After a year long stint trying to configure Debian Sid to work stably on my laptop — and for the most part failing miserably; maybe that’s why sid is ‘unstable’ — I decided it was time to stop pretending I could configure Debian, so I installed Ubuntu, which happens to exist specifically for people who can’t handle configuring debian.
Jokes aside (please don’t comment on my horrid sense of humor, I’m probably legally insane right now.) I installed fedora 10 on my Gateway MT3423 laptop. Here’s what I have to say about the newly released distro: Very sound, very stable, very reliable, even running KDE4.1.3, I have had little to no issues with it; only positives.
Let me start by saying this: RedHat did a superb job on the Anaconda installer. It is by far one of the easiest installer system that I have ever used. It’s fast, it’s clean, it’s concise. It let me deploy an entire system based on the packages I wanted, which, based on my prior experiences is not the norm… at least with debian, you are hardwired to set up either a desktop (GNOME, no other option) webserver, sql server (only postgresql) etc… With Anaconda, you can choose individual packages, or just choose a desktop environment (KDE, GNOME, XFCE, LXDE, etc)
So, after a nice install, I got to see the shiny new KDE4.1 desktop. Fedora 10 ships with a very nice blue and black theme called Solar, which is primarily an image of the sun, or some other star, filtered through a blue filter, imo. It looks really snazzy; everything matches, from bootscreen (which I could, for the life of me, not get working on Debian) to the desktop background. The only thing I had to do out of the box was change KWin to use a different color scheme, to match the desktop — I used Zion (reversed), a nice high contrast black theme.
KDE4 introduced the concept of plasmoids, little widgets that can be stuck anywhere on the desktop, little widgets for, say, taskmanagement, calculating, even twitter. The choices were a little paltry, but then again most users have yet to upgrade their desktop, leaving the core of developers still at kde3.
Fedora 10 also ships with integration with SELinux, a kernel level tool used to verify that security is at it should be and to prevent root use as much as possible. While this is kind of a pain the behind for me, a regular laptop user running virtuall no services, and not minding an occaisional typing of his root password, I can definitely see the cool-factor and reasons behind it. It was just a bit of a pain to get NetworkManager to work when SELinux blocks it from doing a dhcp reservation. I fixed that though with a minor bit of hacking in the policy files, which, by the way, is managed by the Fedora system configuration tools, another stellar part of Fedora 10.
Fedora — and I assume RHEL — use system-config-* tools to bind up all of their configuration tools into one quick little interface, which keeps one from dredging around in /etc and keeps the system nice and easy to administrate; I haven’t had to vim a single /etc file except once to change the desktop manager to KDM.
While KDE4 is still a little rough around the edges (no way to hide unused tray icons? what?) it shows great promise and great, erm, entertainment for little technophiles like me. And that hiding unused tray icons will be in KDE4.2