08 November 2011

Upgrade strategy

Later today Fedora 16 will be officially released, I am using F14 which is becoming quite long in the tooth, so now is probably a good time to evaluate my upgrade path.

Back in May after some testing I deemed F15 unsuitable for desktop/workstation usage and made the decision to skip a release. It was a first for me, the single one Fedora release I ever skipped, since RHL 9, when I moved to use Linux as my primary desktop. What's the status now, one release later? I acknowledge not doing any testing, had to fight with F14 day by day to get some work done, but I read enough so from what I can see: GNOME Shell is still the same, Xfce is still the same, KDE is still the same. Nothing new, nothing better. So I see ahead another skippable release, which is not that bad considering F14 still has a workable paradigm and is not self-expiring shareware, the applications are the problem and they are what matters most.

So after judging I came with the following strategy: skip F16 also, keep using F14 one more month until its EOL in December and then continue to use it unsupported a couple of months more until F17 Beta. Postpone any decision until then and with the bits released download and evaluate. What can happen by then:

  • Xfce has a release in January, it may become good enough. Considering the current status and the TODO, the expectations aren't high;
  • GNOME may become sane and usable again. Highly unlikely;
  • I may lose faith and accept defeat, give up on the Linux desktop, go to W7. It would be sad after so many year;
  • I may get into BDSM and start using something like Openbox, saying goodbye to any possible productivity;
  • get some kind of strange revelation and give KDE a try.


  1. If you don't like Gnome Shell now, you probably won't like it in six months, either. F16 is quite usable for me, though. Everyone's different.

    What kind of productivity would you lose by going to OpenBox? You can bind all the same keys as you would Gnome 2 (what I assume you like).

    You should also look at the Mint GNOME Shell Extension and MATE when they come out on Mint later this month. Even if you want to stay with Fedora, you can probably install MGSE in Fedora.

    Finally, you could stick with F14 ... by going to Fuduntu, which recently forked itself from Fedora and will be keeping GNOME 2. That may be the best option for you.

  2. That's one ugly cage you are describing there my friend. You need to get out of there :)

  3. Well, I'm myself on F15 and also don't feel the urge to upgrade—for the first time in years! Everything's working about fine and I'm not so eager to break it just to run the newest fedora, but with same xfce… But as for you, I wouldn't recommend W7, I now work with them on regular basis (as an IT teacher on high-school) and it's pain in the ass compared to xfce (windows grouped under icons in an odd way, no virtual desktops, awful start menu, strange blur-transparent window captions [how the hell do I tell which window is actually focused?!], default win apps share the same awful design and MS Office 2007, it tends to inexplicably break sometimes, some things like adding new mouse or new flash USB take ages to process, and sometimes even don't work on first try, home directory hidden really well…).

  4. Come to think of it, after re-reading your points one more time: hell even KDE 4 is IMHO better than W7, so I'd say escape to KDE if you really need to work and XFCE is not enough powerful for you, not to W7.

  5. Well, I'm in the same exact situation: for the first time in 13 years of Linux on the desktop I feel like I cannot find any DE (or WM) that fits my needs and expectations anymore.

    So sad.

    What I can suggest you is to upgrade to F15 and live with the fallback mode (that is what I'm doing at the moment).

    It is almost as a Gnome 2 experience, and is far better that Gnome Shell.

  6. I think Xfce is way better compared with GNOME 3 fallback mode, which fallback I understand is going away anyway

  7. I prefer fallback mode more than XFCE.

    yes, it's going away but it is still available in F16 at least!

    I still have hope for Gnome 3.4 to become usable before F17!

  8. I am largely in the same boat.

    On this box, I am using KDE on Fedora 15 but Fedora's support for KDE seems to me kind of half-hearted, and my experiments with XFCE were unhappy with bizarre lockups.

    I have already converted another box over to Linux Mint 11 from Fedora 14. I first gave Linux Mint Debian Edition a try-out, but it was too flaky. Maybe in another few months it will have stabilized.

    On my main box, I am at Fedora 14 and am trying to decide if it's going to Linux Mint but I want to see how Linux Mint 12 looks since it is now also going to Gnome 3.

  9. Hello.

    I have been an Ubuntu user since the first release.
    With this Unity insanity, I shifted to Fedora 15.

    I like using Fedora 15 + GNOME 3, but it has quirks.

  10. Or you could try a different Distro. The Linux Mint changes to Gnome Shell to make it more Gnome2ish sounds intriguing. In the end, you have to find what makes you happy and go for it. If its not Fedora, then its not Fedora.

  11. I read earlier today about MGSE and will have a look at what they deliver, is a bit W7-like from what I saw in the screenshots, and that does not make me happy. Still, a different distro, Debian based, means different tools, different practices, different defaults and so on. We'll see.

  12. as long as your hardware remains unchanged and the apps you use work ... why upgrade? just for the flashy "new" factor (followed usually by a drop in productivity while you're busy trying to iron out bugs in every new release)?

    that's what i asked myself before the F15 release ... now, skipping F16 is just routine.

  13. because i need newer version for various apps and those won't work with F14, one big example for me is GIMP 2.7.x

  14. Nicu, if you want a desktop to be frozen for a long time... and everything to just work... and avoid change... you really should be using RHEL or an EL clone... or some long term support release.

    Being a Fedora user and being resistive to change is like being... hmmm... what obnoxious comparison can I come up with?... it's like being... well, nevermind. You get the idea.

    Anyway, I've been using KDE for about 14 years now. There is way, way, way more to Fedora than just GNOME 2.x. There always was. You can't seem to see the forest for the tree... but yeah, horses when lead to water don't always drink.

  15. i don't want a frozen desktop, but a working one, not breaking the paradigms. i use bleeding edge as much as i can: firefox 7, gimp 2.7.1 and so on from external repos, sometimes even from Koji. those are good changes, adding features and functionality. GNOME Shell is the opposite, change for change's sake, it does not bring anything good, it breaks everything with no reason.

  16. hi, why not go with something similar, but with longer support in the form of security updates? i mean there is centos or scientific. it should be like older fedora even if it's "new".


  17. There is good change and there is bad change. There is also change for the sake of change, but let's not get into that.

    For most people, a good change is when the new defaults are 80-90% right and they need to modify 10-20% to suit their style. A bad change is when the new defaults are 10% right, you need to spend lots of time and energy modifying 60% of them to suit you, and the remaining 30% you just can't do anything about because functionality has been removed.

    If the latter sounds like GNOME 3.0, that's probably not coincidental.

    What really gets me is how people react to legitimate complaints about the new desktop interface:

    1. "You're resistant to change." I'd like to think I'm not, but when the said change results in reduced productivity even after spending lots of time trying to customize the thing, then yes, I become resistant to change.

    2. "gnome shell is soooo customizable, whereas the old stuff was soooo limited." Well yeah, gnome shell is customizable the same way emacs 18 was customizable -- you needed a graduate degree in List (Javascript) and needed to write a whole bunch of code to get the tiniest thing done. Oh, and your hard work towards that code would probably get undone by the next maintenance release (less so with emacs, much more so with gnome shell).

  18. I use GS from F15 beta up to current F16 because of very smooth lag-free transition to/from activity observe mode. I know it sound childish, but it overcome al other drawbacks like lack of applets as in GNOME2. Maybe I am lucky and have good hardware (AMD 5670, Phenom II 955 4 core, 5gb RAM), but fact it work with decent speed out of box with all default software, no extra repo or evil proprietary blobs. My workflow is simple, patched Blender, vim edit, firefox, 4-5 PDF opened all the time, edit-compile-try. After ~2 months i have no need to return to GNOME2.

    But sometime, I still miss GNOME2 top panel with nice eye-catchy firefox icon. Something lost in transition to GNOME3.

  19. Fedora 16 are bug-uri cauzate de nvidia care ma scot din sarite, prin urmare gnome 3 cade urat de tot. Am pus Fedora 16 pe 2 masini deja si in afara de problema cu nvidia inca nu am intalnit altele. Sunt inca in faza de testare. Sistemul raspunde foarte acceptabil. Nu e de sarit.

  20. Dear Nicu,

    could you live with this?

    The move from FC14 to FC16 took all weekend but it was worth it. With only one modification to system files and all the rest done with simple settings I'm quite content with the results.

    It is a shame that the Fedora Team did not do this by default!


  21. Hi Davide! is that a F16? That's incredible!

    What about writing a blog post about how did you got it?

    I'm sure many people would appreciate it a lot!

  22. Hi Federico,
    I don't have a blog at the moment, but you can find all the information on the article that inspired me in the first place.



  23. Before you give up, there are two solutions. One is a GNOME2 port, and another is a package, or customization, or whatever for gnome shell which makes it more usable. Both are in Mint Linux, a direction I am exploring. It's based on Ubuntu, the admin is funky, but it works

    Finally, you might see if starting GNOME3 in fallback mode is good enough to be useful. Like you, I cringe at GNOME-shell, it suck rocks off the bottom of the ocean.

  24. I know about MGSE and am curious to try it, the lack of a live image kept me from doing it already. The problem with Mint is, from my point of view, it being based on Debian, so very unfamiliar for me.