The long awaited Fedora 11 is finally here and you can install it from this month's PCQ DVD . You will not find anything dramatically different with the new distro's user interface, look and feel. But a lot of significant changes have been made under the hood.
Faster boot up : The boot up time has been considerably trimmed in Fedora 11 with Fedora developers claimming that it will boot a recent age machine in less than 20 seconds. Another interesting thing which you will notice here is the boot information icon at the GDM (Genome Desktop Manger) login screen. The reason why it is here is very simple. The bootup process is completely graphical and doesn't show any message while booting the machine even if there is any boot up service error. While booting to GDM, if you see this icon, it means there was a service error while booting. Clicking on this icon will show you the complete output of bootup text screen. You can find this icon at the bottom right corner of the GDM login screen.
EXT4 File System: The biggest enhancement in Fedora is the inclusion of ext49fourth extended) as the default file system. Some key features of the file system are support for 1 Exabyte disks and 16TB size for a single file. It also has exceeded the limit of having 32000 subdirectories. These may not matter fro an ordinary user, so for him the benefits are that it's more stable, provides faster file access and disk scans, and is backward compatible with preview file system.
|With OpenChange plugin, now you can share calendars through Exchange and sync it to Evolution.|
OpenChange: This is a new out of the box port for accessing Microsoft Exchange and most of its features from a Linux based mail client. The OpenChange provides a client side library that can be used in existing messaging clients and offers native compatibility with Exchange Server. By native comparability here, we mean support for sending and receiving mails, connecting to proxy calenders/calender sharing, accessing the public folders, integration with LDAP/ADS, accessing shared address book, etc. OpenChange allows clients such as Thunderbird, Evolution, KMail, and other open source applications to utilize the full range of MAPI functionality including messaging, but right now only Evolution and kdepim has the out of the box support for OpenChange. We also tried connecting evolution to a Exchange server and we were able to sync shared calenders and address book apart of just sending and receiving mails.
FingerPrint: If you have a laptop with fingerprint reorganization then you don't need to hunt for its drivers. Now Linux can support most of the fingerprint drivers and can be used for login and other purposes. We tested it out on an HCL laptop and it worked perfectly.
The Real Experience: Let's talk about some real experience which I had while upgrading my 6 months old Fedora 10 based media center PC. I popped in the DVD and booted my machine with it. It asked me for the upgrade and I continued. It took around an hour and fifteen minute to do the complete upgrade. Once done, it rebooted me to the new Fedora 11 OS, it suddenly dropped me to a text shell. For some unknown reason, it had destroyed my nVIDIA driver for the graphics card. Thats why it was not able to run the XWindow. A simple yum install on nVIDIA did the trick and I got my graphical display back. I then checked if it automatically has upgraded my file system and found it had not. Later I found I hadn't pass 'ext4migrate' parameter to anaconda while booting from the installation DVD, which is why it didn't happen. I don't understand why the developers can't have a graphical option inside the anaconda installer for setting this upgrade uption. Is it that difficult? I also found that ext4 is backward compatible, so you need not exactly convert your partition. Rather just a remounting of your partition in ext4 will make the difference. In such a case, the old files will remain as ext3 and the new files created on the file system will be able to use the benefits of ext4. You can also run tune2fs to convert the file system completely. The following set of commands helped:
|To make the indic typing easy, Fedora 11 comes with a small on screen keyboard. This gets automatically installed when you select your country as India while installing.|
1 umount /dev/sdxy (where sdxy is the ext3 partition you are about to convert
2. tune2fs -O extents,uninit_bg,dir_index /dev/sdxy (converting into Ext4)
3 fsck -pf /dev/sdxy
4 mount -t ext4 /dev/sdxy /mount
After doing this, I tried checking my existing applications and found that all the applications that I have downloaded either from livna or any other repository except Fedora 10 repository had either stopped working or are malfunctioning. Some examples were mplayer, ffmpeg codac, weather-wallpaper, Compiz-fusion, emerald, and even my MythTV was not working. As ffmpeg was missing, I was not even able to play movies and music on my media center. That was a bad experience. Again a set of yum install and yum update did the trick and I was able to get at least mplayer back, the video and audio codacs and compiz-fusion. But to my surprise, MythTV was still not working even after a complete uninstall and reinstall of the application. I am still trying that one out. And even don't know when the upgrade process will be smart enough to take care of all such issues. Overall, it's not very easy to fix things here and a new Linux user will have a hard time configuring all these.
Bottomline: Fedora 11 has lots of changes that make it more robust and stable. But if you see it from an end user point of view it has nothing, but the new artwork.