Switched from Samsung Galaxy S7 to the iPhone 6

My previous employer FRISS provided me with a mobile phone I could use privately as well. This was needed for their work from home policy and the occassional standby shift. My new employer ID Ware doesn’t do those things, so it was not unreasonable that they didn’t provide me with a phone. Because it was expensive to take over the Samsung Galaxy S7 which I used while working for FRISS, I decided to look for a new phone.

The subscription FRISS had with T-Mobile allowed some choice in different phones. Among the phones with Google Android, the Samsung Galaxy S7 phones stood out as the best choice. The iPhones required an hefty extra payment, so I chose the Galaxy S7.

While the Galaxy S7 was a great phone from a hardware point of view, I didn’t like the software. Apart from the obvious spying on your personal data by Google, the phone came crammed full of bloatware by Samsung. Some of which you couldn’t uninstall. Samsung has a annoying habit of supplying their phones with their own alternative apps for the standard Android software (such as the web browser and calendar) which add nothing. They also have a bad reputation for ending regular security updates for their phones quite soon. There are of course other manufacturers which sell phones which do run stock Android and do receive security updates for a reasonable amount of years after the phone was released. But you haven’t solved the spying problem then.

Installing a custom ROM on your Android phone, like LineageOS, doesn’t solve the problem either. I’m not aware of all the details, but the fact that you will have to deal with lower photo quality of the Galaxy S7 is a deal breaker for me. And you will still need to install Google software which spies on you if you want to use the Android app store. It’s too much uncertainty and work. I wanted something which is (relatively) privacy friendly, bloatware free and easy to use.

My choice was a refurbished iPhone 6 from Forza, included in a Tele2 contract with unlimited calling/SMS’ing and 2 GB of data per month for € 22. Paying € 1.000 for the new iPhone X, even though it has that nice OLED screem (and that silly notch!) is madness. But € 22 a month is barely more than I paid for a SIM-only subscription in the past, which excluded a phone.

A brief remark about Tele2: avoid them. I found my number was published in the phone directory, online and on paper, without my permission. Their helpdesk doesn’t have a clue how this could happen and they didn’t compensate me in any way. I submitted a complaint for this with the Dutch Data Protection Agency.

Not too long ago there was a critical investigation by the Dutch Consumer’s Association which slammed refurbished phones. They found that these phones can be badly repaired with second-rate components and aren necessarily much cheaper than new phones. Forza got a bad review too. In my case I have nothing to complain, my refurbished iPhone 6 works fine.

I expected that I would miss the great OLED screen of the Galaxy S7 on the iPhone 6, but this didn’t happen. In the majority of my use cases the screen doesn’t have to display a lot of black color and it isn’t used in dark environments, so I don’t notice the lack of an OLED screen much. On the software side iOS is much more pleasant than Android, no spying and bloatware. The sporadic app you can’t remove such as Apple Health doesn’t really get in the way or take up a lot of storage. No problem if you want to set DuckDuckGo as the default search provider in the Safari web browser (it’s not possible in Google Chrome on Android).

However, Apple wouldn’t be Apple if it wouldn’t combine it’s superior product design with its fair share of dick moves. For example their negligence in keeping their web browser engine WebKit up to date with the latest web standards. Usually this is no issue because you could install a different web browser with a different engine, but Apple is actively blocking anything else from WebKit being used on iOS. This reached the news after the French software company Nexedi sued Apple for this. This was in 2016 and while WebKit is still the only option on iOS, I’m not up to date on the current web standards compliance of WebKit.

Another one is that Apple refuses to implement support for the open and cross-plaform Vulkan graphics API on iOS, in favor of their own closed Metal graphics API. Metal was released in 2014 while Vulkan was not finished yet (it was in 2016), Apple might have legitimately thought that Vulkan was taking too long. But for some time now Vulkan has been accepted as the open standard for graphics and is frequently used on Linux and Android. While it’s not visible to the consumer, Apple is effectively screwing all those developers who have to convert their software from Vulkan to Metal if they want to release it for iOS. If the life of developers is unnecessarily made more difficult the consumer is disadvantaged indirectly.

Then there is the inability to use another app store than the Apple App Store (not the case on Android). Apple says it wants to protect its users, but that doesn’t justify restriction of freedom. They could easily give a warning that there are no safety guarantees once users add other app stores. The real reason is of course that they want a monopoly on paid iOS apps so they can reap more profits. Just like Google they take a share of app store transactions. My solution for this is simply refusing to buy anything from the Apple App Store. I don’t need any paid apps anyway.

I could mention the fact that iOS is not open source, meaning there is no opportunity to create custom ROM’s for iOS. The more complex reality is that while Android is open source, many Android apps are not. They are now close source as part of a deliberate strategy by Google to make the open source Android unattractive. Presented with this choice, I value privacy more than software freedom, hence my choice for Apple. I think I’ve made it clear now that I merely consider Apple the best choice out of two bad choices.

Switched to ProtonMail

Since September 2017 I’ve been a rather satisfied user of the ProtonMail email service. I’d like to explain why I switched and why I think you should do so too.

Before ProtonMail I had been using Roundcube. This the open source webmail solution offered by my website’s hosting provider Antagonist. Just like many other webhosts their email service is included in my hosting package. The problem is that Roundcube sees very little development and is archaic now. Its web interface isn’t responsive, so it’s a pain to use on a smartphone. There are no smartphone apps either. Even on a laptop or desktop, it’s interface is old and clunky. It’s not even a contest between Roundcube and modern free webmail solutions like Outlook.com and Gmail.

But you don’t want to switch to Outlook.com or Gmail either. Those are delivered by unscrupulous companies who lust for your data and privacy. You don’t just use their product, you are the product because they will use your personal data for advertising purposes. In practice the advertising they employ is unobtrusive, but in principle this is unacceptable. No one gets to stick their nose in my emails, whether they are strangers or automated advertisement software!

After some time of considering the alternatives such as getting a VPS and installing SOGo on that, or other smaller paid email services, I arrived at ProtonMail. I chose the paid account because it was possible to associate it with my own custom domain. This way all the emails which are adressed to my existing email address simply get routed to my ProtonMail account. So I didn’t need to change my email adress everywhere. Using my own domain required reading some documentation and changing a few things in the email configuration of my host Antagonist and ProtonMail itself, but was relatively easy.

The greatest advantage of ProtonMail is that it focuses on privacy and good encryption. The encryption employed is both zero-access and end-to-end, as explained here. They can’t search through your data and sell it for advertising purposes. They have a good web interface as well as Android and iOS apps. I’d highly recommend everyone to get a free account with them, or a paid one if you want the custom domains feature. These people rather than Microsoft or Google deserve your financial support.

However, it also has some problems. The most important one is that it’s not completely open source. They do give the impression that all their software is open source on their website’s front page, but they are misleading their customers. Actually only the frontend (graphical user interface) is open source and the backend (the inner workings) is not. Neither are the iOS and Android apps.

The developers claim that they don’t publish everything because it would expose their spam filter to circumvention by the spammers. As others have already pointed out, they should not use this excuse because if their software is properly modularized they can maintain a closed source spam filter while the rest is completely open source. As for the iOS and Android apps, they have already been claiming for years now that those would be open sourced once sufficient code quality had been reached. After several years of waiting this is no longer a credible excuse. I’m not going to assume malice where I can assume negligence, but the communication on their open source strategy is very disappointing.

It is important for their software to be published under a free and open source license so that far more people than just their own developers can analyze it and check for security vulnerabilities. Also, it would allow other parties to host ProtonMail. I think this is an important reason why ProtonMail is holding back with open sourcing their software; if everyone can host it they will lose paying subscribers.

Currently I’m paying Antagonist for the web hosting (including their email service which I don’t use anymore) and ProtonMail for the email. It would be more efficient if Antagonist could install the ProtonMail software so I would have everything hosted with one party. I would probably still donate to ProtonMail so they can keep developing their software.

Apart from the open source issue, I would like to see several important features in ProtonMail. First, a calendar feature would be useful so that I don’t need to use separate software for that. Currently I just use an old-fashioned paper agenda. Second, the ability of the phone apps to synchronize with the phone’s contact list. If you get a new Apple iPhone there is no way to tell the ProtonMail iOS app to place all its contacts in the iOS contacts list (it’s the same on Android). Migrating your phone’s contacts is thus more complicated if you don’t want to use Google or Apple cloud services for that. Finally, the fixed American mm/dd/yyyy date format should be adjustable and preferably default to the date format of the user’s location.

Fairphone 2 now available

The Fairphone 2 was released on 21 December 2015. I love how this phone is designed to be durable, easily repairable and open source. In my personal correspondence with their support I was also assured they don’t pay Microsoft for a licensing deal, which is good. Of course there is much more which makes this phone laudable, such as the conflict-free minerals used for its construction and the transparent supply chain, but those three advantages are my highlights.

Since Mozilla pronounced Firefox OS for smartphones dead, I’ve been looking for an alternative smartphone. Right now I’m using a Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo with Android from my employer, which I’m also allowed to use privately. I’m very uncomfortable with it, because Google loves to spy on me. So ordinary phones with Android are out of the question. The Fairphone 2 ships with stock Android by default, but fortunately Fairphone provides the Fairphone Open Source OS as an alternative. This ships without Google Mobile Services (GMS). GMS is Google’s proprietary software running on top of the open source part of Android. However, this raises questions about what life is like without GMS.

I’d have to find open source replacements for several Google apps such as Chrome, Gmail, and Maps. I guess Firefox, some alternative e-mail app and Maps.ME would be good replacements. But you will also need to find another app store, because Google Play is also a proprietary Google app. Where am I going to find the Spotify and Netflix apps then? Amazon’s Android app store maybe? But how privacy friendly are they? Are those shady websites which offer APK downloads (Android app downloads independent from an app store) safe? How will my apps update automatically?

Using Android without Google’s proprietary software will be challenging. So challenging, that I might consider an iPhone as an alternative. Like stock Android, iOS contains both open source and proprietary software, but at least Apple has more respect for their user’s privacy as far as I know.

There are also other factors I consider before deciding whether to buy the Fairphone 2 or not. A price of € 530 is a lot of money for a phone, especially if the the hardware isn’t at the top of its class. An iPhone or a Galaxy, if new from an older generation or second hand, cost less. I’ve grown quite fond of the AMOLED display in the Galaxy S5 Neo, but the Fairphone 2 is equipped with an LCD display which is inferior to both Samsung’s AMOLED displays and Apple’s LCD displays. In principle I might be able to live with the price and inferior display, because I value the ethical and social goals of the Fairphone 2. But I don’t want to spend so much money on a smartphone right now.

Before I make a choice, I need to investigate which data Google (through both the proprietary and open source Android versions) and Apple exactly collect from me, the degree to which I’m being spied upon. I need to know how user friendly it is to use Android without Google’s proprietary software. When I’ve figured that out, documented it here on this blog and have determined how to deal with the Galaxy S5 Neo provided by my employer, I will make a decision.

Firefox OS is dead

On 8 December 2015 Mozilla announced that Firefox OS was dead. A day later they posted an official statement on their blog, in an attempt to mask their failure with positive spin. My last hope for a truly free smartphone OS was extinguished. Over  200 spent on two Firefox OS phones was wasted.

I had held off buying a smartphone until I purchased a Geeksphone Peak with Firefox OS in December 2013. I didn’t like and still don’t like phones with Android and iOS. I believed in Mozilla’s mission to use the web as the universal platform for smartphones, to make interoperability between different operating systems possible. The idea was good, but the execution was bad.

The Geeksphone Peak never gave me working GPS because the phone suffered from a bug, which Geeksphone could apparently not fix with a software update. They suggested their users to modify something in a config file, but even then I had no luck. I ended up buying the ZTE Open C, which did have working GPS. However, ZTE never bothered to ship updated stable versions of Firefox OS. Maybe Geeksphone did supply one stable version shortly after the release of the phone, but that was it. This way, bugs I noticed in Firefox OS weren’t fixed.

Mozilla itself is also to blame for this. On their website and wiki it was never clear what they were working on and what their release schedule for Firefox OS was. Bugs reports I (and others?) filed on Mozilla’s bug tracker weren’t processed. If they were, no or not enough work was done to fix them.

I was very disappointed in Mozilla. It seems like they got in over their heads. They misjudged how difficult and time-consuming it would be to dislodge Android. When they did figure it out they threw in the towel within two years time. They made some big mistakes which could have been avoided.

Mozilla should have taken ownership of the update process themselves, so that users were not dependent on the whims of indifferent smartphone manufacturers to provide updates. Good communications and building a strong community around Firefox OS would have helped much to gain momentum. Mozilla should have done more to get app developers on board to make their apps available for Firefox OS, before they started releasing phones with Firefox OS. Apps like WhatsApp, Netflix and Spotify for example should have been available from the start.

From a strategic perspective, Mozilla’s assumption that they could serve the bottom end of the market in developing countries without (much?) competition from Android fell through. They should have known this wouldn’t have been a viable strategy. I would have loved to see a different strategy: build a completely open source smartphone OS for all market segments, which respects user privacy and is not dominated by a single company. I hope I might see such a smartphone OS in the future.

Thesis finally published in a scientific peer-reviewed journal

I thought the day would never come, but on 26 March 2015 my modified master thesis was finally published in Government Information Quarterly, a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Two and half years after I submitted it for my graduation as MSc in Public Administration in August 2012.

After graduating I used several months to rewrite the thesis as a publishable article together with my thesis supervisor dr. Dimiter Toshkov, who is also the co-author. We then submitted to the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. This is a very prestigious journal so we were not surprised it was rejected for publication, but we benefited from the feedback of the reviewers. We then resubmitted to Government Information Quarterly.

The wheels of academic publishing are known to turn very slowly, but the period of the time we had to wait for a verdict was exceptional: more than half a year if I remember correctly. After asking for information it turned out that our paper had gotten lost in the process. Fortunately, it was eventually accepted for publication after some minor modifications. I wish the process had been faster so I could have taken advantage from mentioning a scientific publication on my CV more soon.

Reflecting on it all, I’m very proud we managed to get this published. There aren’t many graduate students who get to do so. I learned R and the required statistical knowledge relatively easily, even though I used to have an aversion of statistics in the past.

The perfectionist inside my head is still slightly dissatisfied, telling me that I could have given even more thought to the subject and method of my research. That it would have been even better with more survey responses. The layout could have better. But the bottom line is that a temperate sense of satisfaction triumphs over my hot-headed perfectionism. Ten years ago, when I was an academic failure with serious procrastination issues, this achievement would have been but a dream.

It’s a pity the article is not Open Access, but behind the publisher’s paywall. Fortunately, you can find my own pre-print on my website. The source files for LaTeX and R are attached to the document for those who a curious about how the statistical analysis was performed with R and how the paper’s layout was done with LaTeX.

Regarding LaTeX, I’d like to point out two issues. Documents with two or more columns are too difficult. You need some specific commands to make sure that lines on both columns match vertically. Placement of figures becomes more complicated too, even though I’ve mostly managed with workarounds. If I would write my article again, I would take a serious look at Scribus, a free software desktop publishing application. Unlike LaTeX it follows the “what you see is what you get” principle. It seems to make several things much easier to do than LaTeX.

Testing the Fedora 20 Alpha release

Today I installed the Fedora 20 Alpha release with GNOME on my laptop to test it. Regarding the changes in GNOME 3.10, I love the move to merge title bars and toolbars into header bars. It’s good to save vertical space. The new applications like GNOME Photos, Music and especially Software are also nice, but I’m not sure about the integrated system status menu. It simply takes a lot more clicks to connect to a WiFi network now. As always, I’ve filed some bug reports and commented on some old ones:

Fedora:

  • Bug #904052 – Eye of GNOME should be the default application for viewing images
  • Bug #981963 – no touchpad edge scrolling in Fedora 20 with GNOME
  • Bug #1028734 – LibreOffice banner shown during installation of F20 alpha is outdated
  • Bug #1028758 – no easy way to change computer name before or during installation

GNOME:

  • Bug #329652 – add OpenSearch support to GNOME Web
  • Bug #664915 – GNOME Web uses wrong fonts on nos.nl
  • Bug #711774 – GNOME Software doesn’t display progress for downloads

I think the first and fourth Fedora bugs are evidence that the Fedora developers don’t spend as much time on usability as they should. The second one is a very nasty bug, but knowing Fedora’s development I doubt it will be fixed in time for the final Fedora 20 release. Fedora releases should be more polished.

The first two GNOME bugs are still preventing me to switch to GNOME Web from Firefox. They’re very old and there is no indication that they’re going to be fixed any time soon, I wish I could do it myself.

My review of the Geeksphone Peak with Firefox OS

I wrote in September that I had pre-ordered the Geeksphone Peak+ with Firefox OS and why I did so. Unfortunately the Peak+ was delayed and in October it turned out the delay would be longer than expected. At that point Geeksphone offered those who had pre-ordered the Peak+ to send them the original Peak instead, which had become available again.

Because I didn’t want to wait much longer, I accepted this offer. I received my Peak the next day on 22 October, after it was shipped from Spain to my address in the Netherlands in less than 24 hours. I also got a refund because the Peak had a lower price. Initially I was disappointed in Geeksphone’s communication of the delay. I learned about the delay through the order status on their website rather than an e-mail which they could have sent, but the way the handled this restored my trust in them.

The Peak smartphone

I think the hardware is very adequate for a phone which is sold for € 150. I haven’t compared it with the Android phones at the same price point, but if I look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 of my brother or my dad’s iPhone 4 I don’t get the feeling my phone is deficient. Sure, the Galaxy and the iPhone cost over three times as much and have better hardware, but I’m satisfied with it.

But there are a few things which I would have liked to see differently. The iPhone 4 for example measures 115,2 by 58,6 by 9,3 mm and has a 3,5 inch screen with a resolution of 640 by 960 pixels. The Peak measures 133,6 by 66 by 8,9 mm and has 4,3 inch screen with a resolution of 540 by 960 pixels. I like how the iPhone 4 fits in my pant’s pocket, but the slightly larger Peak is a bit more noticeable. I would have preferred the iPhone 4’s slightly more compact dimensions and higher amount of pixels per inch.

When I took off the Peak’s back cover to place the battery and SIM card I feared I would break it, but it’s sturdy enough. The quality of the enclosure won’t win awards either, but it’s good enough for me. What worries me more is that the Peak only gets half of the full reception quality in my home, while my former dumb phone would always get full reception quality. However, in practice I’ve never experienced problems with the reception during phone calls.

The Firefox OS software

Version 1.1 of Firefox OS does the basics right and I haven’t seen it crash. However, being an operating system in its infancy, it doesn’t have much good apps. For example, Here Maps which is included by default doesn’t have turn-by-turn navigation. EverNav does, but if you want to use it you to have log in, which is something I don’t want. I’m surprised no one has built a good map app based on OpenStreetMap yet. It would have been useful if a flashlight app and an app for taking notes were included by default, but they aren’t available yet either.

I often use the 9292 website, which is popular for planning trips with the Dutch public transport. Because Firefox OS hasn’t been introduced in the Netherlands yet it’s unsurprising they don’t have an app for Firefox OS. This isn’t an issue as a Firefox app doesn’t need to be much more than a simple manifest file which redirects to a mobile website. Unfortunately 9292 doesn’t detect the Firefox OS user agent and redirect you to their mobile website like it does for Android smartphones. You can visit the mobile website manually and than add it as a favorite to your home screen, but it doesn’t display 100% correctly in Firefox. And the favicon used for the home screen uses a very low resolution, so it’s not a pretty sight. I’ve already sent them a message to inform them of these problems.

I intend to build my use of the phone around ownCloud, which would allow me store my calendar and contact data with my own web host. This way, I don’t need to use services like Google Calendar and the big companies can’t poke their noses into my personal data. GNOME also supports synchronization with ownCloud, which allow me to work easily with the same data on my PC, laptop and smartphone.

It’s already possible to synchronize the calendar with ownCloud if you follow these instructions (in French). However, synchronizing the contacts with ownCloud using CardDAV is not yet possible though, all Firefox OS offers at time is synchronization with Facebook.

This and other issues I’ve noticed have been filed at Mozilla’s bug tracker, of which the first two were filed by others and the last four by me:

  • Bug 859306 – Sync contacts with carddav
  • Bug 901218 – [Peak] Back camera does not take photos in full resolution : 1.2M instead of 8M pixels
  • Bug 934092 – can’t set locale separately from language
  • Bug 934094 – “order by last name” setting doesn’t take surname prefix into account
  • Bug 934097 – alarm doesn’t trigger when the Peak smartphone is turned off
  • Bug 934099 – Firefox OS doesn’t use delta updates
  • Bug 934115 – m.9292.nl website displays two arrows in a drop down menu

The first bug is most important to me. If it’s also important to you, you might want to vote for the bug report.

Pre-ordered the Geeksphone Peak+ with Firefox OS

A few weeks ago I pre-ordered the Geeksphone Peak+ with Firefox OS. This will be my first smartphone, I waited for so long because I think all other smartphone operating systems are inadequate. Why, you might ask? Because Firefox OS is the only smartphone operating system which respects my freedom and privacy.

Freedom versus vendor lock-in

If you buy an iPhone or iPad, you can only download apps from Apple’s App Store. Apple decides which apps get approved, but their policy is enforced inconsistently at best. I don’t care about their hypocritical policy however, but about principles. I despise Apple for it’s paternalistic behavior, I demand to have the freedom to decide which apps I want and where I get them.

Microsoft, the third player on the smartphone market after Apple and Google, doesn’t allow competing app stores either. Regular readers of this blog know that I hate Microsoft for it’s unethical business practices anyway and that I’d never buy anything from them.

The issues with Google’s Android

Google’s Android on the other hand does allow competing app stores. Android is also open source, so third parties other than Google can produce derivatives such as CyanogenMod. So far so good, but there are also two crucial issues for me.

Would I trust Google with my privacy? Certainly not, even though I don’t think Apple or Microsoft are any better. Yes, you can still use an Android phone without a Google account, but it’s not as convenient. My smartphone shouldn’t spy on me by default. And yes, I do use Google’s search engine and I’m not so naive to think that my privacy is still immaculate. But that’s not a reason to further the breakdown of my privacy with an Android smartphone.

What’s a more serious issue for me is that Microsoft is extorting producers of Android smartphones. It coerces them to pay royalties for its patents at the threat of lawsuits. This practice has been more profitable for Microsoft than its own Windows Phone OS, with HTC and Samsung paying $10 or more to Microsoft for every Android device they sell. Microsoft defends itself as follows:

Much of the current litigation in the so called “smartphone patent wars” could be avoided if companies were willing to recognize the value of others’ creations in a way that is fair. At Microsoft, experience has taught us that respect for intellectual property rights is a two-way street, and we have always been prepared to respect the rights of others just as we seek respect for our rights. This is why we have paid others more than $4 billion over the last decade to secure intellectual property rights for the products we provide our customers.

They seem reasonable, but in reality Microsoft’s intellectual property amounts to trivial patents. Microsoft is nothing more than a patent troll (see here for the long version of the story). Because I don’t want Microsoft to profit when I buy a smartphone, buying a smartphone with Android is out of the question for me. The situation might change for me when Google grows a spine and sues Microsoft to hell.

The joys of Firefox OS

Firefox OS doesn’t suffer from these disadvantages. I trust its developer, Mozilla, doesn’t spy on me. At least I don’t need an account of some kind to make optimal use of my phone. As far as I know Geeksphone hasn’t signed a patent license agreement with Microsoft and doesn’t pay royalties. It’s not mandatory to use Mozilla’s app store. And Firefox OS has an important innovation: all the apps are web apps.

So there is no need for “native code” anymore which is only suited to a specific smartphone OS, like Android or Apple’s iOS. This makes life much easier for developers, who can easily make their web apps available for Firefox OS or any other platform which is built on web technology. Finally, this attempt to breaki the Android/iOS duopoly is good thing. Especially Google is getting too powerful for my taste.

The Peak+ will ship in late September, hopefully it will arrive before I depart on holiday. More about that later.

Bugs in Evolution 3.6.2

I mentioned in the previous post that I have encountered quite a few bugs in the Evolution personal information manager, which I use daily for reading my e-mail. I think Evolution works nicely for me, but there is a lot to fix and improve before I’ll consider it the ultimate Microsoft Outlook killer.

I don’t expect the improvements I’m hoping for will arrive soon because Evolutions suffers from a shortage of developers. But at least I’ve filed bug reports for everything which bothers me now. You can’t criticize free software without bug reports.

I haven’t reported all bugs I have experienced: bug #687360 for example has already been fixed for 3.6.3 apparently, but that version hasn’t landed in Fedora 18’s updates yet. I noticed some nasty bugs with editing contacts in address books too. In some cases the name in the “File As” entry would change without my input upon saving a contact when using the older Evolution version in Fedora 16. But I haven’t been able to reproduce this in Fedora 18.

  • Bug #692531: dialog appearing for invalid SSL certificates isn’t pretty
  • Bug #692533: Edit Rule dialog has drop down menus with a lot of blank space
  • Bug #692535: option to have filters active on an account should be enabled by default
  • Bug #692541: tab widget in Preferences dialog looks wrong
  • Bug #692542: never loading images in HTML e-mails is a bad default setting
  • Bug #692555: “Personal” address book does not appear in birthdays calendar by default
  • Bug #692557: sorting by date descending disrupts thread view of messages
  • Bug #692558: language detection for spelling checker
  • Bug #692572: “Messages” column should use space more efficiently
  • Bug #692573: use vertical view as default instead of classic view
  • Bug #692574: remove status bar
  • Bug #692576: use list view as default instead of address cards
  • Bug #692577: list view shouldn’t have columns for faxes by default
  • Bug #692578: display “File As” column by default in list view
  • Bug #692579: make view settings apply to all address books
  • Bug #692636: doesn’t delete certain contacts
  • Bug #692713: calendar widget arrows don’t look correct
  • Bug #692716: all calendar items of an icalendar file disappeared
  • Bug #692743: e-mail shows preformatted lines which do not word wrap if replying

Post-installation guide and experiences with Fedora 18 and GNOME 3.6

Until yesterday my computer still used Fedora 16, today it uses Fedora 18. Just like I did with 16, I’m going to give a guide on steps to take after the installation and which bugs I’ve encountered. So far I really like 18: finally LibreOffice is included by default, it starts up a lot faster (16 became really slow for me after all the updates) and you don’t loose the graphical splash screen at start up as soon as you install the proprietary AMD (no idea if this also applies to NVIDIA) display drivers.

Fedora 18 hasn’t been received well by some. A review of the KDE spin of Fedora 18 has been quite negative and the same reviewer is also very critical of GNOME 3.6, I didn’t try the KDE spin but I’m quite positive about the GNOME spin. I did a fresh installation, not do an upgrade.

Installation

This release was postponed multiple times because the redesign of the Anaconda installer wasn’t ready yet. It is still problematic in the final release: as soon the live desktop had started up and I chose to install to the hard drive to start Anaconda, it crashed. I suspect this happened because a connection to my router was established just while Anaconda was starting up. I had already witnessed a similar crash when trying the alpha versions on my laptop.

It wouldn’t start again so I had to reboot, after which I waited for the network connection to come up before starting Anaconda. This time everything went fine. Maybe I’ll try to reproduce this later so I can file a bug report. I agree with those who think Anaconda still needs a lot of work. But I also think the new design is a step in the right direction, it’s a diamond which still needs polishing.

Post-installation guide

First of all let Fedora download the latest updates and then add the RPM Fusion repositories. I wanted to get the proprietary AMD drivers first, there are instructions for that here. Take notice of what I wrote there in the comments. You need to follow the instructions here and add another repository because RPM Fusion apparently doesn’t have the package for the Flash plugin anymore. However, only install flash-plugin, the rest is not necessary and nspluginwrapper – while necessary if you want Flash working with GNOME Web – drives SELinux crazy. Also read these instructions to get the FreeType patches so you get better font rendering, this involves adding one more repository.

After all this I use one more command to download all the remaining stuff. This command downloads the GStreamer packages you need for proprietary audio and video formats, the GNOME Tweak Tool, the GNOME Web web browser, the GIMP and the Google Droid fonts (with GNOME Tweak Tool I change my default, document and monospace fonts from the default Cantarell, Sans and Monospace to Droid Sans and Droid Sans Mono, I also the font size of all fonts from 11 to 10):

yum install gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-plugins-bad-nonfree gstreamer-plugins-ugly gnome-tweak-tool epiphany epiphany-extensions gimp google-droid-sans-fonts google-droid-sans-mono-fonts google-droid-serif-fonts

To download the XeLaTeX packages I need (which include support for the Dutch language, the APA style and the Linux Libertine font) I give the following command:

yum install texlive-xetex texlive-collection-langdutch texlive-memoir texlive-biblatex-apa texlive-libertine

Bugs

Here’s a list of bugs in either the Red Hat or GNOME bugzilla, for which I found an existing report or filed a new one:

  • Bug #893218: Anaconda crashes when it starts
  • Bug #854201: Ask users for Country / Language / City to determine the correct locale settings
  • Bug #690750: System Settings doesn’t change locale completely
  • Bug #904000: free ati driver not enabled with HD7850 after installation, uses LLVMpipe instead
  • Bug #692518: processes can use more than 100% CPU according to System Monitor
  • Bug #904014: Anaconda doesn’t ask for host name
  • Bug #878433: Removing default English keyboard layout doesn’t have effect in the installed system
  • Bug #904052: Shotwell should not be the default application for viewing images
  • Bug #904055: only root can mount an external hard disk connected through eSATA
  • Bug #692519: hidden drop down menus for keyboard shortcuts difficult to discover
  • Bug #692520: graphical corruption if taking screenshot of single window
  • Bug #905103: Firefox occasionally freezes unpredictably and takes out X with it
  • Bug #692923: no unlock button for hostname in “Details” (System Settings)
  • Bug #693057: implement options to change font and font size
  • Bug #693058: option to suspend a desktop computer should be visible without Alt key

There are more bug reports I have to file for Evolution, but that would make this post too long.