Posts Tagged ‘lovelock’
Fedora 15 is the first Linux distribution to ship with the new GNOME 3.0 user interface. This is what most Linux distributions barring Ubuntu will no doubt be using in the near future so it’s pretty important.
I’ve used Fedora 15 on the desktop for a couple of weeks now. I was expecting to love it, mainly because although I wasn’t all that taken with Ubuntu’s new Unity interface, I didn’t hate it as passionately as some. And hey….different isn’t necessarily bad, right?
This is so frustrating. I’ve been using Fedora since version 6 and I much prefer the actual “Linux” side of it to Debian-based distros. You’re reading this right now on a Fedora 15 server, for example. The GUI side has always been pretty “meh” but Canonical really showed how damned old everything looked. It was high time the GUI was overhauled and Ubuntu – regardless of how you feel about the Unity interface – pretty much paved the way. GNOME was conceived when Windows 95 was the height of UI design, and simple subtraction will tell you that was a long time ago.
So great, GNOME 3.0 with a completely – some might say radically – new interface.
The good is that it’s Fedora Linux. That is to say, it’s Red Hat underneath and I’ve always used Red Hat since version 6.0 so I’m comfortable with it. As a server it’s still as fine as it ever was. The only jolt so far being the new systemd init daemon rather than the more traditional sysvinit. This will take some getting used to, but for now the compatibility layer (which I assume is there) shields you from most of the shock. It’s still disconcerting to not have a ‘/etc/inittab’ file, however.
But none of this really matters – Linux is a proven technology on the server and is likely to remain so. So that leaves the desktop which frankly, I’ve not used since Fedora 12.
Now, if Fedora 15 was actually bad, I wouldn’t be so frustrated. The reason being that GNOME 3.0 is great. It’s slick and the new interface paradigm is also great.
Or at least it would be if the Fedora team had finished it.
That’s my beef here. Fedora 15 has shipped with a broken interface. The sweet, gooey command-line centre is fine, but GNOME 3.0 is unfinished….visibly unfinished. For example, the main interface bar at the top is a tasteful dark colour. The dialog boxes and windows on the other hand are lifted straight from GNOME 2.3, complete with light-grey colours and big, blocky icons.
I really harshed on the Linux Action Show guys for slating Fedora 15 from the angle they did and, while I don’t share their ire with the Fedora distribution in general (Debian fanboys, natch :-)), they were spot on about GNOME 3.0.
Dialog border colours don’t match, things are labelled inconsistently or badly. Lots of little things that in isolation wouldn’t be a big deal but they mount up quickly. Using Fedora 15 as a desktop system is a little like being flogged to death by silk bootlaces. You can set terminal windows to be transparent, but it doesn’t seem to work because of the new desktop. The design team didn’t seem to know where to display mounted volumes. Streaming a video under VLC from a sever is smooth on Ubuntu 10.10 but buffers frequently on Fedora 15. The list goes on.
The really annoying thing is what does work in GNOME 3.0 works really well. The overall philosophy is much more integrated than Unity is – indeed it makes it seem positively bright and clunky like spit-covered Duplo blocks. The “log off” dialog box looks really cool and you wish the rest of the dialog boxes looked that way, yet they don’t. The way the desktop zooms out rather than the use of work-spaces is brilliant, especially as all the windows are still non-modal and visibly running. Why bother re-sizing windows when you can do that? Inspired.
It’s bewildering that some things are so great and others so clearly not. In using it, you sometimes catch glimpses of the future and I imagine Fedora 16 will be great. The question is, why release this? It’s open source, has no stockholders to answer to and doesn’t need to turn a profit. The mystery isn’t why Fedora 15 is broken, I get that…they just didn’t have time to finish. The real mystery is why release something so obviously and clearly unfinished at all? Not broken as such but certainly not ready to hit the FTP servers. If I had been in charge and I had used this, I would have said “not for another six months, fellas”. Why stick to a firm six-month release cycle if you’re just going to put out occasionally dubious releases? Why not wait a couple of months. I’d have been just as happy to use Fedora 15 in September.
If you’re using Fedora on a server – go for it. The new dynamic firewall looks interesting and systemd appears to be far more versatile than sysvinit and you’ll get all the regular package upgrades and it’s stable as it ever was. But on the desktop? Not yet.
But probably soon :-) Say, in another six months. As they say, one to watch.
Sorry for the 24 hour outage – I was upgrading the server from Fedora 14 to Fedora 15. I don’t really see what all the shouting is about, but then I don’t use a GUI on that machine so no real impression of how GNOME 3.0 shell is, certainly nothing compared to the guys over at The Linux Action Show, who piled on the hurt. Somebody else over on Reddit was waiting for the review from the Linux Outlaws, but somebody else pointed out that Fab is now part of the Fedora Project and “will totally be biased” :-) I’ve not listened to that episode yet, so we’ll see. I’ll probably install Fedora 15 on a spare laptop and see what it’s like.
The most marked difference for me so far when tweaking the configuration on the server was the use of systemd as the init daemon rather than the more usual sysvinit. I’ve heard that it has a new dynamic firewall as well which I’ll probably look into. Overall, I don’t see what the fuss is about. My system is faster and copes with tweaking in a logical manner. However, Linux is no longer just about the server as Ubuntu has proved, so distributions these days live or die by their GUI. It’s interesting that we seem to be facing a bit of a paradigm-shift in GUI design lately. Canonical has Unity, I guess the rest will go to GNOME 3.0 when it’s matured. The catalyst for this is clearly because of smartphones. Even crusty old Windows in getting in on the action with a frankly eyebrow-raising demo of the new Windows 8 GUI.
It’ll take a while to work out what systemd is all about though. As far as I can tell, instead of having the familiar run levels (commonly 3 or 5), systemd has the concept of ‘targets’. So this means there is no ‘/etc/inittab’ file which was kind of weird to be honest. Instead of setting the run level…sorry target…via the inittab, you create a symbolic link from ‘/etc/systemd/system/default.target
‘ to either:-
/lib/systemd/system/multi-user.target – which is equal to run level 3
/lib/systemd/system/graphical.target – which is equal to run level 5
ln -s /lib/systemd/system/[target name].target /etc/systemd/system/default.target
…is the same as setting the default inittab run level. Seems a little complex but based on the documentation, it appears that instead of being limited to run levels 0 to 6 which were hard-wired into the sysvinit daemon and formed a basic part of the UNIX-like structure, you can pretty much create your own custom targets. This would certainly be very flexible. You would have much finer grain control over what functionality was available in each target mode and you could create as many targets as you liked. At least, that is what the little documentation I’ve read about it seems to imply.
So anyway, I’ve added a little love(lock) to The Node. More stuff soon.