Feeds

The Spherical Cow lands, spits out Anaconda

Fedora's Linux distro no slick alternative to Ubuntu - yet

3 Big data security analytics techniques

GNOME 3 is the IE of desktop environments, MATE

If you like GNOME 3 more power to you, but for me it has become like Internet Explorer web browser on Windows - it's the interface you have to use to download and install something that's actually useful.

Part of the reason I was looking forward to Fedora 18 is that Fedora now officially supports the MATE desktop (it also unofficially supports Cinnamon). That should mean you can just install MATE and skip the whole GNOME debacle entirely. Unfortunately, while it looks like in the future there will be a pre-packaged Fedora MATE spin available, I had to install the MATE packages myself using Yum.

Fedora 18 is shipping with MATE 1.5, which dispenses with many of the GNOME 2 dependencies. Under the hood MATE now largely uses GNOME 3's toolset - but with its own, more traditional desktop interface on top of it.

If Fedora is really interested in bringing Linux newcomers into the fold, it should make MATE the default desktop. Offering a familiar - call it old-fashioned, if you'd like - desktop paradigm in a world of Windows 8, Unity and GNOME Shells will no doubt find an audience.

There is one other weak spot in Fedora from a newcomer's perspective, it's that it lacks a good software centre. The Yum package manager generally works well enough, though in my experience dependency problems crop up more frequently than they do with Aptitude.

Fedora 18's weak spot: its software centre...

But beyond the underlying tools, the Fedora's software centre interface just feels creaky. Search is laughably bad and given that Fedora does not ship with multimedia codecs, Flash or hardware drivers that newcomers would likely want, the software centre is probably the first place most people will head.

Fedora looks to be in the process of improving the software install situation under the hood. Fedora 18 ships with support for DNF, a Yum alternative, which just might replace Yum one day. But at the time of writing there do not appear to be any plans to revamp the graphical interface. That's too bad because it consigns Fedora to the niche of more experienced Linux users.

As the more experienced users have come to expect, Fedora 18 ships with a number of bells and whistles aimed at developers and sysadmins. Fedora 18 ships with Perl 5.16 and Python 3.3, as well as the latest version of Haskell and D. Ruby on Rails developers will be happy to note that Rails has been updated to version 3.2.

For those working in mixed OS environments, Fedora 18 offers Samba 4, which should play more nicely with the Active Directory. The cloud-powering OpenStack has been updated as well.

A sea change in distro popularity seems to be underway, as GNOME 3 and Ubuntu have sent users looking for alternatives. The Fedora community has an opportunity to pick up some new users, but whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen.

Whatever effort Fedora has been making to smooth over its rough edges in hopes of attracting some new users hasn't had a negative impact on its developer-friendly focus. While that’s good news for Fedora's core audience, it doesn't change the fact that Fedora 18 is still not as user-friendly as other distros.

Should you jump ship from Ubuntu if the Amazon Lens fiasco has you doubting the Shuttleworthian future? For most, Mint will likely be the better choice, but if you don't mind jumping through a few extra hoops and dealing with the somewhat antiquated software centre, Fedora 18 does, at the end of the day, make a perfectly usable and stable desktop. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.