Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Fedora 8: An Assault On Ubuntu

(Preview) - Lately, I have been looking into other distributions that, like Ubuntu, are working to make strides to attract new users. I still have Debian Etch burned to a CD, waiting for a test in our lab. Next up is going to be Fedora. In the past, I have never been too impressed with RPM-based distributions, but to be fair, most of this came from nightmare scenarios with Mandriva and SuSE. And the last time I really took Fedora for a solid run was with Fedora 5, so it has been a while since I tested the Red Hat supported distro.

But I can only take so much of Debian's minimalist approach when it comes to describing features and why I should care to use the distro. After looking into what Fedora has done , I think it is clear which distribution is really working hard to attract new users.

Could Fedora Outperform Ubuntu for Casual Users? With the upcoming release of Fedora 8 (at the time of press time), I see solid indications that Fedora could dethrown Ubuntu with its latest release. I especially like what I'm reading about their work on issues, such as notebook suspend/resume working, power consumption and perhaps most of all, PulseAudio . This rationale really struck me, and while a user could potentially install this into Ubuntu Gutsy, props to the Fedora guys for just getting in there. After reading this thread and how one Ubuntu user even saw significant improvement using PulseAudio, I found myself becoming intrigued further. From what I can gather, it is still under heavy development, but having better control over your sound device is just what popular Linux distros need right now.

Then we have the CodecBuddy, Fedora's approach to dealing with restricted codecs. What I found most refreshing was educating the user in the immediate space rather than merely telling them they might be breaking the law and then providing a link to another page. Very cool. And of course, this page just made my day because the person who wrote it did so by speaking plain English, instead of boring us with maybes and possibilities regarding legalities. Providing me as a user with a clear reason why I should be using open formats was really quite refreshing.

Restricted Codecs Mess in Linux

Fedora Spins. I love this idea - a Fedora release for gamers, developers and those who are interested in working with electronics outside of just computing. If there is one thing that is becoming obvious to me, it is Fedora's attack on Ubuntu.

Then we have their new theme. OK, let's be honest, I'm getting pretty tired of the same old Ubuntu theme over and over. Yes, it takes just a minute to change it, but when trying to attract new users, it helps to have something attractive to look at. And I must admit, Fedora's Nodoka is definitely a clean look without being totally boring. Sweeet!

Not Interested Fedora in the Past, Could This Be Changing in the Future? I was never that swept up with past releases of Fedora. There was nothing compelling about it. But for the first time, I cannot help but feel that the Fedora team has been spoon fed an extra helping of Wheaties , which has put them into overdrive with their accessibility efforts.

In the coming weeks, I will be looking to do an all out review of Fedora 8. From what I have seen thus far, I'm definitely interested in seeing what they have in store and if they can catch up with PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu and other distros that have bent to the needs of the growing beginner-friendly userbase.

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