Leading edge Fedora Core 4

Having spent all of 2005 using Ubuntu I have learnt a lot about Debian and even started using Debian for my servers.

Despite using Linux for over 10 years I had never previously used Debian and had even avoided using it. I was surprised by how much I liked using Ubuntu and Debian and decided that I give Fedora another try as I have never warmed to redhat in the same way I had never previously warmed to Debian. For the longest time I used Slackware and then switched to Crux.

This week I have installed Fedora Core 4 on my home computer and been hugely impressed, but this is mostly down to finding the nrpms.net repository. I was already using the RPMforge.net group of repositories and nrpms.net is striving for RPMforge compatibility, so far I haven’t experienced any package or dependency breakage so they must be doing something right. Thanks to nrpms.net I have effortlessly upgraded FC4 to Gnome 2.12.1, Firefox 1.5, mono 1.1.12 plus numerous other Gnome applications I regularly use which aren’t available elsewhere. The real bonus was to get NetworkManager 0.5.1 from nrpms.net which actually works, and works reliably!

As a result, this is a Linux distribution I can install on my wifes laptop without fear of reprisals :-D I have found that installing proprietary hardware drivers and software has been much simpler for Fedora than Ubuntu, most notable are VMWare Player, Linuxant HSF modem drivers, ATI drivers, Opera and Skype.

I have been able to get my Smartphone and PocketPC working under Ubuntu the amount of tweaking and constant manual intervention is cumbersome. So I was staggered when after installing the SynCE packages on Fedora both devices just worked when connected via USB, the whole process was completely seamless.

So, after a few days tinkering I have everything I need installed, configured and working reliably. Fedora is not perfect thought, yum is still lagging behind apt and even that even after enabling a number of the excellent 3rd party repositories the number and variety of packages available to FC4 isn’t that great. Installing software is just so slow, what the bloody hell is yum doing? Using yumex is coma inducing and up2date just doesn’t work.

That said, there is some work being done in these areas for FC5 so maybe the gap will be closed on apt a little in the coming months. I do like the fact that the official Fedora repositories update packages past the final release date, something which Ubuntu doesn’t do. This means that on my first yum update OpenOffice was upgrade from 1.9.140 Beta to 2.0.1 final and many other essential applications were also upgraded. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I discovered the “Early Login” feature which is new to Fedora Core 4. It is simply brilliant and I can not get from power button to Gnome desktop in 20 seconds. I so wanted to not like Fedora but I have to say I think I might be converted. I will have to see how long this enthusiasm for Fedora will last, but I am already looking forward to FC5.

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