Feeds

The Spherical Cow lands, spits out Anaconda

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

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Entity Framework goes 'code first' as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
Visual Studio database diagramming's out the window
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.