Ctrl+Alt+Delkey combination will bring the shutdown dialog. Clicking on the hardware shutdown button or closing the lid will suspend the system, as one would expect, so all the bashing around having to hold the
Altkey to shut down the system is pointless in my opinion. Click on image to enlarge. Key combinations come in handy, and once one gets the grasp of the shell, it is difficult to find something that can work faster or more efficiently. For instance, let's say a user wants to open system settings but doesn't know the actual application name. Likely to come from a Windows background, such user could think of using the term "Control Center" to find system settings... Well, all it takes is just one single keystroke on the meta key to open the Activities menu, type "control" and voila!, system settings shows up in the search results. Of course, if a user has no idea of what the name of the app is, s/he can browse them all or filter them by category, just like they would on a standard menu. Another great feature is that, thanks again to the great online accounts app, the shell search is capable of searching through contacts, even online docs stored in Google Drive. Click on image to enlarge. GNOME Shell is, in my opinion, a great desktop manager. What people most commonly complain about (i.e., lack of flexibility and features) simply represents the learning curve that is there in every single UI in existence, as well as maybe denial of what the project was set to achieve with the shell. I believe the biggest problem in the adoption of GNOME Shell came from users who were incorrectly assuming it was GNOME Classic with a face lift. GNOME Shell represents a new paradigm in desktop management, one that brilliantly overcomes many of the burdens users have found for decades, while at the same time presenting an interface that finds a good balance between the needs of a touch interface and the traditional mouse and keyboard. Once again, as with any other UI, it takes a bit of effort to learn its quirks, but once passed that point, it excels in many ways. It should be obvious, though, that it will never be able to do something it was purposedly designed not to. In other words, the lack of customization options and emphasis on eye-candy are not shortcomings, but rather features of a UI whose target is to make things simple and stay out of the way so that users can concentrate on being as productive as possible. Fedora is indeed empowered by many of the great features in GNOME Shell, but it also suffers from some of its shortcomings. In my opinion, the biggest one is very inflexible and poor energy saving, which is critical on portable devices. Click on image to enlarge. Out of the area of influence of the DE, Fedora 17 GNOME has also some strengths and weaknesses. I find it particularly falls short in the GUI software management area, thanks to a rather poor software manager. Users coming from more sophisticated alternatives, such as the Ubuntu or Linux Mint's Software Center (actually, about anything one can think of is fancier than
gpk-application), will feel like they traveled back in time. The natural tendency then is to rely on the wonderful
yumpackage manager, but that obviously implies command line usage, immediately making Fedora GNOME an advanced user distro in this department. On the bright side, though,
yumruns faster than ever now, I am impressed! I briefly mentioned about improvements in SELinux and Firewall setup, both of which are welcome, but I guess I would expect their UIs to get a bit more love, at least be ported to GNOME3. The firewall one specifically, even with its own wizard for beginners, is quite un-intuitive. For instance, the confirmation that the firewall is running is a small text string at the bottom left corner of the window, which appears to have been designed for users to miss it. Fortunately, Fedora 17 GNOME shortcomings are few and, perhaps with the exception of power management, shouldn't be too hard to work around. In any case, they should be compensated by the fact that users will be using a very robust and secure distro with a great implementation of GNOME3.4. Software is very up to date and, with the help of RPM fusion, also very safe, for almost anything users will ever need can be downloaded from the repos. Last but not least, Fedora 17 brings its users GIMP 2.8 by default! Click on image to enlarge. THE KDE SIDE I had not reviewed GNOME 3.4 yet, and that's why I went into detail (somewhat) above. However, I have already DISCUSSED KDE SC 4.8, including its shortcomings, so I will concentrate on what is unique to the Fedora 17 implementation here. The first thing I realized is that Fedora 17 may as well be the purest KDE experience there is out there. Unlike Kubuntu 12.04, which failed to deliver its promise to include Telepathy and Calligra by default, Fedora managed to do it, even sticking to Konqueror as the default web browser. Click on image to enlarge. The whole KDE PIM and Semantic Desktop suite of apps are also included, as do many of the most popular names in the KDE application catalog, including Marble. Now, this "pure KDE spirit" is not necessarily good or better than a different approach, but I guess it can be considered a feature for those seeking a desktop clear of any significant GNOME influence. Unlike its GNOME cousin, the KDE implementation of Fedora 17 does a much better job at GUI software management thanks to Apper. Software updates are correctly and timely notified and clicking on them works as expected (heard that, Muon?), which is something many distros don't get quite right. Clicking on the notification icon will bring, as should be expected, the list of updates, which can then be easily applied. Click on image to enlarge. Installing applications is also very convenient and intuitive, looking good at the same time. In case you didn't notice, yes, that's Java 1.7.0 that is available in the Fedora repos. One strange behavior is that the icon set in Apper categories does not seem to pick Oxygen icons, using the default GNOME counterparts used by default in Fedora GNOME, which obviously doesn't help it look better. Click on image to enlarge. Users get notified when applications have been installed and can run them straight from the installation dialog. Click on image to enlarge. THE BEST KDE IMPLEMENTATION... NOT! Software management has indeed improved in Fedora 17 KDE, but the biggest improvement, at least apparently, revolved around KDE PIM and the Semantic desktop. Fedora 17 was the first KDE distro I had ever used which managed to run (almost) all of those components successfully without eating my machine CPU in the process. For the first time ever, thanks to the
google-akonadilibraries, I was able to get all of my Google contacts, meetings, tasks and mail working in Akonadi and for the first time, it was all apparently working without a struggle. Unfortunately, it was not to last. Click on image to enlarge. The screenshot above shows how it was all working without putting any significant stress on my machine. However, after shutting down my machine and booting the day after, it all went back to the usual horror story. I was getting 15%-20% CPU usage from Akonadi alone, which considering my machine is a quad-core Intel i5, is A LOT. Aside from gmail IMAP and SMTP, all other components stopped working and no longer synched, they were just apparently trying to synch forever. Unfortunately, that was not all, because I kept getting crashes on
virtuoso-tevery 2-3 minutes. A few more minutes passed and I just decided to shut all of it down, Nepomuk, Akonadi, etc. Fedora 17 looked like the ultimate KDE implementation, but after a short while it was just showing the same problems I have seen in any other distro to date. In fact, Fedora seems to have more issues than others, because those crashes from the virtuoso process are not common. On a different set of things, Fedora 17 KDE also benefits from this release new features, including GIMP 2.8 straight from the official repositories. Click on image to enlarge. Similarly, the improvements to the system firewall are also there, so both KDE and GNOME flavors are equally secure. Click on image to enlarge. STEADY IMPROVEMENT Fedora 17 is yet another solid step forward. As should be expected, though, Beefy Miracle is fully aligned with the distro's mission, offering plenty of features and current software, as well as other interesting bonuses like GIMP 2.8 with the by now infamous single window interface. Ease of use and stability are not within the top priorities of Fedora, so users will still find some rough edges and may suffer the consequences of living in the fast lane, so starters might benefit from sticking to other alternatives. Any other user, from those not afraid of the occasional tweak to full blown experts, will surely enjoy what Fedora has to offer. Finally, the choice of GNOME Shell or KDE is down to personal preference, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed by some elements in the implementation of the latter.