Linux

A Mandriva user kicks around Fedora Core 10: How does it compare?

After using a single distribution for many years, it can be hard to give something new a try. Vincent Danen puts Fedore Core 10 through its paces.

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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About

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.

48 comments
Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

It's actually a good thing that people contribute to fixing open source apps faster than windows. Instead of screwing around with the GUI up-to-date program( I use CentOS which is similar and VERY stable); learn to use yum. A simple command like: #yum update -y will update your system and resolve dependencies. JUst let let your fingers do the talking and walk away :).

aroc
aroc

I decided to give Fedora 10 a try on my Asus EEE 900A (Atom 1.6Ghz, 16GB replacement SSd, 2GB RAM) by installing on a 8GB Sandisk Extreme 3 SDHC (xubuntu 8.04 installed fine, although I had to tweak the grub menu.lst on the SSD Easy Peasy installation - kept xubuntu installer from messing with boot loader installation - but then I could not get network drivers going), but it had a scsi driver timeout issue while trying to mount the initrd. I found a Bugzilla discussion about it, but no usable solution (expand, update with some scsi wait code, save initrd - yeah, right), so on to the next distro experiment... BTW, Windows 2000 worked just fine dual-booting with Easy Peasy for that stuff only Windows runs, like DeLorme Street Atlas for my DeLorme GPS (forget RoadNav now that it cannot handle the new Census Bureau maps format). I just get tired sometimes of all the frothy change when I am trying to get something useful done...

kinkelson
kinkelson

I was an avid Ubuntu user myself when I tried to install fedora for my use as a server. I've been hooked since. I've gotten used to the system and its ways of doing which I find simpler than ubuntu's aaproach. For example from the command line, users can start and stop services by using the service command; eg service nfs {start|stop|status} and chkconfig --list, to show running and startup services amongst other which make administration a breeze but are missing in Ubuntu.

mwclarke1
mwclarke1

One thing I find disappointing is the fedora no respin policy one a spin is out with serious bugs, will have to wait until the next release, that is if the fix makes it into that release. And I know can do an online upgrade but with the F10 release not even reconizing some hardware (yes the fake raid) on many motherboards can not even boot to do the initial install and if needing to do an install from the media and not online. There is not enough testing between the releases, they need to have a intermediate release for certain serious problems so we can download fixed ISO's without having to wait until FC11, I am stuck on FC4/5 releases since every release breaks something that prevents me from going with the release. I was hoping since I use REDHAT for all my enterprise servers we could finnaly get a Fedora release to use on all our workstations. However seems I will be sticking with Ubuntu for the near future and maybe for a while as there just is not enough time to waste with all the workarounds trying to get this working accross many workstations. Until the Fedora community gets better at testing and getting serious issues fixed before a spin is released or either will start re-spinning releases I have not choice to abandon any attempts so far to migrate toward Fedora.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

lenny goes stable and not a peep from tech republic blogs? i'm shocked!

jlwallen
jlwallen

i did the fedora experiment for a while. i loved it at first. but like previous fedora installation a simple update trashed the system. now i will be fair and say i have an NVidia card so I was using the kmod-nvidia kernel mods. i should have known better. anything "kmod" can break your system if you breathe on it wrong. anyway - i like fedora a lot. just not for production systems.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"... becoming so dependent on a single distribution could be considered a handicap ..." Asking as a Windows user, why do you think that?

pgit
pgit

Most of the FC 10 installs I did would not update or install anything. Of the 2-3 that would, I was unable to get the proprietary nvidia driver working. I followed a slew of directions to a "T," and as close as I got was a hard lock up at the nvidia boot splash, cruelly taunting me. I am spoiled by Mandriva and mcc. I'm surprised other distros haven't borrowed it...

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I've been waffling about which distro to play in next. I think it will be Mandriva.

Jaqui
Jaqui

response to Jack about linux adoption. I listed a few of the stupidities of Fedora 10 from my viewpoint. http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=301756&messageID=3014904 I installed it this morning to look at it. I removed it when I was NOT able to select a package to be un-installed. [ mono project not wanted thanks. ] I've already put a pclos install on the system and ripped out half the default packages, installed the ones I prefer to work with and gotten it ready for an lfs build, while recording it using a desktop recording package. all that, in the same amount of time fedora 10 took to INSTALL on the laptop. :/ edit for url

hybridjeffbarnes
hybridjeffbarnes

If you had placed a check mark in the updates repository box the updates would have automatically been installed at install time instead of the older files in the iso.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

"service" spoils me on Mandriva but I've taken to the habit of using the init.d instead; more transferable habit. /etc/init.d/apache2 reload (or start/stop/restart) Using tab completion, it can be as fast as typing "service" also. Either way works though.

eldergabriel
eldergabriel

Yes, the major bugs (sometimes even in the installer!) need to be fixed before the final release, OR they need to change the respin policy for releases. The closest to this that I've seen are the fedora unity respins. Unfortunately, it seems these days, their respin releases aren't happening anywhere near as frequently as I'd like to see. You'd think this would be easier to keep up with, now that fedora has had some improved respin tools included with it (revisor?). To the Fedora project's credit, I'm happy to see the option to install the updates during installation, but I'd prefer to be able to install from a respin disc and not have to download anything. My biggest gripe with fedora, and many other distros for that matter, is (as someone else mentioned somewhere around here) the whole "two steps forward, one step back" situation that happens when there are some improvements, but other things get broken. The gdm config situation with fedora comes to mind... https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=433649 But, admittedly, the fedora project and fedora users, just like *any* FLOSS project, will benefit as more users/developers step up and contribute to the quality control process. After all, it's often much easier to whine about a problem than it is to try and help fix it.

Jeneral22
Jeneral22

I have been using Ubuntu off and on for the past three years and steadily since Jun 08 as primary home pc. I have tried LinuxMint and PCLOS but can't get their live CD to work. No biggy. I just love having the "choice" I didn't think I needed to replace Windows XP but, I couldn't control myself and have now become an increasing advocate for "choice" and letting folks see the options. Windows works but it cost too much money and if it were offered at a reasonable price with great support folks wouldn't give it a second thought but with releases that are inconsistent and buggy why upgrade. Aside from a few issues have upgraded Ubuntu since 7.04 without any major problems. It truly amazes me reading these posts how much more I have to learn! Many of you are miles ahead of the curve I am on and I am truly envious of your abilities. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"What's a 'lenny', a release name?", asked the ignorant Windows user.

HypnoToad
HypnoToad

This weekend, I installed Fedora 10 on two PCs; my main one having an nVidia video card, 64-bit Fedora... No problems to report so far, but if more comes up about Fedora flakiness, I'll download SUSE 11.1... :( I hope virtualbox guest machines can be portable.

pgit
pgit

I had the exact same experience. It took me a bunch of installs before I could update or add software, like nvidia drivers. But when I finally had a whack at getting nvidia working, hard lock up, dead OS. It locked on the nvidia splash. Sucker wouldn't even run single mode, so I figured why bother... ...here comes Lenny.

vdanen
vdanen

Well, I like to keep learning stuff and when you just use one distro alone, it's tough to learn about other things. For instance, I've never used these various GNOME tools because I was so used to MCC. I've barely looked at yum because I was so used to urpmi. Now that I don't have a single Mandriva machine here and have played with RHEL4, RHEL5, Fedora9, Fedora10, and CentOS5 I can honestly say that a) I've been missing out on learning a lot about other stuff and b) I have a lot of fodder for tips for the next few months without even really trying. =) For Windows it's not the same... Linux distros vary in what they use as defaults, how things are configured, etc. This can be seen as both good and bad, I guess. With Windows.. well, going from XP to Vista isn't quite the same (wait.. I was going to say "because you don't downgrade", but that's not really true). Anyways, for myself, I like playing with different OS's, so I'm now using OS X and Fedora for desktop/workstation configurations and CentOS for my servers. It's quite fun to learn new stuff. It also makes me, as a consultant, a lot more marketable than if I just walked around as a "Mandriva consultant" or "Windows consultant".

jdclyde
jdclyde

both to if there is something better, as well as becoming stagnant in your knowledge. If you only use a single OS, you will never know that you like something other than vanilla everytime you go out for ice cream. Vanilla is good, but there are always better choices out there.

pgit
pgit

Because a given distro can go south in no time, without warning. My own has given me a scare. (Mandriva) I started testing others in earnest after I saw the 2009 KDE 4 official release. There is no way I can justify foisting that environment on my users. And I'm not about to start shoving LXDE, XFCE, gnome or the like on them, either. I have been running Mandriva cooker a bit lately, which has a beta KDE 4.2 environment. It still seems a long way off, but it looks like KDE 4.2 and beyond is going to be usable. Dare I say "good" even?

vdanen
vdanen

Well, I read the post and have a few comments. Grub patching for XFS should probably be done, granted, but it's not difficult work around (and I've never noticed this because I've always set a /boot partition for ext2, regardless of whether it's a desktop or server). For me /boot is always ext2, about 100MB-150MB, and I've never had a problem. Even when I used XFS for everything, I always had an ext2 /boot. IIRC, networking can be configured during install. I had no problems setting up networking. I know because I use LDAP for authentication which relies on networking, and I always turn off ipv6 support. Fedora comes with KDE if GNOME isn't your thing. Remove software? I'm sure that's where the Add/Remove Software program (whatever it's really called) comes into play. I also had no problem changing what I wanted to have installed during install; I took away a bunch of stuff I didn't wanted.. added others I did. No problem at all there. No idea about the soundcard bit. Sound works perfectly fine on my HP workstation and my Lenovo T61. Out of all your gripes, about the only ones that make sense are the GRUB bit (which is easily worked around), and perhaps the soundcard thing (which I've not experienced). Not sure which version of Fedora you tried so maybe some of these were issues with earlier versions, but with F10, I've not experienced any of this.

mitch
mitch

First, let me say, at first, I had SEVERE problems getting FC10 to install. Turns out it does NOT play well with older video cards. But, one I got compatible hardware, I had NO problem with the install - not even with setting the time zone. Second, I prefer KDE. I -used- to like Gnome, but for the last - oh, 2 or 3 years anyway, I've found KDE easier to use. I recommend that if you haven't looked at it lately, you should have another look. It has changed quite a lot in the last couple of iterations. There is a "control center", for example, that puts a lot of system control under one master program. Third: That LARGE number of updates and such is, in my opinion, an illustration of how many MORE developers are working to fix/improve Fedora products. In fact, if there were NOT a big number of fixes right after a release, I'd start to worry that the project was being abandoned. You must realize that Fedora is the "testing ground" for Red Hat, and isn't even really considered to be a "commercial" product. Although I do use it for some pretty critical servers and it works fine. I just wouldn't put it anywhere critical until a few weeks went by and the rate of fixes/improvements slowed way down.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Debian maintains three distribution trees: unstable = (or is it development. Anyhow,) the development branch they are adding new software too testing = focusing on program and distro implementation bugs rather than adding new software and functions to the distro (stable enough for a desktop, not recommended for server) Stable = only adding security and bug patches. focus is stability and security. recommended for servers since it won't have the latest greatest stuff in it already. Over the weekend, Testing was promoted to Stable so Debian Stable V4.x Etch is not replaced by Debian Stable V5.x Lenny. If one has servers and is doing the distro upgrade to Lenny from Etch then they can manage it as a rolling distro. They'll have to answer some questions about config files to be kept but it's mostly painless. I have the benefit of a few servers in late testing so I'll be updating my build scripts to work against Lenny instead of Etch in prep for clean production installs. Minimal changes and no config file upgrades with --distro-upgrade

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

lenny is the current stable release of Debian. Just a release name (Debian 5). Etch(Debian 4) was the last stable, and squeeze(im assuming debian 6) will be the next one. Guess what children's cartoon all the names come from? (woody and sarge come before etch, and sid is experimental)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Vanilla is good, but there are always better choices..." That's an unsupportable subjective opinion. I can see your point as an IT professional, but I don't think you'll convince many home users. "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" Re-reading the source article, it doesn't sound like Vince gained much in the transition. Maybe I haven't played with enough distributions to appreciate the differences; maybe they're too esoteric for me to appreciate; maybe I just still don't know what I'm looking at / for. At this stage I think my learning process will benefit by sticking with a single distro and exploring it thoroughly instead of skimming multiple ones.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What do you mean by a distro 'going south'? I don't think you mean it suddenly stops working. Do you mean the vendor / distributor stops supporting it? Is upgrading not an option? I've never used Mandriva; what about it scared you? If you don't like KDe, couldn't you load another GUI? What's 'Mandriva cooker'?

badders46
badders46

i have installed just about every version of Red Hat, Fedora, Ubuntu and SUSE without a hitch on appropriate AMD single core and dual core systems. I cannot say the same for Mandriva. Was fine up to version 9 (Mandrake)but with the renaming to Mandriva came unresolvable issues. In other words: no one distro is without issues.

Jaqui
Jaqui

Fedora 10. downloaded and burned to disc just hours before reading your entry. :D Literally a default install, with xfs partitions only. The sound card issue, the Intel 8x0 driver works for the card. [ though it seems that there was a change in the kernel that broke that driver recently, even a system running that sound lost it on a kernel replacement. ] and the gnome add/remove software app would not let me remove software, only install. since then, I downloaded Mandriva 2009, installed and updated it. no sound useless KDE 4 gui it lasted only a half hour longer than Fedora, then I went to an older version and refused to update. I'm setting the system up to build Linux From Scratch and capture everything with GTK-recordmydesktop, the sound card AND wireless are absolutely required, fighting a distro that will only be used for a month to get those working not going to happen.

vdanen
vdanen

Yeah, I've looked at KDE on every release of Mandriva since I started using Linux. Sorry, still don't like it. That's entirely personal preference, of course. =) I also think the "supported hardware" bit is true of any distro and/or Linux kernel. the better supported, the better it will work. Lastly, I agree about the updates.... it was just a shock. =)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I tried a rolling distro update on my test box at home: - upgrade Etch - search/replace "etch" with "lenny" in source.list - update aptitude package list - aptitude --distro-upgrade The only thing that hung me up was the questions about "config file detected, keep it or replace it with the new one?". I kept all config files since it was a testing run. In the end, there where some programs that consistantly got held back like Bastille. When I did a clean Lenny install and made the minimal changes to my build scripts, everything loaded in without issue (including Bastille). Now, the problem I have is that Bastille doesn't include support for DB50 though it is included in the repositories. If they get Bastille updated to recognize the new OS identifier then I have nothing more keeping it off production hardware. (and running my mail server at home until Bastille is available).

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I have been "testing" Lenny as a server for months on my personal server, and it has seemed fairly stable for many months. So when I saw that Lenny went stable, I did a rolling update yesterday on my Etch server at work. Seems to be going fine right now. No problems at all with the update. (took forever, though)

gwainwright
gwainwright

Sid is unstable, which ties in nicely with Toy Story (if you've seen the movie).

pgit
pgit

I kind of/sort of liked what I saw in FC10, but I still can't get proprietary drivers installed and working. I have followed a slew of how-to explanations and by all accounts it should have worked numerous times. But it's still no go, and before anyone asks; this is on multiple machines with different video hardware. Geez, gentoo was easier than this. My criteria for a distribution is mostly 'who easy is it for the average end user?' In a nutshell: - It has to be stupid-simple to configure and use. - It can't be Ubuntu. I know... I know...

vdanen
vdanen

That was a first impression, don't forget it. New tips coming out in the relatively near future are almost all based on Fedora. =) That was an install on an HP media PC... it works ok, but my main work laptop is a Lenovo T61 and I have absolutely 0 complaints and 0 problems with Fedora on it. So yeah, the first impression wasn't the greatest considering what I was previously used to but once I started playing with it some more (and subjected another machine to it!) I found that Fedora and I get along great. =)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

One from the Ubuntu family would do. The other regular brand names are also all fine; Mandriva, PCLinuxOS, Suse.. My needs at the time where better network stack and software availability paired with needing something new and intresting to explore after an upbringing on Windows platforms. Both platforms have evloved greatly since then and my todo list has grown with other interesting platforms to explore also. My needs now are software availability, install flexability and security in terms of both tools and potential level of hardening. My limited number of Windows licenses couldn't support the various installs I have on the go now. They are all installed also but I have to respect the maximum limit and don't have any functional needs that justify more OS licenses let along application licenses on top of that. (Games are still supporting DX09 so why pay through the nose for DX10 wrapped in Vista or win7?) But that's really the big point right there. If you don't have a reason to change they why would you? Exploring can be a reason. Needed functions can be a reason. Learning for work can be a reason. Whatever it is, there must be some motivation for the change. "because my friends say it's l33t" is really not a good reason.

jdclyde
jdclyde

The first step of any honest attempt is to decide what the system is suppose to do. I made a list of tasks that my boy did, and found alternatives that did it all. He loves it, and I got lucky the first time with Mint. (think it was Boxie that said she used it). It was in my discussion looking for a distro on liveCD for my uncle who wants to try it on his laptop. http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=101&threadID=283025 [b]Which Linux live-cd do you recommend for zero level users?[/b] some good ideas were given.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"It does what you want or it doesn't." Even after playing with three or four distros over the past five years (and 'playing' is all it's been; only one attempt was serious), I can't think of anything I want it to do. I'm not the least bit interested in replacing my Windows on my home system, and I'm unaware of any plans to use it where I work. Lack of a goal makes the overall learning process pretty random, and definitely hampers selecting an appropriate distribution; "Appropriate for what?"

jdclyde
jdclyde

because their are so many distros out there, how do you choose the right one? It does what you want or it doesn't. It has a comfortable feel that you can work with. both are valid reasons to ditch or stay with a distro. And I admit to a certain bias in my thinking. I tend to think of work environments, not home users. I have Mint and SuSE Sles10.1 running on systems at home. I will be adding more systems with different distros, not changing the ones I have loaded now because I have several systems just begging for an OS to be loaded on them. Pclos and Mandriva are both in line.

jdclyde
jdclyde

sometimes the wrong choice can be made. As Jaqui was pointing out about grub vs lilo. broken installers, taking away, or modifying existing functionality, and so on. When we did an upgrade from one flavor of redhat to the next, it broke several things that had to then be manually removed and updated (dns/binds was one of them). If they choose to go with kde instead of gnome or versvisa. Who knows what makes distros or people go south? :D

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Smelly meat has gone south. A car that spews smoke has gone south. I don't know what characteristics of a distro would qualify it as having 'gone south'. I'm not following you on how a new release of a distribution could be the equivalent of WMe. Don't most distros base their new releases on the latest version of the Linux kernel? If that's the case, can't you mix and match everything else? Is it a case of having to make too many changes to get a new release to the point one considers 'useable'?

jdclyde
jdclyde

As a southerner, you should be aware by now of the saying of something "going south" means going bad. B-) In the case of software, they might make a bad choice and come out with the linux equivalent of WindowsME. And yes, it could fold completely.

dryflies
dryflies

It speeds things up nicely.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm split between investigating Debian Stable Lenny and updating server build scripts for a few impending launches.

pgit
pgit

Hey, Neon, do yourself a favor and set up cooker on a test box. It's the most up to date in KDE 4 development, a beta 4.2 IIRC. I set it up and it performs substantially better than the official 2009 release. I also discovered how to configure things a bit more like KDE 3.5, though performance is not there yet. I think KDE 4 is going to be a great environment... once it gets anywhere near ready for prime time. For now, you're basically a tester if you use KDE 4 (any variety) in production.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'll see how 2009.1 is but still running mandriva 2008.1 here. There is updates so not yet any reason to upgrade.

chris
chris

I hate kde4. Everything is just slower and all the ability to customize it has gone. They say the're putting it back in (the KDE group that is), but who know when that will be ready. I love Mandriva with 3.5 though.

vdanen
vdanen

Well, the ext2 /boot would save you with grub at any rate. And wow, I guess you had the up-to-date version then. =) Yeah, sometimes kernels cause the issues, which is tough on distributions. Don't even get me started on the state of the 2.6 kernel and how fast moving it is.. makes it so hard to standardize. But that's a discussion for a different day. I tried the GNOME add/remove software thing before I responded, just to make sure I wasn't blowing smoke and had no problems removing a package. It *is* pretty slow tho, which is a drag. I'm also no big fan of KDE at all, and KDE4 seems no better to me than previous versions. Doing things the LFS way is entertaining, useful, and I would recommend it for anyone with a desire to learn or a technical proficiency. Having built my own distro (albeit for servers, not desktops) there is a definite advantage to getting everything the way you want it. Good luck with that! It should prove to be entertaining, educational, and probably frustrating all at the same time. =)

kkoolpatz
kkoolpatz

Fedora releases a new version almost every 6 months and yet has so many bug fixes.. couldnt it just mean that they are only adding more utilities to the existing ones and also at the same time fixing old bugs as and when they are found. It could just mean fedora might have a larger development budget.