Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fedora 12 mini-review

I've actually been running Fedora 12 for a week now. It's a nice update - but to be clear, this is mostly an updated version of Fedora 11. No "must have" tools in this release, at least for how I use Linux.

First, the install process:

The installer is very easy to use, and has gotten a few improvements that help streamline the process. For example, in previous versions, you had a separate step at the end to specify how to boot your system (MBR, or some other method.) In Fedora 12, you do that at the same step where you tell the installer what disk(s) to use to set up your system.

I always reinstall my system from scratch, rather than upgrade. I did that again this time, which was important since I wanted to manually re-do my partitions. When I installed Linux on a USB thumb drive last time, I set it up as a single filesystem - almost like how the installer would have done it. (The difference was that I didn't use volume management, since I don't expect to extend the filesystem on a thumb drive.) The entire filesystem was encrypted, in case my thumb drive was ever lost or stolen.

This is a USB thumb drive, so reads data at up to 30 MB/s, and writes at about half that. Updates take a long time. But I figured part of that slowness might also come from encrpytion - so for this install of Fedora 12, I manually set up my partitions so my "/home" was a separate filesystem, and only "/home" was encrypted. (Yes, all filesystems use "noatime" and I back up my stuff regularly.)

So all my personal info is still safe. Updates don't seem to bog down the system so much, although it definitely takes longer to run system updates - compared to my wife's Linux laptop, which boots from a hard drive.

The entire install process was quick and painless. It took about 15-20 minutes to boot the LiveUSB and install everything. After that, I was up and running in Fedora 12.

And, the changes:

In the comments on my previous post, "some guy" pointed out:
F12 changed how users can install packages. In F11 and earlier releases, users needed the root passwd to install packages. In F11 for example, PackageKit prompted you for root's password (as a GUI).

But in F12, they've changed it. Still not clear why this was a good idea to someone - but in the desktop version only general users can install any signed package without root's password.

If you don't like this behavior, it's a simple [conf file] fix to change it back [...]
You don't need to edit any conf files to change this behavior. As I mentioned in the other comments, the Fedora guys listened to the feedback, and updated the system to require the root password to install any package, signed or not. All you need to do is let the system update process automatically update your system - that's it. After that, when I installed a package using "System - Administration - Add/Remove Software" (which uses packages from the [signed] Fedora software repository) I was prompted for the root password before it would actually install anything.

Aside from that, no major changes to report in Fedora 12. The default window controls have changed a little, and the default desktop background, but that's about it. The Linux desktop still looks like it has in previous releases, where the top bar shows things you can do, while the bottom bar shows things you are doing.

I am a typical "general user", so I can't comment on the software development environment. I spend most of my time in Firefox or writing docs, and that is still very familiar.

In my next post, I'll talk about the boot time in Fedora 12. It's still very fast, but I haven't run a stopwatch against it. To compare, Fedora 11 booted in 1 minute 7 seconds from the same USB thumb drive, about a minute faster than Vista on the same laptop.

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