Fedora has existed for many years, but truth be told, I haven't given it a serious look since Fedora Core 2 was made available. It is no secret that I have been using Mandriva more or less exclusively over the last 7-8 years and the little time spent on other distributions always brings me back to Mandriva, some distros faster than others.
However, becoming so dependent on a single distribution could be considered a handicap as well, so I downloaded FC10 for x86_64 to install on my HP Media Center. This system is a few years old; it has 2GB RAM, a 320GB drive that also dual-boots Windows XP, and an AMD Athlon64 X2 Dual Core 4200+ processor.
The FC10 installation is very straightforward, but it took me three times to get it done. There seems to be a bug in the time zone selection part of the install where it will freeze the system. The third install I quickly pushed "Next" and avoided any configuration here. Luckily, it worked and I ended up doing the time configuration post-install.
Other than that, it was extremely straightforward. Only necessary questions are asked, the install itself did not take an excessive amount of time despite installing quite a few packages, and I was soon rebooting and finishing off some post-install configuration.
Now, keep in mind this is coming from a Mandriva user's perspective. I am a GNOME user as well, so I did not install KDE. The GNOME interface is virtually identical regardless of distribution, so it was comfortable enough to get around. Things are, of course, in different places and possibly called different things, but largely they are the same as what I am used to -- until I got to system configuration.
Unlike Mandriva's Mandriva Control Center and SUSE's YaST, FC10 (like Ubuntu), uses a number of single-use utilities to configure various aspects of the system. This is not necessarily bad, but certainly different from the all-in-one configuration utility I am used to. Navigating this to tweak some system-level configuration, like the time zone, networking, printers, and so forth, took more time than it would have on a Mandriva system with its all-in-one control center. I have to admit, MCC has spoiled me (and I suspect SUSE users would say the same about YaST). This was always one of the things I disliked about Ubuntu, although it seems that Ubuntu is not unique in this regard.
Another thing I found startling was the alert that popped up with the number of updates available. FC10 was released at the end of November, and the system was indicating there were 315 updates to download. Some of these were security-related (53 or so), and the rest were bug fixes with a few enhancement updates thrown in the mix. I have been using Mandriva 2009, which was released at the beginning of October, and there have been 93 updates (bug fix, security, and enhancement) since release. The number of updates for FC10 was quite surprising to me, and took over an hour to download and install.
Connecting to the shared LaserJet printer from my OS X workstation was simple enough, as was the other post-install tweaks I like to perform.
Overall, FC10 doesn't seem too bad, so far. Other than some differing icons, look and feel, and lack of an all-in-one configuration tool, it feels like" home." It will be interesting to play with it over the next few weeks to learn more about it, see what makes it different from Mandriva, and discover if it is as configurable and tweakable as I am used to. From this initial first look, however, I think it looks quite good. Installation issues aside, of course. But, then again, installs (usually) only happen once.
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Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.