Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fedora 11 mini-review

As promised, here is my mini-review of Fedora 11:

I'm glad to say that my wife is a huge Linux fan. Originally, my wife was like most PC users, and had been using Windows exclusively - mostly to write her thesis and check email. But by 2000, she had finally become fed up with Microsoft and continual problems with Windows (I spent many sleepless nights doing "tech support" to recover Windows after it crashed, while my wife was writing her Master's thesis.) So decided to give Linux a try. Her first Linux distro was Red Hat 7, and we've upgraded her as each new release has come out. She's been a Linux devotee ever since!

In fact, this is my wife's second Linux laptop. It's a Lenovo ThinkPad T43:
  • Intel Centrino / Intel Pentium M 750 1.86 GHz CPU
  • 512 MB memory
  • 60 GB - 5400 rpm hard drive
  • CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo drive
  • 14.1" TFT active matrix XGA (1024 x 768) - 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
  • Intel GMA 900 graphics
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG network
Usually, I prefer to install using a DVD image that I download and burn to media. But this time, I figured I'd try something different - I turned the "Fedora 11 Desktop Edition" Live CD into a Live USB. There's even a Windows version of the tool that does this for you. With a Live CD (or Live USB) you can boot your system and run programs just like you were in an installed environment, then (if you like what you see) you can install Linux to your hard drive.

Live USB made installation a snap! Simply boot the laptop from USB, and open the "Install to Hard Drive" icon. The install process was easy, and fast!

Once installed, Fedora 11 takes less than a minute to boot on this older Thinkpad. And everything just worked, with no tweaking, including wireless networking and the graphics.

The user environment is great. The web browser is Firefox 3.5 beta4. Yes, it's a beta version, but it seems to be very solid. We hit all the web sites my wife usually visits, and no problems. Actually, it seems a bit faster with the new Firefox, but it's hard to tell.

Thunderbird (email client) isn't installed by default, but I think that's been the base for the last few versions of Fedora. They give you Evolution by default. While I prefer using a webmail interface to access my email, but my wife really likes Thunderbird. A few clicks under "Administration" - "Add/Remove Software" and we were up and running with Thunderbird, no reboots required.

Since this is the "Live CD" edition (key phrase being "CD", about 700MB) you don't have OpenOffice installed by default. Instead, they give you AbiWord, which is a much smaller Word-like program. I asked my wife if she wanted me to install OpenOffice for her, but she had already opened up her old thesis documents (as a test) and said that was working fine, and more than enough for her. She is not a "power user" so I doubt my wife notices the difference between AbiWord and OpenOffice Writer.

All in all, Fedora 11 is a great upgrade. There are lots of changes "under the hood" for those (like me) who are interested in such things. General users will notice a few cosmetic changes going from Fedora 10 to Fedora 11, especially when booting. For example: Under Fedora 10, graphical boot had just been re-written and didn't work everywhere, so most systems booted in a sort of text-mode interface. But with Fedora 11, graphical boot now supports almost all video cards, so looks much better.

6 comments:

  1. Yes, I plan to repeat the side-by-side test to compare Windows and (Fedora) Linux boot times. But since I now have a Fedora Live USB, I can compare boot times on the same hardware as Vista. In the test I ran back in March, I compared the boot time of a newer dual-core laptop running Vista, with an older single-core laptop running Linux. This time, I can do a more direct comparison on my Windows laptop, and boot from Live USB to test Linux.

    It still won't be a one-to-one comparison, though, because USB (Linux) will be slower than the hard drive (Windows.) But at least we can remove the question of different hardware.

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  2. I thought flash memory had a shorter access time than optical disks.

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  3. Izeas GT: Flash has equal (and short) latency, but slower bulk transfer rates.

    What this translates to is that if what you need is co-located on disk (e.g. large unfragmented files or your file system was good/got luck about laying out related files), HDDs still whomp anything but super-expensive flash. If the drive has to seek back and forth a ton, flash will crush it.

    (I'm not sure which fits the case of a booting computer. However, my limited (one very unusual and probably unfair datapoint) experience is that booting from flash can be excruciatingly slow.)

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  4. evaned wrote:
    (I'm not sure which fits the case of a booting computer. However, my limited (one very unusual and probably unfair datapoint) experience is that booting from flash can be excruciatingly slow.)

    Check my new post where I compare the boot times of Windows Vista (from hard drive) and Linux (Fedora 11, from Live USB). While Vista boots faster than XP, Linux (Fedora 11) still boots faster than Windows. Mirroring the results from last time, Fedora 11 booted (and let me login, and display a web page) about a minute faster than Windows Vista.

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  5. I Love Fedora 11 to! And I am 13 years old. I just started using it less than a year ago. Now I am going to try fedora 12 (it is still beta but I wanted to see what it is like) I use fedora 11 as the main OS (and the ONLY OS) on my Laptop. Of corce we still use windows XP (Wich neads a reinstall :-o ) on our desktop computer but I use fedora more! And I LOVE That it is FREE! (Don't you?)

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  6. I have trouble to get the ip from the wireless router

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