Fedora 15 beta released as GNOME 3 backlash grows

The Fedora Project announced the beta release of Fedora 15 "Lovelock," featuring the new GNOME 3 desktop, the Systemd initialization system, and a new dynamic firewall feature. Meanwhile, GNOME 3 has received mixed reviews, with many claiming the project went too far in simplifying the interface.

The new beta version of Fedora 15 follows an alpha that arrived in early March. The final is expected in late May. Sponsored by Red Hat, the community-based Fedora is aligned with the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) release, with Fedora largely used as an upstream, exploratory sandbox for Red Hat.
The "Lovelock" release of Fedora offers a variety of additions and enhancements for the desktop and server, led by the GNOME project's GNOME 3 desktop, which formally debuted earlier this month (see farther below). Other changes include new KDE 4.6 and Xfce 4.8 desktops, and a cloud-oriented BoxGrinder appliance builder.

There's also the new OpenOffice.org clone LibreOffice 3.3, which was developed as a fork project after users began worrying about Oracle's commercial ambitions for OpenOffice. Last week Oracle released OpenOffice.org as a fully open source community project, while halting sales of its commercial version, but momentum seems to have already shifted to LibreOffice -- which added several new features in its debut release while stripping out others.

Fedora 15 also features Systemd as the default configuration utility, replacing SysVinit and Upstart for system and session management. The most noticeable change is a faster boot experience, says the project.

For the beta announcement, the project calls out the dynamic firewall feature as a highlight, suggesting it is more complete in this beta version. The firewall lets users change settings without the need to restart the firewall, says the project. The firewall is also said to make persistent connections possible.

For more details on Fedora 15, please see our previous Fedora 15 alpha coverage, as well as the links at the end of the story.

GNOME 3: Too dumbed down for Linux users?

GNOME 3, which will first appear in Fedora 15 as the default desktop, and in Ubuntu 11.04 as the newly demoted backup to Canonical's Unity desktop, was announced earlier this month with much fanfare. Among many other changes, GNOME 3.0 features a new, streamlined GNOME Shell and desktop, as well as improvements to search, user messaging, system settings, and the GTK+ libraries, plus a major revision of the Nautilus file manager.

Years in the making, the release was intended as a consumer-oriented refresh for a desktop environment that has increasingly been perceived by newcomers as confusing and overly technical compared to KDE and other desktop environments.

Yet according to many GNOME users, the project may have gone too far in simplifying the interface. 

As summed up in a recent LinuxInsider story by Katherine Noyes, Linux bloggers and forum posters have beenventing over all the changes in the last two weeks. While mainstream reviews have been largely favorable, Noyes reports on a sizable backlash among GNOME users who say the environment has gone too far in the direction of minimalism.


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