posted by Jason Parker on Mon 20th Oct 2003 18:01 UTC
IconFedora Test 3, is, most certainly, as the name says, a test. In my experience there are a few problems and a few bugs that would keep me from recommending it as an everyday desktop replacement, but nonetheless, Fedora is an Operating System (distro) worth watching out.

First Things First

Click for a larger version First, a few things about me. I've been using Linux for quite a while now, with my first experience being an old Mandrake version that I bought to install on my very old Packard Bell. Since then, I've been using Linux off-and-on. I will usually run some version of Linux as my primary desktop for a few months until something happens on Windows that makes me want to switch, and vice-versa. What I'm getting at is that I believe my self to be fairly knowledgeable on Linux.

Next, about my install. I installed Fedora Test 3 on a Dell Dimension 4400 with a 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 and 512 Mb of RAM, and an ATI Radeon 9600 Pro. A fairly normal setup, I believe. At first I tried upgrading my earlier RedHat Linux 9 install, but decided, ultimately, to perform a clean install.

The Install

Click for a larger version Upon starting up my computer with the first CD in, I was greeted with a very familiar install screen. And that's really the best way to describe the install, no, make that the entire OS: "familiar." However, that's to be expected, I suppose, considering that Fedora is, essentially, Red Hat Linux with a new logo. The install process it's self is very easy. The Anaconda installer does a very good job of explaining what's happening and helping you to make the decisions that you need to. Over all, my install was very uneventful, and I was very pleased. At first I was going to allow the installer to upgrade a previous version of Red Hat Linux that was on the machine, but went back and decided to perform a clean install. The installer defaults seemed good, so for the most part I left them alone. I opted to allow the installer to take care of the partitioning by itself, and soon I was ready to install.

Selecting the default packages, the final size of my install was about a gigabyte of space. I hit continue, and away it went. This portion of the install took about 30 minutes. After this, it rebooted and began probing my hardware. All of it was found without trouble, that is until it came to my video card (ATI Radeon 9600 Pro). Fedora was unable to properly work with my video card, and stuck me with the VESA driver. While I could set the resolution as high as I needed, the horrendously low refresh rate that I was stuck with made using Fedora a pain. However, all in all, the install was excellent, and had it correctly setup my video card it would have been all the better.

Software

Click for a larger version By default, Fedora comes loaded with all the software that you'll need for daily activities. It includes all your standards: Gnome 2.4, KDE 3.1, Mozilla 1.4 for Browsing, Evolution 1.4 for email, and all the text editors one could ever ask for. Fedora was supposed to come with OpenOffice, I even went back and made sure that I had selected it, yet I could not find it at all. Fedora also includes an FTP program and the ability to burn CDs. Following Red Hat, however, Fedora is lacking full multi-media capabilities, but that's not really an issue that I can fault it for. Fedora also comes loaded with all of the standard games, and several configuration utilities, notably, a new (at least since Red Hat 9) Screen Resolution dialog which is separate from the Display dialog. It allows you to quickly change your resolution and refresh rate, which is good, because I could not get the Display dialog to open at all.

Daily Use

Click for a larger version Fedora does not depart much from Red Hat Linux, it seems very quick and stable. The biggest difference that the user will notice is a new version of BlueCurve (which has been present in Fedora for a while now), and let me say that it looks great. Hands down, Fedora is one of the prettiest Linux distributions out there, and while it lacks the bright colors of Window's Luna, or the sheer elegance of Mac OS's Aqua, it has a sort of subdued sense of professionalism, which I find very appealing. Also new is a Graphical Boot, which is very pleasant and gives to user a better idea of what all is going on. This, however, can be turned off if you so desire.

One of the first things that I did was run up2date, Red Hat's, well, updating software. It ran quickly and easily with no hassle. In fact, despite my earlier video card issue, there's really little to fault with Fedora, that is except the documentation (or lack thereof). With the expectation of a few basic things and some release notes, there is absolutely no documentation for Fedora, which makes it very difficult to solve problems. Remember my video card issue? I couldn't resolve it, and because I'm stuck in 1024x768 with a 65 Hz refresh rate, Fedora, for me, was unusable. Granted, it is Fedora Test 3, so I expect documentation to become available by the first general release. All in all, if you don't have any problems, Fedora seems like a stable, fast operating system, with plenty of eye-candy as well.

Summary

Click for a larger version So, as I said, Fedora Test 3 is, most certainly, a test, and as such, has many issues. Enough, in fact, that I would abstain from recommending for daily use. However, its many benefits force me to keep my eye on it and wait anxiously for the final release. It's very pretty, and very pleasing to the eye. It's also very quick, stable and very easy to use. Great care has gone into the development of Fedora, and all it needs now is some bug fixing, and some polish, and we may be looking at a real winner.

About the Author
My name is Jason Parker and I'm from Greenville, SC. I've been using computers since a very young age, and am a big Open Source advocate. :)

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