Posted by: duskfire | June 3, 2012

Fedora 17 review

Finally, Fedora 17 has arrived. The main rpm-based distribution was delayed for a couple of weeks, but it was worth waiting to ensure last minute bugs were fixed. There are, of course, updates across the board – Gnome 3.4, KDE 4.8,  Eclipse Juno, and GIMP 2.8 to name just a few. I installed the 32-bit GNOME 3 live CD edition for this review.

Installation

The installer hasn’t changed since my Fedora 16 review, so I won’t go into detail. The btrfs file system is still not ready to be used as the default (I suspect that for most users, ext4 will remain the best option for a few more years). Your wireless connection is carried over to the post-install, which I like. Another thing I appreciate (because I dual boot Linux with Windows) is that the installer makes it very simple to replace an existing Linux system. Overall, I think the Fedora installer very easy to use, yet powerful.

Software

The default live CD installs about 50 programs and utilities, including several casual games (a nice feature). Among these are a document viewer, an image viewer, a scanner utility, the Firefox web browser, the Evolution mail client, the Empathy IM/chat client (which includes some video chat ability), the Transmission torrent client, Rhythmbox for music playback, Brasero to burn CDs, Sound Juicer to rip music CDs, and the Totem movie player. Firefox comes with several useful links to the Fedora project and a few open source websites.

I’m not sure I care for the default programs in the Dash, though. There are only six: Firefox, the Evolution mail program, Rhythmbox for music, the Shotwell picture manager, the file manager, and a “Documents” viewer. My previous experience has shown I can get 12 to 15 icons on the Dash, so perhaps 3 or 4 more programs, like Terminal, wouldn’t hurt. The “Documents” viewer seems to be a work in progress. It showed a .docx file that I had in the Documents folder, but since I’d used Abiword instead of LibreOffice, the file would not preview (LibreOffice was not installed yet). PDF files are opened with no problems, luckily.

this docx file was created with Abiword.

Considering that LibreOffice is not installed by default, there seems to be at least one assumption there. It’s also not clear how to actually close the previewer window; I resorted to using the Activities button to display all open windows and closing it from there.

Perhaps Fedora could use the method found in PCLinuxOS: they have a link to install the latest version of LibreOffice on the desktop, but leave the files out of the live CD. The lack of a word processor of any kind in the main edition, even Abiword, is really not something to be pleased about. As I note below, the KDE Spin does install office software, and it had the same space restrictions. You can always install from the DVD edition if this is important.

I am not really happy with the main add/remove software manager. It does the job, but trying to both install new programs, and remove others at the same time, is difficult or impossible (unless there’s an unintuitive way I am missing). There is a useful help manual, though. In fact, GNOME has a help application whose icon is a personal floatation device, accessible in the Applications area.

Don’t overlook the help manuals that are available

Programmers, as usual, will be pleased with Fedora. Fedora’s repositories include a fairly complete set of programming languages, IDEs, and editors. Python, PHP, Ruby, Haskell, Perl, GCC,  and Java are all quite current. Codeblocks, Glade, Geany, ghc, KDevelop, and Qt Creator are also available. (If you use Python’s IDLE, it’s in a package called python-tools.)

The brand new version of the Eclipse IDE

Most all of your usual software is available, from music players and music creation programs, to video editors, to various graphics tools (Blender, Inkscape), and other applications.

Due to size limitations of the live CD, Fedora doesn’t install the LibreOffice suite, so you need to add either that or Abiword if you want a word processor. LibreOffice is version 3.5.3, which is only 1 minor version behind the current one. (if you prefer Open Office for some reason, you’re out of luck – I was unable to find it in the repositories.)

There is a graphical firewall tool installed and ready to go:

This seems fairly easy to use

One thing I’ve been doing is learning to use KVM for virtualization. Although you can find Virtualbox in the nonfree repositories, Red Hat and Fedora use KVM and the Virtual Machine Manager to create and work with virtual machines.

Fedora prefers to use KVM for virtualization

Fedora does not install the codecs and extras that most people like to have. In addition to RPM Fusion, there are 3 third party utilities to help you do this: Autoplus, easyLife, and Fedora Utils. I’ve had no issues using either Autoplus or easyLife, so you should just pick one and use it. Fedora Utils shows you what you have installed, and lets you uninstall things, which I couldn’t see as an option in easyLife. All install a graphical icon into the Application area. Once you do that of course, you can use all Flash-based websites, watch Apple movie trailers, and play Windows media.

Fedora makes no changes to the default GNOME desktop as far as I can tell. You still need to hold down the Alt key to reboot or shutdown, for instance. I do like having the calendar application in the very middle of the bar, although that’s a personal preference. (If I could figure out how to change that in Cinnamon, I would.)

Gaming

Special note: My laptop has a Radeon 3200 card, and if you have one of the older ATI ones, keep in mind that you are now limited to the FOSS driver. ATI’s most recent Catalyst no longer will support certain series of cards anymore. I didn’t have any trouble playing games despite this, but check the documentation to see whether you can still use the proprietary driver.

Fedora contains most of the best games Linux has available, in their most recent versions. Frogatto for instance, is version 1.2, the first time I have seen it show up in a repository.

Some of the few games I did miss are Megaglest (Glest is available, but it just isn’t as feature-full), Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, Angband, Sauerbraten, Assault Cube, and Simutrans (OpenTTD is in the repositories).

For emulators, you have Wine, DOSBox, and the most common console emulators. These include ones for NES, Genesis, Super Nintendo, GameBoy Color and Advance, Playstation, Nintendo DS, Gamecube, and arcade (MAME). The only one I missed was Mupen64plus (for Nintendo 64). Certain emulators in the repos do not have a graphical front-end – mednafen, osmose, and a couple of others.

Other editions

Fedora also comes in 3 other desktop editions: KDE, Xfce, and LXDE. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that their KDE Spin edition is what I’ve come to refer to as a “pure KDE” one. There are no GNOME/GTK+ applications or libraries installed, and even LibreOffice and Firefox are left out. To make up for that though, this edition installs 3 of the Calligra office suite applications, so you do start off with a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a presentation application, with Konqueror as your initial web browser. I may take an in-depth look at this edition later this summer.

Final Thoughts

If you like GNOME 3, Fedora is definitely for you. If you like KDE, Fedora has a spin for you that is one of the better editions I’ve seen. I continue to like Fedora overall. They have a strong community, and always offer the most recent software versions.

One of the few problems I see is that distributions using RPMs are still not reliably compatible with each other’s packages (there are also 2 incompatible versions of RPM in use). It would be a great step forward if the main 3 or 4 Linux distros that use the RPM package management system would take steps to increase their compatibility. This aggravates the fact that repositories for Fedora, openSUSE, and PCLinuxOS have fewer applications and games than can be found in Debian-based distributions; and each one seems to vary just slightly the games and programs they provide.

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Responses

  1. Fedora 17 gives upgrade problems,when you try to upgrade from Fedora 16.
    For the rest,Fedora 17 looks great,but i have decided to go back to Ubuntu Precise pangolin on my laptop because there were no problems with.
    Before i had Fedora 16 on it.

    • I’ve heard of some people having upgrade problems. What I tend to do in most cases is to back up all documents and do a fresh installation; I’m sure that isn’t the most optimal solution for everybody though.

    • This thread in the Fedora Forum

      http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?t=280534

      tells you how to prevent/resolve the potential problems when upgrading to Fedora 17

  2. Seems okay but not the one for me. It’s in the small details like the fact that there are no restore or minimize buttons on application windows and it still annoys me that I have to press Alt to shutdown. Changed my Fedora 17 partition last night to OpenSuse 12.1 gnome and I’m glad I did.

    • If openSUSE is better for you that’s good. But what others can do is to install “gnome-tweak-tools”, which will let you add the buttons to application windows as well as change the window themes.

      • I installed “gnome-tweak-tools” to configure desktop, but ended with some quite ugly-looking, almost-non-functional desktop, so I desisted and installed MATE-desktop. All is fine now for me.

  3. Thanks very much for this good review, and for pointing me to the Fedora KDE spin. I will be using it exclusively on two netbooks during an upcoming trip. After reading your review and comments and testing it myself, I chose it because of its stability, performance, support for all of the various bits and pieces on all of my netbooks, and because it includes the latest digitKam (2.6.0).

    jw

  4. Other Fedora 17 screenshots here: http://linuxscreenshot.netsons.org/fedora-17/

  5. The file-system has been changed for the Fedora 17 release as well, the many other folders in the / root folder have been moved under the /usr folder and replaced with symlinks. This will ensure that Fedora Linux is more compatible with the many UNIX distributions such as FreeBSD.

  6. how about the supporting hardwares(I/O)? is Fedora 17 capable to handle all kind of hardwares without compatibility issues?

  7. I read a whole lot of reviews about GNU/Linux all over the net , After reading all this decided I need to give a try too, Got 2 of them to start, Ubuntu 12.4 and Fedora-17 both x86_64 versions, Both installed well on my spare laptop, but both ould not give me a wi-fi or even ethernet connection, After looking all over the net I think both lan and wi-fi on my laptop are not supported, Lan being an Atheros 8162 and wi-fi being realtek 8273 well bad luck for me, Ended the linux dream and reinstalled Win-7, Good to look at and also I can say easy to install than windows, BUt the moment you get a new piece of hardware LINUX fails

  8. Good review. Good for me that I read the review after I already installed the distro, so here are my 2 cents.

    You are right that the user experience is not that great in the vanilla installation of fed17 but for those who are planning to jump over from their windows installations to a dedicated one I would recommend to install Cinnamon after they are done with the installation and upgrades. The layout of Cinnamon will make the transition that bit easy and its easy on the eye.

    I somehow was not able to get my .avi and .mp4 files running on Totem movie player so had to install VLC on Linux as well and voila the desktop experience was complete. I can now toss over my laptop to my wife who’s never experienced Linux before and was scared to try it initially but she liked it. so that’s a good way to benchmark the user experience part.

    Next in line are the SDKs for my Android development environment which I am still working on and will post again to apprise with the progress. But in all just 2 days old on Fed17 and experience is pretty good.

  9. Where the heck did they hide the KDE spin DVD.
    I’ve been looking for an hour.
    I accidentally installed the fedora-17-x86_64.iso.
    Booted it up and I’ll bet my neighbor 1/2 mile away heard me cursing.
    I hate Gnome. Why the hell don’t they make the KDE Spin ISO for DVD more available?
    Look at their download site. The KDE spin the the most popular download by a large factor.
    I haven’t figured out Gnome yet. It works but it’s so damned ugly and totally unintutive.
    Go ahead and call me a Micro Snot puke.
    You’d be wrong.
    I was using CPM before Gates ditched his diaper.
    I was beta testing CPM-86 when he plagiarized it and it sold as IBM-PC-DOS.
    It sucked then and it has continually increased it’s suction.
    By the way when WFW-II was crashing so much we couldn’t keep up with it in a mfg plant with 14 techs running 10 days. I installed DRDOS-7.
    The name at that point that Novell called CPM-85 and installed WFW-II
    Fixed 90% of the crashes and increased security immensely.
    Particularly locking directories, files etc.
    Yes I could lock the boot files. I had a character who would sneak in to your PC and set the attribute’s on the boot files to read, write and non sys.
    He would then delete them. Next boot, “wouldn’t be long” you’re dead.
    DR-DOS locked files stopped the little jerk.

    • I am not too sure there IS a DVD of Fedora’s KDE version. At least, not an official one. When I was checking out that version, I just installed the Live CD and then added whatever else I wanted from the repository. I assume there’s a reason that’s not really what you want to do…

    • I agree with you that Gnome 3 “works but it’s so damned ugly and totally unintutive.”. I installed MATE-desktop and it worked fine for me, might work for you too. Regards.

  10. I meant 10 hour days.


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