Welcome to Desktop Linux Reviews!

Find the best desktop Linux distros!

Member Login
Lost your password?

Fedora 11 (Gnome)

June 21, 2009
By

It’s been ages since I last did a review of Fedora. I had planned to do one of Fedora 11 at ExtremeTech but I couldn’t get the beta to install properly in VMWare (my preferred tool for doing Linux distro reviews). Fortunately the final release is in much better shape and I was able to finally do this review.

Please note that this is the Gnome version of Fedora 11. I will be taking a separate look at the version that uses KDE later on. As you may have noticed from some of my ET reviews, I have always tended to be more of a Gnome person than KDE. Nothing wrong with KDE, it’s quite nice. But for some reason I always leaned in the direction of Gnome.

The Fedora developers are continuing in the Four Foundations tradition:

Freedom represents dedication to free software and content. We believe that advancing software and content freedom is a  central goal for the Fedora Project, and that we should accomplish that goal through the use of the software and content we promote. By including free alternatives to proprietary code and content, we can improve the overall state of free and open source software and content, and limit the effects of  proprietary or patent encumbered code on the Project.

Friends represents the strength of our community. The Fedora community is made up of people from all walks of life, working together to advance free software. There is a place in Fedora for anyone who wants to help, regardless of technical skill level, as long as they believe in our core values.

Features represents our commitment to excellence. The Fedora community creates many of the technical features that have made Linux powerful, flexible, and usable for a wide spectrum of  millions of users, administrators, and developers worldwide.

First represents our commitment to innovation. We are not content to let others do all the heavy lifting on our behalf; we provide the latest in stable and robust, useful, and powerful free software in our Fedora distribution.

The Fedora 11 Desktop

Fedora 11’s desktop is clean and uncluttered (albeit a bit bland).

New Features in Fedora 11
There’s quite a bit of new features in this release, more than I can list here but here’s a small sampling of new stuff you’ll find in Fedora 11:

20 Second Start Up
Anaconda Storage Rewrite
Automatic Fonts & Mime Installer
ext4 Default File System
Fingerprint Reader Support
Firefox 3.5
Gnome 2.26
NewTexUI Installer for Anaconda
Improved Power Management
Python 2.6
Synaptic Update
Better Volume Control
Xfce4.6

You can check out a full list of new features here.

Installation
Since Fedora 11 is a Live CD you get the option of running it without installing it. Booting into the Live CD posed no problems and I soon had my installation going in VMWare. The installation took just a few minutes. After it finished I had to add my user name, etc. and then I was able to login to my Fedora 11 desktop.

This release seems very fast to me. When I played with the beta it was just god-awful slow. If I had to characterize this release in terms of boot performance for the Live CD, I’d say it’s much quicker than before. And thank goodness. I detest slow-loading distributions that waste my time when I’m writing a review.

After booting into my installed desktop, I noticed the performance was still very good. The Fedora developers really seemed to have cleaned up the slowness of previous versions. At one point I’d more or less written off Fedora as it seemed just way too chunky and slow but those days appear to be over.

How to add OpenOffice.org to your Fedora 11 system.

How to add OpenOffice.org to your Fedora 11 system.

Desktop & Apps
Booting into my Fedora 11 desktop was quite pleasant and, as I noted above, fast. The desktop is uncluttered and the default wallpaper is attractive enough albeit rather bland in comparison to what you get with the satanic version of Ubuntu.

If there is a weak area in Fedora then it is with the number of apps included with it by default. Now I’m a bit of a hypocrite here because in the past, in other reviews, I’ve complained about “app overload” where a developers pack in huge numbers of apps and bloat up a distribution unnecessarily.

However, Fedora has gone in the other direction and, frankly, ought to offer more apps installed by default. Here is a list of most of what you’ll find broken down my menu section:

Accessories
Archive Manager
Calculator
Character Map
Indic Onscreen Keyboard
Screenshot
Text Editor
Thesauraus

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb Viewer

Internet
Firefox Web Browser
IM Client
Transmission

Office
AbiWord
Dictionary
Evolution

Programming
OpenJDK Policy Tool

Sound and Video
Audio CD Extractor
Brasero Disc Burner
Chese Webcam Booth
Movie Player
Rhythmbox Music Player
Sound Recorder

There are some system tools available as well but, other than that, this is about what you get with Fedora. OpenOffice.org is missing (which I very much disagree with, it should be in all distributions by default) as are many other useful programs.

The problem, of course, is where do you draw the line with what’s included by default? I really don’t know and that’s one reason why I like the idea of letting users pick the packages they want during the installation process. For some reason this seems to be the exception and not the rule and, frankly, I find it disappointing.

Fortunately it’s quite easy to add additional software via the Add/Remove Software tool. However, this really should not be necessary in the case of must-have applications like OpenOffice.org. Adding apps like that ends up wasting the user’s time and it really should be included by default.

Fedora 11 includes the Firefox 3.5 beta.

Fedora 11 includes the Firefox 3.5 beta.

Problems & Headaches
My gripes about the lack of bundled software aside, I really didn’t have any significant headaches with Fedora 11. As I’ve said before, I rather hate when that happens because it doesn’t give me much to talk about in this section. Well boohoo for me, I guess. Heh.

Who Should Use It?
In the past Fedora would not have scored particularly high on my recommendation list for desktop distros for casual Linux users. With this release I no longer have that hesitation.

I would certainly place this on the same level as any of the Ubuntus in terms of ease of use when it comes to installation as well as speedy performance. Ditto with PCLinuxOS and others. A newbie to Linux could and should consider Fedora for his or her desktop distro of choice. It really has improved that much.

Final Thoughts
What a pleasant surprise to find Fedora 11 in such good shape. Frankly, I had expected it to be as it was before. But the developers of Fedora have done a truly good job in making it better and that deserves to be recognized. In short, this is not your father’s Fedora. If you haven’t tried it yet, go grab a copy and check it out. It’s well worth a download.

Summary Table:

Product: Fedora 11 (Gnome)
Web Site: http://fedoraproject.org
Price: Free
Pros: Much faster than previous versions. Boot time is 20 seconds or so and desktop performance is delightful.
Cons: Lacks some useful applications such as OpenOffice.org that should have been installed by default.
Summary: An excellent upgrade to a previously chunky and slow Linux distribution. I give Fedora 11 a big thumbs up. Check it out.
Rating: 3.5/5

Tags:

Leave a Reply

You can unsubscribe to follow-up comments or new posts via links in the email notification message.

14 Responses to Fedora 11 (Gnome)

  1. Dan Smith on July 21, 2009 at 9:52 am

    You know, I just downloaded an Ubuntu Distribution (CE) and it didn't have OO either. I was very surprised and quickly installed OO. I just have never had a desire to use AbiWord. Having said all of that, I plan on getting my hands on Fedora II soon. I'll just have to get OO on it too!

  2. Jeff on June 25, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    @ Jim Lynch:

    I think a full blown office suite is overkill for most people, and those with full installs of OO and pirated copy's of office install them simply just to have them installed, much like the people who download and install adobe CS4 suite just to edit red eyes in a photo.

    It could just be me though, I HATE BLOAT and too many distros are installing too much crap by default (last I checked ubuntu 9.x did not even have a software selection option…) having to uninstall software on a fresh install annoys and angers me! reminds me of getting a new laptop loaded with 30 vendor crap apps.

    anyways, enough of me bitching.

    p.s you should mention that fedora 11 supports presto out of the box, you just need to "yum install yum-presto"

    (when updating it will compare the difference between the version you have and the updated version and download only the parts needed and not the whole package saving time/bw)

    also ignore my spelling and grammar fail skills :)

  3. Jim Lynch on June 25, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Hmmm…good point, Jeff. It didn't occur to me despite the fact that I use Google Docs a lot. Probably would work well for some people for sure.

    But some others might need a more robust app and I'm not sure Google Docs would fit the bill. Maybe. Maybe not.

  4. Jeff on June 25, 2009 at 11:05 am

    they should just provide a google docs shortcut, that should be more then enough for most people.

  5. Jim Lynch on June 24, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks for the tip Maximus. That's really good to know.

  6. maximus2000 on June 24, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Jim,

    I believe the DVD installer offers further installation of applications. I cannot confirm this as I have installed using the Live CD too. I would hesitate to recommend this distro to new users though. Since they do not offer non-free software in the repos the average new user would have to go searching to add rpmfusion and livna repos. However, overall Fedora 11 has been rock solid with my testing and very fast.

    Masinick,

    You most likely ran into the issue of Fedora defaulting to ext4 FS and Grub not being patch to boot from ext4. I believe this issue has been resolved and by default the installer creates and ext3 /boot partition along with an ext4 / LVG.

  7. Jim Lynch on June 23, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Okay, Brian. We'll put you in the "maybe" category for using Fedora as your main OS at some point.

    :wink: :whistle:

  8. Brian Masinick on June 23, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Jim, I am really glad this release worked out for you, but with the new filesystem and the other changes that affected the installation, this release just has not worked out for everyone.

    Personally in my testing, I was able to run this one Live against an Alpha WAY BACK in January, and I tried the KDE 4.2 implementation and was really impressed with it. However, when I went to install it, I had all kinds of problems, even attempting to install it on systems that already had Fedora 10 installed!

    I cannot recall if I tried to install that Alpha, but these problems were with both the Beta and the Preview Release put out the month before the Final.

    I got the Final Live version, but did not attempt to install it because I was still hearing reports from others that the disk detection and partitioning section still was not working correctly – possibly due to the ext4 file system configuration changes, possibly due to boot manager changes, possibly due to device detection algorithms affected by the other changes. Not sure of the reason, but I am sure that it has been a problem – at least for some. I do hear that the DVD edition has better success, and that, with perseverance, it is still possible to get it all working, but that taints the otherwise stellar impressions it gave in the Live Edition.

    Boot performance on several of the newer versions that use the two most recent kernels and a reorganization of the order of events in the initial run levels have really helped initial startup.

    I've seen at least two reviews of apt versus yum performance comparisons, though, and in spite of yum performance claims, yum still greatly lags Debian apt in overall performance.

    The two areas where Fedora consistently seems to lead the pack are in Virtualization and Security Enhanced features. These are the hallmarks of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux distributions, and Red Hat definitely invests heavily and personally into the Fedora project to make certain that their interests in these technologies are met in Fedora.

    To me, those are the two reasons one would primarily want to work with Fedora, and the other reasons are also associated with Red Hat product family familiarity. In terms of speed, reliability, selection of applications, and general home use, I can think of at least five other distributions that personally serve me better: sidux, Debian, antiX, SimplyMEPIS, and PCLinuxOS. I could add more: Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Mandriva Cooker, and maybe even gOS. I'd put openSUSE behind Fedora. It is slower, more buggy, less cutting edge, and the most fickle OS on my hardware, and I just have not cared to become familiar enough with the quirks to work them out. Fedora? I would, but it still would not be my personal every day desktop system.

  9. Jim Lynch on June 22, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I agree that it is a bit chunky, tlmck. But I just can't shake the feeling it should be on there. Maybe dump something else for it? Not sure what but there must be something else that can be gotten rid of to free up space.

  10. tlmck on June 22, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Interesting review. I have not actually tried Fedora recently. I believe I did try one of the early releases, but cannot recall which one. I followed the other forks of Redhat called Mandrake, and then PC Linux OS. To me these were just better derivatives.

    As to the Open Office thing, I think part of it is definitely the trying to "fit everything on the CD" mentality. Open Office has just become too bloated for me. Even in Ubuntu, I add AbiWord and Gnumeric. They just work better for me.

  11. Jim Lynch on June 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Hmmmm…good point about the wireless issue, Bill. That's tough for me to cover since I'm using VMWare usually to do my reviews. Plus it's a tough one to try to cover in a comprehensive way given everybody's different wireless setups.

    Still, I think there can be some sort of agreed upon minimum standards of apps. Certainly stuff like Gimp, OpenOffice and certain other apps really should be included by default. Otherwise the user has to install them and that shouldn't be necessary.

    And it worries me a bit that a newbie to Linux might be expecting an MS Office type thing and not find anything comparable. It's available but they might not know it or how to get it. So I like the idea of having it included by default.

  12. Bill Julian on June 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    This is ironic because I just posted my reactions to the LiveCD over on ET. I too noticed the "thin" application selection, but I thought it was due to trying to jam growing distros on 700 meg CDs.

    For example, the PCLOS09 Gnome (which is a very nice distro) simply will not link up wirelessly from the LiveCD and for many people that is enough to reject going any further. But the PCLOS Gnome forum carries an inquiry about the failure of wireless with an Intel 5100 to which a person responds that the drivers for that chip were not included on the LiveCD because space was too tight.

    If that is so then perhaps the fedora decision to go lighter on applications makes sense? After all those of us who rely heavily on wireless need those drivers!

    Good review Jim and delighted to see you at it! BRAVO!

  13. Jim Lynch on June 21, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Hi KG,

    That's very interesting to hear about the beta. I wondered at the time if it was just running it in VMWare but apparently that wasn't the case.

    I totally agree on the quality of betas lately. A lot of them are very, very good. These days alpha software seems to be more what beta software used to be.

    I love Abiword too. It's a great word processor but, at this point in time, OpenOffice.org really is a must have.

  14. KGWagner on June 21, 2009 at 8:15 am

    It's somewhat surprising to see so much difference between a beta and the release code. I've talked with other people who've had similar difficulties with the beta, all the way to it being uninstallable on reasonably generic machines. Betas are often almost as good as production code anymore, and it's to the point where if you're not actually using the package for production, there's little risk to using it all. But, all's well the ends well, eh?

    I'm also surprised to see them include Abiword rather than OpenOffice. Not that Abiword is a Bad Thing – far from it – but OO has become the MS Office of the F/OSS software world. You'd think that a major player like Fedora would use the major choice of apps.



Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Ads and Amazon

Read more about the kinds of ads I run, and the kinds I don't allow on Desktop Linux Reviews.

Thank You!

Thank you if you've whitelisted this site or made a purchase via the Amazon links, your support is very much appreciated.

Google+ Posts