Fedora 11 First Impressions

By | June 13, 2009

So this week I did something unprecedented for me.  I downloaded and installed a new Fedora release the same week it was released officially.  After reading a bit about how stable and quick it is for others I decided to take the plunge.  I’ve now installed it on three machines (in this order):

  • My laptop, an older Toshiba Satellite system.  Previously running Fedora 10 and dual booting with Windows XP.
  • My home system, previously running Fedora 10.
  • My work system, previously running Fedora 8 (see my earlier post on my experience with Fedora 9)

The install on my laptop would have made a Linux novice ditch Fedora completely and run screaming from it.  The actual upgrade went smoothly.  I booted up from the DVD and told it to upgrade my previous installation which it found with any problem, and update my boot loader config.  The updating of the boot loader was a mistake.  I rebooted the machine and “GRUB” was filling the screen as fast as the poor laptops GeForce4 chipset could pump it out.  I booted the DVD again and chose rescue mode and re-installed grub.  After that all was fine.  It booted up and Xfce came up with my old desktop settings.  Looked good, faster boot.  I was a bit disappointed to not see any suspend or hibernate options, which was part of my decision to do my laptop first since these were included in the latest Xfce.  More on that later, though.

I will say that it did take almost 5 hours to upgrade my laptop, but I kind of expected that since it is about 6 years old now.

The second system was my home system.  Same process, and I even the same mistake with grub.  My home system is quite a bit faster, and it only took about two hours to upgrade.  I upgraded my home system the morning of the 11th.  I only had about an hour or so to work with it before heading into the office that morning, but the upgrade itself seemed to be fine (once I finished kicking myself for having to fix the grub setup — again).

So, great, things appeared to go smoothly.  Since I knew I would only be at the office for a few hours on Thursday and probably wouldn’t get much else done, so I decided to start the upgrade there, too.  That and the fact that I like to be consistent at home and at the office — I’ve always been that way, it makes transitioning back and forth much easier for me.  That one wasn’t so great.  You can only upgrade to Fedora 11 from a fully updated Fedora 10.  So, I upgrade from Fedora 8 to Fedora 10, do a ‘yum clean all’ and then a ‘yum update’, then boot from the Fedora 11 disk to do my upgrade.  This time I finally got smart, though and told it to create a new bootloader configuration.  No problems with grub on this install.

Thats where the successes ended.  A bit of back story first.

As I mentioned earlier, I use Xfce now.  Between KDE’s attempts to be like Windows Vista Aero and MacOS/X and Gnome’s brain dead window placement (though it has gotten better, it is still not good enough and you can’t change it) I chose to go with Xfce.  Xfce is light-weight looks good and is well maintained.  It stays out of my way, is configurable “enough” and I really like the Terminal and file manager (Thunar).  It also plays pretty well with Gnome and KDE apps.  It works exceptionally well with non-Gnome Gtk apps (i.e. Firefox and Thunderbird) since thats the toolkit it is written with.

The failures of Fedora 11.  The most notable was the inclusion of  Firefox 3.5 beta 4 and Thunderbird 3.0 beta 2.   Its nice that they tried to include the latest and greatest, but it broke almost all of the extensions of both apps.  The way that Mozilla tags extensions, you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get them re-installed.  I haven’t even bothered with it yet, I’ve been too busy trying to get a stable Xfce again.

Something that I figured out yesterday was that after upgrading to Fedora 11 from Fedora 10, it didn’t actually upgrade everything.  I had to do another “yum clean all” and “yum update” to download another GB of files before I was actually updated.

Now that my machines are all completely updated, I’ve discovered a few other issues.  Notably, a bug was introduced into the Xfce Terminal.  The option MiscAlwaysShowTabs if set to TRUE now causes the app to segfault on startup.  I prefer to have that option enabled so my windows don’t resize when I open a new tab (major annoyance).  Several of my custom keymappings also vanished or no longer worked.

If I had done a clean, fresh install it might have been different (except the Terminal segfault), but I’m just not happy with Fedora 11.

Thunar also doesn’t seem to support LUKS encrypted volumes, either.  Patches were approved for adding that about 4 months ago.  I’m thinking Fedora is racing to try to beat some other distro in having the cutting edge, and in that they seem to be succeeding, but for most people I’m sure its not worth the several days it will take to work around the quirks.

As I was writing this post, I was downloading the latest Xubuntu.  I know of a lot of people that have switched to using Ubuntu for their desktop and are really impressed with it.  I think its mostly because of the compositing, though.  I may just end up re-installing today, we’ll see…

2 thoughts on “Fedora 11 First Impressions

  1. Christoph

    As one of Fedora’s Xfce maintainers I feel I have to speak up on this one.

    The install on my laptop would have made a Linux novice ditch Fedora completely and run screaming from it.

    Can you explain this a little? Have you installed from DVD or from a Live-CD? If so, which one? The Gnome or the Xfce spin?

    I rebooted the machine and “GRUB” was filling the screen as fast as the poor laptops GeForce4 chipset could pump it out.

    Have you filed a bug report, so we can take a look at this?

    I was a bit disappointed to not see any suspend or hibernate options, which was part of my decision to do my laptop first since these were included in the latest Xfce.

    Huh? Both suspend and hibernate are in the logout dialog. In addition and unlike in Xubuntu, there is xfce4-power-manager in the repos, even in the default install of the Xfce spin.

    You can only upgrade to Fedora 11 from a fully updated Fedora 10.

    Erm, no, this is not correct. You can even update from Fedora 6 to 11. BTW: Why not use preupgrade instead of yum? This is the recommended and supported way.

    I haven’t even bothered with it yet, I’ve been too busy trying to get a stable Xfce again.

    What exactly was crashy? There were some oddities due to the Xfce 4.4 to 4.6 migration, e. g. missing icons in the panel, but I haven’t heard any complaintants about the stability of Xfce. You would have had the same problems with every other distro as well and if you directly upgraded to F11 with released updates, you would have gotten Xfce 4.6.1, which solves many of the problems

    Something that I figured out yesterday was that after upgrading to Fedora 11 from Fedora 10, it didn’t actually upgrade everything. I had to do another “yum clean all” and “yum update” to download another GB of files before I was actually updated.

    Just what I said, looks like you didn’t have the Fedora 11 Updates repo enabled while doing the update. I can only recommend people to use preupgrade or, if they really want to upgrade with yum, read the documentation first.

    The option MiscAlwaysShowTabs if set to TRUE now causes the app to segfault on startup.

    Yeah, sorry about that, but at least it’s fixed now. Still not fixed in other distros AFAIK.

    Thunar also doesn’t seem to support LUKS encrypted volumes, either. Patches were approved for adding that about 4 months ago.

    If they were approved upstream, then they are definitely in Fedora. Can you please direct me to the relevant Xfce bug and tell me what patch you think is missing?

    Reply
  2. marc Post author

    @Christoph

    Christoph :

    As one of Fedora’s Xfce maintainers I feel I have to speak up on this one.

    The install on my laptop would have made a Linux novice ditch Fedora completely and run screaming from it.

    Can you explain this a little? Have you installed from DVD or from a Live-CD? If so, which one? The Gnome or the Xfce spin?

    All of my updates where done from the (full) DVD.

    I rebooted the machine and “GRUB” was filling the screen as fast as the poor laptops GeForce4 chipset could pump it out.

    Have you filed a bug report, so we can take a look at this?

    I did not file a bug report. I did a bit of searching and found others had reported similar problems, so I didn’t feel the need to add to the noise with another “me too” since I knew how to work around it.

    I was a bit disappointed to not see any suspend or hibernate options, which was part of my decision to do my laptop first since these were included in the latest Xfce.

    Huh? Both suspend and hibernate are in the logout dialog. In addition and unlike in Xubuntu, there is xfce4-power-manager in the repos, even in the default install of the Xfce spin.

    As I said before, they weren’t there after the initial upgrade. After I did the yum clean and yum update they appeared. It was just one more of those things that seemed to lack polish. I installed Fedora 10 on my laptop from the DVD and use Xfce, I did the upgrade using the DVD. It should have upgraded all of my packages from the DVD, but it didn’t.

    You can only upgrade to Fedora 11 from a fully updated Fedora 10.

    Erm, no, this is not correct. You can even update from Fedora 6 to 11. BTW: Why not use preupgrade instead of yum? This is the recommended and supported way.

    The upgrade notes do not say this is the recommended way to upgrade. I’ve always done DVD upgrades since they seem to be a bit faster than downloading, especially for the first week or so its faster to get a bittorrent of the DVD, upgrade using the disk and then upgrade via yum.

    Also, from the Fedora 11 Upgrade Notes at http://docs.fedoraproject.org/release-notes/f11/en-US/sect-Release_Notes-Installation_Notes-Upgrade_Notes.html :

    Upgrading from Fedora 9 directly to Fedora 11 using yum is not possible, you must upgrade to Fedora 10 first, then upgrade to Fedora 11. See http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/YumUpgradeFaq for more information. You can also use preupgrade to upgrade directly to Fedora 11 using anaconda, minimizing the system downtime by downloading the packages in advance.

    I haven’t even bothered with it yet, I’ve been too busy trying to get a stable Xfce again.

    What exactly was crashy? There were some oddities due to the Xfce 4.4 to 4.6 migration, e. g. missing icons in the panel, but I haven’t heard any complaintants about the stability of Xfce. You would have had the same problems with every other distro as well and if you directly upgraded to F11 with released updates, you would have gotten Xfce 4.6.1, which solves many of the problems

    Part of why I switched to Xfce was that it was quite stable. It wasn’t in Fedora 11 — for me. I write a lot of code using vim and maintain a lot of systems via ssh. When one Terminal crashed, they all crashed. After the 3rd time of that happening I had had enough.

    Something that I figured out yesterday was that after upgrading to Fedora 11 from Fedora 10, it didn’t actually upgrade everything. I had to do another “yum clean all” and “yum update” to download another GB of files before I was actually updated.

    Just what I said, looks like you didn’t have the Fedora 11 Updates repo enabled while doing the update. I can only recommend people to use preupgrade or, if they really want to upgrade with yum, read the documentation first.

    I always read the release notes and have been using Fedora since it was RedHat Linux 3 (not RHEL, but RedHat Linux). My upgrade was on a stock RedHat 10 system using the DVD — no third party repos or anything else installed. The upgrade process *should* have worked cleanly from the DVD.

    The option MiscAlwaysShowTabs if set to TRUE now causes the app to segfault on startup.

    Yeah, sorry about that, but at least it’s fixed now. Still not fixed in other distros AFAIK.

    The unstable nature of Terminal, after relying on its usefulness and speed for the last year or so drove me crazy. I’ve actually stopped using Terminal because of that and switched back to using mrxvt. Its just as fast and is actually a bit cleaner than Terminal. I must admit, it was a bit strange going back to mrxvt after all these years.

    Before I was using multi-gnome-terminal, but seems to no longer be maintained. I then used gnome-terminal and finally the Xfce Terminal. Its been at least 5 or 6 years since I used mrxvt. I probably won’t switch away from it for the foreseeable future.

    Thunar also doesn’t seem to support LUKS encrypted volumes, either. Patches were approved for adding that about 4 months ago.

    If they were approved upstream, then they are definitely in Fedora. Can you please direct me to the relevant Xfce bug and tell me what patch you think is missing?

    It actually worked in F10, which is what confused me. They were there, then I did the upgrade, then they weren’t. I might be remembering that wrong, though. I’ve made a lot of changes over the last few months to my laptop, my home desktop and my office desktop. Fedora is now not on any of them, I’ve switched to Xubuntu on each of them.

    I don’t hate Fedora, but the last few releases seem to have had a lot of issues. The cutting edge has really cut a lot of productivity. Just as I finally get a stable system, its no longer in the release cycle. I like having the latest and greatest because I often have projects that require the latest version of libraries to compile, etc.

    Fedora/RedHat have served me very well over the years, and I still prefer RHEL/CentOS for server environments — because I know they’ll be stable.

    Reply

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