Sunday, 30 May 2010

Fedora 13 - Still a Gnome Distribution

Fedora has a history of being a Gnome distribution although things have been changing with the release of KDE 4.x.

Click on any picture for a bigger view.

Fedora 13 with KDE 4.4.3 and Oxygen theme

In the past certain distributions were regarded as having better KDE integration, especially with KDE 3.5.x. OpenSUSE and Mandriva notably had a better KDE experience and were regarded as KDE distributions.

However with the introduction of KDE 4.x I feel things have changed. Looking at my Gentoo KDE desktop, I no longer see OpenSUSE as having an advantage or better KDE integration.

Unfortunately I can't say the same for Mandriva, their KDE 4.x desktop has been heavily customized to look more like KDE 3.5.x. Infact I feel they have ruined KDE 4.x with their customizations. Personally I have never been a Mandriva fan.

Yesterday I decided to download Fedora 13, I went for the Live KDE CD. I prefer KDE over Gnome due to the nicer appearance and additional features. My best feature with KDE is when you drag a file or icon to another location, a context menu appears giving you a variety of choices.

Gnome would either move or copy the file / icon, just like Windows.

Fedora's KDE 4.x seems very nice but is let down by the lack of a few polishing touches.

The logon KDM greeter looks really nice, the desktop looks just like any other KDE 4.x desktop but all is spoilt by some Gnome-ish icons, notification dialogues and graphical interfaces.

The icons

As you can see in the below screenshot, the inconsistency with the icons.

The horror!

Many applications that are related to system settings or administration in Fedora's KDE spin haven't been given a KDE equivalent. Hence the inconsistency and lack of a polished finish.

Gnome-ish dialogue

Next up is the notification dialogue when root access is required. For a minute I thought I was in Gnome.

Root access deserves better, give it KDE!

Gnome has invaded my KDE 4.x desktop, eek!

A system wide application

The next screenshot shows Fedora's (RedHat's) Network Configuration application.

Fedora's devs, you can do better than that!

The Network Configuration application is a system wide application to control your network devices in Fedora and is not exclusive to Fedora, it is a RedHat application.

Looking at it, clearly it is GTK based just like all other RedHat applications.

Overall the lack of a consistent feel and polished result means Fedora's KDE needs more work.

Other applications you can see in the KDE menu screenshot, SELinux, Service Management, Network Device Control, Bootloader Control, Firewall are all RedHat applications. You will also notice some of these and others in CentOS and RedHat Enterprise, they are core RedHat applications and based on GTK.

As it stands, Fedora is still a Gnome centric distribution like its paid / commercial counter part RedHat.

By the way, I changed the fonts to Liberation Sans as the default font in Fedora is pure ugly.

Why not change the default fonts to the Liberation set, which was developed by RedHat?

Perhaps one day Fedora will feature better KDE integration but I have my doubts. All of the core RedHat applications are based on GTK for the obvious reason that RedHat is a Gnome based distribution.

To further explain why I have doubts a few points need to be stated.

Fedora is a RedHat sponsored project.

Fedora is based on the latest and greatest software packages and innovations.

New features in Fedora are incorporated into future RedHat Enterprise releases.

Bearing in mind all of the above, my view is Fedora is simply a development platform for RedHat to try out the latest and greatest. They use it to improve their commercial flagship product which is Gnome orientated.

Additionally any bug fixes, security fixes and enhancements are pushed upstream so overall everyone benefits, RedHat is a big contributor to Linux.

However I do not see any reason for RedHat to tweak their core applications and make it look nicer in KDE.

It is not in their interest unless they wish to release a RedHat Enterprise KDE spin with a professional polished appearance and feel.

As a desktop user I like having a good looking operating system with a polished feel and Fedora with KDE doesn't deliver.

Also bearing in mind the bleeding edge characteristic of Fedora and stability issues which I have encountered in the past, I would not use Fedora or recommend it for desktop use anyway. It is more geared towards developers, Linux enthusiasts, those interested in experiencing some of the latest innovations and those who wish to contribute and file bug reports.

If you are looking for a stable alternative to Windows, Fedora should not be on your list.