First impressions of FC4

Since the last month has been quite thoroughly insane, I have only just gotten around to installing Fedora Core 4 on my desktop and laptop. So far, I have been quite impressed.

GNOME didn’t keel over and die on me after the upgrade, though it briefly behaved in a peculiar manner on the laptop. I am so used to destroying all of my GNOME configuration data so it can get its knickers unwrapped after an upgrade that I was pleasantly surprised by this. How low my expectations have fallen!

Evolution 2.2 is in some ways less of a piece of shit than 2.0 was, while in other ways building on prior crappiness. On the positive side, its default search is now “Subject or Sender,” which is more useful than the previous “Subject” search. (I’m still amazed that I can’t do a full-text incremental search of my email, even after gmail and Apple showing the way.) Evo balances this small improvement by no longer appearing to support Emacs keybindings when composing messages, so when I use my familiar key combinations to try to do things, I get horribly confused.

Oh, wait. I just tried again, and the Emacs keybindings spontaneously started working; I have no idea why.

I was all set to point and laugh at evince, the new GNOME document previewer, as I expected it was going to be yet another sad front end to Ghostscript. However, even though it can only view PDF and PostScript documents (thereby skipping the MS Office and OpenOffice docs that comprise the bulk of the non-text files I deal with), it actually has a lovely user interface, and incremental text searching that is both useful and pretty. It looks like evince won’t support “office” documents, thereby consigning GNOME developers yet again to the fiery pit of “we know better than our users”.

Other than these, FC4 appears to be a case of plus ça change. Various aspects of the desktop are slowly improving, such as the volume control manager (no longer a hulking monster of knobs that control behaviours you can’t describe). On the non-desktop side I can’t bring myself to care about Xen or all of the Java stuff, though I richly wish that the kernel supported CPU performance counters.

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