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Fedora tips its hat to mobility, cloud, big data

Maria Korolov | April 1, 2014
The latest release of Fedora, nicknamed "Heisenbug," is a step towards making Fedora a player in the mobile arena. Fedora 20 also includes more support for cloud, and this is also the first release that supports cheap, low-power ARM processors as a primary architecture, in addition to Intel and AMD chips.

The latest release of Fedora, nicknamed "Heisenbug," is a step towards making Fedora a player in the mobile arena. Fedora 20 also includes more support for cloud, and this is also the first release that supports cheap, low-power ARM processors as a primary architecture, in addition to Intel and AMD chips.

We tested Fedora 20 on three machines: an old Acer laptop, with around 1GB of RAM and a 2.13-GHz Intel Celeron processor; a desktop with 5.6GB of RAM and an AMD Athlon II x2 processor running at 2.80 GHz; and a System76 laptop with 7.7GB of RAM, 64 bit, an Intel core i5-320m CPU at 2.60 GHz x 4 processor.

Installation took about 10 minutes, a little faster than Fedora 19, but the installer interface continues to be unnecessarily complicated and requires some familiarity with disk partitioning. Ubuntu, for example, makes this process much simpler for casual users.

The default desktop environment is Gnome 3, though Fedora also supports the Cinnamon, Enlightenment, KDE, Mate and Sugar desktop environments. In a nod towards usability, a Gnome tutorial launches at first startup to help new users get familiar with it. It's a slick, modern interface, but only has some minor improvements in this release, such as better fonts and a reorganized applications menu.

Fedora comes with the Firefox browser, the LibreOffice productivity suite, the Evolution email client, and the Empathy instant messaging platform that can access Gmail, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber and other instant messaging platforms. All of these applications are easily accessible through an icon bar that appears on the left side of the screen under the "Activities" label.

Gnome puts all key info name of the currently running application, time and date, and status icons across the top of the screen. As a result, this status bar can get crowded, and means that switching applications takes two mouse clicks instead of one. The first one, to get back to your activities, and the second, to choose your application from the application preview tiles in the middle of the screen.

There's no built-in way to change most of the appearance and display settings. As a result, one of the first things that users will probably want to do is to install the Gnome Tweak Tool.

Looking ahead toward mobile
Fedora is known more for being an enterprise-friendly operating system, running back-end servers rather than end user desktops with a particular focus on security and development tools.

But Red Hat, Fedora's major corporate sponsor, is aware of the changing dynamics of the marketplace and is attempting to prepare Fedora for a future in which processing is done in the cloud, and applications are accessed via mobile devices.

 

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