Fedora 15 was recently released and I decided to snag a copy to review. Since there are a billion reviews already of the default desktop version with GNOME 3, I’ll be covering the KDE version in this review (though I may circle back to the GNOME version at some point for a review). As I noted in my column “The Many Faces of Fedora,” there are quite a lot of Fedora spins now available. You can get spins that focus on gaming, design, security or that use different desktops (such as LXDE, KDE, Xfce or GNOME).
Fedora has moved into a number of niches with this release and it should be interesting to see if makes this distro even more popular than it already is. As I write this review, it’s #3 on DistroWatch’s page hit ranking list. Not too bad for a distro that used be regarded as a bit of a fuddy-duddy with limited appeal.
What’s New In This Release
There have been quite a few changes in Fedora 15, I’ve focused mainly on the notable KDE changes in the list below. You can see much more in the full release notes.
Activities easier to use
Power management system improved
KWin has new scripting interface
KWin can detect graphics hardware and adjust performance for your computer
Open applications can be pinned to the task manager
Plasma netbook interface improved for touch-screen monitors
Dolphin has search bar and filter sidebar
Graphics applications can export photos to social media sites like Facebook
Oxygen-GTK theme works for GTK+ applications (KDE and GNOME applications look the same)
Fedora 15 provides the excellent KDE 4.6 desktop. If you aren’t familiar with what 4.6 has to offer, check out the KDE 4.6 release announcement for details and screenshots. Given all of the hoopla going on about GNOME 3 (and Unity of course), KDE 4.6 is quickly emerging as an important alternative to some GNOME and Ubuntu users. The KDE developers have wisely refrained from going the same route as the Unity and GNOME 3 developers and KDE itself may well see an influx of users coming from the other two desktops.
Activities are simply different applications that close or open at the same time. You can add an activity by right-clicking on the title of a window. I confess that I never use activities so while this is nice, it’s not something that I’d use on a day-to-day basis. But your mileage may vary.
The power management system has been overhauled to be faster and various bugs have been fixed. I’m not on a mobile system these days so power management isn’t as much of a concern for me, but it’s good to see these improvements anyway.
KDE 4.6 has a helpful search bar and filter included in Dolphin. Very useful for quickly finding files that you need.
Although I can’t imagine using it too often, it’s nice that KSnapshot and other graphics programs can easily export files to various social media platforms. With so many people on Facebook, etc. this is bound to be a popular feature.
Hardware Requirements & Installation
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:
1.3.1. 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 15 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: 640 MiB
Recommended RAM for graphical: 1152 MiB
1.3.2. Processor and memory requirements for x86_64 architectures
Minimum RAM for text-mode: 256 MiB
Minimum RAM for graphical: 640 MiB
Recommended RAM for graphical: 1152 MiB
1.3.3. 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.
The install is pretty simple and straightforward. The ISO file weighs in at about 725MB. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.
Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:
As I noted at the beginning of the review, Fedora 15 comes with KDE 4.6 so there’s an enormous amount of desktop features to enjoy. One of the first things I did was to turn off KDE 4.6’s sliding menus. Those always drive me crazy as I feel it’s a waste moving back and forth. Just right click the kicker button (the F) and choose classic menu. Once you’ve changed the menu it’s pretty much a joy to use Fedora 15 KDE’s desktop. Everything is laid out well in the menus and it’s easy to find the applications, utilities or whatever it is you’re looking for.
The desktop doesn’t have a bunch of icons on it, just Home and Trash in the desktop folder. Otherwise it’s free of icons.
The default theme is attractive but if you dislike it just pull up the Desktop Theme settings in System Settings and you can pick from a range of others. Or click the Get New Themes to download more.
I really like the default “lovelock” wallpaper. It’s attractive in a “moonlit-night” sort of way. I was somewhat surprised to see this as the default wallpaper but I think it works very well. It’s much more attractive than some of the generic backgrounds I’ve seen on various distros. Yeah, I know. It’s just wallpaper but wallpaper helps set the mood and it’s one of the first things people notice about a distro. So if it’s pleasing to the eye it helps get people started on the right foot with the distro.
If you don’t like it just pull up Desktop Settings and you can download plenty of other wallpapers.
Here’s a peek at the system settings tool. You’ll find all the usual stuff to control, tweak and customize your system to you’re heart’s content.
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.
Various KDE board, card and strategy games
Fedora 15 KDE uses KPackageKit for its software management. KPackageKit is not as elegant as the Ubuntu Software Center or Linux Mint’s Software Manager. But it will serve adequately for basic software management. You can also get software updates to keep your applications up to date. The settings tool lets you easily change how often your system checks for updates.
Adding & Removing Software
You can search KPackageKit to find software or browse based on category. When you first open KPackageKit you’ll note that you can click to browse applications, but you can also click to browse other categories such as Desktop Environments, Development, Servers, etc.
Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
Flash isn’t installed by default in Konqueror, so you’ll need to add it if you want to watch flash based content on the web.
There’s a reasonable amount of multimedia applications that come with Fedora 15 KDE including Amarok, Dragon Player, JuK, K3B, KMix and KsCD. There’s a bunch of other applications available in the Sound & Video application category in KPackageKit though, so you should be able to find alternatives to the default multimedia applications.
Problems & Headaches
One mistake I think the Fedora 15 KDE developers might have made is relying on Konqueror as the default browser. Yes, I know this is Fedora 15 KDE and that Konqueror is a natural part of a KDE based distribution. But newbies might be more comfortable with Firefox and Firefox is arguably compatible with a wider range of sites than Konqueror. So I’d like to see Firefox included as the default browser in Fedora KDE releases in the future. Konqueror can be kept but it should not be the only browser listed on the Internet applications menu.
The other thing I noticed was that KPackageKit seemed a bit slow doing searches. I’m not sure why but I found it rather annoying. I’d like to see some significant speed improvements in it next time.
Some might also notice that this release ships with KDE 4.6.2 instead of the current 4.6.3. I’m not going to bark about this too much since it’s a minor update for the most part anyway. But just be aware of it if you decide to try Fedora 15 KDE.
Those things aside, I had a very good experience overall with Fedora 15 KDE. I didn’t notice any overt problems or instability. It was fairly speedy and I had no problems running various applications.
Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.
Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I enjoyed using Fedora 15 KDE; I think it has definitely arrived as a viable alternative to the GNOME version. Given all of the controversy and problems with GNOME 3, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see an exodus of disgruntled users move from the GNOME version of Fedora to the KDE version. If so then I think they might find this release of Fedora KDE to be just what the doctor ordered.
One thing that some users coming over from GNOME might notice is the lack of LibreOffice in the default selection of office applications. Since this is a KDE-based distro, it contains the KOffice applications. No problem though, just fire up KPackageKit and you can snag LibreOffice in just a couple of minutes.
Overall I think Fedora 15 KDE is a very attractive desktop distro. It comes with a good selection of software and an attractive & highly usable version of KDE. There’s not a lot here to complain about and there’s quite a bit to be happy about. I suspect that Fedora 15 KDE will be one of the distros that wins over wavering GNOME & Unity users.
Fedora 15 KDE is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
|Product:||Fedora 15 KDE|
|Pros:||Good selection of default software. Provides a viable alternative to the GNOME 3 version of Fedora 15. Neat, attractive wallpaper.|
|Cons:||Konqueror is the default browser. Flash not installed by default in Konqueror. KPackageKit searches seemed slow. KDE 4.6.2 included not KDE the current 4.6.3.|
|Suitable For:||Beginner, intermediate or advanced users.|