18 Nov 2011

Getting the Blooming Flavor of Fedora 16 KDE

If you have read my review of Fedora 16 KDE Live, you should understand that I liked this Operating System. That's why I decided to give it a chance to show all bloom in installed version of Fedora.
In order to run installer, I booted my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop using same Live USB as before.
Before running the installation, I activated WiFi  connection. This is for 2 reasons:
  1. To let Fedora installer (Anaconda) to download missing parts from Internet, if need be
  2. To check whether WiFi connection get transferred from Live to installed version, like it was for Mageia 1 KDE.
When all the preparations where finished, I ran installer.


First question which Anaconda asked me was about keyboard layout. Default one is English US. There were many other options, and both English UK and Russian were in the list. My choice was clear - English UK.
Next question of Fedora 16 KDE installer was about type of storage devices. I should say this is quite confusing question. I suppose installer could scan hardware itself and determine it what type of storage device was used.
Then followed questions about network identification. Fedora 16 installer somehow determined how my laptop is named in other installed Linux distributions and suggested same name, adding  .config at the end. This approach has pros and contras. Yes, it is convenient that Anaconda checked how my laptop is named elsewhere. But also... isn't it a privacy issue to scan my hard drive without permission?
Same screen with network ID has relatively small button for network configuration. It was again a question about network I use, and my Live configuration was not inherited.
After network ID, I was asked about location. Default one was New York, but London was also in the list, and that was my choice.
Next question was about root password.
Finally I got to question about installation method. Quite interesting - Fedora allows to replace existing Linux installation, and that was my choice, because I planned to install Fedora on partition where Pardus Kurumsal lived before. Same screen allowed me to activate LVM. Actually, it is active by default, but I unticked that checkbox. And also here I could review and modify partitioning - I selected this option too.
I'd like to stop for few more seconds on the partitioning tool in Anaconda. Default proposal was absolute mess. I had to reset it to original state and do all the assignments manually. It was longer way, but safer than allow Anaconda to mess up my other operating systems. What is notable, NTFS partition could not be mounted and assigned at that stage. Also, partition for root could not be ext3, but only ext4, as Live image. It was not good, because other operating systems I use refer to this partition as ext3. It meant I had to change fstab configuration in other operating systems.
When partitions were sorted out, Fedora 16 KDE installer asked me whether I wanted to install bootloader. I usually prefer to skip this installation, but this time round I asked Fedora 16 KDE to install bootloader to check how GRUB2 works in this OS.
Finally, installation began. It was remarkably quick, only 5 minutes to copy files from USB. Preparations took much longer!
So, my system is ready! Let's reboot!

First boot.

Of course, my laptop booted into GRUB2 which had Fedora as default system. All other systems were listed as well.
Here I need to mention that Fedora's GRUB2 is not much better than Debian's. I had usual issue with Mageia parition naming in grub.cfg. It means that Mageia did not boot, but gave me kernel panic.
Just to check that everything else is fine with GRUB2, I booted into Windows. No issues here, everything was absolutely fine.
When booting into Debian, I noticed an error in mounting Fedora partition. That's because it was mentioned as ext3 in my fstab, and Fediora 16 installer changed it to ext4. First thing, I changed fstab, and then command sudo mount -a mounted the missing partition. At the same time I changed mounting point from /kubuntu to /fedora to reflect actual situation.
Now I had to restore status quo in GRUB2 ownership. It has to be owned by my Debian installation. Before doing anything else, I removed mentioning of Pardus in 40_custom file of GRUB2 configuration. No system - no menu.
When all this was done, commands sudo grub-install /dev/sda and sudo update-grub changed my system back to usual state where Debian is the GRUB2 owner.
As you can see, I still have not touched Fedora.
Another restart.

Booting Fedora 16 KDE

Of course, this time round my GRUB2 was taken from Debian, and Fedora 16 (Verne) was listed there. Let's try it!
First run of Fedora 16 KDE met me with Setup Agent, which was here to finalize installation.
Steps of Setup Agent included creation of username. If you remember, Anaconda installer only requested password for root user, but not actual user to run the system.
After finalizing the Setup Agent, Fedora 16 KDE landed me to normal login screen where my username and password were requested.

First screen in installed Fedora 16 KDE operating system is not much different from what I saw in Live run. The difference is that Desktop folder contains 2 items now: Home and Trash.
WiFi network was not activated by default, despite the fact that I configured it twice already: in Live system and in Anaconda. I think Mageia and its relatives are the exception in this front - they copy wireless configuration from Live session into the installed system, while other systems just leave you with configuration panel.
Of course, my wireless network was listed in the Network Manager, but for some strange reason this time Network Manager did not determine security type. I had to specify it manually. Other than that, usual procedure to enter security key, and I am connected.
Next step was "moving" of Desktop tab at the top of the screen to the place where I used to see it - cashew nut in the corner. Simple drag-and-drop exercise.
Freshly booted installed Fedora 16 operating system took about 325 Mb of memory. I could see it when I added my usual widgets on the desktop: memory, CPU and network usage. These megabytes are significantly more than same system used in Live USB mode. Why? No idea...
Surprisingly, system froze itself for about a minute after I added my usual widgets on the screen. I am not sure if it was linked to those widgets, or just coincidence with some other background operation which Fedora did to finalize the post-installation steps.
Set of applications in installed version of Fedora 16 KDE is the same as in Live, so I won't list them here again. Instead, I'd concentrate on the differences and my own experience.

Switch from Desktop to Folder view added items on the desktop, but did not remove the widget for the desktop folder. Quite strange behavior, don't you find? Of course, not a big deal, it can be fixed by one click.
Fedora 16 KDE found 183 updates right after installation. Sounds like too much for a system which is less than 1 week old. What I understood from the list of packages, good part of them were due to update Linux kernel and KDE from 4.7.2 to 4.7.3. Total download size is about 270 Mb, which is significant for CD-sized distribution.
Anyway, I installed all of the updates before going any further.
After update was over (and another Debian boot to update GRUB2), I got KDE 4.7.3 running on the Linux kernel 3.1.1-1. That's my current Fedora 16 KDE.

It was a time for me to start configuring system for my own needs.
Default keyboard was English UK, as it was configured during OS installation. Adding Russian layout was an easy task in Input Devices -Keyboard part of System settings.
I added Quicklaunch widget on the panel. Just to remind you, this widget allows to have as many rows of quick access shortcuts as you like, instead of single-line standard approach. I prefer 2 rows. This widget showed me an issue with 2-rows layout. Second row was not visible with default panel width. To sort this out, I added few more pixels to the panel height.
Whole previous paragraph may sound as heresy to adepts of GNOME, Unity, E17 or other desktop environments. But KDE is that flexible! Few mouse clicks (editing config file? installing additional "configuration" packages? - not necessary at all!), and panel width can be adjusted, shortcuts can be grouped into smaller group and not scattered across half of the panel.
I think I need to write separate post to praise this option of KDE!
I have complained in my previous review about scrolling with touchpad in Fedora 16 KDE. And even gave you a link where probably solution is described. Unfortunately, that link only provides solution for current session. What is written about permanent fix is not absolutely accurate. Why? Because I could not copy files to make changes permanent. Path to the file and file itself do not exist. I tried to create file manually in the destination folder and put text as it was shown on the page - it did not work for me. Actual solution was much easier than editing any files: there is Touchpad section in System Settings - Input devices. All the scrolling and tapping options are easily configured there. And they work!

When system was in operational mode, I added Windows partition and my external network drive into /etc/fstab file. Command sudo mount -a worked perfectly. Strange that Windows partition was not available in Anaconda...
I added RPMfusion into the list of repositories via command line steps described on Configuration page. That is highly recommended step if you are not adept of free software only. Any multimedia in Fedora? Not without rpmfusion!

What else did I install? 
  • Qutim was an easy task, because it is in repositories.
  • Installing Chrome from locally saved RPM file was an easy task too. Installer requested some dependencies, which were also downloaded and installed. As a result, I got Google Chrome up and running in few minutes.
  • I also installed Kate text editor. Strange that it is not included into default distribution. KWrite is not good replacement, because it is too powerful. If you let me compare with Microsoft Windows, it is a difference between Notepad and Write.
  • Installation of VLC did not work for me from Software Management tool. It hanged Sofware Management centre with "Waiting for service to start" position. To solve the issue, I installed VLC from command line (sudo yum install vlc). Of course, once installed, I could use VLC for playing MP3 files.

I noticed that Software Management Centre is quite glitchy program actually. It can hang somewhere in background, blocking any option to install/uninstall/update program. The likely program which causes the issue is kcmshell4. I had to end all its processes to get Software Management Centre tool back to normal.
Another unpleasant point of SMC is that authentication window appears not in focus - just a button on the taskbar. It would be much more convenient to have it right in front of user once installation was requested. And final point about SMC is that it too often hangs in status "Waiting for service to start". Only ending the process from System Monitor helps to kill the program.

  • Also I installed LibreOffice, although it required lots of downloading. The biggest part of it, I think, is OpenJDK Runtime Environment. Just to mention here. If you type "libreoffice" in the Software Management Centre, you end up with hundreds of packages. Of course, you can do cherry picking and select the ones you need. But if you need whole package, select an item which is named "libreoffice" without any additions.
  • Skype installation was also slick, using RPM file from skype.com.

Issues I found

I tried to configure Fedora's KMail to connect to my e-mail @darkduck.com, which is hosted by GMail. Unfortunately, KMail failed to configure IMAP setting properly. The likely reason is that KMail did not determine that darkduck.com uses GMail. To check it properly, I tried to configure my @gmail.com address in KMail. Result? Same - no automatic configuration possible. On another hand, when I tried Thunderbird in Ubuntu 11.10, all the configuration was done automatically with perfect accuracy. Same KMail was correct in determining configuration for POP3/SMTP connection for my another e-mail address @mail.ru. Is it because POP3/SMTP service is much wider used? I would not say so...
Unfortunately, Fedora 16 KDE still had same issue with volume control buttons. They simply did not work, bringing volume to max or min without my wish. I am thinking about another change of laptop because of this (and also hybrid ISO) issue.
And finally it was a time to check whether Fedora 16 KDE is better than Fedora 15 and Kubuntu in terms of switching off with network partition mounted.
Result? Unfortunately, not good. I still saw issues with switching off. Operating system still hangs when shutting down with mounted network partition. Although it is better than in *buntus: timeout is only about 3 minutes, not 5 like in Kubuntu. But still... this is wrong! Although, this issue was not appearing all the time. Sometime shutdown wend smoothly, sometimes it hanged for these 3 minutes. Not the best indicator for stable system, I'd say.
Performance wise, I should say that Fedora 16 KDE behaved itself rather well. There were some strange moments when system hanged for few seconds. But they were not that often.
But generally speaking, Fedora 16 KDE in my opinion is slower than Mageia 1 KDE. It is my subjective view, because I did not do any measurements.
If you let me to continue comparison with Mageia for few more seconds, I think Fedora has advantage over that system, because it is much longer established (Yes, Mageia is fork of long-live Mandriva, but still too young itself), has wider user community and thus better community support. In particular, it can lead to more software available for Fedora compared to Mageia. Not that I found any deficiency in Mageia yet...
Fedora 16 KDE running Flash, Skype, Qutim
QuickLaunch widget on the panel

So, what is my general feeling about Fedora?
It is actually very good system. It is rather responsive, quick, reliable and stable. It brings you to the forefront of latest technologies (latest versions of KDE, kernel, applications), but at the same time backed by stable and respectable company like RedHat.
Will it mean I keep Fedora 16 KDE on my laptop? I doubt so. Main factor here is issue with shutdown time. I was Operating System which consistently shuts down itself in proper order.

If you want to try Fedora 16 (GNOME, KDE or maybe another version) yourself, why not purchase CD with this Linux distributions from this site?


  1. I am using F16 with both KDE and GNOME shell installed. I am a KDE (Kubuntu) user, but wanted to try GS without Unity, so opted for Fedora. It was a good move. GS in F16 is so much better. KDE is better in some respects and not as good in others. There is more in the Ubuntu repos and I prefer the Kubuntu default apps, but I could easily add what I wanted in Fedora with yum.

    I like Fedora 16 better than previous versions. It is fast and responsive. My graphics card worked perfectly OTB. Sound worked great. In short, I am very pleased.

  2. A total newbie, I was able to install Fedora16 in 20 minutes from the live cd 64bit version. The only issue I have is that when I come in in the mornings, the login window does not show up; I can click near the middle and type my password just fine, and off I get working.

  3. I have the same experience with shutdown time when autofs is active. This does not depend on the window manager but is a general issue. Have you already created a bug report on that?

  4. @LinuxCanuck:
    Nice to hear you enjoy latest version!
    I enjoy it too, but still some points which spoil perfection. 8-) I mentioned them in the review.

  5. @Anonymous:
    Nice to hear it works for you! Enjoy your new world!

  6. @Anonymous:
    I have not created bug report for Fedora, because I cannot reproduce error consistently.
    But I saw bug report like this in Ubuntu.
    It is not only Window Manager, but OS-independent.
    Is it something in Linux kernel?

  7. "Whole previous paragraph may sound as heresy to adepts of GNOME, Unity, E17 or other desktop environments. But KDE is that flexible! Few mouse clicks (editing config file? installing additional "configuration" packages? - not necessary at all!), and panel width can be adjusted, shortcuts can be grouped into smaller group and not scattered across half of the panel."

    Just thought I'd say XFCE is perfectly capable of doing this as well, just to give credit where it's due.

  8. @Anonymous:
    Interesting thought.
    I've never seen double-line of shortcuts on the panel in XFCE. How can I achieve this?

  9. There is a panel plugin called quicklancher, which can look like this http://img717.imageshack.us/img717/2690/20pm.png

    with regards Fedora KDE, I'm pleased to hear that it's an improving system, but still feel it lags behind Chakra's implementation that I have running on my desktop.

  10. Browser fonts still not up to the quality of Fedora 14. I am surprised that there is so little mention of this fact.

  11. @Anonymous:
    Thanks for the advice! I'll try this option when review Fedora XFCE. It is in the list.

    Chakra is good, but everyone has his own preferences. I still prefer Mageia! ;-)

  12. @Anonymous:
    Maybe nobody pays attention to browser fonts? I use Chrome in Fedora 16 KDE right now, and fonts look very good. No complains.

  13. While "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", there is no way that the fonts in Chrome (which I just installed) are as BOLD and easy to read as Fedora 14. I've been using Red Hat/Fedora for over 10 years and It's always been a class distribution. I hope that the developers do a reality check and realize that the presentation fonts in both Mozilla and Chrome, under Fedora 15 and 16 have been degraded... and find a way to improve them.

  14. Hey, nice review. I haven't updated from F15 yet as I always delay it until I've read of other peoples experiences.

    Interesting to see it's not just me who has an issue with loooooong shutdowns when a network drive is mounted. This has been bugging me for a while, obviously it persists in F16 as well. :(

  15. @Anonymous:
    Can't you adjust fonts yourself in browser settings?
    Also, I believe that fonts are not browser-only feature. Are they looking better in other system components for you?

  16. @StuStuStu:
    Yes, you're not alone. Actually I should admit that I have not experienced this problem during few last boots. Maybe it is gone somehow? :-?