Thursday, July 28, 2011

f15 (gnome3) from flash drive

After spending some time using Unity in Ubuntu Natty, I wanted to take a look at GNOME 3 in Fedora 15. I downloaded the Fedora-15-i686-Live-Desktop.iso and verified the sha256sum, and then used a couple of different methods to create bootable flash drives.

First, I used MultiSystem, which I already have installed in Ubuntu Lucid. Very easy to use, and the live session booted up fine.

Next, I installed unetbootin in Mepis 11, and used that to create the flash drive. unetbootin was also surprisingly easy. Fedora 15 is not listed as one of the Fedora versions supported by unetbootin, but everything worked fine.

I think that in either case, the flash drive needs to be formatted to FAT32. The Linux dd command is also mentioned as an easy way to create bootable flash drives, but I haven't tried that one yet.

Now, for some screen shots of Fedora 15's GNOME 3 version (which is the main version), from the unetbootin live session.

Here's the desktop with a wallpaper that's very close to the default wallpaper, except with some decoration in the lower right:

Clicking on "Activities" in the upper left corner brings up the menu. Here's the System Tools menu:

Looks like you can't do much desktop configuration without installing some things like gnome-tweak-tool, but you can do some basic things from the live session.

Here's a shot of some kind of bug that I've seen a few times in the live sessions:

I haven't bothered to research that yet.

I'm not crazy about the way GNOME 3 does workspaces; it's different, but it works for getting around. You have to go to "Activities" for the workspaces to show up along the right side of the screen, or to even change workspaces using the mouse. They call them "dynamic workspaces." The desktop starts out with one workspace; if you start an application, you get the workspace that the application starts in plus one empty workspace. Each time you start an application in an empty workspace, you end up with another emply workspace. The dock along the left side starts out with big, juicy icons, but they become smaller when you have more applications running.

I felt that the workspace grid in Unity and desktop grid in KDE4 are better ways to deal with workspaces than how things are done in GNOME 3, but maybe "dynamic workspaces" just takes some getting used to.

Here's a shot of the desktop with a wallpaper chosen from Fedora 15's default collection:

The crash in the gvfs-1.8.1-1.fc15 package occurred again and again during my live sessions, so that's a concern. Another problem was that I was unable to change the time on the clock at the top and make it stick. Those and the fact that configuration options were limited might not be issues in a hard drive installation.

The system felt fast and responsive; the menu was fairly easy to get around, but I didn't like the fact that you had to go to "Activities" to do just about anything with the mouse, including opening up applications. The search tool that shows up in the upper right in "Activities" is nice, but using it to find and open up apps requires using the keyboard.

Fedora 15 came with Firefox 4.0.1, which is already old (!). There was no office suite with the live CD .iso.

The lack of minimize/maximize buttons for applications struck me as odd, but double-clicking at the top of an application window toggles between the two modes, and right-clicking in the same place brings up more options. You can drag windows from one workspace to another using the workspaces thing along the right side when in "Activities."

My initial impression is that GNOME 3 is not as easy for getting things done as Unity, but other folks feel differently, and perhaps my opinion will change over time. Also, I think that Unity looks better -- less childish, more attractive. But that's a matter of opinion, too.

I'm in no hurry to use GNOME 3, and what I've seen from these live sessions doesn't inspire me to do a hard drive installation of Fedora 15's main version (I already have the KDE spin installed), but I figure that GNOME 3 will improve and that a lot of people will be happy with it and that I'll be fine using it whenever I get around to installing it.

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