The installation procedure is not much changed from earlier 5.* releases. There is a new software selection dialog giving three choices:
Red Hat's hardware detection has gotten steadily better. They also now seem to be able to deal with machines with more than one SCSI bus.
The first time through the installation failed miserably at the X configuration step. This is something I have occasionally seen before: Xconfigurator simply locks up in the probe stage. This is an unfortunate failure mode; at that point, you have gone through almost the whole install, hosed your system, and you're staring at a black screen. Bummer.
There is no explicit way to avoid Xconfigurator other than not installing the X window system. Another way around, if you know that things will fail, is to use ALT-F2 to go over to the shell prompt and simply kill Xconfigurator before it does the probe. The install then merrily moves on to the next phase. It is then necessary to finish the X configuration manually later on. Most people should never see this problem, but if you've got one of those S3/Virge VX video cards, you may want to watch out.
Since this is essentially a maintenance release, there's not a whole lot in the way of great new features and packages. Red Hat sticks to their approach of offering a relatively small number of packages; the list seems to be chosen pretty well. Most of what most people will need is there. One important missing feature, of course, is ssh, but stupid encryption laws can be blamed for that one. Fortunately, ftp.replay.com is your friend.
New packages that I did notice include a whole set of European X fonts, PHP3 (the older PHP2 mod_php package is still there as well), RAID tools, the GIMP manual (all 18.5 megabytes of it), a 2.0.36 kernel (based, I would guess, on pre-patch 7, given that the package is kernel-2.0.36-0.7), and the "shapecfg" utility for controlling the 2.0.36 traffic shaper (bandwidth limiter) facility (though without any supporting documentation). Missing this time around is the real media player. In fact, pretty much all of the non-free software has vanished from the 5.2 release; the closest thing remaining is xv.
The install includes version 0.20 of the GNOME libraries. That, of course, is an old version. Version 0.30 can be found in the "gnome" directory on the CD, and must be installed separately. One wonders why they left the older stuff in the main distribution.
The official distribution also comes with the applications CD, of course. There's the usual set of commercial packages there. It would be nice if they created some sort of overall directory of the disk, though. The only way to know what most of the directories contain is to query the packages directly with RPM.
Some notable additions to the 5.2 applications CD include the Sybase database engine, the set of S.u.S.E. X servers, Spectralogic's Alexandria network backup system, and the REBOL language.
About the only problem that I have found is that some of the directories in /usr/doc lack execute permissions, meaning that non-root users can not access them. Most users, realizing that the contents of /usr/doc are not generally classified, will want to open the permissions up a bit.
The system, once installed, runs great. It appears that Red Hat has achieved its goal of producing a highly stable release to finish out the 5.* series.