On November 2 the Fedora team chose to release the latest Fedora. I’ve decided to take a look at what Fedora looks like in its newest incarnation.

Fedora is a project based around free (libre) software so things like Adobe Flash and MP3 support doesn’t come as part of the package. On the other side this dedication to the open source world shows us the best of what is going on upstream.

When first opening up Fedora we’re greeted by a log in screen with automatic log in enabled. After that we’re taken to a beautiful desktop powered by GNOME. The artwork is as always lovely and bluish, this time with an electric feel.

The Fedora live desktop

The Fedora live desktop

The installer begins by showing us the Fedora logo and pressing next brings us to the choice of keyboard layout. After that we get to choose between installing to “basic” or “specialized” storage devices. This seems a little confusing at first but after reading the accompanying text making a choice is easy for even the Linux newcomer. Then we get to set a host name and timezone. Now comes the time to set the root password. This is something I like about Fedora. Having one password for administering the computer and one password for using it seems like a good idea to me. The screen for choosing partition layout gives a lot of predefined options including the possibility to encrypt your system. The installer takes some time to finish and it feels like it’s taking longer than when I installed Ubuntu.

Fedora - install complete

Fedora - install complete

After a reboot we’re presented a welcome screen with a Fedora logo asking us to do some basic configuration. This includes agreeing to the license, creating a user and setting date and time. At last we’re asked if we care to send a hardware profile to the Fedora Project. They apparently use this to put focus on the most used hardware and improve hardware compatibility where most needed.

When done with the basic configuration the newly installed Fedora system is ready to use. Amongst the things I noticed when I first logged in was that in the top panel there is a small icon telling the user about the weather in a set location (mine was for some reason set to Boston by default but changing it to Copenhagen was nice and easy).

The calendar, weather, time and date widget in Fedora

The calendar, weather, time and date widget in Fedora

Another small thing I like is the fact that Fedora tells you what each update is for. Next to each update there is an icon indicating ether bug fix, enhancement or security update. This can be a real time saver when you have to decide what updates are essential for your system and what updates can wait if you’re in a hurry.

The Fedora update system

The Fedora update system

Installing applications in Fedora isn’t as straight forward as in Ubuntu. There are no screenshots with the apps and if you just search for an application, documentation and development libraries also turn up in the search. This might be a little confusing for a first-time Linux user but then again for developers it’s nice to have all the libraries right at hand.

Software management in Fedora

Software management in Fedora

Adding repositories for Adobe Flash, mp3 support and other goodies takes you into the world of third-party repositories. For mp3 support and other “non-free” software Fedora decided not to bundle, a repository from RPM Fusion is necessary. For Adobe Flash a repository from Adobe is needed. It is possible to run Flash applications with more or less success through one of the open-source flash solutions available in Fedora. These include Gnash and Lightspark.

Summing it up Fedora 14 is a nice release that is able to compete in the big universe of Linux distributions. Comparing it to Ubuntu, many users will probably find that Flash and other “proprietary” items are missing but I’m thinking that it probably won’t take long till we will see the current alternatives evolving into full-blown competitors.

For more information about Fedora see http://fedoraproject.org/.

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