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At Work with Linux: Fedora 17 on VMware Player

Along with the rest of the Linux world I installed a copy of Fedora 17 to sort of kick the virtual tires and drive it a short distance to see how it runs. As is usual for me these days I installed a copy in VMware Player 4.0.3 hosted on a workstation running RHEL 6.2. Maybe it was a case of the stupids, but it took two attempts to successfully install Fedora 17. The first time something I did screwed up the filesystem and it panicked when it couldn't find the kernel on boot.

Because of heavy traffic on the Fedora web site I wound up installing the live desktop because I couldn't download the full DVD. I completed the installation by adding and removing certain bits. Basically, what I altered was
  • immediately updated the installation with 87 packages, including the kernel
  • added perl, gcc, kernel-devel, xrdp, google-chrome-stable
Once all that was done I installed the VMware extensions. I had to add perl, gcc and kernel-devel to support the building of the VMware extension kernel modules.

Gnome 3.4.1 is certainly different from Gnome 2, and different from Gnome 3 on Fedora 16. In many ways it behaves like a poor copy of Ubuntu's Unity desktop. While I'm tolerant of Unity and can even see what the designers are attempting with it, I'm less tolerant of Gnome 3.4.1. I can make it work, but I have to ask myself is it worth the effort. I've yet to draw any firm conclusions one way or the other.

Support for 3D effects are finally back and can match some of what I currently have with Fedora 14 on my Dell notebook. I'm not too crazy about the choice of window decorations, but since there's no other choices being offered there's not a whole lot I can do to change it. At least Ubuntu's Unity gives you two choices, which is two more than Gnome 3.4.1. Funny thing is I like the light Unity theme. The stock Gnome 3.4.1 theme is too light and washed out.

I haven't had time to figure out the keyboard shortcuts with Gnome 3.4.1. That, along with a lack of desktops, means that I have to mouse over and click activities if I want a clear view of all open windows on the desktop. Again, the layout is "pretty" but not very user friendly, at least not at first blush.

This last screen shot shows some of the weird quirks when looking for an application. I typed in the first three letters of 'terminal', expecting it to quickly neck down to Terminal. Instead I got all of these applications. Fortunately Terminal was the first to bubble up to the first position, but I have to wonder why 'Date and Time' and 'User Accounts' and 'Details', just to name three, were provided as hits. Before I typed anything in the search box I had all the applications, and as I typed a letter the selection grew smaller and smaller. But still, this makes me wonder what's going on behind the scenes.

I really need to update to Fedora 17. Here's why:

  1. I'm still on Fedora 14. Granted, Fedora 14 still runs just dandy, but it's no longer getting any updates, and the kernel and some of the other bits I depend on are getting a bit long in the tooth.
  2. Fedora 17 has support for OpenStack Essex, and I really need to get that going in support of internal project at work. So far we've got an older version of OpenStack running on Ubuntu 10.04. We need to migrate to Fedora because we are a RHEL shop and sooner or later this will come to us via RHEL. And I'd rather were were integrated with RHEL/Fedora much sooner than later.
I'm very unenthused about about Gnome 3, so I'm going to have to run evaluation copies of all the other desktop versions to make an informed decision as to which one to use.

Update 30 May

Single greatest annoyance with Fedora 17: It Has No Bloody Off Button. I can log out and I can suspend it, but there is no explicit off. I shut it down by bringing up a terminal, su to root, and type 'shutdown now' at the prompt. No kidding.

I will keep this VM around to see if there are any updates/improvements to Gnome 3.4.1 that address this issue. What kind of morons release a DE without something as fundamental as the ability to turn off the bloody computer directly from the account desktop? Why, the same group that decided you need to log out of your account first so you can hit the power icon on the login screen. A change that can be best described as capricious and arbitrary, serving no real usability purpose whatsoever. Back in August 2011 Torvalds labeled Gnome 3 an "unholy mess." I don't think Gnome 3.4 is going to change his mind - or mine.


  1. Bill - I also don't like my few experiences with Gnome 3.x too much, but for the 'off'-button: I think you'll get it with pressing the 'Alt'-Key (at least on my German keyboard, that works). Haven't really checked on all that other keyboard stuff yet; like you I normally have better things to do than to figure out new and 'improved' desktops...


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