[This is the third in an eight-part series on distros I use. These observations are based on distros running on one or more of the following hardware: Dell Inspiron 5000 laptop, an brandless Pentium III-based desktop, an IBM PL 300 Pentium II, an iMac G3 (Indigo) and an iBook G3. As the auto commercials say, your mileage may vary.]
They say timing is everything. I use Fedora 7 on a machine on which I do development work for a program called dbEntrance, a very cool (in my opinion) MySQL browser that currently runs on Mac OS and Windows, and will soon to be ready for GNU/Linux prime time.
So just when I get around to upgrading to Fedora 8, an announcement rolls around that Fedora 9 is in the proverbial starting blocks, ready for the starting gun to go off.
Argh. Now do you see why I lean toward Debian’s, um, release schedule?
On a philosopical level, Fedora — Red Hat sans rouge — gets high marks for standing behind both free software and open source software, often joined at the hip as Free/Open Source Software (or FOSS) despite nuances that make them different; note its commitment to Ogg as opposed to mp3, for example. And the Fedora community wraps this philosophy into a pleasantly dependable and blazingly quick pair of distros in Fedora 7 and 8.
On this brandless Pentium III machine I call “Frank” (short for Frankenstein, since it has come to life as the result of putting a variety of computer parts together), both Fedora 7 and 8 tackle whatever I choose to throw at it. Unlike Steve Ballmer, I have yet to throw a chair at it, however having used this machine to work on the dbEntrance project and a couple of other test projects, adding and taking away programs en masse, Fedora has been one of most solid distros I’ve used.
Not only this, the security provision that are native to Fedora — SELinux and the like — deserve special mention, not because of any real or imagined threat, but having it there is a security blanket that gives a user one less thing to think about. Also, Fedora does away with one of my pet peeves — most distros put the Terminal in the Accessories listing on the drop down menu (Argh, how I hate that! It’s more than an accessory!). Fedora’s drop down menu has it in system tools, where it belongs.
Ironically, I use Fedora most as a “work distro” — that is, it’s the one I use on a machine on which I do testing and development work — however, it’s a lot more well-rounded for regular home computer use. I say “ironically” because the distro’s appearance itself is incredibly clean and, well I’ll say it, disarmingly beautiful out of the box. The way I use it borders on criminal — in using Fedora for solely testing purposes, I feel like I’ve hired Julia Roberts to do my gardening; naturally she could do it, but her talents clearly lie elsewhere.
Dare I say it? Pun alert: A “tip of the hat” to the Fedora community (sorry) for making such a great, and attractive, distro. We promise to get to Fedora 9 when we have a chance to catch up.
Coming tomorrow: Fluxbuntu 7.10
(Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source and Free Software Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)