My new project has just kindly bought me a new laptop -- a Dell Latitude E6500. I decided that rather than installilng Fedora 10 on it, I'd try out the (upcoming) Fedora 11 instead: (a) because it's more likely to support the newest hardware, and (b) because I just wanted to. :) After a bit of fun upgrading the version of Vista (and reinstalling all of the Dell hardward drivers) -- for work reasons, I'll pretty much have to dual boot -- I downloaded Fedora 11 Snapshot 1 (KDE version) and did the install.
The install went smoothly for the most part. I did get a backtrace from the installer when I tried modifying my Vista (NTFS) partition so that it got a mount point by default, which looks like this (now-fixed) bug. Also, since it was an install from a live image, this made the custom partitioning process a bit more complex (I prefer to set up my own partitions rather than trust the automated version):
- The root partition has to be ext4 because that's what the partition on the live image is
- HOWEVER, you apparently can't boot from ext4 yet, so you also need to have an extra, separate ext3 /boot partition
- I finally took a look at what the automated partitioning wanted to do -- a 200M /boot partition -- and did that, and let the rest of things be ext4
After all that (and after I finally remembered to create a swap partition), the install went quickly, and rebooting to the newly-installed OS worked fine, as did all of the firstboot stuff and the initial (large) package update.
From a desktop standpoint, there's actually not that much of an obvious difference between Fedora 10 and 11, especially as I've been using the packages from kde-redhat's "unstable" repository for a while now so I'm already on the latest KDE and Qt versions.
The first thing that I noticed on booting -- and I saw this also on my netbook previously -- is that KDE doesn't seem to look very nice on high-DPI screens. This computer has a 15.4" screen with a resolution of 1920x1200, resulting in a DPI of 147x147. When I set font sizes for KDE, the fonts inside the windows don't seem to agree with the fonts outside the windows (title bar, task bar, etc.). I filed a bug about this at KDE a while ago, but nobody ever replied. The best workaround I can find is to force the fonts DPI to 120 in the system-settings module, but even that's only an approximation. Surely other people have noticed this?
Once I set the fonts to be readable, most of the other graphics things seem to "just work" well, especially with the very newest graphic drivers. The graphics card is the Intel X4500HD, which seems to be plenty powerful enough -- this is the smoothest I've seen the KDE desktop effects (cube, shadows, etc) work on any computer I've personally used. It's a bit odd that xrandr only shows the native resolution of the screen (1920x1200) as an option; that seems from the log files to be because the LCD display itself says that's the only resolution it supports. It would be nice to be able to switch to a lower resolution for giving a presentation in "clone mode" and so on. I suppose I should try to track this down further ...
Funny things going on here, and I need to do some more investigation. With the initial install, pulseaudio never played any sounds; it did periodically make the speakers make an annoying popping sound, though. But oddly, when I went to YouTube, I did get sound from the flash player -- that's using pulseaudio too, isn't it? I briefly tried uninstalling pulseaudio, and then things seemed to work, but I reinstalled it because I really want to understand what's going on. I wish it were easier to set the KDE multimedia properties back to the defaults (why are there two "pulseaudio" devices in the list? which is the good one? why doesn't the "Defaults" button do anything?) ... I will probably file a bug about this, but first I need to understand better exactly what's happening.
[Edit: it looks like this is this bug, and there seems to be no known solution yet ... ]
All of the networking and other hardware "just worked" as far as I can tell; there were no issues with wired or wireless networking, the touchpad and volume keys worked as expected, as does the webcam, and so on. I was surprised that the default for the touchpad is to disable tap-to-click (i.e., tapping on the touchpad to emulate a left click), but I'm going to see if I can get used to that because I have had some annoying moments before where a click was interpreted as a drag or vice versa. So this may be the opportunity I need to train myself out of using that. Or I may just miss it too much and want to put it back (I guess I'll need to create an xorg.conf at that point? Must investigate.) I haven't yet tested the fingerprint reader, and I haven't tried suspending or hibernating yet, so there may yet be surprises waiting in store. :)
Fedora has changed the selection of kernels as of Fedora 11. Because I installed from the live image, my initial kernel was the i586 one. I decided to install the i686-PAE one instead because as far as I can tell, all modern Pentium-class processors should support it and it will give some performance advantages. Not much luck yet -- so far, it seems to hang at boot where the i586 version works fine. Hopefully it's something simple but I just filed the above bug so we'll have to see.
Occasionally you can still tell that Fedora 11 is still pre-release -- e.g., I got a traceback from NetworkManager earlier today. But for the most part I'm pleased with how it works on this laptop and I don't regret at all choosing the Intel graphics card over the nVidia alternative.