Fedora Core 5 Test 1 Released

The Fedora Team has released the first test release of the upcoming Fedora Core 5 (FC5).

Notable Features of FC5 Test1

* Modular X.org
* Vastly improved Asian language input support with SCIM
* Kernel based on 2.6.15-rc1-git3
* GCC 4.0.2
* GNOME 2.12
* KDE 3.4.92
* Xen 3.0 snapshot for i386
* Improved Open Source Java including
gcj, classpath, tomcat, jonas, eclipse, and much more
* 1600+ Extras packages conveniently available via yum
* Major installer changes to use yum for package handling
* Pup!

The bold comments above are what interest me. I really hope that all the included packages have matured enough to support native GCC4 and that the Gnome update will have some (of the many) GUI problems addressed. The big news on the development mailing list is the move to a modular Xorg (i.e. X-server) implementation which has apparently been a great deal of work. It was about time, the X11 layout has always been quirky to me. And finally the ever-flawed yum will become prevalent in the installer. Of course, this should have and could have been done earlier. But I doubt it will address the “mixing repository” nightmare that has affected many Fedora newbies.

If it was not the day before Thanksgiving I would be downloading the release and “tearing it apart”. Oh well. I plan to thoroughly review it sometime in the next week.

Using Alternate Compilers

Users of Fedora Core 4, SuSE 10.0 and other distributions with GCC v4 may have found some open source softwares may not compile properly. Using alternate compilers may resolve the problem. FC4 also ships with GCC v3.2. There are many ways to specify alternate compilers during the build process, below are some ways.

Environment Variables
Most softwares support the CC and CXX environment variables. First assign them, then run configure or make. Example:

# export CC=gcc32
# export CXX=g++32
# ./configure

A good example can be found on the Redhat Mailing List.

Configure Support
If the software is using the standard GNU automake and configure, then there is a chance it supports other compilers by passing in a setting to the configure script. First run configure --help to see if it mentions anything. The following example is from MPlayer:

# ./configure --help
# ./configure --cc=gcc32

Makefile Support
Sometimes the software may just come with a Makefile. Open the Makefile and look inside to see if there are variables that specify the compiler. You can either edit those variables or set them at compile time. For example:

(in Makefile)


Then using the makefile, you can run:


Although the above examples are not exhaustive they should provide some ideas for using alternate compilers in Fedora Core and other Linux distributions.

I am also providing some notes from my FC4 Guide on GCC and GCC Compatability Libraries.

Evaluating New Linux Distributions

For Linux and Open Source in general, choice has always been abundant. However in both the Linux Server market and to a degree in the Linux “Desktop” market only a few major distributions have taken most attention. In my (future) spare time, I plan on evaluating new Linux distributions to see how well they compare for either a Linux Server (preliminary examination) and more critically: the Linux Desktop.

I want to develop a common test/evaluation plan for different distributions so I make fair assessments on their comparable value. Additionally, I do not have the luxury to test any system thoroughly over an extended period of time. The following are some ideas I have thought out.

  • Installation
    • Partitioning, Dual Boot, Networking
  • Software Selection
    • Environments, Office, Multimedia, Development, Server
  • Software Support
    • Security and General Updates, Software Repositories, Package Management
  • Basic Hardware Support
    • Motherboard, Networking, Video, Sound, Power Management (ACPI), DVD/DVD-R
  • Peripheral Hardware Support
    • Digital Camera, Printers, Scanners, Media Card Readers, PDA’s, USB Devices
  • Community Support
    • Mailing Lists, Websites, Forums, Newsgroups
  • General Usuability and Stability
  • Default Behavior and Configuration

I think I have covered the most important issues. Hopefully I will be able to perform all the above for every distribution. I appreciate suggestions and comments to these points.

CentOS 4.1 Quick Examination

Since Redhat stopped supporting their commercially available Linux distribution, they moved to an Enterprise Linux Server (RHEL) and left everyone else to use a community effort (Fedora Core). Considering the cost of RHEL, the source packages were recompiled and redistributed. The resulting CentOS is a free binary compatible distribution of RHEL without the proprietary Redhat only software. I have seen some virtual private servers using CentOS for the virtualized operating system.

I installed the DVD based copy of CentOS 4.1 on my main desktop a few weeks ago just to experiment. For the most part it, it installs and is setup very similarly to Fedora Core 3(?). Upon initial inspection it also seems to come with the similar list of software. However the major issue here is that it is geared for server performance. Hence, it will not include the latest versions of most software and instead use widely supported and stable applications (i.e. PHP4 as opposed to PHP5, etc.). I could tell that the desktop applications were a bit out of date, but that makes sense considering its intended purpose. … After having used Fedora Core 4 for the past four months, I was shocked at the performance of CentOS. CentOS seemed significantly faster han FC4. In terms of user interface, web browsing, launching applications and even running servers and daemons – it was very notable. I do not know if it has to do with the GCC4 being used in FC4, but I’m still surprised to realize this now. Anyways, I decided I could not use it for desktop purposes since much of the software was older and there was not as much support from the community in general.

I played around configuring different installs of Apache, MySQL and PHP. I tried recompiling source RPMs (SRC.RPM) from FC4, but it became tricky to have multiple versions running. I will try again from source files instead.

My opinion so far is that it is a VERY stable and usable server distribution. If the software it included was newer I would probably be using it as my main Linux desktop. Anyways, more later as I learn more.