In my previous post, I talked briefly about Fedora 18 features and then reviewed the new installer. Now, lets review the installed OS.
After reboot, grub will be loaded. Finally, grub2 has received some love from the artwork team and you’ll see a graphical Grub2 menu rather than the black and white text menu of previous releases.
After selecting Fedora, plymouth will appear with the same animation of recent releases. I really hope to see some fresh animation in the next Fedora release.
Now, FirstBoot wizard appears and let you do some initial setup like creating users and setting up date and time. In this stage, the keyboard layout switching configuring during installation is active and usable. Therefore, I can write my full name in Persian.
Login Screen (GDM)
GDM appears now. It looks good, but maybe it could get a little more colorful. And it is the first point in which you realize that keyboard layouts doesn’t work as expected any longer. As I mentioned in the installer review, keyboard layout switching does not work out of the box. FirstBoot is the last time that it works fine. GNOME doesn’t honor systemwide settings about keyboard layout switching, therefore you can’t change the layout in GDM or Gnome session with the keys you’ve setup in Anaconda. While Gnome has added a (wrong) layout (while ‘ir’ layout is configured in X, I see ‘af’ layout in Gnome), it has not configured any keys for changing the layout. Unfortunately, this bug is not limited to Gnome: Cinnamon which uses the same backend as Gnome, follows its behavior. KDE also doesn’t honor systemwide settings created by Anaconda. KDE has also added the same wrong layout as Gnome, and you cannot change layouts using keyboard shortcuts too. It might be because of GDM though (Not sure but it might change XKB settings too).
I logged in into my Gnome 3.6. The first thing to do is to install a number of missing packages. Specially due to the new limited package selection method in Anaconda, there are many missing stuff. I install Thunderbird, liferea, KDE and Cinnamon desktops. I usually like to see what different desktops provide, and considering current Gnome development direction I might consider switching to another desktop more seriously. Anyway, I also install TeXLive. And while it is not announced as a Fedora 18 feature, it really is! Fedora was shipping TeXLive 2007 for years, including Fedora 17. It is a long time that there is a feature in Fedora wiki to update Fedora’s TeXLive stack to more recent versions, but it didn’t make it into Fedora because of both upstream packaging changes and more importantly, the legal problems discovered in TeXLive. You can see how much efforts it needed in its Fedora legal audit page. While the feature is not marked as completed yet, and not announced publicly, Fedora 18 now includes TeXLive 2012, which is great sine it provides many features not available in TeXLive 2007. It’s specially useful to write UTF-8 Persian TeX files using XePersian. For me, it is actually a great feature for Fedora 18!
Now, I’m in Gnome 3.6. It provides a number of new features. For example, new input sources implementation. It provides a number of great features, like the one I mentioned in part1 (typing booster). The message try no longer pops up as soon as your cursor reaches the hot corner, which is a good thing. The corner was really annoying in previous versions when you really didn’t want to see the tray but click something there. Now, you should press the mouse on the bottom of screen for awhile to bring up the tray (or Super+M) which is actually not very convenient, but probably better than before. Also, application menus are used more in Gnome applications, and now you really should now that you can use Super+F10 to bring them up using keyboard. New applications such as Boxes are also provided in this release. I tried Boxes only once (and a little in hurry), but I actually didn’t understand how to use it and controll different aspects of the virtual machine. I’d try again, but I might probably use VirtManager instead.
Some applications, like “Files” (nautilus) have changed a lot. Unfortunately, many features are removed! However, it has some nice new features too. To be honest, I did not used most of the removed features (however I know some people used emblems), and I almost like the new interface. But, there is something that doesn’t feel good in such ‘application menu’ oriented applications: closing them using mouse is not as easy as before, since you won’t see any close buttons. You should select the application menu, and then go for the exit menu entry. IMHO, closing should be more handy.
There are also changes in PackageKit package manager. Initially, I was unable to find the updates settings (I prefer to disable automatic update checking, as it could lock yum for a long time when I need it!). There was no entry in applications list for that. Finally, I find it: you should run “Software” application, open the application menu and select “Software Sources”. Yes, unexpected! And actually, you’ll be presented with Update Settings tab, while the actual Software Sources tab is hidden! The menu entry should be something like “Preferences” I think.
Another inconvenience is with the extensions, which is somewhat usual for ‘extensions’! Many of them doesn’t work in 3.6, and some of them have problems. For example, the places status indicator extensions sometimes fails to start.
As before, Gnome Tweak Tool will be needed by most users sooner or later (and this means that gnome standard settings UI sucks). Unfortunately, some options are no longer available there too! The one I’m concerned about is the settings related to laptop lid close behavior. I want the system to be suspended if I’m on battery, but doesn’t suspend when on AC. It is no longer possible to set it up in the tweak tool. You can disable the suspension completely in systemd-logind settings in /etc/systemd/logind.conf, but it is not what I want. I tried to fix it using the approach I mentioned in this bug report, but it didn’t work (while it should). Currently, it is possible to achieve that manually using systemd-inhibit command, but that’s ugly. I wonder why Gnome guys think they should decide for me. 😦 I’m a real fan of ‘flexibility’, and Gnome is apparently going in the opposite direction.
Finally, lets return back to keyboard layout switching again. It is the most broken part of Gnome 3.6, and apparently most of it won’t be fixed in 3.6. For Gnome guys, this might not be a huge consideration, but for Fedora, it should be. Since Fedora 18 users are going to use Gnome 3.6 for 6 or 12 months, and keyboard layout switching is a small but highly used feature. If these problems remain in Fedora 18 to the end, I will certainly consider Fedora 18 Gnome experience the worst desktop experience someone (which uses more than one keyboard layout!) might have in GNU/Linux world.
First, keyboard layout switching using shortcuts doesn’t work in many places: lock screen, password asking dialog (e.g. when you ssh), the overview mode and probably some other places I don’t remember. You should change the layout using mouse in these situations. Also, there are no convenient ways to define keyboard shortcuts for GDM. It doesn’t honor systemwide settings, and there are no GUI for setting GDM ones. There is probably some way, but that is not a solution!
Second (very annoying), the switching is SLOW. It seems that it has gotten better with recent updates, but initially, it was terrible. Sometimes it took SECONDS for the layout to be switched. And usually, a few milliseconds. Therefore, if you pressed the switching keys and started to type right after that, a few characters were typed using the previous keyboard layout. As I said, it seems that it is better now with latest updates, but still exists.
Third, if you want to use only modifier keys (e.g. Alt+Shift, Alt+Alt, Shift+CapsLock, etc) for layout switching, you should use gnome tweak tool. The main GUI doesn’t support them in 3.6.
Finally, two of my favorite features doesn’t exist/work. The first and more important one is to switch the layout while some key (e.g. CapsLock) is pressed. It is really useful when you want to write a single word or a few characters in the other layout. It doesn’t exist now. The other one is using a keyboard LED as an indicator. While tweak tool includes the possibility of defining an LED (e.g. CapsLock or ScrollLock leds) to show keyboard layout changes, it doesn’t work.
Well, I think it is enough for now. Fedora is certainly my favorite OS, but it can be much better. I generally like Gnome, but I might gave up working around its “feature removals” in future and switch to another DE and accept the costs of switching.
Update: Forgot to mention that new GTK is more beautiful, specially in Firefox!