Fedora 15

Kudos to the Red Hat Fedora team for this new release.  A slew of new things to learn and control.  I already used its preupgrade utility to easily apply it to this KVM guest running my Internet services in web site, email, et al, with only a little bit of work associated with some service configuration files (easily identified as *.rpmnew) that required some manual updating to work to my tastes.  I have completed a clean install over Fedora 14 on my workstation that hosts this KVM guest, and all is doing well so far as stability and performance.

The most obvious change, of course, is the introduction to Gnome 3.0 with Gnome-Shell.  Wow, has it come a long way in usability from my preview of it about a year ago.  After an hour of self-discovery of this shiny new user interface to the Gnome window manager, I am pleased to say I have adapted to it quite readily — and that’s a good indicator.

The UI is intuitive enough to me.  I like the ease of managing its favorites menu and I especially like the window management with the dynamic workspaces to the right.  I do miss some of Compiz features, such as wheel zoom and mouse selecting any area to snapshot to a graphic image, but I am confident such niceties will arrive eventually.  It is a must to install gnome-tweak-tool, simply to increase the font rendering scale and use preferred fonts — as nice as the default liberation fonts look, I have grown accustomed to my preferred combo of Arial, Lucida Console, and Trebuchet.

Firefox 4 is also a welcome change.  It starts up faster and it renders faster — I was starting to warm up to Google Chrome as a replacement, because of Firefox’s prior performance.  I had to first install an extension NoSquint that manages page zooming to leverage my high definition monitor and accommodate my aging eyes.  Next came the usual suspects from Adobe, except they now offer a 64-bit flash player, which means nspluginwrapper is no longer needed; OpenJDK and IcedTea have proven to be capable enough for my Java-enabled web needs; and mozplugger with mplayer and timidity++ (removing totem-mozplugin of course) allows HTML embedded media to play without fuss.  Finally, CUPS with system-config-printer continue to not disappoint with its auto-detection of our networked HP Color LaserJet 2605dn printer.

As a long-time end user of OpenOffice (I still got my boxed copy of Sun’s StarOffice), I am happy to see a parallel fork of it as Liberation Office.  Remember what happened when XFree86 messed with its licensing and became Xorg?  It is a reminder that open source projects like these in danger of getting strangled by commercial interests can quickly become a non-issue when its development community takes charge over those few that would seek to exploit the masses with their shortsightedness goals.

Ok, enough applications and usability talk — time to fire up MAME and other classic emulators and do some retrogaming — woot!