Fedora 10 Cambridge - Review & Tutorial - Page 4


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Post-installation configurations

After rebooting, you'll have to answer several more prompts before you reach the login screen for the first time, namely define non-root users, set the time zone, time & date, and several more things.

Fedora welcome

Fedora license

Fedora user

Fedora time & date

Fedora hardware profile

And now you'll reach the login screen.

Fedora login

More problems ...

After logging in, I've had another of those kernel failures. Luckily, it was the last one and the problem has not occurred since. Again, remember this only happens in virtual machines.

Fedora another kernel failure

However, my woes were only beginning. I was running Fedora as a guest operating system, in a virtual machine. The first thing I wanted to do was install the VMware Tools to enhance the performance of my system.

After extracting the archive, I ran the vmware-tools-pl installation script. It failed during the compilation of network modules, because it could not locate the make utility on my machine.

This is not a tragedy, because most distros do not come with the kernel source, kernel headers, make, and gcc pre-installed, mostly in order to keep the images leaner, although I think an inclusion of these would greatly simplify lots of issues for unknowing, new Linux users. For instance, the compilation and installation of drivers, like Nvidia, ATI etc require these libraries to work. Not having them can be very frustrating for non-geeks.

So I decided to look for these packages via the Package Manager. The quest proved to be too difficult. The Package Manager returned too many choices.

Fortunately, Fedora also uses the handy and simple Yellow dog Updater, Modified (YUM) or just simply yum, which is similar to the popular apt in Ubuntu or PCLinuxOS.

Obtaining the package was a simple deal, not much different from, let's say Ubuntu's sudo apt-get install build-essential:

yum install make gcc kernel-devel

This is more or less what it looks like on the screen:

Fedora yum install

Fedora gcc installed

But the installation of VMware Tools failed again. The installer could not find the kernel source. There was a mismatch between the running kernel and installed kernel headers. On your system, you can check this by running these two commands and comparing the output:

uname -r
rpm -q kernel-devel

So I had to upgrade the kernel:

yum -y upgrade kernel kernel-devel

Now, imagine that this happened to someone who needed to compile their network driver, in order to get Internet connection. How exactly were they going to get these libraries?

Just for reference, the kernel version mismatch occurred to me only twice, once with a SUSE distro and now with Fedora.

This time, the VMware Tools installed properly. But my hardship was far from over. It turns out that the default configuration file for the X Windows - xorg.conf - does not exist on Fedora 10 by default. I was asked by the VMware install script whether to create one and gladly accepted.

Upon rebooting, there was no more GUI. Only after deleting the newly created file would Fedora get to the desktop once again.

Googling about, I found out a solution. The script requires that a pre-existing xorg.conf be found when the script was run, containing a basic section about the Monitor. So I created one (as root):

vi /etc/X11.xorg.conf

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "vmware"
EndSection

:wq <--- to save and exit from vi text editor ...

And then re-run the VMware Tools installation. Finally, it worked.

Fedora vmware tools installed

Multimedia support

Since Fedora follows a very partisan code of not including any proprietary software in the distro, you're not going to get any support for Flash, MP3 or other Windows media formats. I could live with that. The question is, how difficult would it be to obtain them?

Flash

Flash did not work, but after visiting the Adobe site, downloading the RPM package and running it, I was back in business. This was easy, at the very least. However, the playback was choppy ...

Fedora youtube

Fedora flash install

Fedora flash installed

MP3

Major update: I must admit that I blundered this section in the original posting. Here's the improved version - with an emphasis on what went wrong the first time. When I tried to play an MP3 file, I got this message:

Fedora mp3

Well, this is not unusual - most distros will pop up a message of this sort. So I went to see the available options. There were three options available, two with a price tag! This threw me off. Pay money for codecs, why the hell for?

This is what "fooled" me the first time. I must admit the moment I saw the Euro sign, my vision temporarily blocked out. I completely missed the "Free" tag on the second listed option. Hardly an excuse, but if I could happen to me, it might happen to other people.

Fedora mp3 options

So, let's see where the second link takes us:

Fedora mp3 license

After that, we got MP3 support.

Fedora mp3 working

Other options ...

The first time, having despaired of obtaining codecs via the Codec Installer, I went looking for an alternative. I tried downloading XMMS, a very crafty little audio player, but the support for MP3 format has been removed from it by the development team. VLC was not in the repositories ... At this stage, I had given up on multimedia.

I did advise the users that they could try visiting the LIVNA repository, which offers a lot in the way of proprietary and restricted software, or read about Omega 10 Live CD beta, a Fedora flavor with added multimedia. Sobered by my first experience, I decided to give check on the LIVNA repository.

Extra repositories

Enabling the LIVNA repository will expose the user to a range of useful applications, including graphic drivers and whatnot. The installation is a simple affair of downloading and running an .RPM package.

Fedora livna rpm

Fedora livna install

For now, there's no official support for Fedora 10, although it should come up soon. Thanks, Mark. Meanwhile, you can manually browse the repository and download packages as you see fit. Since Cambridge is still in Beta, you might get some unexpected results, so some caution is necessary. The screenshot is for version 9:

Fedora livna repo

Other stuff

YUM Package Manager

YUM is a blessing. It's solid and stable. Even in the Beta cycle, the downloads from the repositories were fast. Updating the system is a matter of just a few quick mouse clicks.

Fedora updates 1

Fedora updates 2

Applications

The live CD ships with a reduced arsenal of goodies, but this is no problem, because missing programs can be easily downloaded using yum. For instance, you won't find OpenOffice in the live CD version (either 2.4 or the latest 3.0); you'll have AbiWord instead. However, GIMP is included.

Fedora apps

Conclusions

I may be too harsh, but for me, Fedora 10 is a tiny bit of a disappointment. I am a great fan of RedHat. I use it for any serious server job, where I can count on its classic Linux robustness. The runlevels are there, the service scripts work, the files and directories are just like in the old books. My Apache guide comes from hard work on a CentOS 5.

But RedHat / CentOS do not require any special care, graphic drivers or MP3 support, because they are not meant to be used that way. So what's the point of Fedora?

It feels like Fedora is a distro for the mature Linux user - definitely not the beginner. Unfortunately, most people do not care about kernel versions or SELinux. They want their phones, web cameras, music, videos, and other things to work, work fast and work out of the box. They want bells and whistles. They want their graphics drives to blaze forward to the tune of Compiz. And they want it yesterday.

If you're an average user looking for some fun, you should know that Fedora might be a little difficult for you in some areas, like installation of drivers, for example. If you're not Linux-savvy, your first attempt might be difficult.

This does not mean you should throw Fedora away. If you're looking for a productivity distro, this is probably one of the more sensible choices. It's just not meant for the average computer user.

That said, Fedora 10 Cambridge does offer a well-tailored live CD session, with Wireless and web camera support out of the box. Many users will appreciate this. So even if you're not ready for the small issues that will force you to type on the command line, the live CD can definitely be put to great use as a portable distro.

It could be a great distro, though. Developers: enable the third-party repositories by default and make sure the build packages are pre-installed. People trying to install their Nvidia and ATI drivers will thank you for it. I know this is against the spirit of what Fedora represents, but it would tremendously boost its user base.

Currently, Fedora users can gain access to third-party stuff via the LIVNA repository. And there's also Omega 10 Live CD Beta available, a remix of Fedora with added multimedia support. Hopefully, these two excellent sources will gain more publicity, allowing Fedora's hidden potential to be fully realized.

Cheers.

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