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Jan
18

Fedora 18 Review – Great Bovine Spheres!

by Rob Zwetsloot

After much delay, the Spherical Cow graces us with its presence. How does the final version of Fedora 18 stack up?

A new Fedora is always a big deal, as the Linux distribution is known for being on the bleeding edge of free and open-source software and technology, coming with the best and brightest the extended community has to offer. Fedora 18 may have had a bit of a bumpy ride to the finish line, but the longer wait hasn’t hampered the quality of the release at all. Any quality problems are mainly down to GNOME 3.6, but we’ll get to that.

GNOME
The new Fedora is finally here

Like we mentioned in our review of the beta, the new installer is a wonderful, minimalist designed app that allows for quick installations with decent default settings, and a more advanced set-up if you have some specific requirements. It also starts copying and installing while you finish up with root passwords and such, similar to how the Ubuntu installer works. While there’s not always much to do after the actual installation starts, it’s a step in the right direction to streamline the installation process. It also has the standard post-reboot user set-up that we also saw in Fuduntu this issue, which is good for OEMs and Sysadmins, and doesn’t really slow down the process for desktop users. The actual installation itself is a little slower than we’d like, but it won’t keep you waiting for too long.

It’s after all this that you’re put straight into an updated GNOME environment – GNOME 3.6. We’ve aired our grievances in previous issues about this latest version of GNOME, about how it slows down workflow in favour of being touch and keyboard friendly. Luckily, it’s at this point that you can start installing any number of other desktop environments, such as KDE, XFCE, or newcomers Cinnamon and MATE. Now that both of these are native to the repos, they definitely look a lot better than previous implementations on Fedora 17, with fonts being cripser on Cinnamon, and MATE gaining the ability to look a lot more like a modern desktop. Red Hat has a big stake in GNOME, same as Fedora, so it’s not surprising that it still shows up as the main desktop choice. It would be nice though to have more available spins though.

Anaconda
Installation is easy and looks great

There’s a bit of an update to the default app selection as well, and while nothing has really changed that’s not related to the system settings, the Fedora Project have at least added the LibreOffice suite to the starting selection. While it’s a minor thing, it’s a nice addition. On the system tools side, the package manager, updater, etc, are all now part of the same generic Software app. This is not accessible by typing update or updater into the search bar, and in GNOME 3.6 the drop down menu to access the graphical updater is a little hidden. It’s easier to just use YUM to update the systrem.

The Fedora devs also thought it noteworthy to mention the inclusion of a new command line tool, System Storage Manager. This simple package available in the repos can do some basic partition management, as well as checking partitions for errors and such. It’s a nice little tool, perhaps more suited to headless servers or working from the command line.

GNOME
The inclusion of Cinnamon is a great, modern alternative to GNOME 3

Otherwise, it’s got the standard package and security updates, a move to Linux kernel 3.6.y, and is still a great operating system for desktop, server, or the cloud.

Verdict

4/5

Fedora 18 is a minor but important improvement over Fedora 17, and the new desktop environment choice is great for desktop users, especially with the inclusion of a default GNOME 3.6. It’s just as slick, up-to-date and free as ever, and well worth the update

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    • TK

      AHHHHH! WHY DOES EVERY NEW DISTRO HAVE TO PUT A DOCK ON THE SIDE OF THE SCREEN?!?!?!? NOOOOO FEDORA! DON’T GO DOWN THAT AWFUL PATH! PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    • http://linuxperth.com.au/ Theophilus

      Using LXDE on Fedora now and haven’t looked back!

    • Anthony Bridges

      I’m afraid my experience has been quite the opposite of your reviewer. I’ve been using Fedora since No 12 and have always loved it for its slickness and simplicity. However this latest offering has been a total disaster on both my machines (reasonably modern) that I’ve had to install Linux Mint which has improved immeasurably recently and is an utter joy in comparison. I hate Gnome 3 with a passion so switched immediately to Cinnamon on the Fedora but I encountered so many problems … programs failing to load, software not being installed because of lack of signatures, etc etc … that I eventually gave up in total despair, the first time I’ve ever admitted defeat on a Linux distro so soon!

      To be blunt, I had been rather suspicious of the constant delays to the launching of this latest Fedora and kind of feared that I may encounter some problems but nothing on the scale that I eventually did.

      It grieves me to slate my once-favourite Linux desktop like this but I won’t be toughing Fedora again until No 19 comes along when hopefully things will have improved drastically and it is returned to something more like the excellent working desktop it always has been in the past.

    • V. Vanamali

      Totally agree with Anthony Bridges. I have been using Fedora since Core 2. On my home computer I didn’t upgrade from Fedora 14 because of the Gnome 3 nonsense. After having become comfortable with CInnamon on my office laptop (Fedora 17), I thought I’ll upgrade to 18 on my home machine. What a disaster the partitioning interface has turned out to be! Not the intuitive thingy it has been thus far, for I haven’t figured out how to preserve my existing home partition in the 18 setup. The machine has been rendered unbootable. I have now trudged to my office and just burnt Fedora 17 on a DVD and am about to leave for home. Hopefully the /home partition can be recovered when I install 17. Looks like the Gnome 3 developers have had an effect on the Fedora team in terms of wrecking a nice intuitive interface :-(

    • http://downfromthetrees.com jonc

      Totally disagree with Anthony Bridges.

      I installed F18′s RC2 without incident and haven’t looked back. Nothing broke in the new installer. I set my hostname and changed to standard partitioning from the default LVM, just like I have for a long time in the old Anaconda. The new version does not initially identify drives with the familiar “/dev/sda. /dev/sdb…” nomenclature, and it should. I read the help file, deleted the existing partitions, created the new partitions, mapped them to their drives, and moved on.

      Is the new Anaconda “intuitive”? No. But, neither was the old Anaconda. We were just used to it. “Intuitive” is the wrong word to describe software. Software can be easy to figure out or it can be difficult to figure out. But, it can’t be intuitive. It is always a learning experience.

      I’ve tried Cinnamon from Linux Mint. It’s good, if noticeably slower than F18 on my hardware. . I’d use it, perhaps, if I wanted to live in Ubuntu’s universe. I don’t.

      I used to loathe Gnome Shell. This time, I’m liking it. Go figure. I keep trying KDE and removing it after two days. XFCE looks pretty much like it did years ago. I don’t see the purpose other than its developers want to develop it.

      Linux desktop software is mature enough that we can stop looking for the holy grail of desktops. We can stop acting as if one desktop suite is going to be the obvious winner and rule Linux. That’s not going to happen. Gnome 3, Gnome 2, Cinnamon, MATE, E17, KDE, XFCE, etc., in their present states are all fine environments. They take different approaches and appeal to different tastes. The fact that you, or I, like one of them doesn’t mean the others are failures. We need to stop conflating our personal preferences and our anecdotal experiences with the Great Software Truths.

    • V. Vanamali

      @jonc: ‘ “Intuitive” is the wrong word to describe software. Software can be easy to figure out or it can be difficult to figure out. But, it can’t be intuitive. It is always a learning experience.’

      From yourdictionary.com:
      Intuitive describes something done with from instinct, or something that is easy-to-use. (adjective)

      1. When a piece of computer software just makes sense and is easy to use, this is an example of software that would be described as intuitive.

      Intuitive is exactly the right word, at least according to this website :-).

      Coming back to technical issues, have you figured out how to make an existing home partition part of new partitioning scheme in 18? This seemed to have been an issue around September 2012 when the alpha was released. Was it resolved before release? In Fedora 17 this was easy to do, and in 18 not “easy to figure out”. I admit I didn’t try poking around to see if someone has posted instructions on how to do this for those who couldn’t figure it out.

    • http://vk4tux.no-ip.org vk4tux

      Fedora 18 tried 5 times using various setups proved to be useless here. The permissions bugs and stupid extra drive mount paths make ita mess doomed to fail. I went back to fedora 17, which is brilliant.
      What a disappointment ! Let me know when fc20 is out and they fix this mess that is fc18.

      fedora user since fedora 3 (fc18 nearly sent me to ubuntu, but I have redhat in my blood)

    • http://www.papablogger.org/ kuldeep

      more about fedora and its installtion complete process .. take a look at PAPA

    • http://www.papablogger.org/ kuldeep

      more about fedora and its installtion complete process .. take a look at PAPA

    • Anup

      I am using Fedora since its early days. Fedora Core 4 (2005-6) being my most favorite stable version. Currently using Fedora 15 & 17 KDE on my desktop and laptop respectively.

      With an upgrade to my desktop I decided to install FC18. The whole installation has taken me by surprise…
      Honestly, I dont like the changes in Anaconda. I normally download a DVD version so that I can have custom selection of packages. So, I can install different desktop environments to — a. to try them out and b. as fail safe just in case I mess up KDE (my primary DE). If I have no option to select additional DE at installation, then whats the point in downloading the whole damn DVD ?

      I read on a closed bug on redhat bugzilla page justifying the absence of custom selection. (https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=856301). Needless to say I am not satisfied with the response.

      I will have to drop back to FC17

    • Anthony Bridges

      An update to my earlier post.

      After reading the comments of jonc and the enthusiastic review I decided to give Fedora 18 another go. This time I’m relieved to say with much more success. My Fedora 18 is now running like a reasonably workable desktop should, and I can only assume my original attempts got corrupted somewhere along the line at installation. My original problem seems to have lain mainly with the new installer which to me is a horrible shambles. Again I’m not surprised to learn that it was problems with this installer which was responsible for most of the delays with the final launch of the distro. When you wish to move on from a page sometimes the button to do that is on the bottom rhs, sometimes on the top lhs … very, very silly and quite unnecessary. Installation can be complicated enough without forever hunting for ‘continue’ , ‘next’ or ‘done’ buttons!

      Now, that I’ve eventually succeeded in getting Fedora 18 installed properly I’ve found things pretty okay, so far. However, I’ve just discovered there is a ‘New Folder’ but no ‘New Document’ facility on a right-click!! I was told the way to solve this is to create an empty text document and shove it in your Templates folder. Yes, it works … on right-clicking I can now magically create a new text file. Shades of that previous and quite ridiculous lack of a ‘Shutdown’ button in Gnome3, mercifully now restored.

      The old installer took my machines 5 mins to get the files on hard disk and I found it simple and straightforward. The new Anaconda takes over 15 mins and caused me no end of grief and wasted hours. It also looks drab and unattractive in comparison.

      Surely we cannot, in any shape or form, call this progress?

      I certainly don’t … but at least I have my familiar Fedora back so no more moans from me … for the moment at least!

    • Pingback: Links 22/1/2013: Linux Outpaces Market Share of Windows, Mozilla Phone, Fedora Reviews Aplenty | Techrights

    • Anups

      One good thing that FC18 did is to jump me off to LinuxMint 14 – Cinnamon.

      If its just a desktop edition you are seeking, then this OS seems ablsolutely brilliant. Package installation is a breeze. They (LinuxMint) have various spins, even the ones that include closed-source codec. Its been just two days upon installation. Only made modification to ssh-client to avoid checking for unnecessary auth mechanism. And I had a trouble mounting a windows share. ‘mount’ didn’t find cifs file type. Yet, to look in to that, however I managed to workaround that issue. Apart from these the OS is fast!

      I guess I should thank ‘I-want-to-be-helpful’ new Anaconda for that.

    • Bernard Victor

      I thought I would have a look at fedora 18 as it seemed to get fairly good reviews, but what a dissapointment. The lack of programs in the repositories. No VLC, no Chromium etc. Even when I installed Chrome, it failed to run, just nothing. Installed Cinnamon desktop, but no improvement. Clementine installed OK but failed to run properly. No Flash player.

      So it is back to Linux Mint.

    • V. Vanamali

      I am not the only one who didn’t like the new installer—see, for example, http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/fedora-18-kde.html. I am waiting to see what Fedora 19 may have to offer…

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    • Shashi Warrier

      I started with Fedora 14′s Gnome spin – my first Linux – and didn’t change it until 17 came along, when I switched to LXDE – after trying out Gnome, KDE, and Xfce – because it was faster and sufficient for my needs. With Fedora 18 I switched to Xfce and am quite happy with the results. The installation was smooth enough, if slow, and all the software I need is available in the repositories.

      Meanwhile, I’ve also been trying out other distros. Ubuntu and Lubuntu both messed up my Windows partition, as did LinuxMint 14. Some minimal distros – Puppy and Arch – weren’t too good. Arch was the hardest to install and the pain of doing all that on the command line isn’t worth the extras you get from tweaking the interface. So after hopping around I tend to return to Fedora with either LXDE or Xfce.

    • Jim

      HI, I have been sing Fedora 14 for some timenow and wanted to try the live boot version of Fedora 18 from issue 123 DVD. It boots to a locked desktop and I have not found indication of the username or password for the dvd live boot version on the DVD sleeve or within the magazine, can anyone provide it ?.

    • Yesid

      Very disappointed, same reasons as the previous comments “programs failing to load, software not being installed because of lack of signatures, etc etc”
      Wireless gets disconnected every few minutes and I have to reboot.

      I gave up!

    • http://anoopadv.in Anoop

      Have been a redhat user since 5.2 ? or is it? yes, from long back
      They finally manage to break ANACONDA, Achievement ? Dont think so.
      Tried everything to get this one installed, Did it But lucky and thanks for Alan review, Tried it using a spare HDD, So was easier to do the format….Nice command he

      continuing with F17 x86_64 till Fedora finds out how to install with this installer……..Still waiting