Fedora's lucky 13
The number 13 is usually associated with bad luck. Friday the 13th (both the date and the movie). Many buildings don't have a thirteenth floor. Fedora just released it's number 13 and one might wonder if the number was good or bad for the release. I am happy to report that the number 13, for Fedora, is most certainly a lucky one. Fedora 13 is one of the finest Fedora releases to date.
My first exposure to Fedora was Fedora Core 1. That was a huge deal because it was the first time Red Hat Linux had split into enterprise and user grade operating systems. This was a remarkable move and one that has made Red Hat the undisputed king of enterprise level Linux. Why? With Fedora Red Hat has a community testing ground that helps to make sure their enterprise system is solid. All of the bugs that Fedora users report wind up getting fixed in Red Hat. And this is why, as Fedora matures, it is a robust, reliable, and secure as it is.
But are you ready for Fedora? In this article I am going to highlight some of the features that might sway you over to the one of the elder statesmen of the Linux guard.
Instead of going through the litany of updated packages and features. What I thought I would do, this time around, is discuss some of those features that makes Fedora 13 a good match for the end user. Any Linux user who is accustomed to the operating system could hop onto Fedora 13 and be happily plugging away. But what about the new user? What about that user migrating over from another operating system? What features would be a welcome change from the standard Linux distribution? Let's take a look.
One of the issues that has plauged Linux for a long time was printer setup. Let's take my particular printer for example. I have a Samsung ML1710 that usually required the manual installation of the Splix drivers. This printer is on a network so it always made it more challenging. Fedora 13 bypasses that challenge and now has one of the easiest printer setups you will ever see. Not only is printer detection automatic (even over a network), driver installation is automatic as well. With a few simple clicks my network printer was installed and printing. I did have to enter the root user password to make all of this happen, but any user can type a password...nothing special about that.
Remember those days of opening up applications like Rhythmbox only to find it didn't play your MP3 files - and then having to figure out how to get it to do so? If you are like me you do not recall them fondly. Things have changed quite a bit. Now PackageKit has been integrated practically (if not literally) everywhere so when an application has a need to install something it will be automatically detected and installed. So when you try to play an unrecognized format in your media player, PackageKit will come to the rescue.
New backup tool
There is a new backup tool included in Fedora 13 called Deja Dup (I have no idea where that name came from). This tool is ridiculously easy to use. Once set up the tool has two buttons: Restore and Backup. That's it. Users can now backup their desktops (as they should be) like seasoned pros.
Now, out of the box, Fedora supports your iPhone and iPod Touch. No additional software necessary. Just plug that hardware in and it will instantly be recognized and you can manage your music and your photos (sorry, no app support).
Over all impression
I could continue on forever and a day about how Fedora 13 brings a world of improvement to the Fedora/Linux experience. But the best thing I can say is that Ubuntu better watch out or Fedora might well usurp it as the king of Linux for new users. And since Fedora is already one of the most popular distributions with experienced users...you get the picture.
If you have never tried Fedora do so now. If you jumped ship on Fedora some where aroundÂ Fedora 9, I'd say it's about time you jumped back on the ship and enjoyed an incredible experience.
“There is a new backup tool included in Fedora 13 called Deja Dup (I have no idea where that name came from).”
Printers have always worked out of the box in Ubuntu, just plug and play, no driver needed and those that didn’t work just needed to be pointed to nearest match, plain and simple so Fedora is breaking no new grounds here.
So, you got that reversed completely. Fedora developed and maintains system-config-printer which later was adopted by Ubuntu but even then, the new infrastructure and version in Fedora 13 is not available in other distros and the functionality of installing printers on demand is new. So yes, Fedora is breaking new ground here.
I jumped ship at FC6 / F7. Tell me, does Fedora still do 500 MiB updates every week? I really liked Fedora (and I hear that it’s KDE is much more stable than Kubuntu) but the heavy updates were constantly breaking things.
Fedora now has delta RPM support via yum-presto plugin by default. PackageKit allows filtering updates to only choose bug fixes rather than enhancements and there are new policies in place for the next release to avoid the “too many updates” problem and reduce the potential causes of instability.
I ‘jumped ship’ at Fedora 8: the upgrade from Fedora 6 was a bug ridden nightmare, and after a week of hacking when, finally, the upgrade could be performed, my laptop’s screen died. On my new laptop I decided to try something else (I have been with Red Hat/Fedora since the Spring 2002). I chose the most popular Gentoo derivative with a fabulous looking Desktop. Unfortunately, it sufferred from as you say ‘500MB updates’ every week, moreover, dowloaded at a sluggish. Plus, too many things were broken and too few were being fixed. Probably a common fate of all ‘bleeding edge’ distros maintained by just a few individuals.
Well, after a one-too-many mishap with that OS, I dumped it from my HP Compaq Presario F730US notebook and instead installed 64 bit Fedora 13. Two weeks later, I installed 32 bit Fedora 13 on a Toshiba NB205 netbook. Except for an unlucky glitch with rpmfusion dead for several days around June 12 (Fedora Forum helped immensely), I have had a very positive experience since then. Including the rolling updates.
In the recent year or two I have been playing with a number of distros: Sabayon, Debian, Siddux, Mint, Ubuntu, Mandriva, OpenSUSE, Sabayon, not speaking about Centos that I have on my office PC, and my feeling is that Fedora 13 may be now, in fact, one of the most polished linux distros. In all 8 years of using linux and 24 years using unix-like operating systems, this is the most satisfactory OS so far. Even the default Gnome desktop theme is esthetically quite pleasing.
Fedora Forum is an added bonus with its numbers of literate helpful posters.
On top of it, Fedora 13 provides a great even though experimental, TeXLive 2010 repository. How many other distros do? I heavily rely on TeX in my professional life, as lots of people in academia do, and this alone would weigh heavily in favor of using Fedora.
A single serious negative is the quality of video/audio experience. But this applies to linux in general, not to Fedora.
I mean here not the ability to play closed formats — that’s not a big problem as installing them and the corresponding players is not painful for any mildly experienced Fedora user, and many linux distros provide them out-of-the-box. The problem is that with all the codecs in place the same audio/video sources on the same hardware under linux play audibly and visually inferior compared to when played with freely available players under Windows. Sometimes the difference is drastic, like on my Toshiba NB205 netbook where the video playback is just awful.
The difference probably is due to inferior linux drivers, I guess. What else?
I’ve Canon jet ink printer (USB) and it doesn’t print at all. Same Foomatic/bjc600 (recommended) driver like in Ubuntu (and in Mint) but this shit Fedora 13 can’t make it print. It can surely easily install it nicely but this lousy Fedora can’t make it print.
Think about it. We are living in year 2010 and we have “superb” Linux-distro called Fedora which can’t make your very, very common USB-printer printing nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G.
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