Fedora 18: Beuatiful, but Buggy
For the last month or so, I have been using Fedora 18 for my home computing and I thought I would share my observations and oppinions about it.
For the most part I like it. This release was a long time coming because of some big changes to the installer. The installer is still rough around the edges. It isn't quite as straight forward as the Ubuntu installer or even older versions of Fedora's installer. I remember telling the installer to use the whole disk, attempted to start the installation, and being give some manner of error message. I'm no stranger to difficult installations of Linux. I remember having to manually partition and format hard drives back in 1999, but most linux distributions I've tried since 2005 are pretty straighforward so I was a little disspointed by the hoops I had to jump through to get it installed.
Once it was installed, everything seemed to be ok, but applications took a long time to load. I have an SSD on my computer so I'm pretty accustomed to quick load times. When the terminal application takes 10 seconds to load you know something is wrong. I installed the available updates and that seemed to help. Fedora's new update method is similar to Windows where the machine will restart and boot into a special update mode and then reboot again. I'm actually not a fan of that. I know the benefits, but it just feels clunky. Plus after it reboots and installs the updates, Fedora still complains that it couldn't install all of the updates. No amount of rebooting seems to make the updates install so I have taken to using yum at the commnad line whenever I need to install updates. That seems to be the only way I can get everything to install properly.
Installing third party repositories has also been difficult with this release. Normally, when I wand to install Chrome or Adobe Flash, I just download the .rpm, double click it, enter my password, and let Fedora take care of the rest. In Fedora 18, everytime I try to install a third party repository, I keep getting errors about unsigned certificates and it refuses to install. I understand they are trying to improve security, but most people that use Linux, let alone Fedora Linux, know what they are doing. I don't need my hand held and told that I might be installing bad software.
Copying large files is another area where I have had issues. I run Windows 7 in a virtual machine. The virtual disk file is several gigabytes. Whenever I tried to copy it form my server over NFS, the GUI would crash and force me to reboot. I don't know if this is a bug in the NFS client or Gnome, but it sucks either way. I think I just ended up copying the file over SCP.
I'm also little dissapointed by how much Gnome is dumbing down the UI. They are trying to hard to make it touch friendly. Nobody will ever ever ever ever ever use gnome on a tablet. I think this is totally foolish. I don't mind stripping away the cruft on a desktop, but taking away the logout option by default is silly. Not letting users have all 3 power off options by default is silly. Taking away functionality in the file browser is silly. Dumbing down the System Settings is silly. I normally like spartan minimalism, but I don't like my options being reduced.
Overall, I give Fedora 18 a C-. It's usable, but it's been incredibly buggy for a modern Linux distribution. I hope they change the way system updates are handled, and I hope they improve the installer so I dont' have to get on Google to figure out how to install an OS. This is the first time in awhile I have been tempted to downgrade just to get some stability back.