5 things we love about Fedora 20 (and 5 things we hate)

The latest release of Fedora, nicknamed "Heisenbug," is a step towards making Fedora a player in the mobile arena.

Fedora 20

The latest release of Fedora, nicknamed “Heisenbug,” is a step towards making Fedora a player in the mobile arena. Fedora 20 also includes more support for cloud, and this is also the first release that supports cheap, low-power ARM processors. The default desktop environment is Gnome 3, though Fedora also supports the Cinnamon, Enlightenment, KDE, Mate and Sugar desktops. Fedora comes with Firefox, LibreOffice, the Evolution email client, and the Empathy IM platform that can access Gmail, MSN, Yahoo!, Jabber and others. Here are 5 things we like and 5 things we don’t about Fedora 20.

Fedora 20

The default desktop environment is Gnome 3, though Fedora also supports the Cinnamon, Enlightenment, KDE, Mate and Sugar desktop environments. In a nod towards usability, a Gnome tutorial launches at first startup to help new users get familiar with it. It's a slick, modern interface. This release has some minor improvements, such as better fonts and a reorganized applications menu.

Fedora 20

Installation took about 10 minutes, a little faster than Fedora 19, but the installer interface continues to be unnecessarily complicated and requires some familiarity with disk partitioning. Ubuntu, for example, makes this process much simpler for casual users.

Fedora 20

The previous release, Fedora 19, included First Class Cloud Images, versions of Fedora ready to run on Amazon’s cloud. With this release, the cloud images are presented as equal options to the other alternatives, the traditional desktop installer and CD-based images. The cloud images are now developed and tested as part of the regular development process. “We continue to push towards making capabilities available in the cloud,” says Red Hat CIO Lee Congdon. That includes JBoss middleware and other development tools, he says. These tools also come into play when building solutions that are delivered to mobile users.

Fedora 20

There's no built-in way to change most of the appearance and display settings. As a result, one of the first things that users will probably want to do is to install the Gnome Tweak Tool.

Fedora 20

Not all of Fedora's cloud-related features are about the enterprise. For example, Gnome Documents allows users to connect to their online accounts at Google Drive, Facebook, Flickr, ownCloud, and other online services. This seems similar to the Unity Smart Scopes feature recently added to Ubuntu. One advantage of the Gnome approach, however, is that it doesn't needlessly clutter up the search results with Amazon, Etsy, Wikipedia and Reddit results.

Fedora 20

Fedora isn't quite making the mobile strides that Ubuntu is, which actually released a mobile version of the operating system with Ubuntu Touch last fall.

Fedora 20

The best news on the device front is that Gnome now supports login and authentication with smart cards, a great security advance for many enterprises.

Fedora 20

Fedora is a pure open-source operating system, meaning that it doesn't come with proprietary tools like Flash. Depending on the use case, this may be a good thing or a bad thing. For casual end users, it's definitely a problem, since installing Flash can be cumbersome. It's not available in the official Fedora software repository, and users need to enable the RPM Fusion repository instead. The same goes for Nvidia's and AMD's proprietary graphics cards drivers and Skype.

Fedora 20

Hadoop is the big name in Big Data, and Fedora now offers the core functionality of this popular Big Data analytics platform, as well as many related packages. Apache Hadoop typically runs on clusters of machines, but can be used on a single computer as well, for development and testing. To fully use Hadoop on Fedora will require multiple-system deployment and management, and the Fedora team is reportedly working on packaging Apache Ambari. Fedora has also updated MongoDB to version 2.4. This is the leading NoSQL database for unstructured data. The update adds full text search and security enhancements.

Fedora 20

Another issue that could cause problems is Fedora’s decision to the upgrade from the BlueZ 4 version of the Linux Bluetooth protocol stack to BlueZ 5. This is the most cutting edge release of BlueZ, and not all Bluetooth devices are supported. Some Bluetooth headset users, for example, may need to downgrade back to Bluez 4 – or hold off on upgrading to Fedora 20 until their devices work.