posted by Niall C. Brady on Fri 7th Nov 2003 09:12 UTC

Is Fedora Core 1 right for me?

If like me, you want to see how new and exciting Linux releases are doing, then you'll probably go ahead and install Fedora as soon as you have downloaded it. Its fun and new and worth looking at, and I have tried it on 4 different machines so far, two of which are laptops. The laptops both installed fine but I was disappointed to see that ACPI support is still not turned on by default in this release, I guess it must be too buggy. What that means is that some new laptops with ACPI only BIOS's will not report any battery levels in Fedora or show advanced power management features, you'll have to read the Release Notes (check the kernel notes section at the end of the notes) to enable that functionality. APM based laptops will not have any problem displaying battery status.

The third system I tried it on has a Promise Raid SATA controller with an OS already on it, when I tried to install Fedora, it complained that it couldn't find any hard drives, so I googled and found a Red Hat Linux 9 driver for the promise card, but.... that didn't work with Fedora, seems I need to re-compile that driver within Fedora to get it to work. This was not because Fedora couldn't handle SATA (it can) it was because it could not talk to my raid card and I didn't have time to continue with it.

I even attempted to upgrade an existing installation of Red Hat Linux 9 on one system, and the upgrade went as smooth as silk. After the installation was completed I got a message in gnome telling me that my old desktop was linked via a shortcut on my new desktop. I did notice that upgrading Red Hat Linux 9 to Fedora Core 1 does not configure it to use the graphical boot feature, but a quick glance again at the release-notes tells you that you have to must install the rhgb package, and add the rhgb boot-time parameter to your bootloader configuration. To test this I went into system settings, add/remove applications, and selected the X windows system package details. Adding the rhgb (Red Hat Graphical Boot) package was not so simple, once I clicked on update it prompted for CD 1. I inserted CD1 and it popped up an error 'Error Installing Packages - There was an error installing packages, exiting'. Clicking ok closed the Package Manager so I browsed the CD manually (/mnt/CDROM/Fedora/RPMS) and found the rpm (rhgb-0.11.2-1.i386.rpm). I copied that RPM locally and tried to manually install it. I logged in as su - and did rpm -Uvh rhgb-0.11.2-1.i386.rpm and it installed. Then I used vi to edit /boot/grub/grub.conf and added rhgb after the line that reads:

kernel /vmlinuz-2.4.22-1.2115.nptl ro root=LABEL=/ hdc=ide-scsi

so that it now reads

kernel /vmlinuz-2.4.22-1.2115.nptl ro root=LABEL=/ hdc=ide-scsi rhgb

saved that file with :wq and rebooted, and voila graphical boot

If you do attempt to upgrade an existing installation of Red Hat Linux, then please back up your data first, I personally have not lost any data from doing an upgrade to Linux, however you don't want to be the one who has to explain where the data went if something goes wrong.

For users who want MP3 functionality or video playback out of the box, Fedora Core 1 disappoints in this regard (much like Red Hat Linux 8/9 did), I would suggest that you uninstall the included XMMS version 1.2.8 and install the older 1.2.7 version (which has plug-ins freely available on the internet for MP3 support) until someone releases an updated plug-in for the new version. As regards xine (which I did attempt to install) your results may vary, but it complained about xine-libs dependency problems (wanted GLUT and SPEEK, and in turn GLUT wanted OPENGL which wanted......), so I gave up. I have not yet tested nVidia drivers (accelerated) yet but will do soon, I'm confident that nVidia will release Fedora Core drivers shortly.

Bluetooth hardware support has been updated but I didn't have a bluetooth device to test so no comment. The kernel (2.4.22-1.2115.nptl) has been updated to include NPTL (as you will notice in the GRUB boot screen) and in Fedora's own words 'Fedora Core 1 includes the Native POSIX Thread Library (NPTL), a new implementation of POSIX threads for Linux. This library provides performance improvements and increased scalability' so I guess that new kernel will delight some and bore others.

I can summarise my experience with Fedora as being a mixed bag of emotions, in some cases it surprises pleasantly (resolution changing for one, and the half-gui boot up) but in other cases there is nothing obviously apparent about this release that hits you in the face with that WOW factor (GNOME looks essentially the same as it did since Red Hat 8.0 came out more or less). Yes there is the ability for up2date to use Yum and APT repositories but for users unfamiliar with that technology then is that really something to go 'hey look what this can do?' The very act of updating software is usually to fix something that is broken or to add new features or to apply a security update, if the use of Yum could/can fix the lack of MP3 functionality (for example) then I'll give it my thumbs up, if not, then big deal.

Please don't get me wrong, I am not criticising Fedora, far from it, I really really like this distribution, I think it is very professionally done and worthy of a download and installation, however, there are going to be a lot of Linux newbies disappointed initially by the lack of included MP3 functionality and DVD/Video playback, and adding that functionality back will not be straightforward for those people (until clear and easy to follow HOWTO's start popping up on the internet).

If you like to experiment with the latest cool stuff on the Linux scene then get downloading now. I'm sure that you will not be disappointed especially if you are an experienced Linux user from the Red Hat stable. If you are new to Linux then perhaps this is a good distro for you to play with, but I guess you'll need to do some research on IRC and Google to get things working the way you want.

It's up to you to decide Fedora's future. I hope it's a bright one.

Fedora Core 1 screenshots here and here.

by Niall C. Brady (c) November 6th 2003.

Table of contents
  1. "Intro and installation"
  2. "Usage"
  3. "Conclusion"
e p (0)    102 Comment(s)

Technology White Papers

See More