With the positive reception my Linux Mint 3.0 review received, I figured I would make reviewing various distributions a regular occurrence here at Shift+Backspace. Once again, this review will focus on my opinion of Fedora 7 straight “out-of-the-box” and what it can do with minimal intervention. Lets get to it!
Fedora 7 was released on May 31, 2007 by Red Hat and the Fedora community. The overview on the DistroWatch website gives a great explanation of the deep history behind Fedora.
Site Map “The Fedora Project is an openly-developed project designed by Red Hat, open for general participation, led by a meritocracy, following a set of project objectives. The goal of The Fedora Project is to work with the Linux community to build a complete, general purpose operating system exclusively from open source software. Development will be done in a public forum. The project will produce time-based releases of Fedora about 2-3 times a year, with a public release schedule. The Red Hat engineering team will continue to participate in building Fedora and will invite and encourage more outside participation than in past releases. By using this more open process, we hope to provide an operating system more in line with the ideals of free software and more appealing to the open source community.”
According to the DistroWatch rankings, Fedora is currently the 4th most popular distribution based on the last 6 months of data, and is the 3rd most popular distribution based on the last 30 days of data. I think it’s great to see such a classic distribution (going back to Red Hat) at the top of the rankings.
The Fedora 7 DVD image was approximately 2.7GB, making it far larger than the usual 700MB images that other distributions produce (of course, this is so that they can fit on a single CD-R). Either way, this is not a big deal as I only have DVD-R’s and the image still downloaded in far less than an hour.
Once burned, I popped the DVD into my Inspiron 8500 and it booted just as expected. I chose not use to use the live image and instead opted for the straight-up installer. Either way install is a breeze and I must say that the installer is extremely nice looking and very user friendly. You provide the standard information such as partition info and the main use of the computer (ie. production, server, etc.) so that the correct software packages can be installed.
The install only took about 25 minutes and upon boot I was presented with some more forms to fill out to finalize the install (ie. the SElinux security feature, hardware profile, create user and for some reason, audio details). Even though this sounds like a lot, it only took 2 or 3 minutes. Once the OS loaded, I was presented with a notification saying that 18 updates were available, this is normal with any distribution and the downloads came in at a speedy 800kBps.
First of all, the boot and login screens are very well designed and offer a nice clean look that is definitely above average when compared to other distributions. The default background looks like a rendered scene with clouds, mountains and images of hot air balloons. The rest of the desktop offers a standard GNOME look that, as an Ubuntu user, is very familiar. A KDE edition of Fedora 7 is also available. The remainder of the theme is a nice blue and looks better, to me at least, than the default theme on Ubuntu (albeit a different colour scheme). Below is a screenshot of the default desktop in Fedora 7.
Beryl, nor Compiz, came pre-installed with Fedora 7, but a simple yum install Beryl command (Fedora’s version of apt-get for Debian users) and I was able to install Beryl.
While some readers may find this crazy, there was one visual issue that really bothered me. The shortcut icons and some of the ones in the applications menu do not offer a nice visualization of the function of the program. Please see the image below.
The icon just to the right of “System” is the icon to launch Firefox. Where is the regular globe+fox logo? Even the icons beside it, for email, word processor, presentation and spreadsheet are not as clear as they should be. Another issue with “office suite” labeling is that Fedora 7 uses OpenOffice 2.2, which has common names for their applications such as OpenOffice Calc for their spreadsheet and not generic names such as Spreadsheet and Word Processor. I feel that Fedora should have kept these OpenOffice names to make it more clear that users are using the OpenOffice suite and not a Fedora-only suite. Yeah, I realize it’s not a big deal, and that most users would not notice, but it just bothered me a little bit!
Now it’s time to explain something important about Fedora.
Fedora Loves Open-source
I had to add this section in order to provide some pertinent information about the mindset behind Fedora. The development team requires that all code be “free” and open-source, thus disallowing any proprietary software to be installed. While this is unfortunate in some regards (ie. Flash player, playing MP3 files, etc.), I must give props to Fedora keeping it truly open, a very difficult thing to do these days. An article on tuxmachines.org written by eco2geek has a great deal of information regarding this issue and I encourage you to read the post to find out more. Fedora does not only have to worry about itself when it comes to lawsuits, but also that of the founding, and successful parent company, Red Hat.
There are a few other things I would like to discuss regarding Fedora 7. First, as an Ubuntu user, I could not find the shutdown button when I wished to turn off my computer! Once I found it under the System menu I was happy and have not had a problem since, but it just seems strange not to have it clearly visible without entering a menu. Once again, nothing that should scare away anyone wishing to try Fedora 7.
Next up is the SELinux Management tool found under System -> Administration. This tool allows the root user to change the system security settings. The Boolean section is particularly useful to allow/disallow certain actions to be performed by regular users. While this tool is a great addition (listening Ubuntu?), it is very frustrating that there is no documentation under the Help menu. I am sure this will be added shortly, or at least a link so some online documentation. Here is a screenshot of the SELinux Management tool.
After writing this entire review while using Fedora 7, I feel much better about it. I am thoroughly impressed by the offering supported in part by Red Hat and the community involved. Unfortunately, the choice to use only non-proprietary software makes this distribution more difficult to use “out-of-the-box”. However, I whole-heartedly commend the Fedora team on ensuring that every aspect involved is within the free and open-source boundaries and any user who wants additional functions can easily get them using the yum installer. Another great thing Fedora has going for it is that so many applications are offered as easy-to-install .rpm (Red Hat package manager) files.
While Fedora 7 does not offer the “out-of-the-box” features of distros such as Linux Mint, it is an extremely pleasant operating system to use. For those who have no problem customizing and installing software I would highly recommend checking out Fedora 7.
If you have any specific distributions you would like me to review, please , otherwise I will just be picking random flavours from the DistroWatch rankings!
Until next time,