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Fedora 29 announcement, news and known issues

Once a year, we upgrade all the desktop systems to the latest version of Fedora, our Linux desktop operating system.

General information

New in F29, or in our Fedora setup:

  • Gnome 3.30 (see below for details)
  • Cloud integration: you can link your Google Drive, OwnCloud/SurfDrive and some other cloud storage services the file manager (in addition to Dropbox, which has been there for a couple of years).
    Various online calendars can be integrated in the desktop calendar utility.
  • Python is now available in version 2.7 and 3.7. If you had private packages or virtualenv installed for python 3.6, you may have to reinstall those for 3.7. Your python 2.7 packages should remain operational.
    • All python programs in the desktop and system utilities, are now using python 3. Command python will continue to invoke python2 so all your own scripts should not be affected. Command python3 will now invoke version 3.7 in stead of 3.6, so some differences may be present.
    • When available, we have installed both the python 2.7 and the python 3.7 version of a package.
    • spyder needs to be run with fresh default preferences in order to work right
  • Wayland: the official Fedora release notes have a lot of information about Wayland, a replacement for the X11 graphics system. We don't use Wayland at this time, since it doesn't yet support many features that are needed in our type of work (remote graphics, VNC, various scientific programs, …). So you can ignore all that is written about Wayland in the documentation.
  • User directories $HOME/bin and $HOME/.local/bin have been moved to the front of the PATH; especially useful if you install python modules that come with executable scripts. So, this makes it easier to get your own versions of programs. But also be careful, in case your own versions don't work together with the rest of the system!!
  • Removed software:
    • d4x (download utility, no longer maintained)
    • bittorent-gui
    • mypaint: its library and functionality is now merged with gimp, so there is no need for the stand-alone paint utility
  • Renamed/replaced software
    • gnome-tweaks is the new name for gnome-tweak-tools
    • gracegtk is the successor of xmgrace
    • hexchat replaces xchat
  • The Flash plugin is still part of Google Chrome, but no longer provided as a firefox plugin

Known issues in Fedora 29

  • VNC issues: Desktop environments that require hardware accelleration (3D desktop effects) are too heavy to be used inside a virtual desktop (VNC, X2GO). See VNC desktop issues for details and workarounds.
  • TeX package psfig, which has been obsolete for a long time, has now almost completely stopped working. Converting documents to newer packages such as graphics or graphicx is recommended, and is usually easy.
  • When selecting a desktop from the login screen, the GNOME desktop is listed multiple times. Choosing any one of them should work.
  • ICAclient (Citrix receiver, in use to reach the university “self service” pages) is only available as browser plugin, no longer as stand-alone application.
  • spyder (integrated development environment for python) has some incompatible preferences. if you have used it in earlier fedora versions, you should probably get rid of the .spyder2 and .spyder3 directories in your home before starting the new version.
  • Python package tensorflow explicitly doesn't support python 3.7. It can still be used in python 2.7, and if necessary, we can help you to set up a private virtualenv with python 3.6 and the required packages.
  • Gnome doesn't display notification area aka system tray icons any more by default. The fix is, to enable the topicons plus extension: open gnome-tweaks, and go to extensions to do that. After that, the icons such as status icons of dropbox, skype etc, will be in your top panel.
  • Oracle Java needs to be updated in order to be installable; for the moment, OpenJDK seems to be able to handle all your Java needs (let us know if you encounter a case that doesn't work).

Some general observations and tips

  • Gnome 3. Gnome 3 is a completely different desktop design, which makes the desktop look and behave a bit like a Tablet PC. Some people may like it, but if you don't, “Mate” is available as an alternative, to give you the experience of good old Gnome 2, or “Cinnamon”, for a more desktop-like version of the new Gnome, or try “Gnome Classic”.
    More on Gnome 3
  • Gnome applications: in every new release, more Gnome applications are rewritten in the style of the Gnome 3 desktop. This means: a separate application menu, displayed Mac-style in the top bar on the Gnome desktop, or under the application icon in other desktops, the most important actions displayed as buttons, and everything else in a menu at the top right in the application window.
    See desktop applications for a table listing alternatives, in case you cannot get used to the new look.
  • Cinnamon desktop tweaks: While Cinnamon is based on (and compatible with) Gnome 3, there are separate tools for its customization, eg, if you want to modify the programs that start in each session, use cinnamon-session-properties for that (also available from the settings overview).
    More on Cinnamon or see the list of available desktop applications
  • Programs that start with each session: A lot of programs are started by default in each desktop session. many of them are unnecessary; some of them are annoying or can cause problems. users can disable everything they don't need.
    More on session tweaking
  • The command pmount can be used to mount removable media (cdrom,dvd,usb-disks) from the commandline. E.g.: pmount /dev/cdrom mounts the cd/dvd as /media/cdrom.
  • Emacs. Stating with Emacs version 24, the program contains quite a number of changes. For the most part: it tries to work nicer with current desktop systems, since the way people expect an X application to behave, have changed a lot over the years. Best to enable the KDE or Gnome clipboard manager, and enjoy the new feature of emacs and of your desktop the way they were programmed to be.
    But emacs being emacs, all of this behaviour can be configured and fine-tuned. Read the news, available from the help menu (C-h n).
    If you realy, realy, realy want the old selection, cut and paste behaviour back, add this in your .emacs:
                (setq select-active-regions nil)
                (setq mouse-drag-copy-region t)
                (setq x-select-enable-primary t)
                (setq x-select-enable-clipboard nil)
                (global-set-key [mouse-2] 'mouse-yank-at-click)          
  • Intel compilers: The Intel compilers (ifort,icc) are not enabled by default. The latest freely available version is 10.1, which can be loaded using module load intel. However, for most code, the GNU compilers are better than these old Intel compiler versions. (if you read that the Intel compiler has speed benefits, this probably refers to the very expensive current version, which we cannot install on a system-wide basis, or you are reading an obsolete webpage; the GNU compilers have gained significant speed of the last couple of years).
    If you really need the current Intel compilers, find funding, and be prepared to have a license locked to a single computer. Intel also provides personal free student licenses. As personal license, we cannot install it for you, unfortunately.
linux/fedora_29.txt · Last modified: 2019/01/10 14:23 by jansen