Fedora 16 And GNOME Shell: Tested And Reviewed

Fedora 16 Installation: Phase One

The live CD download of Fedora is separate from the Installation DVD. While you can use the live CD to install Fedora onto a hard drive, it will only install a limited number of applications. You need the complete installation DVD to get the full Fedora experience.

As stated earlier, one notable application missing from the live CD is LibreOffice. Of course, you can install it from the package manager after Fedora is set up. Considering the size of the DVD ISO and the painfully slow DVD installation, using the live CD and then installing missing applications is the quicker approach.

The Fedora 16 installation is much improved over Linux distros of yesteryear. But the experience still isn't as polished as Ubuntu and its derivatives. For example, the wording of option descriptions isn't as end-user oriented, and the screen switches to a CLI briefly several times during the installation.

The Fedora installation procedure occurs in two stages. The first part begins in the live CD desktop and the second occurs upon first boot. To initialize the first phase, click the live CD installer, located in the Dash section of the Activities overview (move the mouse to the top-left corner).

When the installer begins, select a language:

Next, choose between a Basic Storage Device (like a hard drive or SSD), or a Specialized Storage Device (like networked storage). For this review, and in most normal environments, selecting Basic Storage Device is the way to go.

After the type of storage device is selected, a hostname must be chosen. This is how the system is identified on a network.

Next up is the obligatory time zone selection screen.

Next, create a root password. Unlike Ubuntu, this does not have to be the same password as the primary user. There is an option to enter a different user password during the second stage of the installation.

If the password is deemed too weak, what can only be described as a “windowlet” spawns out of the title bar, informing you of this and allowing you to change the password. This is totally optional; you can keep that weak password if you want.

Now it's time to choose a partitioning scheme. Options here include: Use All Space, Replace Existing Linux System(s), Shrink Current System, Use Free Space, and Create Custom Layout. Since Fedora 15 is going on one of the drives used in our recent Ubuntu 11.10 review, the option to replace the existing Linux partitions appears. On a blank drive, it wouldn't. Note that, unlike Ubuntu, there is no "Install Them Side-By-Side" option for easy dual-booting.

After you choose the partitioning scheme, you have to pick the drive on which Fedora is to be installed. In our example, a Kingston DataTraveler 2.0 USB thumb drive storing the Fedora 16 live media, a Kingston DataTraveler DT 100 G2 holding essential testing files, and a Seagate Barracuda 500 GB hard drive are listed. Because the Seagate hard drive is our destination device, we move it to the right-hand pane.

Another “windowlet” appears asking if you are sure about the destination drive. Be certain here; this cannot be undone.

Now it's just a waiting game as phase one is completed. When it finishes, you'll be greeted by a congratulatory screen. You can restart the computer at any time after that. In order to do so, log out and then restart from the log-in screen. When the computer restarts, make sure the live media is no longer inserted. The second phase of the Fedora 16 installation should begin.

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  • dbfm
    Wow! it took you a whole month to discover extensions.....what were you doing??? You know about search engines, right?

    I do agree that a lot of what is implemented by extensions really should be part of the base install with a nice UI to configure it all. But, have you seen https://extensions.gnome.org/ it's not perfect, but it's a step in the right direction.
    I must confess that I've only skimmed over the review, but think I've read enough to know that overall you are pretty negative about the current state of Gnome Shell, and I think you've been a bit harsh. It is after all free software in the very early stages even now (12 -18 months after the first release?)
    I think you also have to accept that the nature of Fedora is that it's a bit, well, beta! Stable, but not the finished polished article.....it isn't trying to be.

    I completely accept that the default, base install of Gnome Shell is a bit lacking, but I've been running F15 and then 16 for approaching 12 months now (having moved from Ubuntu) as my full time desktop OS, and for me (with a few weaks and extensions) it's the most intuative, flowing, beautiful UI I've ever had the pleasure to use.

    So all you readers, don't be put off by this guy! If you don't have the first clue what you're doing, then leave well alone for 12 - 18 months more till it all settles down and matures a bit, but for those of you who've got even half a clue what you're going and don't mind seending a bit of time googleing for clues on how to do what you want to do, give it a try, you might just love it!
    Personally, after 12 months, I now find it pretty frustating to use anything else...
  • Djhg2000
    Never tell users a weak root password is fine, if they ever install a remote shell server (like ssh for easy file transfer via sftp), they would be at grave risk of being hacked. If the bad guys get your root password, all bets are off.
  • sicofante
    It's funny how some Linux "community" products aren't community driven at all. GNOME is just the pinnacle of this hypocrisy, but Ubuntu isn't very far behind. Stubborn, arrogant and blind leaders are driving these "community" projects into a selfish view of how everyone should use a computer, no options accepted. They seem to believe we're in 1980 and GUIs are being invented as we speak. They try their products on "new un-prejudiced users" they must be breeding themselves, because there's no such thing in the world of computer users. No wonder they're failing massively.

    The GNOME extensions are a testament to the failure of the design team that created GNOME Shell. If KDE can be accused of being a un-designed desktop where the user is asked to make most design decisions through thousands of options, GNOME Shell is even worse: the user is presented with a minimalistic unusable thing, then asked to install additional pieces of software he has to search through a simple list on a website or "just develop them using Javascript". That's what they call "make of easy"!!

    Unity is a bit better in the way that they do make design decisions and they test them. You take it or leave it, but Unity is not hard to grasp for any Windows or OSX user with a slight guidance on their first steps. The problem is, as you pointed out perfectly well, who's gonna show newcomers Unity when power users are explicitly excluded from tinkering and are just dismissed when asking for reasonable options (the dodge bug - https://bugs.launchpad.net/ayatana-design/+bug/930148 - is an amazing display of the stubbornness, blindness and arrogance by the Ubuntu leader)?

    So they've put themselves inside a vicious circle: they "design" for newcomers but newcomers will never see their products because the evangelists -power users- are fleeing. Duh!
  • Micropat
    My own impression of GNOME 3 is far more positive. I regularly swithch between Fedora and Ubuntu. When I use Ubuntu, I run gnome 3 on it. I prefer it to unity. I get the point that gnome 2 is much more friendly to mouse users. With gnome 3 I make extensive use keyboard shortcuts and haven't really felt the need to bother with getting extensions. However, having read about them here, I'm tempted to go and try a few extensions. And as for shutting down - for ages it was "sudo shutdown -h now", until I read about the Alt trick. I thought that this was the most unintuitive shutdown feature ever. Then windows 8 consumer preview came along LOL.
  • AliKhan9
    wowww... i liek these shortcuts. I have found some new and useful shortcuts from this post. Thanks for sharing.
  • dbfm
    Ok Kids, 3.4 is here, have another look now. Thankfully it's nothing like this reviewers "what could have been" mockup, but a lot of his valid complains have been addressed....not all I might add, but it is getting there.....