Experiment Revisited: Fedora Core 4

During the next few weeks, I’ll be quietly revisiting all of the distros that we included in our experiment; Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandrake (now Mandriva), MEPIS, and PCLinuxOS. I decided to go ahead and install each distro (current version) and re-orient myself and discuss what Mrs.Devnet liked and what she didn’t like about each one and further discuss what I feel are some strong points and weak points for the distro. After this, we’ll discuss the important things that each and every distro should take note of…that is, what can be improved. Most reviews and quicklooks just point out problems and then do nothing…Yet Another Linux Blog will strive to do more than this. We can’t just sit on things without bringing solutions to the table or we become part of the problem. So without further nonsense, we’ll visit each distro and try to nail down what they could do to appeal to more people. I’ll be getting Mrs.Devnet’s take on it and then I will also add my own using the many average computer user’s that I know as base for my commentary.

So…today I’ll be looking at Fedora Core 4. We’ll begin by assuming I’m a new user and new to Fedora in General.

The Quick Look

First things first. Fedora offers hands down the easiest install of any distro out there. Anaconda is like a betty crocker oven…even a kid could bake with it. For some people, this doesn’t cut it because they may or may not need to feel ‘old skewl’ or ‘l33t’ by keeping things text based or even similar to an Ubuntu/Debian installer feel. For new users though, the Fedora Anaconda install is stellar. Fedora really shines in this area.

Package selection during the install is all graphical, clear and concise. Adding visuals to any presentation or process will make it more efficient and easier to understand. After the install, you are greeted to a KDE or Gnome session depending on what you choose. I chose KDE since I’m more fond of it than Gnome.

During the experiment, Mrs.Devnet experienced problems with an extremely slow booting Fedora on our test computer. I chalk this up to it being a test release. There were no problems with it during this time. In fact, Fedora has increased its boot speed considerably with FC4. It’s one of the fastest booting distros I’ve dealt with. What makes it even better is that it is fully graphical. Though most people want a text boot, I like the fact that you’re given an option.

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with some mp3's to play. In this case, I'm using my Cruzer Micro 512MB Thumbdrive...you might have some sort of mp3 player. Since these devices are relatively similar, this should give good indication on how FC4 handles pluggin devices. Not bad! It detected my Cruzer Micro straight away and placed a desktop shortcut!

Experiment: Final Head to Head

 


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…


 

VS.


Editors Note: Tonight, we go head-to-head with the top distros as ranked previous by the experiment. Most of the readers know the premise behind the experiment and appreciate what we have set out to do. The top two new user distros as decided on by Mrs.Devnet, a new Linux user converting from Windows are PCLinuxOS .81a and SimplyMEPIS 3.3.1 (versions updated to current). We installed and test one last time each distro to allow Mrs.Devnet to experience each one before crowning a new user champion. In the following comparison, Mrs.Devnet will give advantage to one distro over the other or in the case of a tie, she will list both as winners. The distro with the most advantages will win. And now, Mrs. Devnet…

 

Look and Feel – This is one of the biggest determining factors for me. PC Linux OS looked and felt more comfortable and felt that way more so than any other distro we tried. The way it looked set me at ease right away and was easier to navigate because of this. MEPIS could really use some work on the user friendly icons and graphics. Making the distro ‘feel’ as easy as it is to use would make it a world better. Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Performance – Both of these performed well. However, PCLinuxOS booted up in 5 seconds. Nothing in the entire experiment could top that. Fast, stable, and fun to use…despite being a beta version. Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Hardware/Software – PCLinuxOS has a great selection of preinstalled applications that I can use for what I do with a computer. I didn’t have to go looking for anything at all. MEPIS includes a lot of stuff as well, but no nearly as much as PCLinuxOS. It also doesn’t have any filesharing applications. I’m told that installing stuff is a snap once you master a package program…however, that isn’t what we set out to do in the experiment so I have to go with default installs. Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Upgradeability/Security – I am not qualified to compare anything on this criteria so I’ll make it a draw. Advantage – Both Distros.

Documentation – During the experiment I didn’t notice much difference between the two distributions. However, if you go to the home site for PCLinuxOS and the home site for SimplyMEPIS, you see a world of difference. It seems that PCLinuxOS has a much more active website. It was also great that PCLinuxOS gives you a chat icon to go right to a chat room to help you out (editors note: mrs.devnet is speaking about an IRC #pclinuxos icon on the default PCLinuxOS desktop that people can use for help). Advantage – PCLinuxOS.

Installation – While PCLinuxOS install is by no means difficult, SimplyMEPIS was easier and FASTER than anything else.. Nothing can touch SimplyMEPIS in this category. Advantage – SimplyMEPIS.

Now we talk about my Criteria…

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Experiment: The Distro Roundup

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. That means they’re not sugar coated…they’re not ‘made nice’ to make things appear to be good when they’re not…and when the distro’s succeed, they are really applauded. Why? Because my wife (aka mrs.devnet), the main focus of the experiment, loves to NOT spend money for anything and everything. If I can convince her that Linux is ready for the primetime and deserves a permenant place on our desktop, she’d be as happy as I would be.

As some of you know…the last review by Mrs.Devent went up on the blog early this week. Most of you saw how it was received…I know she didn’t dig the current distrowatch #1, Ubuntu, very much. The reason the review wasn’t well received is because people do not have a grasp of the entire scope of the experiment. So to remedy this, I’ve round up all the reviews into this single post. That way, everyone will be on the same page with what we focused on (criteria of the experiment), what hardware we used (hardware post), and which distros we took for a drive. The results were interesting and odd…because some of the distros you’d have thought would have scored well, didn’t score well at all.

However, the reason for the experiment wasn’t to find problems with distributions…it’s to provide solutions in the form of feedback and to find the best distro for a convert from Windows. So we set out to review each distro in our list and test how it ran for a new user with no alterations to the distro…that is, right out of the box.

While every single user of Windows has different requirements…I felt that Mrs.Devnet was somewhat average in her tastes. She does p2p and multimedia stuffs and she checks mail then surfs the internet. Pretty average. So, the beginning of the experiment was set to some standards. I’m going to post a link to that here so that we’re all on the same page:

 

First up was Mandrake 10.1 Community. Mrs.Devnet found Mandrake to be a 6 out of 10 for her first review. In her upcoming post we’ll talk about where Mandrake went wrong for her and where it can improve. However, during this review, Mrs.Devnet found the distro infuriating: “In conclusion, Mandrake has made a dummy out of me and I don’t like it one bit. An experience like this is enough to wound any new user’s pride. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this is a really great OS for someone who knows a lot about Linux or computers in general.” Here’s the link to the Mandrake review:

Next, we had SimplyMEPIS 3.3 Test2. SimplyMEPIS is a LiveCD with optional hard disk install. The simplicity of this distro is touted quite a bit with around 10 clicks to a hard disk install. I included test distros in this review because we wanted to go with the most current offering a distro had. That way, people couldn’t get upset because we weren’t using bug patched versions. Some might argue that the distro is test for a reason…but in my software developing past…a test distro really was used for feedback and not for bug finds…that’s what beta versions are for. Anyways, SimplyMEPIS scored 7 out of 10 and rocketed up to first place. In the end, this distro settled for second place and a right to be in the distro drawdown. Of SimplyMEPIS, Mrs.Devnet writes, “I liked SimplyMEPIS for the most part. Even though it is sometimes confusion and sometimes annoying I know this could easily be overcome with a little more time.” Here’s the link to the SimplyMEPIS review:

PCLinuxOS .81 rang in next. Like SimplyMEPIS, this distro provides a very polished Linux desktop in a matter of minutes being a LiveCD with hard disk install. PCLinuxOS scored a whopping 10 out of 10 propelling it up to first place ahead of SimplyMEPIS. Mrs.Devnet had the following to say about PCLinuxOS: “Guess what? Mrs.Devnet thinks PCLinuxOS ROCKS!! It makes everything I need to do simple AND it’s easy on the eyes. It serves my purpose, bottom line. This is exactly what Linux needs to draw average users.” Once again, the link to the review:

Fedora Core 4 Test 1 went onto our test computer next. Fedora Core is often touted as “the new user’s distro” and we set out to see if Fedora could foot this bill. This was also the first Gnome desktop centered distribution that we had examined. However, despite Mrs.Devnet’s pleasure of working with the Gnome desktop, Fedora Core 4 Test 1 scored 4 out of 10. Of Fedora, Mrs.Devnet stated, “It didn’t provide me with the things I needed to even go about my every day usage with my PC…I wouldn’t consider this to be new user friendly at all, by any means.” You can read the complete review at the following link:

Originally, we weren’t going to include Ubuntu into the experiment. However, a few users emailed me and were anxious to have Mrs.Devnet give Ubuntu a try. So, reluctantly, I allowed Ubuntu to be included with the experiment despite it’s rather more advanced install. Mrs.Devnet was able to stumble through the install using all defaults but was put off by the non-visual process (text only). Ubuntu scored 4 out of 10, which seemingly surprised many of those leaving comments on the review. Of Ubuntu, Mrs.Devnet commented, “So I have to ask the question, how can a distro that looks absolutely fantastic be so useless? …how is this attractive to a new user or a Linux convert?” Read how Ubuntu 5.04 “Hoary” tied Fedora for the lowest rating:

So there you have it. The whole She-bang. I made Mrs.Devnet go back to her Windows for some days in between each review to re-adjust to that environment. I wanted her to try and stay as fresh as she could for each review. I also wanted her to maintain her criteria and the main criteria as much as possible for each distro…so I explicitly forbid her to learn anything such as software installs/package installs UNLESS the “how-to” was included ON THE COMPUTER after the distro install. Not a single distro included a ‘getting started’ or ‘how-to’ guide by default. That’s why Mrs.Devnet didn’t get into upgrading/installing anything. So, something to take note of there.

If you’ve read each one of the reviews discussed above in detail and take to heart the criteria we set forth and the aim of this experiment…you’ll note that PCLinuxOS came out on top. Just to be certain, we’re going to take #1 and #2 (PCLOS and SimplyMEPIS) and pit them head to head in a distro duke out. The criteria won’t change…BUT instead of rating on a scale of 1-10…we’re just going to switch up to advantage or disadvantage. So if SimplyMEPIS installs better than PCLinuxOS…then advantage would go to SimplyMEPIS. Things might turn out different because SimplyMEPIS has since released an updated version AND an updated OS Control Center as well…so who knows? In the event of an even rating, Mrs.Devnet will choose the winner and will absolutely justify in writing why it won.

Also during this time, we’ll begin voting in the Forum here on which 2 badges (anyone that can design better than me, please submit some!! I’m not extremely crafty) will be given to the winning community to display proudly. We will also display the badge here on the Linux Blog front page as well. The badge can link back to this synopsis article.

An interview with the creator/main developer of the winning distro will also take place. YALB will contact the winner and attempt a Q & A session with them for posting here. It will be a chance for everyone to discover what drives the developer to produce the best free desktop as approved by YALB through the experiment. Lots of excitement?!?!?! I know its very exciting for both I and Mrs.Devnet to see the culmination of what we set out to do. We really appreciate all of those leaving comments and your continuing support. Since I don’t advertise this blog (other than through blog rolling and sometimes a news site picking us up) remember to spread the word! If you like something you read here whether in the forum or on the blog…please be sure to let everyone know. Everything is creative commons so please remember to give credit where credit is due. Thanks again for reading!

See the Results of this Experiment Here!

Experiment 1.5: Ubuntu 5.04 “Hoary” 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…


1) Look/Feel – I was impressed with the desktop. I think it has something to do with Gnome because Fedora looked similar, but I like the look of Ubuntu better. It’s professional looking and it makes me feel like I am using something very official. It has that cool and sleek design that I want in a desktop–one of the best looking distros I have seen. (Score – 10)

2) Performance – I have no issues with performance. Everything seemed to work as it should. It’s not slow or anything. We’re cool here. (Score – 10)

3) Hardware/Software – All of my hardware was detected properly. There are not many software choices with this distro, as was the case with Fedora. I’m told this is a Gnome thing. So this is a definite down side of Gnome for me. I like choices. Remember, downloading new programs and such is out for me for the most part, unless I can get someone to help me…which I’m not doing for these reviews as to maintain new user status. (Score – 5)

4) Upgradeability/Security – I’m just guessing that everything is okay. Same situation as before. (Score – 10)

5) Documentation – Their website is very nice and organized. There seems to be the same attention to detail and documentation as with Fedora. But as before, it’s not a whole lot of help to a new person like me, right off the bat that is. I am sure with lots of time a work I can figure somethings out but this is not what I am here for. I want easy answers, just like every other average person. (Score – 9)

6) Installation – Installation went okay, it was text only and involved a lot of blind guessing, but I made it through. But after the install was done, I was instructed to take out the cd and it would automatically restart. Well I was then bombarded with text flying everywhere and I didn’t know what the heck was going on. Then after about five minutes I was sure I had done something wrong so I consulted the guru and I was informed that this was part of the install. Whah, hey? It would have been nice to have some sort of warning as to what was about to happen. I thought the install was over but no, evidently I was now watching the software being installed FOR TWENTY FIVE MINUTES!!! THEN a boot screen appeared. That whole ordeal was super annoying. If I had not had someone to consult, I would have probably pulled the plug after ten minutes. I need graphics, I need explanations!! This has been the worst install yet because I was totally convinced that something had gone horribly wrong and I was ready to write it off right then and there–but I didn’t. (Score – 2)

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

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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…

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Experiment 1.3: PCLinuxOS .81 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…


1)Look/Feel – I was impressed right off the bat with the look and feel of PC Linux OS. It’s much more professional looking than the others I’ve looked at, very clean and sleek. It could still use a little more flair, but I felt very comfortable looking at the desktop, it was by no means second rate. I like that they have the icon “Home” instead of the confusing one’s that others tend to use. All in all it was very user friendly. Once again, I was disappointed that I did not get to experiment with the Gnome desktop because it was not included in the software. I understand that with a lot of work, I could install it, but that is way beyond me. Still, I had fun with this one. (Score – 9)

2) Performance – Very fast. My husband tells me that PCLinuxOS is optimized for our computer. Whatever. But it gets me a desktop 5 seconds after I type in my user/password and that is the fastest I’ve seen. I’ve had no problems whatsoever. (Score – 10)

3)Hardware/Software – Everything that I needed was right there when I needed it. As mentioned in my initial impression, I was thrilled to find that Limewire is standard with this distro. I was so impressed with downloading files in Linux that I don’t think I will ever download files with Windows again. I’ve also decided that it’s ok for Mr. Devnet to set us up with a permanent Linux desktop in our house. He was very happy to finally have my approval. My mouse still doesn’t work properly but I think this is a browser problem (so I’ve been told). (Score – 10)

4)Upgradeability/Security – I’m going to stop pretending that I have a clue about these issues. Since they don’t affect anything I’ve done so far, it’s only fair to give them a 10. Okay, so maybe that’s not fair but this is my review! (Score – 10)

5)Documentation – Their community website looks to covers all bases, as far as someone like me can tell. It was very well organized and I couldn’t help but notice the reader survey on their homepage. I think the new tux looks more professional but the old one is cuter. (Score – 10)

6)Installation – Took less than fifteen minutes. There seemed to be some confusing things that I would not have understood on my own having to do with partitions. Yeah, I have no idea. There should be an option to just use the entire disk like there is in the distros I’ve seen before. (Score – 8 )

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

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