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2011-08-26

Fedora 15


It's been five years since I switched from Fedora to Ubuntu. I wanted to see where Fedora is these days, so downloaded and run Fedora 15 (F15) Live CD. A couple of first impression notes below...

Installation:
I let the live CD boot and run F15. It comes with Gnome 3.0 and here is a link to Gnome 3.0 cheat sheet. I then chose to install it on disk using the link in "Activities" > "Applications".

I chose to partition manually, allowed 500MB for /Boot and 30GB for / as I wanted to use the rest for Ubuntu.

Installation was quick. Wizard is designed to warn on things like missing /swap partition, weak passwords etc. I also liked the fact that it was able to detect Time Zone correctly (in contrast to Macs usually defaulting to West Coast and requiring me to choose East Coast). Good job overall.

Software Update:
ISOs are not frequently updated but when I install Ubuntu it checks with its repos as soon as internet connectivity is established and almost immediately Software Update icon is displayed. I waited a bit expecting the same thing to happen with Fedora, it did not. So I ran "Software Update" and of course there were tons of updates available.  Lo and behold, I got a cryptic "Transaction error" message as soon as I clicked update:

"Transaction error could not add package update for fedora-release-rawhide-15-3(noarch)updates: fedora-release-rawhide-15-3.noarch"

I looked through the list of updates, found the one that read "Fedora release files | fedora-release-15-3 (noarch)" and unchecked it. That did the trick and all other updates installed without any issues. However, error was still there when I tried to update after a reboot!

So, I looked it up on Fedora forums and apparently there is a thread here. First message is from June, so this is issue has been around for at least two months but not yet fixed. As a workaround, you can drop to a terminal window and type the following:

sudo yum update

Sounds easy enough, but as some people pointed out, this is a terrible welcome message for a newcomer to the platform. People expect things to "just work" these days and are less likely to cut Fedora a slack.

Network:
Although, there was no network connectivity until I selected my wireless, Fedora had no issues remembering and connecting to my wifi network afterwards (see this Apple thread if you are wondering where that comment come from). Yet, I think from a usability perspective, I would want OS to ask me to choose a connection upon first login if it detects a wifi connection.

Speaking of network, "Nautilus" > "Browse Network" failed to detect my QNAP samba shares but I was able to click "Go" > "Location"  and access public shares by typing:

smb://myqnap/public

Power Management:
It looks like Power Management is a bit aggressive Out of Box as in OS X. If you do not use your machine for about 20secs, screen becomes darker. Fully charged laptop claimed it would drain in about 2hrs but I am yet to test how fast it discharges under my normal usage.

GUI/General:

Ubuntu has live, warm colors (I like "Orange") out of box (OOB), Fedora has "grey" as its primary color. I think it's a bad choice as it fails to give a polished look when you log in for the first time. Yes, it's of course easy to change this and some Linux-fans loath eye-candy but first-impression matters.


Gnome 3.0 is a radical change from past. It's annoying for to save something into ~/Desktop folder only to find that it does not show up on the Desktop. I know the arguments against it but we will see if this heavy-handed approach will work (I am betting it will not as it creates confusion).

Also, there is just "Log Out" option when you click your name on top right (I can follow the logic), but that means you have to log-out first and then reboot/shut-down. Well, the option to power off is actually there but hidden, so you need to use "Alt" key. Alternatively, you can hit Alt+F2 and type
reboot

Simply typing the following would not work as you must be root.
shutdown

You can hit Windows key to bring up OS X's spotlight-like search tool where you can type
terminal

and then
sudo shutdown

Tiring? Yeah! It does not really matter that much on a mobile platform as people would usually prefer to put the machine to sleep anyway, which may be one of the reasons why shutdown is not there, but seems counter-intuitive on a desktop platform.

One last 'annoyance' was the absence of 'minimize window' button. Well, to be clear, I am not even talking about what happens when you happen to click "Help > About" in Firefox, where you end up with a modal window which you can only get rid of by hitting 'escape' on keyboard, as there is no button to click but windows that have a button are missing minimize and maximize buttons.

By default, Windows only have "close"  (X) button.

It's not that difficult to add them using  "gconf-editor", which you must install via add/remove programs or simply by typing the following in terminal window:

sudo yum install gconf-editor

See the screenshot on the line you need to edit. Log out, log back in and you have the minimize, maximize buttons. You can even shift them from right to the left like Ubuntu by changing the location of ":" like the following:

close,minimize,maximize:

Well, these are just a couple of  my first-impression notes. Ars Technica also has two good articles to read "Fedora - first Look" and "Gnome review". There is a lot of talk about the new systemd, and I am looking forward to checking it out.
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