Feeds

Fedora 15: More than just a pretty interface

GNOME emerges from last century

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Snappier – if your rig can handle it

GNOME 3 isn't just about revamping the interface, it's also about shedding the vestiges of the past. Part of that shedding is good news: GNOME 3 is, provided you have the hardware, much snappier than GNOME 2.x. The speed boost comes from behind-the-scenes changes that take advantage of today's graphics cards rather than the circa-1996 cards for which GNOME 2.x was written.

However, a rewrite that leverages modern hardware is always a double-edged sword. Owners of older or unsupported hardware won't be happy, but at the same time a developer can only support the old at the expense of the new for so long. The GNOME team has decided that now is the time to make the leap forward.

If you don't like GNOME 3, that's one thing – but it's hard to fault Fedora's integration of it. However, there are a few small items that make Fedora 15 feel like more a GNOME 3 showcase than a Fedora update. At the request of the GNOME developers Fedora has stuck very close to the upstream GNOME 3 design. Even the default desktop wallpaper is a hybrid between GNOME's striped look and Fedora's bird theme.

Fedora 15 screenshot

Fedora 15's default desktop: stripy like GNOME 3, ornithological like Fedora (click to enlarge)

There are also a few minor problems with themes in GNOME 3. While most of the stock GNOME apps have been ported to the new GTK+ 3 default theme, apps that still rely on a GTK+ 2 theme (such as Firefox) have different scrollbars. Combine that with the GNOME-oriented theme, and Fedora 15 will likely feel just a bit off to long-time fans.

While GNOME 3 is definitely the main story in Fedora 15, there are other big changes under the hood. For example, Fedora 15 now uses systemd as the default system and session manager – which was in Fedora 14, but not enabled by default. Systemd's main advantage is faster boot and shutdown times, especially on solid-state drives.

Another major change is the option to use the Btrfs file system. Btrfs, which is being developed by Red Hat, Oracle, and others, is on track to be the default file system in Fedora 16, but it's available for testing in this release.

Fedora 15 screenshot

Firefox still hangs onto some GTK+ 2 baggage (click to enlarge)

That said, I don't recommend Btrfs. If you do want to test it, Fedora's release notes go out of the way to suggest maintaining good backups – in other words, Btrfs is getting there, but probably not a good idea for mission-critical work.

Other new features in Fedora 15 include a new dynamic firewall background service called firewalld that watches for configuration changes and automatically applies them without the need to restart your firewall.

Fedora 15 also offers new and improved power-monitoring tools to squeeze a bit more out of your laptop battery, and as always there's the usual slew of the programming-language updates that Fedora is known for.

Should you upgrade? Well, that depends.

If you hate GNOME 3 with the sort of passion most people reserve for politics and religion, well, your best bet is to stick with Fedora 14. Forever.

If you've tested GNOME 3 and can't wait to use it on a daily basis, then Fedora 15 makes a great choice.

If, like most people, you're still on the fence about GNOME 3, you might want to wait. As with KDE's move from 3.x to 4.x, GNOME is going through a major transition at the moment. While GNOME 3.0 is in much better shape than KDE 4.0 when it launched, there are still some features missing and some rough edges to be smoothed out.

It almost never hurts to wait for the x.1 release to come around before you make the leap to something as new as GNOME 3. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.