Satyajit Ranjeev

My rants on development and design

Fedora 11 Review: What to expect from it

with 15 comments

With about two weeks for the final release I hear many talking about Leonidas. I hear ext4, faster boot speed, new volume control and a lot of things  which I could not comprehend.  So I read the Feature List page in the Fedora project wiki and decided to come up with features that one might want to look up before installing 11 on to the system. As usual I’ve been using 11 from beta stage and have update it all this while. It is stable, in fact I have not experienced any bugs . Talking of bugs, I hear they even have a new bug reporting system for the non geeks which will send reports automatically. Lets have a look at the features most prominently advertised first and then go to the less popular ones.

20 Second Startup: This says it all, but the 20 second start up is just to the login screen. But what it doesn’t say is the amazing way it boots up to the login screen. I have never seen this on any other distribution. It starts very smoothly giving the user a blue screen and it does not flicker a bit and smoothly changes to the login screen. My words don’t give it any justice, really the experience is as refined as a Mac OS X even better.

Ext4 file system and brtfs: There is a lot of noise about the Ext4 file system being the default not only in Fedora but also Ubuntu. So what’s the big deal about it. For the start ext4 can support disks of 1 exabyte and a single file can go upto 16 terabytes. On an ext3 the maximum disk size can be 16 TiB and the maximum file size 2 TiB and has a faster file system check  so the server market should reap benefits from it. For the rest, we should notice generally better performance, and benefit from things like persistent preallocation when using updated torrent clients, etc. I have definitely seen a big difference in speed using a ext4 system. Brtfs may become the default file system for Fedora in a future release. It is the answer to ZFS in Solaris. It is definitely not suitable for day to day use but if you want to see the future file system add icantbelieveitsnotbtr at the installation prompt and you should be able to format your partition using brtfs. For more details about brtfs go to their wiki.

Volume Control: When I installed the beta looking at the feature list was impressed that I could connect my bluetooth head set and configure it with simplicity. But the installation didn’t get the job done. It detected my Jabra Headset, that is all. Then after a few updates, I was bowled!

screenshot-sound-preferences

All I had to do was pair it with my system and POP it shows up in the volume configuration. Simply brilliant. There are still a few bugs, like it detects it as a mono system but by the release day I’m sure it will be done or one will find a fix in the due course. The volume can be centrally managed here thanks to the pulse audio system. And if you do run into trouble setting your volume refer to my post on Volume / Sound problem in Fedora 11.

Firefox 3.5 & Thunderbird 3: I love Firefox but it loads pages slowly. It is annoying at times how slow it can be. Using my brother’s mac I saw the gulf yawning in between the speed of safari and firefox. I was planning to change to opera when along came 3.5. It has a new JavaScript engine and loads pages a lot more quickly than 3.0. It is actually impressive. You can expect your browsing a lot quicker. That’s something I like about Fedora. They bring the latest of the software in a release. You don’t have to wait for another release to get it into the main repository. Firefox 3, OpenOffice 3.0, Firefox 3.1, Gimp 2.6, all of them put into the appropriate release. For us who like to be in the bleeding edge of the software end, Fedora should be the choice. Thunderbird 3 is also included, not in the Live CD but you’ll find it in the repository. It also has a lot of improvement over 2 which you can find here.

GNOME 2.6 and KDE 4.2: Of course you get the latest of the desktop environments also. KDE 4.2 is something to look out for. They have done a lot of improvements and is finally worth using. The GNOME users may not experience much of new features but for the Volume control. They haven’t left out XFCE, fedora comes with the latest release, 4.6.

Presto: This is a plug-in for ‘yum’. It enables delta rpm support in Fedora. Delta rpm is an rpm file which stores the difference between versions of a package. For example updating the open office suite would nearly take a 100 M download, using deltarpms you can save more than 60 % that is you’d download only about 40M. It is not enabled by default so you will have to ‘yum’ it.

yum install yum-presto

I installed the plugin and updated my system. Just see the output I got:

yum update
Loaded plugins: presto, refresh-packagekit
[text omitted]

Transaction Summary
================================================================================
Install      0 Package(s)
Update      20 Package(s)
Remove       0 Package(s)
Total download size: 101 M
Is this ok [y/N]: y
[text omitted]

Size of all updates downloaded from Presto-enabled repositories: 19M
Size of updates that would have been downloaded if Presto wasn't enabled: 101M
This is a savings of 82 percent

That saved me 82 M. Wow…

Supported Architecture: Users should notice  slight speed improvements as 32 bit x86 would be built for i586 by default and PAE kernel would be installed where appropriate. In layman’s language if you have a system with more than 4GB of memory you will be able to use it on a 32 bit system and not just 3.2 GB.

Automatic Fonts and Mime installer: With the introduction of Package Kit into the system of Fedora things have become very impressive especially in installing codecs.  My previous post describes how additional codecs can be easily detected and installed with minimum configuration, very similar to that of Ubuntu.

Gpk-client-codecs

In this release they have gone a step further. If you have a file which does not have an application to open, with the use of Package Kit Fedora would search an application to open the file:

Gpk-client-mime-type

And it does the same with fonts too:

Gpk-client-font

DeviceKit: It is similar to HAL and it is to eventually replace it. It is a device management tool. One new software which is included in the devicekit is the Palimpsest Disk Utility. It checks your hard disk and notifies you the state of your drive.

Screenshot-Palimpsest Disk Utility

It also checks the status of your disks at login time and provides fixes. You can do basic file system operation in it like deletion of partition or renaming a label and others.

X-server 1.6: With X-server 1.6 spanning desktop is a piece of cake. It wasn’t difficult to setup my 21inch Samsung monitor to span with my laptop.

Screenshot-Display Preferences

One might notice you cannot kill X using Ctrl-Alt-Backspace which personally I miss. To enable it you will have to add  Option "DontZap" "false" in the ServerFlags section of the xorg.conf file.

Fingerprint: Support in fingerprint is improved in this release. I personally do not have a system with fingerprint recognition so have not tested it. You can look here for further details.

Synaptics: This was one thing that tripped me off. When I installed Fedora at the beta stage I couldn’t just get tapping enabled by default. I was annoyed and even made a mention of it in my review. But later did I realise that with this release things were beginning to improve. Touch Pads  can be configured with ease. If you are having trouble configuring your touch pad look here. UPDATE: Synaptics settings in gnome only apply in gnome, for KDE and gdm login screen activation you need to copy /usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/20thirdparty/10-synaptics.fdi to /etc/hal/fdi/policy/ and make the appropriate edits. *

Kernel Mode setting for Intel Chipsets: With Fedora 10 Plymouth was introduced removing the good old rhgb. Plymouth brings about brilliant graphical boot screen and with kernel mode setting enabled in Intel chipsets you wouldn’t notice any change in graphic settings from the boot up to the login screen thus making the boot up very refined.

For developers 11 comes with Netbeans 6.5, Windows Cross Compiler, Python 2.6 and integrating Linux Tools OProfile and Valgrind into Eclipse IDE. Windows Cross Compiler is interesting as it enables programmers to build windows softwares right off their system.

Virtualization hasn’t been left off either. Virtual guests have improved graphical consoles with accurate mouse pointer and higher screen resolution. With SASL authentication introduced one does not require to tunnel through SSH to access VNC servers (VNC is been use to interact with QEMU remotely.) Kvm and QEMU have been merged into a single package which makes sure qemu does not lag behind kvm.

Underlying features that support the release are rpm 4.7, rewrite of anaconda storage, DNSSEC, DRI2 for better 3d support and compositing manager, gcc 4.4, IBus, improved interaction of GDM with PAM, update of the radeon r100/r200 3D drivers,Nouveau as default driver for NVIDIA graphic cards, stronger hashes and couple of others too.

This release has got me more excited than 10. The features as the wiki says it “dwarfs any other release”. It looks very promising and the future for Fedora seems brighter. It is definitely a brilliant milestone after 10 releases.

* Posted by Sideways in the fedora forums

UPDATE: Fedora 11 Released!

About these ads

Written by Ranjeev Satyajit

May 13, 2009 at 10:47 am

Posted in Reviews

15 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Oops please delete my previous comment…. replace with this:

    Nice review Ranjeev. I am certainly enticed to try F11 out.

    Just a typo to correct: “Kvm and QEMU have been merged into a single package which makes sure qemu does not lag behing kvm.”: s/behing/behind/

    elfgoh

    May 13, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    • thanks a lot elfgoh, corrected the typo

      Ranjeev Satyajit

      May 14, 2009 at 1:06 am

    • Hopeless , Just installed it two days back , Mythtv, Moovida, Xbmc all fail to start with some bug or other , Mssttcorefonts wont work because of missing chkfontconfig or something , In fact slower than F10 to work , Maybe I’am not using the exact hardware the so called developers have, Sounds like M$ features Is’nt it

      quick

      June 29, 2009 at 9:06 am

  2. which theme is that?

    loupgaroublond

    May 14, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    • It is a customized theme I have created based on GlowLeopard from the gnome-look.org for gtk and Sloth for metacity… you will have to use a compositing manager… I’ll send it to you…

      Ranjeev Satyajit

      May 15, 2009 at 12:35 am

      • yes, it is nice and very helpful to

        kral_vage

        June 10, 2009 at 1:38 am

  3. Nice review.looking up for more reviews as this.
    Regards.

    Edward

    May 15, 2009 at 12:52 pm

  4. Nice review. I would defenetly give a try…

    sundar_ima

    May 26, 2009 at 11:09 am

  5. Hi Satyajit,

    I don’t know if you do remember me (The RHCE batch for which you quit teaching Half-way through).

    One heck of a review here. Thumbs up !!

    Ram

    May 26, 2009 at 7:04 pm

  6. Nice review Satyajit!!
    One question tough, im having a really tough time deciding between kde and gnome, a recent poll I ran on the mailing lists (im a fellow ambassador) people seemed to lean toward gnome (I also like gnome a lot!) tough Ive never used KDE, and Ive been hearing version 4.2 is simply awesome, in you opinion which one is better? (or put in another words, which one will you get?).
    Thanks a lot!

    Hector

    June 8, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    • KDE 4.2 is definitely awesome. The window manager in KDE is far advanced than the of GNOME. KDE has features that GNOME does not have by default like the plasma desktop, advance composite window manager (over come by compiz fusion). I’d suggest you use KDE, but the only problem would be you will not have the new volume control or the mouse configuration utility. IMHO I wouldn’t say one is better than the other. Some like KDE over GNOME. Try out both and choose yours.

      Ranjeev Satyajit

      June 9, 2009 at 1:31 am

  7. @ Hector
    I just started using Kde 4.2. I must say that it is awesome, excellent,…etc. Like sathysjit said there are many features, which are not part of default gnome, are available in Kde 4.2. But there are some issues which i encounterd (in the last one month)…
    1. Battery back up –>> reduced time of 15 min (compared to gnome)
    2. Some time it hangs (you will have to restart)
    3. Some applications crashes frequently…

    If you are comfortable with gnome then go ahead. Choose Kde 4.2 and explore more…

    sundar_ima

    June 9, 2009 at 10:57 am

  8. Fedora 11 is a very good release and this review explains it well, thanx bro

    Kalung Biofir

    July 16, 2009 at 12:15 am

  9. FC11 give me some bugs on GRUB

    eulerss

    October 12, 2009 at 4:56 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: