Comments to DistroWatch's Fedora 18 Review

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DistroWatch had a review of Fedora 18 in today's Weekly Edition. I spent a little while commenting on it on their site so I thought I'd share it here too. For the context of my comments, you might want to read/skim the review first.

@12 - When I first started using the new installer (about two months ago with the Alpha release) I too was appalled with it... yes, especially the partitioning portion After doing several installs I figured it out. I'm a long time Fedora user and I was used to Anaconda... and the new installer is a lot different. The resistance to change and not actually reading the screens is what made it a bad experience for me. Once I decided to give in and actually read the screens, it started making sense. I think a lot of the issues that people perceive with the new installer has to do with the fact that it is very easy to use now. Almost too easy for us with Linux experience. As a result, too easy becomes hard... but once you do it a few times and actually read the screens, it works well. I have done various installs and I haven't had the first bit of trouble with it. One thing I haven't done though... is try to install Fedora on a system that has another Linux distro on it. Maybe it isn't well suited for that. For new Linux users, I think it is more friendly and usable than the previous installer and that was one of their goals with it. What is there isn't an accident. They did mockups and planned for quite a while... and how it turned out is exactly how they planned it except for any bugs that might have creeped in.

@Jesse Smith - I agree with most of your review. I've been fairly lucky and haven't had any problems with the video cards I've used (about a dozen) except for one. I'll grant you that if the video sub-system is not optimal, it becomes less pleasant to use.

Fedora really needs to do something with PackageKit. I understand that it is a distro-neutral package manager and is fairly easy to use... but it just plain doesn't work well... which is why I think everyone who isn't afraid of the command line (and we aren't) use yum. Hopefully they'll change that... and given the fact that they are working on an alternative to yum which will probably land in Fedora 19, I think that is likely to happen. No disrespect to Richard Hughes who I believe wrote the bulk of PackageKit.

Regarding GNOME 3 and launching applications and switching between them... there are a few ways to do that and I think you picked the slowest way with the most steps. As @vw72 pointed out, GNOME 3 has search-based launching capabilities so why not hit the logo key, start typing and select with mouse (or hit enter). That is the fastest way. Another way would be to add your most commonly used applications to the dock (drag and drop to add) and just launch applications from there.

Regarding switching between applications there are several hotkey ways to do that too. My preferred way is Alt-Tab. For any applications where you have multiple windows open, Alt-Tab is augmented with Alt-~. Another way to do it, especially if applications are on different virtual desktops, is to simply switch directly to the desktop your application is on. The hotkeys for that is Ctl+Alt+up/down arrow.

While GNOME 3 takes a little getting used to and can fail completely on unsupported hardware... and be slow on hardware that is sub-optimal... on systems where it loves the hardware, I find it to be a pleasure to use. I also use KDE, XFCE, LXDE and others... depending on my needs and the hardware I'm running on.

Regarding the "various applications have slightly different looks and everything doesn't seem to be integrated as tightly as it could be" thing. I agree... but that really isn't something I care about. I use a lot of applications from a lot of different desktop environments and there isn't really an easy way to make everything integrate with every desktop environment. All of them share way, way more than they differ so it really isn't much of a challenge to use. I'd prefer Fedora to continue doing what do and focus less on the "make everything have GNOME topbar menu entries" work. I'm a Fedora fanboy so I know I'm not typical but hey I dig what they do.

Regarding it was still released too early assessment... maybe... but in Fedora's defence... as long as it isn't a critical bug (aka a show stopper) why delay the release? That's what updates are for... and as you mentioned, they have a firehose of updates. As you are probably aware, a lot of things change and are updated during the lifecycle of a Fedora release. They can add new desktop environments. They can upgrade existing desktop environments and the kernel version. They add new packages... and they fix a lot of bugs. With tens of thousands of packages, there are always bug fixes and updates to do. It is unfortunate that Fedora doesn't refresh their install media during the lifecycle (so there are lots of updates) but that is understandable given their short release cycle and that they are usually supporting 3 releases much of the time. Some have called Fedora 18 the worst release ever... but I totally disagree with that. I find Fedora 18 where I want to be.

Video: Ubuntu 11.10 Review

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For our Ubuntu fans as well as those who just want to learn about the upcoming release, I found this on youtube. I was hoping for HTML5 playback option, but this seems to be Flash only. The review was done from a recent release candidate that I believe will be the final release due out this Thursday. I still prefer KDE myself. :)

Review: SanDisk Sansa Fuze

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Sansa FuzeSansa FuzeThis is the second Sansa product I have bought. The first one was the Clip that served me well for a few years until it died. In need of a new device I saw the refreshed product line from SanDisk that includes the Fuze+, the Clip+ and Clip Zip. For hardware I'm usually a very late adopter. For software, being a Fedora user, not so much.

I tend to buy stuff for myself from the discount computer sellers online like, and I had a $25 credit from so I decided to check out what they had and found a refurbished black 4GB Fuze model for $28.88. They also had a Fuze+ model but it was about twice that... so I opted for the Fuze.

LinuxFest Northwest 2011 Report


LFNW EntryLFNW EntryThe end of April... is LinuxFest Northwest time. This was my 5th year attending and it was their 11th annual conference. As usual, I took my camcorder along and recorded all of the presentations I attended. Oddly no one from the BozemanLUG nor the BillingsLUG were able / interested in going with me so I was all by myself. I don't drive very much since I have been riding the bus too and from work for the past 4.5 years... so this was my first road trip in a while where I was doing all of the driving. I made it there and back in one piece so I guess I did ok. Thanks goes to my father-in-law for lending me his tricked out 1996 Mercury Grand Marquis for the trip as my wife really didn't want me to take our minivan. I owned a 1976 Mercury Marquis back in high school and that thing was a boat. The '96 was a dream to drive.

Registration DeskRegistration DeskThe Venue

The venue was the same and the portion of Bellingham Technical College used for the show hasn't changed much although I'm not sure if the DMC building was used in the past or not. If so, I guess it is just for stuff I was less interested in because I didn't make it there this year either.

Exhibits and Vendors

The exhibit area was in Building G as usual. The list of exhibitors had many of the usual suspects... although ModWest out of Missoula had a booth... and donated a Bruce Schneier action figure with accessories as a raffle prize. I didn't spend a whole of time in the exhibit area this year... as it was just so darn crowded. I have no idea what the attendance figures were but man, was it crowded at times.

ModWest BoothModWest BoothI bought myself a blue LFNW 2011 XXL tee-shirt for $15. I didn't see much in the way of tee-shirts being given away but on Sunday I hit the impressive openSUSE booth and bought one of their shirts (no XXLs left so I got an XL) for $5 and got a complimentary stuffed penguin. SWAG wasn't too bad this year especially if you wanted some magazines, ink pens, stickers, or Linux live / install media.

Here's the exhibitor list:

Amazon Web Services, BitPusher, Brown Paper Tickets, BTC Bookstore, BTC LinuxFest Network Team, Candela Technologies,, EFF, Everett LUG, FSF, Greater Seattle LUG,, LibreOffice, Linux Fund, LOPSA, ModWest, NortWest Innovation Resource Center, OpenStreetMap, OpenSUSE, Oracle Technology Group, Pogo Linux, Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington, TAPCUG Linux SIG, The Fedora Project, The FreeBSD Project (PC-BSD), The Next Generation I.T. Club, Ubuntu WA LoCo, USENIX Association, Vancouver LUG, Whatcom Association of Celestial Observers, World Famous Raffle, Yard Sale, and ZaReason.

The ZaReason folks had some pretty sweet laptops on display.

Sessions / Presentations

As usual, the vast majority of presentations where held in Haskell Center. There were five 55 minute time slots with about nine concurrent presentations per slot running on Saturday. Sunday had four 55 minute time slots with about eleven concurrent presentations. That is a LOT of presentations where you can only see a fraction of the content. Why so many? I think it has a bit to do with the venue being a school with plenty of classrooms and but not so many larger rooms. If the venue had several really large rooms, I'm sure there would be less presentations with more attendees per presentation. Most of the presentations I went to were well attended.

Unfortunately they don't have the ability to record and post videos of all of the presentations... so people like me are left to record them on their own. It is something I enjoy doing and I wish there were more folks like me. I made sure to ask for permission from every presenter.

There were a few last-minute cancellations and / or fill-ins. For example, Larry Cafiero from The Fedora Project couldn't make it so Adam Williamson filled in for him on one presentation while Larry's second presentation was simply dropped. Major Linux mainline kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman was scheduled to do a talk entitled, Write, and Submit, your first Linux kernel patch but due to unavoidable family health issues he had to cancel. He does hope to make it next year though. Anand Avati from Gluster had to cancel his presentation entitled, Virtual Storage for Linux Environments although I'm not sure why. There were a couple of additional cancellations but with so much content, the negative impact was minimal.

I attended 8.5 presentations and recorded 8 of them. I forgot a piece of my tripod, went back to the hotel to get it and was late for the first Saturday presentation. Check out the videos of the ones I did record.

Crash Course in Open Source Cloud Computing by Mark Hinkle 148.8 MB
Understanding FOSS Licensing & Legal Lessons learned from Fedora, by Tom (spot) Callaway 152.1 MB
What's New in Fedora (15) by Adam Williamson 141.9 MB
GNOME 3, What to expect with the next generation user friendly desktop by Sriram Ramkrishna 139.0 MB
Linux Native Containers (LXC) by Tom Eastep 117.8 MB
Linux-Vservers - One hunk of hardware, loads of servers by Rod Anderson 132.5 MB
Rethinking infrastructure: Putting the System back into Systems Administration by Brett Lentz 155.3 MB
With Software As A Service, Is Only The Network Luddite Free? by Bradley Kuhn 144.4 MB

Luckily I didn't see too many presenters using Windows on their laptops but there were still a few Mac users. I think people should use Linux to present at a Linux show but I think I might be in the minority.

Being a somewhat experienced user, I was somewhat disappointed with the technical depth of one or two of the presentations I attended but that was more than made up for by other presentations where I had an opportunity to ask questions of and interact with some fairly high profile community members both from the FOSS community (Bradley Kuhn and Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier for example) and The Fedora Project (Tom "spot" Callaway, Adam Williamson, and Jesse Keating among others). I think the interaction with project and community members is really something that shines at LFNW!

The Linux Action Show guys had one room all day and did several presentations / shows. I'm not too big of a LAS fan because I'm a Fedora fanboy and they have been quite harsh in their last few Fedora reviews... overly harsh. This year I did catch their review of Ubuntu 11.04 and they were overly harsh on it too. They are just a bit too negative for me at times... although I'll admit that I do occasionally watch their video show. They did their another Why Linux Sucks (third annual) which I assume will be available online real soon now if not already. Anyone have the URL for that?

The weather on Saturday was a bit cloudy with a few rain sprinkles here and there. Sunday was very sunny, warm and pleasant... which supposedly worked against people showing up as I heard one person comment, although I'm sure they were exaggerating, that that was the first really nice day in two years.

The LFNW web site allows attendees to sign up for an account, create a user profile, and then create a schedule for the presentations they plan to attend. Tom Eastep said he was perplexed by the fact that his Sunday after lunch presentation on Linux Native Containers showed over 20 attendees on the web site but only half that actually showed up. Chalk that up to the weather being too good. :) I attended all of the presentations I signed up for.

Raffle CrowdRaffle CrowdWorld Famous Raffle

Of course what would a LFNW conference be without the raffle? It is a free show after all... so they need to raise money for the programs, posters, tee-shirts, and the excellent Saturday night party. The prizes on display were of the usual sort. Books, magazine subscriptions, licenses to a few commercial tools (Komodo IDE and CodeWeaver's Crossover products), tee-shirts, bags, USB thumbdrives, a wireless access point... the previously mentioned Bruce Schneier action figure with accessories. One of the several prizes that caught my eye was the complete collection of Drupal training videos on DVD from Lullabot. There were also some expensive packages for USENIX and LISA, both pay shows. The bigger ticket items were a Motorola Xoom android tablet and a uber desktop workstation from the Pogo Linux folks. I bought $20 worth of tickets... $10 in the morning and $10 around lunchtime... and darn my luck, I didn't win anything yet another year. I'll keep trying though.

There were soooo many people in the room during the raffle and it went on for over an hour. It seemed as if the room was running out of oxygen and getting a bit hot. I exaggerate but you get my point. I'm not a crowd person and the raffle was crowded.

Saturday Night Party

I stayed at the Hampton Inn and as luck would have it, the Saturday Night Party was in Hampton Inn's Fox Hall. It ran from 6PM until Midnight. I hit it about 6:30-8 at which point I headed back to the room. There was free food (pizza, Swedish meatballs, chicken kabobs, veggies) and snacks (cookies and brownies)... and later... a few home-micro-brews. Everything was free. On the tables they had their customary two bowls... one with Cheetos and the other with M&Ms.

There was quite a bit of gaming going on too. They had a Nintendo Wii set up at one end of the room and folks were playing some Wii games... Super Mario Bros. Wii and Mario Party just to name two.

At the opposing end of the room was some system (an Xbox 360?) running Rock Band 3... with a few folks jamming out to some rock tunes.

At the tables there were a few folks playing the board game Settlers of Catan. I was sitting at one of the Catan tables for a while but I just watched. There was quite a bit of strategy going on there.

Fox Hall is quite large and the turn out for the party was very good. I didn't notice any empty tables in the room... and once the beer arrived the line ran long for some time as a few people would get a glass of beer and then walk right back to the end of the line.

Party CrowdParty Crowd   Catan GameCatan Game   FoodFood   Nintendo WiiNintendo Wii   Rock BandRock Band


This report is a lot like previous LFNW reports... and that is a good thing. I'd guess that the attendance this year was larger than last year... but I don't know how it stands with regards to other years. The gender mix seemed closer to even than ever before with plenty of females in attendance. I think there were more presentation cancellations (and I was really looking forward to Greg Kroah-Hartman) this year though... but overall nothing really to complain about. I mean, it's a free show and people put in a lot of work just to make it happen. I applaud them. Keep up the good work... it is appreciated. I'd also recommend continuing to keep it a free conference and the BTC is a great venue too.

There was one very pushy yet somewhat humorous guy demanding attendees take a paper survey. I filled one out. I hope they post the results of the survey publicly although given the fact that they were paper with hand written answers, I don't envy whoever has to process them.

See you there next year I hope!

Review: Acer Aspire One D150 and Linux

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I have had about ten laptops over the years. My first one, if you could call it a laptop, was an Atari Portfolio (1992) which I still have and it still works. I've only bought three laptops new and the rest have been given to me as retired machines by work, friends, and/or family. Here are a few things you need to know before you read this review:

  • I'm a long time Linux user
  • I am NOT a hardcore 3D gamer
  • I don't use any high end vertical apps like CAD or video editing
  • I'm a technical user who doesn't mind a certain amount of hacking

What is a Netbook?

According to the wikipedia page:

A netbook is a small portable laptop computer designed for wireless communication and access to the Internet... primarily designed for web browsing and e-mailing, netbooks rely heavily on the Internet for remote access to web-based applications and are targeted increasingly at cloud computing users who require a less powerful client computer. Netbooks typically run either Windows XP or Linux operating systems rather than more resource-intensive operating systems like Windows Vista. The devices range in size from below 5 inches to over 13, typically weigh 2 to 3 pounds (~1 kg) and are often significantly cheaper than general purpose laptops

Netbooks have been out for a couple of years now and the Asus Eee PC 700 series with a 900MHz Intel Celeron M processor underclocked to 630MHz is generally perceived to be what started the trend with inspiration from the OLPC Project. The current crop of netbooks (circa June 2009), regardless of the manufacturer, are all very similar:

  • 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 10.1 inch screen with 1024x600 resolution
  • 160 GB hard disk
  • Windows XP

Linux used to ship on most netbooks especially those with smaller SSD (Solid State Drive) storage but it seems that the volume sellers all have hard disks and Windows XP pre-installed. This is mostly due to significant price breaks Microsoft has given netbook makers on Windows XP and the market seeming to move toward traditional hard drives for their increased storage capacity over SSD storage.

Review: Sandisk Sansa Clip

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Sansa ClipSansa ClipI have always wanted a good quality audio player that works well with Linux and plays Ogg Vorbis files. Even though the Sansa Clip was originally released in 2007, I somehow missed it. The gang on The Linux Link Tech Show mentioned the Sandisk Sansa Clip as being an affordable, quality portable audio player that worked well with Linux so I decided to give it a shot. I did a little bargain hunting online and found a refurbished 1GB unit for $18.95 plus shipping so I thought it was hard to go wrong for that price. The unit arrived three days ago and I spent all weekend using it.

All of the reviews I'd come across (including a few video reviews) gave it high marks. The latest firmware available for it allows for playback of .ogg (Ogg Vorbis) and .flac (Free Loseless Audio Codec) in addition to .mp3, .wav, .wma and DRMed audiobooks. It DOES NOT play .m4a (AAC) format. I prefer to use formats that are not patent encumbered so the vast majority of my music is in .ogg/.oga format.

Review: Proxmox Virtual Environment

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Proxmox VEProxmox VEProxmox VE is a “bare metal” ISO Linux distribution that is a virtual machine platform. It is geared towards enterprise users and designed to be installed on enterprise grade hardware. The Proxmox VE distribution combines two virtual machine technologies; KVM and OpenVZ as well as a web interface to manage everything. Proxmox VE also integrates into its web interface a way to manage multiple computers as a cluster. For the rest of the article Proxmox VE shall be referred to as PVE. This article is written about PVE 1.1, the latest stable release.

Review: Fedora 10


Fedora 10Fedora 10Fedora 10 was officially released on Tuesday November 25, 2008. Since its release I have installed it on a number of machines and been running it as my full-time desktop. I added screenshots for the Syslinux boot screen, Plymouth in text mode, GDM, GNOME Desktop, GNOME Window Decorations, KDM, KDE Startup, KDE Desktop and KDE Window Decorations.

Review: Fedora 9 Preview


Boot SplashBoot SplashYesterday the Fedora Project released a "Preview" of Fedora 9. Today Ubuntu released a "Release Candidate" for 8.04 "Hardy Heron" and the openSUSE team released openSUSE 11.0 Beta 1. Since my preferred Linux distribution for the desktop is Fedora, I've been keeping up with all of the test releases. What follows is some commentary about my experiences with the Fedora 9 Preview including an image gallery. I'd like to encourage MontanaLinux users of other distros to write up their experiences with their preferred distributions.

Taking XenExpress for a Spin

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Xen in actionXen in actionAccording to the XenSource About page, "XenSource plays the dual role of leading the open source Xen(tm) community, while simultaneously selling value-added enterprise solutions based on Xen technology." The first part of that leads to various Linux distro makers integrating Xen into their distributions (like SUSE, Red Hat/clones, and Fedora). For the second part of that, XenSource currently offers a product line which includes XenExpress, XenServer and XenEnterprise. Of the three offerings, XenExpress is designed to be the entry level product and is free. I recently downloaded XenExpress and gave it a try.

During the course of this article I will describe the basic design of XenExpress, its installation, installation and use of the Administrator Console client application, creation, monitoring and management of Xen virtual machines... and then I'll try to contrast how XenSource's product line stacks up to Xen as offered by Red Hat and clones. Feel free to jump directly to the XenExpress photo gallery if desired.

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