Fedora 12 — A Player for Server and Desktop



 

 


Fedora 12 has been available since December 4, 2009, and I have been using it since on more systems each month so it is time for a review of this powerful and flexible operating system.

Installation and Upgrade

Fedora 12 is easy to install or upgrade from a previous version.

Installation

A bare-metal installation works as it has for some time, with the Anaconda Installer providing an easy installation as it has for some releases now.

My only quibble with the installation is that some choices I liked having during installation have been moved to the first boot. One of these is the ability to choose the desired default desktop if more than one is installed. I always install and use KDE as my preferred desktop. It would be nice to have the default choice available during the actual installation as it was at one time. Also, there should be a choice during installation to specify the SELinux control state of enabled, permissive or disabled, which might prevent a reboot at the end of the first boot. That just makes it a little less seamless than I like. Reboots are for Winbloze.

Upgrade

Upgrades to Fedora 12 are a breeze, so long as you are upgrading from Fedora 11. Direct upgrades from previous versions of Fedora, or from other distributions are not possible.

When Fedora 12 became available, the preupgrade RPM was made available on Fedora 11 systems. If you perform automatic updates it is already there for you. Simply run the preupgrade GUI program or the preupgrade-cli command from the command line interface. This performs all of the necessary steps required to prepare your system for the upgrade including configuring the YUM repository.

All that you need to do after running preupgrade is reboot the computer and the upgrade is performed automatically. All required RPMs are downloaded and installed. This can take some time and the computer will not be available for other tasks during this part of the upgrade.

The Desktop

I have been using Fedora on my desktop for many years now and with the exception of Fedora 9 and 10 have been very happy with it. Fedora 9 was a disaster as I discussed in my review, Fedora 9 Not Ready for Prime Time, on this web site.

Fedora 12 is ready for nearly any desktop. It is rock solid and does not crash. It provides all of the standard desktop applications that most people will ever want. The exceptions can be circumvented by using WINE or VirtualBox or VMWare an running Windows in a VM.

The KDE 4.3 desktop has come a long way from the original KDE 4.00 in Fedora 9. It has much better fit and finish as well as a growing number of neat little applets called “Plasmoids” or Widgets. The user interface under KDE 4.3 is much improved and will only continue to improve in the future.

I really like the very large number of choices I have available to configure the KDE desktop. I sometimes change things and work with them for a while just to see if I would like that better than what I normally use. I have found that sometimes I don’t like that difference, but many times I do. Some folks do not like large numbers of choices, but I find them useful and mostly helpful.

Speaking of playing, many multimedia and Internet applications are provided with Fedora 12. You should have little trouble finding a player for your media of choice. The only issue is obtaining and installing certain codecs. But Fedora Frog can help with that.

Server Side

Fedora has always been a top-notch choice for servers and Fedora 12 is no exception. I use it for web, DHCP, caching DNS, and mail servers and it is rock solid for that. There is not a whole lot more to say as the types of network servers that are supplied with Fedora have not changed in a long time, but they have been updated regularly so are up to date.

Issues

I do have a few complaints, one of which can cause serious problems if you have multiple NICs in your computer.

Whether installing or upgrading, the current incarnations of HAL, UDEV, and NetworkManager can mangle your network configuration by reassigning the IDs, i.e., eth0, eth1, etc, to the incorrect NIC, thus making the computer impossible to access remotely. The intent of these daemons working together is to make hardware assignments easy and transparent to average end users, and for the most part they do that.This is great for your average end user.

HAL and UDEV are actually designed to make all hardware devices, even permanent ones such as hard drives and devices built into motherboards act as plug and play devices. The reasoning behind this is to reduce the thousands of device files in the /dev directory to mere hundreds by creating only those that are needed and doing it on the fly at boot time and when new, truly pluggable devices such as USB printers and disk drives are plugged in.

This is actually a good thing in the long run, but can cause problems when upgrading or installing on computers that have multiple NICS for various reasons. I use a couple of boxes with multiple NICs for routers and this new scheme wreaked havoc with my previous configuration. On boot, HAL/UDEV would reassign the NIC assignments and I would have to go to the console to try to straighten things out. I have documented a fix for this, Disable Network Manager.

I have also found that some graphic adapters are not always well supported and sometimes produce annoying screen artifacts such as areas of windows that do not refresh correctly when a covering window is moved. Sometimes advanced drivers for nVidia or the appropriate graphics device resolve this and sometimes they do not.

Conclusions

I really like Fedora 12 and find that it meeds my needs on my desktops, servers and laptops. While Fedora tends to be closer to the bleeding edge than many commercial business users desire, I do have some customers that are using it very nicely. While not for use in environments where management tends to be very conservative, such as banks and financial institutions, it is perfectly good for many other business environments so long as there is sufficient expertise to manage it.

The Fedora feature list continues to expand, especially for the desktop, and many users will find applications to meet every need. For those who do not, WINE or virtualization can be used to bridge the gap.

I have no hesitation in recommending Fedora 12 to almost anyone who wants to move to Linux.