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.
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.
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.
However, on the bright side, the installer now lets you make the default user the administrator & also displays a slideshow while installing as well.
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!.
What 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
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.
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).
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.
As you can see, Fedora 19 was 58% (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.
As you can see, Fedora used about 70.1 MiB (20% 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!.
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.
Ubuntu 13.04 was 5.7% 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.
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.
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 😀 ).
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.
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 46% faster.
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.