posted by Jeremy LaCroix on Tue 21st Sep 2004 06:18 UTC
IconFedora Core 3 Test2 was released today, and so here's a chance to preview the software. I've been eager to try out Gnome 2.8 and KDE 3.3, so I tried to install them on my Core 2 box, which resulted in a severe package dependency crisis, so since Test 2 was released today I figured I would just reformat and install it for kicks, and to get my KDE 3.3. Screenshots from FC3-T2 can be found here.

Installation

As you have probably already guessed, not much has changed when it comes to the Anaconda installer. No change is really necessary because it works, however making it more "graphically pleasing" would have been nice, but since you're only supposed to see it once, I suppose it really doesn't matter.

As I have said, the installation is pretty much the same. The only changes I have noticed were a new screen for SELinux (Which is set to "active" by default) and for some reason the "First Boot Configuration" is set to 800*600 by default which is just plain ugly on my monitor, but a few screens later you can set your resolution so that's only a minor problem.

Nothing has changed when it comes to how long it takes to install, Fedora Core 2 took about a half hour and so did FC3 Test 2.

There have been a few package changes that I have noticed, such as the removal of Chromium (which was my favorite game, it's a shame to see it go, but I'm sure I can install it later) and Firefox instead of Mozilla which is an improvement, I guess.

Usability

I decided to play around in Gnome, for the sake of this article. This is not Gnome 2.8 as I suspected, instead it's one of the Gnome 2.7 test releases. If this is any indication as to what Gnome 2.8 is going to be like, I am dissapointed because there aren't enough changes to justify such a big jump in the versioning number, it looks like it should have been a "point" release. The "all windows in new windows" type of browsing is set to the default in this release as well, which I just don't like. (I could argue about the over-estimated "spatial browsing" but that would be another article).

Something in this release makes everything look VERY smooth, in fact the screen looks much more smooth than any other Linux I have tried yet. I don't know what causes this, this may be due to the new xorg, but whatever it is, I like it. In fact, it adds ALOT to this version. In addition, I was treated to brand new Fedora wallpaper which plays on this "clearer desktop" as if the folks at Fedora put the wallpaper in to show off.

When it came to Fedora Core 2, I was very much dissapointed. (See my review of that here). In Fedora Core 2 my main problems with it, were the "hissing" issue it had with my sound card (which was a bug since the FC2 test releases, but so far isn't apparent in this version) that was never fixed, the Nvidia soft freeze was another issue, and FC2 was just not stable for me.

What is SeLinux? (And recompiling the kernel)

I have no idea what SELinux is. I know that it has to do with security, so I left it enabled because I am a big fan of security. However, the first thing I do when I install a new distro is recompile the kernel, which I did here as well. So now I wonder, do I still have SeLinux? (If my memory serves me, it's in the kernel).

The main reason I recompiled the kernel is for the sake of avoiding the notorious "Nvidia soft freeze" where the screen stops completely but you are still able to move the mouse. Previously, I resolved this problem by recompiling the kernel, disabling Nvidia Riva, 4stacks, and framebuffer which always did the trick before. So due to this, I really don't know if SELinux is still installed (can someone please tell me?) but I don't trust the Fedora kernels because of that nvidia problem.

A Very Solid Test Release

The FC2 test releases, to me, were almost unusable. To be honest, I expected the same here. Surprisingly FC3 so far seems to be very stable, this is probably the most stable test release I have ever used. In fact, it even detected my windows drives straight out of the box (In Gnome's "Computer") which no other version of Fedora/Redhat did, however there is still no ntfs support by default. (Another reason I just recompile the kernel). FC3 T2 is also much faster (to me) than FC2 was.

In Test 2, there is no MP3 support. I think that the Fedora group should reconsider this, because it's annoying. (Maybe they should put a disclaimer you would have to click "I agree" on). Still, distro's like Mandrake support MP3's and NTFS out of the box, and they've never gotten in trouble, so why shouldn't Fedora support NTFS and MP3's?

Closing

I know you all are probably thinking it's silly to review a test release. It probably is. However, I am very impressed with Test 2 and think it's very solid despite the "testing" status it's in. There are a few shortcomings, but few, which is ironic considering Test 2 of FC3 has fewer shortcomings than FC2 Final! (And even more ironic, this has become my main desktop despite it being beta). This is definitely a step in the right direction. If any of you try it, I really hope that it works as great for you!

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