth is that it was quick as flash at the very beginning. But, as I went on, the system felt more and more sluggish. It could probably be the side effect of a Live run. But that's not something I've seen in some other Linux distributions.

Add here the usual Fedora difficulties, or annoyances, if you want, with getting multimedia literally singing and dancing.

Add here the menu structure, which I’ve never gotten to understand.

And, as a result, you probably come to the same conclusion as I do: Fedora 17 GNOME is not the distribution for newbies. It may be a distribution for people who prefer the vanilla GNOME Shell, or like the Fedora way of doing things. But none of those people are newbies. They have enough experience to customize Linux for their wishes. They don't need their operating system to be user-friendly. And Fedora 17 GNOME is not.

46 comments:

  1. I tried Fedora 16 for a while and jumped through many of the hoops you jumped through and it did take a while to get MP3s playing properly through Rhythmbox.

    I think Fedora is a distribution to use as a base for creating another distribution. It is certainly stable enough but doesn't give all the features you require out of the box.

    What is the deal with hiding the power off button? Is turning your PC off now considered bad form? I like the zorin approach. Show the off button and when you click it you are given a choice whether you want to power off, logout or hibernate etc.

    If you are willing to put the effort in you can get Fedora to work for you. I had Fedora 16 running for a while and it was working superbly with very quick boot times and no lagging when running applications.

    You are right about the inconsistencies with Gnome 3. Having said that I do quite like Gnome 3.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Fedora is generally good, I agree, but requires some work to get it usable.
      I even ran Fedora 16 KDE running on my HDD for a while...

      Generally speaking, Fedora 15 and 16 were very good last year. May be that is the reason why I was so disappointed in Fedora 17. It did not bring anything new. Neither improvements, nor fixes to obvious functionality gaps.

      Delete
  2. Hi
    Fedora 17 brought some improvements.

    eToken works well in Fedora 17 than previous versions. The security & audit tools works fantastically on Fedora 17 than previous versions.

    Kindly try Gnome to get the best out of Fedora.

    The one point said by the blogger is correct - Fedora 17 slows down after some time. This was not there in Fedora 15 or 16.

    The other draw back is Revisor is not working in Fedora 17. I could see it working in Fedora 16 in an amazing manner.

    Over all Fedora 17 is a better linux distribution

    Yours
    VN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not that much interested in applications like eToken or Revisor, that's why this is not critical for me.

      It is strange you kindly ask me to try Fedora GNOME in the comments for the review of Fedora GNOME. I am confused. :-)

      Delete
    2. Hi
      Regrets for a very late reply.
      I said try gnome for other readers.

      One can use Extensions and get the shutdown button
      Extensions are there to help us to customise Gnome

      I am a newbie, yet I find Fedora interesting and catering to all my needs. I found the forum support and documentation fairly sufficient for me to use Fedora.

      I am using Fedora from end of 2011. I am more than 100% happy with it. The other Linux I would consider after Fedora is Stella Linux which is remix of CENT-OS. However I am with Fedora.

      Yours
      VN

      Delete
  3. Fedora is a "geeky" distribution, it is only meant to be used by geeks and its followers, really. It really is NOT suitable for everyday use by people who want to get things done *.

    The quick release cycle (not a feature of Fedora alone by any means), the extremely short support cycle, the bad support for multimedia and "closed" hardware, the continuous introduction of new (unnecessary?) technologies and the instability they bring, etc. These all make Fedora a nice toy distro to play with on a weekend, but make productive users run away.

    * Please don't start with "WTF? I'm a hacker and code in VI in Fedora ALL DAY!!" This does NOT count as productive work.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Fedora is a sandbox for RedHat's inventions. That explains a lot. It is strange to expect stability from a sandbox.

      Delete
    2. Fedora is not suited for Mission Critical and wont be deployed to any sizable company by any sane Administrator due to it's frequent updates, short support cycle and known stability issues. That said that does NOT mean it can't be used productively.

      You claims are completely ridiculous. What about the people being paid by Red Hat to work on Fedora? Are they not productive? Fedora itself has a new release every 6 months... this would be impossible if you can't do productive work on Fedora or are you suggesting everyone is running something other than Fedora??

      Just because it's not productive for you does not mean it can't be productive for someone else. Also that "hacker" in your example in reality is probably 10X more productive than the average computer user... most "hackers" (also means skilled in computer technology and programming) I've meet have customized every last bit of the OS to be as productive as possible and has tons of Scripts and to automate redundant and repetitive tasks.

      Delete
    3. Hi
      Kindly note I am a Chartered Accountant in Whole Time Practice. I have done Information System Audit also. I have recommended Fedora as a Better Open Source Operating System and we find that it is working well.

      CENT-OS on Server and Fedora on Desktop is a great combination and all the normal business and home needs are well taken care.

      We are happy, I am not a Linux Technician or System Administrator. But a learned end user. We find Fedora is good enough for Office and Home Needs. We use it productively for our needs.

      Yours
      VN

      Delete
  4. Nice review. I have worked with Linux Mint 11, 12, and 13. I also try from time to time another distribution in a Live session and sometimes in an installed configuration.

    As you, I have always experienced the slowing down with Gnome Shell environments such as pure Gnome Shell or Cinnamon, even in installed distributions . I generally do not see this slowing down with GTK2-based environments. I think that GTK3 or a poor use of GTK3 by Gnome is responsible for the slowing down.

    I wonder if today architectures are ready for dynamic shells. I use a Dell M4500 with a GenuineIntel I7 Q 840 running 8 threads at 1.87 GHz. I am not supposed to see emacs displaying my typing half a second after I stroke the keys when the computer is apparently idle (its load around 10 %).

    It is so annoying in the long run that I decided after a few months of intensive use of different Gnome shells to give up any environment based on GTK3. I came back to Mate or XFCE with Compiz for my development computers. No slowing down except when the computer is very busy. Best regards,

    pit

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Pit, have you tried Zorin OS? Does it behave similar to GNOME Shell or Cinnamon on your hardware? It is also based on GNOME3, but uses the Fallback mode.

      Delete
    2. Yes, even worst in the Live session. After playing with parameters during half an hour, my CPU load increased and stabilized around 80 % (seen with xload and uptime) while tools such as top did not show processes amounting for more than a total around 10 % of the CPU. I had only Terminal doing nothing and a setting window opened among the 4 desktops.

      Delete
    3. That's strange, because I ran Zorin in Live run for definitely more than half an hour without any loss of performance on a dual-core Intel 1.7 GHz processor.
      I can only assume you have something weird on your hardware side... 8-(

      Delete
    4. Hi
      I have also tried Linux Mint 11 to 14.
      I find its MATE Environment is much stable than Gnome.

      Gnome as such is Good
      For instance Sabayon, Kahel, etc., uses it in the best way
      Fedora 16 was great on Gnome

      Slowing issue is there in LM 13 and FC17.
      Yours
      VN

      Delete
  5. @VGiannadakis
    >> Please don't start with "WTF? I'm a hacker and code in VI in Fedora ALL DAY!!" This does NOT count as productive work.

    How about a system admin of 20+ years?
    Would managing & administrating thousands of Linux systems in a production environment count as "productive work"?

    I use it every day, and I would not change to Ubuntu or others. Ubuntu and other distros are fine, I just prefer Fedora. Besides it is the closest to RHEL in directory structure, commands (yum, lsb, etc...), and environment.
    By the way, many of the professional developers I have met would say they are "hackers and code Vi all day". That *DOES* mean they are productive. They are writing the software that you call yourself productive using. They author code and build production applications that run on the servers you browse every day. So please, don't say people who code all day in Vi do not count as productive. It just proves how little you know about productivity, and about the people you are talking to.


    @DarkDuck
    I use Fedora exclusively and find it hugely productive.
    Gnome 3 in general is very nice if you simply take the time to learn it and use it as expected. I actually use the keyboard shortcuts and do not often have to stop what I am doing to reach for a mouse as a result. This makes my workflow very continuous. As to mp3 support or other apps mentioned, use the RPM Fusion repos and you will have access to all of that via yum or software installer.

    Also, sluggishness is definitely a side effect of running off a Live CD. It runs amazingly fast on my HP Pavilion G6 laptop. The laptop is *NOT* a power house laptop. Windows 7 on that thing was not at all fast but F17 64 felt very snappy.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I will send you back to the very last paragraph of the review. It clearly states my position on whom Fedora is for. You fall into this category.

      As for sluggishness, I ran many distributions in Live mode, and many of them don't get sluggish with time. Why Fedora does?

      Delete
  6. The issues with gnome-shell (and cinnomen which started with the same ancestral code as gs) and sluggishness is likely that there are still some big memory leaks. This is simple enough to proof out checking memory usage of gs with ps over time.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I can only hope the developers will fix this memory leak some time soon.

      Delete
  7. @DarkDuck
    Point taken about who it is for... you are correct that I am no newbie. I am not sure if I see it as "easy" because I know Linux, or if it is easy. All I can say is that F17 and Gnome 3 for that matter is easier than say Gentoo or Slackware. My opinion is that it is on par with the ease of use in Ubuntu/Unity as far as the Linux beginner goes.

    Again, that is probably my perception.

    The sluggishness seems odd to me because I ran F17 for several days on a few desktops and laptops before finally installing. It was a long winded "look before you leap", don't ask lol. I never saw it get worse over time, only normal slow behavior for a live CD. Not unbearable, just slower. Especially when the CD-ROM would have to spin up and read something off the disk.

    If it were a memory leak, it would exist after install as well I would think. I can assure you it does not do this on my laptop or the few desktops I have installed it on. We all know how that goes though, if you don't see it... it doesn't exist :)

    Very well could be a memory leak in an app or driver I do not use or that is not loaded on my setup.

    Either way, thanks for the article DarkDuck.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. And thank you for the reasonable, not fanboy-ish discussion. 8-)

      Delete
  8. I use Fedora/Centos for several years now.At home and in the office. It is an excellent OS for professionals who love Linux. In general you can find all drivers/plugins/codecs.. you need. some of them with some effort.
    I like GNOME3 for its simplicity and usually I use the command line. :) No need for a fancy GUI. I do not need to see another Windows(nor KDE).
    And Fedora is very easy to use by regular peoples too. With a little help from a tech guy in the beginning. Until you install all the plugins and make multimedia devices to work.
    Yes, you might have some problems with the drivers for various peripherals and you better check if you have all you need before migrate your entire company to Linux. :)
    But that's a common issue with all Linux distros.

    All the best,
    Eugen

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You're right that Fedora can be good for newbies after some shaman dances by an experienced user.

      On another hand, there's a plethora of distributions that work without shaman dances out of the box.

      Delete
  9. Whenever I read these reviews of GNOME distros such as Ubuntu (which I tried some years back via the Kubuntu derivative), I am always relieved that I'm still using openSUSE with the KDE desktop.

    I mean, no distro is perfect, and certainly openSUSE has its pointless, bad UI design quirks. But nothing to the degree described in this post. Clearly, from this post, whatever group designed the GUI in GNOME 3, they are absolutely clueless about usability.

    Sadly, this appears to be the future of Linux in general: clueless developers taking over, ladling on "features" no one asked for in an attempt to keep up with Windows - which itself has gone bonkers with the Windows 8 GUI and for the same reasons - and abandoning any rational notion of usability, reliability and security, the three cornerstones of an operating system.

    It's time for a total redesign of the operating system concept.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Maybe you can start your own project for a better "operating system concept" then?

      Delete
  10. It struck me as odd you had problems with slowing down over time. It is indeed possible it has something to do with a bad driver with memory leaks. Personally I did not encountered this behavior on a installed system. I will try out a live CD to see if the same problem. If so - I will try to find out what is happening.

    As a side note I can say I am no fan of the new default GNOME environment. I do not hate it like some people seems to do, but it just does not fit my needs - that's all.

    For Fedora I still use the KDE4 desktop (activity settings in "Folder view" modus for a classic desktop you can drop shortcuts on).

    Indeed - Fedora has a relatively short "refresh" cycle, and for more long-term and stable installations I rather use CentOS or Debian. I must say however Fedora 17 looks good and works nice.

    ReplyDelete
  11. To shutdown using keyboard and mouse
    1. Click top-right your-username, drop down menu appears
    2. You see at the bottom of the menu - suspend.
    3. Press and hold ALT-key - the suspend option will change to "Power Off"
    4. Select "Power Off" and follow the remaining steps.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The question: why do you need to press the Alt key? Why Power Off option is not there by default?

      Delete
  12. And FEDORA 64 bis is full 64bits including firefox, java client, java plugin and so on.....

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That would be strange if it was full of 32-bit software, where 64-bit versions are available. :-?

      Delete
  13. I agree with those who have stated that Fedora is a) a development sandbox for Red Hat and b) more suited to people with some linux experience under their belt than for noobies. Having said that, it is highly configurable and very stable. The frequent updates allow uses to take advantage of improved performance, security, and new features. If done properly, updates very seldom cause any sort of problem. Of course, one is not forced to update. By the same token, one is not forced to use Gnome 3 or KDE, despite it shipping on live CDs (I've installed xfce 4.10, and am very happy with it).

    This kind of 'review' is not really very original, informative or edifying.

    ReplyDelete
  14. i first used red hat in 1999 and have used linux ever since. however when fedora took over i found the distribution very unstable. i have tested every release and found that none were of production value. i do use centos on my laptop and use another very different distribution on my main workstation that i find rock solid. i have not found gnome 3 at all usable even after loading extensions and bending over backwards to give it a chance. so take the amature at best fedora toy and add the most illogical desktop metaphor availabe gnome 3 and you get something that is embarrising and shameful in both functionality and a total abuse of linux as a whole.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. What it your preferred desktop then? As long as you have mentioned CentOS, let me guess that it is GNOME2? ;)

      Delete
  15. To touch on a few of things in your review, Chromium is not included for a reason, it was detailed a while back sorry don't remember anymore than that, last I heard one of the packagers was working with Google to fix the issues but that was years ago. OpenOffice isn't in the repo's because like most modern distros it's been replaced with LibreOffice (a fork of OpenOffice if you did not know)

    Shutdown, is a GNOME issue... for some reason in GNOME 3 the Devs decided that you should have to press and hold alt for the menu to show shutdown... it's so weird but thankfully it seems people have finally gotten through to them and this should be fixed in the next point release of GNOME which will be in Fedora 18. Unless you already knew about ALT and literally mean it wont shutdown... in that case it's a bug.

    I'm surprised by the slowdown, I haven't experienced it. Fedora is generally a step ahead version wise so it's possible it's a new bug not specific to Fedora and other distro's will get it next release cycle. But could be just Live CD or a fluke too... weird things do happen sometimes.

    I like your review and conclusion. Good job, looking forward to more!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've recently installed Fedora 17 on a friend's laptop as it was the only one which behaved a little better with his hybrid ATI + Intel graphics cards. Before I had tried Linux Mint 13 which caused the ATI card to work constantly causing the laptop to heat up and no option was available to turn it off. Despite this though F17 was a bit of a disappointment compared to previous Fedora versions I had used, user friendliness went downhill. As you mentioned the menu is messy with configuration options scattered around in three different categories. Also the Package Manager GUI was sluggish to say the least and when I tried to update software there was no indication about the update progress. I'm not sure if the drivers work better because of the bleeding edge factor of fedora but, which user-friendly distro would you suggest that is not Ubuntu based and can rival Fedora in bleeding edge software?If there is one of course.

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    1. Debian Sid / Aptosid?
      PC Linux OS?

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  17. DarkDuck - have you installed/done a review of SalixOS yet?

    I'd be interested to read what you make of it.

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    1. I have tried Salix OS about a year ago. Moreover, it was installed on my HDD for a week or two.

      http://linuxblog.darkduck.com/2011/09/is-salix-xfce-1337-better-than-1312.html

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  19. I've used Fedora since its inception and RH 4-7 before that. To review Fedora and not state right off that a fundamental design choice is that Fedora will directly supply non-free software. If you want everything non-free, like mp3 playing, encrypted DVD playing, proprietary video drivers and so on to be all in the official repository then go somewhere else because that simply isn't what Fedora is about.

    Similarly, if you expect tweaks to be already applied to a desktop GUI, forget it and just go with a distro designed around that philosophy. Gnome3 doesn't work at all well for me as it is installed. Cinnamon is not enough of an improvement. I have tried several alternative desktops and find that I prefer making half a dozen quick and simple tweaks to gnome3. The whole process takes a few minutes to get a really slick and productive desktop. Much nicer than the stock gnome3 and something that I prefer to the other desktops at this point.

    Getting non-free and proprietary software is incredibly simple and takes almost no time if you use some custom installers or do as I do, install the right repos following any number of excellent guides.

    Testing a distro from a live-disk is one way but it confines you to the default setup. That's fine if that's your goal but it often bears little resemblance to how real users use their systems. The whole point of Linux in my book is the near instant availability to a huge range of highly functional software combined with the ability to customize things to your preferences.

    Fedora is by design also a cutting edge distro. Some say bleeding edge but I think it is not that extreme. Cutting edge has its charms and is part of why I use it. It also has an incredibly large group of knowledgeable users who provide terrific support in several forums. Broken things get fixed and generally quite quickly.

    So, if you want the stable middle of the road, everything free and non-free in one repository, pre-tweaked for you desktop distro that installs just like the live-CD version, then there are several that folks advocate. None of those that I've tried has grabbed me. That may be partly because they are a little stodgy and partly because things are enough different from the Fedora way that I find the learning curve tedious.

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    1. >Testing a distro from a live-disk is one way but it confines you to the default setup.

      Yes, and it means that all the distros, which I try, are in exactly the same condition: I see exacrly what developeкs put there.

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  20. As far as the under-the-hood software, is Fedora that much different from Ubuntu? If I am a new linux user and am trying to learn linux, should I focus my efforts on anyone one distro or would learning one be enough to understand/ease the learning of another?

    So far I've used Ubuntu for a few years on a laptop and am quite happy with it. I just downloaded fedora 17 and installed and am finding that it is not as user friendly as Ubuntu. Ubuntu definitely seems to target the average desktop user more than fedora.

    Have you noticed any performance differences in ubuntu and fedora? I'm wondering what will be the future. Both distros have philosophies that I like and both are out to provided a great OS to the work free-of-charge. I love the idea. I know that many companies are using red hat but do you see any indication of Ubuntu servers on the rise?

    thanks,

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    1. That's a difficult question.
      Fedora does not aim to be super-user-friendly. It's for advanced users, who want to be on the edge.
      Also, Fedora has different package manager RPM compared to DEB in Ubuntu. RPM is known for its dependency issues.
      Under-the-hood, on the terminal level, all the distros are very close. It does not matter which one to use: you still have dd, grep, cat, ls commands. On the outer world, you need to check repositories (official and community) for the particular software you need.
      But, again, Fedora aims to be on the edge of innovation with fresher software. This may put stability in risk.
      Performance wise, I suppose both are very close. It depends on how much clutter user puts into the system. Developers leave both Ubuntu and Fedora with similar level of "waste" applications, which is close to none.

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  21. Well for the newbies who find it difficult to decide which distro to go first (Ubuntu or Fedora), I must say Fedora by default doesn't give much. No codecs, chrome browser or vlc player, I think Ubuntu is a better distro for newbies. I myself used Ubuntu 10.04 LTS for almost 2 years and learnt a lot from it. Then went on to install version 12.04. Though 12.04 has some quirks of its own but overall it is usable though. I used it in Unity 2D mode which turns off all that fancy effects.
    Right now I am writing this comment from my Fedora 17 machine. Installed it 3 weeks ago and I must say it is faster than Ubuntu in every aspect. Be it the startup/shutdown or firing up a browser. I had to do a hell lot of work to configure it according to my needs such as adding chrome repo and the rpm fusion repos etc. But now it is very very stable and running JBoss Server, MySQL server, Qt SDK and Netbeans alongwith general apps such as Chrome, VLC Player. Though it took me some time to get used to gnome-3 ways but so was Unity... Anyway thanks DarkDuck for the nice article.

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    1. You're welcome, Khalid.
      As I mentioned, Fedora is not for newbies. But it surely can fit some experienced users like you.
      I tried Fedora KDE some time ago, even in the installed mode. Unfortunately, I understood that this was not my cup of tea.

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