I have moved back to Fedora on my primary laptop. And not the stable. I am using the Alpha of Fedora 15. I expect bugs, so I am not going to complain about stability in an Alpha release.
I decided to dump Ubuntu as my primary desktop for a couple of reasons. I think Ubuntu is a more polished desktop, and provides a better user experience over-all, especially for a regular user, and I like its Debian heritage and package system. But I do not like Unity. I am not going to debate it’s pros/cons here it has been done all over the interwebs. I simply don’t like it, and do not think it should be built the way it is. Unity should be built upstream, as an alternative shell to Gnome, not inside Ubuntu’s closed walls, and then customized for Ubuntu later on. Canonical could learn from red-hats previous mistakes and successes in this regard.
I was also very disappointed with the way Ubuntu handled the inclusion of Banshee and with the outcomes from that debacle.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Fedora and I like the community built around it, but I was also skeptical of the Fedora choice to ship Gnome-Shell. So I gave the Alpha a spin.
And I like it. It took a little getting used to, but I moved back to the old gnome-panel interface and I missed the changes now present in gnome-shell. So much that I decided months out from release to stick with Fedora 15 as my primary installation.
I am using this as a desktop, so my comments are really only relevant in that space, but a couple of thoughts.
Technically SELinux is brilliant. But on a desktop it gets in the way, and the alerts will make no sense to a regular user. After an update I had to set my policy to permissive to simply be able to login again (Not a real complaint, it is Alpha). But until work is done to make the whole thing a lot clearer to non-technical users every howto is still going to start with, “Turn off selinux”. If I build a live respin, I will probably disable selinux on install.
The preferences are sparse, and this is by design, but I think most users, after getting used to the interface, are going to won’t more customization option. For the technically minded people install “dconf-editor”. If you want things a little simpler check out “gnome-tweak-tool“.
But personally, after getting comfortable with the shell, I think it is a better way to work. I like managing my work-flow with dynamic workspaces. A few extra keyboard shortcuts would come in handy.
I also have a usability problem with the notification tray. When there are multiple icons, you hover over the icon, which then moves to display the name of the application. If you need to click on an icon for options it has moved some arbitrary number of pixels away. It is only a little thing, but it annoys me no end. I think rather than shuffling icons, the title could simply be displayed as a pop-op, hint style.
Adding things and customization
Getting things to work with Fedora is just a little bit tricky. 32 bit flash on 64 bit system requires a visit to the wiki. Yum doesn’t process architecture dependencies properly, so whenever an app was only available 32 bit, like Skype, it would take a bit of a forum search to find a solution for installation. And I think that has always hindered Fedora adoption. The learning curve is just a bit steeper than Ubuntu. Sure a visit to a Fedora FAQ will normally fix you up. but it takes a bit of investigation.
But all that said. I am back on very familiar Fedora soil, and I couldn’t be happier. I will try when writing blog posts to include instructions for Fedora/RHEL/CentOS and Ubuntu/Debian. I work with all of them. But I am a little lazy, so instead there will probably be a mash of howto’s each one on whatever distro the problem I was fixing was based.