Fedora 20 Heisenbug review - Finally, a good version!


Updated: December 23, 2013

My love affair with Fedora is much like a typical visit to an Amsterdam brothel, where you expect to nibble some premium European white chocolate, sip wine and chat with a lady of uncommon affections, and you end up tied and hurting, and then she's HE IS crying, and the local police is talking to you in a funny language, all of them dressed in leather coats and wearing fedoras. Ah, fedoras.

Anyhow, it feels like version 19 only came out yesterday, and now there's a new one. But the autumn season has turned into winter, and we must test, test, test. Naturally, I chose the KDE version and set about pimping my way around. You will now bear witness to my escapade. Intel graphics, SSD, quad boot, good fun. Melee!

Teaser

Live session & installation

Fedora 19 was a troubled system, with kernel bugs and other problems. When I first tested it, it would not even let me login. Not so this time around. From the start, everything was rather peachy, I must admit. Boring, but peachy.

The free software thingie means you are restricted to just some casual browsing and no fun at all. I can accept ideology, and in this sense, Ubuntu is no greater charmer either. The live session is only there to give you a sampling of what's ahead.

Live desktop

The installer is still kind of tricky, but I've spat enough poison and venom in my previous two reviews, so I won't be doing it now. We will see this installer in action again soon, but that's a different story altogether. Anyhow, after a bit of careful fiddling, I was able to setup a proper quad-boot configuration.

Partitioning

Since the installer is kind of dangerous, you pay more attention to what you're doing. Then, probably because whoever designed it figured there could be terrible moments of panic, they added all kinds of safety measures, so you won't be killing your data easily, unless you really insist. There's a lot of mouse clicking needed before you format existing partitions. Paradoxically, the unclever layout makes it safer. But more error prone.

Accept changes

The installer does have a bunch of visual glitches. The text is positioned flush with the surrounding div, so it appears as if some letters are cropped. There are so many ways the installer can be prettified, but we won't go there.

Cropped letters

Using Fedora

The installation took about 10 minutes. There were no problems. And now, we need to make Fedora presentable. What I did was try new themes, new windows decorations, new wallpapers, installed easyLife, which in turn setup the RPMForge and Livna repositories for extra stuff, like codecs, Skype, Java, and more, and finally edited the basic layout of the desktop to my liking. You will soon see the results. And I promise a dedicated article on this topic!

Package management

I was most pleasantly surprised by both Apper and yum. They are much faster than before, even with all the compression and bandwidth optimization. The system update for 445 packages took maybe five minutes, at full line speed. Nice, given the distro was only recently released, and usually the repos choke in the first week or so.

Yum, fast

Apper deps

Apper, untrusted

Warning

easyLife

An essential part of all my reviews - this will get your codecs and such. Now, for all those who emailed me about alternative Fedora desktop and repo management tools, I've not forgotten, we will talk about this soon.

easyLife

Multimedia playback

After this step is complete, you will have your pr0n helper utils, namely Flash and MP3, so you can watch your stuff. Moreover, HD playback worked just fine, and I tested a WebM file, with Xvid and Lame, in Dragon Player, without any issues.

Youtube Flash

Music MP3

HD video, WebM

Web camera

Worked without a hitch.

Web camera

Desktop effects

For some reason, I was not able to activate them.

Applications

Fedora's default set is okay, but not mind-boggling. You do get rekonq and Kmail, rather than Firefox and Thunderbird. Then, there's the Calligra Suite. On top of that, you also get the lovely Marble geo-educational tool, which was also the only application to crash, just once, bringing the total distro sum of problems to one. Yup. SELinux was quiet, too.

Apps

Marble crashed

Skype, Steam, etc

For the sake of fun, I also added these - some manually, some using easyLife. Not an essential part of the distro itself, but I decided to throw these into the review, all considering. We will learn more about them separately.

Skype & Steam

Touchpad config

Unlike some other KDE distros, you get a kickass Touchpad utility.

Good touchpad config

Printing

It did not work using the standard KDE utility, but you can solve the problem by installing the system-config-printer tool, normally intended for Gnome, logging out and back into your session. Similar to doing the same thing on Ubuntu and friends. More later.

Printing, does not really work

Resource usage

Fedora 20 Heisenbug KDE edition is not the leanest distro. It tolled some 500MB worth of RAM, and the CPU utilization was normally about 3-5%. Overall, the distro was fairly responsive, but you can do better.

Resource usage

Look & feel

You know how I think that openSUSE 13.1 KDE is among the prettiest desktops around? Well, then, why not bring its beauty to the rest of the Linux world? Which is exactly what I did. I installed the openSUSE Plasma theme, using the KDE Settings Menu, and did some extra cool work. Remember, I promised a separate tutorial.

Cool desktop

Beautiful, system area

Problems?

No, not really. The logout can be slow, but it's nothing special. Other than that, the system was perfectly stable. There were no hangs, crashes or other bugs. Even the KDEWallet was silent, and there's the new Wireless utility we saw in Kubuntu. In the worst case, when logging in, it will prompt you for your password, but that's it. No bogus failed messages, no issues there. Stable, robust. Suspend & resume worked fine, too.

Conclusion

Fedora 20 Heisenbug, adorned with the KDE desktop, has some issues. For example, the printing is borked, the desktop effects do not work, and there's the manner of default boredom. Moreover, Marble crashed once. But that's all really.

Other than that, the system worked fine. After 30 minutes of serious customization, I had everything, including a range of popular, mainstream software, like GIMP, VLC, Skype, or Steam, I had all my codecs, and the desktop looked beautiful. This was so much unlike the typical Fedora experience, and I'm feeling rather intrigued. True, you have to sweat a little to get what you need, but the end result is quite pleasing. Gone is the beta quality, it seems. And so, for the first time, yours truly, I recommend you consider Fedora for your production environment. Overall grade, 8.5/10. Now, fix those effects and printing!

Cheers.

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