Fedora 13 Way more then hype Part 2 – General Usability

Fedora has changed alot over the years and during the time in which I have been using Linux, Fedora 13 is no exception to this. There are some very cool new things in Fedora and some even under the hood which you might not think about. Those however that affect the way in which you use Fedora are what I call Usability features. It is no secret that I am rather partial to Fedora and continue to use and occupationally review it.

In case you have not read my last post or do not wish to read it here are the specs for the system and VM i used to review this.

My hardware:

Virtual Machine Specs

  • 22gb Hard drive image
  • 1024mb of ram
  • only allowed 1 Core to be used for this VM (4 available from my CPU)
  • Host OS Windows 7 Pro 64bit
  • VM Software Virtual Box 3.1.8
  • 12mb of video memory
  • mouted ISO image as CD drive
  • Virtual machine CPU extensions turned on

Plymouth

As many of you undoubtedly know this is the new graphical loader that replaced Red Hat”s RHGB back in Fedora 9 I believe ( maybe 8 was the last one to use RHGB), this allows for animated graphical splash screens to be displayed while the system boots as well as offering a plug-in interface for developers to tie in other features to Plymouth.

Fedora 13 added support for more graphics cards allowing more people to take advantage of this new technology. Not a whole lot different then previous Fedora versions here but worth mentioning.

New Documentation Menu
Fedora 13 Introduces a new Documentation sub-menu to the Gnome panel, this allows users to more easily gain access to important information such as the Release notes or security guide. Below you can see the main menu and then a screen-shot of the underlying documentation menu.

Documentation Main Menu

Documentation Sub-menu

Backup Utilities
As any user knows backing up your system is an essential part of ensuring your data remains safe, Fedora 13 has taken steps to include a peace of software that will make this task painless.

When i first load a new version of Fedora one of the first things i do is find a good backup program to aid in automated backups of my home folder. Fedora 13 includes by default a program called Deja Dup. This program upon loading looks very simple and quite stripped of features, however as I found out looks are deceiving.

What this App lacks in visual appeal it makes up for in pure awesomeness. For the first time since its release Deja is one of the only (decent) apps to support backing up to an Amazon S3 cloud FREE. Let me repeat that “FREE” access to backup to a Amazon S3 cloud.

Why is it so important you might ask?

Amazon S3 is a way to have cloud storage that extends as you need it instead of charging you for a set limit on space. The down side here is that they do not have an Amazon program to download and use to manage your files. This is where a lot of third party developers come in and charge for solutions that will allow you to use your S3 cloud for backup storage. Deja might be light weight but it is a fully robust S3 backup client as well as a general backup tool. This program being free is a huge plus to me as I have yet to find a comparable program on Linux or Windows that comes close to this one.

That being Said it can backup through tradittional means such as a network location or even to a compressed file you can then copy to a CD or DVD. While its ability to connect to S3 is one of the features I use frequently I am by no means implying you need an S3 account to get use of this program.

Judging from the projects website it looks as though this was originally an Ubuntu project and must have been ported to Fedora. I am so glad that who ever ported it did, I strongly recommend you give it some attention and see how it works.

Deja Dup Project Site

Deja Dup Opening Screen

Deja Dup Preferences

Deja Dup Backup Summary

Automatic Printer Installation
Fedora 13 contains an improved Printer wizard that for most printers will detect and automatically configure the printer for you. My printer apparently was not one of these printers that was automatically detectable, however it still did not take much for me to get it setup as I am used to the older wizard.

The wizard detected my network printer and even let me expand the network tree to see the printer, however it did not allow me to click on the printer to set it up so I was forced to do a manual printer setup. I should note my printer works fine after manually setting it up.

Other Thoughts
Aside from the things i have mentioned in this post there is not a whole lot different that the average user will notice. There is of course a great deal that was done under the hood to make things more secure and what not but for the most part this will feel like a much more Ascetically pleasing OS (due to the new theme) and feel a bit faster as many optimizations have been made.

If I missed any bug Noticeable features (something the average user would notice not a dev) then please feel free to bring that up in a comment below.

As always it is important to note that the views here are not endorsed by Red Hat, Fedora or any other party involved with the development of programs and or components in Fedora 13. if you do not agree with my views that is of course fine just keep the above disclaimer in mind before approaching Fedora or Red Hat

Posted from GScribble.

Fedora 13 way more then hype! Part 1 – Installation

OK so normally I would wait and do my unofficial reviews of a new Fedora version after I had some time to use the system extensively ( 2-3 weeks) however I though being the huge changes I am seeing in this release even before the installer finishes that a two part review would be a good idea.

First off I am not a professional in this field and the views expressed in this review are solely from the point of view of the average intermediate user. Power users and Linux gurus might not appreciate the content of this review as it is geared toward people of a similar experience level as myself.

Now enough with that little disclosure on to the real reason for reading this post the review!

First let me start by giving a summary of how i tested the installation process of Fedora 13.

When it comes to installing Fedora (or any linux distro) now days there is alot more involved then simply placing the dvd (or cd) into your drive rebooting and following an on screen wizard. You have roughly 3-4 different ways (and that is just an rough estimate there maybe more) to install Fedora or upgrade from a previous version. I did 3 of these to test the installer, Upgrade (from fedora 12) to 13 from an older version, Fresh install (both in a virtual machine and natively) and a partial-Netinstall (fresh install using a dvd but allowing access to the repositories during install)

My hardware:

AMD AThlon x4 2.6ghz

12gb of ram

64bit version of Fedora

3+ terabytes of installation space (only about 1.5 used for fedora the rest consists of Win 7, Ubuntu 10.04)

two 1gb ATI Radeon 4650 HD graphics cards

1 Blu-ray drive

1 DVD-RW drive

Virtual Machine Specs

22gb Hard drive image

1024mb of ram

only allowed 1 Core to be used for this VM (4 available from my CPU)

Host OS Windows 7 Pro 64bit

VM Software Virtual Box 3.1.8

12mb of video memory

mouted ISO image as CD drive

Fedora 64bit install from DVD ISO

Virtual machine CPU extensions turned on

Ok so now that you know what equipment I was using to test the install lets get to the guts of the review shall we?

Polish and Overall feel of the Installer

Anaconda has undergone a major overhaul in appearance here in the F13 installer, the images appear more 3-dimensional and professional looking. The colors were kept simple with a few exceptions ( the logo and progress bar to name a few). This minor variations on color did two things that I can notice, 1) it allowed the installer to be more peppy due to the load on the CPU being less due to very few graphical changes, and 2) it made the installer seem like it jumped out of the background at you and not like a standard Anaconda screen were use to. See the image below for visual reference (images of the installer were taken during VM installation.)

Upon going through the installer you see some familiar looking dialogs especially if you have installed Fedora in the past. However one hugely noticeable change was that you instantly have more options for configuring your hard drive partitions. You can choose from options such as “Use free space”, “replace all linux partitions” and so on you can see them in the screenshots below.

Initial Storage configuration options

Special Storage Options (SAN, NAS)

Basic Storage Options Menu

Custom Layout Screen

While some of the screens have not changed to much from the original others have a huge difference mainly the ability to select weather you want to use a traditional storage method or use some more advanced methods such as storing the OS on a mainframe, SAN or NAS.

The installation is super fast on my pc when run natively however it is fair to note that on my virtual machine (note the specs above) this blazes along as well. I have use identical specs for a second VM and compared the F12 install time to F13 and F13 hands down is alot faster. I also remember reading that the Anaconda installer started getting components updated/re-written starting with F12 so this may be the fruition of all that hard work by the developers.

Moving on to the next part of the installation I chose the graphical desktop install option and did not alter the package manifest at all however i did run this install twice once with the online repositories enabled and once without to see the difference in install times. While the option of having the repositories enabled slowed the installer by a few minutes over all this was by far the fastest Fedora install i have ever experienced using the online repositories during install. A huge nod goes out to the Anaconda development team for their hard work with that feature!

Traditional offline install using only the DVD as the source was blazingly fast even on my VM! Fedora seems to be getting much better streamlining their installation process this is a huge plus. Of course if your machine is rather old say 8 + years you might experience slightly slower install times but i imagine even on that hardware this installer will be faster then the previous installers for past versions of Fedora have been.

Overall I give the Fedora 13 installer a 9 out of 10 for huge leaps in speed and features since its previous incarnations. The initial boot prior to the first run wizard is also very fast.

Sound off below let me know if I am the only one experiencing much improved install times with F13.

ATI Justice Served for Fedora 12 users

Well it is by now no secret I am sure that Fedora 12 has support for ATI cards now via the catalyst driver. It seems the Catalyst 10.4 driver added support for the Xorg in Fedora 12!

As mentioned earlier it would appear they are basing their added support for a new X with each Ubuntu that uses the new version. Of course Fedora 13 will most likely break this support again due to the nature of Fedora and their policy to use the latest and greatest packages.

As much as the ATI issue effects me and as much as it bothers me i still think it will be a long time before I can upgrade to an Nvidia card due to finacial restrictionsl. Saddly this oversight on my part at the build of the computer may haunt me for several months to come till I can afford to get a decent Nvidia card.

Fedora 12 – No love from ATI/AMD

Fedora 12 has been out for some time now and we are on the verge of Fedora 13 just around the corner. Yet ATI/AMD fails once again to provide support for the latest Xorg release.

From what I have read around the web it appears that AMD does not think they will support xorg 1.7 until Ubuntu 10.4 is released. When i looked further into this it would appear their logic behind this is due to Ubuntu being a distribution widely accepted by users. Due to the large base of both first time and experienced users they feel Ubuntu 10.4 will be a point in which a huge majority of users will be using xorg 1.7

I say what about Fedora? Fedora has millions of users and the number grows daily, why then do we always get the short end of the stick people tend to look at our distribution as nothing more then a testing ground for Red Hat. This could not be farther from the truth in fact several companies use Fedora in their infrastructure and some even contribute back. The fact that Red Hat periodically takes a Fedora release and makes the necessary modifications to it so it suits a Enterprise environment does not mean that we are a “Red Hat” testing ground.

I might be impartial here and that is ok as a majority of the users reading this feel the same way but I ask you this now, Why is it that ATI fails to keep up with the current stable release cycle of Xorg when Nvidia does this just fine.

Now before the sticks and stones go flying here keep in mind that Nvidia has just as many graphics cards and releases a new card on about the same frequency as ATI yet they manage to always have a working Linux driver with the latest xorg. I know I could just use a Nvidia card with my computer and stop complaining but I ask you why should I? I have a perfectly good graphics card working now it happens to be ATI and I ask merely to have it work with Fedora 12 (not to mention Fedora 13 which is around the corner). I have no attachment to ATI over nvidia mind you I just do not want to replace a set of good graphics cards for the sole purpose of not dealing with the ATI Linux issue.

All that aside i realize this is just my opinion and that it means nothing and will accomplish nothing however I felt it prudent to share my thoughts.

I am in no way affiliated with Red Hat, Nvidia, ATI or AMD any views expressed here are solely that of myself and in no way represent any of the the above mentioned parties in any official manner.

FGLRX/Catalyst Woes! ATI Get with the big picture allready!

Well now I have been told and told and even experienced first hand why NVidia is better to its linux user base then ATI however I did not heed the warnings and now I have reached a perdicament.

ATI offers their drivers for video cards for linux however what seems to be the case lately is that X.org and ATI do not seem to be on the same page. ATI releases an update for their drivers to support a new Xorg version and then xorg goes and releases a new stable version which then takes ATI 6 months to make a driver for. Well this is all and good except that by the time ATI releases that driver update to support it the development cycle continues and bam another xorg stable version is rolled out. leaving ATI once again in the wake of its success.

Now Nvidia does not seem to have nearly as long of a delay in their support for new xorg versions why then does ATI insist on falling behind in this.

The simple answer is that they are pre-concerned with adding support for newer cards instead of enabling their existing current products to function properly. This leave people like myself with the decision do use an older xorg and continue using the drivers which in my case means an older Fedora version or use the open source drivers.

I often get told “Try the new mesa experimental drivers they support 3d perfectly” To which I have to say no they do not at least not in the way that someone installing the fglrx driver would expect. When i say that I want the same support that fglrx has I mean that i want to run 3d games like World of Warcraft in WINE something that to me is not possible with the experimental drivers.

Now before i get people saying “Install the mesa-dri-experimental package” I am going to say I have done this and see  no change at all. I have even downloaded and compiles the radeonHD driver with no luck as well.

Bottom line here is that why does ATI not take their linux users seriously? Why do they take 6 months to add support for a new xorg version?