GNOME 2.14, Rawhide, SUSE and more…

Apparently, Fedora Core 5 will ship with GNOME 2.14. Checking the release dates on both projects, it seems that the 15th of March 2006 (according to the published schedules) will be a hot day for Fedora users and GNOME fans.

A brief overview of the new GNOME 2.14 features and improvements has been published.
Davyd Madeley writes:

Built on the shoulders of giants, GNOME 2.14 hits the shelves on the 15th of March. As well as new features and more polish, developers have been working around the clock to squeeze more performance out of the most commonly used applications and libraries. This is a review of some of the most shiny work that has gone into the upcoming GNOME release.

Apart from this, I believe that the most important feature of FC5 is the inclusion of Mono. The needed Mono bindings (sharp packages) will exist in the official Extras repo, so there will be no need for custom builds in order to make Mono applications run. At least, this was the one and only reason that I had upgraded my main desktop to the development version of Fedora (Rawhide). Was this action right?

After almost two months of using the Rawhide as my main desktop OS, I have come to the following conclusions:

  • I have the feeling that I could have waited for 2 or 3 months more until the final version of FC5 would come out. Except for being one of those using the cutting edge of the linux software, I almost gained nothing out of it. This was the second time I used a distribution’s development version as my main OS (the previous was Mandrake Cooker from v9.2 to v10).
  • The way I upgraded to rawhide was not the proper one. This would be to first install FC4 cleanly and then do the upgrade. Well, I upgraded my in some ways customized FC4 installation to the rawhide. This is not the same thing. Doing so, made me very hesitant for submitting bugs to the Red Hat bugzilla for the rawhide, because some of the issues I have encountered so far could have been produced by the improper way of upgrading the distribution. So, I haven’t been helpful at all to the Fedora development community regarding the bug submission.
  • The fact that, almost every two to three days I had to update a whole bunch of packages, became, over time, the most boring procedure. I am talking about upgrades of 100-300MB over a small DSL line.
  • Rawhide proved to be pretty stable. I admit that I had issues with computer crashes, most of which happened while compiling software. This only happened after certain big upgrades, including upgrades of the kernel and of the development libraries. But, this was a rare situation.
  • The real issue was performance. I know very well that I couldn’t expect much from a development version, but things were really bad sometimes. This mainly includes the performance of GNOME, Xorg (nvidia drivers with 3D acceleration installed). Performance issues are my major argument when talking about development versions. I strongly do not recommend using a devel version of a distribution, if you are on a slow machine.
  • There was no serious multimedia support in the official repositories due to licensing problems and, furthermore, there is no repository, that contains multimedia packages (codecs, libraries etc), which is in sync with the rawhide. This was not necessarily bad. Actually, this led me to compile all the needed multimedia support manually. I consider this as good. I used spec files from the Livna repo as a starting point, but over time I wrote my own spec files configuring multimedia software (codecs, libraries, players etc) the way I want and also using some optimizations specific to my computer’s architecture for optimum performance. Well, this is what open-source is all about anyway. I learned a lot of things from this situation. I also intend to upload the spec files at some later time

So, after all this, would I recommend using the rawhide as the main desktop OS? The answer is definitely no. It would be weird anyway if the answer was anything else. Usage of the Rawhide is meant only for testing and bug submission. Nothing more or less.

One other thing I did was to install the SUSE 10 distribution on another machine, using KDE as the desktop anvironment. First of all, SUSE really impressed me. It’s more polished than Fedora and the revised control panel (YAST), which is in sync with the KDE control panel, is simply awesome. Personally, I prefer editing text configuration files, but for a new user a good control panel is really important. Also, this distro does not include serious multimedia support by default due to licensing problems. Guru and Packman’s repositories have all the stuff you will need.

But, what really impressed me is KDE. The last time I used KDE was with Mandrake 9 and 9.2 (if I remember well). Of course, a lot of improvements and new features have been implemented since then. I have started thinking about switching to KDE for some time. I am a GNOME fan, but KDE seems like the desktop environment a power user would like to have. The problem in this case is that I have to re-organize my stuff using KDE apps, which is a time consuming task, so this will be delayed.

Last, but not least, is that I did not have much time to publish any new articles about Linux on this blog. This situation will continue as I am pretty much occupied with my studies at this time of year. Furthermore, I checked the Fedora Project home page and read all the detailed articles about how to participate to the project. What I intend to do is to transfer some of the articles I have written so far to the Fedora Documentation Project (FDP) and even write some more for the FDP or submit packages to Fedora Extras. I got stuck though with the Contributor License Agreement (CLA) because it’s written in the lawyer language and I will need some time to fully understand it before signing. I read it a couple of times, but I’m not sure that I have understood correctly if this is an agreement between the volunteer Contributor and the Fedora Project or between the volunteer Contributor, the Fedora Project and Red Hat. I really do not know if this makes an important difference, but would like to clear it out before signing. I guess I’ll ask for some clarification on IRC or some mailing list. Also, at the current time the Fedora documentation is being re-licensed, so I guess I’ll wait until things are settled.

This article was written in an extremely fast pace, so forgive any mistakes.
Until next time…

GNOME 2.14, Rawhide, SUSE and more… by George Notaras is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Copyright © 2006 - Some Rights Reserved

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About George Notaras

George Notaras is the editor of the G-Loaded Journal, a technical blog about Free and Open-Source Software. George, among other things, is an enthusiast self-taught GNU/Linux system administrator. He has created this web site to share the IT knowledge and experience he has gained over the years with other people. George primarily uses CentOS and Fedora. He has also developed some open-source software projects in his spare time.