Fedora Linux 12

Some desktop Linux distributions are perennial favorites and Fedora is definitely one of them. Fedora’s slogan is “freedom, friends, features, first” and, while some may consider it rather cheesy, it’s a nice sentiment.

The latest release of Fedora is version 12 and it includes some nifty new features. I downloaded the Live CD version of Fedora 12 that features the Gnome desktop environment.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of some of what’s new in this release:

Updated version of Grub with ext4 support
Faster boot time
Spanning desktop across dual monitors
Better webcam support
ABRT (automatic bug reporting tool)
Gnome 2.28
KDE 4.3
Empathy replaces Pidgin for IM
Epiphany uses WebKit instead of Gecko
Ogg Theora 1.1
NetworkManager enhancements
PackageKit command line software install enhancements
RPMs use XZ for compression instead of gzip (smaller downloads)

For most desktop users the faster boot time, better software compression, Gnome 2.28 and KDE 4.3 will probably be the main reasons to upgrade to this release. Some of the other new features may come in handy though, depending on your individual needs.

I don’t run multiple monitors nor do I do much with webcams so neither of those features is useful to me. Nor do I install software from the command line so the enhancements to PackageKit don’t hold much appeal for me. Still, there’s nothing to really complain about as far as new features go. There’s probably more than enough here to make it worthwhile to upgrade.

fedoradesktop

Requirements & Installation
Here’s a list of hardware requirements necessary to install Fedora:

The following CPU specifications are stated in terms of Intel processors. Other processors, such as those from AMD, Cyrix, and VIA that are compatible with and equivalent to the following Intel processors, may also be used with Fedora. Fedora 12 requires an Intel Pentium Pro or better processor, and is optimized for i686 and later processors.

  • Recommended for text-mode: 200 MHz Pentium Pro or better
  • Recommended for graphical: 400 MHz Pentium Pro or better
  • Minimum RAM for text-mode: 128 MiB
  • Minimum RAM for graphical: 192 MiB
  • Recommended RAM for graphical: 256 MiB
The complete packages can occupy over 9 GB of disk space. Final size is entirely determined by the type os release being installed and the packages selected during installation.

The Fedora 12 installer was fast. Very, very fast! It took about 4 minutes for it to install from the Live CD desktop. I think it’s probably the fastest installer I’ve seen recently on any Linux distro.

The install itself was easy and I had no problems with it. Kudos to the Fedora folks for speeding up the install in such a big way. I had expected a much slower and rather chunky experience from Fedora 12 but I was pleasantly surprised to note how fast the install went.

If you opt to install Fedora 12 be sure to post in the comments and let me know how quickly it installs on your system. I’m curious to know if my experience will be typical for most Fedora 12 users. Thanks in advance to all who share their install times.

Desktop & Apps
The Fedora desktop is somewhat bland looking in comparison to distros like moonOS. It has the usual blue wallpaper, etc. You aren’t going to be dazzled by how the Fedora desktop looks but that can always be changed. Functionality and features matter far more than aesthetics to most people and Fedora’s desktop is easy to navigate. The default set of icons consists of the usual:

Computer
Jim’s Home Folder
Trash

So you don’t have to worry about a zillion icons scattered everywhere. Fedora doesn’t have a cluttered default desktop.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mines
Same GNOME
Sudoku
lagno

Graphics
gThumb Image Viewer

Internet
Firefox
Empathy IM Client
Transmission
Remote Desktop Viewer

Multimedia
Audio CD Extractor
Brasero Disc Burner
Cheese Webcam Booth
Movie Player
Rhythmbox Music Player

Office
Abiword
Evolution Mail and Calendar

Adding & Removing Software
Fedora 12 comes with a good tool for adding and removing software. However, I had an initial issue with the time it took to refresh the package list (more about this in the problems section) after I started it.

For the most part it reminds me of the Ubuntu Software Center in some respects. The categories are well organized and it’s easy to find the packages you want to install onto your system. Overall, I give it a thumbs up.

addremovesoftware

Sound and Multimedia
I popped in my usual test DVD (the old Superman cartoons) and noticed that it didn’t play. I got an error message when I tried to open the movie player. Youtube videos also did not play by default as Flash was not installed in Firefox. If you do a search for Flash in the Add/Remove software tool you will find a number of different options for adding it to your Fedora 12 system.

Problems & Headaches
I was somewhat surprised not to find GIMP or OpenOffice.org available as part of the default installation. When I looked under the Office section of apps neither was present. Both are pretty much a must-have on a desktop version of Linux like Fedora 12 and their absence was glaring, to say the least.

When I started the Add/Remove software tool to find these apps and install them, it took about 15 seconds for tool to refresh the package lists. There was a visual cue that told me that it was starting but no progress bar or anything like that. I found this to be somewhat disconcerting as I expected to click on a category and see packages available without having to refresh the list or do anything else. I wasn’t sure if I was seeing some kind of bug or malfunction until packages finally started to appear in each category.

After the package list refreshed, I found OpenOffice.org and GIMP and installed both of them. I liked the fact that OpenOffice.org was broken down into each app, I opted to install the word processor part of it and skip the rest.

Beyond that and the multimedia issues I noted above, I didn’t find too much in the way of problems with Fedora 12. For the most part this seems to be a pretty polished release.

dvdproblem


Where To Get Help

You can always post a note in the Desktop Linux Reviews Forum and we’ll do our best to offer feedback or at least point you in the right direction. You might also want to check out the Fedora forum, mailing list and documentation.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Fedora 12 is a nicely polished release and I put it at the top of my best desktop Linux distros. It provides a good alternative to Ubuntu and some of the other common desktop distributions. It’s definitely worth trying as a Live CD at the very least.

I feel comfortable recommending Fedora 12 for anybody looking for a good desktop distro, including newbies to Linux.

Summary Table:

Product: Fedora 12 Linux
Web Site: http://fedoraproject.org/
Price: Free
Pros: Fast install, better webcam support, KDE & Gnome updates, and a faster boot time.
Cons: Doesn’t include OpenOffice.org or GIMP by default.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced desktop Linux users.
Summary: This release includes a faster install, updates to KDE and Gnome, faster boot time, update to Grub with ext4 support, and better webcam support.
Rating: 4/5