Review of Fedora 18

This is a quick review of the Fedora 18 XFCE spin running on 64 bit intel, followed by a few post-install tips.

Installer

The graphical installer has been re-written. This is one reason that F18 shipped late, and has caused a fair bit of exasperation ever since. It looks like a classic case of attempting to fix something that wasn’t broken. The old installer was a “wizard”, a proven format, familiar to anyone who has installed computer software in the last 20 years. The new installer ditches that in favour of a kind of “dashboard” functionality.

You start at a sort of “master page” and visit various “sub pages” in turn, completing install options on each. It isn’t done very well. The order of these visitations is not clear, and nor is their effect on the installation. It is just a mess that you have to muddle through. I made it on the second attempt.

So the installer is an omni-shambles. So what. I find it hard to get worked up about a GUI that you will use maybe once a year. Nothing this rough will ever make it through to production Red Hat. Even if it did, enterprises would be unaffected as they prefer to use cloning, kickstart and other mass-rollout techniques.

The OS

Not much to say here really. In XFCE guise, I found Fedora 18 to be fast, stable and a pleasure to use. On the desktop, XFCE 4.10 fixes a few annoyances present in older versions: the ability to auto-arrange desktop icons, multiple tabs in the Thunar file manager (version 1.6.2) plus better thumbnail handling, and some bugs with audio volume control.

I am not sure why some testers give F18 such a thumbs down. Perhaps they are judging the OS by the installer, or struggling with the unforgiving Gnome (yuk!). Personally, I am not merely testing Fedora 18 but using it as a main desktop for the next 12 months, happily writing this post, and glad I updated.

Setting up Fedora 18

A few F18 set-up guides are out there now, like this one from linuxmotion and another from Abouthack. Mainly they just suggest packages to install, to which I might add the following.

PRINTING
If you have an HP printer, install HP Linux Imaging and Printing:

# yum install hplip hplip-gui

Then invoke Administration-> Print Settings and follow the (rather slow) wizard to set up your printer, including wireless.

SCANNING
Install xsane for scanning. (If your scanner is HP, install hplip first, as that includes back ends for sane, and without it xsane will fail saying “no devices found”).

# yum install xsane

CD RIPPING

For medicinal purposes only. Install Wine:

# yum install wine

Install Exact Audio Copy. Downloaded eac-1.0beta1.exe. Double click it and Wine should automatically do the install. If you have an old version of EAC which cannot be uninstalled, delete it on the “C” drive under ~/.wine and repeat the 1.0 install.

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