This is the one area that I feel Red Hat 9 is lacking, in particular, playing or listening to MP3's or viewing/playing DVD's, video content via the web or locally, DIVx movies and more. I feel the lack of applications like xine and mplayer does not add anything to this install, and only complicates and frustrates users, especially users that are unfamiliar with compiling programs in the Linux environment. XMMS is included but its mp3 plug-in is not. This is unfortunate. All Windows-based systems can play mp3s in Windows Media Player out of the box; same goes for playing most standard AVIs. And as regards DVDs on a Windows machine, it's so easy to install WinDVD or PowerDVD that its a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Red Hat Linux 9.
CD-Burning Software By default, Red Hat 9 now has limited CD burning capability built-in (provided that you don't install Xcdroast), its works fine and you'll be pleasantly surprised (as I was) when inserting a Blank CD-R that it will open a new folder called ///burn where you can drag and drop files to be burnt to cd. Experienced users will however probably just install their favorite cd burning software and Xcdroast is included for those that want it.
Graphical Editing/Viewing Software
Nothing with the ease of use or functionality of Paint Shop Pro or Adobe Photoshop is included, but there are some applications. GIMP is included and I used it to capture many of the screenshots.
Digital Camera Software
You can plug in your USB-based camera and with a bit of fiddling get it to work in Red Hat 9, using the supplied Gtkam application. It worked for me using my Canon Powershot A20 but I found it cumbersome to setup and retrieve my photos. However, the capability is there (as long as your camera is supported) so that's good news.
The networking GUIs of the operating system seem to have been upgraded and I'm unsure whether I'm convinced that it's all for the better. The Wireless Internet configuration setup is much easier by default in Red Hat 9, but moving from one wireless access point to another (along with the change in WEP keys if appropriate and SSID's) poses problems for the non-technical. In Red Hat 8.0 you could enable or disable eth1 (which is my wireless network card) easily but its seems to be more obscure to me in Red Hat 9.
There are no apparent icons for network strength or for that matter connectivity on the taskbar (as you would see on a windows taskbar), so I'm left with using an x-term logged in as 'su' to check my internet connection status via command line tools like ifup eth1, ping host and ifconfig, and as simple as that is to some, it's not for everyone.
On a side note, (i do like to connect to my Windows boxes and remote admin them) I'm glad to note that rdesktop (http://www.rdesktop.org) has been updated and is now version 1.2.0, that is useful because the default rdesktop that was included with red hat 8.0 did not have a capability to use MSTSC (Microsoft Terminal Services client) non-standard ports, (anything other than the default 3389) so this version by is great for administrating your Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/.NET computers remotely especially if you have changed the default receiving port in the registry.
CUPS is now the default printing software and looks relatively simple and strikingly like the Windows Print Manager equivalent. I don't have a working printer so I can't really comment on it's effectiveness.
Linux die-hards will of course enjoy the wealth of included server applications. You can set up your Red Hat 9 box to be a web-server/ftp-server with relative ease. I tried the included Apache and it was very easy to set up, as it was with Red Hat 8.0. I use Linux mainly on my portable computer so server applications are one area that I tend to steer clear of due to the lack of need. Apologies, but you'll have to wait for someone else to go into proper depth for this area of Red Hat 9. There appears to be much better Samba support, but... you'll have to update Samba to include the latest fixes from the recent security releases here.
Updating the Included Software.
Red Hat 9 comes complete with its own up2date functionality and that's cool. Very similar to Windows Update except you have to register with Red Hat using a working Email address. This email address will also be polled regularly to see if it's live. If not (if you don't reply when requested), your ability to update that machine via this tool will be halted, but that can be fixed so its not the end of the world. I like the way Red Hat does its up2date features mostly, in that it does keep track of all your machines, however if you have many machines then the basice service may not be the best route for you. You'll need to upgrade to Red Hat's more expensive Red Hat Network services in that case.
Bear in mind that the up2date utility only updates programs that it deems are necessary due to security reasons. You can't use it to update your version of OpenOffice for example.
Ok, that's part of what's included. As I said before, there is too much included software to mention here but now that we have an idea of what's there, let's start configuring it for our own needs.