I will confess that I jumped off the Fedora Linux boat somewhere around Fedora 9. It just seemed the distribution that served as a testing ground for Red Hat Enterprise Linux was too much work to get stable and too prone to falling to pieces. That was then; this is now. Fedora 13 was just released, and I am here to tell you it's a completely different ball game. Fedora 13 is solid... rock solid. So much so, it has made me a believer in the Hat once again. Here are some of the reasons I think you too will find Fedora 13 ready for your service now.
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1: Automatic printer detection/installation
For the most part, printing has become almost an afterthought in Linux. But sometimes, you still have to walk through the steps of administering the setup of your printer. With Fedora 13, we are getting close to complete auto-installation/configuration of printers. Prior to Fedora 13, I had to manually install Splix drivers for a Samsung ML1310 printer. Now? Fire up the printer tool and the printer (even networked) is nearly 100% auto-detected. Yes, you do have to walk through a wizard, but it is so simple anyone can manage it.
2: Deja Dup
If you're looking for a simple backup tool, you will be hard pressed to find one as simple as Deja Dup. This tool is so simple, the interface contains two buttons and a menu bar. The buttons are: Backup and Restore and the menu bar offers Backup, Edit, and Help. But don't think Deja Dup is without features. You can back up to the Amazon S3 cloud, on a network, or locally. On top of that, you can do scheduled backups! Yet another tool that anyone can use.
3: Rock solid performance
I have always thought of Fedora as fun to play with, tweak, and then leave because it was such a chore to get it working well. Out of the box, I have so far found Fedora 13 to be one of the most solid Fedora release to date. In fact, I would go so far as to say my experience has been that Fedora 13 is more solid than Ubuntu 10.04. If Fedora continues in this direction, it might lose its title of "sandbox" distro and find itself with a more "production distro" title. I know it seems a bit farfetched, seeing as how Fedora really is a sandbox distro for RHEL, but so far it seems true. I was taken off guard as well. Fedora 13 brings the Fedora distribution to new levels of reliability and solidity.
4: Network Manager improvements
Although most users won't appreciate this, the release of Network Manager that comes with Fedora 13 has, for the first time, a command-line utility! This is long overdue. Along with that, you will find tons of updates that make mobile networking a lot easier.
5: Ahead of the curve
Fedora 13 ships with KDE 4.4, GNOME 2.30, Firefox 3.6.3, OpenOffice 3.2, kernel 2.6.33, and other most recent releases of many software titles. If you long for the bleeding edge but require stability as well, Fedora 13 is the distribution for you. Out of the box, you will be ahead of the curve.
6: System rollback
With the help of the experimental btrfs file system, Fedora 13 can do rollbacks. This feature is not enabled by default. In fact, you can use it only if you install using the btrfs files system. Although you can convert ext3/4 file systems to btrfs, you shouldn't. Instead, do this on a test system and install Fedora 13 using the btrfs file system. With Fedora 13 installed using btrfs, you have the snapshot ability at your fingertips. If something goes wrong, simply roll back to a previous, working state. No, this system is not ready for prime time, but it foretells what's to come — and what's to come should be pretty amazing.
7: Troubleshooting tools
Fedora 13 ships with an SELinux troubleshooter, as well as an automatic bug reporting tool. This is really good news for both end users and the Fedora developers. One of the problems many end users face (that affects developers) is the lack of bug reporting. This is made much easier with Fedora 13 and the auto bug reporting. As well, troubleshooting SELinux has become a heck of a lot easier with the SELinux troubleshooter. This will make for much more secure Fedora installations because users will not be tempted to disable SELinux when it conflicts with various applications.
8: Simple Scan
Prior to Fedora 13, anyone who wanted to enjoy the "simple" task of scanning were out of luck. Now, out of the box, a solid scanning tool is included. This, of course, relies on a supported scanner (which has also improved significantly). This is welcome news to anyone who has tried to use XSane as a scanning tool. For the simple task of scanning, XSane is like going to the grocery store in a helicopter — it can do it, but most people won't be able to figure out how.
9: GNOME Color Manager
This has been a long time coming. Built-in color profile management. Before this, if you wanted color profiles, you had to walk through a rather complicated installation process only to find out the usage of the tool was equally complex. Fedora 13 includes a tool that should make just about any graphics designer/printer happy.
10: iPhone/iPod Touch support
Just a year ago, I was bemoaning the fact that Linux couldn't seem to figure out the iPhone issue. Well now it has, and it's done so with much elegance and style. When you plug in that iPhone, you will be asked if you want Rhythmbox to open. When it does, you will be able to manage all that music as if you were working with iTunes. Now all Fedora needs is a music store akin to the Ubuntu One Music store.
C'mon, try it!
What do you think? Tempted? Can Fedora 13 bring you back to the Hat? Or did an earlier version put such a bad taste in your mouth you may ever return? I think if you give Fedora 13 a try, you will change your mind.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.