Fedora Core 5, the next version of software based on RedHat Linux of long ago, was released in Mid-March to the masses. I am sure that others have looked at the alpha and beta releases -- I waited until the the official release before looking at the software. Initial reactions: I love it.
My hardware, for those to compare, is an AMD Athalon 1.2 GHz computer with 756 MB of RAM or so, ample hard drive space, and an ATI Rage Pro 128 video card. Actually, it is an ATI All-in-wonder TV card, with Rage 128 video horsepower, but the default system install doesn't recognize the TV input. For this review, I have not tackled the configuration of TV video.
I found the disks easy enough to grab via FTP off of a mirror, and burn. I like the DVD distribution -- just one disk to be responsible for, and I can click and go with the install, and not have to be around for the disk-swap. The FTP'd DVD worked well the first time, and the install process worked wonderfully.
As an advanced user, I never select the automatic disk partition scheme -- I always partition the disk out into 8 or 9 partitions, one for root (/), /var, /home, /opt, swap, /tmp, /usr, and /backup. Granted, /backup is not a standard, but I make it a distinct partition for backup purposes, and develop crontab scripts (batch files for our Windows friends) to make copies of the files onto /backup. I found the disk partition tool to work well; my install was flawless.
They also fixed a bug from FC 4: sometimes, when I would partition a drive, and make an error, such as re-sizing a partition, I would get through the package selection, and then error out and have to start the install sequence all over because the partition map did not write properly. FC 5 did not have this error. I tested specifically for it, and did not find it.
What I did find, however, was an oversimplification of the package selection screens. They dummied it down in FC5, making it more of a headache to select which packages and sub-packages you would like to install. I liked the old screens better-- I felt they had more granular control, and were faster to configure and move on.
After the install, the computer responded well. They have changed some of the icons a bit, and made the interface (gnome) more fun. I did not try KDE, but GNOME version 2.14 worked well for me, including mounting volumes from Windows Domains, something that was not easily accomplished under FC4 / Gnome 2.8
FC5 does not support MP3 encoding (ripping CD's) out of the box. Because of licensing issues with the MP3 format, that specification is not available out of the box. I had to install ripperX, a sourceforge program, in order to get my CD's to rip into MP3's properly. RipperX works well, but it does not seem to name the tracks like Sound Juicer did under FC4.
I had no problems compiling sourcecode, or running YUM. The FC5 also recognized my older laptop's hardware properly, something SuSE 9 and SuSE 10 cannot seem to grasp.
I did not perform the optional upgrade from FC4 to FC5... I prefer to manually upgrade my work machines by backing up the necessary partitions, and doing a fresh install. To me, it seems a great way to clean house, and remove old materials from the computer. It also forces me to keep my documentation up to date. I do have a laptop running FC4 yet, so I will try the upgrade feature, and write another article.
Fedora Core 5 linux worked well for me out of the box. While not as easy to install as Ubuntu's breezy-badger, FC5 offers a lot more power to the user than Ubuntu does, and that is important to advanced linux guys like me.
I hope you find this review useful.