Quick look at Fedora

Lately I’ve been messing around with Fedora. I’ve been using and developing Ubuntu for over 2 years and I decided to take a little break and try something different. Right before the Gutsy release I had a brief look at openSUSE 10.3 betas. I think it’s very valuable for Ubuntu contributors to see what else is going on in the Linux/FLOSS landscape so that we can “think outside the box” and maybe better server our users.

So I’ve been running a dual-boot of Ubuntu and Fedora for a while. Fedora 8 was really pretty nice. Red Hat 7.2 was the first Linux distro I’d used and I tried a few of the early Fedora Core releases before landing in Ubuntu. I always found it a professional looking Gnome-based distro, though it often felt sluggish and experienced the dreaded RPM/yum hell. So, I was very pleasantly surprised to find in Fedora 8 a quick and responsive OS. Once the initial shock of using RPMs instead of debs wore off I found Fedora’s package management quite impressive.

One of my main complaints with openSUSE 10.3 was painfully slow and difficult to work with. In contrast, yum (and the yumex GUI) are very user friendly and responsive. Additionally, Fedora provides repo packages for both smart and apt that allow you to seamlessly use smart/apt/synaptic with Fedora repositories. Cool! Additionally Fedora 9 (which is currently a pre-release Preview) comes with PackageKit, which honestly seems like a less useful gnome-app-install. To be fair though, I haven’t played with it much so I might have missed some things. I can’t figure out how to install more than 1 package at a time which is a real deal-breaker to me. I’d love to be wrong about that though.

The Fedora artwork and polish are very impressive. I’ve always been impressed with Fedora’s artwork in general. It seems very consistent and professional. Ubuntu 8.04 has made some good steps in this direction. The Heron wallpaper is beautiful, in my opinion, and Ubuntu’s artwork seems to be getting a bit more consistent.

As far as hardware support goes both Fedora and Ubuntu work beautifully on my HP Pavilion dv6000. The only issue I’ve had is with my university’s wifi. The wifi network they’re currently phasing out uses a MS pptp VPN. Ubuntu has a nice network-manager-pptp package that works wonderfully. however that doesn’t seemed to have managed to end up in Fedora’s packages. I also got the new uni WPA wifi network to work fine in Ubuntu but it seems I’ve hit some sort of kernel/driver bug in iwl3945 in Fedora. I’ve gotta give huge props to Dan Williams who is the Fedora Network Manager guru. He spent several hours with me debugging my wifi problem. The Fedora/Red Hat developers I’ve interacted with have been very professional and knowledgeable so kudos to them. Hopefully we’ll figure out my iwl3945 issue soonish.