posted by Jeremy LaCroix on Mon 7th Jun 2004 19:36 UTC
IconThere have been many FC2 reviews, littered all over the net. I thought I would do my own, because I have some things I feel Fedora 2 should be praised for, and a few things I think it should reconsider.

Overview:

Previously, I was using SuSE 9.1 while I was waiting for Fedora Core 2 to reach stable status. At the same time, I made sure to try the test versions and make bug reports accordingly, however, SuSE, as good as it is, had some things that really annoyed me (For example, the screen setting 1024x768 is actually 800x600, and the only way to get the same resolution is to set it to 1280x768 and suffer a 60hz refresh rate) so I eagerly installed Fedora Core 2 as soon as I had the CDR's ready.

Installation:

Fedora didn't really do anything here, this is the same installer we've been using since Redhat 8.0 and probably prior. I can't really complain, because it works, so why change it? I did a custom install for a little over 3GB, and it took less than a half hour, so the speed (in my experience) has definitely increased. There was an error message stating something to the effect of "unable to align partitions correctly" but everything is working for me, so that's a minor complaint.

Software:

KDE 3.2: What can I say, KDE 3.2 is exceptional. I was amazed at how much has improved, even though I tried KDE 3.2 first when I installed it with FC1. (Installing or updating a Window Manager is almost a rite of passage). KDE 3.2 is fast, beautiful and it get's the job done.

Gnome 2.6: This is the default window manager in Fedora Core 2. My experience with it so far has been much less than KDE 3.2, and I don't see why they went to "spatial" browsing. Give it whatever fancy term you like, "spatial browsing" is just a fancy term they gave it (Probably to make it sound cool, since it's been around since Windows 95) to describe "all windows open in new window". That's it. I am not sure I understand why they did this.

For those of you that don't know, with Gnome 2.6 every time you click on a window, it opens in a new window. (This is "spatial browsing").There is no option (I've checked, I could've missed it, but I doubt it) to turn this off. No offense to those that like this, but there is absolutely no excuse for it. You could set previous versions of Gnome up this way, the only difference now is that they removed the option to disable it and set it to default. Aside from how the option to remove spatial browsing was removed, Gnome is pretty solid. For me, it runs 1.5 times slower than KDE, but for those of you who like all the Gnome apps, it will probably fit the bill.

Usability:

When it comes to Stability, for me, Fedora Core 2 is less stable than the original release. With FC1, my system crashed about once a month. Now, it crashes twice a week. For example, last week I was copying a URL into my clipboard to paste in an email, and my system locked up so bad, the only way out of it was to hit the reset button and go through a disk check. A few days later, I had two Mozilla windows open, and my system slowed down so bad that it took me two minutes (yes, two minutes) to move my mouse cursor to the Kmenu to reboot it. At that time, I went and grabbed a sandwhich before it finally decided to reboot. However, this happens very rarely and with these problems, I can't reproduce them. Most of the time things work, however in some occasions they don't.

Next, with sound and music (one of the primary things my computer is used for) things aren't so smooth. The major problem is when I am listening to music, I get a loud, annoying hissing sound in the left speaker and you can't hear any vocals. When Test 3 was first released, there were at least two bug reports about this, one from me included, that were completely ignored. This doesn't make me feel so inclined to submit bug reports in the future. Yes, I know the Fedora team can't fix every problem, but this one is huge, and almost all the Fedora forums I have visited, had a half dozen users complaining about this problem before and after Fedora Core 2 Stable was released. The problem is solved now, but the only way is to disable surround, so now my surround system only uses two speakers. To dive further into my multimedia problem, if I load a Super Nintendo Rom into ZSNES, you have the Nintendo logo as usual, but the "ding" sound the logo makes isn't heard until two screens later.

Good Things About Fedora Core 2:

Don't get me wrong, Fedora Core 2 is great. I just feel it has some problems that should've been fixed. Fedora is one of, if not the, most supported Linux systems there is, I have no problem finding the software I need from only a minute or two on Google. The screens are smooth and everything runs fast for a Linux distribution. The installation is a dream and runs faster on 3-4 cd's than Microsoft does with one.

Bad Things About Fedora Core 2:

As much as I hate to say it, FC2 has some major issues. Although it isn't Red Hat's fault Gnome went to spatial browsing, it still shouldn't have. I will say it until I am blue in the face: Spatial Browsing doesn't give us anything we didn't already have, it just removed the choice to have it operate different. (Maybe I'm missing something, I hope I am).

Although KDE 3.2 and Gnome 2.6 are great aside from small complaints, these are the same KDE 3.2 and Gnome 2.6 versions you could get with any other distro. All that was done to them was adding in the bluecurve theme followed by a recompile. I feel that since Gnome and KDE are both open source, much more could've been done with customization. Gnome now has a neat "Computer" icon which lists your drives, but the same thing should've been done with KDE. I mean, I made one myself for KDE just making a directory and putting all my drive icons in it. Why didn't Fedora?

On the same wavelength, maybe there should have been some more time put into this release. Not much at all has changed from FC1. The only difference now is that all the software is more up to date, and you now have SELinux (Which is really only useful for servers) and X.org instead of Xfree. (Can someone please tell me if this effects performance at all? Both seem exactly the same to me).

My point is that with Windows Longhorn a year or two away, if all Linux distributions release the same thing over and over with only updating the software, Linux won't even put a scratch into Longhorn. I think all developers whom make Linux distro's should consider overhauling it, to make it more feature packed in order to combat Microsoft. It's like Microsoft is giving Fedora a head start in a footrace, and Fedora is just standing there looking at them funny.

Final Thoughts:

This review isn't meant to make Fedora look bad. With Fedora being all that's left of the once great Red Hat, I have a lot to expect from it. I feel they could have done a bit better. However, aside from all the letdowns of this release, I will continue using it. Now, if only I can *clearly* get surround sound working again without the static...

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