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Fedora 19 beta

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Fedorians released yesterday their 19th [beta] version of their operating system named Schrödinger’s Cat, when the final F19 version is coming out at July 2th. As is expected, this release brings all the usual updates in Desktop {GNOME 3.8 / KDE 4.10 / MATE Desktop 1.6}, infrastructure {Linux 3.9 / Xorg 1.14 / Systemd 204 / GCC 4.8} and utilities like Firewall (firewalld 0.3.2), Kerberos (1.11.2) /realmd(0.14.2),  SELinux  (2.1.13).

Apart from these Fedora brings some new things for WebDevelopers like Ruby 2.0, MariaDB, NodeJS and OpenShift Origin which is the infrastructure to host a  Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) similar to Red Hat’s openshift.com -which recently got a major update and is quite competitive to similar services.

Furthermore Fedorians seems to spend some time to include a variety open source 3d modelling tools like OpenSCAD, Skeinforge, SFACT, Printrun, and RepetierHost. Of course all the rest of software is pretty much updated.

A detailed list of new features can be found at:

Before you install it, it will be a good idea to check on known bugs at:

And if you are upgrading from 18:

Personally I wouldn’t reckon to make an upgrade (specially in a pre-final release) but since there are some Fedora engineers who argue that Fedora upgrading is even better than Debian’s, is totally up to you to try it. Just make sure you are in position to restore an un-bootable system, otherwise you must do the boring backup job. But if you do backup ..why don’t do a fresh install anyway? ;)


Installation

Installation in Fedora 19 seems quite the same as 18 and the partitioning UI while seems simple, it still manages to confuse, and that brings on mind that when something starts wrong, will be always wrong. To be fair, this isn’t a really important issue and you will probably spend around 5 extra minutes to figure out how it works. Fedora Anaconda designing team definitely need to make some more changes here. Rest of the installation process is just next next next..

More than one OS

I didn’t try to install F19 in a disk aside with a pre-existed system, like a common Windows./Linux dual set up scenario. Instead I keep my other OS in separate Disks and I plugged them after installed F19. Fedora 19 / Grub did  great job to discover all my other OSes (4) even if I am running a UEFI secure boot.

In this part

grub2-mkconfig

can discover all your attached Operating Systems with a single command. However it might not. In the last situation, you need to do a lot of reading and this is where the main problem of Fedora exist.


One single bug

Fedora 18 and Fedora 19 are two very good releases. However one single annoying issue can tear everything apart. Fedora unfortunately is capable to give two kind of experiences, either can be awesome or can be awful. A short story..

I installed F18 in a friend of mine. Issue number 1. F18 couldn’t discover the keyboard layout and it was assigned wrong keys. Because it was a non-standard wireless keyboard, I bought him a new one 30Euros Logitech-compatible keyboard. Guess what? Same issue and I was poorer by 30 Euros. Ah yes, Open Source isn’t so free ;)

When a problem arise more are going to come and so Fedora 18 AI decided to install German Language without asking anyone. For the end, Fedora (GNOME actually) also broke his Key-ring Passwords. Imagine this.. 3 issues that made F18 totally unusable in a single, fresh installation in a modern (Ivy Bridge) hardware.

When Fedora or Red Hat engineers -if you prefer- are responsible for a large part of what we call Linux Desktop, they run into such issues in their distro, I can think one and one reason only. Poor testing.. and poor testing comes from Fedora’s small user base. While this particular problem is well identified, they (Fedora) delay to take decisions like changing Fedora’s release schedule for example.

Speaking of Fedora release schedule it is worth to mention that GNOME 3.8 released in March 27 and Fedora that is actually shipping it is releasing in July 2th. That is a gap of around 3 months, which doesn’t look good at all.


GNOME Initial Experience

Booting for the very first time in Fedora 19 you will discover the brand new start-up guide of GNOME 3.8, that will try in a few steps to introduce the system in the new users. Fedora worth some extra credits because they also tried to follow GNOME HIG from the very first time, when installing the system, which is also part of the GNOME Initial Experience.

initial-online-accounts

Here, you will set up some key aspects of the system like Language, Input Sources and your Online Accounts and in the end, a GNOME introduction video -in full screen- will begin. Totally useful for PC beginners, the rest will probably ignore it. A real interactive guide (similar to video games) that would make the system to go auto-pilot would be probably more impressive and interesting to watching to.


GNOME 3.8

Of course Fedora 19 is all about the latest GNOME so upgrading from 18 will also give you the revamped GNOME 3.8

 fedora19-overview

And here we go, commercial software comes nicely alongside with open source. In my case, three non-open source applications, HoN, nVidia and Chrome (and Steam is coming!) in a single overview page. The other thing I want to show here is the improved error reporting tool.

Error Reporting

Error reporting is much improved and is now playing a major role in Fedora 19 because you will receive lots of them (minor in general). Don’t hesitate to submit your bugs, for the common good ;)

bug-reporting

This might enable people to file bugs, but on the other hand it might confuse others, as messages aren’t meaningful at all. Tracker Extract was killed? Call 911? :)

empathy-error

 

Check on Empathy and the message that is pointing out it crash was nVidia fault which isn’t open source and violates the license of your system. Clearly this is something that a commercial distributor will not appreciate at all, but is cool for Open Source fans.

Firewalld

An annoying issue in Fedora 19 user experience remains their Firewall, that can give headache even to more advanced users.

firewall

Except the fact that is hard to figure out how it works, documentation is totally absent from Yelp and you should run into -not user friendly- online documentation:

Software Installation

Unfortunately nothing changed in Software Discovery in Fedora, and while there is a plenty software that you might find useful, you might have to Google twice. Once to actually find what you need, and secondly how to install it in Fedora. Annoying :(

software

Fedora 19 still using Yum as upgrade method and not DNF which is planned to come in Fedora 22, but you can still use it as a technical preview. Yum isn’t quite famous about either its speed or even its CLI capabilities (ie auto-complete). Furthermore it isn’t smart enough to resolve all dependencies when you’re uninstalling a software.  So if you install “A” it will also install  dependencies “B” and “C”, but if you uninstall “A” it might only uninstall “A” and “B” but not “C”.

About non-open software as usual you need to follow rpmfusion.org or install fedorautils.

Classic Mode

One of the most advertised things in GNOME 3.8 is the alternative Classic Mode that helps people to make the transition to GNOME 3 by keeping some old desktop features like Taskbar and Windows  Controls (Maximize/Minimize).

fedora19-classic

For some reason Fedora doesn’t install classic by default (?!?) and you should make it yourselves.

$ sudo yum install gnome-classic-session

After you need to logout and in GDM login screen you will see the new option to start in classic mode. Alternatively after installing it you can just starting by hitting <Alt+F2> and type:

gnome-shell --mode=classic -r

This way you won’t lose your session and your opened applications.


CheckPoint / Restore

I just discovered that feature in Fedora 19, which I think it won’t trigger many of you, but still feels awesome.  From:

Add support to checkpoint and restore processes. Checkpointing processes can be used for fault tolerance and/or load balancing.

 

Checkpointing a process in regular intervals can help to restart a process if it might crash to resume/restart/restore the calculation without too much data lost. Providing this ability transparent at the OS level removes the need to implement this functionality for all processes manually.

 

Checkpointing and restoring a process to another system can be used to migrate a process, process tree or container to another system to distribute the load during the runtime and also for maintenance without service interruption like it is possible with virtual machines.

In short you can “save” a running process (into a directory in .img files) and restart it in the same or even to another machine. To try it out:

$ sudo yum install crtools

Then check on

You should replace <criu> command with <crtools>.


Fedora 18 Vs Fedora 19

Actually for the majority of users biggest differences relies in GNOME and in the updated applications in general. GNOME 3.8 is a huge improvement over 3.6 and so on Fedora 19 is a huge improvement over 18. For  Admins many cool things are here, and CheckPoint/Restore, latest OpenStack (Grizzly) and Open Shift Origin are just some of them.

I reckon to check on common bugs and if you are not affected from anything you can safely install Fedora 19 today. Beta will become stable as long as you’re updating your system; none further action is required.

As long as you don’t run into a weird issue, you will appreciate all the new things in Fedora 19!


 
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  • Remjg

    After a few years using Ubuntu and quite a number of issues with GNOME (on Ubuntu 12.10 and then on Ubuntu 13.04), I switched to Fedora 19 alpha. I recommand it to everyone who wants a stable, up-to-date and fast GNOME desktop!
    I’m gonna stick to Fedora in the future even though I miss all the Ubuntu user base and documentation…

    • Kekun

      Lets build all the cool things Ubuntu haves into Fedora. =)

      • Matthew Javelet

        Like what?

        • Remjg

          Not that much… But more users would be great to increase resources! When I face an issue and try a search on the internet, I don’t find quickly a solution as I would have done with Ubuntu.

          • Matthew Javelet

            I wouldn’t know I don’t really have issues unless I use Ubuntu and since I don’t I think you get the idea. Ubuntu can keep its stupid users and search results.

    • kimtwain

      Yes, stable… I understand that it’s a beta release, but still, it proved to be unusable to me. I tried a simple thing: install the OS on the 32gb ssd (/ filesystem), and have an encrypted /home on the 320gb hdd. Anaconda crashed twice with weird errors after the installation began, during the partitioning phase. I didn’t bother to investigate and/or report the problem, I just installed debian. The devs tend to ignore bug reports; after all, it’s a beta release, isn’t it? It’s normal for it to have bugs. And then we have things like fedora 18, in which the installer wasn’t tested with any language other than English: https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-KBGOD0_XuSo/UP0FBTmON2I/AAAAAAAAC1U/VJ3Kl0qzWic/w785-h589-no/Fedora18_anaconda.png (this is from the release image, and yes, the bug was reported weeks ahead: #892122)

      • Jiří Eischmann

        1. Anaconda is tested with other languages than English, it’s not just tested with every single language because it’s simply not possible. The core of Fedora QA team which is hired by Red Hat to test Fedora is about 10 people, it’s simply not enough to test every software bit in all possible languages. Fedora is still a community distribution and its testing is dependent on the community.
        2. No bugs in Anaconda get fixed after the distribution is released because it just doesn’t make sense. ISOs are already made and to update you have to install the software first. So all fixes go to the next version which is why it may look like bugs don’t get fixed.
        3. Believe or not, for developers, bugs are normal. They have hundreds or even thousands of them assigned to them in bugzilla. The new Anaconda was completely rewritten because the old codebase was not maintainable any more. They started from the scratch and although Anaconda devels have done a tremendous amount of work, it’s still not ideal. But it’s not because they ignore bugs. It’s again about manpower. But hey, it’s open source, anyone can chip in ;)

        • kimtwain

          1. This problem wasn’t limited to a “single” foreign language, and I only took it as an example. The commonbugs list is much longer. The community reported this bug, but it couldn’t be fixed in time and wasn’t made final blocker.
          2. I know. A dev was discussing about this particular bug and explained that new images aren’t usually built, even for widespread problems like this was.
          3. Sure it’s about manpower. But, since we all know that there’s a very huge list of open bugs on bugzilla and many users are now avoiding reporting bugs because they don’t think they’ll even get a reply, maybe it could be a good idea to find new solutions. New solutions to increase the snr on bugzilla. Splitting feature requests/manual reports from abrt reports, which should always be considered. Or hiring a team of highly trained monkeys :) in the community to look after the bugs, eg, a non-abrt-bug must be confirmed by another user in this community bug review team before coming to the attention of the work-overloaded developer. Or, simply, throw away the bugzilla approach. There are some open source project which have done it, they had too many open bugs and a really low snr. Now they are back using mailing lists…

          • kimtwain

            I’ve been told that Fedora did have a bug triaging team once, but it has since been merged in the BugZappers team.

  • Jiří Eischmann

    1. Was the bug with the keyboard Fedora-specific or was it in GNOME? Because then I wouldn’t blame small user base of Fedora since GNOME is used by many other distributions. BTW I don’t think Fedora has a small user base. It’s of course smaller than Ubuntu one, but it’s one of the most popular distros out there, with several millions of users. And IMHO the size of user base is not a bottleneck here. Both Fedora and Ubuntu have enough users to report all annoying problems. The problem is manpower in development and maintenance. When I filed bugs in Ubuntu, 90 percent of them were never been looked at.

    2. With new ABRT, you don’t have to report anything. All problems are reported automatically, you just get a notification about it, that’s it.

    3. DNF was never planned to replace YUM in Fedora 19. It’s too young for that. Currently it’s planned to replace YUM in Fedora 22. Believe or not, YUM with all its plugins is one of the most powerful package managers out there, if not the most powerful, and it will take a lot of time for DNF to get on the same feature level. Until then it will live besides YUM as a technology preview.

    Otherwise a nice review. Thanks.

    • alex285

      Hello Jiri,

      I don’t know if that bug is X or GNOME or Fedora specific, but it actually affects Fedora. In a point of view, Fedora is responsible for everyone’s bugs, they ship them ;)

      Sometimes I am thinking how it would be to review Fedora not as what it is, but as it wish/wants/expects to be, a replacement of Windows. Totally forget open source and just focus on user experience and the capabilities of operating system both in entertainment, in industry and in research fields.

      Also I think is wrong to say “one of the most popular distros” because the difference between the first and the rest is.. I still can’t understand how that happened, can anyone analyze the reasons?

      Thanks for the correction with DNF, and thank you for your work in OS!

    • alex285

      For what is worth, keyboard layout issue, was a GNOME Bug, just found it :)

  • ApostolisA

    the introductory video upon booting f 19 for the first time really makes it more elegant!
    such “cuteness” has only been in ubuntu so far :D

    • ApostolisA

      although i have to say that the pictures shown during the installer are admittedly ugly and not integrated at all…

      • Dhruv Sangvikar

        agree with the ugly slide show during installation..

  • Sayak

    Correction: The final release date should be 2nd July, 2013.

    • alex285

      Thanks for correction! Typical mistake of the USA date system 2013-07-02 .. 02-07-2013 in Europe :)

  • Dhruv Sangvikar

    Apart from the the ugly slide show during installation which put me off initially, f19 overall rocks. Works perfectly with gnome 3.8. I migrated from ubuntu gnome 13.04 which just did not give me the vanilla gnome experience. Also the initial setup by gnome is nice. Makes it look more polished. Bugs are there but hopefully will be squashed before the final release and eventually.