Review: Fedora 18

This is my review of the KDE edition of Fedora 18, 64-bit version. After 3 reviews of their main release, I decided it was time to check out the KDE Spin edition. Fedora has several different “Spins”, produced to showcase desktops or emphasize scientific, design, gaming, or other focused interests.

Installation

Part of the reason why Fedora was delayed for 2 months was that they overhauled and rewrote their installation routine. I found it somewhat confusing. To be honest, I didn’t know that Anaconda needed an overhaul. It has always been a clear installer for me in the past. Here are a few screenshots showing the simplest install you can do – a full install with automatic partitioning on an empty drive. They are included only to illustrate the new look, there is a lot more to the process.

Selecting language when installing Fedora 18

Selecting language when installing Fedora 18

Before partitioning your disk

Before partitioning your disk

After creating your root password

After creating your root password

I didn’t screw up the installation (I normally dual boot Linux with a Windows 7 system on this laptop), however I did find that there were points where feedback could have been more clear, and I can see how someone with less experience installing Linux would not be confident of how to proceed.

Fedora, unlike Ubuntu and Linux Mint, uses a separate root password for administation.  After the main installation, the post-install setup lets you assign a user to the administration group, in which case they can use their regular password for installing new apps and performing other system tasks.

Features

Fedora 18 ships with KDE 4.9 and is what I call a “pure KDE” distribution. You do not start out with Firefox, the GIMP, or LibreOffice installed. The one browser is Konqueror, which I find adequate but not quite as good as Chromium or Firefox. For office work, you get 3 of KDE’s Calligra suite applications – Stage, Sheets, and Write (for presentation, spreadsheets, and word processing respectively). The Calligra Suite is an excellent set of programs but Write does have one drawback which might be a killer for some people: it cannot save in the .docx format, but only in the .odt one. So you can read MS Word files, but unlike LibreOffice, you can’t edit them and then save in the default format that Word is used to.

Fedora doesn’t seem to make any modifications to the way KDE is shipped;  the menu is in Application Launcher style and the initial appearance is this:

the initial look of Fedora 18 KDE edition

the initial look of Fedora 18 KDE edition

You start with only the 1 wallpaper; however, there are 2 extra groups of backgrounds that you can easily install from the repositories: kde-wallpapers and kdeart-wallpapers. I presume they were left out due to the rather large size of each (> 70 megabytes). You also have 1 desktop, although adding more is very easy, since the pager is already on the taskbar on the left side, next to the Activity Manager. This is in pleasant contrast to some KDE distributions that hide the pager initially.

Fedora ships with the 3.6 kernel, but after 2 weeks of updates it’s now 3.7.4.

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