First of all, Fedora 20 is on alpha version and Fedora 20 stable is scheduled for the end of this year (Dec 3, 2013). GNOME 3.10 is on stable release, and it’s first mega update (3.10.1) will come on Oct 16, 2013.
The other thing I want to clarify is that Fedora 20 supports more desktops (ie KDE 4.11) than GNOME. However because of the connection between a company (Red Hat Inc), a Project (Fedora Project) and a Foundation (GNOME Foundation), Fedora releases are mostly well known as GNOME ones.
10 Years of Fedora
Fedora releases come out every 6-months, therefore version 20 is a kinda special release as it celebrates the 10 years of Fedora. Fedora Project officially born Sept. 22, 2003 as a successor of Red Hat Linux which withdrawn in 2004.
Fedora unlikely to Red Hat Linux, don’t offer an official support (there isn’t a demand anyway), but you might find commercial support from independent companies.
By the way except of 10 years of Fedora, GNU (GNU Not Unix!) also celebrates its 30th anniversary! Yeap, there have been 30 years (Sept. 27, 1983) since Richard Stallman publicly announced GNU Operating System.
Fedora Distro or just Fedora?
What is operating system? Is the Linux (aka the kernel)? Is the Linux together with GNU tools? Is the Linux together with GNU tools plus a display server and a desktop environment? The question seems to be as much sensitive as the differences between Open Source and Free Software are.
Fedora is known as just Fedora and not Fedora Linux, but is also known as a Linux Distribution. I guess they call it Linux Distribution cause they ship Linux Kernel, which is the actual Operating System. A more general term is the Linux Desktop.
Canonical’s Ubuntu was the first Linux Distro that dared to throw away the “yet another Linux Distro” stereotype and they proudly said “We created the best Operating System, just Ubuntu”!
On Fedora case things are more clear. They (Red Hat, Fedora, GNOME) create almost everything (Kernel, Display Server, Desktop, Drivers) so they don’t really distribute anything that’s not theirs. So in my opinion, Fedora isn’t a Linux Distro but an independent free operating system. Don’t get that wrong. There are many many people and organizations that contribute indirect in Fedora, that aren’t members of Red Hat, or Fedora or GNOME.
Despite the fact that Fedora creates more software than Canonical, their distro isn’t considered as solid as Ubuntu. This is what Fedora 20 (and GNOME) is trying to change. But more things will come on their next releases.
Is Fedora 20 a Linux Desktop? Fedora has announced that their will support ARM as their primary architecture together with i686 and x86_64 arches. That means that by next year, you will be able to run Fedora and GNOME (hopefully with multi-gesture support) in your ARM devices.
Traditionally Fedora can give a double user experience. It can be really good, it can be totally unusable. It is very common to suffer from a Fedora bug, that will ruin everything. Usual cases: a broken wireless driver, buggy Graphic Drivers etc.
Personally I have those 2 issues in both F19 and F20. Kworker (a kernel process) sometimes use full CPU and make the system unresponsive for 10-15 secs. Since this is a Kernel Bug, I guess more Distros are affected from it.
The other bug (known bug), is that mouse cursor gets invisible (but still working!) when you login from GDM to GNOME Shell, and you have to logout-login to fix it. Those kind of small bugs are giving Linux a bad name and you have to submit bugs, because at least in case of GNOME, if a bug isn’t on Bugzilla it won’t get fixed, no matter how obvious is it.
I am missing screenshots here because 3 times I’ve tried Anaconda (Fedora’s installation manager), I’ve seen many differences. I imagine they still work on it and at the moment it has serious bugs that can make Fedora 20 installation impossible.
However its design looks like pretty much as Fedora 19 and it still has an unnecessary complex way for creating partitions. It’s like they’re trying to make it look cool by sacrificing usability.
On the other hand, they provide LVM and encrypted partitions and Fedora is the leading distro on such stuffs. I’ve got many disks with many OS and formats, and when I plug them to Fedora, it can discover everything and creates a really long Grub Menu. None other distro (at least a distro I’ve used) can’t do that. Really amazing work on that!
Fedora 20 Tech Details
There is a large set of Fedora changes in this latest release that greatly improve user experience. For example the removal of Sendmail and Syslog Services lead to less footprint on disk and at runtime and give us faster boot times, which is always nice.
Another nice performance boost is when we launch applications. In my case in Fedora 19 when I was starting Nautilus, it was needing around 0.5sec, when in Fedora 20 needs around 0.2sec. It’s happening instantly like in Ubuntu 13.04, which I was impressed from it!
In general the whole GNOME is more responsive but I don’t know if this is a Fedora fix or a GNOME one. The bottom line is that Shell is noticeably smoother, except the times it gets bugged. At this time Fedora 20 provides Shell 3.92, but they will soon update to the latest 3.10.1.
There is also a Snapshot and Rollback Tool that will let us to save a current working system before we update. If update brakes our system, we will be able to revert on the previous state. Particularly useful for people that using Rawhide.
One of the highlights of Fedora 20 is also the new Software App, that let us install additional software in a human way!
GNOME Software is offered as a Tech Preview, and it will be completed on Fedora 21
Software App only includes Applications and not individual packages, therefore we still need to use the old tools. There is an older post with more details.
Fedora 20 once again pays attention in Virtualization and Web Development and from my experience Fedora is by far the most completed platform for creating web-applications. I know many people prefer Mac for writing web-apps, but Fedora goes the whole experience in a new level.
Unfortunately we can’t have Photoshop in Fedora and more unfortunately Open Source tools can’t replace Adobe’s Suite.
You can see all the new features of Fedora 20 at:
And once again Fedora Docs team provides an amazing change log wiki!
We are going to make a video with GNOME 3.10 and point out all the new features of GNOME 3.10, by next week, cause I missed the dates -I thought GNOME was releasing on October :/
The most significant change of GNOME 3.10 is the port under Wayland. Again I will make a detailed post another day and give instructions how to run it in Fedora 20 -if you already don’t’ know ;)
At this time Wayland Port is a Tech Preview and only useful for testing and filing bugs. Full support (with XWayland) is expected to come in GNOME 3.12 and Fedora 21.
GNOME Shell 3.10
Faster and more responsive, Shell 3.10 closes more than 100 bugs from 3.8. Shell never had any major complains and therefore it hasn’t get any major changes on workflow.
Shell has a new design on Application Folders plus they added paging. Paging helps in spatial memory (in what page my App is?) and is more useful in touch screens. Keyboard users will probably use the search entry for finding and launching apps.
Unified menu groups all the system setting in a single entry. Menus are dynamic and if available it will also display Battery, Bluetooth Wireless etc. User Name is gone, both for privacy reasons and for the space that it was consuming. Notice that the language layout uses its own entry.
A more completed System Area
Round buttons for accessing settings, lock the screen and shutting down. I think this is the first time that GNOME uses round buttons! I have missed the story behind and who designed them, but it looks good! More details you will find at Allan’s post “Feature Focus: GNOME 3′s New System Status Area“.
Lock Screen now features a different background from the actual desktop that you can set from Settings. There are also improvements on how notifications are displayed here, mostly useful for devices that we are used to lock and have them somewhere next to us ;)
GDM also has slightly changes on how we choose Session; and everything looks certainly better from 3.8.
Major improvements in almost any application, but the most significant change are new Header Menus introduced in GTK 3.10.
System Monitor is one of the Apps that switched to Header Menus
You can check more at official GNOME 3.10 release notes:
Even if 3.10 doesn’t have the huge changes of the previous versions, all this set of details and bug fixing leads to the most solid GNOME ever. And as off-record info, many GNOME developers consider 3.10, their best work so far. And it is!
Installing Fedora 20 Alpha
As long as you won’t face any bug in Anaconda, Fedora 20 alpha is totally usable. However you might get an update that will make the graphical interface un-bootable. The worst thing can happen is a broken X Server, because in this case is really hard to downgrade and you should wait for an update, that can take 3-4 days.
The secret here -at least for the guys that aren’t comfortable to restore a broken Fedora- is to update every few days and not every day, so you will reduce the risk.
If you can get a dual boot in your laptop, I reckon to try Fedora 20 because is really amazing release. But don’t install it as single operating system. It won’t be really cool if you have to submit an assignment in University and you get an unbootlabe PC the last day of the deadline :)
Before installing it check on known Bugs!