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Fedora 15: Post Installation Tasks

Fedora 15 a.k.a. Lovelock, just released, hosts a lot of innovations packaged with it. One of the innovations is GNOME 3 desktop environment. There was a lot of fuss and discussions about the usability of GNOME 3 ranging for people calling it a crap in usability design to the best ever interface ever seen. My personal thought is that GNOME 3 might not appeal for GNOME 2.x users as it’s a complete shift from the previous UI, but gradually you’ll get around it. I’ve been trying out Fedora 15 since a few weeks (including the beta version of F15), and had quite a experience of what I liked and what I wanted to get changed around. Below is a list of what should be changed in Fedora/GNOME to make it more usable:

  • Shutdown item not visible in user menu (you can get around by pressing [Alt] key).
  • Hibernate item missing from the user menu.
  • Adwaita Gnome-shell theme contains unnecessary padding.
  • Gnote icon is displayed in the bottom panel than the top panel.
  • Only close button is displayed on the window title bar.
  • Today’s date is not displayed, instead just the time is displayed at the top panel.
  • Network Manager applet does not have a option to disconnect from a connected resource, either it be wired or wireless.

There might be some others as well, but these are the one that were hindering the usability in my perspective. Discussed below are some of the tasks that will make your Fedora 15 machine more usable (disclaimer: you might have to install non-free software while following this post).

Configure SUDO access

On a Fedora machine you generally have a root user and a general user with no root privileges. Sudo is a mechanism that helps a user run commands and applications as a root user, or with root user’s privileges without logging-in as a root user. To set up a user with sudo access:

su -
echo 'username ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL' >> /etc/sudoers
exit

To run a command with sudo, just prefix the command with the keyword “sudo”. Example:

sudo <command>

Set up RPM Fusion Repository

RPM Fusion provides software that the Fedora Project or Red Hat doesn’t want to ship. That software is provided as precompiled RPMs for all current Fedora versions and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5; you can use the RPM Fusion repositories with tools like yum and PackageKit. RPM Fusion hosts two yum repositories – free and nonfree. The “free” repository hosts RPM packages for free software and the nonfree contains RPM packages for non-free software. We’ll set up both the repositories, follow these steps:

sudo yum localinstall --nogpgcheck http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-stable.noarch.rpm

Install mp3 and essential media codecs

MP3 and some other non-free media codecs are not packaged with Fedora, but are available at the non-free repository of RPM Fusion. Given the popularity of those codecs/formats, you will certainly want to have it installed, else you can not play much of the media files. But still you have the freedom to choose to play media file with a open source compliant format. To install non-free and other related codecs:

sudo yum install gstreamer-plugins-good gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-plugins-bad-free gstreamer-plugins-bad-nonfree gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer-ffmpeg xvidcore

Install VLC

VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols. It is some sort of universal media player. To install vlc:

sudo yum install vlc

Install plugins for file archiver for 7zip and rar

7z is the new archive format, providing high compression ratio and rar is one another popular format for compressing files. We can install plugins for both of these file formats for the file-roller utility. To install both the plugins:

sudo yum install p7zip p7zip-plugins unrar

Install Adwaita Improved theme for GNOME Shell

Adwaita Improved” is just an improved version of the default GNOME 3 theme called Adwaita. Improvements include reduced the overuse of padding in combo boxes and the primary toolbar(breadcrumb Nautilus bar) and blended the sidebar colour into the background colour. To install this theme:

mkdir -p ~/.themes/
wget -t0 -c http://www.deviantart.com/download/206172213/gnome_3__adwaita_improved_by_half_left-d3eqzhx.zip
unzip gnome_3__adwaita_improved_by_half_left-d3eqzhx.zip && rm -f COPYING
mv Adwaita/ ~/.themes/

After you’ve copied the Adwaita Improved theme to the “~/.themes/” folder, press [Alt] + [F2], which will open up the run dialog, press [r] at the dialog and hit [Enter]. This will reload gnome shell.

Install Gnome Tweak Tool with required plugins/extension

Gnome Tweak Tool is a tool to customize advanced GNOME 3 options. It is very helpful to tweak some configurations which would otherwise involve changing gconf settings using a gconf-editor tool. The plugins we will install are as below:

  • User Theme: This plugins lets you choose a gnome shell theme among those available at ~/.themes/.
  • Alternative Status Menu: This gnome shell extension will display additional items (viz. PowerOff and Hibernate) in the user menu.
  • Gnote: This gnome shell extension pulls up the gnote applet from the bottom panel to the notification area of the top panel, and hence is visible all the time.

To install gnome tweak tool:

sudo yum install gnome-tweak-tool gnome-shell-extensions-user-theme gnome-shell-extensions-alternative-status-menu
wget -t0 -c http://www.fpmurphy.com/gnome-shell-extensions/gnote.tar.gz
tar -zxvf gnote.tar.gz
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/
mv gnote@fpmurphy.com/ ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/

After downloading and copying is done, reload gnome-shell by press [Alt]+[F2], pressing [r] followed by a [Enter] keystroke.

Tweak advanced GNOME settings

We will tweak the following GNOME settings to make the desktop environment more usable.

  • Display date and time in the top panel instead of just time.
  • Display minimize, maximize and close – all the three buttons in the window title bar.

Open Gnome tweak tool, on the left are various sections/categories of tweaks. Among them, click on Shell. Toggle the Show date in clock to “ON”. Set the value of the combo box for Arrangement of buttons on the titlebar to “All” to display all the three buttons in the window title bar. You might optionally need to reload gnome shell after making this changes.

Install other GNOME 3 themes

If you do not like the default theme that you get with Fedora 15 (which is Adwaita, with a few changes after you installed Adwaita Improved), you can install other Gnome shell themes as well. Two good repositories of Gnome shell themes are:

Download the theme that you want to use/test. Extract the archive (if it comes as zip or tar.bz2 bundle), and copy the folder to ~/.themes/. After copying, open the Gnome Tweak Tool, click on the Shell section at the left pane. Select the required theme from the Shell Theme drop down box on the right pane. You might need to restart Gnome shell.

Install Flash Plugin

Although HTML5 has gone a lot ahead, Flash based content is still dominant on the web today, and you would require a flash plugin for your browser to view the flash content. At this stage you have two options for the plugin:

  • GNU Gnash: The GNU Flash movie player, which is a free software.
  • Adobe Flash Plugin: A proprietary flash plugin from Adobe Inc., the developers/maintainer of Flash

To install the GNU Gnash flash player plugin:

sudo yum install gnash gnash-plugin

The Adobe Flash player plugin is currently packaged for 32 bit systems as a RPM package. To install 32 bit version of the player:

wget -t0 -c http://linuxdownload.adobe.com/adobe-release/adobe-release-i386-1.0-1.noarch.rpm
sudo yum localinstall --nogpgcheck adobe-release-i386-1.0-1.noarch.rpm
sudo yum install flash-plugin

A beta preview version of Adobe Flash player is available for 64 bit machines from Adobe Labs. To install the 64 bit version:

wget -t0 -c http://download.macromedia.com/pub/labs/flashplayer10/flashplayer10_2_p3_64bit_linux_111710.tar.gz
tar -zxvf flashplayer10_2_p3_64bit_linux_111710.tar.gz
sudo mv libflashplayer.so /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins/
sudo chmod 755 /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins/libflashplayer.so
cd /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/
sudo ln -s /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins/libflashplayer.so

You will have to restart your browser if it’s already running.

Discussion

12 Responses to “Fedora 15: Post Installation Tasks”

  1. thanks for the info.. it was useful..

    Posted by Shashank Sharma | June 25, 2011, 6:16 pm
  2. “in usability design to the best ever interface ever seen.”

    It’s the opposite: Remove all functionality and you have a nice and clean desktop. Which is totally useless. But ooh, it’s so shiny and clean. Just like a smart phone without a single application.

    Fastest way to use anything is direct access, with keyboard. Second fastest is with mouse. This desktop hasn’t either and you claim it’s “best ever”?

    Could you be so kind that you’ll define exact details that make it even as usable as previous version with icons on the desktop and menus (which this one don’t have).

    Posted by Tuomas | July 1, 2011, 12:54 am
    • Dear Tuomas,
      If you clearly read my statement, it says – “There was a lot of fuss and discussions about the usability of GNOME 3 ranging for people calling it a crap in usability design to the best ever interface ever seen. My personal thought is that GNOME 3 might not appeal for GNOME 2.x users as it’s a complete shift from the previous UI, but gradually you’ll get around it.”

      I’m not taking any sides. I just stated that there some people who claim GNOME 3 as the worst interface ever (in regard to usability), and a few people claiming that is is one of the best ever polished interface. It is difficult for me as well to unlearn the GNOME 2.x experience/learning and switch to GNOME 3. What I stated was that gradually you get around it, and it is going to be the default GNOME in the days to come. Besides, GNOME 3 is at its early stage, and there are more bug-fixes and modifications to come. Let’s see how GNOME 3 is going to be in future.

      Posted by Abhishek Singh | July 1, 2011, 7:19 am
    • Dude,
      It’s freaking FREE. If you actually use it for a while it is quite useful. Oh sure it is new and has to be polished, but I like it (unlike your comment).

      Posted by Sean | October 31, 2011, 6:19 am
  3. Im not really use to linux and gnome…
    Maybe it is a good thing since I do not have to “unlearn” gnome 2 ;)

    Any how I feel better navigating around the system with those little UI tweak that you provided in your post-installation guide.

    Did not have any issue with those console commands.. excep this one ln -s /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins/libflashplayer.so … but no big deal it only required the administratr privilege.

    What if I decide to install a complete new theme that I could get from deviant art… should I uninstall those gnome shell prior ??

    anyway Thanks … Lot s of fun incoming for me :)

    Posted by Cedric Godmer | July 12, 2011, 10:31 am
    • Hi Cedric,
      Thanks for pointing out the issue with the “ln -s” command, I’ve corrected that (by adding a “sudo” at the start of the command).

      If you want to install other themes the way I’ve instructed in this tutorial, you do not need to uninstall. Just download the theme, extract it (if it is a compressed archive), and copy it to the ~/.themes/ directory. Then use the gnome-tweak-tool to select which theme you want to apply.

      Posted by Abhishek Singh | July 12, 2011, 10:49 am
  4. Excellent tutorial for Fedora-Newbies like myself!

    Thank You Sir.
    My opinion on gnomeshell:
    It’s green; not such a mature system as many may think, compared the flexibility of use of compiz (the abiliy to bind virtually ANYTHING to a keypress or corner+mouse-event is the reason it sits on top of any other window manager, Even kde lags behind in bind-o-rama since you can’t combine mouse & keyboard events or edge+mouse event. That’s why even GNOME3 & KDE4 have got great desktop expereinces it’s freedom of choice that give birth to open source. compiz has found way to squeeze out the unused Teraflops of those modern GPUs and lave all window management workload for them to carry. and through painstaking twitchy tweaking yo may someday achieve intuitive & simple desktop switching at the press of a mouse button; can you see!! it’s a twitchy-tweaker-painstaking-wonder to get it done, instead of havin a bind-any-mouse&keyboard-combination-you want button. This would allow maximum accesibility options since most devies designed to aid the physically-challenged members of our society are designed around three basic input-methods: emulate a standard keyboard press, emulate a standard mouse-event and/or mousebutton (scroll, press&hold), or a combination of both.

    Now I’m not saying hey! look at omiz is the way to go! All I’m saying is take it and improve it, add the BIND-ANY-F-ING-THING-BUTTON for every window management function as a standard feature for any window manager that has the pride of calling itself as such.

    I’ve used & tweaked them all: dos: win 3.1, 95, 98 , ME, Nextart, geoshell, gnome 1 2 3, Avant window navigator, 3d sphere, object-dock, cairo-dock, beryl, emerald, compiz fusion, compiz, ked2 3 4 glx-dock, etc. my current choice is gnome2.latest compiz 9.latest heavily tweaked cairo-dock with opengl. any comuter with 128+MB on video can use it Flexible & easy to use but it’s still a pain in the ass to configure. Now I’ testing gnome3 but it appears nowhere near polished.

    Posted by SquiDUT | August 16, 2011, 11:53 pm
  5. when i install flash i just do this:
    1) download the tar.gz file from adobe

    2) extract the file that ends with .so

    copy to ~username/.mozilla/plugins

    thats it

    Posted by toto | September 25, 2011, 9:53 pm
    • Hi Toto,
      Your way works too. But if you extract the “libflashplayer.so” in ~/.mozilla/plugins, then it will work only for the current user. If you have only one user on the system then whichever way you choose does not matter. But if you have multiple users, you’ll have to install it system-wide so that other users can use the flash plugin.

      Posted by Abhishek Singh | September 26, 2011, 10:09 am
  6. One thing you cannot do without: A Taskbar
    Install and run: “gnome-panel –replace”.
    This will give you a top and a bottom panel; the top one covered over by the default panel.
    Install and run: “dconf-editor”
    Edit: org -> gnome -> gnome-panel -> layout -> toplevels -> top-panel
    Set option to auto-hide the top panel, and that gets it out of the way at the top.
    Alt/right-click on the bottom panel and choose the Options;
    set Background to “Solid Color”; choose black (rgb:000); set Style to 60% transparant.
    Alt/right-click and choose ‘Add to panel'; search for ‘Main Menu’ and ‘Add';
    Alt/right-clock on the new ‘Main Menu’ icon, and select ‘Move’, than drag the icon to the leftmost corner on the taskbar.
    Add other items as needed.
    To startup the newly configured taskbar upon login:
    run ‘gnome-session-properties’ and Add ‘gnome-panel –replace’

    Posted by JenniW | October 12, 2011, 5:22 am
  7. Thank you very much for this nice help that made me very happy. Great !

    Posted by E3D3 | November 9, 2011, 4:06 am
  8. it was great help for a new fedora and yum user like me ,got me out of the mess a bit
    thanks !

    Posted by kourosh | October 7, 2012, 5:58 pm

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