Fedora 11 -- Preliminary User Review, Part I
My Path to the Nirvana of Fedora Core 11
I never thought that I would see an operating system like this in my lifetime. Well, OK, I did think that I would see one, but I thought its development would take until 2015.
I have been a fan of Red Hat since the mid-'90s when my friend set up a web server and let me play around with it. Back then it was all command line stuff, and Linux was, for the most part, strictly for servers and programming. The first time I opened an X11 (Linux GUI) session, I was like, "Well, I guess Microsoft has nothing to worry about." It was buggy. It was slow. It looked like crap. Still, Red Hat Linux rocked the web server so well that I became a fan.
Over the years, I tried many flavors of Linux. When I wanted to feel the pain, I set up Slackware on a laptop in 1998. That was a challenge. Nothing worked out of the box. Everything was a hack. It worked, though... sort of. It never did handle the LCD display too well, and I never got the damn thing to print because there was no Linux driver for my printer. My attempts to write one in C failed miserably because the manufacturers were not very cooperative back then.
In 2002, I tried Fedora Core 1, and Linux has been my primary workhorse operating system ever since. Sure, I still have to fire up Windows every now and then just to make sure a Word document created in OpenOffice renders properly. (Lately I don't even have to do that because OO is so advanced.) Other than that, there is no reason: Linux works better. Hardware is detected and plugged in perfectly -- much better than Windows, actually. Your computer never slows down. On the rare occasion that you do pick up some malware, it is a minor annoyance, not a major catastrophe. (I actually enjoy running Windows viruses under Wine just because it's so funny to watch them try to do things they can't do on my system. Trying to load dumbass.dll or sucker.cab? Sorry. You won't find them around these parts.) My system never hangs or crashes, and I get something like 20,000 software packages for free. Everything is free under Linux, "free" as in "beer" and "free" as in "speech." Why the hell would I ever need Windows? To run some lame commercial software that is a ripoff of something that comes standard with any Linux distribution and has since 2003? To pay for an operating system that won't let me see its source code -- preposterous!
Anyway, Fedora was my intoxicant of choice for the next six years. I dabbled in Ubuntu and thought it was neat. For giggles, I installed Damn Small Linux on an ancient laptop just to see if it would run (it did). I used Knoppix to run other people's computers on Linux, much to their amazement. I even played around with Slack again. But Fedora was my workhorse, and I worked my way up from FC1 to FC2 to... FC9. Each upgrade was a PITA, but I got them all done.
At the end of 2008, my hard drive and some unidentified circuit in my motherboard went kablooey. Being a total cheapskate, I replaced the hard drive, mobo, and CPU instead of buying a new computer. Just for the heck of it, I decided to try CentOS, the "stable" flavor of Red Hat Linux. (For those of you who don't know these things, Fedora is also in the Red Hat family... should have mentioned that.) CentOS was OK, but I sorely missed the cutting-edge of Fedora. Fedora is Red Hat's testing ground, you see, so all the super-new, super-amazing stuff is packaged and tested in Fedora before Red Hat, Inc., lets it into the wild on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
At some point my CentOS Linux box acquired a scary rootkit. That had never happened in all my years of using Fedora (or Linux, for that matter), and as this was my main computer, it freaked me out. I immediately blasted the installation and installed a fresh installation of Fedora 9, for which I had a DVD.
On that installation, I discovered an AMAZING software package called PreUpgrade. This package was reputed to allow you to upgrade your entire system -- every system file, every setting, every software package -- in one fell swoop, even as you continue working and without touching the data on your disk. I was skeptical, but since it was a pretty fresh installation, I decided to give it a shot.
To my stunned amazement, it worked perfectly. I had actually forgotten that it was running as I worked on other stuff when, after a few hours of downloading and re-configuring, PreUpgrade sent me a message telling me to re-boot into my new Fedora Core 11 (Leonidis) installation.
I did that, and... wow. I'll tell you all about it in the next installment.