8. KDE Spin: I’m writing this review from a yet-to-be-upgraded installation of Fedora 18 KDE. Other than having to replace the Kickoff menu, which is the default menu on almost all KDE desktops, with the Lancelot menu, and installing Rhythmbox in place of Amarok, the native music application for KDE, it (mostly) has been a trouble-free experience. The KDE desktop is that much more mature and more suitable for how I interact with a desktop computer than a default installation of a GNOME 3 desktop, though the latest GNOME 3 updates have been slowly moving in the right direction.
A question I always ask myself whenever I install a Fedora KDE edition is this: Why is Konqueror the default Web browser? I’ve written about this before and it bears repeating here. Konqueror is a powerful application, supporting more protocols than any other (Web browser). but as a dedicated Web browser, it’s terrible. So the first thing I always do, after logging into a new Fedora KDE desktop, is install Firefox, which just happens to be the default Web browser in the main Fedora edition.
Here is a screen shot of the KDE desktop, showing the context menu of the firewall-applet, the same applet that would not start in the GNOME 3 desktop.
And here is the same desktop showing the default menu. Not my favorite menu, so the other thing I do, after installing Firefox, is to replace it.
One of the better replacements available, is the Lancelot menu. On a test installation of Fedora 18 KDE, I’ve even tried the SimpleWelcome menu of ROSA Desktop, though I’ve not tried it on any test installation of Fedora 19 KDE (see Install ROSA Launcher on Fedora 18 KDE).
Just one more screen shot of the desktop showing an experimental feature of the Lancelot menu.
For power-users, holding down the Alt and F2 brings up a very useful utility of the KDE desktop. From this small app that pops up, you can search for local content, online content by specifying “gg” (that’s short for Google), though the Youtube and Wikipedia plugins don’t seem to work, because I could not get results by typing in a search term I now can only be returned from the Internet.
ROSA Desktop KDE, because of a couple of applications created by ROSA developers, has more user-friendly features than the KDE edition of other distributions. Those enhancements, represented in graphical form as StackFolder and KLook, have not been integrated upstream because of some disagreement between KDE and ROSA developers.
StackFolder and KLook make the ROSA desktop seem more vibrant than other KDE desktops. They are the type of features we should be encouraging other distro developers to integrate into their distributions. These are Free Software, so there’s no barrier to adoption. If I were a Fedora developer, I’d make integrating StackFolder and KLook into Fedora 20 or 21 a top priority. If you are interested, you may read the exchange between ROSA developers responsible for KLook and StackFolder and KDE developers here. You may also read the message from a ROSA developer introducing both utilities to KDE developers.
9. Graphical Package Manager(s): On Linux distributions that publish installation images for multiple desktop environments, I find that certain system management applications are the same across the different desktop environments. In Linux Mint and ROSA Desktop, for example, the different flavors or editions that they publish share the same graphical package manager. So the user experience, when it comes to managing applications, is the same, regardless of the desktop environment in use. That is not the case on Fedora, where the main edition and the KDE Spin feature different graphical interfaces for managing applications. I think even the Xfce Spin uses a different graphical package manager called Yum Extender.
In the main edition, the graphical package manager is called the gpk-application, and Apper in the KDE Spin. Compared to the Software Manager of Linux Mint, Deepin Software Center (DSC) of Linux Deepin, and even the Software Center of Ubuntu, both look dated, even though they are still being actively developed. Below is a screen shot of the gpk-applications
And this is of Apper.
Performing a search for applications from either graphical package manager can often be slow and return results that are not very specific to the search string. That’s why I prefer searching for applications from the command-line using the yum command.
Talking about yum, you now have an extra option when attempting to install an application. Before Fedora 19, you were prompted by yum to type a “y” or “N” to indicate your willingness to install or abort the installation of an application. The new option now lets you download the application or applications for installation at a later time. That option is the “d” shown in this image.
10. To sum, every new edition or release of Fedora tends to have more newer features than other distributions, but those features also tend to be of the enterprise-grade, rather than for desktop users. And because my focus is on desktop distributions, I’ve tended to write about those features that impact desktop users the most.
That’s why I’m especially happy with the firewall-applet and its backend application, and with the automatic bug reporting tool. These are desktop-centric and user-friendly applications. It would also be good if there’s some consistency across the various editions of a Fedora release, not just in management applications, but also in software installation.
For example, in the KDE Spin, there are three games installed. Compared to other distributions, that’s like a bad joke, but that’s three more than are installed in the GNOME 3 edition. So like the Linux Mint developers, it seems that whoever is responsible for rolling the main edition of Fedora 19 has a grudge against games, even though playing games is one of the top two activities on the Web (guess what the other one is)
Regarding consistency in management applications, especially with respects to the graphical package manager, I think the time is ripe for the Fedora team to give users the same experience across the different Spins and the main edition. And it might just be better to port an existing one than to code one from scratch. None of the ones I have in mind are perfect, but the best candidate is Linux Deepin’s DSC.
11. Resources: You may download 32- and 64-bit installation ISO images of the GNOME edition, for the Spins and Cloud images here.