Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Out with the Old in with the New - Fedora 13 Beta

Linux takes the spotlight, although photography will get a mention. Best of all there is not a lot to get crotchety about. I have been playing with the beta version of Fedora 13. It appears that the Fedora project is getting better at releases. This just like the last two appears very stable for a beta release. I remember when pre-release versions of Fedora were anything but stable. This beta version does look good, in fact the looks of the desktop is (IMHO) getting to compete with any system now. Icons are cleaner, more detailed. The colours look realistic, thanks to Gnome Color Manager. Everything feels like it is at home on this desktop. I am using the Gnome version of Fedora, I have had a look at the KDE version and that too is an improvement on the old version.

I cannot say that the installation went well, but it was all down to my impatience. The first boot after installation took forever. If you are having problems then just keep waiting! It took over 30 minutes on my machine. I was expecting problems installing it on my laptop, especially with the video driver. It was as though I wanted the new version of the nouveau driver to have problems with my video card, because it always did. Wrong! It worked perfectly, although it is not supporting 3D graphics yet. Some Nvidia cards will get 3D out of this driver but not mine. For me this is not a problem. Suspend works, this is the first release I have seen that work every time without a hiccup.

My laptop is actually a tablet PC and being able to use the tablet features is nice. I can use the pen or the touch screen. The touch screen is not great but I never use it anyway. When using the pen as my pointer everything is fine. I would just like to be able to calibrate the screen, the pointer drifts in the corners. The web camera on the laptop works fine with Cheese Webcam Booth. My finger print reader worked out of the box. This is a first for a Fedora installation on the laptop, everything working very quickly.

Photography? Well all my favourites work fine. Geeqie, UFRaw and the Gimp are all fine but are the same versions in this beta release as in Fedora 12. This is not a problem as they all do what I require. I did try LightZone and it also worked fine. This is pretty much what you would expect from any Linux distribution today. Integration with Gnome Color Manager? I found no issues. I found that the version of Gnome Color Manager integrated in Fedora 13 worked better than the version from the Gnome GIT, that I compiled myself to work on Fedora 12. In what way did it work better? It picked up devices more reliably, my compiled version always failed to see my cameras. This was not a major detraction for me but it may put a few off. Once the package was an integrated system all this worked well and it must have been down to me. Any serious photographer should try Fedora 13 just to get Gnome Color Manager!

The other new features? I have tried the new version of rpm, no problems to report. In fact package management is much better. I did test the automatic printer configuration. I plugged my printer in to see what would happen and I got an icon in my Task bar, then a window opened but it was blank. The window closed and I noticed that any part of the screen that had been refreshed lacked any text! On restarting the system I tried again and got told there was no driver for the Canon ip5200 I own, pressing search launched a second search (of Gutenprint) when it found a driver. A nice touch that we can configure printers automatically.

I have not gone out to try very much. I have used my system as normal and everything is working. That is all I need to know. My conclusion is that this Beta version is the most stable Beta that I have tried and works for me. If it did not have Gnome Color Manager I doubt if I would have rushed to install Fedora 13. There is nothing too exciting in the feature list. Gnome Color Manager changed my attitude. I am glad it did, everything is working much better. The whole system is starting to have a much more professional feel. My biggest problem is that I am reduced to a user rather than a system admin looking to fix small niggles. This means I have time to catch up on all those projects. Where do I start?

Best of all the Fedora 13 Beta lifts my photographic workflow up a notch and I can look at Windows and Mac OS and wonder why?

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