A spoiled rant on Fedora 9
This isn't much of a review, to be entirely upfront about it. I did a very brief spin of Fedora 9, first via a LiveCD and then a quick install on a hard drive, just to have it run faster so I can check it out without being annoyed by all the CD spin ups and downs..
This is more of a commentary. Namely, I believe that major desktop oriented GNU/Linux distros today are so good that it's hard to really brag about any major advantages between either of them. So a choice just must come down to what was once perhaps considered a luxury, certain details that when we start complaining about them would to geek GNU/Linux veterans sound like rants of spoiled babies.. or something.
But the thing is, when I look at the Fedora desktop, coming from Ubuntu, I really am not sure what to do. It all looks the same, aside from a theme and a wallpaper, and I already feel like I know what to expect with particular things like, for instance, various standard preferences dialogs. I am aware that once you start digging a bit you can hit some of the finer customizations that have been made and see some difference, but how important is that really? I guess it depends on whom you ask. I for one don't care, for example, if I'm gonna be asked for a root password or my user (sudo) password when I open administration dialogs, except for the fact that I am used to sudo, coming from Ubuntu.
Something I might actually care slightly more about is the way 3D desktop is managed in Fedora 9, as I found it rather suboptimal to the way Ubuntu solves it. It appears unchanged across the last few releases. It's not that Ubuntu's default is so spectacularly better, but at least in my view, it seems more elegant and I personally like the default settings a little better. Of course, all this can easily be customized to your hearts content with a more advanced compiz settings manager which can probably be found in Fedora repositories. I'm just being a spoiled baby.
And speaking of installing something new and exciting, that's really the biggest differentiator between major distros like Fedora and Ubuntu here, is it? And boy I just can't get used to the way Fedora people tend to do it, not even now that they've apparently sped yum up a bit and changed to packagekit by default. So let the whining begin! It's these luxury details that matter now after all.
First of all, packagekit, and this seems almost tradition when it comes to GUI package management in Fedora, is still quite minimal. It is beautiful and it does give you a bunch of info in the tabs below, but when it actually does something you pretty much have to guess. OK, it's not hard to guess that when you click on that shiny "install" button it is probably installing the thing you selected to install. But how much time will it take? What is the download speed? Nothing. All you get is a progress bar, and we all know how reliable these are. It can fly up to 60% (not that PackageKit displays percentages here) making you think "oh cool it is gonna finish fast" and then take two sixty seconds to get to 90%. Doesn't quite work out.
There might be an alternative package manager GUI available for Fedora, although the ones I've seen before I weren't all that impressed by, but as far as defaults go, it just isn't coming even close to Synaptic, which I would fearlessly still proclaim the king of package managers in the GNU/Linux world - in fact, in the whole software world. It's fast, it's flexible, powerful and it gives you all the juicy info. Enough said.
All this said there are probably plenty of users who are drawn to Fedora for certain specific reasons, something that's now immediately obvious when you just load up the desktop for the first time. From my knowledge, Fedora has a way of elegantly implementing certain new and cool technologies beneath the hood. But, it just happens that for my needs I just don't see a compelling reason to go through another distro shuffle. I'm sticking to Hardy this time.
One thing I do love about Fedora's desktop experience was that it has a really neat sound scheme enabled by default. Ubuntu for some reason comes silent out of the box.
Ah where went the good old days when we compared distros by how easy (or pain in the back?) it is to make X work or connect to the internet. These days we're so spoiled. But those times had to come as well. Good though that those who wish to taste good old days still have good options, just do it from scratch though even that may be easier than it used to be! Hah imagine that!