by July 4, 2009 0 comments

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.

Price: Free
Meant For: Linux users
Key Specs: GNOME 2.26, Firefox 3.5, KDE 4.2
Pros: Fast bootup time, ext4 support
Cons: No significant graphical enhancement
Buy 130781 to 56677

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
to ext4)
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.

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