Fedora Core 6 Released

After some rather clunky Test releases, buggy installers and 3 delays, Fedora Core 6 “Zod” is finally released!

The full list of features can be found on the FC6 Release Summary.

Please download using the official mirror list or through Bittorrent. The release notes give a comprehensive list of changes. There is also a Fedora Core 6 Tour with some media.

For more help I’ve create a page to explain to people on How to download Fedora Core.

I have not yet completed my Personal Fedora Core 6 Installation Guide but the current draft should help for people who plan to install immediately.

Fedora Core 6 Test 3 Released

The third and final beta for the upcoming Fedora Core 6 has been made available. Although typically reserved for more experienced testers, the test releases lately have been become more widely used. Improving the quality of the distribution.

The notable features in FC6-Test3 are:

  • Support for installation from multiple repositories at install-time, including access to Fedora Extras for network installs
  • GNOME 2.16.0 Final Release
  • KDE 3.5.3
  • An improved look and feel for various non-English languages thanks to a new default font
  • New desktop eye candy provided by the Compiz window manager using AIGLX
  • Notification of available software updates via notification bubbles
  • Improved startup performance of applications due to support for the DT_GNU_HASH linker option
  • Improved speed of various package management utilities
  • Further improvements in the Xen virtualization technology as well as the inclusion of a graphical application for creating and managing domains (virt-manager)
  • Increased usability of SELinux thanks to the integration of setroubleshoot which lets the user know when security denials occur
  • Integrated smart card capabilities
  • Improved X autoconfiguration to work better with LCDs and laptops
  • An improved version of system-config-printer to provide for easier and more powerful printer configuration
  • New artwork to provide a fresh new feel.

Looking over the test release new features, there are not many significant changes. Due to the massive problems encountered with FC6-Test2 I found the system incredibly unusable. Many of the problems involved powermanagement, the X-server and general instability. However the the improvements to the X autoconfiguration should hopefully resolve this. Additionally the Compiz window manager using AIGLX are currently not supported for Nvidia users. The driver changes to support this should be coming out soon (hopefully before FC6 Final).

Given the recent problems I’ve been encountering with FC5 and the test release, I’m really hoping the FC6 final will ship problem free. I won’t hold my breath.

Fedora Core 6 Test 2 Release

The second beta for Fedora Core 6 (FC6-Test2) is available for testers and users alike. While FC6-Test1 was made available last June, there was not a significant set of improvements over the FC5 release.

The notable issues in FC6-Test2 are:

  • All packages recompiled (minus Thunderbird)
  • Introduction of DT_GU_HASH, a far more efficient symbol lookup table for dynamic linking. Improves dynamic linking performance by up to 50%
  • Packages built with new build system based on Mock.
  • Ability to install from additional yum repositories during anaconda installations and kickstarts.
  • Functional Java applet plugin for Firefox due to gcjwebplugin. – Many Java applets should work out of the box.
  • A new default font, DejaVu, replaces Vera.
  • KDE 3.5.3 Desktop
  • Latest release of Eclipse IDE and framework.
  • Xen 3.0 Virtualization

While there does not seem to be a many significant changes, I am eager to see the changes in the installer (Anaconda) as well as the Java changes and system wide improvements. The rather slow state of FC5 has left me very dissatisfied.

More information regarding the official release time frame can be found on the Fedora Core schedule.

Fedora Core 5 Released

Fedora Core 5 “Bordeaux” is officially released! Please download using the official mirror list or through Bittorrent. The release notes give a comprehensive list of changes. There is also a Fedora Core 5 Tour with some media. Additionally there are some screenshots courtesy of OSdir.

As a warning to early adopters: Some issues in the kernel may require immediate updating (use yum) and the Gnome 2.14 has a great deal of odd behaviour. There are some installation notes to help (based on Test3, updates soon available). Please see my Personal Fedora Core 5 Installation Guide. Stanton Finley also hase some installation notes available, although a bit more than needed for a desktop, they are still a good resource. I imagine the fedora-list mailing list as well as the forum websites will soon start providing support.

An incremental review compared with FC5-Test3 will be available in a few days. Current focus will be to install and get things working first!

Fedora is a good distribution with many problems, but they won’t be fixed without more users! Please download, use and enjoy!

Fedora Core 5 Delayed

According to the Fedora-testing mailing list, Fedora Core 5 will be delayed till March 20.

Due to circumstances outside of our control, we’re going to be unable to keep to the scheduled date of March 15th for the release of FC5 and instead are going to have to make the release date Monday, March 20th. While unfortunate in some ways, this gives us the opportunity to pull in the final GNOME 2.14 tarballs which should be available on Monday assuming the changes are suitably minor.

Jeremy Katz

This is nothing too surprising and seeing as this is only 5 days, there is plenty of time for some finalizing improvements. Gnome 2.14 will be available Marth 15 and since the 2.13.4 beta is already in FC5-test3 I don’t imagine there will be drastic changes (although Gnome developers are a odd bunch).

This gives me more time to prepare for this release as well. My preliminary Personal Fedora Core 5 Installation Guide has been public for a few days now (comments appreciated).

Fedora Core 5 Test 3 Review

This is my personal basic evaluation of Fedora Core 5 Test 3 (FC5-test3). Since I had recently installed and tested FC5-test2, most of my observations will be based on the differences between these 2 beta releases. Upon initial investigation there are not significant changes since the last test release.

Installer

I installed using the ISO images on disk to a spare 8GB partition in the same way I did for FC5-test2. For the most part Anaconda (the installer) has not changed much from test2. The partitioning defaults were still the same and still rather quirky.

Installer: Software Selection

There has been a slight improvement in the package installation menu since test2. A simplified screen lets you just install the basics and skip all manual package selection if you so choose. The four basic included choices are: “Office and Productivity”, “Software Development”, “Web server” and “Virtualization Xen” (which is not selected by default). These may be over generalized groups, but should be adequate.

At first this may seem odd, but it makes perfect sense for those users who will either plan to run massive updates (thereby replacing most packages anyways) and also for people who plan to selectively add software as needed (ex: minimalistic server configuration). In any event I chose to manually select packages. The odd thing about Fedora is what is selected as defaults. The K Desktop Environment (KDE) option is not selected. Why? I always recommend new users try out both Gnome and KDE.

There is still neither Install Everything or a disk usage estimate – a really necessary option. From my very basic research, I do not think that these are trivial options. Since the installer has moved to yum based design, more work will have to be done to support what was originally available. In the end I used about 3.8GB.

Gnome provides a menu option Add/Remove Software directly from the Applications main menu. I was pleased to see this as many users had requested a simpler immediate way to install new programs. However this crashed everytime I ran it, the same thing happened when I ran pup directly. For whatever reason a reboot fixed this. Reminds me more of MS.

Again, the default services installed and running were unnecessary. I’ve noticed many new names since FC4 services. I plan to research and investigate each one before FC5 final to better understand what is necessary and what is new (or just cool).

Software Setup

The initial login screen was very polished. There was a cursor problem in test2 which is fixed with a shiny animated cursor that is very attractive.

As usual Gnome is the default installation. The login was quite speedy. They seem to have modified the menu layout yet again! Simple example: I want to open a terminal. Typically this is in the System Tools, but it was not there. No problem, I’ll use the Run dialog to launch either an xterm or a gnome-terminal. However the Run dialog is also missing!!! I did finally find the Terminal at the bottom of Accessories. Why? This reminds me of MS Windows putting the Command Prompt in Accessories. Go figure.

I tried the Beagle(?) Search app again, but it still would not run the daemon when selected.

Firefox 1.5 is available but I could not get the Flash plugin to work correctly. I know this is a problem with SELinux, however in my limited usage so far, I don’t find it useful to keep SELinux active. Although I tested everything against SELinux Enforcing Mode for most basic applications.

No major changes to KDE, which means it still looks odd. I played around with the Switch User option which as it turns out really does not have much to do with KDE. They simply lock the current session and create another login session on another console terminal (ex: Ctrl-Alt-F7 is standard, so the next user will be on Ctrl-Alt-F8). I’ve seen power users doing this for years.

Hardware Support

As always with every new distribution release a newer kernel is included which will typically improve support for most hardware.

I am having some serious problems with the Nvidia driver and have not got it to work at all. There has been quite a great of discussion on the fedora mailing lists regarding this issue. When investigating the driver, I noticed that the kernel-devel RPM places files in /usr/src/kernels instead of /usr/src. While this may sound like something inconsequential, I have personally seen over years how people tend to hard code values to known locations. (Correction: This has always been the case, normally I have the kernel source installed hence making the kernel headers unncessary).

Power management (ACPI) has slightly improved. If I try S3 (Suspend) the system goes to sleep properly, however when I wake up from S3 the video failed to re-initialize. This is actually a positive change from FC5-test2. Getting the video to work is only a matter of drivers and some tricks. Since I don’t even have the Nvidia driver working, I don’t know all of the possibilities. When I tried S3 after a reboot with SELinux disabled, the system woke up perfectly! When I ran command line S4 (hibernate), the system also works 100% perfectly as it did in FC5-test2. Finally a proper working suspend AND hibernate working out of the box from Redhat/Fedora release!

Hardware Support: Peripherals

My All-in-One Card Reader detected perfectly but worked differentely from both FC4 and FC5-test2. However I was able to the access both SD and Compact Flash but I have to double click on their icons first. Which is another nuisance with the mounting/automounting system. When I insert a data CD it does not show up automatically on the desktop, but it does for an audio CD. Of course this can all probably be modified, but these defaults seem rather odd for a new user.

Conclusion

For the most part important things changed mostly towards the right direction between test releases, however some quirks were only replaced with other quirks. Some things I know are more problems with the individual components (ie. odd Gnome characteristics) but even so the Fedora team should try harder for consistency.

For the most part I’m happy. I disagree with some of the decisions made as how to best improve this distribution, but I still find it highly useful and my primary desktop. The progress made since FC4 is mostly in the background (hardware, system, administration, etc.) so visually I do not feel much has changed, but almost everything works as I would expect — and many things much better than FC4.

As a beta release, FC5-Test3 seems like very solid release candidate. Granted there are many bugs and oddities to address but I think they are manageable. For the time being I will try to spend as much time as I can with this release to best prepare for FC5 and to create some useful personal notes for installation. I expect a draft in a week or two, but I still have lots to learn.

Fedora Core 5 Test 3 Released

The third and final beta release for Fedora Core 5 has been announced. The Bittorrent is available, however I don’t see the main FTP or any release notes available yet. (Other mirrors do work).

Highlights include:

  • Package selection within the installer has been reenabled.
  • Rebuilt again on later gcc4.1 snapshot for performance and security
  • Hibernate should be functional on a wide variety of hardware again
  • GNOME 2.13.4 development release and KDE 3.5 general release
  • Xen Virtualisation software and yum package manager are now well integrated within the Fedora installer. The installer interface is more streamlined. Remote logging and improved support for tracebacks is included.

FC5-test2 seemed to be moving in the right direction. For the most part things should not be much different, but even incremental changes can have serious effects.

I plan to thoroughly test this release, and update all my documentation and procedures to see how much things have changed. According to the schedule, we should see a final Fedora Core 5 on March 15.

Fedora Core 5 Test 2 Review

Using a template for distribution evaluation, I have installed and tested FC5-test2. Unfortunately since I did not install FC5-test1 due to installer limitations, I cannot compare this with test1. However, from what I’ve seen so far it seems much better than the poorly created FC4.

Installer

I chose to install using the install from ISO images on disk option (available via the linux askmethod boot option). I burned CD1 to a CD-RW and booted. I installed to a spare 8GB partition. Overall Anaconda (the installer) has been further streamlined with fewer options. The partitioning options seems a bit confusing, seeing as the default option is to “Remove all partitions on selected drives and create default layout.”. Not wise for the newbies (newbies should NOT be installing a Test Release). Another change was the firewall configuration and SELinux configuration were moved to the “firstboot settings”.

The SELinux configuration gave many more options with regards to specific parts of the operating system. I typically avoid SELinux due to the difficulty in managing it, but it seems the gui options are very welcome. However, I looked over many of the options and frankly a novice would find them very confusing and cryptic. As a single user desktop, I don’t see the significant added benefit to such a system.

Installer: Software Selection

The most significant (or insignificant) change was the altered package installation menu. There is no Install Everything option and due to the selection layout, may cause more people to miss some necessary packages. Additionally, there is no disk usage estimate. I’m sure this will be fixed in a future release, but it makes it hard to manage hard drive utilization. In the end I used about 3.8GB.

Overall the packages including resembled FC4 including Java and Eclipse (which I don’t use and prefer other installation sources).

The PUP installer for yum seems much worse than yumex, which exists in the Extras Repository but is not included in the standard install. Not sure why.

The services installed were incredibly unnecessary. There seem to be more than were in FC4. I don’t understand why things like bluetooth, cpuspeed or even isdn are enabled when all of these are hardware dependent. Most people will not support most of those. I’ve heard that the services and init system will probably be soon re-done. I can’t wait.

Software Setup

The login was typical as it has been for recent Fedora releases. I did notice both a Failsafe Gnome and a Failsafe KDE login option, which I’m sure will come in handy.

As usual Gnome is the default installation. During the first boot I made some additional basic setup options. I booted into GNOME 2.13.4 which from first glance seems similar to the Gnome 2.10 available in FC4, however I’m sure there are significant updates. (The open file dialog is still pathetic.) I noticed the the top toolbar now shows a “power plug” for Gnome Power Manager, however it does not work (more later).

I did not notice any significant new software. I tried the Beagle Search app, but it complained I needed to start the Beagle daemon. I tried the link to start, but it didn’t work. I also tried the F-Spot Photo Manager but it starts with a dialog box that, won’t fit on my 1024×768 display and I didn’t see the big difference between it and gThumb. I tried my camera with it, read below.

Firefox 1.5 is available but I could not get the Flash plugin to work correctly.

The Gnome network manager seems to have improved, I was able to access my Windows Network very quickly and easily. With FC4 I saw multiple inconsistent connection problems.

Even though I normally use Gnome, I also breifly tested out KDE. As usual KDE was polished but (by default) ugly in Fedora. I noticed multiple new options but nothing specific to my hardware peripherals or even power management. I did notice a Switch User option which reminds of OS X and Windows XP.

Software: Server and Development

Since I do a great deal of software development and web development, I have not tested this release to see how well it will accommodate all my software or scripts. Since the most serious updates were in Java and the inclusion of Mono, I doubt the GCC 4.1 will affect me. As with FC4, the GCC 3.2 compiler was also optionally included. Looks like I may also have to compile a GCC 3.4 for some testing and downgrade my PHP4 (maybe recompile that also!).

Hardware Support

As always with every new distribution release a newer kernel is included which will typically improve support for most hardware. I had no specific problems that I could not resolve.

The Nvidia driver would not work properly without a driver patch. … Sound was perfect out of the box as it has been since FC3. However some apps did some complaints. XMMS acted strange and the KDE artsd server complained.

Power management (ACPI) in my opinion is partially broke. The Gnome Power Manager fails when I try to put my desktop to either Suspend or Hibernate (I know both of these options do work!!). If I try command line S3 (suspend) the system locks up. If try command line S4 (hibernate), the system works 100% perfectly and I am able to reboot from S4. Oh well, the GUI doesn’t let me, maybe I will play around with it later.

Hardware Support: Peripherals

My All-in-One Card Reader detected perfectly but the SD or Compact Flash would not automatically mount as they did in FC4. I can manually mount then, but I wanted it to work in the GUI. In FC4, Gnome would usually give a permission error and mount as read-only.

I was disappointed that the camera pop-up dialog box did not appear when I plugged in my Canon S500 (which worked perfectly in FC4). The F-Spot software worked adequately at importing without any problems.

Conclusion

Currently I am reading the fedora-test-list mailing list provided by Redhat to follow up on some issues with Tes2. Otherwise, I plan to hack out some configuration options just to get a good grasp on how the final Fedora Core 5 will function.

As a beta release, FC5-Test2 seems like a good start. The gross slow-downs I had with FC4 seem to be okay, and since many applications have started to accomodate GCC4, I feel a system wide improvement. Nothing much to see, but the little nuances and improvements are always welcome in Linux. And as always there are regressions. I was disappointed at the minimal hardware improvements for my peripherals (I haven’t tested them all).

I will spend more time over the next few weeks till Test3, and plan on starting my Personal Fedora Installation Guide for FC5.