Fedora 15: First Impressions…

It’s been nearly six months since I made the switch from CentOS to Fedora as my main desktop OS.

TheĀ Fedora 15 final release dropped a couple of days ago and I slapped it on my main desktop PC straight away. As usual, the first impression is all about the visuals. GNOME 3 looks great. I’m sure lots of people think KDE looks great too, but I tend to just stick with the default window manager, so it’s GNOME for me.

If you’ve read any of the press you will know that the menu bar and task bar have been removed. This is kinda weird at first. How does it affect me?

  • Task Bar: I was surprised how reliant I was on the task bar for switching between open apps. I would say about 50% of the time I was using the task bar and 50% of the time I was using alt+tab. Now I’m using alt+tab 100% of the time. I think this change has worked really well for me. I feel like I’m navigating quicker.
  • Menu Bar: I think this one will annoy a few people. In essence, the menu bar is still there, but one layer down. If you click on “Activies” in the top left (or hit the Windows key) you switch to the activities screen. There is a favorites doc on the left and if you click “Applications”, you get a menu (more like a filter) on the right of the screen. That’s all nice, but the thing I really like is if you click the Windows key and type in a few letters it returns all apps and items that contain those letters in the name. Similar to the Windows menu, but prettier. So if you insist on using the menu like an old-style menu, I think this change will annoy you as it requires an extra click and some animations. If you use the favorites doc and the search feature I think it’s quite cool.

The fancy visuals worked straight out of the box for my main desktop machine, but one of my other machines (with a better graphics card) couldn’t handle GNOME 3 and ran using fallback mode. Fallback mode is pretty much like previous GNOME releases with a menu bar and task bar. I’m sure some people will prefer fallback mode, but I think the new stuff is certainly worth a try.

If you really can’t handle the new interface you can manually switch to fallback mode. Start up the System Info dialog (Activities > Applications > System Settings > System Info), click “Graphics” , flick the “Forced Fallback Mode” switch and relog.

As for the OS itself, I’ve had no dramas so far, but it is early days. Time will tell…

By the way, I did the usual Oracle on Fedora thing.

Cheers

Tim…