6 minute read


I’ve recently upgraded all my systems to Fedora 15. The default installation is not very usable for some tasks for several reasons - like CD size limitations and software patents for instance. I also happen to disagree with some defaults in Fedora like the fact that sudo is not enabled by default (like in Ubuntu) and the use of the bash shell. In this article I’ll share some of the things I do after a fresh Fedora 15 installation to enhance it (at least by my standards).

Tweak defaults

Configure sudo

sudo gives you a way to execute single commands as the superuser. You can also do this with su -c, but you have to quote the commands there, which I don’t like very much. To enable sudo for some account first run the command:

$ su -c "visudo"

The file /etc/sudoers will open up in a customized vi editor. Append somewhere to the end of the file the following line:

username ALL=(ALL) ALL

You should replace username with your username.

Configure yum

yum has a lot of plugins, but one of them is particularly useful - the fastest mirror plug-in. You can install it like this:

$ sudo yum install yum-plugin-fastestmirror

Disable SELinux

If you’re a desktop Linux user you want to disable SELinux - trust me. Open the file /etc/selinux/config and change this line:




Restart afterwards.

Install additional software

Fedora’s default installation medium is a 700MB CD. It’s understandable that not everything can be fitted in there. Luckily adding new software from the vast Fedora on-line repos is child’s play.

Install REAL text editors

gedit is ok for causal text editing, but professionals like software engineers and system administrators will definitely need something more:

$ sudo yum install emacs vim

Personally I use Emacs most of the time and use vim only to edit config files that require root access.

Install Z Shell

It’s no secret that I love the Z Shell - after all I rave about it quite often. It should come as no surprise that I happen to use it and probably you should start using it as well:

$ sudo yum install zsh
$ sudo vim /etc/passwd

Find the line about your account and change there /bin/bash to /bin/zsh. Afterwards start a new login shell and a simple wizard will fire up asking you some questions to create a default .zshrc file for you.

Install LibreOffice

LibreOffice is currently the best Linux option for word processing, spreadsheet handling and presentation creation. You can install the most common components with the following command:

sudo yum install libreoffice-calc libreoffice-impress libreoffice-draw libreoffice-writer

LibreOffice uses hunspell to do spellchecking. An English dictionary will be installed by default, but you’ll need to install additional dictionaries manually:

$ sudo yum install hunspell-bg

This command will install the Bulgarian hunspell dictionary. You likely don’t need it so install some more helpful dictionary instead.

Install OpenJDK

If you need to run Java programs/applets:

$ sudo yum install java-1.6.0-openjdk java-1.6.0-openjdk-plugin

If you’re planning to do some Java development:

$ sudo yum install java-1.6.0-openjdk-devel java-1.6.0-openjdk-javadoc java-1.6.0-openjdk-src

Install Deluge torrent client

The default Transmission torrent client is pretty basic. I recommend you to replace it with the much more feature-rich deluge:

$ sudo yum install deluge

Install Inconsolata font

I’m a software engineer and I obviously spend a lot of time reading and writing source code. I’m very picking about the monospace font that I use and currently Inconsolata happens to be my favorite:

$ sudo yum install levien-inconsolata-fonts
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface monospace-font-name "Inconsolata 12"

These two commands will install the font and make it the default monospaced font on your Fedora system.

Install GIMP

Fedora does not ship with an image editor. GIMP is generally considered the best option so you might want to install it:

$ sudo yum install gimp

Install gnome-tweak-tool to customize fonts, themes, etc in GNOME 3.0

GNOME 3.0 has stripped many configuration options, but luckily most of them are available by installing gnome-tweak-tool:

$ sudo yum install gnome-tweak-tool

Run it (by pressing Alt+F2 and typing gnome-tweak-tool) and change the settings. It does not have OK or Apply buttons, but simply selecting the options performs the changes. Some changes may require logging out and logging back in.

Install additional patent encumbered/proprietary software

Enable RPMFusion

RPMFusion is the most popular third party repository for Fedora. It’s full of goodness like audio/video codecs, proprietary drivers, etc. To enable it just run the following command:

$ sudo yum localinstall --nogpgcheck \
http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm \

Install proprietary codecs

No MP3 support in Fedora by default? And almost no video codecs? RPMFusion to the rescue! Type this:

$ sudo yum install gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-ffmpeg

Install VLC

With MPlayer’s development in stagnation VLC has established itself as the best video player for Linux recently. It’s in RPMFusion, so if you enabled it installing it is as easy as typing the following command:

$ sudo yum install vlc

Install Adobe Flash Player

Love it or hate it - you probably need it.

$ sudo rpm -Uvh http://linuxdownload.adobe.com/adobe-release/adobe-release-i386-1.0-1.noarch.rpm
$ sudo yum install flash-plug-in

You can omit this if you’re planning to use Google Chrome, since it comes with Flash Player built-in.

Install Skype

Download Skype from the official site. Assuming you’ve downloaded it to ~/Downloads, you can install it like this:

$ sudo yum localinstall Downloads/skype-

Yum will automatically installed any dependencies required by skype.

Install Oracle JDK

OpenJDK is great, but due to licensing problems it’s not quite the same as the Oracle JDK. If you start experiencing strange problems (mostly in Swing programs) you’d probably do well to try the Oracle JDK instead. Download Oracle’s JDK from the official site. Select “Linux x86 - RPM Installer” or “Linux x64 - RPM Installer” depending on your distribution and install the JDK like this:

$ sudo sh jre-6u25-linux-i586-rpm.bin

Fedora uses OpenJDK by default, so you’ll have to do some more work to tell it to start using Oracle JDK. The alternatives program allows you to select between multiple installed versions of a program:

$ sudo alternatives --install /usr/bin/java java /usr/java/default/bin/java 1000
$ sudo alternatives --install /usr/bin/javac javac /usr/java/default/bin/javac 1000
$ sudo alternatives --install /usr/bin/javaws javaws /usr/java/default/bin/javaws 1000

These commands will make alternative aware of the java binaries and set high priorities to them which will make them the default Java binaries. You can use “alternatives –config binaryname” to select active binaries manually.

Install Google Chrome

Firefox is dying, Google Chrome is the new king of the browsers. Download it from the official site and install it:

$ sudo yum localinstall ~/Downloads/google-chrome-stable_current_i386.rpm

Google Chrome will install a yum repository as well, so you’ll receive updates as soon as they arrive.

Install DropBox

DropBox is a great file sharing service which allows you to sync files between all of your computers and mobile devices(Android, iPhone, iPad, etc). It has a great Linux client which I use all the time. Download it from here and install it like this:

$ sudo yum localinstall --nogpgcheck nautilus-dropbox-0.6.7-1.fedora.i386.rpm


Hopefully some of my setup has made your setup more enjoyable and more productive. I’ll update this article along the way if I stumble upon other things that I consider to be generally helpful.