Fedora 22 released almost on time

Great Expectations

© Lead Image © Randy Hines, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © Randy Hines, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 178/2015
Author(s):

Fedora 22 was released a week late, but it is seriously impressive with Gnome 3.16 and the new DNF package manager. Only the installer, Anaconda, might cause beginners a headache.

Fedora serves as a test laboratory for Red Hat business distributions while constantly providing new ideas and developments for the Linux community as a whole; thus, it plays a special role in the Linux world. The wages for a number of Gnome developers come from Red Hat's petty cash, and the makers of systemd are financed from the same source.

Fedora is continuously reinventing itself; a whole year elapsed between versions 20 and 21, during which priorities with respect to the Fedora.next [1] project were reset and developers were put in a position to publish three editions in the future instead of just one. The distribution is now divided into Workstation, Cloud, and Server variants (where Workstation is the version for desktop users) in preparation for the future and to allow current developments to thrive in a native environment.

Gnome as Standard

Fedora 22 [2] sees the first release in the regular six-month cycle under the new scheme finally reach the mainstream. The basic components, kernel 4.0, GCC 5.0, systemd 219, the Anaconda installer, and the new DNF package manager (which replaces the proven Yum) form the common base for the three sections. The workstation version continues to use Gnome as its desktop environment; Fedora has opted for the latest version 3.16 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Gnome still focuses on the Activities application overview and does without a classic application menu.

Additionally, several spins offer other desktop environments such as KDE, Xfce, LXDE, or Maté or are specifically aimed at particular users such as musicians, electronics enthusiasts, penetration testers, or other specialists [3]. As is to be expected from Fedora, the spins provide the most recent stable version of the corresponding desktop. However, this article concentrates on the standard desktop for the new Fedora issue.

Gnome 3.16 includes many changes that are visible to users and some that are not. More than 33,000 changes were introduced in the development period of six months. The Gnome Shell's new notification system stands out in particular as the most striking change (Figure 2). Instead of appearing in a separate bar at the bottom of the screen, the messages now appear in the calendar widget, which launches when you click the date displayed centrally in the header.

Figure 2: The Gnome Shell notifications in Gnome 3.16 have moved from a separate footer to the calendar in the header.

As a further innovation, Gtk3 applications such as Gedit or Nautilus scrollbars only appear if you are actively using the mouse in the window. The icons for applications that are active in the background, such as Dropbox or Skype, have finally found a decent home in the self-collapsing status bar (Figure 3). All told, much went into cleaning up the desktop and polishing the Gnome applications, such as the weather app (Figure 4), to keep bugs and superfluous features well away from the user wherever possible.

Figure 3: Applications that run in the background, such as Dropbox or Skype, have now found a home in Gnome 3.16 in the newly designed status bar.
Figure 4: Gnome applications, such as the weather app here, impress with great functionality and an attractive look.

The latest issue of the Gnome desktop also made room for some programs that are still in development as technical previews. This includes the Books e-book reader, the Characters character table, and a new Calendar app. The Gnome IDE Builder [4] financed through Indiegogo targets developers.

Fedora chose not to install preview applications out of the box, but you can change this via the Software Manager in just a few steps (Figure 5). The latest version of Cockpit – the server administration tool that comes from the server edition – can also be found here. The front end for package management, Gnome Software, has been given new functions and, for example, now supports the installation of codecs. LibreOffice 4.3.2 provides an office suite, and Firefox version 37.0.2 is on board, too.

Figure 5: Gnome Software extends Fedora's package management with the help of PackageKit and supports point-and-click software installation.

DNF Instead of Yum

For its package manager, Fedora 22 jumped from Yum to DNF, which stands for Dandified Yum and is said to work faster than the original; there are no changes, however, in terms of the RPM package format. DNF also provides a new resolver named Libsolf that resolves dependencies faster and better. DNF also provides an interface for feature add-ons.

Fedora aficionados will find themselves in familiar territory: You will typically only need to swap yum for dnf while keeping the same commands. The

sudo dnf install <package>

command installs a package, and

sudo dnf distro-sync

updates the whole system (Figure 6). A simple dnf lists all options. A graphical interface is also available. To this end, the developers customized the previous Yum Extender for DNF. The result is named yumex-dnf (Figure 7). A simple

sudo dnf install yumex-dnf

sets up the package.

Figure 6: Fedora aficionados hardly need to make any changes for Fedora 22: the DNF command syntax is identical to all Yum commands.
Figure 7: Yum Extender is available as an alternative to Gnome Software as a graphical front end for package management.

Partitioning

The biggest criticism of Fedora was and remains the Anaconda installer. It uses DNF code by default, but this step does not help beginners trying to navigate the hard-to-understand program. Partitioning in particular is characterized by very obscure nesting of the available options, although some explanations were added here in recent versions.

The easiest approach is to let Fedora take over the whole disk. Another option, which only uses the available free disk space given a pre-installed Windows or overwrites existing Linux partitions, also impresses with elegant user guidance. The custom variant, however, requires an experienced user – or sufficient time to learn by trial and error. Fedora creates a boot partition and installs LVM by default in automatic mode.

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