So after a few failed attempts at installing Ubuntu 11.04 on my parents computer I thought I’d give Fedora 15 a try. It worked.
The install was pretty painless, and no weird unresponsive 10 to 20 minute pauses, so that was nice. Rebooted, logged into Gnome Shell.
It’s ok. It’s not bad. I like it better than Unity, but both of them suffer from the developer “my hands are always on the keyboard, why can’t I launch apps by search” syndrome. That’s cool for you, but sometimes if I have one hand on the mouse I just want to use the mouse to lauch apps and having to fling or click the top left of the screen, then move to the other side to click applications and the find my app in an unsorted list that over fills a screen is not optimal. At least Gnome Shell obviously offers the categories on the side to filter by. But at this point it is way way slower than the old Gnome menu was. Also, not offering an window list for me to easily toggle between apps? Either I again have to fling or click the top left and the select my window from a different display or Alt-Tab it. It’s like these new exciting GUIs are less friendly to traditional graphical interface tools like… a mouse. They are more friendly to keyboard combos.
Still, ranting aside, Gnome Shell was ok, and definatly better than Unity. And it and Fedora were more stable, why, this system has been runing for over an hour, and no random crashes. There are a few visual artifacts but I guess that’s just what I get for runing Linux on a new AMD Radeon 6500. Maybe in half a year there won’t be visual artifacts.
What really got me though was how much worse package management is on Fedora than it is on Ubuntu. It’s a colossal pain. Ubuntu / Debian have really spoiled me. Flash didn’t come with the system, so I followed online advice and downloaded the YUM and then it installed and nothing happened. But then flash was in the package manager, except it just sat there with a “Waiting in queue” message doing nothing for like 10 minuets with no way to fix. Awesome. And searching for apps? *Office also doesn’t come installed, and good luck trying to find it. I search Libre Office all kinds of ways. Among the truly large amount of not Libre Office results, the one that was closest that I usually got was “Libre Office development”… I eventually gave up and found a .doc file and tried to open it and Fedora then asked me if I wanted to install Libre Office Writer. Why yes I would. Then the installer went to work, it looked like it froze on the download, but with so little feed back it was hard to tell so I left it alone for a while and it sorted it self out. It’s just really not remotely helpful.
Finally, one of my mom’s favorite features on the computer is making a screen saver of all her family photos (they had several thousand photos and slides digitized recently) and it appears Gnome Shell has abolished the screen saver…. Really? Also, one of the other winning features of Gnome 2.0 for my Mom was I could place absurdly large icons of her few apps (Web Browser, Office, Picture folder) on her desktop. Not any longer.
All this new “usability” seems to make things more of a nuisance for me and simply remove key features my mom relied on. Critical regressions. I’m pretty sad.