Fedora 19 Review

Fedora 19 ‘Schrödinger’s Cat’ got released few days ago, and since I have not reviewed Fedora on this blog (mainly because I did not have a lot of positive things to say about it), I decided to review it.

But as usual, I will be sticking with the performance related aspects of the operating system, rather than describing what is new with the desktop and applications. However, if I feel fit, I will mention some of those features as well.

Also remember that, since Fedora has always had strong ties with the Gnome desktop, I am using the GnomeShell version (64-bit, Kernel 3.9.5) for this review.

GnomeShell 3.8 on Fedora 19

Fedora 19 desktop (Gnome) with the new bluish wallpaper  …

I have measured the Boot-up time, Memory usage upon Desktop loading, CPU usage on Idle, Power usage on Idle, System Responsiveness, Hardware issues and Shutdown delay. And below is a brief description of my hardware:

Intel Core i3-2330M CPU, Intel HD 3000 GPU, 4GB RAM (DDR3), Toshiba 7200 RPM (320GB) SATA HDD, Intel N-1030 Wireless adapter, Realtek network adapter ('RTL8168'), LED display with 1366x768 resolution (60Hz/60FPS). It's a Dell Vostro V-131 notebook.

The installer …

Before going over to the ‘performance related’ details, let me say a few words about the new installer. Fedora 18 came with a totally revamped ‘Anaconda’ (Fedora installer) which in my opinion is non-intuitive & confusing. And nothing has done about it in Fedora 19 as well.

Partition setup window in Fedora 19

The ‘installation steps’ do not feel ‘progressive’, the buttons (‘Done’, ‘Cancel’ etc) are scattered all over the installer and the partition setup is also not that user friendly. If you change the keyboard layout during the installation, then it will only be applied after the installation (seriously! ?).

The installer runs maximized, but if you unmaximized it by a mistake, then some of its content get hard to access and you cannot maximize its window to fix it, as its window controls are also not shown. This issue has been there since Fedora 18 and is not yet fixed.

Fedora 19 installer with no window controls

The ‘bug’ that got away …

However, on the bright side, the installer now lets you make the default user the administrator & also displays a slideshow while installing as well.

Creating a user with administrative privileges using Fedora 19 installerAnyway, the installation went pretty smoothly without any ‘new’ issues.

The Desktop

Fedora comes with GnomeShell 3.8 and it has brought some pretty useful features as well.

For instance, when you log into the desktop for the first time, GnomeShell now brings up a ‘wizard’ that guides you through for selecting the language, keyboard layout, network setup, merging online accounts … and in the last step, it now even has a video help page which I find to be pretty awesome!.

'Welcome' page - GnomeShell 3.8 startup wizard

'Network' page - GnomeShell 3.8 startup wizard                                                                                          …

'Thank You' page - GnomeShell 3.8 startup wizardNew 'help' videos of GnomeShell 3.8 The desktop has also received a subtle change; a new context menu.

GnomeShell 3.8, new desktop context menuWhat is interesting is that, for years, it was the file manager (‘Nautilus’) that handled the desktop in Gnome. But after Gnome developers decided not to use ‘Nautilus’ for desktop handling, the context menu got disabled by default.

This however, can easily be enabled by issuing the below command:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons true

Desktop context menu, rendered by 'Nautilus' - GnomeShell 3.8

Desktop context menu of ‘Nautilus’ (now called ‘Files) …

But it also means that ‘Nautilus’ will be loaded during the desktop loading, which otherwise can help to speed things up a bit. But if all you want is a way to simply change the background by right clicking on the desktop, then this change will come in handy.

As you can see, the new menu style integrate nicely with the rest of GnomeShell menus as well.

I also really hated the ugly looking folder icon colors used in previous versions of GnomeShell. But 3.8 uses a slightly different colors for folders and I quite liked it!. These are just a handful of new features, you can read more about them from this page if interested.

New folder icon colors of GomeShell 3.8

Performance Related Details …

Now let me come back to the performance related details. As usual, I took 5 samples of each of these tests for getting conservative results (sometimes even more).

Boot-up Times

Before measuring the boot-up times, I rebooted Fedora 5 times (each time I logged into the desktop & let it idle for about 50 seconds) for lettings things to settle down. Since I do not have data from previous Fedora releases, I decided to compare the results with Ubuntu 13.04. Below is the graph.

Fedora 19 vs Ubuntu 13.04 - 'Boot-up Times' graph

As you can see, Fedora 19 was 37% (roughly) more slower to boot than Ubuntu 13.04.

Memory Usage Upon Desktop Loading …

Measuring the memory usage in Fedora 19 was a little difficult because even after the desktop got fully loaded, few services run from the background and it causes the memory usage to go up and down frequently. Things only get back to normal after 35 -- 40 seconds.

So what I did was, after the desktop got fully loaded, I waited for another 40 seconds (approximately) and then measured the memory consumption immediately.

I also had Wi-Fi enabled (a live connection with my router), Bluetooth ‘ON’ (Fedora turned it ON automatically) and had disabled update manager to avoid memory usage ‘spikes’. Below is the graph.

Fedora 19 vs Ubuntu 13.04 - 'Memory Usage upon Desktop Login (at idle) graph

As you can see, Fedora used about 70.1 MiB (16% roughly) more memory.

So what are the causes ?

Well, I cannot point out all the reasons, but Fedora does comes with a strong emphasis on security, hence a dynamic firewall called ‘FirewallD’ comes enabled by default and its daemon uses around 17.6 MiB, an event logger for ’systemd’ (‘init daemon’ -- the first process that initiates the OS’s boot process, Ubuntu uses one of its own called ‘Upstart’) called ‘systemd-journald’ (16-17 MiB), and a few other services which are not present in Ubuntu.

Also, the ‘dhclient’ (DHCP configurator) in Fedora 19 takes around 15-16 MiB where in Ubuntu 13.04 it only takes about 3.7 MiB. That said, ‘Xorg’ server consumed around 31-32 MiB in Ubuntu where it only used about 13-14 MiB (initially of course) in Fedora 19.

Nevertheless, at the end, Fedora consumed a bit more memory.

CPU Usage at Idle 

I also measured the CPU consumption when the system is idling, and for longer periods (20 -- 30 seconds), no app waked-up the CPU, which is how it should be. Excellent!.

CPU usage at idle - Fedora 19

However, like always, the buggy Gnome System Monitor kept consuming around 6-7 % CPU cycles, which I would not hold against Fedora, as it is a Gnome’s bug, so to speak.

Power consumption at Idle

I used ‘powerstat’ tool for measuring the power consumption when the computer was idling (Wi-Fi turned ON, Bluetooth OFF, brightness set to max). This tool takes 47 samples (each consisting power usage data for a period of 10 seconds) and came up with the below graph.

Fedora 19 vs Ubuntu 13.04 - 'Power Usage at Idle' graph

Ubuntu 13.04 was 5% more energy efficient than Fedora 19 was. Please remember that, as far as I know, while taking those measurements, both Fedora 19 and Ubuntu 13.04 were under pretty much the same conditions.

So what made the difference ?

I do not know for sure. However, I know for a fact that Ubuntu developers have been adding subtle tweaks for reducing the power consumption and makes a good use of ‘pm-utils’ for achieving most of that, though Fedora dose not use it, so it could be just that.

System Responsiveness

I ran my ‘usual’ test for testing the system responsiveness.

While a file was being copied (about 1.5 GB) within two folder of ‘Home’, I searched and opened Firefox, LibreOffice Writer, Calculator, Gedit, Settings window, double click on a video to play it through VLC, Shotwell photo manager, Firewall configurator, Terminal window etc.

System responsive testing on Fedora 19

Note: Fedora does not come with any proprietary software, including audio/video codecs, so I had to install VLC manually.

So how did it go ?

It went really well!!. After putting the system through all that, only once for about 2-3 seconds, the system kind felt stuck. Other than that, it was amazingly responsive (the apps kept opening from background and no ‘funny’ mouse movements :D ).

VLC even kept playing the multimedia file without any lag in the audio output (even when the OS seemed stuck for those 2/3 seconds), video playback got affected by very, very little, I mean how cool is that! ?

So I would say that the responsiveness was actually better than what I experienced under Ubuntu 13.04.

Hardware and ACPI issues

As usual, the fingerprint reader was not recognized (it does not work in GNU/Linux), but all the rest of the hardware were recognized and configured correctly.

‘Sleep’ function also worked without any issues and had no problems upon ‘Waking-up’ (such as Bluetooth being turned ‘ON’, although Fedora always turned it ‘ON’ upon each reboot) as well.

Shutdown Delay

Fedora 19 was also pretty fast while shutting down when compared to its previous versions (and many other distributions), although Ubuntu 13.04 was still 31% faster.

Fedora 19 vs Ubuntu 13.04 - 'Shutdown Delay' graph

However, Ubuntu 13.04 sometimes gets stuck while shutting down, where Fedora 19 had no problems whatsoever, excellent!.

This is pretty much all I have to say about Fedora 19 right now, so let me wrap this up quickly.

Few Final Words …

If you are looking for a GNU/Linux distribution that puts a very strong empathize on ‘GNU’ philosophy, that gives a beautiful, virgin, GnomeShell desktop (it has other desktops based separate disc images) and willing to go through a slight hassle while installing ‘proprietary codecs’, then Fedora 19, unlike its predecessors, is a very stable and a responsive OS that is well worth trying.

If interested, then please download it from this page. Here is the release note.

31 thoughts on “Fedora 19 Review

  1. Adam Williamson

    “Fedora 18 came with a totally revamped ‘Anaconda’ (Fedora installer) which in my opinion is non-intuitive & confusing. And nothing has done about it in Fedora 19 as well.”

    Actually, we made quite extensive tweaks to the installer between F18 and F19 to improve its usability, as we said we would all along. If you boot them side by side the differences ought to be obvious. There is explanatory text in the places people found most confusing in F18 (i.e. explaining what the disk selection screen is for, and explaining that no changes are made until you hit the Begin Installation button), the ‘reclaim space’ page has the ‘resize partition’ functionality now, it is easier to delete all partitions on a disk on the same page, the Installation Options dialog was completely re-done…there’s a lot more, those are just the ones I recall off the top of my head.

    “If you change the keyboard layout during the installation, then it will only be applied after the installation (seriously! ?).”

    This applies only to the live installer, and is intentionally done this way so you can set the keyboard for the live environment and the default keyboard for the installed system differently (if you want to) – some people want that. We found people were confused when a setting *within the installer* changed the behaviour of *the entire live environment* (this is also the reason the live installer has no network controls of its own).

    The non-live installer obviously behaves differently.

    Otherwise, thanks for the review! I haven’t compared Fedora to Ubuntu on the metrics you used so I don’t have specific details on what’s different between the two, unfortunately – there could be many things. If you’re interested in figuring out what takes time during system boot, ‘systemd-analyze blame’ and ‘systemd-analyze plot’ are useful tools. It is certainly possible to ‘tweak’ Fedora’s boot process a bit to make it faster if you don’t use certain things that are loaded by default.

    1. Gayan Post author

      Thanks for the update ‘Adam’, appreciate it.

      Concerning the ‘tweaking’: I wanted to measure the boot-up times of the OS with its default settings, without touching anything. So that’s why I didn’t try any tweaks, but of course, I will try a few later :). Thanks again for dropping by.

      1. Souiri Zakaria

        the way you measure the boot-up a little bite unfair since the default configuration of fedora and Ubuntu are not the same to be fair in the comparison,Ubuntu should be set up with lvm and must have the same amount of services starting at boot. Lvm by it self increase the boot process of ubuntu by around 7 seconds(as i recall from testing it on 12.10 and 12.04). plus for being fair ubuntu should be set-up with gnome-shell and not unity.

        1. Gayan Post author

          Hi ‘Souiri’,

          I understand your question mate and I also agree with you.

          However, here, I just wanted to compare the two distributions, just as the way they are, because when all is said and done, they are both trying to give users a reasonable computing experience though by based on two entirely different choices (mostly). So from a performance perspective, I wanted to see who is doing it better (as simple as that).

  2. Alan

    You forgot to mention the bug, which has since been fixed, Gayan.

    ‘Fedora 19 bugs cannot be reported because the server side cannot handle the release name “Schrödinger’s Cat”‘

    ;-)

    1. Gayan Post author

      Really ?

      Hey Alan, would like to give me a few tips for improving my English skills ? The reason I asked is because, I sometimes find it extremely difficult to express my thoughts (that are held perfectly in my native language) in English. For instance, it took me at least 30 minutes to come up with the introduction for this article alone, and I’m aware that it is not that good of an introduction either (it misses something, including the ending, I can just feel it while reading).

      Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

      1. Alan

        Yes, see here:

        https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=922433

        You’re like the Xhosa guy who worked in the stores. His English was impeccable but he always wanted to speak it better. How about composing in your own language, running it through translation, and then making it look right the way you know it should be. My English teacher always insisted we learn a new word from the dictionary every day.

        1. Gayan Post author

          That’s actually not a bad idea Alan, although it’ll take a lot more time than usual to compose a post. I’ll ‘test it out’ with a short post or two, just to see. Thanks again, appreciate it.

  3. M.Z.

    If you want english tips the two main problems I saw were as follows:

    “Ubuntu 13.04 was 5% _more_ energy efficient than Fedora” Add a ‘more’ in.

    ” Ubuntu 13.04 was still 31% more faster.” Here you could drop the more to sound more natural.

    The first thing could have easily been a typo, & in the second case the wording is just a bit off. If it were ‘more fast’ or ‘more quick’ it would sound right, but ‘more faster’ sounds sort of redundant & wrong. I’m not sure of the technical term for this sort of error, it might be a double positive or something like that, but I think it is a common giveaway that someone doesn’t know english as well as a native speaker.

    Anyway, it was an interesting review. I don’t like like the new Anaconda installer either, too bad it has improved more.

      1. M.Z.

        And I also left a typo at the end of my comment, which both showed that you’re doing relatively well with so few errors in an article of that length, & it also provided a healthy dose of irony ; )

  4. Leslie Satenstein

    On the whole, I give this review a 95% out of 100%. The other 5% I attribute to preferences.
    I evaluated Gnome in F19 for quite a while, and at first compared it to KDE and cinnamon. I did like the Gnome presentation in F18 more to my liking than F19. (Again, this is a personal preference). In Fedora 19, if you add a few applications for your kids, your wife, and yourself, the screenfuls of icons that you have to scroll to find a program whose name does not appear in the search menu is substantial (I was up to 10 screens of 30 icons per screen).

    As a reminder to someone else, I was able to click on the [:::] icon list in F18, choose the category of icons I wished to search, and had my selection in 1/10th the time.

    So, for now, my preference is to use KDE. And as I use it, I like it more and more. It is easy to use, takes me less time to launch a program, and I do believe, KDE has a smaller memory footprint than does Gnome in F19.

    But I do like the developer tools, accounting software and web/text processing tools more than what we had in F18. To me, that convinces me to upgrade to Fed 19 when Fed 18 support is dropped.

    I do not live in the USA and so, I am able to visit the Russian Fedora website and download a built-up Fedora. It has a few additional applications that every user wants, from adobe, skype to audio and video codecs, Chromium, and more. All software is legal. The link to a great Fedora version follows.

    Leslie Satenstein
    Montreal Quebec, Canada

    Link: http://mirror.yandex.ru/fedora/russianfedora/releases/RFRemix/19/RFRemix/

  5. Mark S.

    If you have slowness with bootup, you can frequently find the cause with:

    systemd-analyze blame

    from a command terminal, which shows a time ordered list of the systemd services and their time usage. Look at the top of the list.

    The top of mine looks like:
    $> systemd-analyze blame

    26.643s chronyd.service
    14.304s firewalld.service
    13.077s NetworkManager.service
    8.733s systemd-tmpfiles-clean.service

    The chronyd is the main slowness on mine, due to the delay of the time service on my home router to reply to time requests.

    1. Gayan Post author

      Thank you ‘Vince’. As far as I know, my fingerprint reader is not yet supported by the Kernel, and I’m now using Ubuntu 13.04. I’ll look into it though, thanks again.

  6. Anonymous

    There was a Fedora Community vote on some of the systemd changes that was voted down. I read it on Lennart Poettering’s blog. Basically, they decided to put off the speed increases.

  7. Vanda

    Hi, I’ve started with F18 Gnome and then I updated to F19. It was a total fail to me.The universal access button and the button for keyboard layout were not visible and it took me a lot of time to find out how to make it visible. But still there is one problem I can’t solve-I don’t like the default wallpaper so I wanted to change it. I found it in settings-it was the same as in F18 and in settings it showed that it was changed. But then I switched to the desktop and there wasn’t the wallpaper I’ve chosen but it was only blue, no ornaments,nothing. I tried to restart computer,lock screen,change wallpaper to another one(for the case that the one was broken) but it didn’t help. I’m thinking about installing F18 or Ubuntu 13 because there are more downgrades in F19-for example there are no categories in the menu as many of you have already mentioned and F19 requires very difficult password which I was not able to fill in while logging in. Maybe it’s because of the different keyboard layout(I’m using czech keyboard layout) but I ended up with unprotected netbook. :( Do you have any idea how to fix any of these things? :)

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi Vanda,

      I honestly don’t know what the issue is. However, have you tried enabling ‘Nautilus’ file manager as the desktop handler ? Perhaps the new desktop menu and how this version of GnomeShell handles the desktop has changed somewhat dramatically and it simply could be a bug.

      As I pointed out in the article, you can enter the below command to enable ‘Nautilus’ for handling the desktop …


      gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons true

      You can revert the changes by using the below one …

      gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false

      Did it help ?

      1. Vanda

        well,I did as you advised me but the only change was that I was able to see icons on the desktop but wallpaper still doesn’t work :/.
        I think the problem is with preset wallpapers(in settings) because I’ve set an image from nautilus as a wp and it worked. Is it possible that preset wallpapers aren’t present or they’re broken?

        1. Gayan Post author

          Could be … However, if I’m not mistaken you should be able to view the default wallpapers in ‘/usr/share/wallpapers’ folder.

  8. powerhouse

    First of all I like your review – it’s a very down to earth approach looking at the ease of installation and then on the performance. What I think is missing is a better introduction on what this test is about, what target audience you have in mind, etc.

    For example, the fact that Fedora uses LVM by default is a great plus in my eyes, particularly when you run Fedora on a desktop or server. If that costs ~7 seconds boot time, so be it. The advantages of scalability and ease of doing backups are totally worth it. However, using LVM with encryption might endear notebook users to LVM. If you look at for example Linux Mint, they introduced full LVM support and encryption in their installer only in their latest release 15. Before that it was a pain in the neck to get Linux Mint installed on LVM.

    What I’m also missing is the ease of installing typical apps such as VLC, Skype, etc., and getting some necessary “ugly” codecs installed to play mp3 music or mp4 etc. video in optimal quality. I personally prefer Ubuntu based distros for the ease of getting things done, but it might purely be out of habbit or familiarity.

    Thanks for the review.

  9. Alex Ballantyne

    There is a release named Korora, it is a polished Fedora Remix that provides a very nice out of box experience. It is packaged with Mozilla Firefox, VLC Media Player, LibreOffice and utilities like Gparted, as well as utilities to install proprietary drivers. Tasks that are required after virtually every first install on Fedora, such as adding popular repositories are also setup by default. Another noteworthy mention is the artwork.

    I use it on my laptop, as well as 2 other computers for other various tasks. It is fully compatible with Fedora and I find it works well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>