January 15th, 2013
Yes, as you may have heard out there on the interwebz, Fedora 18 is now available!
Here on Planet Fedora said announcement has been accompanied by a chorus of exhalations and mutual backslapping – it’s been a hard release to get done and a hell of a lot of development and release management work went into it. But that’s all inside baseball to you, Linux user with a life to live…so this post is me looking at F18 and pretending I didn’t know how much hard work it took to get it to where it is. I hope no-one’s being overly optimistic about the delays meaning F18 is an incredibly awesome, super-perfect release: the delays were necessary to get the huge amount of development work in F18 finished to our baseline quality standards, not to polish everything to a perfect shine. The delays mean F18 isn’t going out horribly, horribly busted, they don’t mean it’s the MOST SOLID FEDORA RELEASE EVER.
EXPECTATION MANAGEMENT FOLLOWS
By all means, check it out. F18 in general seems to be a pretty solid release. The delays were almost entirely related to the new installer and upgrader: outside of those two areas, the delays really have made the release more solid. A running F18 system is a pretty nice experience in most ways. One thing that might trip a few people up is the migration of i18n, keyboard layout and hostname configuration – short version, system-config-keyboard doesn’t work any more, use ‘localectl’ (or GNOME control center) to configure locale and keyboard layout, use ‘hostnamectl’ to set hostname.
The new installer and upgrader are a really decent first cut. But with my Official Pessimist hat on, please remember they’re a first cut! I really like the new installer interface in most ways; it’s a big improvement on the old one. It’s pretty inevitable, though, that an installer interface we’ve had one release to tweak will have some rough edges compared to one we had over 18 releases to tweak. It’s also inevitable it’ll be somewhat more buggy. The most complex bit of an installer, in both design and functionality terms, is the storage management stuff, and while we squelched a whole bunch of issues in the storage handling of F18 between Alpha and Final, it still has some bugs we’d have liked to get out if we’d had infinite time, and some UI design issues that we’re aiming to improve in F19.
So please do try out F18, but maybe don’t let it loose on a system which contains a lot of important data on a complex partition layout without backing up first, and please do read the common bugs page and the overview of the new installer, which has some useful notes on the overall design, the design of the storage section, and some limitations that are commonly encountered (most of which are just the result of running out of time to get them written, and they’ll be fixed in F19). And please bear in mind that this is the very first build of the new installer, it’s only going to get better from here! I think for a v1.0 of something as complex as an OS installer it’s a really great achievement for the time we had to work in, but please keep in mind it’s a v1.0, and the F17 installer was somewhere around v25.0.
The documentation team did an absolutely amazing and sadly unheralded job of somehow updating the entire Fedora 18 installation guide – all 322 pages of it, holy cookie – for the completely revised F18 interface. While we were re-designing it on them every week. I have no idea how they managed that, but they did. Keeping a copy of the install guide handy while you install F18 is probably a really good idea; it’s a great reference, and will help you out if you’re not quite sure how any bit works.