Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fedora 14 mini-review

As you know, Fedora 14 released this week. I prefer Fedora as my Linux distro, so I downloaded the new version right away. Here is my mini-review.

I freaking love it.

Here is my slightly longer mini-review:

Installation
When I do an upgrade, no matter the operating system, I prefer to blow everything away and install the new version from scratch. I've done straight upgrades, and they run fine, but I find every upgrade leaves some "cruft" from the old system. So I always reformat and reinstall.

Backing up my data was pretty straightforward, just saved it to a USB hard drive. I had burned a Fedora 14 install LiveCD, but also created a LiveUSB version of the CD using LiveUSB Creator onto a spare USB flash drive. I installed from the LiveUSB, the default (GNOME) version. Your timings may vary if you use the LiveCD, or a different "spin" (for example, KDE).

Installation took 15 minutes, including reformatting my Linux partitions and answering the pre-install questions. Encrypting my hard drive was as simple as ticking a checkbox and typing in a password. Once you answer the pre-install questions, then click the button, the rest of it is entirely automated.

When the install is done, I rebooted, copied back my data, and I was back to work. From the moment I booted into the LiveUSB installer, to when I finished restoring my data, was probably 30-40 minutes.

From there, it was a simple matter to let the system install a few updates that came out in the days following the Fedora 14 release. But with Linux, you can continue to use your system even while it installs updates.

Graphics support
I mentioned in my Fedora 14 preview post that I'd been running the beta for a little while (via my USB flash drive) and noted that Nouveau now supports my nVidia GT218 / NVS 3100M graphics card. I get full features, too, including dual-monitor support. All without having to install the nVidia proprietary driver.

I'm still in love with this upgrade. The nVidia proprietary driver got the job done, but since it didn't install itself into the pre-boot environment (there's some technical info for you, there) my laptop never booted with the graphical screen. Instead, I always watched Fedora boot using a text-mode interface, blue progress bar at the bottom of the screen before the nVidia driver could take effect and the screen would flip into full graphics mode.

But now that Nouveau has better support for my Nvidia card, I get the graphical "F" logo during the boot. It's very nice. By itself, that was enough reason for me to upgrade.

GMail integration
Now, GNOME can integrate with GMail using Gnome GMail. It allows GMail to be selected as the default mail application for the desktop. Unlike other solutions on the net, Gnome GMail supports "To:", "Subject:", "body", "CC:", and "BCC: fields.

You have to install it (not provided as part of the default install?) but once there, it's easy to select GMail as my default mail handler under "System - Preferences - Preferred Applications". Click on an email address (say, in a web page, or in GNOME) and it brings up my web browser with a GMail "compose" window. There's a process to configure it for a Google Apps account, but I prefer to use my default GMail account for this.

Music player
I haven't used the new Clementine music player yet. I went into "Applications - Sound & Video" and got distracted playing with Rhythmbox, the default music management application for GNOME. I've known about this app from previous versions, but hadn't used it much. Right now, I'm writing my blog post while listening to great 80s music, streamed from Absolute Radio. So maybe I'll get to Clementine later. Maybe.

Other stuff
One other neat feature I noticed was when I started OpenOffice (now at version 3.3) it added a "Quickstarter" into my top system tray. So when I quit OpenOffice, the next time I need to open an office document, things start up almost immediately. If you don't want the Quickstarter there, you can disable it, or right-click and select "Exit".

Also, the GNOME file browser reverted from a spatial interface back to a browser navigational model by default. So when you open a folder, you don't get a new window, it just opens in the current file browser. This reduces desktop clutter, which I very much appreciate. You can always open up another file browser if you want to click & drag files to copy or move them.

6 comments:

  1. Would you happen to know when Fusion Linux 14 is supposed to come out? It's supposed to be like Linux Mint for Fedora, so I'm interested in giving it a spin.
    --
    a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

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  2. PV: I have no idea. But looking on their forum, I see that Fusion 14 just went into release candidate* so the full Fusion Linux 14 can't be too much further away for you.

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  3. (Sorry, the comments were flooded with spam {Cialis, pens, etc.} earlier today. I have deleted them.)

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  4. Thanks for the review. I'm especially interested in your experiences with the video driver and dual head installation. As I note here: ( http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2010/11/is_ubuntu_running_off_a_cliff.php ) it may be time for me to start thinking about Fedora on my desktop.

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  5. How did you get so much spam (which I missed) with sign-on and captcha in place?

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  6. Based on the timings of the spam, I'd guess that a live spammer person had typed in the captcha and copied/pasted a bunch of ads. "Flooded" wasn't the right word; there were only 7 or 8 spam posts.

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