Updated: June 15, 2015
The new Fedora is like the Spaghetti western arch-hero. It has no name. Well, Twenty-Two. To make things even more complicated, the new release no longer brands itself the old, classic way. The modern new Web demands that the flavors be workstation, which replaces the desktop idea, the server, which is sort of like alpha testing for future Red Hat releases, and Cloud, which is so hot right now, like Hansel in Zoolander.
So I am going to be testing it. The workstation release, with KDE. The previous one was only average, and it shattered my hopes and expectations from this operating system, as I find the Red Hat base more appealing than a Debian one. But it almost never seems to catch on. Maybe now. After me.
Boot me up, if you boot me up I'll never start
Does Fedora like UEFI? This is a big topic at the moment. Well, it does! It does! I did not have to do any hacks or tweaks on my latest test machine, a Lenovo G50 laptop. Fedora did its thing well, and the little logo was filling up with color to indicate the boot process was moving forward, toward a fruitful live session. Except the session never happened.
Like a stillborn caterpillar, it died wreathed in its own silky, dusty cocoon, and never transcended into a majestic butterfly. The desktop never loaded, for whatever hardware incompatibility reason. This meant I had to try an older system, a very aged and outdated LG RD510 machine, which does have a somewhat respectable 4GB RAM, two cores, and an Nvidia graphics card. Second time lucky.
It worked, and I had the fine and sexy Plasma desktop at my disposal. We've seen this one already, twice with Netrunner, both Prometheus and Ozymandias, as well as the latest Kubuntu 15.04 release. The results were mixed, although most of the problems were not technically related to the desktop environment.
Well, okay I guess. Wireless worked fine, in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz ranges, although you're pestered with KDEWallet. Bluetooth works, too. Samba sharing is available, but you cannot use NETBIOS names, as WINS resolution is not configured, so you must access your Windows hosts with IP addresses. Speaking of Samba, the printing does not work. Moreover, the applet prompts for the root password. Why please?
Well, you know Fedora. It ain't exactly codec liberal, so you will have to wait for most of the good stuff until after the first reboot. I don't have any fancy stuff to report at this point, except the system was doing its expected free software thingie.
Ich habe ein installacion problem
Now, the installation piece. It worked okay, with the usual caveats I've outlined way back in my Fedora 18 review. The partitioning remains somewhat risky due to the non-linear workflow, although you can manage fine. I did. Then, all sorts of screen flickers started, sort of tearing and flashing and whatnot, and they would not go away until after the reboot. The slideshow is not impressive, and there's the 100% progress trick that always annoys me. Fedora never shows any other numbers except this one, and then it keeps it there for ages. Once again, why please?
Twenty two bugfixes on the wall
The first thing I saw after reboot was a login screen, with the font all mangled up and unreadable, all of the letters compressed and overlapping and whatnot. The session itself seemed to work fine. I had to provide my Wireless password again.
Fedora did prompt for updates right away, but it's slower than what Ubuntu and family does. Moreover, it displays a green icon, which means Alles Klar Herr Kommissar, even when updates are available. Then, to make things worse, yum is no longer your package management of choice, because Linux folks like to change things for the sake of change.
Yum command has been deprecated, redirecting to '/usr/bin/dnf install firefox'
Since I wanted to actually be able to use Fedora, I downloaded easyLife. You're well familiar with this tool, and we have used it many times before. In a nutshell, this will let us grab codecs, additional software and such. Oh, the screen flickers started again, and they were really annoying. In Firefox, I actually had to turn off hardware acceleration to be able to use the browser. So it seems Fedora does not like my old Nvidia card, and the Nouveau set of drivers is predictably misbehaving.
It is also important to note that the current version of easyLife only supports Fedora 21, but it did install and run well. However, you will get a failed installed message, which does not correlate with what really happens. Weird and confusing. Again.
After grabbing the Nvidia drivers, I decided to reboot, to get rid of the flickering, and to be actually able to enjoy my system properly. I was also looking forward to tweaking the distro, and playing with software plus media codecs.
Black screen. Fedora would not load. Nothing useful in the messages. I tried the rescue mode, and still nothing. The desktop simply refused to show. I don't know if this is strictly related to Nvidia, but it sure does feel that way, but it could also be a dozen other little problems all piled up, including kernel updates.
This is quite frustrating, as I've been able to sort of tame Fedora into being a nice and presentable distro, and for a change, I thought this spring I might actually be able to raise my head and proclaim proudly, for I am a Fedora user. But no. Does not seem to be the case. Moreover, I owe you a whole bunch of things, except I can't really do them.
And so, without any application testing, any customization, desktop effects, resource usage testing, and some other bits and pieces, we must bring the Fedora Twenty-Two KDE review to a halt. Because the distro is dead, and it can't cope with some simple updates and installs. Really a shame. It reminds me that Fedora is a testbed. But it used to be quite stable recently, and now, we're back in 2010.
I really am disappointed. I wish I had some better news for you, but this release simply doesn't cut it. It's riddled with bugs, even when it works, and then it stops working. Slow, laggy, average hardware compatibility including Nvidia problems, a less than ideal presentation layer, all in all, a rushed edition with no soul or passion. You can't fake those. Grade we must, and so Fedora 22 gets a very feeble 2/10. See you around.
Update, June 19:
To be fair, I got an email from one of my readers telling me I was doing a shoddy, monkey business with this review, because I had tried to use an outdated tool with old packages on a newer version of Fedora, and that I should not act surprised that things did not work out as they should. I agree to some extent, but here's a more detailed analysis of why part of the blame falls on Fedora's hands:
EasyLife errors happened in the previous release, too, and Muon did not gracefully handle them. So we have a package manager throwing bogus messages that do not correlate with the actual changes to the system, and it's been almost six months since I've first reported this issue.
Being able to install an outdated Nvidia package is and isn't a problem. It's not a problem, because an incompatible kernel module CANNOT be force-loaded into the kernel. In the best case, it would cause kernel panic. In general, nothing would happen. Furthermore, what about the package manager protecting the system from incompatible libraries, dependency checks and whatnot. I did not try to force anything, so the system should have gracefully handled it.
It is possible that the installation edits the Xorg configuration, but this also happens after a successful install, so again, this shouldn't be an issue. The same applies to any and all Noveau blacklisting.
Even if the bad driver was somehow installed, this should not made much difference. If you've ever seen Nvidia drivers go bad, you usually end up with a login prompt in one of the virtual consoles, as the driver is loaded fairly late into the boot session. I did not have this luxury. The system was frozen, not merely lacking GUI.
The failsafe mode should have worked, as it is supposed to blacklist any tainted, third-party modules, and Nvidia is one of them, plus the desktop should have loaded in the nearest equivalent of the old VESA mode. This clearly did not happen, so even if my Nvidia games were horribly misplaced, which they were, Fedora 22 should have been able to cope and offer a minimal session. Even a shell to try to copy files, recover, whatnot.
All of the above leads me to believe that the problem runs deeper than just Nvidia, and in fact, I think it has nothing to do with the graphics drivers. Moreover, using third-party tools to modify Fedora also highlights its lack of approachability and friendliness, and increases the risk of bad tampering leading to damage. Repos should be more easily accessible.
Last but not the least, the combination of package updates that I've done alongside easyLife tweaks is most likely the bigger cause for the problem than anything else. It's all to easy to pile it up on me, but then, Fedora is a mature system for experienced users, and as such, it should be designed to cope with problems. Alas, it does not. While my efforts surely did not help, they also point at a much bigger fundamental issue with the distro, including the big hardware problems in the FIRST place, without any Nvidia drivers involved, plus the difficulty around basic desktop usage. So there. That's the long version.