Sunday, April 25, 2010

A peek into Fedora 13beta

It's been about a week since I wrote my Fedora 13beta mini-review. A user asked for screenshots of Shotwell and Déjà Dup, so I thought I'd oblige with this post.

First, a few notes:

I reported in my mini-review that the beta is using GNOME 2.29. The day after I wrote that, I installed a bunch of updates to my system, and GNOME 2.30 was among them.

Color profile support still requires a calibration device to generate a profile for you. One that has been recommended to me is the Datacolor Spyder, to create a color profile of your monitor. The Spyder 3 Express costs around $90. It is useful to calibrate your monitor at least every 6 months or so, since the cold cathode backlight on your LCD changes color as it ages.

Managing digital photos:

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. Here's a sample album, showing some photos of my cat:


Someone posted a comment earlier, expressing concern that Shotwell requires importing your photos before you can edit them. This is not the case. You can right-click on any photo in GNOME, and "Open with Shotwell Photo Viewer". From there, you have access to all the photo editing tools, and I used this feature to crop a photo a friend had taken of me.

It's easy! You can choose the crop to be unconstrained, or you can use a pre-set aspect ratio and resize the range appropriately.

Note there is no "resize" function in Shotwell. That's a function of the "export". When you publish your photos online (Shotwell supports Facebook, Flickr, Picasa) you can choose a size for your photos.

Backing up your data:

I was really excited to try out Déjà Dup. It's a new backup tool that should make life a lot easier. With it, you can backup to any storage that GNOME can use (local disk, external hard drive, SSH/SFTP, FTP, Windows share, WebDAV, etc.) or directly to Amazon's S3 cloud storage. Everything is encrypted and compressed, and backups are such that you can restore from any particular snapshot.

Déjà Dup has an interface that's simple to use:


Once you have made a successful backup, Déjà Dup asks you if you want to schedule this backup for another time. I have my backups set for "weekly", to an SSH/SFTP host on my home network. It just runs on its own, and GNOME gives me a small warning beforehand so I can opt to cancel the backup if I'd prefer.

Restoring files is very straightforward, although it lacks the really cool interface from Apple's Time Machine. You can choose to overwrite your existing files with the backup copy, or restore to a new location:


There's even an option in GNOME to right-click on a file and revert to a previous version (via Déjà Dup.)

5 comments:

  1. Both of these programs look quite awesome, and I hope they make their way into other distributions as well. I'm not a huge fan of Fedora as it seems to be almost perpetually in beta-quality. Also, I'm unhappy (though this is an aesthetic nitpick) that Fedora ditched the awesome, professional-looking Nodoka theme for the bland stock Clearlooks theme.

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  2. Nodoka is still there, so you can still select it. Actually, I prefer Glossy, with the "Fedora" icon theme, and white pointer theme. I flipped it back to this just to take screenshots.

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  3. Fedora will pretty much always feel like it's "Beta" for some feature or other. That's because it's the proving ground for featuresets that will go into a future version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. So they try out the new stuff in Fedora, and when it becomes "enterprise ready" they roll it into RHEL.

    That's actually one reason I prefer Fedora: I get to stay a little closer to current, but there's also a big focus on stability and usability that I quite like.

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  4. "Color profile support still requires a calibration device to generate a profile for you."

    Not entirely; you need that to get a really accurate profile, but you can use g-c-m to load up the profile that comes with the Windows monitor 'driver'. This won't be perfectly tuned to your exact unit, but it'll likely be better than the completely generic default profile. To do this you have to do whatever you need to do to extract files from your Windows driver (depends what format it's in), look for .icm or .icc files, and import these into g-c-m (there's a button for this on one of the tabs). Then you can apply the profile to your monitor.

    "That's because it's the proving ground for featuresets that will go into a future version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. So they try out the new stuff in Fedora, and when it becomes "enterprise ready" they roll it into RHEL."

    This really isn't true, and I wish influential people would stop repeating it :). There's an element of truth to it, but things really aren't that simple. Red Hat doesn't dictate every little thing about Fedora; Fedora is a distinct distribution, with its own organization and methods and procedures. In the end Red Hat 'controls' Fedora, if you look all the way through the management structure, but in many ways it's like the Queen running England; that's what all the constitutional documents say, but she's not going around telling MPs what to vote for. Lots of significant things happen in Fedora which have nothing to do with Red Hat; it's possible for an entire feature - comprising a bunch of packages, testing, and marketing efforts - to happen in Fedora without the involvement of anyone from Red Hat. Fedora is _not_ just a RHEL sandbox.

    Even from RH's perspective, that really isn't what we want out of Fedora. Er, most of the time, anyway. =) Fedora is supposed to be a desktop Linux distribution with a focus on being a friendly development environment and caring as much about enabling contributions as simple end use. I won't lie and say there's _never_ a case where Red Hat staff put things into Fedora with a view to getting experience with it before they go into RHEL, sure, it happens, but that's not all Fedora is, and there really are those of us within and without RH who would try to stop such a process if it had a negative effect on Fedora itself.

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  5. > This really isn't true, and I wish _influential people_ would stop repeating it :).

    :-)

    > There's an element of truth to it, but things really aren't that simple

    I admit I oversimplified. I like your distinction between Red Hat's interests in Fedora, and Fedora's interests.

    Adam, I'd love to talk with you some more (off-blog) about Fedora. I found your email address, so I'll put some thoughts together and email you in the next few days.

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