With the first stable release of the Fedora Core scheduled for early next week,
we thought we'd take a look at the
see what users could expect from Fedora.
This release ("Severn") looks and feels like recent Red Hat releases, which
entirely surprising. The default desktop is still GNOME with Metacity as
the window manager.
For the most part, if you're familiar with the Red Hat 9 release, Fedora
will contain few surprises. The installation procedure is mostly the
same as Red Hat 9, though users now have a few
additional install options. Fedora 0.95 includes the ability
to perform a graphical install via FTP, HTTP and the ability to perform
an install via VNC.
We installed the Severn release on two machines to see how well it
fared. On one machine we installed the "Server" package set, and
performed a "Custom" install on the second machine. The entire install
took less than thirty minutes on an Athlon 2600+ XP machine with 1 GB of
RAM, and about forty-five minutes on an Athlon 1GHz machine with 1 GB
The only real glitch we encountered was that Severn had a little trouble
setting up the Matrox G450 dual-head video card. Though it offered the
option of performing a dual-head setup that spanned both monitors, it
kept producing a cloned display. A quick hand-edit of our XF86Config
file solved the problem.
The firewall configuration during installation is somewhat simpler than
the configuration that was present in Red Hat 9. Red Hat 9 offered
"High," "Medium," and "No Firewall." The option with Fedora is to turn
the firewall on or off. The user is also able to specify specific ports
that should be passed through the firewall. The installer offers the
options of passing through SSH, HTTP, FTP, Telnet, SMTP or specifying
their own protocol that can be passed through.
Though it's a small thing, one also notices a difference in attitude
during the installation. Instead of seeing Red Hat promotions during the
install, the user is told that Fedora has a new graphical boot feature
("Who understood all that text scrolling by anyway?") and is encouraged
to sign up for Fedora user and developer lists ("Hey! It's better than
There is a full list of packages for Severn test 3 release here. It may
change slightly for the final release. Most of the packages have been
updated since Red
Hat 9, of course, but the package list hasn't changed that much.
One new inclusion in Fedora is Yum, an APT-like package
installer/updater. Yum is not installed by default,
but it is included on the Severn CDs.
Yum has a command set similar to apt-get. One striking difference,
however, is when using "yum check-update" to retrieve information on
changed packages. The apt-get update command simply retrieves an index
file for each package repository, which is fairly fast. Yum, on the
other hand, retrieves RPM header information for every installed RPM,
which can be very time-consuming.
Some packages have not made the cut from Red Hat 9 to Fedora. The LPRng
print system is no longer supported or included with Fedora. CUPS is now
the official, and only, print spooler for Red Hat/Fedora systems.
According to the Fedora 0.95 release notes, LPRng will be replaced
by CUPS even if the user decides to upgrade an existing Red Hat system with
Galeon is out, replaced by Epiphany. Users no longer have the option of
using the LILO bootloader. Pine has been kicked due to licensing issues
and "long-term maintenance concerns." Zebra has been replaced by the Quagga Routing Suite, and Tripwire has
been removed as well.
Another interesting change is the inclusion of the Native POSIX Thread Library
(NPTL). The Severn release ships with a 2.4.22 kernel with NPTL
replacing the user-space LinuxThreads implementation. This means that some
applications, notably Sun's Java Runtime Environment (JRE) prior to
1.4.1 and IBM's JRE will have issues. For applications that need the old
implementation, there is a workaround described in the release notes.
The Fedora kernel also includes "exec shield," a kernel patch that we
covered last May. By
default exec shield is turned on for programs that are "marked" for this
functionality. For the Fedora release, this pretty much means that the
program needs to have been built with the Fedora toolchain.
Fedora Core 1 is still very much a Red Hat product, even if the "Red Hat
Linux" name has been filed off. There has not, as yet, been time for a
true development community to form; traffic on the Fedora mailing lists is
tiny relative to those of, say, Debian or Mandrake's Cooker. So it is hard
to guess what Fedora will look like in the future.
But, if Fedora 0.95 is any indication, the first "stable"
release looks to be shaping up well. If all goes as planned,
Fedora Core 1.0 will be released on Monday, November 3.
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