posted by Niall C. Brady on Tue 25th Mar 2003 16:51 UTC

"Should I Upgrade to Red Hat 9?"
This, of course, is the question on many people's minds and the answer is not easy. All I can recommend is if you already have a solid working installation of Red Hat 8.0 on your computer then there probably isn't any compelling reason to upgrade. All the features in that release are more or less present in this one. Red Hat 9 is more polished, especially in the start menu (and that's a definite plus) and supporting applications, however, it still lacks significant punch to separate itself from previous releases the way that Red Hat 8.0 separated itself from, say, Red Hat 7.3. Where are the killer power management features? You know what I mean...

However, if you are buying new hardware even within the last few months (especially notebook-based hardware) and want to install a really nice, clean, fairly simple to use distribution of Linux then I would have no problem recommending Red Hat 9. In fact I can say it right now: upgrade to Red Hat 9, it's worth it.

It has support for most of those Intel on-board video chipsets that Red Hat 8.0 struggled with (1mb bios limitations requiring you to fix XFree86 and more...) so thats a big bonus. Also, there is additional hardware and chipset support in this release so it's fairly safe to say that this install will run on your computer if it's a new Intel-based laptop (hint: Centrinos). I can't vouch for the included wireless options on those newer laptops but I'm hopeful and fairly confident that drivers will arrive soon for any new wireless a/b/g cards that are not currently supported.

Nvidia gamers may be disappointed in this release of Red Hat, however, they were disappointed with the last, until the 3D accelerated drivers came out from nVidia, so i guess its a waiting game.

The decision to upgrade to Red Hat 9 is up to you. You could, like me, just try it out on a blank test system and see if it fits your needs, and I reckon that you will get a kick out of it. However, if you are coming directly from the Red Hat 8.0 camp, then you may be disappointed in the lack of obvious apparent differentiation between the two products. You have to dig a bit to see the differences but overall it's worth it. I did upgrade two boxes from Red Hat 8.0 to Red Hat 9 to see what it was like, and it did work ok on both machines but it also broke some of what I had installed on those systems, for example, Synaptic now no longer works, and Wine seems to have taken a nose dive also. However, on the boxes I upgraded, Xine and XMMS did not need to be reconfigured so that was cool, but, and this is a big but, Mozilla was upgraded (yes,I used Mozilla 1.0 - if it ain't broke don't fix it) to 1.2.1 and that erased all my previously installed plug-ins. Fluxbox users will be glad to note that if you have Fluxbox installed on a Red Hat 8.0 install, that upgrading that machine using the upgrade option will not affect Fluxbox and you'll still have access to it in the session manager on the login screen.

Based on what I found with my testing on a blank system (one I could play with to my heart's content) I have already moved my two Linux based machines (both Dual boot Windows XP/Red Hat) from 8.0 to 9 and I'm glad I did.

The choice, as they say, is yours.

By Niall C. Brady

Table of contents
  1. "Installing Red Hat 9"
  2. "The Default Install - What is it Like"
  3. "The Default Install - Part II"
  4. "Getting More Out of Red Hat Linux 9"
  5. "Getting More Out of Red Hat 9, Part II"
  6. "Should I Upgrade to Red Hat 9?"
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