Hands on with Fedora 18

Hands on with Fedora 18

Summary: Much anticipated, Fedora 18, otherwise known as 'Spherical Cow' has finally arrived - here's what to expect.


 |  Image 1 of 10

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Thumbnail 5
  • Thumbnail 6
  • Thumbnail 7
  • Thumbnail 8
  • Thumbnail 9
  • Thumbnail 10
  • Fedora 18 - Gnome 3 Desktop - Application Menu

    Linux users have been waiting quite some time for Fedora 18.  The final release has been postponed seven times, for a total of more than two months, from the originally planned release date of 6 November 2012 to the actual release on 15 January 2013. 

    No one can accuse the Fedora developers of being slaves to a calendar, or succumbing to pressure to ship a release before they believe it is really ready. 

    According to their public statements, the primary causes of the multiple delays were a rewrite of the anaconda installer and a new utility called fedup, which is a new Fedora upgrade utility. 

    With the arrival of fedup, all upgrade functionality has been removed from anaconda as well, which should make it considerably smaller and less complicated. I will include some notes and screen shots of the new anaconda later in this post.

    One of the major new features in this release is support for UEFI Secure Boot. 

    I have installed this release on UEFI systems, with Secure Boot enabled and disabled, and on traditional BIOS systems as well, all with no problems. 

    My previous two blog posts discuss some of the issues of UEFI and Secure Boot installation, so I will not go into more detail on that here. 

    I have installed this release on pretty much every laptop, sub-laptop, netbook and desktop system I have around here, and had no trouble with any of them. All of the hardware was detected and supported out of the box, with no additional searching, compiling, downloading, installing or other special actions required. 

    That includes CPUs, graphic controllers with VGA, DVI, HDMI and laptop display connection (including the dual-display setup I have on my desk - Fedora is the only distribution I use that recognizes and configures dual monitors automatically), wired and wireless network controllers, audio input and output, and whatever else is around here.

    A few other highlights of this release:

    • Linux kernel 3.6.11 - This means it has a lot of new device drivers and hardware support.  For example, this is one of the very few current Linux distributions which supports the Ralink 3290 WiFi adapter in my HP Pavilion dm1-4310 out of the box.
    • X.org X Server 1.13.1 - Supports my various Intel and AMD/ATI Radeon graphic adapters with the FOSS radeon driver. I don't currently have anything with a nVidia adapter, so I can't comment on support for that.
    • Gnome 3.6.2
    • Firefox 18.0 - Keeping up with Firefox releases is not exactly easy any more. In fact, you have to install the latest updates after completing the base installation to get up to 18.0.
    • LibreOffice - Writer, Calc, Draw and Impress all included
    • Shotwell 0.13.1 - Photo management
    • Rhythmbox 2.98 - Audio player
    • Totem 3.6.3 - Gnome movie player

    As is normal with the Fedora distribution, there is no non-FOSS software included. The most notable example of this is that there is no Adobe Flash player included. An explanation of this, and instructions for downloading and installing the Adobe Flash Player for Fedora are on the Flash - Fedora Project web page.

  • Fedora 18 - MATE Desktop

    New in this release, Fedora includes support for the MATE desktop. For those who are not fond of Gnome 3, MATE offers a traditional Gnome 2-style desktop, with upper and/or lower panels, menus, desktop icons and a variety of associated applications. 

    MATE is not included in the base distribution, to get it you have to run the command "yum install @mate" (as root, of course). It would be nice if there were a meta-target in the Software Install utility, but if there is, I haven't figured it out yet.

    After installing MATE, the next time you log in you will see a new "Session..." button on the password entry screen.  Click that, and you can choose between the Gnome and MATE desktops. MATE has come a long way, and for my purposes I can no longer distinguish between it and the actual Gnome 2 desktop.

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Hands on with Fedora 18

    Fedora 18 nice.
  • How about some coverage of Fedora 18 security? Such as LSMs.

    Which on Fedora 18 is SELinux. Is the default web browser, Firefox, running with a default SELinux policy? If not, is there a default SELinux policy provided by Fedora 18 for Firefox? How does one enable SELinux policy for Firefox? And, finally, does the policy include protection for use of the Java plug-in?

    I ask this question because web browsers, along with plug-ins such as Flash Player and Java, are the most vulnerable application on client operating systems today. And with regard to Java, does Fedora 18 default with the open-source OpenJDK 7 JRE? Because it is vulnerable on Linux.

    Red Hat has just issued an update to Oracle's JRE 7, java-1.7.0-oracle, for RHEL. Better watch for an upcoming patch to the OpenJDK 7 JRE, if installed on your systems.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Red Hat updates OpenJDK

      "Security Advisory Important: java-1.7.0-openjdk security update
      Issued on: 2013-01-16

      Watch for the update in Fedora 18.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Java Update Released

        Thanks for the tip. You are correct, I just picked up the latest updates for Fedora 18, and it updated openjdk 1.7.

  • Do you use your computer for anything else

    Other than download and reinstall distros? I know its part of your job, but considering you do this on every system you own, you don't seem to store data on your systems at all. When I look at setups at work where persons have years of data on their system, you are in a class all by yourself. Windows users or even Mac users don't do this. You need to sit down, run the thing on the machine for at least 1 year minimum then share some actual experience about the product. Your distro hopping comes across as more idle behaviour. Do not delete or block my comment. I prefer for the wolves to have a go at me.
    • Wow, bossy much?

      "Do not delete my comment"

      or else, what follows? (as the King of France once said).
      Otto Schlosser
    • If you know how to set Linux up

      you can install as many concurrent copies of different Linux distros as you like and still use the same data folder. All you have to do is set up the /home folder on its own partition, and give each Linux distro's root its own partition. Grub can then either be put on its own /boot partition or kept in the root folder of the distro which you have chosen to maintain Grub.

      You can completely wipe out the root partitions as many times as you want and still have your data and settings on the /home partition. Personally I even keep /home on a separate hard drive entirely.
      Michael Kelly
      • This proves

        adacosta has no idea about Linux.
        • Re: This proves

          adacosta is clearly Andre da Costa, a MVP and Microsoft Shill. He's just trolling.
    • Michael Kelly hit the nail squarely on the head

      All of my systems have 10-12 partitions on the disk, with a variety of Linux distributions installed in them (and occasionally Windows). Typically the last three or four partitions are for pre-release distribution testing, one or two are for "permanent" installations in which I keep real work and real data, one is for /home and thus my permanent data, and the others turn over more slowly, typically when a new final release is made, such as this. This is not part of my "job", although I wish it were. I do sometimes write about experience with longer-term installations, but those articles, by definition, come much less frequently than the new releases.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • Sounds like my machine :)

        Add in a whole host of virtual machines...one even has windows 98 in it for old games! Things have got so much easier now we have more widespread GPT support... Always used to be a pain planning out primary partitions across disks!

        Long term usage reports are fantastic, but the reality is that by and large massive amounts of Linux and bsd updates are incremental; if you used the last release, a couple of days testing the new features will give you a great feel for the new one.

        As something of a "distro junkie" myself I really appreciate the testing you do, and taking the time the write up an I depth coverage for both us users and those that may not have considered such a system before. :)
      • ok, but how-to, If you wouldn't mind...

        wow! I wish I could set up my hardware some near that like. I ran into this post while after readings on dealing with java functionalities under linux afterward a recently, by new installation rather a fedup use of, upgrading to fedora 18. I confess being still lost about that but instead I am appealed more, as whenever I am when I find someone that says it's possible to put root and Home partition in different places and still together. I am just an user, but I enjoy the challenging world linux means, even so I find myself unable to find a clear guideline on this. Yeah, I could do an extra degree in computers, but is this the only way?. I love fedora and linux but I got this criticism (a positive one) as well. Connection between users and those who have in this their job is still poor, opensource meaning accordingly... good for you. Otherwise this blog it's great!. Thanks!
    • I makes sense for an OS reviewer...

      ...to have one or more systems for experimenting with and a completely different machine for regular work. I strongly suspect that's the sort of setup our author has.
      John L. Ries
  • Linux will eventually get 100% marketshare on the desktop

    It will happen when apple, Microsoft, and 99.9% of consumers have completed their move to tablets.

    It is amazing to me, looking at those screenshots, how legacy this all is. It all feels like you guys are trying to release the best buggywhip ever, in 1920, just as the Model T was roaring off the assembly lines in the millions and people were leaving their horses on the farm.

    So kudos on releasing the best buggywhip you've ever released.
    • RE:Linux will eventually get 100% marketshare on the desktop

      do not look , try it out then tell us how your experience was
      cause i can tell you the same exact thing about your beloved windows 8 or RT , sucks and a buggywhip from just looking at screenshots and that will get you nuts probably.

      linux distros and communities are moving to tablets too , not mentioning androids , by looking at gnome3 and unity and trying them on touch enabled devices they are as good as IOS or WIN RT/8.
      • What advantage would I get?

        The computing device I use the most is my Surface RT. Windows 8 on my PC uses the exact same UI and in many cases, the exact same software. This is an advantage. It is consistent.

        I would get 0 benefit switching from Windows 8 to Linux on my PC. Besides, I kind of like the fact that I don't have to compile a kernel to use my PC.
        • RE: "I ... like the fact that I don't have to compile a kernel to use my PC

          Mr. toddbottom3, you remind me of someone ... Mr. Davidson!

          It's a good thing that you don't have to compile the Windows NT kernel on your PC as it is proprietary. However, I'm sure that if you were a trusted Microsoft business partner and had a good reason for compiling the Windows NT kernel, Microsoft would provide you with the source code and allow you to do so ... after you signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement. But, individuals like yourself? No.

          Gentoo is the only Linux distro I'm aware of where desktop users still regularly compile their software, including the kernel, from source code. The option to do so, however, is available for most Linux distros.

          In addition, there are some advanced Linux users and sysadmins that do compile their kernels. An example would be to enhance system security by applying the grsecurity patch to the Linux kernel. Either on top of an LSM or in lieu of a LSM.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Glad you noticed

            "Mr. toddbottom3, you remind me of someone ... Mr. Davidson!"

            Yes, this was a nod to your favorite provocateur. I haven't recompiled a kernel since LFS and gentoo.
          • toddbottom3 ... tell us all you created your post on your Surface

            Compiling a Kerrnel is Loverock Davidsons favorite sthick...are you trying to one up him?
            Over and Out
        • toddbottom3....everyone knows why you love your Surface & Windows 8 so much



          Over and Out