Fedora 18 features the exciting Gnome 3.6 desktop which offers numerous aesthetic and usability enhancements. Here I will point out many of the various improvements, so you can decide if Fedora 18 is the right distribution for you.
Fedora 18 uses a new version of the Anaconda installation wizard. This version provides additional configuration options that should give users more installation flexibility. Much of the installation process will now take place in the background to speed up installation times.
There is a new tool for users wishing to update their systems. The Fedup tool uses systemd to perform upgrades. A temporary repository exists for Fedup until it is able to use the regular repositories.
Gnome 3.6 has a sharper and more refined look than previous releases. Much work has gone into improving aesthetics and usability for this release. Here is a look at some of the most important user interface changes.
Application launchers will now be contained inside the Gnome Shell activities overview. A grid icon located at the bottom of the dash will display available launchers. This change will bring more attention to the search bar located inside the activities overview.
Next we have the lock screen available for the first time in Gnome 3.6. This lock screen is quite stylish and even exceptionally functional. Time and date display when the lock screen is active, even the ability to control media playback is available.
The message tray located inside the activities overview has also been revised. Icons are now larger, and the message tray is easier to access. The hot corner seen in previous versions was removed, the message tray will now be displayed when moving your mouse near the bottom of the activities overview screen.
System notifications are now more intelligent and less distracting. Important notifications are now only displayed when full screen windows are active.
Gnome 3.6 offers refined applications, and some fun new tools for users to try.
The new tool Boxes introduced for Gnome 3.4 has been given new features and some basic improvements. Users can now search for virtual machines inside the Boxes interface, or using the Gnome activities overview. Users can also rename their virtual machines after they are setup. This version includes the ability to force shutdowns for misbehaving virtual machines as well.
Nautilus has received a new sidebar tab that offers quick access to recently used files. A search function has also been included. This can be accessed by typing while you have Nautilus highlighted.
A new Clocks tool has been included with Gnome 3.6. You can use this tool to manage time from various time zones simultaneously. This tool also includes an alarm, timer, and stop watch to play with.
Gnome 3.6 for Fedora 18 features several changes to the system settings interface and many of the individual settings modules. Here is a brief preview of the most notable changes.
The background settings interface now features a large preview of the current background. After double-clicking on the preview, users are presented with a wallpaper selection dialog.
The mouse settings window now contains a test area where users can sample their current settings.
The hardware tab in the audio settings window was removed and incorporated into the other existing tabs. Gnome 3.6 also contains a new settings module which will let users manage their online accounts for Facebook and other popular services.
Here are some of the changes that will be noticed by system administrators. There is a long list of underlaying changes and I do not dare list them all. First off, Fedora 18 uses kernel 3.6.0.
Users are now able to take live snapshots of running virtual systems. The goal of this change is to reduce unwanted downtime for virtual machines. KVM virtual machines are also able to use suspend and hibernate as individual guests. OVirt 3.1 is the new virtualization management platform.
The Apache web server has been updated to 2.4.3-1. This update brings improved security, and higher quality performance. Lighttpd has been pushed to version 1.4.32-2.
A new package manager has been introduced to Fedora 18. This is a fork of the Yum package manager, for now however Yum will still be available.
We can see Gnome going further towards the mobile interface. These changes leave many users alienated from their old traditional desktops. I still shudder when using Gnome Shell or Unity. Aside from my personal views, the Gnome 3.6 interface is visually pleasing and very user-friendly.
The installation for Fedora 18 went smoothly, and all tests proceeded flawlessly. The only issue was my dumbfounded confusion when first encountering the new lock screen. After a few moments I was able to figure things out, however I expect the lock screen still needs some improvements. I also encountered trouble when trying to mount external CIFS/SAMBA shares. All said, this is a very effective all-purpose distribution that is worthy of use for new users and veterans alike.