Switching to Linux which distro to use, Fedora?

This is the first of a sequence of posts where we’ll take a look at a few of the main Linux distros to find out which are the most welcoming to Linux newbies.

We’ll do this test with the live (Gnome) CD to analyze: parts of the hardware that are recognized, software package installed, general usability (setup adjustments, software installation). Computer tested specs: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600, 2GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 6100.

Fedora 9 Beta

Fedora 9 is scheduled to be released later this month. This is one of the most popular distros, gaining a lot of traction on the corporate world through its support by Red Hat. Would it be easy to handle by a Linux newbie?? Let’s see!

Once the live CD runs, we’re presented with the familiar Gnome layout, one panel at the top and another one at the bottom. This live CD already comes with Gnome’s latest release which is visibly noticeable by the integration with Pulse Audio, Transmission, and the multiple timezones in the clock application.

Fedora desktop


Hardware
Since I have a nVidia card, I already expect that it won’t work properly out-of-the-box. The screen is blurry and the size is way off, I can’t even correct this through a simple settings change. I bet though once installed I can download and install the proper drivers.

My microphone didn’t work and neither did the speakers. I was able to play a video ogg file but unable to hear anything. Proprietary media formats were not recognized, but this is also quite common in the Linux world, specially Fedora. Users generally have to find a solution for it after the installation.

Good news was that my NTFS partitions were all recognized with read and write permission.

Software?
What was weird for me right from the start is that Fedora didn’t include in this live CD OpenOffice, only AbiWord and Gnumeric were already installed. Although both applications are very good, from my experience it isn’t compared to the awesome functionalities of OpenOffice. Plus, it may not be that much popular for users converting from another OS or Linux distro.

Another unique thing I’ve found on Fedora is the Firewall configuration with a GUI. I know Linux is pretty good with its inbound connections and you can configure access, but many times this happens somewhere you can only reach through the terminal. But… once I opened the Firewall configuration window it was almost next to nothing for me. It is loaded with words I`m not familiar with (yes, I’m not an expert or advanced in networks). Even the wizard couldn’t help me much.

Fedora firewall


Add and remove software interface is very user-friendly, with everything categorized or also accessible through a search option.

First impressions results? two tux pinguins

Fedora 9 Beta is a pretty interesting and solid distro. Since a lot of my computer specs will require proprietary drivers, I can see why they wouldn’t be recognized. I understand this by being familiar with the open source philosophy and constraints. But, mainstream users want everything to function correctly out-of-the-box. So, for this I gave Fedora 9 Beta two Pinguins.I wish I had known though before I purchased this machine that so much of it came with hardware that required proprietary drivers.

I would recommend Fedora to a Linux newbie, but I would make sure I installed it and had everything running smoothly before introducing it to the new user.

Next post, we’ll take a look at openSUSE.

12 thoughts on “Switching to Linux which distro to use, Fedora?

  1. I’ve got a machine that I keep running with Fedora and I’ll be updating it to 9. I wasn’t too enthused with 8.

    I use KDE and it’s accoutrements and they fit nicely into Fedora. There are a lot of graphics and general media problems that I wouldn’t wish on a newbie. I even have trouble holding screen resolution with an old ATI card when using a two-port Iomega KVM and I’ve seen other users with problems when they reboot after changing or adding peripherals. Usually the fixes aren’t a big deal, but a newbie might get gun-shy.

    Don’t get me wrong, all 4 of my non-Apple machines run some distro, but I hope they actually got some of the small stuff right in Fedora 9.

  2. Re proprietary components, and Fedora’s decision not to include them, you might care to read Dave Jones’ reply to a review of Fedora Core 6 (http://kernelslacker.livejournal.com/62413.html), particularly his response to Eugenia Loli’s comments (http://kernelslacker.livejournal.com/62413.html?thread=214221#t214221).

    Proprietary video drivers for F9 should shortly be available via the semi-official Livna repositories (http://rpm.livna.org/), together with all manner of open-source, but patent-encumbered, applications and codecs.

    The crucial difference is that Nvidia’s binary kernel modules aren’t open to inspection, modification and therefore debugging. So if, as is occasionally rumored, Nvidia code is susceptible to security vulnerabilities, there’s frankly little way of finding out either way other than from Nvidia themselves.

  3. Awesome report on your experience!

    Agreed with you Nick. On the road to increase adoption rate of Linux, a distro would need to be better able to handle different machines well. Unfortunately proprietary drives don’t help much too…

    Any one else like to give tips or user experience about Fedora?

  4. I run several pc’s, from Athlon2000 over Sempron2800 to P4DC, with both ATI and NVIDIA video.
    Fedora came, Fedora went, just as openSUSE and others, because of so many tiny things, most often codecs and drivers.
    I run the following now:
    MINT 4
    MEPIS 7
    MANDRIVA 2008.1
    GRANULAR 1
    They install easily, 1440×900 is recognized, I get full control in a few minutes, CrossOver and Winstuff is easily installed, their logic and ease to use is manifest, no hidden problems with wilfully forgotten codecs (I’m European, excuse me).

  5. I like your list of suggestions capricornus! We’ll speak about Mandriva and openSUSE soon as well. I haven’t planned to write about Mint because it seems to be a fork of Ubuntu, so we’ll cover the main source.

    Thanks a lot for your input!

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  7. I’m waiting for your take on Opensuse 11 review..Had tried out 9 and 10 before.. want to know if 11 is worth the download..

  8. Pingback: Switching to Linux which distro to use, openSUSE? |

  9. Pingback: Switching to Linux which distro to use, Mandriva? |

  10. Pingback: Fedora 9 has been released! |

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  12. I am totally new to Linux. So technical language only sinks in very slowly. I have Fedora 9 as my new operating system. When I look at videos sometimes they run but never with audio (except a few web advertising sites). Sometimes I get a prompt from Fedora to purchase a missing component- sometimes just the video runs w/o sound, and sometimes other error messages come on.
    I tried to use something called Downloadhelper and I think that has worsened the problem. I tried to use Ad-ons and I cannot get the computer to accept these Ad-ons.
    The Downloadhelper is loaded and on the browse bar but I cannot identify where it is loaded in order to remove it.
    I was not great with XP but with Fedora, I am considerably worse, all thumbs.

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