By Kevin E. Glosser
3D Desktops and the default software lineup
Core 6 was the first version of Fedora to include a visible version
similar to Beryl, supplies three dimensional acceleration to the
desktop via OpenGL. It allows for some cool eye candy, although in
the past it has been difficult to argue its merits beyond that. Even
though it was included in FC6, it still has the same initial
functionality in Fedora 7. That is, not much. In order to get it
working you have to install the proper driver for your video card and
then make some configuration changes. For me, this meant installing
Nvidia's driver, replacing the included one that comes with Fedora.
That's not a issue, most people are going to do it anyways because
the included Nvidia driver doesn't provide for OpenGL acceleration.
If you want to play any accelerated games, use any accelerated
applications, or even screensavers you need to install it. After that,
I added two lines to my X configuration file and Compiz was up and
running. Through normal use of the desktop I accidentally discovered
a window previewer very similar to Mac OS
X's Exposé feature.
you move your mouse past the top right hand corner of the screen
it activates. What appears is a miniature view of all open windows,
minimized ones not included. There's no need to ever minimize a
window with this feature active. Switching windows is as simple as
clicking on the image of the one you want. This blows away the
functionality of alt-tabbing. It's faster, more convenient and of
course very cool. Apparently this feature existed in the previous
version of Compiz that shipped with Fedora Core 6. However, I never
stumbled upon it. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any type of
documentation that explains exactly what is installed and running.
The user is kinda left to be surprised or do a lot of online
searching to discover what features of Compiz are included in their
distro. This is a side effect of just how early it is in the
development cycle of this project. The included version in Fedora 7
is 0.3.6. It has not reached version 1.0 status which normally
indicates a finished product, stable, ready and documented for
I did find to be new in
Fedora 7 in Compiz was the inclusion of a
in the GNOME window manager menu available by clicking on the top
left hand corner of any window. In it, you have three settings you
may modify (opacity, saturation, brightness). It doesn't sound like
much, but I found a cool use for the opacity variable. Say you're
browsing the web for instructions on how to perform some task you
don't know how to do, a common occurrence in Linux. You find a set of
instructions you need to enter at a command prompt. Now, with this
new feature you can fire up GNOME Terminal, set the opacity to make
the window transparent and place it on top of your open Firefox
window. You can see right through the terminal so that you can type
the commands without moving or repositioning the Firefox window,
saving you time. Anyone who has ever done it, will understand how
convenient that is. I do consider Compiz to be quite useful, much
more than meets the eye. If you have the hardware, consider
transforming your desktop.
Office 2.2 is included
with Fedora 7. It claims to be a worthy alternative to Microsoft
Office 2007. This release promises easier transitions for Microsoft
users, better security and most importantly better support for
Microsoft documents. I noticed this last feature to be true. Word
documents I had that previously didn't quite show up perfectly in Open
Office, now do. I could no longer tell the difference between
the two applications, both visually and compositionally.
2 and Thunderbird
2 come with Fedora, but only the former is installed by
default. Instead, Evolution
is the recommended email client. While Evolution
is a fantastic program, I think it's overkill for most
users. It's very much like the difference between Outlook Express and
Outlook in Windows. If you're in a work environment, you'd lean
at home I would recommend Thunderbird.
2.6.21 of the Linux
kernel is at the core of this operating system. Providing security
since Fedora Core 2, SELinux continues to become more integrated.
Fedora 7 sees the inclusion of two new utilities. One allows for
graphical administration of SELinux. The other provides excellent
troubleshooting information when SELinux denials occur. In the GNOME
notifier area of the desktop users are alerted to SELinux denials.
Clicking on the alert launches the troubleshooter.
only does it tell you what occurred and why, it provides
information on how you can resolve the issue or possibly prevent it
from occurring in the future. Kudos to those who made this possible.
I've already found it very useful.
addition to what I've
mentioned there is the usual incredible amount of free software
available that you will find in almost any Linux distribution. If it
isn't free you won't find it included. On that note, let's discuss
the state of free software in Fedora...
and the Free Software Movement