Open Source

Fedora Core 5 frustrations


As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve started

playing with the Fedora Core 5 Linux distribution. I’ve been running SuSe

Professional 10.0 for several months now and decided maybe I should take a look

at Fedora Core 5 as well. This was mostly prompted by some articles that Scott Lowe has

recently done on the topic, but also has to do with wanting to get a first hand

look at what’s driving the Number 1 Linux vendor Red Hat. 

As I said before, Fedora’s installation went great. And being

based on GNOME 2.14, the interface is fast and reasonably friendly. Compared to

KDE, it’s restrictive, but it gets the job done. Linux founder Linus Torvalds

once described GNOME as being “developed by interface nazis, where consistently

the excuse for not doing something is not 'it's too complicated to do', but 'it

would confuse users'.” He may have overstated the point, but it IS a little

restrictive.

Fedora’s PUP updater works really well. It’s even better in many

respects than SuSe’s YOU updating utility. Both of course make Microsoft’s

Windows Update look silly by comparison and do much more than simply update the

operating system. Both of them will check installed application packages as

well and help to make sure you’ve got the latest versions.

My one main gripe about Fedora Core 5 is what’s missing. I’ve had to

jump through a lot of hoops installing additional RPMs left and right to make

FC5 do the most basic of tasks. First, FC5 ships with the Helix Player which

doesn’t do a very good job of playing RealMedia files. To fix that problem I

had to download the actual RealPlayer 10 for Linux.

Although I can’t fault FC5 for it specifically because SuSe had the

same problem, I had to download a ton of RPMs in order to get any of the

players to recognize WMV media files. In both distro’s cases, I also had to

upgrade the installed media players to newer versions which meant scrounging around

the Internet. Fortunately, I discovered PackMan which was a big help for

SuSe and RPMFind

which helped find the latest versions for FC5.  

What was probably most annoying in FC5 was its complete

inability to play simple MP3 files. The first time I tried to play one, a podcast from

TechRepublic, I was greeted with a reasonably irritating message saying

that due to licensing and patent restrictions in some countries, MP3 support

wasn’t included. This, of course, had to make me run around and find additional

RPMs to get around that problem.

Now, as a computer guy, stuff like this can be annoying, but

you know how it is. You’re not going to let the machine stop you from doing

something, so often you’ll go the extra mile to make it work. For typical end

users however, things like this present a barrier to entry and cause people to

go fleeing back to Windows. It’s also a reason, which I’ll discuss later, why I’ve

given up on eCommStation.

There are several other minor annoyances which have caused me

to pull the FC5 hard drive out of my laptop. (Such as its infuriating tendency

to wake up IMMEDIATELY after you try to put the laptop in to Suspend.)  For now, I’m back to using SuSe Professional

10.0. SuSe

10.1 has recently been released by OpenSuSe and I hope to see what’s new

with that soon.     

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