17 Apr 2006
(updated 17 Apr 2006 at 05:03 UTC) »
Faith restored in Linux Desktop
I installed Fedora Core 5 on my IBM T43 laptop a few days ago. I waited a while for a new kernel that supported the proprietry ATI 3D drivers.
I'm VERY pleased with the outcome. Firstly the install went like breeze. Video worked, sound worked hardwired network worked.
Next I installed the firmware for the centrino Wireless built into the laptop. Got wireless working with the standard Fedora network tools.
Then I did the big update since the DVD was distributed. Around 300 Megabytes! Included was the patched 2.6.16 kernel. After rebooting and downloading the livna rpm to gives access to the grey packages, I installed the ATI 3d driver. It worked like a charm.
Started PowerManager and now the machine suspends to RAM just fine with lid closure. NetworkManager handles different wireless networks beautifully. The video out works nicely so I can make presentations with my laptop (I do a LOT of these now).
Plus there is a whole load of useful goodies in FC5. Gnome-2.14, Beagle, Tomboy, F-Spot are great programs. The FC Extras and Livna repositries now hold a whole slew of useful applications and now the "pirut" graphical interface to yum allows these programs to be discovered and handled easily.
Unfortunately "pirut" has a really dumb behaviour of closing immediately after having installed software. Sum1, our really cool AbiWord bug meister, found that there is a bug for this, and after adding a "Me Too" to complain about this, I discovered that it is possible to load up every thing you want before installing. This wasn't obvious to me and I think most users would find the same thing. Since "pirut" takes a long time to start up, closing the app after a single install really sucks.
Anyway after discovering the right way to use "pirut", via the bug report, it was very easy to find a whole lot of interesting software. (Including the all the patent restricted stuff.)
So in all, I'm very, very happy with FC5 on the T43. Plug and play with USB devices works great. The nautilus based CD and DVD reader and writers "Just Work" beautifully. I'm learning how to use Beagle and desktop search.
I'm looking forward to finishing the integration of AbiWord with Beagle and other search tools via dashboard.
Crossover Office 5 is there when I absolutely must have MS Word and Powerpoint alhough AbiWord is more than enough for almost all my needs now that we have fully integrated Equation support. I've been creating problem sheets and solutions with AbiWord for my 2nd year Thermal Physics classes and it works great. It is much easier and faster than MS Word or OO.o Equation Editors to an old Latex Hack like me.
FC5 definately raises the bar to whole new level for Linux distros. The GL-based Window Managers from Novel and RedHat should make Linux desktop fully competitive with Vista and OSX. There is every chance Novel Linux Desktop-10 will take things this new level, especially since they can ship patent restricted software like mp3 and various video codecs.
Anyway I also wanted to send a big "Congratulations" to the whole community that made FC5 possible. It's great to see how a huge group of competiting and cooperating people can raise the water level so that "everyone floats ups".