Installing Fedora 19: What's new?

On time and on target, this is a good release — and I've installed it on traditional BIOS and UEFI BIOS systems. Here's what I found.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor

The final release of Fedora 19 was right on the original schedule: considering the record of the past few Fedora releases, that is an accomplishment in itself. The really good news, though, is that this is another excellent release from the Fedora team.

The Fedora Download Page contains Live ISO Images for Gnome, KDE, Xfce and LXDE distributions, for 32 and 64 bit architectures.

For those who want or need other formats, there is also an installable DVD image and a network install image.

All of these are Hybrid ISO Images, so if you have a running Linux system you can simply dd the image to a USB stick to create a bootable Live system and/or installation media. If you don't have a Linux system handy, you can either burn the ISO images to CD or DVD, or use the LIveUSB Creator.

As was already the case with the previous release, the Fedora 19 Live images will boot with UEFI Secure Boot enabled. I did not actually perform the installation with Secure Boot enabled, however, because I just don't use that any more. 

I did see, though, that even when installing with Secure Boot disabled, Fedora still installed the necessary "shim" files so that if you subsequently enable Secure Boot, it will still work. Also, at least on my Acer Aspire One 725 with the latest UEFI BIOS, the installation managed to set the boot environment correctly so that after it completed, the laptop booted Fedora rather than Windows. 

Unfortunately the one thing that apparently is still not solved yet is that if you have other Linux installations Fedora will create a GRUB configuration file which lists all of them, but then fails to boot them. It does, however, boot Windows 8 without problem, so this is sufficient for the vast majority of users.

The installation process is very similar to what it was for Fedora 18, the anaconda installer has just been further refined for this release.

That means those who like the new anaconda (I did) will be even more happy, and those who didn't like it (to put it mildly, for a lot of people) are not likely to be any happier with this release.

I have previously written in detail, with screen shots, about the new anaconda installation process, so I will only include the significant differences here.

First, Network Configuration has been incorporated into the main "Dispatcher" screen.  This is certainly the most logical way to do it — I didn't understand why it had a separate screen in the previous release, perhaps they just hadn't gotten around to this yet.

The Fedora 19 Installer (Anaconda) Main Screen


Second, the design, description and options in the Disk Partitioning screen have been improved.  I think this new screen makes it more clear  what the options are, and what each one means — I like this much better than the equivalent screen in the previous release.

Fedora 19 Disk Setup


Finally, the specification of the User Account to be created has been added to the Installation Progress screen, where the Root Password was already entered.  Again, this makes much more sense to me than having it as a separate step during the first boot, as it was before.

Fedora 19 Account Setup


The distribution media will install Linux kernel version 3.9.5, but if you install all the latest updates after booting the installed system, you will end up with 3.9.8 (as of this writing). The Gnome 3 installed is, which has an Applications menu shown below.

Click the "box of dots" at the bottom of the sidebar to get the Application menu, then you can toggle between "Frequent" and "All" items with the selection at the bottom of the screen. Note the grouping of "Utilities" and "Sundry" items in this menu; click on either of those, and you will get a sub-menu listing the items in that group.

Fedora 19 Gnome 3 Applications


Also worth mentioning is that when I installed this release on my Lifebook S6510, which has an external monitor in addition to the laptop display, Fedora detected and configured both displays correctly, automatically making them an "extended desktop". This is not new for Fedora, it has done this automatically for quite a while now, but it is still the only one of the distributions which I regularly use that manages to do it. 

What else is new and notable in this release?  Here is a short list:

- LibreOffice

- Shotwell 0.14.1

- Rhythmbox 2.99.1

- Totem video player 3.8.2

- Firefox 22.0

What isn't included?  Well, this is Fedora, so that means no proprietary or other non-FOSS packages.  The first thing that most people are likely to notice is that Adobe Flash is not installed; second would probably be that there is no Java installed. 

Also, if you have AMD/ATI or nVidia graphic hardware, the proprietary drivers for those are also not included.  All of these can be downloaded and installed, with effort ranging from trivial to moderate. There are plenty of descriptions on the Web of how to get them, so make a quick search if you want them.

In summary, this release is pretty much what we expect from Fedora — solid, stable, easy to install and use. 

I have installed on most of my laptops and netbooks so far, and have not had a single problem yet.  This covers a range of Intel and AMD CPUs and graphic controllers, wired and wireless networking adapters from Intel, Broadcom, Atheros, Ralink and Realtek. Every device has been recognized and supported, and everything has simply worked out of the box: good stuff.

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