Linux Distribution Review: Fedora 17

Fedora is often labeled a geek or developers distribution, maybe because each new version contains something innovative, or a bit too new? In 17, Fedora have decided to tidy up a file system quirk in /usr, improve kernel virtualisation and head in to the cloud with openstack. They were hinting at an adaptive firewall and btrfs file-system option, but that won’t happen until Fedora 18.

Installation

Although I have gone back to KDE since 4.8 came out (I have never been a fan of Gnome) I decided to go for the default 17 (Gnome) install. To make the test interesting, I installed on an old Packard Bell tower with 1.5Gb of ram and an old Radeon graphics card.

The install went well taking about 30 minutes. However, after rebooting Gnome 3 would not start, so the system defaulted to a ‘fall back’ version of Gnome 2. I was able to get a basic look at the Gnome 3 system by running the command ‘gnome-shell –replace’.  Gnome shell is certainly different from what I could see and looks nice but will require a bit of a learning curve.

For the old PC I was using Fedora 17 (Gnome ) was not happening, so I decided to install the KDE spin.

In Use

The KDE 4.8 spin installed without a hitch and just worked, including desktop effects. I am using Linux Mint 12 KDE on my main PC so was familiar with the 4.8 KDE desktop.

After the usual 200 updates which takes longer than the install, I found the Fedora 17 KDE version light and responsive. Didn’t like the updated Koffice apps (sorry guys) and I don’t think the theme is much to look at. If KDE SC is weak in one area it’s its look. Sure, you can make KDE look nice but there isn’t much to choose from.

There are a reasonable number of decent applications installed as standard but my main reason for not using Fedora as my main system is Yum- in other words, RPM package management.

Maybe someone that reads this can tell me where I am going wrong but I just cannot find a way to get an rpm package manager like Yum to work in the same way as Debian’s Apt.

For instance if you install package ‘foo’ with yum you do: ‘yum install foo’, with apt it’s: ‘apt-get install foo’, so far so good. Both systems will install ‘foo’ and any dependencies that the package has-which may mean yum or apt will install another 10 dependency packages so that ‘foo’ will work.

Now we come to the nub of the matter. What happens if I want to remove ‘foo’? I don’t want to just remove ‘foo’ I want all it’s dependency packages to be removed as well. With apt it’s ‘apt-get –purge autoremove foo’ with yum, yes how do you do this with yum? The only way I could get yum to act like apt was to use the ‘history’ argument.

To get a list of yum history you would do ‘sudo yum history list’, from that you can find the id number for the ‘foo’ install. Then do ‘sudo yum history undo 59’ -the point being that ‘foo’ install was id 59 and now yum will ‘undo’ everything it did to install foo and remove all it’s dependencies. I found myself keeping notes of id numbers for packages I had installed which is a pain in the bottom compared to the simplicity of apt-get.

Conclusions

Fedora 17 is a good distribution and you get a solid system with up to date packages. The Gnome version looks like it only works on recent hardware where the KDE version is more robust and works on just about anything.

I must admit, I have always found Gnome to be buggy and it has never ‘just worked’ like KDE has. But there is something about Gnome 3.4, it looks very nice and I like the idea behind gnome shell. If they can just get it to work properly they could be on to a winner.

Fedora are a bit quirky about what applications they put on the install iso, but a quick look around for a ‘post install’ guide will explain how to activate rpm fusion and get sound, video and flash working properly. In other words, some thing won’t work straight out of the box like Linux Mint, but then again you get innovative and incremental improvements in Fedora that make it worth the hassle. In addition, Fedora packages are always up to date with the latest stable release.

If I can just find a simple way to use Yum package management I might give Fedora a go in a few months when they release 18.

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5 thoughts on “Linux Distribution Review: Fedora 17

  1. You should look at Kororaa. It is a Fedora remix and the Gnome version includes Cinnamon which works better than Gnome.

    My preferred Fedora would be the Xfce spin. It is fast and light. I used to be a KDE fan but find it is just getting slower and less reliable.

    BTW you can do yum remove foo but it will remove ALL the dependencies, not just the ones it installed, and can stop other things working.

    • Hi Jim,
      I used to use Fedora xfce spin but KDE has become stable since 4.8, it’s also pretty responsive, not sluggish at all. I would use Fedora kde spin instead of Mint but it’s that Yum problem-I don’t want the package manager to remove everything including the entire desktop system just because I want to remove one package. As I mention the only way to emulate apt-get is to use the ‘history’ parameter.

      Cheers,

      desktopdave

      • Hi Dave

        That’s interesting because my experience has been the opposite. I found KDE 4.8 initially good but then it would crash after running for a few days. Xfce has been rock solid.

        I must admit I dislike the trend of KDE to make so much part of KDEPim. I used to use kjots but now to get it I have to install all the pim apps and it hides the data. I think KDE is losing the plot lately.

        With your yum issue, it can be done by using rpm not yum. Rpm has a –nodeps option that only remove the listed package(s). I think apt v yum is something that will always exist unless someone comes up with a package manager that handles both. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and no doubt both will improve. Apt is available for Fedora but the reports are it doesn’t work well, still a project in development I guess.

        Jim

      • Hi Jim,

        The central point I was making about Apt v Yum is that, if you install a package and dependencies are also installed, you can just instruct apt to remove that package and it’s deps along with it. With rpm and yum, you can use the history argument but you need the id number of the yum operation-using ‘rpm -e –nodeps’ is going remove a package leaving any deps behind! You can’t keep your system clean like that.

        As for KDE 4.8, I don’t know what versions you have used because this is the version that most critics agree is rock solid and actually works now. There is no argument about KDE 4.0 to 4.7, those versions were buggy as hell and crashed all the time-it’s why a lot of people left KDE for XFCE.

        I really liked XFCE4 but if you have good processor and few gigs of ram, you can use KDE 4.8 without noticing any speed difference and you get all the benefits of a more advanced desktop environment.

        Cheers,

        David

  2. How about: man yum.conf.
    You would find: clean_requirements_on_remove
    if you put it in yum.conf, you achive what you want.

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