Fedora 17 Brings Stability and Some New Features

7:17 AM

On the 29th of May Red Hat released Fedora 17. This article is a review of Fedora 17 with Gnome 3.4. In this article I will discuss new features in Fedora 17 as well as any bugs I encounter. 

Fedora 17 with Gnome 3.4 is incredibly stable in comparison with Fedora 16 with Gnome 3.2. I have to admit I had a really hard time finding any bugs in the system, which is a lot more than I could say for Fedora 16. The bugs I did find weren't even really bugs but just minor annoyances.

The installation was quick, and it only took me a maximum of 15 minutes to get the system installed and booted up. The boot time is quick as well, although I don't know the exact number of seconds. It certainly does boot faster than Sabayon or Ubuntu on my laptop, however.

Fedora 16 was a beautiful distribution with it's pretty blue background with a bird. Fedora 17 is no different, even though its background shows a very different scene:

Notice that I do have a battery status icon on my desktop. In previous versions of Gnome 3 I didn't have this. So if you're one of those who have been missing a battery status icon in Gnome 3, upgrading to 3.4 might just be your answer to getting it back.

The most noticeable feature about Gnome 3.4 is it now supports multiple online accounts, as well as integrates Google's chat, calendar, contacts, mail, and documents (although I have yet to see how Google's documents are integrated, the option is there). 

 There's been a slight change made to the System Settings. What was once System Information is now called Details.

Another noticeable feature of Fedora 17 is the addition of GIMP 2.8, which now has a single window mode:

Here's another noticeable and badly needed improvement in Gnome 3.4: there's now a "Forget Network" button, which comes in handy if you want to remove a network from your wireless configuration. 

Gnome 3.4 also now has an application menu in the top panel. 

One feature I can't really show you pictures of is how Fedora is now moving everything that used to be under /bin and /sbin to the /usr directory. Now instead of having two almost identical places like /bin and /usr/bin or /sbin and /usr/sbin everything will be located in the same folder, /usr. 

Another feature that I can't really show you pictures of (nor do I have the equipment for it) is that Fedora 17 now has multi-touch support. With all these distros becoming more and more tablet friendly I really can't wait to get a tablet of my own to play around with. 

Fedora 17 also now has software rendering for Gnome Shell, which means even if you don't have a 3D driver you can still have the chance to enjoy Gnome Shell without MATE. 

Other than updated software versions, that's pretty much all that's new in Fedora 17 that I found. It seems that this release wasn't so much a "features" release as it was a release meant to stabilize and improve the features that were already there.

There are a few problems I have encountered, although I wouldn't exactly call them bugs at this point. When creating a new profile, I found that I didn't have the ability to tap my touchpad in order to click on the desktop. This obviously has something to do with a setting in my profile, as when I use my old profile from 3.2 it works fine.

The top panel only shows the active window's button. This means in order to switch between windows I have to go in to Overlay mode. I'm not really sure if this is an intended feature or a bug. I'm hoping it's a bug, because it seems rather counter-productive to show only one window button at a time. I have recently been informed that this is indeed Gnome's intended interface. It seems Sabayon has modified it so that all the windows' buttons show up. I can only hope this will eventually work its way up in to vanilla Gnome.

Currently the ATI drivers aren't compatible with xorg. Hopefully the next version release will have that capability, but for now you have to settle for xorg's drivers if you use an ATI card.

Hibernation doesn't seem to like the xorg driver, as rebooting will show a pixelated mess of a desktop. Hopefully this is just an isolated incident in relation to my specific GPU.

I'm very surprised Fedora hasn't started including the Gnome Tweak Tool by default as most distributions have. It's still easily install-able from the repositories, but this is a step that should not be necessary. I can only guess that it isn't included as part of Fedora's efforts to give users a vanilla Gnome.

Despite these drawbacks, Fedora 17 is good and stable enough for me to have installed it permanently on my laptop, replacing Sabayon 8 (I have a history of going back and forth between Sabayon and Fedora because I can't make up my mind on which distro I like best). Gnome 3.4 is showing some more features that make it a great desktop environment, and GIMP 2.8 finally has a single window mode. The stability of Fedora 17 is nothing to sniff at, either. I've kept it running over the past 24 hours with no hiccups. Surely Fedora 17 is a distro that will reside on my laptop for a long time to come - or at least until the next release of Sabayon. ;)

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