Fedora 11 Beta got released few days after schedule. Code named “Leonidas”, it has a “feature list that dwarfs any previous release.”. A 20 second boot up, improved plymouth, virtualization, support for cross-compiling windows application directly on fedora and many more exciting features go on to the Features list. I will be writing soon on what to expect from fedora 11, so we will skip parts of features now but look onto the experience in using this beta version. Now please do remember this is a beta version, so a lot of changes are made until the final release.
Let us start with the installation. I decided I would create a live usb of the iso image file downloaded from the fedora website. I had installed the live usb creator on my fedora 10 system. So I assumed all would work fine but alas no. The writing of the image went perfectly fine but when I rebooted the into the usb all I saw was a grey boot screen. So I burnt a cdrom with the live image. A while later I went through the release notes and found it was a bug and this is what it read:
When creating Fedora 11 Live media from a Fedora 10 or older system, the latest syslinux package is required in order to produce bootable media. Should you see a grey boot screen (see screenshot) when booting your Live media, you have created your Live media with an older syslinux package.
Now I felt like kicking myself, and just got reminded of the statement I made while training students “always read the release notes before installation”. So make sure you update syslinux from the rawhide repo if you are using F10 or previous releases:
yum --enablerepo=rawhide update syslinux
Finally I booted into the live environment. The boot speed had definitely improved and the whole boot experience was very pleasant. The improved driver support for plymouth  had definitely payed off. I did not even see a flicker from the screen which showed the boot progress to the login screen which made fedora absolutely refined.
At last install time! Installation was pretty much similar to that of fedora 10 but with ext4 added as default file system. While creating the partitions I could not make my /boot partition as ext4 but was able to get it for the / partition. There was definitely a small bug while trying to create the partitions and thus I opened a terminal and created two partitions using fdisk. Installation was lightning speed partly as it was being installed from the usb disk but definitely lot faster than ubuntu.
Installation completed, rebooted the system to check if it boots up in 20 seconds. Sadly it did not but was quite fast at around 30 seconds. Once the firstboot screen was done with the creation of users I noticed they have added a Guest user. Not very pleased with it I found a way to remove it:
yum remove xguest
The desktop environment, GNOME 2.26, did not have the same appeal as Fedora 10 in terms of Artwork. The default wallpaper and login screen is so bad and horrible. It is a terribly cut and paste wallpaper made in GIMP with rough edges and lacks finish. I was amazed at the default wallpaper in 10 but sadly it is horrible to the extent the refined feel during the boot is all lost as you log inside. But looking through the artwork wiki page I saw a new theme emerging which is definitely pleasing to the eye: The King Concept . I do hope this becomes the default desktop.
Package Kit has definitely improved from the time it was launched in Fedora 9. One thing noticeable is the file size during installation or update. It shows a progress bar and an icon beside the package currently updating in the update manager.
The same mistake made in Fedora 9 seems to reappear in 11. The touchpad tap being disabled by default. Reading the feature list page I came across a section named Synaptics Update  . According to the page, under the user experience section, “Less configuration necessary to get the touchpad into the default state.” Now where in the bizzare world does one disable to tap mechanism by default and say less configuration is necessary. It annoyed me and many users a lot in fedora 9 and they make the same mistake. You’d notice they have disabled tapping if the system has buttons. I care less about the buttons. I still have not figured out how to enable it by default but each time I log in i run these commands:
synclient TapButton1=1 synclient TapButton2=1 synclient TapButton3=1
It still does not work well. I will definitely find the permanent solution and post it soon.
UPDATE: Fix found, very simple just click on System->Preferences->Mouse click on the Touchpad tab and enable your choice. Screenshot here
Delta rpm support should have been enabled by default in Fedora 10 but it did not make it on time so I thought it will be enabled this time by default. Well the feature list page says 100% complete on the Presto  link but is not yet enabled yet. I tried enabling it using the instructions given on  but was not successful. For those of you not aware of delta rpms, it is a rpm file which contains the difference of a new version and an old version of a package. For example updating the open office suite would nearly take a 100 M download, using deltarpms you can save up to 60 % that is you’d download only about 40M. The presto is a plugin for yum which enables deltarpm.
The unified volume control is another feature to look at, though my speaker volume cannot be turned on head phones work fine. I did try my Jabra Bluetooth headset but again it did not work. I do hope its all fixed by the final release.
While these hiccups are natural in a beta, the amazing features definitely keeps me on my toes. With KDE 4.2, Firefox 3.1 (which is definitely faster than 3.0), thunderbird 3.0, new volume control and many more I am more excited about this release than 10. Definitely some of these hiccups can annoy a few users away, but as always there is always a fix and different ways of doing things in Linux. Fedora keeps getting better and better every release.