First of all I would like to say that for a beta Phoebe has worked exceptionally well for me. The install process pretty much mimicked Psyche (Red Hat Linux 8.0), and that is fine by me. There is a good selection of packages, and it went off without a hitch. The bootloader, Grub, remains unchanged from Psyche as well, which is also welcome.
After performing a clean install, I booted up to Phoebe (under GNOME) and had a look around. The only thing I can say is "WOW!" Red Hat has really outdone itself with font rendering this time. The days of Linux systems having inferior fonts to Win32 have come to an end with this release. I thought the fonts in Redhat 8.0 looked good, but they must have done something different here because the overall look is shocking. A real class act by Red Hat. It is comforting to finally see some really beautiful screens. I can't say how the fonts look under KDE, as I chose to only install GNOME, but I would imagine they will look similar.
The next thing I decided to do was to install my nVidia drivers, mainly more for kicks than anything else. This is where I ran into my first real problem. I used the srpms from nVidia's web site, but I could not get the binary rpms to build. This is a real pain, but I am sure nVidia or Red Hat will get it solved for the final release. Also, I don't have a whole lot of experience with building rpms, so it could be that I am just messing things up (although I did fine installing the drivers in Red Hat 8.0).
The next thing I had a look at was the various software that comes along with Phoebe. You won't find many changes here from Psyche, which is probably what you would expect from the small version number change. Of course, all of the versions you get with Phoebe are updated from those that come with Psyche, but if you use Red Hat Network (I do) you would already have the updated versions anyways. Basically, I have the same gripes here as I had with Red Hat 8.0 on the software side: no pico, no crack attack, doesn't come with apt for rpm installed, etc. Most of these problems can be solved by hitting freshrpms.net and picking up what you need. However, I don't see why they don't just include apt for rpm with the software release. It is a small program that adds lots of power to a Red Hat distribution. There really is no excuse for leaving it out.
That is really all there is to cover about Phoebe. This is just my initial reaction and your feelings about it may be different, especially if you choose to use KDE. There is one final thing I would like to say though, and this is more of a personal feeling than a fact about Red Hat. I appreciate what Red Hat does for the Linux community, but they really seem to be dragging when it comes to user-friendliness. All of the pretty fonts and beautiful login screens are nice, and even necessary if Linux is to compete with other desktop operating systems. However, Red Hat should really be looking to take care of the major gripes people had about Redhat 8.0 in their upcoming 8.1 release, but it doesn't seem like they will.
There were many complaints about Psyche needing ntfs support as part of the base package. As near as I can tell it isn't there (I've tried everything I can think of to get my ntfs partition and I always get "fs type not supported by kernel." I think it should definitely added by the time they release 8.1. Redhat should probably also add auto-mounting for other partitions found on the hard drive, as many other distributions do. This makes it easy for me to recommend Red Hat to a less CLI (command line interface) savvy friends, and yet still know that they can manage to pull their documents on their Windows partition over to the other side. Random complaints: OpenOffice still starts too slowly, GNOME control center is still far behind the power of KDE, the terminal button is still off of the taskbar by default. Random praise: GDM is as good looking as ever, Glade interface now installs with the programming packages by default, the KDE games install even if you don't install KDE (everyone needs more games!), and it is the best looking Linux distribution period.
Bottom line, if you liked Red Hat 8.0, Phoebe is more of the same.
Phoebe seems to do the things that Redhat 8.0 did well, and do them even better, while ignoring the problems. These problems won't go away by themselves, but the beauty of Phoebe is enough to make me keep it as my primary installation. This is no Aqua, but it gives everything else a run for its money.
About the author: Dustin Wilson is a 21 year old Computer Engineering/Computer Science student at Kansas State University. He has been using Linux for only six months, and became interested in it when setting up Linux networks in a course for college.