Fedora 26 Released
Itâ€™s been a number of years since I sat down and gave Fedora a spin; Iâ€™ve always leaned more towards some of the other distributions out there with features that more suited my style. However, with the release of Fedora 26 I thought perhaps I should give the very popular and powerful distribution itâ€™s due diligence and see how it runs.
Fedora is the upstream source for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and therefore is quite powerful by its very nature, and would be well suited to home users and server usage alike. Fedora is also known for what we call â€œBleeding Edgeâ€ packages, which means in more simple terms that Fedora tends to use the absolute newest packages and features available for GNU/Linux Operating Systems.
This has both positives and negatives; such as always having the latest in technologies and features, but at the cost of potentially breaking your system, running into conflicts with other packages, etc.
One thing that I absolutely loved about the installation of Fedora was not actually even the installation itself, but rather the creation of the LiveUSB. Upon visiting the Fedora website and selection that I wanted the â€œWorkstationâ€ version, I was presented with a download for the â€œFedora Media Writerâ€ for Windows (I was on my Windows Partition at the time.)
Selecting this I found that the tool was extremely straightforward, it downloaded the ISO for me, and then all I had to do was insert my USB drive and click a button before, presto, the Live USB was made automatically. Granted itâ€™s not hard to make a LiveUSB of a Linux Distro, but Iâ€™m all for the automation and ease of use!
Installation itself however was quite straightforward and painless. The graphical installer was simple, easy to navigate and fairly quick for the duration of the installation. The Installer now uses a new partitioning tool called Anaconda, and I am a fan right off the bat.
Inside the OS
Once I booted into Fedora I was greeted with the familiar GNOME Interface, which is now running GNOME 3.24. I was surprised with how barebones the system was by default however, typically when I install most distributions that arenâ€™t super minimalist systems like Arch Linux, I am faced with a lot of bloat, more applications than I will ever use, etc. Fedora on the other hand came with the essentials and nothing further; a pleasant surprise I must say.
Fedora is also running GCC 7 for compilation, Golang 1.8 (Go is a programming language created by Google that is becoming more and more active in the programming world) as well as Python has been updated to 3.6.
I spent a little bit of time poking around and messing with Fedora and I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth, easy to use, and problem free my trial run was; albeit itâ€™s hard to find issues after only a couple of hours of use. I personally wouldnâ€™t really recommend it for someone who just wants an â€œInstall and goâ€ Operating System loaded with a thousand bells and whistles and applications for everything under the sun.
However, if you want a powerful system, bleeding edge packages and updates, and the knowledge that you are using a system that helps to form likely the most popular and powerful commercial server / enterprise system in the GNU/Linux world, then give Fedora 26 a try!
How about you? Have you used Fedora or do you currently? What are your thoughts on the new release?
What’s missing in Fedora is a spirit.
One thing i dislike about most recent Gnome distros is the lack of compatibility with some extensions like the one to autohide top panel. Sure, they’ll eventually get updated but in this day and age, you’d think they’d have that issue down pat. After all, if Firefox is heading for web extensions, it’s to avoid this issue of incompatibility right?
I use Hide Top Bar and it works just fine for me https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/545/hide-top-bar/. Things are definitely getting better in the compatibility; a few releases ago GNOME decided to stop checking for versions with the assumption that most extensions *should* just keep working, and that’s been my experience for the past year or so too.
Try Taskbar by zpydr. It has some great features. It might even obsolete the extension you mentioned.
On thing to note on the “batteries included” vs minimalism comment — take a look at the Software application, because while there isn’t a ton installed by default, a huge amount of software is readily available.
I’ve been using the KDE spin of Fedora for a long time as I don’t like Gnome. It’s an excellent distro, and the system-upgrade to v. 26 was absolutely hassle-free.
Regarding Mike’s statement:
“…such as always having the latest in technologies and features, but at the cost of potentially breaking your system, running into conflicts with other packages, etc.”
So far this hasn’t happened to me. It seems that updates are very thorougly tested. I had considerably more problems with Arch Linux.
I appreciate hearing about your experience with Fedora KDE, especially in regard to update-induced breakage. I’m a little worried about how much KDE is going to bog down my relatively weak machine, but it will be interesting to see whether Fedora KDE is slower and laggier than Chapeau (Gnome). I intend to check it out. I can tolerate Gnome if I have to, but as a Windows refugee, I sure don’t enjoy it.
I’ve been running Chapeau Linux 24 as a VirtualBox guest for several months. Chapeau is a customized offshoot of Fedora that (I believe) is intended to make multimedia and gaming as hassle-free as possible. I haven’t actually used it very much other than to see whether updating ever breaks it, as it is fairly demanding on hardware and resources and I’m running it on an older, middle-of-the-road ThinkPad. It’s definitely on the laggy, slow side on my computer.
My observations are:
* There are at least some VirtualBox issues. The installed-applications menu stopped displaying correctly after a VirtualBox update (including guest extensions), and I ended up having to install a different menu utility (which works fine).
* It gets very frequent OS updates, and these require a restart to install. On my computer and in VirtualBox, at least, Chapeau’s start-up process alone takes almost five minutes. Additionally, post-update restarts often hang at a blank screen (probably another VirtualBox issue). When that happens, the virtual machine has to be forcibly closed (“aborted”), but the subsequent clean start has always gone smoothly.
* Despite the frequent bleeding-edge updates, the system has yet to be borked outright. But again, I don’t actually use it much because it is so laggy and slow on my computer, so it’s quite possible there are problems I’m unaware of.
* Gnome 3.2x is not remotely as friendly to Windows refugees as Cinnamon or even KDE are.
Out of some 12-15 distros I’ve tried in VirtualBox, Linux Mint Cinnamon is still the least alien, most hassle-free, but it’s quite conservative, and if it doesn’t fully support the next computer I get, I want to know what the alternatives are … which is why I tried Chapeau, as an exemplar of the bleeding-edge class. I should probably switch to Fedora, which I would assume is less resource-hungry, but I tried Chapeau instead because of some very positive reviews.
I’m still looking for a good rolling distro. PCLinuxOS KDE is familiar and has a long history of reliability, but I keep running into VirtualBox issues with it. (My first install got borked by a VirtualBox guest extensions update, and my most recent install won’t even start, apparently due to some kind of conflict between PCLOS’s and VirtualBox’s display servers that I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to fix.)
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this in gHacks before, but it bears repeating. As Windows 7 approaches end of life, I suspect there are going to be a lot of Windows users looking to jump ship. Distro publishers who want to capture these Windows refugees would be well advised to ensure that their distros work as smoothly as possible, with as little configuring, tweaking, and hacking as possible, in the most popular virtualization platforms. The number of potential converts swamps their existing user base, so they should make it as easy as possible for the potential converts to get their feet wet.
I notice your mentioning having a middle of the road ThinkPad. I’ve been running F25 with KDE Plasma Workspaces (on Wayland, just to add more fun) on an oldish T430 (i5-3320M, 16GB RAM, SSD, crappy iGPU) and it is plenty fast, easily matching Gnome/Wayland. If you take the pretty experimental Wayland integration out of the equation, you get massive stability boost (from solid beta to prod let’s say). I haven’t upgraded to F26 yet (want to start with a clean install of the KDE Spin directly), but from what I’ve read so far, I don’t expect perf problems. I’m a VMware WS user myself, so it’ll be interesting to see if that package has issues on F26 (works well on my Plasma F25). That’d be a deal breaker.
Mine’s a T510 from a couple of generations earlier (Core i5 520M, no discrete GPU, the max 8GB RAM, SATA II ports, mechanical hard drive). I know I’m pushing the hardware’s limits when I run distros like Chapeau or distros with KDE, especially in virtual machines, but I’m trying them out not just for my current machine, but for a more powerful future machine, as well. For that reason, I can tolerate subpar performance in some of my VMs. A much bigger problem has been that some distros have simply not worked well in VirtualBox.
“itâ€™s due diligence and see how it runs” ->
“its due diligence and see how it runs”
Neither do I. I switched from Windows to Linux many years ago and tried several desktop envronments but came always back to KDE.
That said, the Fedora development is focused on Gnome, and I remember a heated debate some time ago when users of other DEs felt discriminated. Anyways, the KDE spin is very polished thanks to the excellent work of Rex Dieter and his colleagues.
However, I don’t know if the needs and peculiarities of KDE are taken into consideration if it comes to, e.g., SELinux policy development or if it’s solely focused on the Gnome-based workstation edition.
Perhaps Matthew Miller can shed some light on this.
The SELinux policy is not limited to the GNOME desktop. The SELinux maintainers are extremely responsive to any report of policy error and generally have fixes out very quickly. Fedora also ships with a tool called the SELinux Troubleshooter which will help users of any Fedora system quickly identify when SELinux is the cause of unexpected behavior and make it easy to:
1) Report the error to the Fedora developers so it can be corrected
2) Usually it will provide easy-to-follow steps to loosen the policy to allow the action you were trying to accomplish.
Thanks, Stephen, that’s good to read! And yes, I’ve used the SELinux Troubleshooter several times.
Fedora KDE is the best distro I’ve found so far.
I’m downloading Fedora KDE right now and am anxious to try it out.
I just installed Linux Mint 18.2 “Sonya” (Cinnamon) in VirtualBox, and as with 18.1 “Serena” before it, installing the reference VirtualBox guest extensions (necessary for hardware acceleration) borked some of the Cinnamon Menu subcategories. Mint 18 “Sarah” was immune. Go figure.
And … VirtualBox guest extensions wouldn’t install correctly in Fedora 26 KDE. The installer said the virtualbox service couldn’t be set up, or something like that, and that I should check the log, so I guess I’ll have to do that at some point. I sure hope that trying to fix VirtualBox compatibility problems in Linux guest machines teaches me some skills that will carry over to a bare-metal install. So far, I don’t recall it’s ever worked, i.e., if a distro didn’t work well with VirtualBox out of the box — well, after installing the guest extensions — I couldn’t get it to work well after applying various suggested fixes. But then again, I’m a Linux noob.
I finally got the VirtualBox guest additions working in Fedora 26 KDE, by modifying and applying the instructions provided here:
It was a PITA and not a solution most non-geek Linux newcomers would bother finding and trying.
To get shared Windows folders to work, I had to add my username to the vboxsf (VirtualBox Shared Folders) group, as you have to do in every guest Linux distro. In Linux Mint Cinnamon, you can do it directly from the Users and Groups settings panel, which shows up in the Cinnamon Menu. In Fedora KDE, you apparently can’t get to a GUI means of doing it via the listings in the default menu. You have to search for the unlisted Kuser settings panel (by typing it when you have the menu open), provide the root password to load it, and join the group from that. (My eyesight’s getting worse and I strongly prefer idiot-proof GUIs to the typing-error-prone command line.) Again, this is not a solution a lot of Linux/KDE newcomers would take the time to find.
Apart from that, I installed Pale Moon using the Pale Moon for Linux Installer (pminstaller) from Pale Moon’s site. (I suppose I should have checked the repo first. I seem to recall that Pale Moon might have been available in Manjaro/Arch, but I don’t think it was in Chapeau/Fedora.) I imported (copied and pasted) my Firefox and Pale Moon profiles over from Windows; I haven’t imported my LibreOffice profile yet.
Using the the Cursor Theme settings panel, I previewed some additional themes and tried to install one via the panel, but it displayed as “installing” for a good fifteen minutes, switched to “loading one preview” indefinitely after that, and was never added to the list of locally available cursor themes. If I want a different cursor theme, I’ll apparently have to download and install it manually.
The Wallpaper settings panel doesn’t seem to have a built-in slideshow option, but I’m guessing that might be a hidden setting or available via an add-on.
Otherwise, Fedora 26 KDE looks nice and seems to work fine in VirtualBox, although I’ve hardly put it through its paces. Even with KDE Plasma, I’d say it’s less laggy than Chapeau 24 (a resource-hungry variant of Fedora that uses Gnome 3.2x).
I’m still trying to figure out how to make PCLinuxOS (KDE Plasma) work in VirtualBox. Someone on Reddit recommended turning off 3D acceleration in the VirtualBox machine settings for all distros using KDE 5. That doesn’t seem to have worked, but I may have precluded that by trying a different solution earlier on (switching … display servers?). I may have to reinstall with 3D acceleration left off from the start.
And I still haven’t figured out how to restore the several subcategories in the Linux Mint 18.1 and 18.2 Cinnamon Menu that stopped populating after VirtualBox Guest Additions were installed. Sigh.