The first impression after upgrading to Fedora 17: Boring!

The login screen has a new background picture but the desktop mostly looks and feels the same. But this is not really surprising since it has been only 6 months since the latest release and not a real criticism. The real changes are under the hood and in the applications that come with Fedora. Most noticeable a new version of the Gnome desktop environment, the Gimp image editor with its long awaited single window mode and the LibreOffice word processor. There are also some new applications included, e.g. Gnome Documents to manage your local documents as well as documents stored online at Google or Dropbox. There is a new and very basic virtualization frontend called Boxes but most users will prefer to use VirtualBox for now which is also easy to use and has support for 3D acceleration. The filesystem layout has changed which can cause troubles upgrading from previous versions and for custom written scripts but will not be noticeable by most users.

Fedora 17 seems to boot a bit quicker, the desktop feels a bit faster and menus are more responsive. It comes with Linux Kernel 3.4 which includes support for new hardware and enables power saving features (called ‘RC6’) for Intel’s Sandy-Bridge chips. Many small improvements come with the new 3.4 version of Gnome. It can finally run on hardware that does not have 3D support. For a full list of changes please see http://library.gnome.org/misc/release-notes/3.4/

Do I need to upgrade? Not if you are happy with Fedora 16 and do not need any of the newer applications provided by Fedora 17. Just wait another 6 months for  Fedora 18. On the other hand there are a lot of little updates and optimizations everywhere if you can to spare a few hours for the upgrade. The release notes at http://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/Fedora/17/html/Release_Notes/ have all the details.

**Install Fedora 17**

Fedora 17 can be downloaded from http://fedoraproject.org/get-fedora. You will need to burn the image file that you downloaded to CD / DVD or copy the files with the liveusb-creator tool onto an USB stick, then install from there.

Upgrade to Fedora 17

Upgrading to Fedora 17 is easy but it’s always a good idea to make a backup first. Then install the preupgrade tool, open a terminal, become root and type preupgrade. A window will pop up and ask you if you want to upgrade to Fedora 17, then download all needed packages in the background and restart your computer. After the reboot the actual upgrading process is started which takes between 1 to 2 hours. Another restart and Fedora 17 will boot up.