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Fedora 16 review – laying the groundwork for an exciting future

by Koen Vervloesem

Fedora 16, dubbed Verne, has a striking new nautical themed desktop. But as Koen discovers, the most exciting features lie much deeper under the surface…

It’s fair to say GNOME 3.2.1 found in Fedora 16 is a polished evolution of the GNOME 3 series. For instance, it supports online accounts to store your mail, calendar, contacts, chat and documents. For now there’s only support for Google, but by setting up a Google account in the online accounts panel, your GMail, contacts and calendar work out of the box in Evolution, the GNOME Shell calendar will be populated by your Google calendar, and Empathy will have Google Talk set up automatically. Naturally you can enable or disable each of these services individually should you wish.

If you’re trying to run Fedora 16 on a computer with a graphics card that doesn’t support GNOME 3, there’s an automatic fallback to a GNOME 2-style system. If you don’t like GNOME 3 and always want to run the fallback mode, the option is there. Simply open the User Menu at the top right and then choose System Settings > System Info > Graphics and enable Forced Fallback Mode. As an aside, Fedora 16 sticks with Evolution as the default mail client, in contrast with Ubuntu that favours Thunderbird these days.

Fedora 16 review - laying the groundwork for an exciting future

Under the hood, Fedora 16 sports the Linux 3.1 kernel. Another change in the plumbing layer is the switch from GRUB Legacy to GRUB2 as the default boot loader, which was bound to happen because GRUB Legacy is not maintained anymore. The default NTP (Network Time Protocol) client is now Chrony, which is designed to work well without permanent network connection, has a smaller memory footprint and saves power by limiting process wakeups. And HAL, the deprecated hardware abstraction layer, has been completely removed from Fedora as applications have moved over to using Udisks, UPower and libudev for device discovery.

While there have been talks about moving to the Btrfs filesystem, Fedora 16 still uses Ext4 by default. Of course you can use Btrfs if you really want to: you just have to choose it manually in the partitioning step of the installer. The new Fedora is also in the middle of another ongoing migration: while Fedora 15 introduced the new systemd system and service manager, this was just a first step. In Fedora 16, more services are converted to native systemd services, such as MySQL and PostgreSQL, with faster boot times as a result. However, a complete systemd-based init system will have to wait for Fedora 17.

Fedora 16 review - laying the groundwork for an exciting future

Fedora has always been strong in the domain of virtualization, and Fedora 16 is no stranger to this. For instance, virt-manager can now examine a virtual machine to determine the version of the operating system and what applications are installed. This information is shown in the Details window of the virtual machine. There’s even a button, which lets you open the virtual machine and browse its file system graphically. Another interesting feature is support for the redirection of USB 2.0 devices to virtual machines, as well as USB network redirection.

Fedora goes even further and has some cloud features. OpenStack, a set of programs for building an IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) system, is packaged in Fedora 16, as well as a less well-known IaaS system, Condor. Fedora 16 also comes with the Aeolus Conductor, a web-based user interface and tools to create and manage cloud instances across a wide variety of cloud types, all from the same user interface.

Verdict: 4/5
All in all, there’s not one key area where Fedora has improved, but it has a lot of evolutionary improvements in various domains. With the ongoing migrations to Btrfs and systemd, Fedora 16 lays the groundwork for an exciting future. If you want to experiment with the newest Linux technology, as always, Fedora is the place to be.

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    • The_Advocate

      Uhh .. where is the “Review”??? This does nothing but quote what Fedora has posted on their website. How about actually using it for a while and telling us about its stability, included packages, ease of use etc?

    • is thatit

      why oh why do fedora & Ubuntu make desktop with infantile hideous gigantic icons on them almost the size of packet of ciggarettes

      each edition is like some childrens game you get in Sesame Street,..
      or designs for half-blind short sighted people

      huge ugly slab menu’s you cannot change the size or shape of,..nor the font size,..
      ugly as hell

    • I installed x64 fedora-16……..i think this the most buggy release….shouldn’t use it…..just avoid it……everything is buggy……….i thought linux mint katya was the worst distro for unstability…now fedora-16…….

    • Sovorov

      They completely ruined Fedora with GNOME3. Luckily they also have KDE spin which is just perfect. I guess this is the only great desktop still left in Linux world. Well XFCE is also OK but still missing a lot of what KDE has to offer.

    • Yup…kde is perfect.

    • Laurent

      Hi Everyone,

      Here is my quick review of Fedora 16:
      – Install process improved, sudo setup, worked very well, no trouble at all (from DVD)
      – Gnome 3.x, still cute and cumbersome, forced fallback mode for a better experience, beautiful theme
      – Unstable wireless with popular Intel chipset, found a workaround but initially very troublesome
      – Better boot time even on fairly old hardware
      – The office suite is sweet, works very well, no trouble
      – Generally feels a bit faster than F15
      – Stability: good, some crashes on particular packages but recovered without fuss (no logout required)
      – I tried KDE on Fedora 15 and if I could not have switched to fallback mode, I would have gone with
      – Apache server installed and running, solid and easy
      KDE again on F16, much more functionnal than gnome 3.x (sorry gnomes, the new interface is just too
      Overall: 4/5


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    • Jeffersonian

      I do like what Fedora 16 (Verne) has to offer: lots of things I like.
      Unfortunately my experience to install it on an HP pavilion (with Nvidia video+Broadcom WiFi) was just a disaster! Tried the install several times, had problems in several places.

      Fedora was never easy to install on this platform… but it was at least possible.
      So I guess I will have to wait for a more usable version of Fedora, and I regret it, because it is a great distro when you get it to work !


    • Was using FC 15 – reinstall to FC 16. Had very bad experience with “upgrading” so, decided to just wipe out / and leave /home intact.

      Installation :- Nothing much change on surface compared to FC 15. Issue :- With multiple display of different resolution. The bottom part of the window got chopped off on the BIGGER screen. I had to restart installation with the smaller monitor unplugged from the display port.

      Developer should do home work and disable multiple display settings during installation.

      After installation :-
      Gnome wouldn’t start because of all the old config files in my user directory. I logged in via KDE and wipe out all the ~/. files/folder (by moving to a backup folder).

      Comparing to FC 15
      FC 16 is more polished version of FC 15. FC 15 was bad. Not ready for release, FC 16 is.
      Performance improve can be felt significantly thru user experience.

    • Jesse

      My review is that Fedora 16 is not good.

      Significant problems exist with systemd – it cannot seem to get dependencies right and does not properly bring the system up consistently. NFS fails. database fails. startup processes out of order.
      incomplete startup. Loss of error messages….

      Some of the problems have workarounds, others are inconsistent.

      It seems to work reasonably well for simple, basic operations, but don’t trust it for servers.

      Gnome3 is the worst user interface yet. First it is not usable with most video drivers – you must have hardware 3D, and even then, frequently you must have proprietary drivers. This may be addressed in F17, but still… it should have worked right off.

      Gnome3 requires a huge amount of “add-ons” to be usable. Unfortunately, to create a plugin requires the use of CSS and javascript… but the javascript interface can change at the drop of a hat. Plugins developed with 3.1 don’t work with 3.2… and don’t work so bad that it causes Gnome3 to abort.

      Fallback mode LOOKS like Gnome 2… but things don’t quite work the same. It is supposed to be “good enough” for VMs… but don’t try too much in the way of editing menus.

    • Mark

      Advice on virtualbox set-up for Fedora 16:
      Do not install CD version. For whatever reason, you will loose your guest additions set-up after the very first kernel update and that update is waiting in the software updates already for you. If you wait and build after kernel update, guest additions will not work (at least not for me). Elect instead to install via net or with DVD image.
      After a net install, I used the conventional method of creating the path for guest additions. It then activates but does not allow for gnome 3 use due to Fedora system access restrictions. The correction for this problem is on the internet, as well as the means to create the path for guest additions also required.
      I am not sure exactly why Fedora continues to make Virtualbox installation such a chore. Opensuse 12.1, Linux Mint 12Rc, Ubuntu 11.10, Centos 6 and even Debian testing are much more friendly towards virtualbox installations. Strange for a supposedly state of the art linux distro.

    • zykoda

      This is a review of F16????? no, No NO! I have downloaded the 32bit DVD iso. I have read the release notes which IMHO ask much that a reviewer should answer. E.G.

      (1) How does the installation of F16 play along with other co-existing OSes?
      (2) What are the consequences of GPT?
      (3) What problems are created by the changes to UID/GUID?
      (4) What problems could occur with brts?
      (5) How does GRUB 2 fair in the specific multiboot instances with legacy GRUB, LILO, PLOP, etc

      Can we get some answers from your tests outside a clean environment?
      It looks as though I must go in unprepared!

    • Fidjet

      I feel bad for the people that are having issues with Fedora 15 or 16. I had been using Fedora 15 for about 2 months before upgrading to 16 and I must admit Fedora 16 (x86_64) is better IMHO.

      I upgraded to 16 via ‘preupgrade’ and for the past week have had no issues! The upgrade went extremely smooth and it didn’t miss a beat either during the upgrade, or after. I have to admit, I thought I would have to do some tweaking but the upgrade was flawless!! I’m still trying to grapple with what the hell everyone is complaining about with Gnome 3 as I find it fantastic once you get used to it. I can now multi-task like never before and the search feature is great for finding files quickly or launching apps.

      You will want to install ‘gnome-tweak-tool’ to customize the Gnome shell. If ‘gnome-tweak-tool’ wasn’t available I probably wouldn’t like Gnome 3 as much. And yes, the extremely large icons are overkill!

      I happen to love the ‘Online-Accounts’ integration with my Gmail and Empathy. Now I can use my personal, business, and gmail accounts through Evolution. So far, no problems and saves me lots of time without having to access different sources or mess with IMAP settings.

      I’ve been using Redhat type desktop OSs now for over 10 years and this is by far my favourite of them all. Can’t wait until 17. :)

    • rick (the willmiester) wright

      i really dont know where to start. i introduced myself to linux i think in 1997 or 8 with mandrake 6. back then you could load linux as an icon on windows desktop and click it and the os would run as far as i can remember no dual boot. time goes on. i tried to download f-16 and it did not work. it would come up on the screen with 4 staggered lines and then the well known screen of death. dont remember what color does not matter what color. please understand everyone is not going to be a geek, a programmer, or whatever in that capacity. im just a user trying to enjoy my desktop. it seems like you guys constantly put out an os that we(the users) have to fix. lets see kinda sounds like windows 95. is it really smart to put bugs in your oses,started back up with ubuntu 8-04 early 2010 that i bought from a half price book store for 10 bones. for once it did not eat my other os. i was impressed. then bought $12 mag from europe with ubuntu six pack. none of the other oses worked well but ubuntu 10-04 lts. that was enough. at one time i had 6 oses running on my computer. lets see windows with ubuntu 8-04, a 500 gig hard drive with two linuxes on it and two usb sticks with linux. going along just fine then wam bam thank you mam it all went to crap that grub thing again, i think. most of the time it was me trying to load another linux. a couple of times it just crashed. of course i had to reload the os. would like to see that i could save programs to a usb stick in case that happens, could just reload all the programs by pulling them to my desktop. actually have open arena and quake 3 arena set up that way and tried to save nexuiz but to no avail. my favorite os is mint 10 and started to enjoy fedora 14 which let me go online and mandriva but would not let me go online but played my games. would like to load 4 oses at a time no virtual machine. going to build another computer in early 12. will easily have 8 maybe 16 gigs of memory. should be enough. actually what really got me going again with linux was suse 9. if the gaming industry ever starts writing games for linux i will take an apple and throw it through the window then its bye bye windows. see ya, but then again if you guys(the linux community) would call sony and say we really did not mean to sue you over the playstation3 thing and asked if they would let the linux community port all playstation3 games to linux (even if the software costs me 25 bucks) then you would have high end gaming for linux.

      rick (the willmiester) wright

    • ha ha ha……

    • what a joke????

    • i am using ubuntu 10.1 distribution and i readed all your comments! just i couldn’t understan that i should try that distr. or not…
      thanks a lot…

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    • Paul

      Started with RedHat 2.1 way back in the days. Been using Mint, Ubuntu Studio, and now tried F16. I am truly impressed having gone full circle. The amount of changes that make up this new release are astonishing. I believe that any Linux system is going to present some difficulties depending on your hardware. This new operating system is no different. If you want to utilize the full features have a good video card and be prepared to update drivers etc. I had to go to fallback mode until I could get my video drivers up to snuff. If your going to try this operating system be aware that you will have to make changes to satisfy your particular tastes. As in any Linux operating system nothing comes perfect out of the box. Having said that I find this to be the best operating system out there at this time. I have stacks of Linux OS’s to prove I have tried them all. Gnome 3 when I first tried it was really distasteful too me. Now after giving it a full trial I see many of the benefits. If your going to try this system first thing after install is update. Then you can start manilpulating the system to your satisfaction. To that end here is a link:

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    • bill


      our main server (1000+ clients) is still running FC12 , we are just building a new FC16 one for a new location.. could of gone Fc17 but it seemed a bit too “new” ..

      the FC12 box is still FC12 for a good reason >

      19:47:19 up 620 days, 9:06, 2 users, load average: 0.31, 0.31, 0.28

      stable as a rock