Fedora 15 midterm report card


My first experience with Linux was a Cheapbytes CD version of Mandrake 1.0 I bought off Ebay. Since I had a (comically) cheap video card, I could never get X configured. But I was able to mount a disk from my linux computer on my parent’s Windows computer – 1 floor and at LEAST 15 feet away. I was amazed and instantly addicted.
The user experience with Linux has certainly come a long way since those heady days of “BUT LOOK, that file is ALL THE WAY UPSTAIRS”.
Fedora 15 “Lovelock” is the latest leap in that user experience. Happily and amazingly, they get the majority of things right.
Things they got right
Speed… pure demon speed
Out of the box, F15 is fast on my relatively recent Sony Vaio laptop. Fedora has suffered a (sometimes warranted) reputation of being bloated and a little clunky in recent releases. Fedora 10 was glacial to boot oten times, and coming back from a suspend could grow moss. That’s not the case with Fedora 15. I haven’t clocked it but I was startled the first time I picked up my laptop lid to come back from a suspend. We’re getting into the neighbourhood of Mac here. The boot time isn’t quite as impressive, but it’s still as good as I’ve seen. I caveat that with the fact that I’m not much of an Ubuntu user, so they could be booting as fast as a stabbed rat, but I’m impressed with Fedora 15 regardless.
Holy crap Gnome3 is going to be cool
The fact that my desktop is now primarily rendered with JavaScript causes stirrings within my person in some very special places. It gets us all one step closer to a truly personalized computing experience. That day will be right up there with Skynet and Atmos. We’re night quite there yet. I’m hoping that the Fedora community at large will do its job (and I think it probably will) and begin providing some really cool tweaks and tricks that will unleash my desktop into the amazing thing I’ve had in my head since 1995.
That being said, Gnome 3 in Fedora 15 is almost a really good UI. After a few weeks of using it consistently, I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that the changes that have been made are benificial. The hot corners, simplified topbar, more intuitive maximizing and resizing windows… all great things. The biggest issue I’ve run into so far is consistently finding the various admin widgets. I’m sure it’s just a learning curve, but it’s there and I’m complaining.
An Even better desktop OS
Back when I was using my Cheapbytes CD version of Mandrake, I was running down the street screaming when I got my 33.6k modem to talk online. Fedora 15 took about 10 minutes to get 99%+ of my sites to render properly. Since it’s open source, of course Flash, Air, and a few other minor things took that extra step. But the community had thorough docs about any changes and odd needs. I can’t wait for HTML5 to replace Flash and Air and all of the other proprietary ugliness out on the interwebs, but tomorrow is not going to be that day.
Things that aren’t quite there yet
Most things that aren’t great in Fedora 15 ring true for just about any current Linux distribution. But here they are any way.
still hanging out with ext4
There is talk of btrfs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Btrfs), and it’s supported in Fedora 15. Pull the trigger. It’s amazing. Let’s do it.
We get it. Adobe isn’t open source
I hate that things I depend on use non-open source tools, but I still need to use them. Tweetdeck, Flash, Skype…etc. I get the issues and don’t want to see them in Fedora’s repositories. But let’s go ahead and crank out a simple script to get the software quicker. Those 10 minutes I have to take to configure a Linux desktop OS with those applications is a huge barrier to a new user. Let’s get practical and get rid of it in a way that doesn’t violate copyright or ethics. I think it’s possible.
Driver issues still exist
I’m a pretty handy guy with Linux. I even have pieces of paper that tell me I am a pretty handy guy with Linux. My webcam isn’t even close to working. I know that’s not Fedora’s fault, or any Linux distributions. I’m mentioning it here to make the point that it’s another area we’re going to have to grow as a community to bring in more casual and new users.
So there you have it. All in all I’m really really enjoying running Fedora 15. My work laptop is a 17″ macbook pro with 8GB of RAM. It’s quickly becoming my “other” laptop since getting going with Fedora 15.

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