Fedora 7 Time: Moonshine
If you've read any Linux news sites today, you know that Fedora 7 was released this morning and is codenamed Moonshine. You may have noticed by now that I only seem to cover the releases of Red Hat related distros. That is because that is what I prefer. I'd certainly welcome other members covering their favorite distros. Can you hear me Ubuntu users?
If you didn't know already, the Fedora Project has dropped the word Core from the name and with this release you no longer have to download multiple CDs. Fedora 7 is a lot like Ubuntu in that it has a single Live / Install CD that is based on Gnome. For KDE (K Desktop Environment) users, there is another, single Live / Install CD that is KDE based. For those who want to download as much as possible and have a lot of software to pick from, there is also a single DVD that has both Gnome and KDE and much, much more. Me? I decided to download them all... but since the KDE .iso completed first, and hey, I'm a big KDE person, I took the KDE Live / Install CD for a spin.
Click on the image thumbnails for popups of the larger images or go directly to the Image Gallery for all of the screenshots.
The machine I did the install on (the screenshots are NOT from a VMware based install) had an onboard Intel 82945G/GZ video chipset and Xorg loves it and supports accelerated 3D with it. From the Live CD I selected:
Kmenu -> System -> Beryl Manager
Beryl loaded and bingo bango... I had a 3D desktop. If the desktop background looks a little weird it is because I set the display to be 70% saturated and you can see my six-sided desktop showing through.
So far as the install goes, basically a more streamlined version of the standard install runs inside of a window on top of the desktop. You pick the desired Language, configure your Network, set a root Password, assign Partitions, set Timezone... all the standard stuff.
I used the KDE screengrabber from the Fedora 7 KDE Live CD to grab all of the screenshots during the install. I was a bit surprised to see that it works fine when doing the Beryl 3D stuff.
Getting back to Beryl
Ok, Beryl really isn't part of the install but if you haven't seen it before, right-click on the Beryl icon in the system tray... and walk through the various sections and examine all of the features. I like to have a 6 or more sided desktop. I like to see through my desktop. I like to zoom out when rotating. It is so much fun.
Windows float and have depth. If you set your cube sides to be see through then you can see the backsides of windows. If those windows are doing something, for example a web browser showing an animated gif, that will still run even while you are manipulating the cube. Darn it, I forgot to take a screenshot of the... what's it called... where you all of the windows on all desktops show as shrunken versions of themselves so you can quickly pick the one you want. Well, whatever you call that.
Beryl is a lot of fun. Some of its features are actually more than eye candy. I often enjoy zooming in on the screen to make a tiny flash video embedded in a web browser window full screen.
Its what you'd expect but maybe less
The Fedora 7 KDE Live CD sticks strickly with KDE applications. Firefox, GIMP nor OpenOffice.org are installed. Instead you get the Konqueror, KolourPaint and the Koffice suite of applictions as you would expect. Conversely, if you go with the stock Fedora 7 Live CD, you'll get all Gnome apps... and if you install from the DVD you'll get more choice. Of course you can install any and everything else your heart desires post-install... if you can get past the first-week bandwidth storms.
One thing Fedora has stuck with, and it has disheartened the weaker among us (yeah, I'm talking about you Eric S. Raymond!), is strickly free software. You won't get the Flash plugin, Realplayer, Adobe Acrobat Reader, mp3 playback, DVD decryption and playback, and all of those other proprietary codecs. Why not? Because they are forbidden items. What does that mean? To quote the release notes:
Fedora software repositories cannot include support for MP3 or DVD video playback or recording. The MP3 formats are patented, and the patent holders have not provided the necessary patent licenses. DVD video formats are patented and equipped with an encryption scheme. The patent holders have not provided the necessary patent licenses, and the code needed to decrypt CSS-encrypted discs may violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a copyright law of the United States. Fedora also excludes other multimedia software due to patent, copyright, or license restrictions, including Adobe's Flash Player and Real Media's Real Player. For more on this subject, please refer to http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/ForbiddenItems.
While other MP3 options may be available for Fedora, Fluendo now offers a free MP3 plugin for GStreamer that has the necessary patent license for end users. This plugin enables MP3 support in applications that use the GStreamer framework as a backend. Fedora does not include this plugin since we prefer to support and encourage the use of patent unrestricted open formats instead. For more information about the MP3 plugin, visit Fluendo's website at http://www.fluendo.com/.
There are also a number of third-party repos that provide the forbidden items.
I have to say that the Release Notes are quite extensive so check them out... if you can. The Fedora sites seem to be quite busy today.
Hey, it's a Red Hat based distro so of course you have to do the firstboot thing. After the install is done, you reboot and on that first boot you get to do quite a few steps of post install configuration... like creating a user account, setting up the firewall, and all of those useful things.
More Graphical Stuff
The default GDM theme is really slick looking. It uses faces so you'll see an entry for each user you have created on the system. Clicking on a user's face entry is the equivalent of typing in their username... so it's all about less typing.
For those coming from the Windows world, they now create all of those goofy document type directories in all users' home directories. They call that Localized Common User Directories (xdg-user-dirs) and they include Documents, Music, Pictures, and Downloads directories.
It goes without saying that if Xorg natively supports your video card / chipset with accelerated graphics... you should strongly consider turning on the Beryl eye candy... unless you are on a slower machine and want to save clock cycles.
While I've installed every test release of Fedora 7 and one of the release candidates and am very familiar with all of the new stuff... I'm tired of typing. Read those extensive Release Notes! Hey, this is good stuff... for the desktop user... but then again, being a big Red Hat aka Fedora fan, I'd probably be happy with anything they slap the name on, eh? :)
Oh, and you don't HAVE to use the Live CD just for doing installs. You can use it as a Live CD as well. The machine I was working with had a darn fast optical drive and loading applications was fast. I was able to make screenshots, save them to my Pictures directory (in RAM?) and then open up a terminal and scp them to my workstation for publication... while the install was going. After the install was done, I could use it some more.
Fedora 7 does a fanastic job of automounting USB media so if you'd want any more permenant storage from the Live CD setup you can plug in one of those. For those who really like USB drives, you can even use some of the new, more advanced tools that come with Fedora 7 and make yourself a bootable USB without destroying any files you already have on the USB stick. Of course that assumes your hardware as capable of booting from an USB thumb drive to begin with.