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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Pigeons

In the past few months, a few pigeons have made our neighbourhood their home. Here are a few pictures of them feeding on rice on my neighbour’s terrace. I just love their grace and their colour.

Training room fun

It was almost a year and a half since I stood as an instructor in a training room. I was excited when I got an opportunity to do it again last month.  Teaching or training people, is pretty fascinating and very satisfying, due to the fact that one passes on the knowledge to many others. Considering that my audience are professionals, there are few interesting things which I just couldn’t avoid but notice.

  1. There will always be at least one person who is completely disconnected with what is happening around them and are in their own little world.
  2. Some of them consider the sessions as a break from their work and spend time surfing the net and playing casual games online.
  3. The percentage of people who are really interested in the discussion and participate is close to 50
  4. Then there are a couple who sit completely silent, listen to every single word I say and understand the topic under discussion, without ever speaking a word or asking a question
  5. The number of people who sit in the first row, in a 10 member class is approximately 2.
  6. Some continue working on their projects unmindful of the what I am discussing with the others.
  7. Finally, if there are 10 people in the class, another 10 would have registered to participate and not bothered to turn up.

Email clients?

After overhearing a conversation at work about email clients, I couldn’t resist coming up with this 🙂

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 43,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 4 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 162 posts. There were 9 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 5mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was December 1st with 253 views. The most popular post that day was Draw regular shapes using The GIMP.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were tuxmachines.org, google.com, ifreestores.com, stumbleupon.com, and google.co.in.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for gimp draw rectangle, gimp rectangle, avant window navigator, draw rectangle gimp, and awn.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Draw regular shapes using The GIMP September 2007
44 comments

2

Mandriva Linux 2010 GNOME – Solid and Sweet November 2009
6 comments

3

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon Screenshots October 2007
4 comments

4

Slax – Tiny, beautiful, functional February 2009
11 comments

5

Do you aspire to become a Project Manager September 2006

‘shred’ your hard disk

When we buy a new computer or give away a hard drive to others or just trash our old computer, it is always a good idea to delete all the information stored on the hard disks. This is particularly important if the computer has been used for business purpose or storing critical personal data such as financial transactions or health records. Just formatting the disk does not help either. Data can still be recovered from a formatted disk. So we shred the data, just like we do with paper documents and files.

Shredding or wiping the disk basically means writing random data to the disk a few times so that the data previously held could not be recovered. The more times random data is written the more difficult it becomes to recover files. Each time random data is written is called a ‘pass’. The time taken to shred the disk depends on the size of the disk and the number of passes. Large disks with higher number of passes could take hours to complete.

There are several tools available to achieve this goal. Some paid, some free. One such free tool that is widely available is the ‘shred’ command in Linux. It is available in almost every distribution. I recently discovered this and put it to great use.  I used GParted Live CD for this purpose. On booting up the Live CD on the target system, issue the command

shred -vfzn 5 /dev/sda1

Replace /dev/sda1 with the appropriate drive.
This is the simplest form of this command.  Let use see what it does

shred – the command to shred
v – provides verbose output
f – force permission changes to allow overwriting
z – write zeros after final pass to mask shredding
n – number of passes to be made. If this option is not specified, three passes are made by default.

This is the result of the shred command on a test disk under virtual box.

shred command

'shred' command

The ‘shred’ command can also be used to securely delete individual files. For example

shred -vfz test.txt

There are few more options available for the ‘shred’ command which can be used to further tune how ‘shred’ works.

Install KDE SC 4.5 on Mandriva Linux Spring 2010

Now that KDE SC 4.5 is out, I went ahead and upgraded my Mandriva Linux Spring 2010 from KDE SC 4.4 to KDE SC 4.5. Though the process is pretty simple, here is a simple step by step guide to upgrade to KDE SC 4.5. Please note that there may be other ways, but these steps use just the GUI. No command line involved here. So here we go

Step 1: Selecting the mirror

  • Head here and select a mirror.
  • Select the one closest to your location.
  • Copy the URL of the mirror

Step 2: Add Media

  • Open the Mandriva Control Center by clicking “Configure Your Computer” from the menu.
  • Provide the root password when prompted
  • Click “Configure media sources for install and update
  • Select File > Add a custom medium
  • Enter the details in the “Add a medium” dialog and click Ok.
Add a Medium

Add a Medium

  • Close the “Configure Media” window by clicking Ok again.

Step 3: Updating your system

  • In the MCC, click “Update your system
  • Updates from the newly added repository will appear.
  • Apply the updates

Step 4: Login to KDE SC 4.5

After the updates have been downloaded and installed, logout and log back in
Enjoy