Staying fresh with Fedora

My workplace work stations just upgraded to Fedora with GNOME 3. Suddenly my private laptop with Ubuntu and Unity/ KDE felt out of date, until now I've been using Xfce 4 and KDE 4 at work intermittently, keeping me feeling efficient and familiar.

I still ran Ubuntu 14.10 on my Lenovo Carbon X1 laptop — these last months I had mostly drifted into Windows 10 — and when looking into Ubuntu 15.04 I did not get the usual exciting feel of "new OS". Canonical does not seem overly interested in desktop at the moment. I just wanted to play around with KDE Plasma desktop 5 since it looks gorgeous and decided to go all the way and change distribution as well.

A few minutes with Fedora on an USB, with all devices on the laptop working from the get-go and a quick test of the packet manager, I was ready to switch.

Powered by Fedora with lines to the GNOME and KDE logos

apt-get out of my life

One of the major changes in switching distribution from Ubuntu to Fedora is using a different packet manager. Even though Unity includes a GUI to update the distribution and programs, somehow typing the apt-get commands feels better. At least you can get an idea where something went wrong if packets don't install properly. Not to mention knowing things get cleaned up, my distro runs on a small partition anyhow.

Fedora comes with a GUI option to discover and install packages, simply named Software. So far I've only used it to install OpenTTD and sadly my first attempt failed. Opening a program called gnome-software in an KDE environment is asking for trouble... even as root. Getting the packages I wanted and needed, involved using DNF from terminal anyhow.

DNF has replaced Yum as of Fedora 22 which is my installation. And I must admit to never having had any experience with Yum, but friends do not speak highly of it. First thoughts are that DNF looks good and Fedora delivers very up to date packages. From dnf install plasma-desktop plasma-workspace I got KDE Plasma 5.4.1 which is the latest release and was only two weeks old! Without the workspace you don't even get a network manager GUI, which makes connecting to WiFi more arduous.

At the start of the century, because I don't feel quite old enough to claim I witnessed the start of the millennium, I made a choice. One of those choices you are supposed to stick to throughout your life, like favourite sports team. During my first year in the university I chose KDE over GNOME, and never did a foot sticker pride my lap-/desktops. Then in 2006 I became a nurse and spent the next decade using software written for DOS and Windows 95, but that is story for another time.

Sadly the right-out-of-the-box GNOME environment works slightly better than Plasma, there are some dependencies in Plasma I haven't tracked down yet. I get all the work done, but especially widgets and their installation have some issues. The irony of installing Apper the KDE GUI packet manager that overlays DNF from another DNF overlay — Software in GNOME — felt strangely satisfying. Apper gave me choices of installing GNOME, KDE or xfce right from the graphic interface. Right now however there's a known bug in Apper that breaks searching, but I would have stayed with just Software if they allowed installing other desktop environments.

Part of the reason for switching was to live with the same environment I use at work outside working hours. So I'm sticking with GNOME for now, even though I could reinstall and choose KDE from the installer, probably fixing all dependencies. Using the GNOME desktop make me do the "jabbing of the mouse spear" up into the left corner to switch programs intuitively. This is a feature of Plasma as well, but mostly the program menus get in the way. Therefore I have to unlearn it after switching back to other desktops, it's a bit like using my Surface and touching the screen on my laptop afterwards. Which reminds me, I should finish that review soon as well.