After a long-delayed and divisive Fedora 18, how has the latest edition of Fedora shaped up?
The famous Schrödinger’s cat experiment is one of those stories from history that is perceived incorrectly in popular culture – like King Cnut arrogantly trying to stop the tide, or Bill Gates saying that 640K would be enough for everyone.Erwin Schrödinger’s hypothetical experiment was actually a way of explaining how some interpretations of quantum mechanics were a contradiction of common sense. While this name was voted on for Fedora 19 by the masses of the internet, it’s sort of indicative of the kind of problems people have been having with the default state of the distro for the last few iterations. GNOME has been moving quickly away from the traditional desktop metaphor for years, with recent updates going against a mouse and keyboard workflow. The Anaconda installer update from Fedora 18 limited some options in favour of a more aesthetically pleasing experience. The distro has also not been particularly bug free, with systemd causing headaches for some. So, with Fedora 19 have some of these immediate issues been addressed, or are there new ones to throw on the list?
The first thing you’ll experience with Fedora 19 is the installer, which has been upgraded again. Hardware recognition seems fine and there’s now a lot more control over the partitioning and editing of storage locations, an issue a lot of people had with Fedora 18. However, the method of doing so is not the most straightforward. Like in other graphical installers, you can select the hard drive you wish to use; however, instead of then performing a manual partition, or selecting a recommended installation scheme, you need to start ‘reclaiming’ space. This can be done by either completely deleting any existing partitions, resizing, or creating your own through the reclaim option, otherwise it will automatically try to fill the space already made. Pre-existing swap partitions are ignored, for some reason, and 19 will create its own if space is cleared out. The installation will start before you can finish creating a root password or user, saving some time, but it still seems that this new installer is not ready and needs a lot more time in the oven.
If perhaps the installer is supposed to be more in line with the simplifi cation of GNOME, it’s doing a good job. GNOME 3.8 hasn’t had many major changes over 3.6, insomuch that it’s still ‘dumbed down’ in many respects. As if to highlight that this is the path the GNOME project is taking, a video explaining how to use GNOME launches on first boot. Credit where it’s due, though – the search function launched from whatever the Windows key is being called these days has always been good. Even if it’s supposed to be a substitute for a large amount of a workflow, the search function part is often faster than mousing around and has now been upgraded to include some system settings results in your search. Sort of like a hybrid between the same functionality in Unity’s HUD and the classic search results, but without an unnecessary split between them, or the inclusion of Amazon adverts.
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The software updater has also been separated from the generically termed ‘Software’ package manager now, as well as in the applications list, although it’s still accessible from there. It’s here and in the repos that you can access all the alternative desktops, although there are three extra spins of Fedora that you can also use. As well as the KDE one, there’s the lightweight Xfce and LXDE choices, with other popular desktops such as Cinnamon 1.8 and MATE available in the repos. This version of Cinnamon is built to work on GNOME 3.8, so you won’t need to downgrade. The distro itself is more stable than Fedora 18 on our physical setup. In a virtual machine, though, we experienced some noticeable slowdown and minor graphical glitches – so for virtual distribution you may need to do testing before deployment. Fedora, then, is not quite the beast it used to be, with its cutting-edge stance harming it more than it has in the past. For those that were using Fedora 18 without issues, it’s a great upgrade; however, for those that moved away in recent years, this won’t bring you back. The box contains only one quantum waveform – and it’s not looking good for the cat. The latest version of Fedora has fixed some of the problems we experienced with the previous editions. However, there’s still a way to go for some of its features.