Fedora Core 5 Test 2 Released

The second beta for Fedora Core 5 is available for download and testing. The bittorrent page is updated as well as the main Fedora download page.

I do not think the main Release Notes have been updated yet, but some of the release highlights include:

  • A completely revamped look and feel including a bubbly new theme, wallpaper, screensaver and logo has been provided that is visually appealing and demonstrates the exciting and user friendly nature of Fedora.
  • GNOME 2.13.2 and KDE 3.5 Release Candidate 2 desktop environments are available.
  • GNOME Power Manager and GNOME Screensaver are available as a technology preview within this release.
  • OpenOffice.org 2.0 final release is included. OpenOffice.org now uses system versions for many of the libraries leading to increased performance and efficiency.
  • Xorg X11R7 Release Candidate 3 has been included in this release. This is the first modular version, which helps in providing additional features and bug fixes at a faster pace.
  • Mono, an open source development environment for .NET, is available in this release. Also included are Mono-based applications such as the Beagle desktop search tool and F-Spot, a photo management tool.
  • Kernel 2.6.14 is included. Software suspend is enabled in this release.
  • Pup, a graphical updater using yum, is available in this release.
  • Fedora now sports a brand new logo and changes in the animated mouse cursor theme.
  • gcc 4.1 compiler is included and the entire set of Fedora packages is now build using this new compiler version which brings in new security and performance enhancements.
  • The PCMCIA framework used by laptops and mobile devices has changed with kernel version 2.6.13-rc1 onwards. The older pcmcia-cs package using the cardmgr/pcmcia service has been relaced with a new pcmciautils package where the PCMCIA devices are handled directly with the hotplug system using udev dynamically in this Fedora release. This increases both efficiency and performance of the system.

As always test releases should not be used for desktop or production machines. These typically contain many bugs and may not be well tested for a variety of conditions.

I hope to review this distribution over the next week to see the changes done by the Fedora Community.

Fedora Core 5 Test 2 postponed till January

Due to an upgrade in GCC, the next test release of Fedora Core 5 will be pushed back a few weeks. Personally, I planned on using the holidays to test it, but I do not think that will be an option.

From the fedora-devel mailing list:

Ok, it won’t be a full month, but due to the recent upgrade of gcc and the subsequent full rebuild of everything that does (and doesn’t, whoops!) get built with gcc, including java stuff with gcj, and the need to further test package selection windows in Anaconda, system-config-packages for upgrades, and the development tree in general once we settle down the rebuilds, we have decided to delay test2. Here is a new schedule that we will be working toward:

* Test2 freeze date to 9 January
* Test2 release, 16 January
* Test3 freeze, 6 February
* Test3 release, 13 February
* Final absolute freeze, 6 March
* Release, 15 March

Unfortunately I did not install FC5 Test1 due to the fact that the alternative installation methods were not working. I usually boot from the first ISO CD-ROM image then install from the 5 ISO files from the hard disk. I have confirmed that this installation method will be tested and working for FC5 Test2.

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.

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.