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Fedora 20 (Heisenbug) Gnome-KDE-Xfce-LXDE
Fedora 20 (Heisenbug) will be released today: my comments are based on Release Candidate 1.1, which was declared 'Gold' so there should be no significant changes between it and the final release.
For purposes of this post, I loaded the five different Fedora versions on five different computers:
- Gnome 3 — Acer Aspire One 725 (sub-notebook)
- KDE — Lenovo T400 (notebook)
- Xfce — HP Pavilion dm1-4310ez (sub-notebook)
- LXDE — Samsung N150 Plus (netbook)
- MATE — Dell Dimension E521 (Tower)
I think it says a lot about the quality and stability of the Fedora release that it installed on every one of these systems without a single problem.
Not one hiccup in the installer (anaconda), not one device that was not supported or not working properly.
Fedora gets a good bit of criticism for being "bleeding edge" and too much of a research/testbed to be a reliable everyday use system, and from what I have seen here I don't think that is deserved.
It also gets some criticism about selinux and security being a pain, and I think it has come a long way on that front too, I remember very well the struggles with some older Fedora releases when it seemed like selinux either got in the way of everything I tried to do, or it soaked up huge amounts of system resources in the background. Those kinds of things have not happened to me for at least the last three or more releases.
Finally, Fedora also gets some criticism about not being as fully loaded and configured with additional packages as some other popular distributions, and I think that is only partially true today.
As you can see in the following description, the "Fedora Desktop" (Gnome 3) distribution includes just about all of the popular packages and applications possible, within its bound of FOSS-only software.
The other "spins", though, still come pretty much bare-bones, with the desktop and associated packages and utilities but not much more. With those you have to pretty much "put together your own", but even that isn't a huge burden, the packages are available through the software management utilities, and you just have to click through and install the ones you want.
Enough preliminaries, let's get busy with the installation. The distribution ISO images can be downloaded from the Get Fedora page. What you will find there are:
- Live Images, under 1GB each. You can copy these to a USB stick or DVD (the "lightweight" Xfce and LXDE images are still under 700MB, so they will even fit on a CD) then boot and run Fedora 20 from that, so you can test it, see if all of your hardware is supported, decide if you like it, and then install it from that Live image if you choose to do so. There are various other spins besides the five that I cover here, including SoaS (Sugar on a Stick), Security and some other special purpose or focused versions.
- DVD Installer image, just over 4GB. This is not a Live image. You can boot it (from USB or DVD), but the only thing you can do with it then is install it. This image is most useful if you are installing on systems with no/slow internet connection.
- Network Install image, less than 400MB. This one will fit easily on a CD, but it is also not a Live image, you can only install from it, and you have to have an internet connection to get the software you choose for installation. In addition to the smaller size, the other advantage of this image is that when you install you always get the latest stable versions of the packages you choose, so you don't have a potentially large update to make immediately after installation. This image gets more and more interesting as time goes by and the number and size of updates increases.
All of these images are compatible with either Legacy Boot (what most of the world still considers "normal") and UEFI Boot, and on UEFI boot they will work with Secure Boot enabled.
The Fedora distribution includes FOSS software only, no exceptions. Many people consider this to be either its strongest or weakest attribute, depending on whose opinion you ask. Personally, I just figure it is what it is, and get on with it. Some typical examples of things it does not include which generate significant criticism are:
- Flash player — I don't care, I decided quite some time ago that the security vulnerabilities and seemingly constant stream of updates and patches are just not worth the trouble. There is another unexpected bonus to not having Flash installed, those extremely irritating auto-playing videos (especially advertising videos) that lots of web sites are adding to their home page don't come up.
- Proprietary video drivers — particularly Radeon and nVidia — I don't care, I am not a gamer, the FOSS drivers are plenty good enough for my purposes. The last time I played a game on one of my computers I think it was Zork.
- Other proprietary drivers, for example wi-fi adapters — this one sometimes hits me a bit closer to home, for example with various recent Broadcom and Ralink wireless adapters. But the truth is, Fedora is almost always one of the first to have working drivers for most common hardware, so it's not often a problem.
Anyway, for these cases and tons of other additional packages which are not included in the Fedora repositories, you can always go to the RPM Fusion web site, which provides software which Fedora (and Red Hat) chooses not to include.
Just to get a couple of the basics out of the way, this release includes Linux kernel 3.11.10, and X.org server 1.14 in all of the spins. For details on the rest of the packages and versions in the various spins, read the following pages.
Fedora Gnome 3 Desktop
Fedora is generally considered to be the "Flagship" (or perhaps "Posterchild"?) Gnome 3 distribution, or looking at it from the other direction, Gnome 3 is considered to be the "Standard" desktop for the Fedora distribution.
When you go to the Get Fedora page, you find that the image simply called "Fedora Desktop" is Gnome 3, while the rest of the image names include additional details to differentiate them from that.
The Fedora Gnome 3 release is probably the most complete of all the spins, in terms of the packages included. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Gnome 3.10.1
- Firefox 25.0
- Evolution (email/calendar) 3.10
- LibreOffice 184.108.40.206
- Rhythmbox (Audio Player) 3.0
- Totem (Video player) 3.10.1
- Shotwell (Photo Management) 0.15.0
- Cheese (Webcam) 3.10.2
- Document Viewer (PDF and others) 3.10.3
- Software 3.10.4 (Software Management)
- Nautilus 3.10.1 (file manager)
You might notice that a lot of those packages have version 3.10.x, this is because the Gnome desktop comes with a variety of utilities and applications which are specifically designed and tailored for it, and their version numbers track the Gnome versions pretty closely.
Gnome 3 still generates quite a bit of discussion and debate in the Linux community. Personally, it is not one of my favourite desktops, but I can live with it, and work with it, and because I too consider it to be the "standard" for Fedora, this is the version that I install most frequently.