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Gnome 3 & Fedora 15 on VirtualBox 4

I’ve been running Fedora on VirtualBox as my main desktop environment for the last year or so.  Company requires that I have a Windows XP desktop, so I just virtualize to get the environment I want, and don’t have to use Windows at all.  That said, I just upgraded to Fedora 15, running on VirtualBox 4.08.  Having a few issues getting Gnome 3 to be usable for me, and below post is (mostly) for my own benefit in keeping track of issues.

  • VirtualBox 4.08 required:  First lesson – make sure your VirtualBox is updated to 4.08 or better.  The VirtualBox folks released a fix with 4.08 to make sure it works with the new Gnome 3 shell.
  • Install w/Dev Libraries:  You need to have the VirtualBox guest additions installed to make the new Gnome 3 shell work (3D/GL) and to get those extensions to build, you need to have the kernel headers & kernel sources on the box to build the kernel modules.  Had a rough time with the Fedora 15 beta, even after yum installing kernel-devel, kernel headers, etc – so just check off the dev libraries on your initial install.  I did so with the last final version, and building the VirtualBox guest additions worked just fine.
  • Issues with package installer: First thing I went to do with the new Gnome 3 install was to install flash-plugin from Adobe’s site, and Chrome from Google.  For some reason, the package installer in GNOME 3 just hangs and doesn’t install packages.  Had to install them from KDE Plasma and it worked.  (yes, I know I could have done it manually, but I like having the GUI package manager resolve deps for me).
  • Wacky White-Out Graphics Issues: Over the last hour, I’ve now had 3 times where the entire interface has gone white, with bizarre little square squiggles outlining some illegible text.  Had to do a ctrl+alt+backspace to restart x & go back in, as couldn’t do anything.  Was just in Chrome the first time, and was just trying to navigate system settings the other time.  So, graphics rendering is not stable on VirtualBox.
  • No Desktop?  Still getting used to the fact that there is no desktop.  I.e. no place to just drag/drop items onto & use them.  I doubt my wife will want to use Gnome 3 as she’s so used to being able to plop things on the desktop.
  • No widgets?  Hate lack of widgets.  Yes, I know their design people say that we don’t need them, but first thing I always do on Gnome 2.x was to put a system monitor in the panel so I can see CPU utilization, load & N/W usage.
  • No minimize?  Don’t like the inability to minimize.  And if you do right-click/minimize, where does the window go?  No visible way to get it back.

I think there are a lot of slick things about Gnome 3, but still looks like a technology preview to me rather than something I can use on my daily desktop for work.  Switching back to my Fedora 15 / Gnome 2 desktop for now.

5 thoughts on “Gnome 3 & Fedora 15 on VirtualBox 4”

  1. I hear you. I’m running openbox on Arch and I’m running into problems with Gnome 3. Some Gnome apps (e.g. gedit) will only use Gnome 3 themes. I spent an afternoon finding and implementing a hack around that.

    As far as desktop widgets go – how about conky. You can put any system information in it and email, weather, appointments, anything that can be reproduced in text actually. The main downside with it, in my view, is to stop tweaking it. It’s kind of addictive.

    It looks like the frustrations that KDE users went through in the switch to KDE 4 are coming to the Gnome world, even for those of us that are just GTK fans. 🙁

    Have you thought about switching to Arch Linux? (I can’t stop myself from evangelizing, sorry)

    I run into a lot of little problems with Arch but never seem to hit the big stops that I do with Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, et al.

    Archbang Linux is a complete desktop running openbox and being that it’s based on Arch anything can be changed or reconfigured without trashing the system as so easily happens with other distros. I really like how easy it is to run development builds from git, bazaar, etc.

    Arch is simple but not easy, and can be a bit higher maintenance than other distros. So maybe you’ll want to switch to a KDE-centric distro for the next couple of years. I hear it is working really well now. (It’s so shiny.)

    Way to go with your VirtualBox solution.

    1. Tony – thanks for the comment. Unfortunately for me, I’m not at a place where I can devote too much time into tinkering with my OS. I like Fedora because it (usually) works, and command structure is all similar to the Redhat boxes that I use at work. Generally, one just installs it and it goes. But in this case, not so much. So, whilst I have Fedora 15 and Gnome Shell 3 loaded on a laptop I have at home for casual email use, my work computer will continue to be Fedora 14 until the kinks are worked out.

  2. Oops. I just read your ‘A DISTRIBUTION OF HATS, OR WHY I USE FEDORA.’ post.

    Still, with the coming of Gnome 3…

  3. Install gnome-tweak-tool… under File Manager, check “Have file manager handle desktop” — you will not be able to put icons on your desktop.

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