Somehow it seems fitting on this, the 4th of July, to write about Fedora 17 KDE with its fireworks wallpaper. My first experience trying Fedora about a year ago when Gnome 3 came on the scene was not fun. Gnome 3 crashed every few minutes, and was an unusable mess. I felt like a wall had been thrown up between me and my computer using Gnome 3, that dreaded Gnome Shell.
My experience with main Fedora 17 using Gnome Shell again this year was an equally bad experience. I can find no love for this bastard child of Gnome. While Gnome 2 was one of the easiest desktop interfaces ever created, Gnome 3 is the most useless offspring of Gnome. But enough beating a dead horse, Gnome 3 cannot die soon enough.
KDE Fedora is the good child, the useful offspring of Fedora. Today a Linux operating system is chosen as much for its desktop interface as any other reason. KDE is one of the best, if not the best, of the Linux desktops. It is fully configurable, has an almost endless ability to be tweaked and adjusted. Some complain that it is heavy on resources, but if you turn off "effects" and make a few other tweaks, you can run it easily on less robust hardware. I'm running it right now on a netbook using 1 gig of ram and a 1.66 cpu. It feels as light and fast as Xfce to me with a few adjustments. As I write this Fedora KDE 17 is using no more than 12% of my cpu.
As mentioned, it is mostly about the desktops today, your preferences in desktop GUI likely leads your choice in Linux distributions. Fedora is using KDE 4.8.3 which is a mature and polished KDE desktop. Using "yum install" in the terminal brings you access to many nice applications like Firefox. Or you can use the Software Management GUI to install your favorite applications.
I must admit that I favor the Debian based Linux distributions, Debian Stable in particular. But if you have hardware that is fairly new, requiring a newer kernel and more up-to-date software, Fedora is going to be well worth considering.
It is curious to me that this Fedora release would be called "Beefy Miracle", I think perhaps it shows a great sense of humor from someone at Fedora. I will refer to it as "Fedora 17" because I cannot imagine saying to someone: "Come look at my computer, check out the Beefy Miracle". I wonder what they were smoking when they came up with that name :-)
I don't like the "Beefy Miracle" theme on KDE. The text in the panel is almost unreadable with that theme, so I changed it to the nicer Oxygen theme giving me good contrast on the panel with a black panel and clear white text. In general, whether it's on the Gnome 3 release, Xfce, or Fedora KDE, the font rendering is rather bad in Fedora when compared to a distribution like Ubuntu. One thing I like to is change my system fonts to DejaVu Sans bold, and I enable rgb, 96 dpi, and set anti-aliasing to slight, which improves the fonts considerably.
Over time I think Fedora could grow on me, and with their plans to play ball with UEFI Secure Boot on Microsoft Machines, in the future they may be one of the few Linux operating systems to easily install and use on new hardware, one of the few distributions that will make it easy for newcomers to use Linux. I don't like the fact that Fedora only has a year of updates and support, I think that is a weakness in the system. You might have a truly wonderful Fedora release that works perfectly on your hardware, and find that the next release is complete dog on your system. It is too bad there is not a backport system as in Debian to keep alive an excellent Fedora release.
I would be remiss in these comments if I did not mention Fedora's excellent installer. Next to Ubuntu, Fedora is one of the fastest and easiest Linux installs I've ever come across. I suspect this is part of Fedora's popularity. And because Fedora has such a short shelf life, having an excellent installer is of paramount importance.
To me Fedora will always seem something of a Redhat testbed. It makes me think of Debian Sid, the newest Debian whose main purpose is to filter down stable software for the main purpose of creating Debian Stable. In a similar fashion I see Fedora as the testing ground for cutting edge software that will eventually make its way into the Redhat server edition and CentOS. This is not necessarily bad, but worth considering if you prefer a stable rather than cutting edge distribution.
If there were no other Linux distributions, I could happily live with Fedora. And if I had a new computer, Fedora would be one of the first distributions I would consider, but with the caveat that it would be the KDE spin of Fedora and not the main Gnome 3 mess.
Fedora 17 KDE is well worth trying out and if you want cutting edge software you will be a happy camper with Fedora. If you ever want a job involving Linux you will need to spend time with a Redhat distribution adjusting to yum and rpm package management, and Fedora is a user friendly way to step into the Redhat world of Linux. It may never become my favorite Linux distribution, but with a usable desktop like KDE, Fedora is a nice distribution.