First, the install process:
The installer has gotten some major improvements, which now give you more options for how to install on a hard drive with another operating system. This should make it easier for current Windows users to try out Linux.
In previous releases, you only had the option to use the space from a previous Linux install, use just the free space on the drive, or blow away everything and use the whole disk. Now, you can also opt to shrink an existing operating system and use the space that's left over. Basically, this uses an NTFS tool to non-destructively resize a Windows filesystem, [hopefully] leaving enough room to install Linux.
But in my case, I already had Linux installed to my USB flash drive, so I just re-used the space on that. Actually, I did a "Custom" install, and told it to re-use my existing partitions (but not to reformat my encrypted /home partition, but to use it as-is.)
The install process is very fast, even though the Fedora 13beta LiveCD is a bit bigger than will fit on a CDROM (this will be fixed by the time Fedora 13 is officially released, in May.) From start to finish, it took about 15-20 minutes to install Linux.
And the changes:
The user interface has gotten an update, as well. One thing that became immediately obvious is the resizeable mouse pointer. I recall that, with previous releases, you could choose between a "normal size" mouse pointer, or a larger one (for example, if you had poor vision.) Now, the mouse pointer is customizable as part of the theme (under "Appearance - Customize - Pointer") and you can scale it to the size you want. I prefer the smallest pointer size, in white. The default is a sort of dark grey.
The desktop icons have also been refreshed. The icons are similar to the previous releases, but have a more modern look to them. I like it a lot:
(Click to enlarge)
Note that I haven't created a "Demo User" account for taking screenshots, so this is using my own desktop. I've hidden my username, but otherwise this is the standard Fedora 13beta desktop. I'm using all the defaults.
The beta is using GNOME 2.29, not GNOME 2.30, but it's been very stable so far.
There's a new color profile tool available, where you can install an ICC file to set the color profile for your display, scanner, or digital camera. My laptop screen seems to do okay, so I haven't installed an ICC file, but I did experiment a bit with the provided presets, just to see what it did. Sure enough, it adjusts the color displayed on my screen. This will probably be very useful to people with displays whose colors tend to drift, or for those who do professional work with digital media (photos, video, etc.)
If you use an NVIDIA card, there's experimental 3D support via the Nouveau driver. But I have a different video card, so I'm just commenting on that for you.
For me, one of the most interesting features is the new photo manager. GThumb has been replaced by Shotwell. To test, I took some pictures of my cat, and easily imported them from the camera into Shotwell with a single click. From there, I could edit the photos, crop, resize, etc. Here's the feature list:
- import photos from any digital camera supported by gPhoto
- automatically organize events containing photos taken at the same time
- use tags to organize your photo collection
- edit non-destructively when altering photos, without ruining originals or using disk space for each copy
- publish photos to Facebook, Flickr or Picasa
- one-click auto-enhancement
- rotate, mirror, and crop photos
- reduce red-eye and adjust the exposure, saturation, tint, and temperature of your photos
- edit any photo, even if it's not imported to the Shotwell library
In previous releases, I'd used GIMP to edit all my digital photos (remove red-eye, etc.) Now, I'm switching to Shotwell. It's that good.
But looking through the list of changes in Fedora 13, I'm really excited to try out Déjà Dup. It's a new backup tool that should make life a lot easier. With it, you can do local or remote backups, including to Amazon's S3 cloud storage. Everything is encrypted and compressed, and backups are such that you can restore from any particular snapshot.
If Déjà Dup sounds familiar to you Mac users, it should. I have a Mac at home, too, and Time Machine has helped save me from myself more than once. "I really need that file from 6 months ago." It's there. I'm curious to see how Déjà Dup fares.