Fedora 18 is finally released! We have waited for this release for a long time, and it is finally out :). It brings many features, some of which I’ve already talked about. I’m going to write my own review of it, and like always I’ll talk about both interesting points and the important or annoying issues I had with it. As it might be long, I decided to divide my review to 2 or more parts, and the first part is what you are (probably!) reading. Typing Booster
Fedora 18 comes with many features which could be attractive for different types of users. Probably one of the most visible ones is the new installer UI feature which brings a totally new look and feel to Anaconda (Fedora Installer). I’ll talk about the new installer later. SecureContainers allow you to run applications/services in an isolated environment secured by SELinux. Typing Booster continues the work started in Fedora 17 and supports many languages (including Persian!). It provides a kind of predictive text input feature to GNU/Linux Desktop. And since IBus is integrated to GNOME 3.6 in Fedora 18 too, using the typing booster is as simple as adding the predictive layouts (which have ‘hunspell’ in their names, like “Persian – IR (Hunspell)” to the list of Gnome keyboard layouts and using the default Gnome key shortcuts to use it.
Another useful feature is System Storage Manager(SSM), which is designed to be a single interface to manage different kinds of storage devices, like traditional partitions, LVM, etc. This is really useful since currently you should learn different tools for each of them separately, which is not that pleasant. When I found that some features have been removed from parted, I felt that I need something like SSM more than ever!
The RealHotSpot feature lets you run a true access point if your wireless card and driver supports. With DragonEgg plugin you can use LLVM’s optimizer and code generators with GCC, which is interesting for developers. Firewalld feature is now more complete in Fedora 18, with support for firewall zones (different firewall settings for different networks). I wonder if NetworkManager can distinguish between different wired networks too, but it would be great if it does (it can do that using the domain name returned by DHCP server, if exists!). And only if it supports different proxy settings for different networks someday… :P.
Offline system updates is another feature, which is something I don’t like much specially if it happens most of the times (when a logout or even closing a single application would suffice!). This is one of the “features” that Windows already has, and I always hated SO MUCH. Fortunately, I usually update using yum, and I hope that it will never enforce offline updates!
Other interesting (in my point of view!) features of Fedora 18 are Active Directory support, DNF package manager, Boost 1.50, Cinnamon and MATE desktop environments, LTTng 2.0, SecureBoot, Samba 4, Syscall Filters, Live Snapshots for Qemu, new version of desktop environments, new version of many programming languages, and Network Team Driver. Like recent releases, Fedora 18 comes with a number of features related to Cloud and Virtualization technologies. Like always, it brings many interesting new technologies with itself.
But, is Fedora 18 all about improvements? Nope, there are annoying problems here and there and I’m going to write about them too. However, certainly the first thing someone should read about Fedora 18 problems is its Common Bugs Page.
Fedora 18 Gnome and KDE Live ISOs no longer fit in a CDROM, and should be used with DVD or flash disks. Also, Fedora 18′s installation DVD (which is my favorite option) is considerably larger and almost completely fills a DVD disk (which is not good news for my Fedora remix, Parsidora). Surprisingly, the DVD also lacks a number of software available in previous versions: it doesn’t include full VIM packages, and not even Thunderbird email client. I wonder if they are all intentional, but I hope they come back in Fedoar 19 DVDs!
Anaconda, the Fedora installer, looks totally different in Fedora 18. Anaconda has always been an advanced installer, and I really liked it. And with a new UI, it now looks good too. However, I should admit that I like some of the mockups much more, specially these mockups with blue theme: user configuration, time and location setup screens, and language and keyboard selection screen. I wonder if they are abandoned or planned for future, but I hope for the latter!
First, you are presented with Language selection screen, and then the network configuration screen. The language selection screen now shows the language names in English and localized forms which are constant regardless of the selected language, which is a good thing since you won’t get lost if you accidentally click on a random language like in previous Fedora releases. Then, the main screen is shown from which you can configure everything:
And when you are ready, you can start the installation.
Based on the selected language, anaconda will choose a timezone and also keyboard layouts for you. It also configures Alt+Shift for switching between different layouts (if you have not selected to use the local keyboard layout as the default one and there are more than one enabled layouts). Which was just what I wanted! However, after the installation I realized that things are not THAT good!
The first problem is that Anaconda assumes that your system clock shows UTC time, not the local time. And it doesn’t let you change it, since the UI for it has been removed in the new design. Previously, anaconda not only presented a checkbox for us to select if the system clock shows UTC or local time, but it usually could detect the correct settings; non of which works in Fedora 18. I’ve reported this bug, but unfortunately the fix is going to land for Fedora 19. The bug and possible solution is documented in the common bugs page I already mentioned.
The second problem is about keyboard layouts, but it is not related to Anaconda or even the first boot configuration wizard. I’ll talk about it in the next part of my review, but you can read about it here and also in common bugs page.
Selecting the installation source now can happen inside the main screen of Anaconda, rather than some text mode screens which were not even visible by default if you were using local installation media. It is now much more convenient to use, and also can better present this useful feature of Anaconda which some other installers lack.
Software selection screen is also changed, and actually changed in a way I really don’t like (at least the current state of it). First, it does not let you choose more than one desktop environments. Second, and probably more important, in many cases it doesn’t let you choose your own desktop environment at all! Consider the above screen shot. If you select the “Minimal Install” option, you can even select Fedora Eclipse, Libreoffice or even Development Tools, but you cannot select the desktop environment you’d like to work in! The same thing happens if you select other options like “Web Server”. Or suppose that you are going to setup a development workstation using KDE. What should you select? A number of development categories are only available if you select “Development and Creative Workstation”, but you cannot select KDE Desktop environment. And if you select KDE, you can not select your development categories like MySQL Development. Therefore, software selection screen really sucks. You cannot select the software you want, so you should probably select KDE Desktop environment, and install development packages manually after installation. Which is far from an ideal software selection method in an installer.
Finally, I discovered a few bugs in Anaconda, but I was unable to report it. Why? Because new anaconda no longer lets you store its bug report in a file to be reported later, and it only can report it online. What if you don’t have an internet connection when you are installing using Anaconda, or if you don’t remember your bugzilla’s username and/or password? Just throw out the report and back trace, anaconda developers don’t want it! And this is exactly what I did since my Anaconda was not online. In previous versions, I usually saved the report in a file and copied it to a removable device and reported it later.
Update: As Adam mentioned, the traceback is already available in /tmp/ directory, so it is possible to switch to virtual terminal and copy the file to a device manually during installation. Only the UI is no longer available since it is automatically saved there.
OK! I think it is more than enough for now.
Have fun using Fedora 18!