As I mentioned in a recent post, Ive started
playing with the Fedora Core 5 Linux distribution. Ive 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 whats driving the Number 1 Linux vendor Red Hat.
As I said before, Fedoras installation went great. And being
based on GNOME 2.14, the interface is fast and reasonably friendly. Compared to
KDE, its 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
Fedoras PUP updater works really well. Its even better in many
respects than SuSes YOU updating utility. Both of course make Microsofts
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 youve got the latest versions.
My one main gripe about Fedora Core 5 is whats missing. Ive 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
doesnt 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 cant 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 distros 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
wasnt 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. Youre not going to let the machine stop you from doing
something, so often youll 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. Its also a reason, which Ill discuss later, why Ive
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, Im back to using SuSe Professional
10.1 has recently been released by OpenSuSe and I hope to see whats new
with that soon.