Fedora 15 KDE – First Impressions

A long time Mandriva user, I was distro-hopping for the past 6 months. I tried openSUSE 11.3, 11.4 and Fedora 14 – all in their KDE avatars. I couldn’t wait to try Fedora 15, which was released this week. I downloaded the KDE Live CD and copied it onto a USB stick using Unetbootin (I hate booting from a CD/DVD since it is terribly slow). Fedora booted up in less than a minute on my 4-year-old laptop and presented me a clean, pretty and solid desktop. After playing around a while, I decided on replacing openSUSE 11.4 KDE with Fedora 15 KDE.

Why KDE?

The big question first. I tried the new GNOME 3 on Fedora 15 Beta. First, my laptop didn’t have enough graphics capability to load GNOME 3 and fell back to the GNOME 2.x style desktop. Second, when I tried it on my brother’s computer, I found myself clicking more than required and I hate clicking twice when once should have been sufficient. GNOME 3 isn’t for me. I am planning to spend more time with it later, to check if I can use it as per my liking.

Hardware

An old Dell Inspiron 6400 with Intel C2D T5300 @ 1.73 GHz, 2.5 GB RAM and 10 GB for the root and 10 GB for the home partition with a GB for swap. Windows Vista resides in a 25 GB partition and my data in another 60 GB one.

Installation

The installation from the USB drive took about 15 minutes. It was pretty straightforward with standard questions like language, time zone, disk partitioning, root password and the like. Just before installing the boot loader, a message “Resizing partition /dev/sda1″ popped up and put my heart in my mouth, but nothing untoward happened in the end.

Boot up and Shutdown

Fedora booted in about 50 seconds into a usable desktop. I have a single user setup and so this time includes auto login as well. It shut down in about 6 seconds.

Desktop

A customized Fedora 15 KDE Desktop

A customized Fedora 15 KDE Desktop

The desktop after the installation is clean with only an icon for the home folder and another for trash. On the panel, there is only the Kickstart menu to the left and the usual system tray and clock on the right. Of course, everything can be customized to either present a simplistic or fully loaded desktop feel. The wallpaper is slick and fresh, even-though I wondered  what the little golden thing on the bottom right of the tree is :)

Software

Here is a list of software that comes with Fedora 15 KDE from a user’s perspective, in addition to a host of other utilities.

  • KDE platform 4.6.3
  • KOffice
  • Konqueror
  • Dragon Player
  • Gwenview
  • digiKam
  • Kopete
  • K3B

Fedora sticks to free software and there are no codecs, flash or Java support in the default installation. These can be obtained by adding the RPM Fusion repos. I installed the following applications to make my desktop complete

  • Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1
  • Gstreamer codecs – Good, Bad and Ugly
  • VLC
  • GIMP

I have not yet installed one of the other Office Suites. Right now I don’t have a pressing need to create documents or presentations, so I kept installing office suites for another day.

My integrated Intel GMA wasn’t capable of running desktop effects. I turned on desktop effects only to be told that it was quite slow and hence temporarily disabled. I then disabled it permanently. It is nice to have desktop effects, but I hope I won’t miss it.

Update 1 – 28 May 2011: (Courtesy: comment by Arthur) To set up desktop effects that don’t get temporarily disabled, I followed these steps.

  1. Go to System Settings > Application Appearance > Style and select the Fine Tuning tab. From the Graphical Effects drop down select High Display Resolution and Low CPU and click on Apply button
  2. Click on Overview button to go back
  3. Go to Desktop Effects and select the General tab
  4. Check the Enable desktop effects box and click on Apply button
  5. Select the Advanced tab
  6. From the Compositing type drop down, select OpenGL and click on Apply button
  7. Select the All Effects tab and configure the effects you like
  8. Make sure the Blur effect is disabled

Connectivity

Wi-fi connectivity is a snap these days and I had no problems connecting to my router.

The Bluetooth adapter was not detected. So this was the only piece which did not work. I have to investigate this further.

Update 2 – 28 May 2011: The problem with Bluetooth seems to be pretty widespread and is documented in Bug 695588. The solution is to run the following commands in Konsole as root.

systemctl enable bluetooth.service
systemctl start bluetooth.service

KPackageKit

I must mention this. KPackageKit worked way better than it used to on Fedora 14 and openSUSE 11.4. It was buggy and behaved inconsistently earlier but now it is just fine, although it is a bit slow sometimes.

Conclusion

When I started my distro-hopping from Mandriva, I was of the impression that Fedora was going to be cumbersome to set up and unstable considering that it is cutting edge and needs to be tweaked quite a bit. But none of that was required. Fedora 14 was a solid release that reassured me to go ahead and install Fedora 15. I was not disappointed. So far, nothing has crashed or my laptop has not frozen. I find Fedora 15 far stable than openSUSE 11.3 and 11.4 and I intend to continue using it as my primary Linux system, unless Mandriva 2011 comes out and beats Fedora hands down.

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21 responses to “Fedora 15 KDE – First Impressions

  1. “I intend to continue using it as my primary Linux system, unless Mandriva 2011 comes out and beats Fedora hands down.”

    I’m curious what factors went into the limitation to Mandriva and why Mageia, for example, won’t qualify. I’m not complaining (for my own installations I use Mandriva and Mint) but am just curious.

    t

    • Mageia is currently unfinished and they are working on their first release. Right now, the RC1 looks like re-branded Mandriva 2010.2. I will give them some time to catch up before comparing with other distros.

  2. Xiao-Long Chen

    About the bluetooth issue: Do you have Bluedevil installed? I installed Fedora 15 KDE using the DVD (for full-disk encryption) and Bluedevil wasn’t installed, so I’m guessing that the live CD didn’t include it either.

    • Yes, Bluedevil is installed. It was installed by default from the Live CD. Unfortunately, it was not able to find any adapters. Bluetooth worked on Fedora 14, so I guess this is a bug.

  3. I installed the DVD, then installed RPM Fusion and KDE, as I did not feel like playing with Gnome 3 just yet. (Although it felt more intuitive than Unity and with GnomeTweak it customized just fine). Everything went perfectly. I love the wallpaper and this will be the first one that I won`t change. I believe that is a little clockwork/steampunk bee, or some kind of insect.

  4. Pingback: Links 27/5/2011: GNU/Linux in North Korea, Bodhi Linux 1.1.0 Released | Techrights

  5. Hi, Bala.

    I’m glad you like KDE. About desktop effects, try this:

    System Settings-> Appearance Applications-> Style-> Fine Adjustment and setting in visual effects “High resolution and low cpu usage”

    with OpenGL compositing.

    And disable blur effect.

  6. I’d like to mention I read this on Chakra forums.

    If you like KDE, give Chakra a try. It’s still under development, but this is most for the installation process: if you can install it successfully (I’ve never had any problem), be sure it’s a rock solid distro and IMHO the best KDE experience you can get.

    • Regarding Chakra, it always seems to be “under development”. Reviewers have noted this also. It`s never worked for me, whereas Fedora always has.

    • You have got me interested in trying out Chakra. I will try it sometime in the coming weeks and post my thoughts

  7. This is because they are a small team of developers who started working on Chakra as a hobby. Chakra is improving… at its pace. Of course you can’t compare it to the major distros (though I prefer Chakra to most of their KDE spins).

    I guess you refer to distrowatch review. It pointed out some important issues and I’m sure developers made a note of them.

    They code also some KDE/qt specific tools such as quick usb formatter, nvidia-qt settings… and have managed to build some packages without gtk to fit in their repos (LibreOffice is the most notable example).

    This said, I don’t want to convince you, it’s only a suggestion ;)

  8. I wish Fedora have good GUI package manager. I dont like KPackageKit, yumex very slow. Synaptic for rpm no longer update.

  9. Thanks !

    My KDE after upgrade to Fedora 15, kwins hits 90 to 100% cpu !
    But after read this article, it is very, very dow ! loool
    The key its put “High resolution and low cpu usage”, and disable blur effect, and this is very, very fine ! :-D

  10. By the way, regarding to Kwin, 4.7 seems to be a very exciting release:

    http://blog.martin-graesslin.com/blog/2011/05/plasma-compositor-and-window-manager-in-4-7/

  11. I have always used Fedora and Gnome.
    But gnome seems to be built for a smartphone or tablet now. It even has a “airplane mode” switch.
    I want a desktop- with a toolbar with icons to open my applications, and icons for running apps so I can switch between them..
    I tried KDE and I am very happy- even on my 7 year old PC. I have the desktop effects off and it runs very well.

  12. OpenGl seems to use the entire cpu when I run Fedora 15 as a VBox guest changing it to xrender will speed things up a lot.

  13. Pingback: Fedora « amirmurtono

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