In this review I will look at Fedora 20 from an average Linux user’s point of view and would focus on features of things that an average user cares about.
Fedora 20 has been release and I downloading it without wasting any time. I must admit I have never been impressed by Fedora so much before. Fedora was the first OS that I used other than Windows. That was back in 2005 when I started working with LINUX For You magazine’s EFY Group.
I revisited Fedora again with v16 when I was looking for some decent alternatives of Ubuntu which had started to move on its own isolated path. It looks like things have improved quite a lot between F16 and F20.
This time when I installed Fedora 20, my impression of Fedora has changed. The installation was fairly simple and easy (albeit a bit different from that of openSUSE or Ubuntu). When I booted into Fedora 20, I couldn’t believe it’s same Fedora; it’s extremely polished and works out of the box.
Let’s talk about the polished part first.
Somehow everything looks beautiful out of the box – fonts are rendered very well in Firefox as well as across the OS. Since Fedora uses Gnome as the default DE and so does RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) it already looks mature & polished. Though if you do use Mac OS X you will see heavy influence from Mac and iOS (Gnome has always followed Mac UX – remember the top panel in Gnome 2, so no surprises there).
No to be clear Fedora uses Gnome 3 as the default desktop environment and all that polish comes from Gnome 3, what I meant by polish is somehow font rendering works fine out of the box. Since I just experienced Steam OS (which also uses Gnome 3 as the default DE for desktop) and there you can see what I mean by polish. So kudos to Fedora team for giving me an experience which did not need any tweaking.
Everything worked out of box
Talking about tweaking and I can’t appreciate F20 enough everything worked out of the box – sound, video, wifi and even printer. The reason I am saying so is I installed it on a high-end machine which has quite a lot of non-free hardware. Printer is one area where even openSUSE gives hard time but under Fedora when I opened the printer tool it detected the networked printer and offered the appropriate driver. So I can say that everything worked out of box in Fedora 20 – including my Nexus 5 which was detected and I was able to transfer data without any issues.
I didn’t try to install nVidia drivers and I din’t need them the open source drivers that Fedora offers worked just fine.
Cost of free software
There are pros and cons of Fedora’s adherence to the principles of Free Software – which means they they don’t include any non-free software in their repositories. So you can’t install stuff like Flash plugin from repos. So installing things like Flash plugin need some extra effort (though it’s not difficult at all and it’s one time process) [check out our ‘Things to do after installing Fedora 20’ article].
Once I installed VLC I was able to play all video formats and Rhythmbox was playing MP3 well. So, you won’t have to worry about multimedia playback in Fedora 20.
So while it was one extra step to install some non-free software I really like Fedora’s approach towards non-free software as does make users aware of the different between free and non-free software which many populist distros ignore.