Experiment 1.4: Fedora Core 4 Test 1 Final Rating


Linuxblog Introduction: We took an average windows user, gave her a handful of distributions of Linux, and forced her to use each distro for one week. We gave her alsaconf, email servers, and mounted her windows partition to the fresh install. Then, we faded away and quietly watched her in her new environment. You too can join us by reading on…

Editors Note: More screenshots would accompany this review, but problems with software/hardware prevented many things from happening. Read on for more.


1) Look/Feel – as far as the look of this distro goes…everything is very nice and professional. This one is extremely easy on the eyes. I was excited at the chance to get to use the gnome desktop by default. I really like the way the menu bar is at the top instead of the bottom. I don’t like the fact that there are very few choices in the menu’s for anything. But overall, everything seems very nice. (Score – 8 )

2) Performance – Slow! With a capital “S”! During my first login, the desktop took approximately 45 seconds to login then froze. So we restarted and tried it again. It improved to 40 seconds but didn’t freeze this time. When clicking on menu’s it isn’t too bad…but whenever I open a program it takes forever and a year to open it up. This is horrible. (Score – 2)

3) Hardware/Software – This was a big issue for me as well. I don’t like the fact that there is very little choice in the menus. Also the fact that it is extremely difficult for me to download and install things (something I haven’t figured out yet in Linux) and that it doesn’t have many choices for software makes it useless for me. Fedora seemed to install all my hardware correctly though. (Score – 5)

4) Upgradeability/Security – Yet again this subject is lost on me. I have to trust that things are secure. Upgrading is a mystery for me. I’ve gotta be fair to this one so I’ll give it what I give every distro. (Score – 10)

5) Documentation – There is loads of documentation available from the Fedora website. However, none of this actually helps me at all. Being a new user this is like looking at a new language to me. I don’t understand any of it. It might be great for other people but it doesn’t help me out at all. Still, they’ve got great organization in place and a very detailed site, so they will score a bit high on this. (Score – 9)

6) Installation – Everything was very straightforward. They have an excellent graphic installation thing. Very easy to use. This might even be easier than Windows. It wasn’t a long installation either. It would be great if all of the distros installed like this. (Score – 10)

And now…once again…it is time for my criteria…

My Criteria

1) Mail – There is a new program I haven’t used yet called Evolution that is the only choice for mail in Fedora. After 2 attempts to get my mail configured, I gave up. This thing froze both times and wouldn’t let me do squat with mail. I’ve never had this much trouble with email in Linux and I’m really disappointed. Mr.Devnet says that evolution is quite nice from when he’s used it. Fedora really let me down here. (Score – 0)

2) Internet – I couldn’t get my website to render. Evidently, Java isn’t installed like it is in other distros. It gave me a link to click on so I did and I was able to download java. I couldn’t figure out how to install it at all though. In windows, its a double click. Here, I have no idea. I checked around at other web sites and found that most of them don’t render properly either. This was another major disappointment. Mr.Devnet told me that Fedora is put out by Red Hat who is a professional company that makes Linux. If this is the best they’ve got, they need more practice. (Score – 2)

3) Listening To Music – the default player is horrible. I couldn’t figure out how to use it at all. Took me forever to figure out how to put things into the que. I hated it all around. It is completely inferior to anything else I’ve used. Not only that, but this thing doesn’t even play mp3’s. What the heck is that all about? Well, I don’t have time nor experience to figure this one out. (Score – 1)

4) Download Music/Files – There is nothing in Fedora by default for me to do this. I couldn’t successfully download and install Limewire yet again. (Score – 0)

5) Burning CDs – It didn’t come with k3b, which I really like, so I was disappointed. But I guess the one that it has serves its purpose. (Score – 6)

So, to start out with, just booting into Fedora Core 4 looked very promising. Everything looked very nice. I was really looking forward to things. However, everything is barebones and minimal. I consider myself a very general user of computers. I think I use my computer for about the same thing that everyone else does. This did not serve my purpose. It didn’t provide me with the things I needed to even go about my every day usage with my PC. As I’ve said many times before, the idea of downloading programs on my own is something that is going to take quite a bit of time to learn, time that I and probably no one has.

I wouldn’t consider this to be user friendly at all, by any means. I wouldn’t use this unless I really knew what the heck was going on and knew the inner workings of things. Overall, this was the worst experience I’ve had with Linux.

Mrs.Devnet

Fedora Core 4 Test 1 Scores: 4 out of 10

(and I’m being generous on that one :) )

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  • Anonymous

    Open a shell, switch to root, and run
    yum -y upgrade
    You will need to restart X after.

    Does that speed things up?

  • helios

    Ah…the love/hate relationship with Gnome! It’s like an old girlfriend to me, I remember the good things in retrospect but when it comes time to re-unite or revisit, I suddenly remember the reasons we broke up. LOL…I am sure my last love interest will be thrilled that I equated her to something called Gnome.

    You gave FC3 about an hour longer than I did.
    helios

  • Mrs. Devnet

    Shell? Huh . . Whah? — This review is based on what I can accompish out of the box without any knowledge on how to do upgrades because, let’s face it, folks new to Linux won’t have a clue how to “execute shell scripts”. –I have to maintain my new user status.

  • helios

    sorry to be a repeat poster but you are right Mrs. D. The ideal Linux distro will let you USE the damn thing before you have to LEARN it…kinda like (ugghh) windoz. You have the ability to drive a car long before you have to learn how to open the hood…of course you will have to eventually (unless you are my wife). My point is that you do not have to open the hood of the car to put it into gear. can anyone say Gentoo? ;-)
    helios

  • Andrew

    It looks like your criteria based on multimedia stuffs.
    For Java Runtime Environment(JRE) in Linux, go to Java website, they have clear install instructions.
    If you don’t like music player by default you can change by using file association in KDE control center.
    For burning, if you use apt-get or yum it takes only a minute.
    Sorry to say but you can’t do much in Linux if you don’t want to learn. I really doubt how you can install Linux successfully by yourself.

  • Mrs. devnet

    It’s not that I don’t want to learn. Don’t aim this at me…I’m am the average user. The average user isn’t going to spend all day long learning how to get their browser to work with java. Especially when they can just go with a different linux and have it enabled by default.

    Think about it…Windows IE offers just a couple of mouse clicks and java/flash work right away. Only a few of these distros do this right out of the box and If I can’t double-click something to install it…I’m not going to spend much time being impressed with it or using it.

    As far as installation goes…you should know that Fedora is blindingly easy. Especially when I don’t have to do any of that partitioning stuff….just keep clicking ok…and I’m set. I have had 0 problems installing any of these distributions thus far. My policy in windows and Linux is “When in doubt, click ok” and it may or may not be good…but it is mine :)

    Installing something is nothing at all like putting a program on your computer in Linux. It’s all point and click. If installing programs were that easy and there was a guide that popped up and told you this right after the install, I’d be set. But no distro has been able to provide this info to get me started. Linux is very helpful in showing WHERE to get the programs…but the information on HOW-TO-INSTALL is not there…and if it is there, it’s not explained in any way a new user can understand. Until this improves…you’ll see most new users stick with distros that ‘just work’ like PCLinuxOS and SimplyMEPIS (the top 2 rated right now).

    The only one I’ve had problems with is Ubuntu (next on the list) and that is because it isn’t a point and click install. I’ll discuss this further on in the review process. Should be ready to go with Ubuntu 5.04 after this weekend.

  • helios

    yeah, its me again…and yes I do have a life…Mrs. D. held her own on that so I can put my shining armor away for now…and good points. What I am seeing is a contrast between the “old school” linux developers who could care less about a functional graphical user interface and the newer guys who see the success of linux teetering on failure because of these attitiudes. Having been on the inside of this conflict for a short time, I know it to be real. No, I don’t WANT linux to be like windows. What I want is a distribution that doesn’t make me spend hours digging for a man page so I can do the simplist thing. It seems some people have the time to sit and fool with something for hours. I need to get to work. PCLinuxOS finally got it right.
    A simple case in point is mplayer. You want your newsclips to stream in kanotix or kubuntu? Go find the proper mplayer rpms or debs. make sure they have the proper dependancies and then research where you must get then place mplayer-plugin or mozplugger. A good linux person can do it in 30 minutes…a noob is screwed. Not only does mepis and pclinuxos come preconfigured to stream…some distros come with either the nvidia or ati drivers set up and ready to go. The Gentoo people don’t seemn to think this is a big deal. I do. Our competition is with Windoz whether we like to admit it or not, and the sooner we bring linux to the same usability standard, the sooner we will have a real impact on the desktop market.

  • Charley

    I consider myself a pretty savvy linux user since I’ve been using linux since 1995 when there wasn’t any type of graphical installation whatsoever. But I happen to agree with Mrs. devnet on her assesement of Fedora Core (which I have used).
    Todays average person is not inclined to mess around with anything in a shell window. Not that they don’t want to learn, but that the type of activity isn’t what they consider interesting. Despite what you may think, media is what computers are all about nowadays. Especially home users. Children are brought up listening to music, playing games, watching videos, and making their own cd’s all on a computer. Multimedia is where everything is headed.
    The average user is not interested in tweaking settings under the hood. Just like most automobile owners are not interested in getting new performance spark plugs and replacing them themselves – that’s a what a mechanic is for. If autmobiles required that you open the hood, search around for wires, connect them to the battery and ground in order to hear the radio or cd player, then I garauntee that that particular model would not have very many sales. The same applies to computers.
    As far as gentoo goes, that’s a tinkerer’s distro. I use it myself. In fact it’s my favorite distribution. But then again, that’s my thing. But the average user wants to just point and click. So it is encumbent on the developer to ensure that the interface is easy to use. Fedora has gone to great lengths to make the installation easy, as has most distros. The next logical step would be to make the desktop just as easy to use, including making installing and removing software nothing more than point and click.

    On a side note: K3B is mainly a KDE application – not that you can’t use it with Gnome, but most distros tend to keep software aimed at particular desktops together. Installing K3B on Gnome would require additional KDE libraries installed increasing the amount of disk space required. Again, most users will not understand the difference – therefore, even though there are serveral other CD burning software out there (I’ve used most of them), K3B is one of the better applications, since it was developed to look and act more like Roxio CD burning software. Gnome as far as I know, doesn’t have a alternate equal to K3B. They do have some other software that KDE doesn’t do as well also. But that’s another topic.

  • Mrs.Devnet

    Since I have been bothering to comment these days (I haven’t been doing alot of it throughout this thing). I just wanted to give a quick hello and thanks to people like Helios who have stuck with it and at least acted as if they enjoyed this whole process. Believe it or not, when I get ready to give up it’s you guys that keep me plugging along–and my husband, he’d never speak to me again if I just quit:) I know I’m not the most interesting read in the world. I’m probably not very interesting at all, but I do realize that this could be something important to the community and that is the interesting part. It’s important to my husband too. While he is one of those people who can work with anything you give him, he is also one of those people that would like to see Linux go as far as it possibly can. I hope this experiment helps a little because God knows I’ll never be able to program anything!!

  • helios

    Mrs D. …

    This “experiment” is all over the internet, not quite the raging topic everywhere, but it is making an impact and I know for a fact that this project is being watched by many. there are a few of us who point to it often and I have personally received email with your experiment specifically mentioned. Lets just hope that the “old school” developers are keeping an eye on it, because that is where it is needed. Mr. Devnet could probably be more of an impact there. Anyway, either way it goes, you are providing an extremely important benchmark.

    btw. you like limewire on pclos? mess around with amule…trust me. ;-)

    helios

  • davecs

    Mrs Devnet, if you think PCLinuxOS is good, keep an eye on their mirrors. The next version, .9, is due any time now. It will have a new feature whose name won’t interest you one bit, but what it does is enable icons for things like USB Key Drives and the like to pop up on your desktop when you plug them in, with an option on the right click menu to “Remove Safely” so that everything you saved on it is actually recorded on it properly before you unplug it. Makes life very simple!

    Speaking technically for a moment, Linux is not an operating system, it is the kernel of an operating system. People can add stuff around it to create an operating system (if they are clever enough) for all sorts of specialist jobs. I think that PCLinuxOS is important because it has a nice set of “get you started” software included which means that you can get good use out of it without even having to learn how to add/update software (which is actually very easy!).

    But Helios is right, if you buy a car, you know it’s better if you learn how to lift the bonnet (British English for hood) and top up the radiator/screenwash when needed, but at first you just want to get behind the wheel and drive the damn thing.

    Where something this user friendly scores over Windows is this: to get the same level of functionality from Windows as you get from PCLOS, you would need to install Windows, then install loads of programs from a pile of disks. Because of “free software”, the designers of a Linux system can bundle whatever software they like.

    So you get a complete system with loads of software in about 15 minutes. That’s why I think PCLOS has really hit the mark!

  • http://www.mguhlin.net Miguel Guhlin

    In November 2004, I was a complete ignorant when it came to Linux. I played around with Fedora Core 3, Debian Linux, ubuntu for Mac and Windows, Suse 9.x, Ubuntu Hoary, ProMepis, SimplyMepis, SimplyMepis 3.3. Whew!

    SimplyMepis 3.3 wins hands-down as the easiest for ‘noobs’ to setup on their computer and get going. Ubuntu Hoary is a nice second and everything else ain’t worth the time for a newbie. If you install Gnome on Simply Mepis 3.3, then you have a really nice system that combines the stability of SimplyMepis (and all its apps) with the clean design of Gnome. I am VERY happy with Mepis 3.3 running Gnome and my Dell Latitude is zippy.

    Thanks!

  • index.php devnet

    SimplyMEPIS is a great distro! Also…I think you should give Mrs.Devnet’s current #1 a go…it is a nice distro as well. Stay tuned for more later tonight or tomorrow…the review on Ubuntu will post then.

  • chuchII

    isn’t this ignorance to the computing world the problem that most people have?
    big M’s windoz doesn’t need people to understand anything about what they are doing. it’s no wonder there are so many problems with ad/spy-ware, viruses and all around security holes.
    the beauty of linux is that it forces people to learn a little bit about what they are doing. if we made it completely “plug and play” it would be as much a piece of $h!t that windows is.
    yeah linux is different, but DVD players are different from VHS and people still learn how to use them, why? people eventually see the benefit of the change

    the way i see it, if you don’t wanna take the time to learn a little about how your computer works then you can have fun paying for extra security measures (fire walls, anti-virus, anti-popup etc) and deal with the performance hits you take for it.

  • index.php devnet

    Chuch,

    I think you’re missing the point. We’re TRYING to find the closest distro to windows. We took a windows user who didn’t want to know anything about Linux and we wanted to see if there was a distro out there that might make that user feel comfortable enough to operate for their daily stuffs they do…for MrsDevnet…that is listening to music, checking mail, and surfing the web.

    Obviously mail isn’t a problem with any distro…but evidently surfing the web is…and being able to listen to mp3’s is. All of these things are things she can do in XP…so that’s what she is looking at here.

    We’re giving feedback to each distro…so that they can improve their scope to include new coverts if they’d like. Because as of now…many of them are not new user friendly even though the advertise themselves as.

    Apples and oranges? I don’t think so. I think that this is a valid means of comparison that many people who just have discovered Linux will make. By ignoring this fact and saying that users of Linux ‘should go out and learn’ or ‘will just get used to learning’ right off the bat is preposterous. That would immediately turn off a windows user that converted…unless they were a huge tech head.

    The bottom line is…the average windows user is the target and they don’t know squat about linux and if converting will have even less of a desire to learn about it. If you use something that ‘just works’ and then go to something that requires effort…you drop back to the one that ‘just works’. Unfortunately, things are that way.

    The great thing about Linux isn’t the fact that it forces people to learn about their computers. It’s the fact that Linux is free and is an alternative to Microsoft all the while being more secure and less adware/spyware ridden.

    As a Linux distro developer myself, I can honestly say that I’m not going to take the time to ‘weed out’ users by making my distro hard to use or making it just unfriendly enough to ‘force people to learn’. I’m going to develop that puppy so that it is as friendly as it can be. ;-)

  • http://linux-blog.org/index.php?/archives/79-Experiment-The-Distro-Roundup.html Yet Another Linux Blog

    What do you get when you take 1 new Linux user with zero Linux experience, add 5 distros and stir? You get the Linux Blog experiment, that’s what. What makes these reviews different from all other reviews is that they are done by an avid Windows user.