The Review: Werewolf, Fedora’s Redeemer?

Posted by jun auza On 1/09/2008
Fedora, previously called Fedora Core is a multi-purpose, RPM-based Linux distribution, developed by the community-supported Fedora Project and sponsored by Red Hat. Fedora's main aim is to not only contain free and open source software, but also to be on the leading edge of such technologies. In addition, its developers prefer to make upstream changes instead of applying fixes specifically for Fedora --this guarantees that updates are available to all Linux distributions. Fedora's mission statement is: "Fedora is about the rapid progress of Free and Open Source software."

The latest distribution release of Fedora is Fedora 8 (codenamed ‘Werewolf’), which was released on November 8, 2007.

Immediately after it was unleashed, I made a post that gave an overview of the exciting new features of Fedora 8. I also asked myself these questions: Is Werewolf Fedora’s Redeemer? Can Werewolf help put Fedora back on top? Two months later, I now have an answer because I have been using Fedora for almost two weeks already. So, here is my little story about the Werewolf:

Once upon a time, :) I got the DVD version of Fedora-8-i386 from HERE. To those who don’t want to download the huge 3,369MB DVD installer, they can get the Live CD version instead. Fedora also comes in different flavours or Spins as they call it. They are special installable disk images with custom package sets intended for particular users. There’s Games Spin, KDE Live Spin, Developer Spin and more. Visit spins.fedoraproject.org to download.

The computer I utilized for Fedora 8 has the following hardware specifications:

Board: Intel D101GGCL
Processor: 3 GHz Intel Pentium 4 with HT Technology
Hard Drive: Samsung 80GB HDD
Memory: 1GB 400 MHz DDR RAM
Graphics Card: ATI PowerColor Radeon X300

Installation:
The good old Anaconda installer took care of the installation. What I like about Anaconda is the many options it provided to cater the more advanced users. But, non-advanced users need not worry as the process is very straightforward and the options are very easy to understand.




After I have properly configured the time zone, network settings, and root password, I was taken to the package selection. I chose to install the default packages and waited for about 20 minutes for the installation to finish. On the first boot, I was given an option to configure SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux), Firewall, date and time, and users. The installation was overall successful and smooth sailing. There were no hardware compatibility problems that I have encountered as my audio, video, Ethernet, and USB among others were all correctly configured and were working fine after the installation process.



Look and Feel:
Overall, Fedora 8 is aesthetically pleasing. The Grub menu image, boot-splash image, log-in menu and splash image is a huge improvement over the previous version in terms of looks. The default desktop of Fedora 8 is Gnome and its new theme called ‘Nodoka’ is very polished and professional looking. The default wallpaper has a unique feature that changes color depending on the time of day. It is actually an implementation of a simple slideshow which uses three different wallpapers. For those who want some extra special desktop bling, Compiz Fusion is installed by default. Though it is not enabled, you are just a few clicks away to desktop insanity provided you have a capable graphics card.


Package Management:
Fedora 8 is fully loaded with essential software applications out-of-the-box. To name some, there’s GIMP (2.4.0), OpenOffice.org (2.3.0), Evolution (2.12.1), Firefox (2.0.0.8), and Pidgin (2.2.2), Python (2.5.1), perl (5.10.0), samba (3.0.28), and much more. There are also additional packages available from the vast repositories of Fedora. Since Fedora does not include proprietary drivers for ideological reasons, I needed to install Livna RPM to get my ATI graphics card fully working. Those who want to play DVD’s and MP3’s need not worry because there’s a handy new tool called Codec Buddy that will help get the necessary codecs for you. The killer feature of Fedora 8 is probably the Pulse Audio system. All other Linux distributions should adopt this feature because it works just great. Pulse audio sound server gave me the ability to configure my audio system like never before in a Linux OS.



Yum takes care of package management for Fedora. Like any other package manager, it handles installation and un-installation of software packages. However, I find Yum a bit buggy in F8. I got errors when I try to add or remove software. To those who are also experiencing this kind of problem, you can easily fix it by killing the yum/Puplet package manager processes inside the Gnome System Monitor.

Stability:
Those few minor hiccups can’t prevent me from saying that Fedora 8 is pretty much stable. I said minor because I was able to find remedy and kept the system going. After several days already of using Fedora 8, I can honestly express that everything is running smoothly now. I can’t also deny that its added security features like SELinux and Firewall makes my desktop even more secure and steady.



Conclusion:
Fedora 8 is a distribution to beat. Its great features and much improved stability simply rocks. It may not be a distro that I can say is ideal for Linux newbies, but it is almost there. So, to answer the question: Is Werewolf Fedora’s Redeemer? In my own opinion, it is. It somehow revived Fedora from its previous blunders. I’m sure Fedora faithfuls will never be tempted to look at Ubuntu again. Can Werewolf help put Fedora back on top? As of the moment, Fedora is still #4 in Distrowatch ranking. If Werewolf will fail to do so, at least it will serve as a catalyst for future releases to take Fedora back to where it truly belongs. I think the only direction Fedora is going right now is certainly upward.

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