Living up to its reputation for being one of the more adventurous Linux distributions on offer, Fedora 15’s alpha release includes Gnome 3.0.
The new Gnome desktop interface has been years in the making and has had its final release delayed multiple times as the developers hunted down bugs and put the finishing touches to what promises to be this year’s big shift in Linux desktops.
The alpha release of Fedora 15, also known as Lovelock, is the first and only alpha release of the distribution before its planned beta release on April 12, with a final stable release scheduled for May 17.
The switch to the Gnome 3.0 desktop is the most notable change in this release and one that will no doubt prompt the most discussion. The Gnome 3.0 desktop is a radical departure from the Gnome 2.0 desktop and will fundamentally alter how users interact with their desktop. However, bugs and stability problems have plagued the Gnome 3 development schedule, forcing repeated delays to its release. The delays have even caused Ubuntu to switch focus to its own Unity interface instead of waiting for Gnome 3.
The Gnome 3 developers have produced a dedicated website to show off some of the features of the new desktop. Among them is the stripped back title bar which has completely removed the minimise and maximise buttons, leaving only the close button. When Ubuntu moved these buttons from one side of the title bar to another last year there was significant fallout with users rejecting the new layout. Removing the buttons entirely could well spark an uprising…
Removing these buttons indicates how radically different the Gnome 3 desktop will be when compared with predecessors. Having minimise and maximise buttons on windows is standard to almost all operating systems, even non-Linux ones.
Also new in Fedora 15 is LibreOffice, the new alternative to OpenOffice.org. The inclusion of LibreOffice by default makes Fedora one of the first Linux makers to take the step away from OpenOffice.org. Ever since Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle there have been concerns in the open source world about the future of OpenOffice.org, with the result that LibreOffice was formed, a fork of OpenOffice.org managed by an independent foundation.
Other changes in Fedora 15 include KDE 4.6 (for those not keen on the new Gnome desktop), an improved built-in firewall, new tools for creating virtual appliance images, and predictive text input options for speeding up typing. In addition to KDE and Gnome 3, Fedora 15 also ships with the XFCE 4.8 desktop which is ideal for low-spec machines, and Sugar 0.92, a desktop designed for the One Laptop Per Child project and aimed at the education sector.
The alpha release of Fedora 15 can be downloaded from Fedora’s pre-release site.
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