Fedora 14 KDE

In my last look at Fedora 14, I covered the GNOME version. Fedora comes in other flavors though, including a KDE version. Since there are many KDE users out there, I thought it wise to cover the KDE release. Please note that I’ve skipped doing a video review for this release, but you can watch the review for the GNOME version though.

KDE has been updated to version 4.5 in this release. See the KDE 4.5 release announcement. If you aren’t familiar with what it has to offer desktop users.

Here’s a brief sample of what KDE 4.5 has to offer on the desktop:

Notification area cleanup
KWin upgrade
Plasma Activity Manager
Better Workspace controls

Live CD Desktop

Live CD Desktop

Utilities

Utilities

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

Spice – Spice aims to provide a complete open source solution for interaction with virtualized desktops and provides high-quality remote access to QEMU virtual machines.

Mobility options – This release includes software from the MeeGo™ project which is designed to support platforms such as netbooks, nettops, and various embedded devices.

Amazon EC2 – For the first time since Fedora 8, Fedora will release on the EC2 cloud.

D Compiler – Support for D, a systems programming language. Its focus is on combining the power and high performance of C and C++ with the programmer productivity of modern languages like Ruby and Python.

Some other features include:
Updating Perl to version 5.12, Python to version 2.7, Boost to version 1.44, Netbeans to version 6.9, KDE to version 4.5, Eclipse to the Helios Release, and Sugar to version 0.90.

As with the GNOME version, most of this stuff is geared toward administrators or programmers rather than average desktop users.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

Processor and memory requirements for x86 Architectures

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 14 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: 256 MiB
Minimum RAM for graphical: 384 MiB
Recommended RAM for graphical: 512 MiB

Processor and memory requirements for x86_64 architectures
Minimum RAM for text-mode: 256 MiB
Minimum RAM for graphical: 384 MiB
Recommended RAM for graphical: 512 MiB

Hard disk space requirements for all architectures
The complete packages can occupy over 9 GB of disk space. Final size is entirely determined by the installing spin and the packages selected during installation. Additional disk space is required during installation to support the installation environment. This additional disk space corresponds to the size of /Fedora/base/stage2.img (on Installation Disc 1) plus the size of the files in /var/lib/rpm on the installed system.

In practical terms, additional space requirements may range from as little as 90 MiB for a minimal installation to as much as an additional 175 MiB for a larger installation.

Additional space is also required for any user data, and at least 5% free space should be maintained for proper system operation.

Installation
The Fedora installer is the same for the KDE version as it is for the GNOME version. It’s easy and it doesn’t take long.

The thing that irritates me about is that the actual install doesn’t include setting up the user account, so there are a few more screens to go through after the install finishes and you reboot. This is a minor thing but it would be nice if the installer had all of the steps included in it.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Install 10

Install 10

Install 11

Install 11

Booting & Login
Here’s what the login screen looks like. It has the same weird looking wallpaper as the desktop.

Login

Login

The Desktop
Here’s a screenshot of the Fedora 14 KDE desktop. It’s pretty much what you’d expect, a KDE 4.5 desktop with Fedora customizations.

Desktop

Desktop

It uses the default KDE sliding menus. If you don’t like those menus, just right click the F (kicker) button on the panel and you can switch them to Classic easily enough. I generally use the classic mode since the sliding menus annoy me.

KDE Menu

KDE Menu

 

Classic KDE Menu

Themes
If you don’t like the default theme, go into System Settings and choose Workspace Appearance then Desktop Theme. Click the Get New Themes button to browse through a large selection of alternative desktop themes.

Themes

Themes

Wallpaper
The Fedora 14 KDE desktop has the same odd-looking wallpaper as the GNOME version. I really don’t know what to make of it; it sort of reminds me of Krypton for some reason (the home planet of Superman). I’m not sure why but it has that kryptonian space type thing going for it.

If you don’t like it just right click your desktop and choose Desktop Settings then click on Wallpaper then Get New Wallpapers. There are plenty of cool ones to choose from and most are much better than the odd default wallpaper.

Desktop Settings

Desktop Settings

Admin Tools

Here’s a peek at the system settings menu, which gives you everything you need to manage your system.

Admin

Admin

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
KMahjongg
KPatience
KMines

Graphics
KSnapshot
Gwenview
KolourPaint
Okular

Internet
Akregator
Blogilo
KMail
KNode
Konqueror
Konversation
Kopete

Multimedia
Dragon Player
JuK
KMix
KsCD

Office
KAddressBook
Kontact
KOrganizer
KPresenter
KSpread
KTimeTracker
KWord

As you can tell, this distro is definitely KDE all the way in terms of its software. You won’t find OpenOffice.org, for example in the office applications menu. But you can still add it and lots of other software via Fedora 14’s software manager.

Software Management
Fedora 14 KDE uses KPackageKit as its software manager. KPackageKit has gotten a lot better recently; it’s not too far behind the Ubuntu Software Center or even Linux Mint’s Software Manager.

Applications are broken down into categories, and you can search as well. There’s plenty of software available in KPackageKit, you shouldn’t have trouble finding applications to cover most desktop needs. You can also get your software updates through KPackageKit.

Software Manager

Software Manager

Software Updates

Software Updates

KPackageKit Settings

KPackageKit Settings

Installed Software

Installed Software

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very easy to add or remove software. Just find the package you want to add and click the Install button then Apply. If you want to remove an application, click the Installed Packages tab and find it. Then click the Remove button then the Apply button.

You can also opt to have KPackageKit check for updates (daily, hourly, weekly, monthly or not at all) and install them automatically if you want.

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
Flash is not included by default, so you’ll have to install it yourself in Konqueror if you want to run YouTube videos, etc.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
As I noted earlier, you get four multimedia applications with this release: Dragon Player, JuK, KMix and KsCD. That’s not exactly an overwhelming selection, but you can find 268 more packages available in KPackagKit. So chances are that you’ll find additional applications that will fill all of your multimedia needs.

Dragon

Dragon

Problems & Headaches
My experience with Fedora 14 KDE was very positive. I didn’t run into performance issues or application crashes while running it.

The most irritating thing to me is that it defaults to Konqueror as its browser instead of Firefox or Chromium. This is a very subjective thing, obviously, but it seems to me that the days of Konqueror being used as the default browser in any distro are pretty much over and done with. It just doesn’t make sense to default to it when there are clearly better choices available. I don’t want to harp on this too much though since it’s very easy to grab Firefox from KPackageKit and use it instead of Konqueror.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Fedora community page and the Fedora help page.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Fedora 14 KDE is well suited for experienced users who prefer the KDE desktop environment. The Fedora developers have done a good job blending Fedora’s tools and features with KDE. So there’s a lot of value here if you are a KDE user.

However, as with the GNOME version of Fedora, this distro is probably not well suited for beginners or casual desktop users. If you aren’t sure about whether or not Fedora 14 KDE is for you, I’d say give it a download and check it out. It never hurts to experiment with a new distro to see what it’s all about and if it matches your desktop computing needs. My experience with Fedora 14 KDE was pretty good, all things considered.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Fedora 14 KDE
Web Site: http://fedoraproject.org/
Price: Free
Pros: Comes with KDE 4.5; good selection of software.
Cons: Install routine is a bit odd and could use a tweak or two; software management is good but not quite as good as Linux Mint’s or the Ubuntu Software Center.
Suitable For: Intermediate and advanced Linux users, particularly those who prefer or require the KDE desktop.
Summary: Fedora 14 KDE is a good choice for experienced Linux users that prefer the KDE desktop environment.
Rating: 3.5/5