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Fedora 15 takes wing with GNOME 3 and SystemD
May 25, 2011

The Fedora Project released the final Fedora 15 "Lovelock" distribution, the first Linux distro featuring the controversial new GNOME 3 desktop. Other Fedora 15 features include Linux 2.6.38, a dynamic firewall, the SystemD configuration utility, and new applications including LibreOffice and Firefox 4, says the project.

There do not appear to be many notable changes to Fedora 15 since the beta was released last month. As promised, this appears to be the first shipping Linux distribution to offer GNOME 3, a major overhaul to the leading Linux desktop environment that has received far more brickbats than bouquets from the Linux community since its April release.

Fedora 15 with GNOME 3
(Click to enlarge)

If it's any consolation to the GNOME Foundation, however, Canonical is getting just as much grief over Ubuntu 11.04's new Unity desktop. While the criticisms are varied and distinct, a general theme for both new environments is that the designers went overboard on trying to reach out to novice users, limited ease of configuration for more experienced Linux users.

Fedora users who agree with the GNOME 3 critiques can instead switch over to the rival KDE 4.6 (see image below), as well as the lightweight LXDE and XFCE 4.8. The latter features "a new panel, Thunar enhancements and more," says the Fedora project.

Fedora 15 with KDE 4.6 desktop
(Click to enlarge)

Fedora 15 builds upon Linux kernel 2.6.38, and adds Systemd as the default configuration utility. SystemD, which replaces SysVinit and Upstart for system and session management. helps produce a faster boot experience, says the project.

Other new features include a dynamic firewall feature, and a cloud-oriented BoxGrinder appliance builder. New applications are said to include Firefox 4 and the new clone LibreOffice 3.3.

Early feedback: thumbs up for SystemD, power management

First-look feedback on the final can be found at Ars Technica where Ryan Paul seems pleased, and even had some nice things to say about the much-maligned GNOME 3. Paul also takes a deeper look into the SystemD init system, and while he declines to pass judgment, he is certainly intrigued with its possibilities.

Meanwhile, at ZDNet Stephen Vaughan-Nichols is far more critical of GNOME 3, although he praises other Fedora 15 touches including the new LibreOffice, the dynamic firewall, and a nicely improved RPM 4.9.0 package manager. He also tested Fedora 15's touted power management improvements, and found them to be significant, delivering roughly 10 percent more battery life on a notebook computer.

Vaughan-Nichols also liked Fedora's implementation of Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments (SPICE) virtual desktops. Following a tradition of the Red Hat-sponsored Fedora featuring cutting-edge technology that later appears in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), RHEL will be getting SPICE soon.

RHEL 6.1, by the way, was finally made available to one and all last week after being gifted to select partners at the Red Hat Summit earlier this month.

For more background on Fedora 15, see our earlier beta and alpha coverage.


Fedora 15 is available now for free download. Release notes, with links to downloads may be found on this Fedroa 15 release notes page.

-- Eric Brown

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