Fedora 16 And GNOME Shell: Tested And Reviewed

Repos, Flash, Java, And Codecs

If you've never used Fedora, an RPM-based distro, an entirely FOSS distro, or even Linux, you will seriously want to read the next two pages immediately after installation.

Again, Fedora is not Ubuntu. Fedora is the upstream project for RHEL, and therefore not at all tailored for the novice home user. Fedora is also 100% FOSS, meaning that even free, proprietary software cannot be included in Fedora or its default repos. Flash, Skype, Java, audio/video codecs, and even certain hardware drivers need to be installed manually. But that's not to say you can't turn Fedora into a fully-equipped desktop; it just puts the onus on the user.

But before we get into drivers, let's address that 100% FOSS issue. There are two ways to work around this: the easy way and the long way. First, let's have a look at the easy way.


EasyLife is a great little app that automates a large portion of setting up a new Fedora installation. This application can install the RPM Fusion software repositories, Flash, Java, various multimedia codecs, and even Skype. EasyLife is available as an RPM download. Simply double-click the file to begin installation (just like an .exe or .msi file in Windows, a .dmg in Mac OS X, or a .deb in Ubuntu). When the EasyLife installation completes, click the Activities button. Select Applications and scroll down until you see the entry labelled EasyLife. 

You can choose to install a number of different apps and utilities in the options window.

The RPM Fusion repos are installed automatically, so you need to check off ATI or Nvidia if you plan on doing any 3D work. Otherwise, the open source drivers already in use should be fine. You'll also want to grab Codecs, Flash, and Java32 or Java64.

If you're using EasyLife, skip to the next page. Otherwise, read on to install each item individually.

RPM Fusion Repositories

If you want any proprietary software, you need to add an after-market repository that isn't confined by the strict 100% FOSS policy. There are several third-party RPM repos that can be added to Fedora, but the easiest and most complete for new users is RPM Fusion.

While you can manually add the RPM Fusion repos via the software sources section of the package manager, RPM Fusion makes this much easier by providing downloadable RPMs to do that automatically.

Head on over to this link and download the RPM Fusion free for Fedora 15 and 16 and the RPM Fusion non-free for Fedora 15 and 16. After the RPM files have finished downloading, simply double-click the free package in the file manager to begin installation. Next, install the non-free package.

Now that we have access to distributable proprietary packages, run Software Update again to update the RPM Fusion repo. You may also be asked if you trust the source for each repo, just select the affirmative response.


To install Flash, download it from Adobe. Select the YUM for Linux (YUM) option in the drop-down menu.

The download package is in RPM format, so double-click it to install. This package is not actually Flash, it just adds the Adobe Flash software channel to the list of available software in Add/Remove Software.

Next, we need to make the Flash repo searchable. Open Add/Remove Software, select the System menu, and hit Refresh Package Lists.

Now, we can install Flash. Search for “flash,” select Adobe Flash 11.1 Player, and click Apply.


The RPM Fusion repos add Java to the list of packages in Add/Remove Software. Search for “java,” select Java, and click Apply.


In order to play back certain media formats, such as MP3 files, we have to get the proper codecs. Fedora comes with the “Good” and the free version of the “Bad” GStreamer codec packs. RPM Fusion adds more versions of the GGtreamer codec packs. We need to grab a few additional versions. Open Add/Remove Software, search for “gstreamer,” and select:

Gstreamer streaming media framework “bad” plug-ins
Extra Gstreamer “bad” plug-ins (less often used “bad” plug-ins)
Non Free Gstreamer streaming media framework “bad” plug-ins
Gstreamer streaming media framework “ugly” plug-ins

Click Apply, and at the end of the installation, you should be able to play your media files.

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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.....