Trying and being tried by F11

When Fedora Core 6 was released in October, 2006 it’s quality and versatility were obvious from the start. Like Core 1 before it, that became the basis for RHEL 3, and Core 3, the basis for RHEL 4, it was also clear that Core 6 was the precursor for RHEL 5, which later came out in March, 2007.

The next release of Red Hat Enterprise, version 6, is due out some time early next year. It is no coincidence that the just-released Fedora Linux 11 is a bit more stable than previous releases, because F11 will probably be the basis for RHEL 6.

While everything worked well enough on the desktop, particularly all the gnome apps like sound recorder and cheese webcam booth, I did have some problems with 3rd party software like VMware 2 and Sun Directory Console which were show stoppers for me (for an entirely personal system this probably wouldn’t matter, but at least for the forseeable future computing is never an entirely personal thing in my life).

One special mention needs to be made of the pulse audio sound server as implemented on F11.

It works..

In fact pulse was a lot more reliable and consistent on F11 than in Ubuntu 8.10 from the experience I had (Ubuntu 9.0.4 wasn’t on any of my systems long enough for me to evaluate it there, and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere 8.04 LTS failed to install where I tried it).

My Logitech Communicate STX webcam with microphone even worked. With Skype.

That said, here’s a short list of issues I found:

1. Lose the requirement that the installer create a non-root user account during setup, it really is annoying (and a bit juvenile for an enterprise development distro);

2. Make nautilus-open-terminal install by default, instead of burying the terminal in a different menu every release. No one in the Linux community should be afraid of the command line. They should embrace, and promote. it, anyone who says different is a hopeless wuss..

3. The installer needs some work in the partitioning/formatting module. In the 4 different pieces of hardware I’ve set up so far, all of which have run previous versions of CentOS and Ubuntu. it was unable to complete the hard disk partitioning and/or formatting process. In the end I was forced to boot up with a CentOS DVD and carve up the disk the way I wanted (in each case I was preserving and existing ext3 partition that contained my local backup files). I’m not sure this is because I refused to accept the default ext4 formatting (one of those “choice” things, of considerably more importance than the Gnome vs. KDE nonsense), or if there’s something more fundamentally wrong with the new partition manager.

4. That whole customization to gdm that presents a pick list of usernames for login has got to go. Really. It not only looks … OK, I’ll use the term again, “juvenile”, but it’s also really bad security.

5. No choice but to start with firewall and SELinux turned on. There it is again. Less freedom in the areas that it’s actually important to have it, way too much with the stuff where less would make life much easier (e.g. sound servers and graphical desktop environments).

One thing I hope is that the RHEL development makes sure that the final release “does no harm”. For the brief time between the initial release of RHEL 4 and the 4U1 respin there were a number of systems we couldn’t install it on because the shipping drivers couldn’t recognize SATA disk in native mode (running in compatability mode impose such a severe performance hit we chose to stick with RHEL until the problem was resolved). While we could have corrected the problem and done our own respin, that’s not what businesses pay subscriptions for.

(Fedora 11 is code-named Leonides)