Distro Review: Fedora 11

The Fedora Desktop

The Fedora Desktop

Today I thought I’d report back in detail on my experiences with Fedora 11, the community distribution release from perennial Linux giants Red Hat. It’s a distribution with a reputation for being close to the cutting edge, some would argue too close. Many people have complained to me about bugs, but is this fair? I haven’t looked at Fedora in depth since version 8 or 9, so I wanted to see for myself. I have some history with Fedora, but I felt it lost it’s way a little a few years back. It was time to put past experiences – both good and bad – aside, to really see what Fedora 11 could bring to the table…

Vital Stats:
Distro base – Red Hat
Packaging – .rpm (Managed by YUM)
Linux Kernel – 2.6.29.5-191.fc11.i586
Default Desktop – Gnome 2.26.2

Introduction & Background:

Boot screen

Boot screen

Although I downloaded Fedora 11 a few weeks back, I actually installed it while at FUDCon (the Fedora conference) in Berlin; surrounded by Fedora developers and Red Hat employees. Now that’s what I call support. I first installed Fedora way back in 2003 when it was called Fedora Core, it had just been split from Red Hat Linux. It was even one of the first distributions I managed to convince my employers at the time (the National Health Service) to try out. It wasn’t my first Linux experience by any means, but it was quite early in my adoption of the platform. I kept coming back to it over the years but felt increasingly disappointed as it got more experimental and felt less usable. The last version I used properly was Fedora 8 and that left something of a sour taste in my mouth. YUM (the package management tool) kept locking up for no apparent reason and the system wasn’t really stable enough to use as a proper desktop. I’d briefly looked at other releases of Fedora in the meantime, but going into this Fedora 11 install, I wasn’t sure what to expect at all.

Installation:

Setting Time Zone

Setting Time Zone

Although I downloaded a copy of Fedora 11 before leaving for Linux Tag in Berlin, I picked up a nicely packaged Gnome LiveCD from the Fedora stand at the conference. I decided to use that for the install. Back at my budget hotel (sans Internet) later that evening I set about wiping my system and installing Fedora. My test machine as always was my trusty Dell XPS m1330n, and interestingly enough I noticed the display machines on the Fedora stand were all m1330′s. This could only bode well for my the compatibility of my hardware. I booted up a live session using the CD and everything seemed to work out of the box, I was also struck by the impressive look of the system. The desktop background particularly. I’m not usually a visuals guy, but I did study Art History along with Computer Science for my University degree (what a combination that was), so I like to think I have something of an eye for artwork. Clicking the icon on the desktop I launched into the install wizard. I like the Anaconda installer, I’ve always found it works well on any of the Red Hat-based systems I’ve used. It asks you all the usual questions you’d expect: keyboard language, network hostname, time zone, yada yada and it was all straightforward, until I hit disk partitioning. This is where things got a bit more interesting. As you’ll know if you’ve read many of these reviews I favour a particular partitioning system.

12gb / (root)
5gb swap
142gb(ish) /home

Partitioning On VBox

Partitioning On VBox

With Fedora though I had to change that. I chose custom partitioning and was informed that my root partition would have to be formatted as ex4, not a problem. I’m told this is because the LiveCD image it copies over is ext4. However, after hitting the confirm button to continue, I was informed that the system can’t boot from ext4. This means you need to fence off some extra space to use as a /boot partition, and format that as ext3. Apparently this is a GRUB (bootloader) problem; versions lower than 2 can’t boot from ext4 I’m told. This has been fixed in Ubuntu by applying a patch but it’s very pervasive and the Fedora developers apparently didn’t feel happy using it. As a distribution not really known for caution in using new software this seemed strange, but they must consider it a significant threat to stability. I used about 300mb for the /boot partition which seemed to work well. After that I was able to carry out the actual install, this took about 20mins to complete. You have to reboot the system and remove the CD manually after install, which seems a bit odd to me. You might consider this nit picking, but almost every other distro prompts you to reboot and remove the disc these days. It seems a basic oversight. Not a major one by any means, but still something that could easily be polished up.

Upon rebooting the machine you’re asked to complete a few further steps; such as accepting the software’s license, creating user accounts and setting date/time. You’re also asked to submit your hardware profile to help the developers diagnose any bugs, I dutifully did this. It seems a bit odd to me that you have to do this after a reboot, wouldn’t it make more sense to just do all this in the main install? I know Anaconda has worked like this for a while, but it still seems counter intuitive to me. Anyway, the installation was complete, easily enough and in a respectable time. Next it was on to configuring the system and making it feel like /home.

FULL INSTALLATION SLIDE SHOW >>

Tweaking Things:

Nvidia Driver Details

Nvidia Driver Details

I should point out that I did most of this setup work while sat on the floor of a corridor at Linux Tag, surreptitiously stealing power, I needed Internet access to download packages and this couldn’t be done at the hotel. Wireless was already working for me out of the box, so I just connected with Network Manager. Fedora only ships with 100% Free Software and loaded the Nouveau drivers for my freedom hating Nvidia card. Nouveau is a project to try and implement free drivers for Nvidia cards. I applaud the intention and most things worked well but I couldn’t seem to get any 3D acceleration, which makes it kind of pointless having a posh video card. Another problem I found was in suspending the machine to RAM, it simply wouldn’t wake up the display again with the free drivers. A lot of people tell me they don’t think suspend and resume matters, but I use it a lot and so do many others. I also found the machine would overheat a lot with the free drivers. So I quickly decided to install the proprietary Nvidia drivers, a GNU lots it’s horns that instant, I’m guilty. It’s not as difficult as you may first think to add the restricted drivers though, you simple have to add a software repository called RPM Fusion. This also offers access to restricted media codecs and other software such as Skype, more on that later.

I found this guide very helpful in enabling 3D acceleration and Compiz effects. It tells you how to install the RPM Fusion repos with YUM. Once you’ve done that it’s simply a matter of installing the appropriate driver.

“yum install kmod-nvidia xorg-x11-drv-nvidia”

Enabling 3D Effects

Enabling 3D Effects

You need to log out and back in for the changes to take effect, this is because the X Server needs restarting. If it’s worked you should see an Nvidia splash screen on startup. After that you can install the Compiz packages as detailed in that guide. You enable the 3D desktop with the little widget on the menu under “System / Preferences / Desktop Effects”. Compiz was fully working. I also ticked the box to enable wobbly windows, I’m a sucker for wobbly windows. A lot of distributions come with Compiz enabled out of the box, so I couldn’t describe this as my easiest Compiz experience ever, but it certainly wasn’t hard to set up either. Most of the work is done by YUM, no hacking in config files or other such shenanigans.

The PackageKit GUI

The PackageKit GUI

Fedora 11 comes with a reasonable selection of software. Most of the things you could need, but no OpenOffice.org or Mono interestingly. I found installing all the multimedia codecs was easy once the RPM Fusion repositories were enabled. I installed all the Gstreamer plugins (good, bad, ugly), VLC, Deluge, Skype, Gpodder, Tasque, Gwibber, Audacity, EasyTag, Bluefish and much more with ease. The software repositories seem really deep and very up to date I must say. 10,000 packages was the figured quoted to me by Max Spevak, and I can believe it. The GUI tool for managing packages (gnome-packagekit) reminds me very much of Synaptic, which is no bad thing. I do think they could make some improvements to the interface by adding simple things like a progress bar, so you have some idea how long it’s going to take to finish. I also tweaked the Gnome layout a little to suit my tastes, removing the bottom toolbar and installing the Avant Window Navigator. I had to change the default behaviour of Nautilus (the file manager) to load in browser mode and display items in list view. These are all personal preferences, but I don’t get how anyone can use Nautilus with browser mode off, it makes things so much easier. After a couple of hours discovering things and tinkering I was very happy with my Fedora 11 desktop.

The Sweet Sound Of Music:

Sound Mixer App

Sound Mixer App

One feature I’d like to highlight in F11 is the new sound mixer. Sound is a subject close to my heart as you may know, but I’ve had mixed success with Pulse Audio to date (no pun intended). The concept is brilliant, it’s like JACK for human beings (I just stepped on someone’s trademark…) but it never quite hit the spot. I found it buggy and unusable mostly. Fedora was one of the first distributions to implement Pulse with Fedora 8, and they’ve made a much better job of it than Ubuntu. The new mixer which ships with F11 is great, it makes Pulse so easy. Unlike with a lot of systems still using plain ALSA, you can have multiple applications using your audio card at once and pipe audio between them. You can even mix the output levels of each application and set up internal recording easily. I expect we’ll see this mixer tool crop up in future releases of a few other distros. It seems that the Fedora team have a close interest in PulseAudio, as Paul Frields showed me his new PulseCaster application last week. It’s in the early development stages but anyone interested in making podcasts or just recording phone/voip interviews should keep an eye on it.

Conclusions:
Ease Of Installation & Use: 3/5
Stability: 4/5
Speed: 4/5
Community & Documentation: 4/5
Features: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

My Perfect Desktop

My Perfect Desktop

As I said right at the start, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Fedora 11. I’ve had mixed results in the past, but this feels like a really good release. I’m not just saying that because I’ve had a chance to spend time with some of the Fedora team lately either. If I didn’t think it was any good, I’d tell you straight. It’s improved a lot in the time I’ve been away. It boots up really quickly which may be due to the Plymouth bootloader, I can’t confirm that 100%, but I can confirm that speed is not a problem with F11. The Fedora Project have taken a strong stance on Free Software and while I respect and support this, I was a little worried how easy it would be to get the desktop working as I needed it to. Once I enabled the RPM Fusion repositories however, my fears quickly dissipated. The amount of software available in the repositories is amazing, and there wasn’t one program I couldn’t find. You can’t say that about many distributions. F11 shipped with a beta version of Firefox 3.5 but it’s now been updated automatically to the release version. This happened just a day after the official release, that’s pretty impressive. It was before Arch and at the time of writing Ubuntu still haven’t packaged the upgrade yet. If you want the latest software this is a good distro to try I’d say. I noticed a few quirks here and there as I went along, but nothing compared to what I was led to believe by other reviews. I had no issues with stability and I haven’t noticed any show stopping bugs in well over a week using this full time. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky, but I doubt it. They do use some testing software and I think a lot of people fear they’re just getting a beta (or perhaps even alpha) version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. I’ve even thought the same myself in the past, but this is unfair to Fedora and the people who work hard on making it. They do push the envelope at times and try things other distributions wouldn’t, but they seem to see this as leading the way and developing the whole Linux desktop. The amount of stuff pushed back into upstream projects by Fedora is a testament to this spirit.

Compiz 3D Effects

Compiz 3D Effects

People ask me who exactly Fedora is aimed at, and that’s a tough question to answer. I’m not sure I know, but it’s definitely become more community driven in the last couple of years. This is now bearing fruit and F11 benefits. When Fedora (or should I say Fedora Core) was originally spun out of Red Hat, it didn’t seem to have a lot of differences in the early releases. It increasingly got more experimental and unstable for me and that’s why I felt they lost their way slightly. That’s just how it seemed to me, but Fedora 11 is right back on track. Would I put Fedora on a production server? Probably not, but I don’t think it’s meant for that anyway. That’s why we have CentOS. It’s not particularly hard to use, not on the Arch or Gentoo scale, but I wouldn’t feel confident giving Fedora to a complete Linux novice. There are probably better distributions for that. For people who know a little bit about Linux and want to experiment, I think it’s perfect. It’s also good for developers and anyone who wants to learn about Red Hat systems. No matter what you may think of Red Hat as a company, you can’t deny that in the business Linux world they completely dominate. I’d encourage anyone after a serious Linux job to take a look at Fedora (and probably CentOS too) as a way to learn more. It will stand you in good stead in the long run. I can see why so many distributions are based on it, the tools they have for making your own respin are formidable.

To sum up then, I think F11 is a good release and well worth a few days of anyone’s time. I’ve never really felt comfortable with Fedora on my home desktop until now. I have everything set up as I need it and I’d be happy to stay here longer. The community has grown in strength, there’s lots of help available out there. I think things are really looking up in the Fedora world. They have lots of innovative features and things that will no doubt end up in future releases of other distros. This is where they see themselves, the ground breakers or pioneers who explore new things on behalf of the rest of us. The developers have done a great job on Fedora 11 and I encourage you to take a look at it and let me know how it works for you.

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD FEDORA 11 HERE

Where to next?
To be honest I haven’t fully decided yet. I have a few ideas but nothing concrete. I’ve enjoyed my time with Fedora a lot but I’m a wanderer as you know, and it’s time for me to move on again. If you would like to suggest a Linux distribution, or even perhaps a BSD you think I should visit please let me know. You can leave comments here or send me an email to dan AT danlynch DOT org, I’m always interested in hearing from you. You’ll have to join me next time to see exactly where we end up, mystery is half the fun right? I look forward to seeing you on the next adventure…

About Dan

Hi I'm Dan, I'm the nutter who creates the content here and oversees things. You can read more about me on the biog page if you like. Thanks :)
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41 Responses to Distro Review: Fedora 11

  1. Dan says:

    @Edy – Just had a look through the site. I’ve never heard of that before, I don’t hold much hope of getting a working desktop with wireless out of that, but I can certainly try. Thanks for the suggestion :)

  2. ben says:

    Cool – I’m burning the disk now and have a 49GB hole in my drive waiting to be filled.

    Nice to have choices isn’t it?

  3. Dan says:

    @Ben – Good luck, hope the install goes well

  4. Matt says:

    Thanks, as always, for a fantastic review. I installed Fedora 11 a couple of weeks ago and, like you, found it impressive compared to some of the previous Fedora releases I’d used. (I did, however, quickly abandon it for my beloved Arch Linux.)

    One really nice feature you might mention is yum-presto. It’s an add-on to yum that allows upgrades via binary diffs, so you don’t have to download all 300mb or whatever it is of OpenOffice during an update — only the differences between files. I hope this is soon adopted by other Linux distros.

    My biggest gripe with Fedora is the inconsistency of the releases — you never know if the upgrade is going to be a slick desktop that outpaces Ubuntu and OS X or some half-baked Frankenstein of an operating system. I suppose that’s the cost of distributing a bleeding-edge system. IMHO, the sixth month release cycle works better with a distro like Ubuntu, that focuses more on stability and usability. I think that a rolling release system is better if you want the bleeding-edge (Arch, Debian Sid, etc.).

    In the end, I see Fedora as two things:

    1) The testing branch of Red Hat.

    2) A trendsetter for other distros. Fedora works hard to push the very latest software and kernel developments into its releases and also drives some really important innovation (in this release KMS, ext4, etc.). It does so often before the new stuff is ready for prime-time. But the changes it introduces almost always make their way into other distros.

    As a result, Fedora occupies a very unusual niche in the Linux world. It is a full-blown (some would say bloated) graphical desktop — so it doesn’t necessarily appeal to DIY command-line gurus who run Gentoo, Arch, Debian Sid. On the other hand, it is not really stable enough for the average Linux user, who would likely be much better off with Ubuntu or Mint.

    • Dan says:

      @Matt – Thanks for the input. I actually had a note to mention Presto, but like an idiot I forgot, doh!! It’s another Fedora innovation worth keeping an eye on. I know what you mean about the releases being erratic at times. I’ve found that too. However F11 is a nice release and seems to be very stable to me. I’m still using it as I write this and it’s been almost 2 weeks. Many updates have come and gone but so far nothing has broken, touch wood. I would say Fedora’s place right now is in pushing forward development and then feeding it back into other projects. We’ve seen this with many things in recent years.

  5. Matt says:

    @Dan – Agreed. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Fedora because it blazes a trail for everyone else, even if this means sacrificing popularity.

    I have to say that I really enjoy reading your reviews because they’re so open-minded. You clearly welcome different approaches to Linux, which is a nice departure from the trap I (and others) so easily fall into—namely, to gripe about how distro “X” isn’t like our own distro.

  6. Fab says:

    I find it very ironic that an Arch user would complain about inconsistency. I think the biggest problem with rolling releases is the fact that not enough testing is going on there (especially of the interaction between all the components). That is the single thing that turns me off of deploying a rolling release distro on a production system.

  7. Dan says:

    @Matt – Thanks, I appreciate that. I try to remain open minded if I can. I think you have to assess everything for what it is, and not what other people tell you it is. People always ask me what’s my favourite distro and I’m honestly hard pressed to name just one. Different distributions suit different users and situations

  8. Dan says:

    @fab – I take your point but I’m not sure it’s completely fair. I ran Arch for a while without any stability problems. I have heard lots of stories from others about systems failing, but as I said in the previous comment, I like to see for myself. I do find it interesting that Fedora had the FF 3.5 update packaged and shipped a day before Arch. I was surprised by that

  9. shady says:

    I wound up installing F11 damn near 11 times because I’m a linux noob. I finally got it settled the way I want it but I live in constant fear of the wheels falling off, lol. All it takes is for me to open “smart package manager” or something, add a rawhide repo accidentally upgrade something to alpha-newness and crash my system. I guess for Fedora it’s all in the marketing. I can tell my friends I use it and not sound like a complete douchebag because “Fedora” sounds way cooler than “Ubuntu” or “openSUSE” or whatever. I guess Im at the “damn, the only differences in these linuxes is how you unzip a file?” phase of my Linux life cycle. (early)

    Anyhow, thanks Dan for these reviews.

    • Dan says:

      @shady – I’d say Fedora is close enough to the cutting edge without adding the rawhide repo, but if you like an adventure go for it. With the standard release repos I think it’s pretty stable, I haven’t had too much trouble and I’m no guru. I break things as much as the next guy. If you have time to experiment and you like an adventure there’s no harm done. Enjoy it :)

  10. Matt says:

    @fab Point well taken. For the record, though, if I were responsible for anything other than my own desktop, I probably wouldn’t use either Fedora or Arch. IMO, both are too unstable….

    But I would argue that a rolling release system is more stable *if* (and that’s a big if) you use bleeding-edge software. The reason: its modular nature. If an update breaks in Arch, for instance, it’s trivial to install the older, cached version of the package that pacman nicely tucks away in /var/cache/pacman/pkg until someone provides the fix (usually within hours). Arch is unstable by default — it’s up to the user to make it stable. But once the user sets it up, it’s really quite solid because the components aren’t locked together as tightly as they are in Fedora or Ubuntu.

    As I see it (and I may very well be wrong on this), Fedora is more complex — with all sorts of interlocking parts put together by the developers rather than the user. So when something breaks (say from Fedora 10 to Fedora 11), it can be a bit trickier to fix than in a more modular, rolling-release system. With each Fedora upgrade, even the experienced users are often left wondering “what the hell did they do with that configuration file?!?”

    The point of these long comments (I know…I should really start my own blog) is that, in my experience, incremental, rolling updates are easier with bleeding-edge software than the big-bang, all-at-once release method. Kudos to Fedora for pulling off the latter so successfully.

  11. Rafe says:

    Have you ever done a review of Gentoo? I note that you often compare distributions & software to the less user friendly distros like arch, slackware and gentoo.

    I guess it’s not really a distribution that you can casually review, just due to the learning required to install, and the compile times. It is definitely worthwhile as a learning experience though.

    I found it easier to install than Arch (once I found out you need to use the System Rescue CD & the autobuild stage 3 packages, rather than gentoo’s actual 2008 release).

    Btw, one question re Fedora 11 – does it still have SELinux installed by default?

    • Dan says:

      @Rafe – I haven’t done Gentoo yet no, I need to fix that at some stage but I think that will take some preparation. It’s on my list for sure. I’ve done Slackware and Arch already, so I need to complete the trilogy hehe :) To answer your question SELinux is installed and enabled by default in Fedora 11.

  12. Gary D says:

    Might I suggest a review of PCBSD. I’ve been distro hopping for awhile now and I also stopped at Fedora. Some of the new features are buddy especialkly palimpset. Over all though it was very good and surprisingly stable. I t just felt though like it could break at any second which is why I’ve come back to trusted old Debian stable. O well….

    I still suggest a review of PCBSD which was solid when I tried it a month back.

    • Dan says:

      @Gary D – I downloaded PCBSD a while back but never got around to it, the disc will be well out of date now, so I’ll get a new copy. I’ve only ever used NetBSD very briefly on a server, it’s a glaring whole in my FLOSS experience. I’ll see what I can do

  13. acidphlux says:

    Bought a new laptop a Toshiba Satellite that is intel Centrino but Ubuntu kept locking hard so I tried Fedora 11 when it came out and low and behold it works perfectly!

  14. benny says:

    Hey,
    Thanks for your review. I would appreciate a review on freebsd/ gentoo – sth. with a ports package system.

    • Dan says:

      @Benny – Lots of people asking for Gentoo, I guess I’ll have to move it up the list. I’ve been taking a break from the more learning intensive distros for a month of two, but I’ll get back into it :)

  15. Fab says:

    @Matt: Good points there. One big argument for using something like Fedora is the fact that you don’t have to work so hard putting it all together, that is all being done for you. I agree that doing it yourself gives you more power and flexibility and certain failover mechanisms, but I currently just haven’t got the option to spend all that time. Nonetheless, very valid points. :)

  16. Sean says:

    Very nice and fair review, I’m impressed. I’ve used Fedora as my only OS since it was released (and Red Hat Linux for years prior) and it does have its ups and downs, but I feel most reviewers are unduly harsh toward it.

    One note: You didn’t get OpenOffice.org or Mono because you used the LiveCD install. The DVD installs both of these packages (and probably more) by default but they aren’t packaged on the LiveCD for space reasons. Given the option, I highly recommend using the DVD install over the LiveCD installs. The LiveCD installs are great, but I’ve had better success with the DVDs from release to release.

    • Dan says:

      @Sean – Thanks for the information about the DVD, I hadn’t thought of that. I know the packages were only left out because of space on the CD. If you have a listen to Linux Outlaws 99 we discuss this with Paul Frields and Max Spevak. People immediately thought they were making some moral stance against Mono, but they say it’s purely about space and not politics.

  17. sulfide says:

    I spoke to someone about the grub thing awhile back..and the only reason ext4 did not get in, was because it was to late and there was a freeze, not because of any stability.. I said it was stupid to not include it even late…because reviews would definitely mention how silly it is they have to make an ext3 /boot… AND here we are. Also that is especially silly that they imaged the live cd as ext4, so you must use that, and then make the ext3 boot..

    • Dan says:

      @sulfide – It is a strange move indeed. I didn’t find it a massive problem as I’ve used a /boot partition before with XFS on the root partition. I tried not to go on about it too much, but it certainly had to be mentioned. Thanks for the information about the ext4 GRUB situation. I’m only going off what I was told by developers at the conference. They said they felt the Ubuntu patch was “too pervasive”, make of that what you will.

  18. Mike says:

    @shady

    The rawhide repository (the development branch of Fedora) is *highly* unstable in the early stages of the development cycle. It gets stabilized towards the release date. After the release has been made and fixes to the released version start to accumulate in the updates repository, the rawhide repo is open to all the new stuff that goes into the next release. I.e. absolutely anything and everything might be broken in rawhide at the moment and for the next couple of months. Even the first beta of a Fedora release is often quite unstable. This is not to slam Fedora in any way (I’ve used it daily as long as it has existed, and Red Hat before that), but just to indicate that rawhide should not be used on any system on which you expect to get work done.

  19. Rafe says:

    I’ll stay tuned then and hope for a Gentoo review at some stage then. I can summarise it as a distro quite quickly: Gentoo is a kick-arse distro, unfortunately the first arse it kicks in generally yours.

  20. Dan says:

    @rafe – Hehehe good comment, I’ve heard that. I need to try it soon but it may be a couple of weeks before I get a chance. Think I’ll do the new PCLinuxOS next

  21. xutre says:

    Dan, good to see that Fedora install from Live went fine for you. Some of its best features are the continuation of the kernel mode-setting work for newer generation graphic chips, faster bootup/shutdown times (shutdown is only a matter of 5 seconds now- for me, beaten only ever by xpud and the ol’ AmigaOS) and the work done to remove a lot (or all) of the drudgery which goes into post-install or new-device configuring (USB printing has been “plug-in and print” for a while, // printing is almost as easy), however the Network Manager is (still) having major headaches for some (as one usually discovers after first having the situation yourself, then trawling the net for answers).
    As an aside and while on the subject, did anybody else have boot errors from the LiveCD? The shasum of the iso was fine and its the first time I’ve had errors from this burner, but not the first time I’ve had errors from Fedora disks.

  22. Dan says:

    @xutre – Haven’t heard anyone reporting problems booting the the LiveCD, but maybe someone else can help out

  23. bsdhacker says:

    I have run Arch Linux on my main production machine for over a year and a half now and have never had any stability issues. There have been a couple of times where a system update required user intervention, but every time that ocurred, the issue was logged on the main Arch site, explaining how to fix it. So my total downtime due to the rolling release model is a total of about 10 minutes in a year and a half.

    Contrast that with distrobutions such as Ubuntu, Fedora or OpenSuse. Every 6 months you are faced with a new release that you either need to upgrade to, or perform a clean install from. From my experience, the upgrade path is very shaky and is best avoided. (read about data loss from Ubuntu upgrades etc…). And setting up my production machine from scratch takes a couple of days – when you factor in development environments and tweaks etc…

    I was once a distro hopper, but Arch has proven to me that it is the most practical & flexible Linux distrobution for my purposes.

    The only other operating system I use is FreeBSD on my laptop, and it is outstanding. It does take some time to learn, but the handbook and documentation have no equal.

    • Dan says:

      @bsdhacker – I only used Arch for a few weeks because I always move to find new review candidates, but I didn’t have any stability problems. I also reviewed Chakra Project recently, which is very interesting. I’m pleased too hear FreeBSD works well on your laptop, I’m going to try a BSD soon and hardware support has been a worry.

  24. Ryan says:

    Hi Dan, I just found your site on google and I’m now one of your fans. I love your distro reviews. I’m downloading Fedora 11 right now and I can’t wait to try it. I have one question though; what’s the launch bar you are using? I like the way you set up your desktop. Can you do “recommended programs” or “top 20 programs” article? Thanks

  25. Kounryusui says:

    I finally got around to reading your Fedora review, Dan. Nice work, thanks a lot. And you got around to making this review at the perfect moment, too.
    Your ext4 problems with Grub made me realize that I’ve been consistently using a separate 200mb partition for /boot on my system for more than a year now. For some very good reason, that I absolutely cannot recall now, it is formated in ext2 :)
    [ I was going to ask here what the browser mode for Nautilus was but Uncle Google has explained it to me already. Nonetheless the thanks for educating my ignorant self goes to you. ]
    And as for future reviews – the afore-mentioned Gentoo is a nice suggestion. I mentioned Wolvix in a comment to the Mint 7 review, not that long ago. Then there is Pardus releasing in a week or so but you reviewed it in not that distant past (it would be a good idea to make a list of your distro reviews for an easy access, forgive me my boldness in suggesting this). But Gentoo seems promising if you feel up to it :) Pain, pain, pain…

    One more thing – the AWN link in the review points to a page that says: “AWN Wiki is moving!!” with a new link below.

    Cheers… (Off to installing AWN)

  26. Dan says:

    @Kounryusui – Thanks for reading. I did review Wolvix not so long ago and I liked Pardus a lot when I reviewed that too. A list of past reviews is a great idea, people could easily see what I’ve done. It’ll take a while to compile (there’s a Gentoo joke here somewhere) but I’ll try and get it done soon :)

  27. makosol says:

    I sedond that, a pardus 2009 review : I’m testing it (RC2) and it’s really amazing ! really great KDE 4.2.4, firefox 3.5, very desktop integrated configuration tools, kernel 2.6.30, ext4, differential uprades, all codecs by default….

    • Dan says:

      @makosol – I like Pardus a lot, I think it’s good to see something different in these days of Ubuntu clones all over the place. I enjoyed that last release I tried a lot. Seems people are keen to hear about the new one, so I’ll move it up the list. Thanks

  28. flodine says:

    my fedora 11 on a lenovo y530 works perfect and will alway run it solid stuff so far.

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