Tag Archive: review

Upcoming Fedora 20 Thoughts and impressions

In an upcoming blog I plan to write about my first impressions and experiences with Fedora 20.

I have been out of the Linux environment for some time now due to personal situations and events which have kept me away. And I’m still finishing up the grammar and spelling corrections for this upcoming blog post , once I finished that I should be able to post the blog entry fairly quickly.

Given that I have not used Linux for some time now, some of my views might be considered common knowledge by now given that Fedora 20 has been out for quite a while. However, I’m going to do my best to try to give a unique perspective  on what I found. 🙂

Final thoughts on Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15

For some time now I’ve been wrestling with the idea of writing my final thoughts on Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15, the reason for me taking so long to figure out if I wanted to write this post in the first place will become clearer after you read this post.

It’s no secret by reading my previous first look review, that I was not a fan of GNOME-Shell, or Unity. While was hoping that the experience would become much more fluid in the final releases, I was still left disappointed.

However, I gave both a fair shot using both for roughly 2 to 3 weeks to try and determine if after using it for a prolonged period of time, my views would change. In addition to my own experience I also turned to the Linux community and looked at both positive and negative reviews centering on both interfaces. Surprisingly, what I found was a mixed set of opinions; however most of them had only a handful of nice things to say about the interface and a bucket full of negative. The main reason for me viewing these reviews was to ensure that I was using them correctly, I did not want to base my opinion solely on the fact that I was struggling to figure certain aspects of it.

While all of the reviews I looked at nitpicked about small things some of which had no relevance to stability or even usability, others touched on small problems that could easily have been fixed prior to release. While I haven’t touched either one of these distributions and about a weeks’ time, last time I did some of these mistakes were still present. To give you an example of how silly some things are in terms of mistakes, I will point out one in Fedora 15 specifically.

Fedora decided to take a different approach and separate the software repository lists tool from the actual updates tool, this in itself is fine in my opinion. Were the silly mistake part comes in is that loading GNOME-Shell, and looking for the update tool to get the current updates for your system. You are presented with two tools with exactly the same icon in virtually identical names; one is called update and the other updates. Through trial and error I discovered that the one with the S at the end of it actually pulls up a repository configuration dialog you can select which repositories are used for installing packages and receiving updates. I know this sounds like nitpicking however it is very confusing and something that is easily corrected, and something that should’ve never ended up in the final version.

Update: as of right now the icons have changed. But they’re both still named exactly the same with the exception of an S

If your computer is not powerful enough to run GNOME-Shell or you just don’t have the proprietary graphics drivers installed, you will go into a fallback session of GNOME 3. This is not to be confused with GNOME 2, I have read a lot of misconceptions that the fallback mode is in fact a stripped down version of GNOME 2. This is in fact false; GNOME-Shell is merely a GUI interface on top of the GNOME 3 libraries. You can tell this by looking at the version of GTK that the fallback session uses, its version 3. Below is a screenshot that might explain why a lot of people confuse the two.

Fallback session

GNOME 3 Fallback Session Warning Dialog

I’m not sure why exactly, but the icon on the dialogue reminds me of the old sad Macintosh, icon that you use to get when your Mac would have a fatal error.

Next to that screenshot you can see one of the desktop that’s loaded in a fallback session.

Fallback Session Desktop

GNOME 3 Fallback Session Desktop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updates Dialog Panel 1

Updates Dialog Panel 1

Updates Dialog Panel 2

Updates Dialog Panel 2

 

Virtual Box can run GNOME-Shell or unity just fine after you install the guest additions, below is a screenshot of the update, updates, issue I was talking about.

Most other distributions used their repository configuration dialogue with a different name that distinguishes it from the update program, such as sources.

 

Update, Updates issue

Screenshot showing how both tools are named Similarly

I put a circle around the two specific programs to draw attention so that it would be easier to pinpoint them.

To further illustrate how this could be confusing, below are two screenshots that show the two tabs on the updates dialogue, below that is a screenshot from the update dialog.

Update Dialog

Update Dialog

This is not an incredibly huge error; it’s not even one that will affect stability of your system. No this is more a cosmetic and user experience related issue. Some might argue that they’ve been labeled this way for several releases now, however when using GNOME-Shell they show up right next to each other under the applications section, which is the cause for the confusion. In a fallback session, or on previous versions of GNOME, these two tools showed up in completely separate menus, which made it less confusing because you are less likely to see both of them side-by-side.

Again, I know this is a long that of a rant to go on about such a small problem, but I just wanted to make it clear what the confusion was and say that if I’m confused, having used previous versions of Fedora that the average user coming from another distribution might be even more confused.

 

That aside, once you get past GNOME-Shell Fedora 15 is a fairly solid release despite the multiple reviews; I’ve read that point to the contrary. On my last review Fedora 15 was in the alpha stages, and I talked about a lot of the new features that the average user would recognize most of these have not changed (other than getting more stable).

I did notice one quirk they kind of bugged me, while this is not a bug, and it is in fact an intentional change, I don’t understand the methodology behind the change. I’m talking about the fact that if you ever create your own RPMs and Fedora things have become slightly more confusing. It used to be that all you needed to do in order to sign and build RPM packages was to install the development tools group from Yum. It seems for whatever reason they’ve taken the GPG signing integration out of RPM by default. This functionality can of course be added back, but it requires installing a separate package. There’s absolutely no documentation that I’ve been able to find that explains the reasoning behind this change, or even that the change took place. I literally spent three hours trying to sign a package through RPM only to find that some person on a forum somewhere discovered that this RPM signing functionality was moved into a separate package called rpm-sign.

I’m not a developer and certainly not in a position to question Fedora’s policies on what to include and what not to include in a default installation. However, if they insist on breaking this functionality of RPM out into a separate package, then the least they could do is added to the development tools group, this way and somebody does a group install of the development tools this packages pulled down alongside other packages necessary to build and sign rpm’s. As I said, this is not a bug; it’s an intentional step, though the reasoning behind it at least to me is not known.

I did have one other bad experience out of my entire Fedora 15 experience. I’m not sure if this was specific to my machine, or if this happens with everybody. What happened was this, I installed Fedora 15 with the default package set, then once Fedora 15 was loaded I updated it decided I didn’t like GNOME-Shell and didn’t want to use the fallback session. I then began looking at other desktop environments that I could install; naturally, my first replacement was KDE which installed perfectly with no issues. However, upon having installed KDE and booting into it at least once GNOME stopped working altogether, in fact when you try to log into GNOME you we get an error message similar to the one in the screenshot above. The differences this error message would tell you that GNOME had a fatal error, and was not able to start. No amount of logging out and logging back in would make this message go away. Ironically, however, installing Fedora 15 with KDE and GNOME from the installer seems to bypass this issue, at least for me.

I know you guys are pricing report it, file a bug report! The problem is I’m not exactly sure what caused the error so submitting a bug report with the small amount of information I have would not be useful to anybody, especially the person that would help me try to solve the problem. Again, this issue may not be present for everybody; it may have just been some quirk on my specific machine.

Ubuntu – Alternatives

Party did a review of Ubuntu 11.04 stable, some not to repeat the same information. I will however link to that blog entry below. What I will do however is tell you a few alternatives to Ubuntu that I found that are based off of Ubuntu, but don’t have that pesky unity.

This is going to be a very quick section. Basically I’m getting give you a list of two or three distributions that have tried that are derivatives of Ubuntu and give you a brief synopsis of my experience followed by a link to the website to get more information.

Zorin – this distribution is extremely cool looking, and I’m not just saying that because I love the color blue (which this distribution has a lot of). There are a lot of custom tools included that let you change the look of this distribution to match other operating systems, including Mac OS X. This distribution is every bit as user-friendly as Ubuntu is and as I mentioned even includes several tools that are unique to this distribution to make the experience that much easier.

Linux Mint – most of you reading this who have had any experience with Ubuntu it all have probably heard of mint, some like to go into too much detail here. I will however say that the newer version of mint is the best version I have seen to date. I’m not exactly sure which version of Ubuntu. This was based off of, what I do know is that it uses GNOME 2. This is good news for everybody out there who hates unity is much as I did.

Ubuntu with XFCE – yes I understand there is a officials then of Ubuntu that includes this as the default desktop, but in order to get an experience that you’re used to as Ubuntu user, I recommend installing Ubuntu and then going to synaptic and installing XFCE. This will allow you to use XFCE while main containing a lot of the GNOME libraries and utilities that you’re used to.

Well, that wraps up this blog post. Sorry for being so long-winded, but I had a lot to say. As always, comments are welcome, one thing I prefer not to see in the comments are remarks like “unity rocks you’re insane for not liking it”, or “GNOME-Shell makes Fedora faster, it’s the future” those kinds of comments to me serve no constructive purpose as they are opinions usually ones that a majority of the people may not agree with or could agree with. Bottom line if you want to tell me why you think unity or GNOME-Shell is worth keeping around try to do in a constructive way. Don’t just say it rocks.

Ubuntu Unity Review

Ubuntu 11.04 – review of unity interface

In a rather long blog post I wrote several months ago, I compared my first looks at the Fedora 15 Alpha and Ubuntu 11.04 beta. I also promised that once each one of these distributions was released I was going to do a more in depth review of each one. Ubuntu 11.04 has been out now for quite some time, due to the fact the Fedora 15 is not yet in its final stage I’m going to hold off for reviewing that.

This review is going to be focused primarily on the unity interface, my first use of the unity interface was a little skewed back in the alpha. This could have been due partly to the fact that I was running Ubuntu inside of a virtual machine, which is known not to work with the next generation desktop special effects such as unity in Ubuntu and Gnome shell and Gnome 3. To circumvent any problems that may arise with having Ubuntu in a virtual machine, I set up a small partition on a second hard drive and installed it natively having a dual-boot between Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04.

First impressions of unity were not very good. There were a lot of artifacts on the screen, as well as several black spots blocking text, I found out later that these were due to the fact that the open-source driver for my video card was not up to par for handling the 3-D effects, installing the proprietary drivers using the hardware management tool and Ubuntu fixed this problem.

While I generally enjoyed the overall look of unity, it seemed to be way to stripped and too simplistic for somebody with my level of knowledge (though my level of knowledge is nowhere near as much as other users who use Ubuntu). There were a few things I liked about it, such as the remapping of the Windows key on my keyboard to pull up a search dialogue to be able to search for programs, if you ask me this was a brilliant remapping, the fact is a lot of Windows users switching to Ubuntu use the Windows key fairly often to pull up the start menu in Windows. While was entirely possible to remap the Windows key Using older versions of Ubuntu or clearly any other distribution, the fact that it was remapped by default. To me just seems like a good idea. Now before installing the initial updates that came with Ubuntu.

After installing it, I found unity to be a much more pleasing experience with the exception of one or two features that to me just drove me bonkers, a prime example: pre-update Firefox still had its menu contained within the Firefox window, post update the menus were then moved out of the Firefox window and opened the black taskbar across the top of the screen. Now to most people this might seem like a good change, however somebody who spends the majority of their time in Windows for whatever reason might find this extremely annoying, I know I did. I haven’t yet looked for a solution to convert this back to the way it was, although I’m sure one exists or will shortly. I was trying to keep Ubuntu as close to the default installation is possible so that this review would apply to as many people as possible, if I had gone and customized a bunch of the features my experience might be different than somebody who just installed Ubuntu.

There were some intuitive things that thing could have been worked into unity they would have made it a little more user-friendly, some of these include frequently used programs showing up in the launch bar by default. As it stands under a currently default install of Ubuntu, if you wanted to make a specific program launcher permanently show up in the launcher bar, You would have to right-click it, While the program is open and click pin to launcher or something to that effect. I know it seems like I am just nitpicking but this is something that could drive a new user to Linux, especially one that’s never even touched it before nuts.

Ubuntu claims to be an operating system that’s extremely friendly and even somebody who’s never used Linux before, even specifically targeting somebody switching from Windows to Linux, as using Ubuntu is a good starting point. My beef with this claim is that if they take such simple, intuitive features and make them five or six more steps than they need to be you will only confuse new users. I mean yes of course most of the hardware 95% of time is going to work out-of-the-box, this is something that Ubuntu is extremely popular for.

Unity to me seems like it was geared towards people who wanted a simple experience, and one that was formatted specifically for touch devices such as a tablet PC. This is great for Tablet PCs, this however in my opinion sucks for desktop use, I don’t consider myself to be an advanced Linux user but, I do know enough about settings that I’d like a little more control, and while unity does not constrict any of the functionality of Ubuntu, it makes it feel like you’re restricted to me anyway. Yes, there is a way to disable unity and run in what they call classic mode, however you have to figure how to do this yourself because no documentation I have been able to find comes with Ubuntu explaining how to do it. Yes I could figure it out when it comes time for me to do that.

Now I know a lot of you who are pro-Ubuntu are probably go to say I’m being biased because I’m a Fedora person, I’ll be fair and say that what little bit I’ve seen of gnome shell doesn’t impress me either. I’m not a fan of over simplifying the user experience, simplifying is okay in my opinion but over simplifying just makes me feel stupid. It’s almost as if these distributions are trying to say the average Linux user now has no common sense, So let’s make things as easy as possible, in reality, they often end up making things so much more complicated for somebody who is used to using it the old way.

So I know this post is supposed to be a review about unity and I haven’t talked about many of the features, this is mainly due to the fact that there really aren’t any features that you can’t see when you look at screenshots of unity. I will touch on a few below, just for the sake of a decent review, myself, as well as some of the other people I’ve talked to however seem to think they unity is going to be dragging Ubuntu in the wrong direction. I am not against Ubuntu making a spin specifically geared towards the tablet PC, for such a spin unity would be perfect. When I use a desktop computer, I want to use a desktop computer not a super powerful tablet experience, this is why IOS is not made into a desktop platform, it would make any sense. Just like why was somebody install Android as their primary operating system on their PC.

One thing it did particularly like about unity was the fact that by default it seems to try to organize open windows in a fashion where there no overlapping, however you can still overlap windows if you want, they just don’t open that way. Also, thank God, If you try to maximize a window, it makes that bar that unity bar on the left go away, this is extremely useful, particularly for people with smaller computer monitors. I myself have a 27 inch monitors so screen real estate is almost at an abundance, but somebody with a 15 inch screen or smaller would not have the same amount of screen real estate. Therefore, if that bar didn’t hide when some was full-screen practically all of their screen would be filled with that bar.

Some of the key combinations that people are used to in Windows work with unity as well, such as Alt + Tab which can be used to cycle through open programs. As simplistic as unity is, some shortcuts that advanced users grieving users that have grown accustomed to keyboard shortcuts, might miss is Alt +F2 this key combination. It used open dialogue we could enter a command in the GUI, this would allow for quick launching programs without having to open a terminal window. As far as I can tell there’s no way to enable this in Ubuntu 11.04, I’m sure you could make a custom keyboard shortcut that would do the same thing, but that’s a little out of the scope of being easy to use out-of-the-box. I mean seriously, how much memory could that little feature of possibly taken up that they needed to strip it out of the distribution in a default ship?

Bottom line here if you’re looking with going with Ubuntu as your Linux distribution of choice, and you want a experience is very close To the Way, Windows was set up, then you’re probably either going to want to run 11.04 in classic mode, or run the latest long-term service release. Canonical has made a great product with Ubuntu. Building on free and open source software, so don’t get me wrong by the negativity in this blog post. I’m not being negative about Ubuntu itself.

Ubuntu is a great operating system and know tons of people who use it every day as their primary operating system, unity, however, is an entirely different matter. I was one of those people who was outraged when it was announced that 11.04 was going to have unity and by default, but what really did it in for me was when I found out unity cannot be removed, it just simply cannot be removed. It’s like cancer. Thinking back I know one other piece of software in a popular operating system that cannot be removed and starts with the letter I and ends with the letter R, and uses the abbreviation IE.

If you want to include unity fine, at least give people the chance to remove unity if they don’t like it, and install something else in its place. My honest advic, If you’re going to go with Ubuntu 11.04, think about Kubuntu 11.04 KDE seems to be a lot closer to the kind of experience that I would come to have expected from a desktop operating system.

Oh in case you’re curious the blog post I mentioned at the beginning the one where I compared early versions of February 15 to early versions of Ubuntu 11.04, I can be found by clicking here

as always, please feel welcome to leave comments below, I don’t expect to make a lot of friends with some of the statements of listed above but I’m not about to lie about what I feel. Canonical if you’re reading this which I seriously doubt, great job on Ubuntu 11.04 just ditch unity already in your operating system will be gold in my opinion.

Portal 2 Review – Single Player

Recently I bought in finished the single player version of Portal 2, which bared, a striking resemblance to the first version of the game. While the general style of the game and fundamentals were the same, it was a lot more voice acting in this game and I would say also more humor. While this game also offered a cooperative play version, I have yet to attend this version of the game mainly due to the fact that coordinating with my friends to play for a few hours it is rather difficult.

So you might be asking what makes Portal 2 different than the original? While generally speaking, the idea of the game was the same, the underlying plot was different driven by a humorous protagonist and often clueless robot “Wheatley”(voiced by Stephen Merchant).the majority of the old-style puzzles were still present, new types of puzzles and solutions were also included, such as three types of goo because various different effects which you can use to your advantage to solve different types of puzzles.

The robots to everybody sees on the box covers including the one in this post, are the two cooperative play robots which are used in cooperative play. Sadly, single player play through’s do not have the advantages of a companion to help solve puzzles. Instead, you get the occasional scene with the halfway named Wheatley which proves to be incredibly humorous and often times following his advice can get you into a bigger pickle.

While many of the reviews I have read claim this game doesn’t have much re-playability, I feel this can be incredibly enjoyable to play more than one time.I’m not sure if this was just my own personal experience or if other reviewers simply had a different idea of what constitutes re-playability.

Generally speaking, however there is usually only one way to solve a puzzle and I could see where this might hinder playing the game multiple times. GLaDOS of course makes a return in this game giving the main character chell a great deal of a hard time, without spoiling the game. I’m not going to go into specifics about exactly how GLaDOS played into this game other than to say if you played the first one. You know that she was deactivated, I will tell you that she accidentally gets reactivated but that’s as much as I’m going to reveal, however that much should be known already , if you watch the commercials.

generally speaking, the game is fairly safe for teenagers to play not having any realistic form of violence, in effect, nobody actually dies in the game. What you can expect however it is the occasional bit of crude humor, coupled with the sadistic personality of a few artificially intelligent robots. You do find out a little bit more about GLaDOS and her origins in this game but they leave just enough of a mystery that a possible third game could be brought up. They don’t however explain much about the main character, aside from what anyone who played the first game would already know.

Bottom line, I feel this game was very enjoyable and if you intend to replay the game at some point in the future, most likely starting with the original and then playing the second one in succession. The gameplay experience may be different on the consoles. I haven’t tried any of these so I can’t exactly speak for, whether it’s easier or more difficult, but given the sheer amount of positive reviews, this game is received I will be willing to say that the console versions aren’t too difficult in terms of controlling. I will say I tried this on the normal difficulty level haven’t tried any of the harder difficulty levels, from what I understand these greatly change how to solve the puzzles, making things more difficult. Hence the hard difficulty level, might give these a try little bit later, however I usually don’t do so well with a game set on a hard difficulty level.

Dragon Age II review – After two complete playthroughs

Dragon Age II Box ArtI loved this game it was a welcome change to Dragon Age
Origins! Do not get me wrong anyone who has seen my raptr profile or xfire
profile will see i ranked up the game play hours on that game, however this
game offers a much faster and fluid fighting system which I think is an example
of the effort put into making the game seem different yet have a DA:O feel to
it.

The plot line was a bit confusing to grasp at first since
the game makes a point to keep you guessing what is happening until the very
end of the game. The conversational system was overhauled allowing easier
conversations in a Mass Effect 2 similar fashion, this is not a bad thing (to
me anyway). Now you no longer have those awkward moments in the game where you
find you said the wrong thing and are now engaged in a romance with one of the
most annoying male characters in the game. Case and point Zevran from DA:O,
This character I felt was a death trap of same sex romance. I mean that if you’re
not inclined to romance him your best not talking to him at all as almost any
dialog option would enter you into a romance with him, showing no obvious way
out. In this new system icons are used to show what impact your choice will
have with the character, if you are going to select a response and that would
enter you into a romance with the character a heart will appear in the center
of the conversation wheel. On the other hand if you want to break a romance a picture
of a fractured heart will appear for options that would end the romance.

Aside from those changes the game seemed to be centered
around 5-6 maps which served as the grounds for multiple zones, what I mean by
this is a map for inside a cave could be used (re-arranged a bit but otherwise
the same) to show the inside of every single side quest cave in the game! This
to me felt repetitive after killing a Dragon in one cave only to find a quest
in a similar looking cave (the same map) and fighting a Vestral in the same
exact spot the dragon existed in the “other” cave. I understand why this was
done, it saves resources if you simply re-arrange items and close off some
areas while other remain open and shuffle the enemies around. This to me is the
reason I did not give it 5 stars, they just recycled maps too frequently,
enough so it was clearly noticeable.

On a upside main quests seemed to have unique maps or re-use
old maps less frequently then side or companion quests which helped. There were
a few main plot line quests that used the same maps as previous ones but for
the most part if you had to enter a house for X plot quest then the next house
you entered would be different enough to feel as though it was a separate map.

Yes, there is a very high Mass Effect feel to some aspects
of game play but to indirectly quote Mike Laidlaw (lead designer) and probably
not as accurately as I should “Mass Effect 2 was insanely popular and did very
well, if Dragon Age 2 can achieve the same thing by using similar elements,
then I do not see a problem. They are still very much different games and I
think that the real fans will be able to appreciate the difference and
understand why we chose to do things this way.” Keep in mind he may not have
said that word for word the way I have it but he has said in one of his
Developer Chats that he recognizes the talk about the similarity between the
two and explains why he did it.

Should you shell out $60 on this game? That depends on a few
things,

1) How much did you
enjoy DA:O?

2) Do you believe the negative reviews about the game? If so
then why even bother?

3) Are you a Fan of RPGs?

Feel free to leave comments below, I welcome any comments even if you hated the game just make sure to let me know WHY you hated it!

My first look at Fedora 15 (Pre-Alpha) and Ubuntu 11.04 (alpha)

It is no secret I am not the most knowledgeable person with regards to Linux, however I do enjoy it and often dabble in more then one distribution at a time. This time I have chosen to look at Fedora 15 which will hit Alpha next month and Ubuntu 11.04 which is currently in alpha.

Both of these distribution versions are still in the stage of development where things are ironed out and the kinks get fixed, however by this point most features and the look and feel are pretty much there buggy though they may be. I am going to take the fact they are still being bug squashed into account in my review of them.

To make the comparison easier I am running them inside of a VM with 1gb of ram allotted to each machine and 50gb HDD. They are being run from VirtualBox 4.0.4 from a Windows 7 64bit Professional host.

While both distributions have taken huge steps toward perfecting the joy that is Linux and Open Source, there is still some work to do before the average Joe windows user decides that Linux may be worth checking out.

I am make no attempts to hide the fact that I use Windows and use it often, I am however not of the frame of mind that Windows is in any way superior to Linux just a different method to achieve the same core goals of an OS. Lets be realistic, if Linux had started out early on it would be the OS in everyone’s home not Windows but because we entered the game a bit late we are playing catch up.

Fedora 15 and Ubuntu 11.04 both make huge strides to bridge the gap between stability and Usability, Sleek beautiful artwork and rock solid programing are just a few things I have seen so far. I am not saying they are without bugs, being in this early a stage of the release cycle bugs are expected.

All that Aside let me jump into the areas of interest, keep in mind some of these views I will mention are with full knowledge of how buggy a alpha release can be. That being said, I intent to point out issues I had and then compare them to the finish product when it is released to determine if these were resolved or still exist.

Fedora 15 – Installation

As mentioned above Fedora 15 is not quite to the Alpha stage as such no installer ISO exists yet. I managed an install by using the Fedora GPXE boot installation method and simply changed the paths in the grub menu to point to a Fedora 15 repository. If your reading this you are most likely aware that Fedora now branches their rawhide (normally the development branch) into a new development branch when it gets closer to the alpha release. I used this to my advantage as you can see in the image below I merely altered the fedora 14 development entry to point to this new fedora 15 branch.

bfo1bfo2bfo3

 

Once this is done the install loads up pretty much like normal, however once it loads you get a lot of the types of errors similar to the one below. These errors are frequent and annoying but most of the time repeated presses of the retry button will allow it to successfully download. I am confident this error will disappear with the official Alpha ISO when it is release as the rpms will be present on the image. However, that aside the install will succeeded if you are willing to repeatedly hit retry on more then one file to get it to go. I should note if you accidentally hit reboot your not given any warning and have to start all over again.

f15err

 

The new user wizard that shows up after a fresh install of Fedora is re-vamped as well allowing for more then one user to be made and allowing adding users to the Administrator group which then allows them to use SUDO similar to how Ubuntu does by default.

Ubuntu 11.04 – Installation

Most of the installation for this works the same as the new revamped 10.10 installer. I did run into some issues with the installer not working in a VM and was forced to use the alternate installed for 11.04 to install this version. Again it is worth saying that this will most likely be fixed in the final release. Installing in a VM can also cause issues like this as well.

Issues related to both distributions

Due to VirtualBox only allowing 128mb of video ram to be assigned to each VM I was not able to get the Gnome Shell effect to work in F15 nor the Unity Effect in 11.04 due to this the effect you get is more classic Gnome looking.

Ubuntu 11.04 – Desktop and Menus

Below is an image of the default Ubuntu 11.04 desktop and a few of the menus, the look is very close to the Ubuntu 10.10 style.

ubunutudesktopubuntumenu1ubuntumenu2

 

Most of the menus resemble the ones above, fairly straight forward. From what I have seen so far the Ubuntu menu system is a bit more streamlined and requires less fumbling through menus.

Fedora 15 – Desktop and Menus

The menus for Fedora 15 for me looked the same, this was largely due to the VM not being able to support enough video ram to run the Gnome-Shell. Because of this it had to fall back to the classic gnome look and the menus were pretty much the same.

Of course they changed the wall paper that comes with it again but the one they chose seemed less eye catching then some of the previous ones they released, it is still great quality in terms of art and skill just not as 3dish as the F14 one was for example. I am not sure if this is an area they are still working on or if it has been finalized, either way it is easy enough to change and as such not a big deal.

I tried to install the VirtualBox guest additions to see if gnome-shell would work, and this caused Xorg to stop working altogether so I had to roll back to a snap shot from before the install of the additions.

f15desktop

As you can see from the image above there is a small issue with the GDM login screen, when you select a user as part of the administrator group you get the word Other as the only selectable user. This does not always happen and when it does clicking it will cause GDM to reload and then the correct users are listed. I am sure this is a glitch that will be addressed as the development continues.

Fedora 15 – Significant changes

While most areas of Fedora 15 remain pretty common to how the previous versions looked, some stand out and I am not exactly sure this is a good thing or not. I will show you a picture of the new “Control Panel” like system settings window that now contains all the gnome and Linux gui tools like User admin and more.

f15controlf15useradminf15sysinfogenf15sysinfodefaultf15sysinfogfxf15print

The above images show just a few of the changes to the Fedora 15 GUI windows, there are literally changes in almost ever GUI dialog so I can not possibly post pics of them all so I chose the more popular ones to show it off.

Things are still buggy in places some of those Unlock buttons you see do not work for me they simply do nothing, others work as planned. I over all am impressed with the re-design but the window style feels very Windows 3.1 to me and that would most likely be the first element I would change.

Again these windows might look this way because I had to use the fallback window manager instead of gnome-shell but it could also be due to the distributions being in early development still.

Final Thoughts

Overall I feel both versions are progressing nicely, they will both change what the current user base sees as well as adding functionality as well. Fedora I believe is making the most radical change in terms of look and feel while Ubuntu tends to tweak their current design elements.

As this is just a entry on my first thoughts it might not be in depth to the point of some readers liking, however I do plan to do a more in depth review once the two are officially released. I will post back here during my tinkering to share any huge changes I might have discovered.

Thanks for reading and leave any comments below.

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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.