Lance Albertson from OSUOSL talked about Ganeti:
About 10 years ago PBS Frontline had a special on Retirement. It was pretty shocking back then and it seems not many people noticed. Luckily they took a second pass at it last night. Here are the results:
I keep up with Fedora releases. Fedora 19 was due for an "Alpha" release last Tuesday but they had to delay. As most everyone already knows, delays in Fedora are to be expected. Anyway, I thought I'd check out their Alpha test builds. They actually seem to be working quite well. I did several installs from the "Desktop" media which is GNOME 3.8.x-based. The installs I did were inside of KVM-based virtual machines. Then I added on all of the other desktop environments and tried them out. Even in this early stage, it seems to be quite usable and stable. I obviously did NOT run into any of the "blocker" bugs that were the cause of the Alpha release delay. I think most of those were EFI related.
Remixing from Alpha
I thought I'd try doing a MontanaLinux remix from the development repositories. For those not familiar with MontanaLinux, it is basically the vast majority of desktop environments and desktop managers and a lot of desktop software rolled into a 2+ GB live .iso. It includes packages from rpmfusion (codecs, gnome-mplayer, vlc, etc), Google (google-chrome-stable and google-talkplugin) and Adobe (flash-plugin).
So from my Fedora 19 pre-alpha VM, I installed the various kickstart packages, extracted out the KDE related kickstart (.ks) files, and then melded them into a single file, added the packages I wanted to the %packages section, and then did a tiny bit of customization in the %post and %post --nochroot sections of the kickstart. With a MontanaLinux-F19.ks file done, I proceeded with the build.
It built. I discovered (with help from nirik in #fedora-devel on freenode) that Fedora no longer looks at /etc/sysconfig/desktop for the default desktop environment and display manager. That is done with systemd's systemctl.
The Bug Fairy Always Visits
There are a few glitches here and there but that is to be expected. lightdm was messing me up... so I had to add an exclude in the %packages section. I'm still in the process of refining the kickstart but it seems to work well enough.
For some reason, when I boot the .iso in a KVM VM on a Fedora 18 host I can't use the combination of SPICE/QXL. If I change it to VNC/any, SPICE/VGA, or SPICE/VMVGA it works fine.
I made sure to add in the GNOME 3.8.x Classic extensions so the GNOME Classic mode shows up in the display manager Session options.
I've only been working on this for a few hours so I'm sure I've got a bit of learning left to do. Fedora has since released a number of Fedora 19 updates and I haven't tried those yet. More later.
Update: April 22 - There was an additional flood of updates over the weekend. I guess the current build from Fedora went gold for the Alpha release and they had stockpiled some updates until after. I put in a few more hours on my configs and got the 32 and 64-bit versions built. They are working well and the SPICE/QXL combination now works fine. Updates included KDE 4.10.2 and MATE 1.60 among others.
If anyone wants to try it out, feel free to email me (email@example.com) and I'll reply with a URL.
Update: April 24 - Fedora DID release Fedora 19 Alpha yesterday. I've done yet another rebuild and created a screencast video (no audio) showing the Live DVD iso booting inside of a KVM Virtual Machine connected to with the SPICE remoting protocol. I didn't do any fancy editing of the video so there are long boring parts where you stare at a blank screen as it boots or loads. In the 25 minute video I boot, do an install, reboot and then do a quick survey of all the desktop environments, some apps as well as how I like to personalize KDE. The pre-release Fedora 19 base has a debug kernel and I'm sure the installer is doing a lot of extra logging... so the installer and the boot is a lot slower than the final product will be but that is to be expected. Everything seems to be working nicely except for Cinnamon.
Anyone who would like to watch it can do so with the link below. Right-click to download or play in your webm compatible browser. It is about 66MB in size... which is about 3 times the size of my first hard drive back in 1986. :)
Want to know what's going on in kernel development? Then check out this video from The Linux Foundation's Collaboration Summit 2013: Linux Weather Forecast By Jon Corbet
Here's a playlist for all of the videos from that conference.
Canonical has announced quite a few things over the past couple of days, weeks and months. Many of the announcements have been quite exciting in a good way (Ubuntu Phone and Ubuntu Tablet) and some of them seem to be a little shocking... that have some in the Ubuntu Community feeling betrayed, ignored or worse.
Just to review, I've not really been an Ubuntu fan. I'm a Red Hat and Fedora fanboi. I've often been critical of Canonical although not really of the volunteer community that supports Ubuntu. You know the same old stuff about how Canonical doesn't work with upstream, they don't contribute back much, most of the work that is outwardly visible is on their proprietary stuff... they seem to get way more credit than they deserve... and they still, so far as I know, haven't figured out a way to be profitable... which I think is very important for something so many people depend on. You've heard all of that before many times from many people. Nothing new here.
A tiny bit of history - One of the things in the beginning, in my opinion, that got Canonical and Ubuntu so popular so fast was that there were a lot of end users of Red Hat Linux that were upset with a few things. The first was that Red Hat started a pay support service for Red Hat Linux where users would pay $5/month ($60 a year) for faster download speeds of updates and isos. Then Red Hat created the pay-only Red Hat Enterprise Linux... and seemed to put way less effort into Red Hat Linux 8 and 9. And of course they said flat out that they didn't think that Linux on the desktop was a viable / profitable option and they were going to put all of their efforts into Linux for servers. It took a while for the Fedora Project to be born and to actually get to a point where they were something that resembled a real community project rather than this awkward thing that Red Hat did to appease the mobs. As us Fedora folks know, the Fedora Project some time ago got to the point where it was on par with Debian (or pretty close to it) with regards to being self sustainable and having a nice set of ethics they operate by. Granted Fedora doesn't support anywhere near as many architectures as Debian does, but you get my point. Fedora (and Red Hat) do a lot of stuff and it's all based on free (as in speech) software. Anyway, I don't want to get too far off on a Fedora tangent... because I don't have much new information to offer.
My point is (I think that) Mark Shuttleworth saw the turmoil in the Red Hat community and as a result he tried to capitalize on it by saying early on that Ubuntu would always be free (as in beer) and that they were going to concentrate on Desktop Linux.
Since I've been through some turmoil with Red Hat and Fedora... it pains me to see the Ubuntu Community in the situation it is in now. The advice I'd like to convey is... relax... don't jump to conclusions... don't let your feelings get the best of you... be logical... keep doing what you've been doing... and as time passes... a lot of the confusion caused by uncertainty will clear up... and things will get way better... and you'll be happy again.
Facts for Ubuntu Developers (a different FUD) - I can understand that the non-Unity spins of Ubuntu are scared about Mir... but how is that different from the turmoil a switch to Wayland would have caused anyway? Regarding the Rolling Release move, Mr. Shuttleworth seems to be against the idea after all, so do you think that is going to happen?
Yes, Canonical is moving in some new and different directions and their vision doesn't seem to match as well as it has in the past with much of the volunteer Ubuntu community... but so what? As a community you can still do what you want to. The vast majority of the software is FLOSS and you can continue to do with it as you wish. You may have to muster more resources that were previously provided by Canonical... so you may have to work harder to move in your own direction... but don't worry... it'll be worth it so hang in there. Don't quit. Don't give up.
I could go on and on with specific examples but I think I'd only bore people and hopefully I've gotten my point across already.
Motivation, Smotivation - Why am I being supportive of Canonical? Well, I'm not really. I'm just trying to be supportive of the volunteer Ubuntu community. Ok, maybe I am trying to be a little supportive of Canonical. Being a Fedora fanboi why would I want to do that? The answer is simple really. I think there is a big enough pie for a dozen Linux and FLOSS companies. Why should Red Hat remain the beacon of success... that seems to prove to be the exception to the rule rather than the rule. Red Hat didn't want the desktop market. They made that very clear... and they picked the server market and have executed and delivered quite well in that space. Who else is trying to be a commercial success in the Linux desktop and mobile space? Do we really want a Google Everything future? Do we want Android to be the "future of Linux"? If you didn't already guess my answers to those questions... it is a strong NO. I've been hoping that Canonical would find some way to make a good profit in an ethical and community friendly way as yet another example of business success with FLOSS... and maybe they'd spark some interest in Red Hat to move into the Desktop and mobile market.
I kind of think Mr. Shuttleworth handicapped himself with the "it'll always be free" comment at the beginning. I mean... ok, one or more forms can remain free but can't they also come up with some way to make a pay version too? That would be a more direct way to be profitable rather than trying to gain a massive userbase where only a small percentage of users are paying for cloud services or purchasing things where Canonical gets a small cut of the revenue... but who am I to question a millionaire about the best ways to make money?
Worst case scenerio... the bulk of the people that are the Ubuntu community now... fork off and become a renamed community... more able to focus on the goals they think are important... without needing or wanting the approval of Canonical nor Mark Shuttleworth. Would that be a lot of work? Heck yeah. Are they anywhere near that point yet? Not even close. Ideally I envision a sort of relationship similar to what Red Hat has with Fedora... between Canonical and a refocused Ubuntu Community. It depends on what Canonical really thinks about their community. I know what they say in public about them... but I don't think that is necessarily what they 100% believe.
In Conclusion - So, my advice for now... to the Ubuntu community folks is... just relax... don't get overly excited... keep doing what you have enjoyed doing... and let some time pass... and it'll probably just get all better by itself. So, boiling that down to two words, "Don't panic!". Even if your worst fears came true, and I don't think they will, you have some positive, viable paths of action.
OpenVZ Booth - Sunday was a much slower day. Activity in the larger exhibit room seemed to be much higher than it was in the Pacific room where the OpenVZ booth was. I spent quite a bit of time twittling my thumbs.
Daniel Robbins stopped by to see Kir again but he was temporarily away from the booth. When he got back I sent him over to talk to Daniel.
I talked to a long, blond-haired Google employee for an extended length of time... about fingernails. He had very long fingernails (for a dude) that kind of looked like claws so I asked if he played the guitar. He told me quite a bit about fleet programming and mapping memory to the disk... and mentioned that Google uses Ganeti and Xen for internal virtualization stuff... but not for running their external facing services. I learned more about fingernails than I thought possible.
Two guys came up to the booth to ask if they could borrow my terminal window for a minute. I asked why and one said he wanted to show the other GNU Screen for the first time. I told them not to use screen but to use tmux instead... and then broke into an impromptu demo of tmux. They were amazed. Then a third friend came up who said he had been using screen for years but as a serial communications program (after having previously used minicom)... and that he had no idea that screen had the terminal multiplexing features that 99.9% of other screen users use it for. Showed him tmux too. I referred them to a UTOSC 2012 video on Screen vs. Tmux. They were very happy to learn it and thought it was awesome that it came from an OpenVZ booth and wasn't about OpenVZ. :)
There were about a dozen people who stopped by the booth to ask about OpenVZ. One guy said he had been to Bozeman before because he wife was on a trip skiing in the Bozeman area and broken her leg so they ended up visiting the Bozeman hospital.
Other Booths - I visited the Fedora booth and got the Multi-Desktop Live DVDs for Fedora 17 and 18 along with some stickers. I also got some media from the OpenSUSE booth. I really enjoyed several of the hardware related booths. For example there was a company there named ODROID Hard-Kernel that had a number of tiny Linux machines. The Tiny-Core booth had a few tiny machines as well. The server hardware guys were there with HP, ServerMicro and ServersDirect among others. Inkscape, KDE, LibreOffice and VideoLAN were represented. Several Linux distros had booths including Debian, Gentoo, Arch, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Tiny-Core. Did I leave anyone out? Cloud providers were there in numbers... as were storage solutions, databases, and backup solutions. The usual third-parties were there like the FSF, EFF, FreeBSD / PC-BSD, OpenBSD, OLPC, and Haiku. Linux box makers were there like System76 and Zareason. Various area user groups had booths. There were close to 100 booths in total. I believe I got pictures of everything.
OpenShift Presentation - I went to a presentation at 3PM entitled, Build Your Own PaaS using OpenShift Origin given by Red Hat's Steven Citron-Pousty (ODP slides). He was giving away 4GB USB thumb drives that were stainless steel with a bottle opener to those who asked good questions. I asked a good question but I didn't want the swag. OpenShift is available as an online hosted service (public cloud on Amazon EC2 known as OpenShift Online), as a pay service from Red Hat known as OpenShift Enterprise, or as a do-it-yourself upstream project known as OpenShift Origin. The only thing OpenShift requires is either Red Hat Enteprise Linux 6 (or clone) or Fedora. I learned that OpenShift uses SELinux and cgroups to make service gears which are functionally very similar to containers. OpenShift is an elaborately designed system whereby a wide variety of components can be mixed and matched quickly and easily to stand up almost any web-based service. Some of those services include databases, middle-ware, development languages, frameworks, developer tools, and some packaged web applications. Each category is a who's who of big name open source projects. OpenShift grabs what you want it to, creates a gear of out of it, and then auto-magically configures everything with a unique private IP address and uses HA-Proxy to tie it all together. Other, non-web-based, services are on the road map but do not currently have a target date. OpenShift looks very interesting for hosting companies or any mid-to-large company that is constantly deploying a number of new web-services. The fact that they have tied together SELinux and cgroups to make psydo-containers is very interesting. Someone in the audience asked if they considered OpenVZ and Steve said he didn't think so because he was unfamiliar with it. In summary with OpenShift, System Administrators can easily deploy anything that developers want and developers can do what they need to do and very little more.
Post Show - After the show I just went back to the room and watched TV. The Oscars came on. They come on much earlier in L.A. They ended at 8PM. I watched more TV (while uploading pictures I took from the show). Then the local news came on. It had the normal news stuff except they also included who was attending whos after oscars party. Being in L.A. on Oscars night is kind of cool.
Conclusion - This was my first visit to SCaLE and I must say I was impressed. The Hilton was a very fancy place to have it and the accommodations for the presentations were reasonable. SCaLE definitely was not the only stuff the Hilton had going on as I saw a number of other events in a few of the other conference rooms.
Wnen the show was over there was a team of about 10 people from SCaLE breaking down all of the network stuff. This was their 11th year and it went like clockwork. There was a significant amount of Linux luminaries and a wide variety of talks that ranged from beginner to kernel development and everything in-between. There were close to 100 exhibit booths and tons of swag. The exhibit floor was packed for much of Saturday but quite a bit thinner on Sunday. The exhibitors were made up of a good mixture of commercial venders as well as .org projects. While I was stuck in a booth for most of the show I did get to attend a few presentations. Supposedly most of the presentations were video recorded and I hope to see them posted online ASAP so I can check them out. I'd definitely attend a future SCaLE if given the opportunity.
Saturday at SCaLE was fun. I staffed the OpenVZ booth most of the day... from 10 AM until 6 PM. I did get a few breaks and a break for lunch. I had a number of people stop by the booth who mentioned they were using Proxmox VE and really liking it. Quite a few people had no idea what OpenVZ was and so I would start off back asking them if they use any virtualization products and the answer was usually yes. If they were a hobbyist user, their answer was usually VirtualBox. If they were a business type person their answer was usually VMware or KVM. I was ssh'ed into a couple of remote machines that were OpenVZ hosts so I was able to show what containers looked like by doing a pstree on the host and showing multiple init processes.
A guy from IllumOS dropped by the booth to ask if anyone was running KVM virtual machines inside of OpenVZ containers. Not to my knowledge. He said they were using Zones isolate KVM VMs on IllumOS. He seemed to have some concern that KVM wasn't secure/isolated enough and that users might be able to break out... and that the zones would keep everything safe. I mentioned sVirt for KVM but I've not used it myself.
Kir gave his presentation at 3PM on Checkpoint and Restore In Userspace (CRIU) which is a sub-project of OpenVZ. He said it went well and he filled his time but he didn't get a chance to actually show a demo... which was a shame because he had a nice video that showed it from beginning to end. Hopefully I can get him to share that video online RSN.
Kir also mentioned to me the commercial containers product that Parallels has to do Windows containers on Microsoft Windows... and that it was a monumental product with a high level of Windows internals knowledge on display... and that they were trying to work with Microsoft to share information... but that Microsoft didn't seem to interested. They are toying with the idea of possibly releasing OpenVZ for Windows but it seems unlikely. Containers on Windows has to bypass some kernel anti-patching technology Microsoft has so it can install the container functionality and then it has to re-enable it to keep the bad guys out. I'm not much of a Windows person and I definitely don't know Windows internals at all... but it was interesting even when dumbed down for me. :)
For lunch I thought I'd head over to Carls Jr. again but that place was packed... mostly with SCaLE attendees... so I ended up walking about a mile to a Burger King. That was a nice bit of exercise. Speaking of exercise, I decided that I wasn't going to use the elevator and take the stairs... which is a bit of exercise because as you may recall my room is on the 12th floor. I did that about three times down and up on Saturday.
A long time OpenVZ user named John Wenger from the L.A. Co-op stopped by to visit with Kir but he was away from the booth at the time. Late in the afternoon a guy from the Zenoss booth stopped by to say that he was going to give a demo using ZenPack (or something like that) that started up a few OpenVZ containers and showed off the monitoring capabilities of Zenoss. I commented on his "Bring IT" tee-shirt. After I had been talking with him for about 10 minutes it turned out that he was Daniel Robbins... who I have talked to a number of times on the #openvz IRC channel. Perhaps you recognize his name. Daniel was the creator of the Gentoo Linux distribution. These days he works on Funtoo. I jokingly asked him to sign my arm but he said I was weird. :)
Maybe it is because I'm in the L.A. area and I watch a lot of TV but one guy stopped by the booth who looked a lot like Hugh Laurie. If you don't know who that is, look it up. Anyway, he didn't know who Hugh Laurie was and hadn't been told he looked like him before. If only I had taken a picture. Anyway.
A few people reported that Java-based apps (like Jenkins I think) didn't perform well inside of a container and tended to spike I/O usage that would make the machine unresponsive for periods of time. Told them to check bugzilla.openvz.org and jump on an existing bug report if one existed or to file a new bug.
I got a chance to walk around both exhibit rooms and take pictures of all of the booths... but once I got them copied off of the SD card to my netbook I discovered that the vast majority of them were terribly blurry. I guess I was in too big of a hurry and wasn't holding the camera still long enough. The lighting in the place isn't that great but I didn't want to be pulsing a flash in everyone's eyes. Anyway, I dumped that set of pictures... so sorry, no pictures today like I had promised. I will make a concerted effort to take all new pictures.
I went by the OLPC booth and saw Caryl Bigenho. As you may recall, her and her husband Ed have a summer home outside of Bozeman and have visited every year. Caryl gave a presentation to the campus on the OLPC about two or three years ago... and she is the one that suggested we apply for a lending lab which netted us 10 OLPCs to share with the Montana community. I ended up going out to dinner at Denny's Restaurant (that is about half a mile from the Hilton) with Caryl, Ed, and a friend of theirs named Tony. Tony told me some about various OLPC deployments he has helped with in a few different countries in Africa. That was very interesting.
At 9PM I attended a Raspberry Pi Birds-of-a-Feather (Bof) get together. Caryl Bigenho lead it and asked everyone who had one or more Raspberry Pis and what they were doing with them. One guy who I think had an Australian accent but said he visited England at least once a month and that his son was involved with the MagPi magazine Kickstarter project. He said his son was now working on another Kickstarter project for an add-on power button for the RPi... and he showed a prototype microSD card adapter for the RPi that was different in that it was NOT the normal SDcard size. It was specifically made for the RPi SDcard slot so you could put a microSD card in it, plug it into the RPi and it does not stick out from the slot and is flush with the side of the board. I won't go into the various projects that people were doing because it was a very broad list (ham raid, First Robotics projects, co-location for RPi as a hosting server, etc). There were a couple of people from the Tiny-Core Linux booth and they said they had recently gotten Tiny-Core going on it and that it was the smallest and fastest Linux distro yet. They are showing it at their booth for anyone who wants to stop by and see it. Caryl mentioned that she had recently acquired an SDcard with Sugar (the OLPC learning environment) on it for the RPi. She hadn't had a chance yet to try it out but hoped to later in the day on Sunday.
There is a huge amount of interest in the RPi and even though other competitors may come and go in the space, the RPi has the numbers and add-ons and the people excited about it... that it should remain a viable platform for at least a few years.
This is my first time at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) and it is their 11th year. You see, just a few days ago I had no plans to attend but then Kirill Kolyshkin contacted me via IRC asking if I was available to attend to help staff the OpenVZ booth. If you haven't heard of Kir before, he is the OpenVZ Project leader who is employed by Parallels. Having never attended SCALE I was very excited about going and checked with my two bosses (the wife and work) to see if I could go. Luckily both gave the thumbs up.
SCALE is actually FRIDAY - SUNDAY. Turns out that the Exhibit floor doesn't open until SATURDAY. Living in Montana my flight took me through Denver and by the time I got to Los Angeles and had ridden a free shuttle bus to the Hilton it was about 3PM PST.
I was so excited about going to SCALE, I had trouble sleeping Thursday night and add jet lag to that... I didn't have a whole lot of energy and went to bed around 8PM. Between hitting the hotel and going to bed though, I did do a few things.
1) I stopped by the exhibit floor to see how everyone was getting along setting up their booths. The exhibit floor is actually in two large rooms on the ground floor of the Hilton. One room is smaller than the other and the OpenVZ Booth (#93) is in the smaller of the two. I found the OpenVZ booth and I saw that Kir had already gotten it set up with a nice OpenVZ/CRIU banner and a large flat screen monitor.
2) I then checked in and got my room keys at the Hilton. I'm on the 12th floor. I went up to the room and got my netbook on the network to check my email and get on IRC. In IRC I saw Larry Cafiero. Larry is a SCALE promoter and PR person who is trying to work with a few of us in Montana to get a Montana Linux Fest in the not too distant future. Larry asked me to go to the Catalina C room to visit with him to touch base. I have visted with Larry several times at various shows (LFNW and UTOSC) when he was still associated with the Fedora Project. We chit chatted about the trip thus far and when I might start concentrating more on a Big Sky Linux Fest.
3) I attended Robyn Bergeron talk entitled, Managing the release and life cycle of an open source software project in a community. She jokingly said it as the longest presentation title ever.
4) Then I went to Carls Jr across the street from the Hilton and had one of their turkey burgers.
5) Then I went back to the room and the phone rang. It was Kir. His room is on the 3rd floor. He said he was doing some last minute work on his CRIU presentation (that is on Saturday at 3PM in the Century CD room) but that he wanted to get together to discuss the latest happenings in the OpenVZ world and what he has been working on... so I'd be better prepared for the booth. So, I went down to his room and we talked for about a hour or so. I got a gigantic brain dump worth of information. Turns out Kir (and his wife and two children) moved from the Moscow Russia area to the Seattle area sometime in December. Parallels has a small office there. Also in the same office is Linux kernel hacker and Parallels CTO of Server Virtualization, James Bottomley. You might have heard that James has been working lately on a secure boot setup for The Linux Foundation. Anyway, Kir mentioned that James wanted him to attend Matthew Garrett's Saturday morning keynote entitled, The Secure Boot Journey. Kir also wants to attend a presentation on Linux Native Containers (LXC) and of course he has his own presentation at 3PM. That means I'm going to be at the OpenVZ both for quite a while by myself. That's ok. Kir said that if there were any presentations I wanted to go to on Sunday, I could. I haven't really looked at the schedule yet.
Then Kir's wife and children (a boy and a girl) got back to the room after having toured around Hollywood. It just so happens that the Kolyshkin family had driven down from Seattle to L.A. which is quite the drive (about 1,000 miles or more?) although believe it or not, still shorter than some of Kir's flights over from Moscow to the US for various trade shows. They invited me to dinner but I was still full from the turkey burger and declined.
I went back to the room only to notice the Fedora Project had pushed out a considerable number of Fedora 18 updates including the 3.7.9 kernel and Firefox 19. I got my netwook all updated. I ssh'ed into my MontanaLinux build hosts at work and rebuilt with all of the updates. While that progressed I watched a little American Pickers on the History channel. It wasn't too long after that that I drifted of into the world of slumber.
I just woke up about 4AM PST and began writing this blog post. Getting up so early, I have about 5.5 hours before the opening of the OpenVZ booth. Wooo hooo.
I definitely have a lot to share from the talk I had last night with Kir but I'll wait until later to do so. Hmmm, I guess I do have to turn the light on in the room to get the coffee pot going. :)
I didn't bring my video camera because I thought I'd be stuck in the booth the whole time but I did bring a camera so expect lots of pictures from Saturday and Sunday. Assuming I have Internet connectivity (we as supposed to) at the booth, I'll be on IRC "live from the SCALE booth" just for the fun of it.
Oh, I guess I missed Jono Bacon's presentation late Friday about the Ubuntu Phone. In all honesty, I had no interest in attending.
DistroWatch had a review of Fedora 18 in today's Weekly Edition. I spent a little while commenting on it on their site so I thought I'd share it here too. For the context of my comments, you might want to read/skim the review first.
@12 - When I first started using the new installer (about two months ago with the Alpha release) I too was appalled with it... yes, especially the partitioning portion After doing several installs I figured it out. I'm a long time Fedora user and I was used to Anaconda... and the new installer is a lot different. The resistance to change and not actually reading the screens is what made it a bad experience for me. Once I decided to give in and actually read the screens, it started making sense. I think a lot of the issues that people perceive with the new installer has to do with the fact that it is very easy to use now. Almost too easy for us with Linux experience. As a result, too easy becomes hard... but once you do it a few times and actually read the screens, it works well. I have done various installs and I haven't had the first bit of trouble with it. One thing I haven't done though... is try to install Fedora on a system that has another Linux distro on it. Maybe it isn't well suited for that. For new Linux users, I think it is more friendly and usable than the previous installer and that was one of their goals with it. What is there isn't an accident. They did mockups and planned for quite a while... and how it turned out is exactly how they planned it except for any bugs that might have creeped in.
@Jesse Smith - I agree with most of your review. I've been fairly lucky and haven't had any problems with the video cards I've used (about a dozen) except for one. I'll grant you that if the video sub-system is not optimal, it becomes less pleasant to use.
Fedora really needs to do something with PackageKit. I understand that it is a distro-neutral package manager and is fairly easy to use... but it just plain doesn't work well... which is why I think everyone who isn't afraid of the command line (and we aren't) use yum. Hopefully they'll change that... and given the fact that they are working on an alternative to yum which will probably land in Fedora 19, I think that is likely to happen. No disrespect to Richard Hughes who I believe wrote the bulk of PackageKit.
Regarding GNOME 3 and launching applications and switching between them... there are a few ways to do that and I think you picked the slowest way with the most steps. As @vw72 pointed out, GNOME 3 has search-based launching capabilities so why not hit the logo key, start typing and select with mouse (or hit enter). That is the fastest way. Another way would be to add your most commonly used applications to the dock (drag and drop to add) and just launch applications from there.
Regarding switching between applications there are several hotkey ways to do that too. My preferred way is Alt-Tab. For any applications where you have multiple windows open, Alt-Tab is augmented with Alt-~. Another way to do it, especially if applications are on different virtual desktops, is to simply switch directly to the desktop your application is on. The hotkeys for that is Ctl+Alt+up/down arrow.
While GNOME 3 takes a little getting used to and can fail completely on unsupported hardware... and be slow on hardware that is sub-optimal... on systems where it loves the hardware, I find it to be a pleasure to use. I also use KDE, XFCE, LXDE and others... depending on my needs and the hardware I'm running on.
Regarding the "various applications have slightly different looks and everything doesn't seem to be integrated as tightly as it could be" thing. I agree... but that really isn't something I care about. I use a lot of applications from a lot of different desktop environments and there isn't really an easy way to make everything integrate with every desktop environment. All of them share way, way more than they differ so it really isn't much of a challenge to use. I'd prefer Fedora to continue doing what do and focus less on the "make everything have GNOME topbar menu entries" work. I'm a Fedora fanboy so I know I'm not typical but hey I dig what they do.
Regarding it was still released too early assessment... maybe... but in Fedora's defence... as long as it isn't a critical bug (aka a show stopper) why delay the release? That's what updates are for... and as you mentioned, they have a firehose of updates. As you are probably aware, a lot of things change and are updated during the lifecycle of a Fedora release. They can add new desktop environments. They can upgrade existing desktop environments and the kernel version. They add new packages... and they fix a lot of bugs. With tens of thousands of packages, there are always bug fixes and updates to do. It is unfortunate that Fedora doesn't refresh their install media during the lifecycle (so there are lots of updates) but that is understandable given their short release cycle and that they are usually supporting 3 releases much of the time. Some have called Fedora 18 the worst release ever... but I totally disagree with that. I find Fedora 18 where I want to be.
I created some fairly short screencasts showing off GNOME, XFCE and KDE on Fedora 18. This was primarily to show students in a class I'm doing the basics of each desktop and some of the common customizations I prefer to make but I thought I'd share them more widely. The were done using a SPICE connection to a remote KVM virtual machine and recorded on my local system with qt-recordMyDesktop. Then I used ffmpeg to convert them from ogv to webm.
Please note that microphone I used sucks and has a lot of background hiss. I have a better microphone coming for future videos but if anyone wants to do some Audacity filtering magic on them to clean them up, be my guest. They are 1280x800 in size and in webm format. I've embedded the GNOME one and provide links to the others below. Enjoy!
I may do a few more... for MATE, Cinnamon, and LXDE but I haven't done them yet.