A new Fedora is always a big deal, as the Linux distribution is known for being on the bleeding edge of free and open-source software and technology, coming with the best and brightest the extended community has to offer. Fedora 18 may have had a bit of a bumpy ride to the finish line, but the longer wait hasn’t hampered the quality of the release at all. Any quality problems are mainly down to GNOME 3.6, but we’ll get to that.
Like we mentioned in our review of the beta, the new installer is a wonderful, minimalist designed app that allows for quick installations with decent default settings, and a more advanced set-up if you have some specific requirements. It also starts copying and installing while you finish up with root passwords and such, similar to how the Ubuntu installer works. While there’s not always much to do after the actual installation starts, it’s a step in the right direction to streamline the installation process. It also has the standard post-reboot user set-up that we also saw in Fuduntu this issue, which is good for OEMs and Sysadmins, and doesn’t really slow down the process for desktop users. The actual installation itself is a little slower than we’d like, but it won’t keep you waiting for too long.
It’s after all this that you’re put straight into an updated GNOME environment – GNOME 3.6. We’ve aired our grievances in previous issues about this latest version of GNOME, about how it slows down workflow in favour of being touch and keyboard friendly. Luckily, it’s at this point that you can start installing any number of other desktop environments, such as KDE, XFCE, or newcomers Cinnamon and MATE. Now that both of these are native to the repos, they definitely look a lot better than previous implementations on Fedora 17, with fonts being cripser on Cinnamon, and MATE gaining the ability to look a lot more like a modern desktop. Red Hat has a big stake in GNOME, same as Fedora, so it’s not surprising that it still shows up as the main desktop choice. It would be nice though to have more available spins though.
There’s a bit of an update to the default app selection as well, and while nothing has really changed that’s not related to the system settings, the Fedora Project have at least added the LibreOffice suite to the starting selection. While it’s a minor thing, it’s a nice addition. On the system tools side, the package manager, updater, etc, are all now part of the same generic Software app. This is not accessible by typing update or updater into the search bar, and in GNOME 3.6 the drop down menu to access the graphical updater is a little hidden. It’s easier to just use YUM to update the systrem.
The Fedora devs also thought it noteworthy to mention the inclusion of a new command line tool, System Storage Manager. This simple package available in the repos can do some basic partition management, as well as checking partitions for errors and such. It’s a nice little tool, perhaps more suited to headless servers or working from the command line.
Otherwise, it’s got the standard package and security updates, a move to Linux kernel 3.6.y, and is still a great operating system for desktop, server, or the cloud.
Fedora 18 is a minor but important improvement over Fedora 17, and the new desktop environment choice is great for desktop users, especially with the inclusion of a default GNOME 3.6. It’s just as slick, up-to-date and free as ever, and well worth the update