Skip to main content

Fedora 16 And GNOME Shell: Tested And Reviewed

Graphics, Wi-Fi, And 32-bit Libs

Graphics Drivers

As explained earlier, one of the drawbacks to a 100% FOSS distribution like Fedora is the way it handles proprietary drivers. Even the most common drivers, like those for AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, must be installed and configured the old-fashioned way. Unlike the RPM Fusion repos, there are no handy RPM files. And unlike Ubuntu, there isn't a nice graphical wizard to help you out. Fortunately, if you added the RPM Fusion repos, installing AMD or Nvidia drivers doesn't require the command line.

If you opted for the EasyLife route and checked off the appropriate drivers, you can skip ahead to the next step.

For AMD/ATI cards, simply search for "catalyst" in Add/Remove Software and select AMD's proprietary driver for ATI graphic cards.

Proprietary AMD Driver Installation

For Nvidia cards, search for "nvidia" and choose Nvidia's proprietary display driver for Nvidia graphic cards.

Proprietary Nvidia Driver Installation

Both require a restart in order for the new driver to take effect.

Wi-Fi

The Dell Inspiron Mini 10v that we use for our general mobile experience has a Broadcom B43-series Wi-Fi chipset. While this chip is automatically detected in Ubuntu, Fedora has no mechanism akin to Ubuntu's Additional Drivers utility. If your Wi-Fi doesn't "just work" out-of-the-box, you need to set it up yourself.

Wi-Fi can be a bit of a pain to get working in Fedora because it does require the command line. Launch the CLI from the Applications side of the Activities overview. As with Ubuntu and most GNOME-based distros, Terminal is the name of the command line application in Fedora 16.

While most new Linux users won't feel comfortable using the command line, this is the only way to get your Wi-Fi up and running in Fedora. If you prefer graphical setup wizards, a 100% FOSS distribution just isn't for you.

To get most proprietary Wi-Fi drivers working in Fedora, first obtain the Windows version of the driver. Linuxwireless.org is the place to go for these. Once you have the driver on your machine, open a terminal and enter the appropriate code snippets provided in the device firmware installation section for Fedora.

The procedure for setting up the popular Broadcom Wi-Fi chipset found in our netbook test system is as follows:

su -yum install wgetyum install b43-fwcutter wgetexport FIRMWARE_INSTALL_DIR=”/lib/firmware”wget http://www.lwfinger.com/b43-firmware/broadcom-wl-5.100.138.tar.gztar xjf broadcom-wl-5.100.138.tar.bz2sudo b43-fwcutter -w "$FIRMWARE_INSTALL_DIR" broadcom-wl-5.100.138/linux/wl_apsta.o

64-bit Issues

It's been a while since we had any major issues with the 64-bit version of Ubuntu or any other consumer-oriented Linux desktop. But again, Fedora is somewhat of a throwback to days past. Thirty-two-bit packages don't just work on the 64-bit build of Fedora. And, unlike Ubuntu and other Debian-based distributions, Fedora has no simple method for adding 32-bit libraries to a 64-bit system. On a Debian-based distro, you get around that with a single line of code. In Fedora, each 32-bit library has to be installed manually. The only way to know which library you need is to hit a wall installing applications (or do some preliminary research). If a piece of software won't install, try using the command line. The terminal outputs any errors caused by missing libraries, at which point you can install them from either Terminal or Add/Remove Software.

The Terminal method goes like this:

sudo yum install FULL-LIBRARY-NAME

To install 32-bit libraries on a 64-bit platform via Add/Remove Software, you must first get 32-bit packages to appear in the search results. To do this, open Add/Remove Software, click on Filters in the menu bar, and then uncheck Only Native Packages.

Add/Remove Software - Filters - Only Native Packages

Now you're able to search for and install 32-bit packages on a 64-bit installation.

  • gz3ro
    I think the akmod graphics drivers (also found in the rpmfusion repository) would be better than simply the proprietary drivers because they also work after kernel updates.
    Reply
  • Verrin
    I'm really disappointed with the direction Linux has taken in its user interfaces. I was a big fan of Ubuntu until they switched to Unity, and since then I've been jumping from distro-to-distro trying to find a desktop environment that feels comfortable, isn't terribly difficult to wrap my head around, and that is still powerful. I was using GNOME3 for a while with Linux Mint, but even with the heavy extensions, there are certain functions that I can't quite replicate from the GNOME2 heyday. I wasn't able to get into KDE or XFCE either. They feel aged and aren't quite as sleek as other modern desktop environments, even if you try to fix that by adding customs skins.

    In the end, I'm downgrading to a much older distro of Ubuntu, and supplementing it with Windows 7. I'll be keeping an eye in the coming years to see how these rusty GUI releases turn out-- hopefully for the better. But for now, linux has lost a lot of its useability and it's flare. I'll miss the days when upgrading to a newer distro actually felt like an upgrade, but maybe after all these mistakes, developers will learn and make Linux exciting again. I'll be waiting to see.
    Reply
  • Good grief. What I wouldn't have done years ago for a job that would ask me to write a review on something that would obsolete itself in six months.

    Nobody, IMHO, who actually uses a computer for anything of value wastes their time with Fedora. You can't upgrade it, so your own personal enhancements and bug fixes are lost. Features you like are abandoned for broken replacements. Fedora is a nightmare and has been since it began. I began the adventure years ago with Red Hat 5 and finally gave up and moved to more useful distros after Fedora 8. Fedora is now for the masochistic.

    On the other hand, if you like superficiality, as in wallpaper and clock positions, and enjoy the animated struggle that comes with installing something new all the time and reporting bugs then Fedora is a good thing.
    Reply
  • yumri
    one thing which i would have liked to see on the comparesion would be open time of a Libre Word Processing file, close time of that file, open time of a database file, close time of it, open time of Firefox, close time of Firefox, open time of a typical website like this one, close time of it, install time of the OS, how fast does it run a batch file or equivalent in the OS, and etc. like that things which we actually do a lot besides gaming.
    Reply
  • yumri
    It also seemed like they had a basis towards the GUI way of doing things and thought all users had forsaken CLI scripting for their installs and updates. as if you are getting Fedora you most likely know it was command line based in the start and really is still easier to do everything from command line then from any other route well Ubuntu is made with the GUI interface in mind so things are easier to do with that then with command line mainly because they hid the terminal screen in the newer versions of it.
    With that Fedora is also made for workstations and Ubuntu made for end user support 2 differnet applications so why only show benchmarks of end user things and not anything on network support, domain support, VM thin client viability, accessing files from the network, etc. like that things which Fedora is good at not just things which Ubuntu is I think this article was basised and another should be made with more benchmarks to not be as basised towards one or the other.
    Reply
  • amdfangirl
    One of these days, developers of GUIs will realise going "forward" doesn't equate to an increase of ease of use and functionality.

    Unity, Metro, GNOME 3, Etc.

    Alas, I must suffer each day for the Wacom preferences panel in GNOME settings. Ties me to GNOME 3 (or a derivative). How silly.
    Reply
  • palladin9479
    Now I'm waiting for them to do a Solaris 10 or 11 review. Their both available on x86 so they don't even need to purchase new hardware. Come on it's a "real mans" OS.
    Reply
  • You've completely missed extensions.gnome.org and gnome-tweak-tool, and as a result your review is not an accurate reflection of gnome-shell. Gnome-tweak-tool gives things like "Have file manager handle the desktop" and "Trash icon visible on desktop", plus shell, window, and gtk theme selection, font configuration, and gnome-shell extension management. Extensions.gnome.org provides, well, gnome-shell extensions. Things like "Static Workspaces", which gives you a fixed number of workspaces. Or "Alternative Status Menu", which puts power, reboot, suspend, and hibernate on your status menu. Or "Applications Menu", which provides a Gnome2-like list of windows on the current workspace.

    Now, I admit that neither of these configuration options are immediately visible to a new user. Despite that, your review is bad, and you should feel bad.
    Reply
  • zhihao50
    graph for POV-Ray is wrong, you said both of linux finished 4min before windows yet the graph show the other way around.
    Reply
  • adamovera
    Cowardly AnonYou've completely missed extensions.gnome.org and gnome-tweak-tool, and as a result your review is not an accurate reflection of gnome-shell. Gnome-tweak-tool gives things like "Have file manager handle the desktop" and "Trash icon visible on desktop", plus shell, window, and gtk theme selection, font configuration, and gnome-shell extension management. Extensions.gnome.org provides, well, gnome-shell extensions. Things like "Static Workspaces", which gives you a fixed number of workspaces. Or "Alternative Status Menu", which puts power, reboot, suspend, and hibernate on your status menu. Or "Applications Menu", which provides a Gnome2-like list of windows on the current workspace.Now, I admit that neither of these configuration options are immediately visible to a new user. Despite that, your review is bad, and you should feel bad.See pages 12 through 16.
    Reply