Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fedora 15 beta first impressions - aka mini review

First and foremost please remember THIS IS A BETA. There are going to be issues. However, I find myself more fixated with my issues with the GNOME 3.0 interface than anything else. I know Fedora HAD to move on and stay with the latest and greatest GNOME release. After all that is what is Fedora is known for (and the reason I prefer CentOS/RHEL for servers!). More on GNOME shortly.

My Fedora 15 beta test attempt is happening on real hardware. No virtual container. It's a Dell D630 laptop with 2GB RAM, a dual core Intel T7500 and dedicated nVidia G86M Quadro NVS 135M video card. WIFI is handled by the Broadcom BCM4312 802.11a/b/g chipset. Modest by today's standards.

Normally for laptops, I will do whole disk encryption using a kickstart file. This is just a plain, "select some defaults" and install test. Install worked without issue (as expected). In fact, installs have been very easy for a long to the point of being almost boring. Really just a few clicks and I was done.

Start-up for Fedora 15 beta is very fast. Though not timed, the perceived boot time difference from Fedora 13 to Fedora 15 seemed significant. More specially, Fedora 15 boot time is faster. If I get bored, I may consider actually install Fedora 13 or 14 again just to time the boot-to-login screen time. Many people dig that.

Initially, I was interested in how the nouveau video driver was going to handle my Quadro NVS 135M. Not a real common chipset. The former nv driver has woefully inadequate to say the least. The install and/or nouveau found the LCD SVGA+ 1440x900 without any problems. For any other NVIDIA installation, I would get the kmod-nvidia drivers or the official NVIDIA driver installed as quickly as possible. I'm going to stick it out with nouveau for now. No urgent video need to bail just yet. Not a big compiz fan, however, so that's off.

The install found my wireless card (Broadcom model BCM4312 a/b/g) without any issue. I was able to see AP's in the area. It's nice to see this, "just work". However, wifi passphrase didn't seem to work for some reason. I had to put in the hex key instead in order to connect to the test wifi router. In addition, getting connected to an access point seems to take several seconds longer that with Fedora 13 and GNOME 2.30.

Now for the BIG CHANGE... GNOME 3.0! Not sure if it's Fedora's ruff edges on this beta or my shear newness with GNOME 3.0, but wow it's hard to get used too. Don't get me wrong, a window manager that stays out of your way is good! But one that you can't figure out how to change (yet)?! I was kinda overwhelmed with the Activities and trying to guess under what category a program would be under. Select all and just keep looking. All I wanted to do was fix my touchpad issues. Need to middle click paste with the double mouse button touch pad on the Dell? Can only use the bottom set of buttons... Not sure why yet. I've gotta tell you I use middle mouse/double mouse button paste A LOT as my typing speed and skill is not the best. Also, spent 10 minutes trying to figure out if I could get System Monitor back on my screen or CPU scaling info... and never did...

My solution, at the moment, to GNOME 3.0 is to run LXDE instead! Thank goodness for choice at this time. My frustration rate is high GNOME and back to basics is good. I will likely make more attempts to use the new GNOME, just not tonight.

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