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Sunday night I stayed up late and did a fresh install of Fedora 14 on my Thinkpad T61 – my primary machine. I had F12 on it previously, and was actually quite happy with it. All my buttons like display brightness and volume worked fine, and I was going basically a month between reboots (with typically several suspends a day). I'll admit that part of the reason for the re-install was so I could switch to using btrfs on it. Part of the reason I did it was because Kristen was running F11 and really needed an upgrade, so mine was a dry-run for hers…

I've been using it heavily this week. Read on for my min-review of it.

First, I will say that btrfs was totally worth it. I created a cron job that keeps 24 hourly snapshots and 2 hours worth of 5 minute snapshots. With my normal backups running daily and keeping 6 weeks of daily backups and 6 months of monthly backups, I have a lot of options for recovering old data. The most typical case, recovering my firefox when it loses track of it's tabs, I will be able to recovery to within the last 5 minutes, rather than to the previous day. So, I'm very happy about this.

There have been reports of btrfs performance issues, and while my boot does seem to have slowed down a bit, I honestly can say I haven't seen any obvious performance issues. I haven't turned on compression or SSD mode. I toyed with the idea of turning on compression before copying my home directory back from the backup copy, but I didn't. I decided that going with btrfs was doing enough bleeding-edge for me.

In general, F14 doesn't really feel all that different from F12. I think Fedora did a good job of backporting enhancements to F12, and I had custom built a newer Mozilla Thunderbird when I was having some issues with it. So, pretty much everything feels the same. Thunderbird has a few enhancements since the previous version, but honestly that's the only thing I've really noticed so far.

The fingerprint reader integration is great. You basically just have to install the fingerprint tools, and then run “gnome-about-me” and enable login via fingerprint. No hacking required. Though sudo doesn't display the message “swipe finger” if I redirect stdout, so usually I run sudo, wonder why it's hanging, and then remember to swipe my finger…

As far as stability goes, it's about par for the course for a new release… My F12 install, when it was new, I had to reboot it all the time. Eventually I got to the point where I was never rebooting it… How, with F14 it feels like I'm rebooting it all the time. About one time out of 5 or 10 it won't resume from suspend and I have to hard power-cycle it. Running this “pygame” (SDL wrapper for Python) image program I have will cause my display to go all black except for the mouse cursor, about one time in 4. No obvious errors, and I haven't had time to track it any further…

I'm running KDE and mostly it is working fine. The KDE NetworkManager applet isn't as good as the GNOME one though. It's pretty, but the workflow for connecting to APs is kind of annoying. You have to select the AP and then go in and configure it via the “Manage” dialog so that it will auto-connect to the AP in the future. But the biggest issue is that the KDE network manager doesn't seem to work at all with either the Sprint or Cricket USB modems we use.

So, I went into the System Settings -> Startup and Shutdown -> Service Manager, and stopped and shut down the “NetworkManager” service. Then in my ~/.kde/Autostart script I just run “nm-applet”, and now I have the GNOME one running. I had to do something similar with F12, where I also was using the GNOME applet.

So, over all the conversion went smoothly, though as I expected I am having to reboot more frequently. I do expect these issues to be cleared up, as they were with my F12 install.

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