Your Linux Data Center Experts

Fedora 9 was released last week (2008-05-13). Overall, I think it's another great release. Congrats to all the folks who worked so hard on it!

As with any release there are a few gotchas and bugs, but not all that many from my (biased) viewpoint. Read on for further impressions of the release.

I switched my main machine (my dell d820 laptop) over to rawhide toward the end of the cycle so I could assist in testing and help with final bug fixing, so I have been running essentially F9 for a while now. Disclaimer: I maintain a number of packages in Fedora, am on the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee, and process most of the Fedora cvs requests.

First the good things: Disk encryption out of the box is very nice. I did a reinstall on my laptop to make sure it was setup with entire disk and swap encryption as the installer would set it up. NetworkManager has gotten so much better it's amazing. I started out with NetworkManager enabled and I am still using here many weeks later. If you tried and hated NetworkManager in the past, please do consider giving it another try now in Fedora 9. Another great item was the improvements in SElinux. I did still have to add a few custom rules to support my uucp over tcp over vpn setup for email to my laptop, but it was very easy to do and I have had no issues with it since, leaving it in “enforcing” mode. Liferea (the RSS reader) finally dropped off my applications list, replaced with akregator. Had to get used to some new keystrokes, but overall pretty easy. Firefox3b5 seems to be overall much faster and less memory leaky than Firefox 2.x was. A good improvement there. The new yum 'best' arch code is working great here. I have only installed on my x86_64 system those i386 packages I need for closed source items like adobe flash-plugin.

Xfce hasn't changed all that much in Fedora 9. Xfce moves at a pretty slow pace for release cycles, so the version in F9 is the same as the one in F8. We did make some good improvements for new users however: Added a default trash and volume control, made sure there was a version of the default theme for Fedora available for Xfce, and made sure the default background was available for new users. All small tweaks, but hopefully good for new installs. With an Xfce SIG, look for more tweaks over time.

Now on to the bad side of the coin: The media (cd, dvds) installer thinks that Xfce is available to install, even though it's not available on the media. On the one hand, this leads to more people seeing that Xfce is available for Fedora and trying to get it installed and running. On the other hand, they select it in the installer and the resulting system has no Xfce on it. Happy that's solved by either selecting the additional repos from the media install (if you have network) or just simply doing a 'yum groupinstall XFCE' after the install completes and you have network.

One other issue (outside of Fedora's control) is that my music player application does not yet work with the new perl in Fedora 9 (5.10). The squeezeserver folks are working on it, and I expect a new package there soon. This sort of thing is to be expected with Fedora running very new versions of software.

Finally I ran into a nasty bug that prevented me from running xchat. xchat has been my IRC client for a long time, so switching to xchat-gnome was a bit of a annoyance. Luckily this bug was tracked down to transparent background support, so I can now at least run it with no transparent background. I hope they track down the final issue so I can use transparent backgrounds again soon.

Overall time marches on, and I am quite happy with Fedora for a desktop operating system. All the new apps in a nice well maintained package.

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