Review: Fedora 10 - 19/01/2009 by Andrew
Distro Review

I've previously reviewed Fedora 10 Beta and I liked what I saw, though was a bit jaded by the difficulties in setting up proprietary drivers. Much time has passed and Fedora 10 (final) was released on the 25th of November, 2008 – more than enough time for polish to be added and a hundred or so updates to fix the more obvious bugs.

I downloaded and burnt the F10 64bit Gnome live CD (mouthful huh?) and fired up my test rig which comprises of some pretty basic hardware: Athlon 3200+, 6600GT AGP, 1GB DDR1, 40GB ATA100. Compared to Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Mandriva, the Fedora live CD is a bit slow with just 1GB of memory to deal with. It's obviously not going to stop me installing to the hard drive, though if I was testing out Fedora for the first time on some basic hardware I may get the wrong impression. Apart from the slow response the live CD acted as it should and gave me a good opportunity to check things out before committing to an installation. One thing that did blow me away (especially at 1680x1050 – though I've changed down to 1024x768 for the screenshots) was the desktop wallpaper. It's a similar blue to the beta version and looks fantastic. Much better than the boring green pattern of OpenSUSE 11.1 or the badly painted brown wall of Ubuntu.

Kicking off the hard drive installation was simple and without fuss. The GUI is clean and easy to follow and gives the user an option to encrypt their partitions.

The installation was quite quick though this is because it leaves the configuration of the system till the first boot. This again, isn't a lengthy process and soon I was at a fresh Fedora 10 desktop (which looks the same as the live CD, minus the install icon.

The menu style is a very typical gnome layout, though with a few differences to differentiate themselves from other popular gnome based distributions. The System menu has a grouped Preferences, Add/Remove Programs is under System/Administration and there's no shut-down link on the top panel (again, under System). This isn't bad, it's just different.

Fedora 10 comes with the latest stable offerings of the usual suspects; Kernel 2.6.27, Gnome 2.24.1 (or KDE 4.1.2 if you've downloaded the KDE version), Gimp 2.6.2, OpenOffice 3.0.0, Firefox 3.0.4 and Xorg 1.5.3. Game wise, not much has changed since I reviewed the beta, though the standouts are Nexuiz 2.4.2, OpenArena 0.7.7, Alien Arena 7.20, Glest 3.1.2 and Wesnoth 1.4.7. Warsow is still missing in action and hopefully is picked up for inclusion in Fedora 11.

Adding additional packages and games is easy using the GUI though searching is hampered. If I searched 'shooter' in Ubuntu 8.10 I'll have a stack of first person shooters returned. If I do the same in Fedora 10, I get zero hits as there isn't a package that has 'shooter' in it's name. This isn't great if you don't know what you want to get though you know what you need it to do (i.e. shooter, emulator, ripper, etc). It also sorts alphabetically based on package name, which makes manually searching a bit of pain. Though it's fun to pick on Ubuntu, they definitely do this better (also having popularity rating is an extra bonus).

One nice feature is the grouping of updates as Security, Bug and Enhancements. Most users don't care for the details (they'll be updating them all regardless) and this just adds a bit of glitz to a dull maintenance task. Yes, you can see more detail if you want, though who really cares why some unknown Python library is being updated?

After my system was update I set about the next task, enabling the proprietary Nvidia graphics drivers. Back when I did my review on Fedora 10 beta I found that this wasn't an easy task though I was assured by a Fedora IRC support group that by the time this hits the shelves (or torrents) that repositories and guides will be set up to make this task as painless as it can be. Yes, I found the guides. No they didn't work. After rebooting I was greeted with my 22” LCD saying that the input is out of range and, from my past experiences with enabling the nvidia drivers, this usually means that xorg.conf has lost the details for my monitor. No problem, I just boot with the Fedora 10 live CD and hack my xorg.conf right? Well, strangely enough I had great trouble even mounting my Fedora 10 install. It looks like Fedora uses a LVM set-up by default which makes your basic 'sudo mkdir /mnt/myhdd && sudo mount /mnt/myhdd /dev/sda1' commands useless.

With a bit more searching and a few more hours tinkering I may have found the solution (and be wiser for it) though with other distributions allowing for simpler installation of these drivers (Mandriva is automatic, Ubuntu is via the Hardware Drivers GUI and OpenSUSE is by adding in a special repository) I find myself wondering why Fedora has made this difficult. Yes, I understand that these drivers aren't open source and that this can cause GPL issues – though if others are getting around this with a post-install download, why can't Fedora? Mandriva doesn't even ask you, it just does it automatically, though I don't agree with this method as it doesn't allow for FOSS users to live a peaceful existence with their PC. I'd love to hear your comments on this.


Ignoring the proprietary graphic drivers issue (which, if you're a Fedora veteran you won't have any issue with anyway) Fedora comes across as a very solid, stable and clean distribution. Their repositories are large and there's a strong user community to ensure that bugs are squashed and the noobs get the support or flames they deserve. If you're wondering what your next distribution might be, have Fedora 10 on your short-list of ones to try out.



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1/03/2009 7:06:26 AM

The first Fedora I used was Core 2 and after that 4,5, 8 and now 10. In between I used Ubuntu for a bit and Mandriva, but I still have that urge to switch back to Fedora. For me FC10 is not too bad, allthough I still linger for 5, because that was the first distro that did all out of the box. With FC10 I keep having issues with Flash, while I never have encountered that in previous versions. Strange. That it takes some effort to get all things set up as wished, is more a sport than an hassle for me. For quite some time this will be my choice, until something better shows up. FC11?

24/01/2009 10:18:32 AM

F10 i686 dvd iso installed from a hard disk copy OK. Had trouble (solved) with X for integrated graphics of RS485M-M motherboard and the openchrome driver. The integrated graphics of ATI Radeon Xpress 1100 was also troublesome, but now solved. Even 3D working on that with the fglrx driver from rpmfusion. Without X, the command line does not empower many modern conveniences. Web camera, TV (usb dongle) bluetooth and digital camera worked out of the box. Package kit seems to have problems updating from time to time, and will apparently hang until a restart. In these cases I have used yum or yumex. After so many updates F10 seems very useable. Plymouth does not seem to have reduced the boot time enormously.

22/01/2009 11:10:35 PM

Hello, I think you are a very nice person telling what you say about fedora. For me it was too broken, it has too many bugs to the point I switched to another distro. I dont know if my hardware is broken, but belive me, fedora 10 has being the worst distro I have ever tested. Best regards

21/01/2009 7:09:11 AM

Proprietary drivers are obviously very important to me (this is a gaming site after all). It's good to note that they also push quite a bit of the processing onto the GPU with things like playing video, desktop effects and even image viewing/manipulation. It's not just a benefit to gaming, though without it you heavily restrict yourself to what games you can play.

21/01/2009 4:16:49 AM

The issue with Fedora not heaving the ease of installing those proprietary drivers and stuff as Mandriva or Ubuntu is... a) it's an American distro (more restricted country in terms of patents and stuff like that) b) it's sponsored by Red Hat which (a.o., because of a) ) is very careful not to get into license, patent and whatever wars c) Fedora's goal is to provide the best that open source has to offer, not to help people to install stuff that's impossible to debug Not trying to find excuses, I don't use any proprietary drivers but I can imagine the hassle if you do.

20/01/2009 9:51:13 PM

I am still wondering why you needed to reboot in the live cd and try to fix xorg.conf. You could have simply hit Alt+F1 and logged into one of the virtual terminals and fixed it. Or atleast rebooted into single user mode so there was no need to mount the lvm and all that stuff.. At worst, you would have had to edit the xorg.conf file to use the nv driver instead of nvidia.

20/01/2009 11:19:44 AM

What I mentioned before enables rpmfusion. This is the link. It has a screenshot with everything that it can automatically install. Sorry if this sounds like spamming, I don't mean it to, I'm not affiliated with it (honestly), never spoken to anyone there. It installed the driver for me, and it worked right away. After that I updated to a beta nvidia driver manually that I got from Nvidia, and that has worked ever since. 64bit by the way, and an 8600gt. There is some mention when getting the Nvidia driver directly from Nvidia about needing/creating/something with xorg.conf because of the way F10 works. Might be on the download page, not looking now. I didn't try it the Fedora way or look on the forum to see if that worked first, if anything needs done with that.

20/01/2009 10:16:36 AM

just installed onto a 4 year old laptop...everything works as it should. great OS....10/10 from me for painless install and everything working out of the box for me :)

20/01/2009 7:02:47 AM

Yes, I used the rpmfusion drivers though it didn't work (no monitor entry for my DVI connected 22" LCD!). RPMFusion isn't an official Fedora repo either, so it's hard to blame Fedora for it not working though I will blame Fedora for not having an official repository handling this! (Official ones, like Ubuntu and Mandriva, have worked out of the box on the same hardware).

20/01/2009 6:17:12 AM

Enable rpmfusion (see for details) then as root: yum install kmod-nvidia (akmod-nvida might be good too) That is it! (easy ?)

20/01/2009 2:33:42 AM

Nvidia, etc. Google/search for "autoten". Nice write up. I started with the beta, upgraded to final, then KDE 4.2 beta, then release candidate. No problems.

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