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Red Hat Linux 7: A Brief Look Under the Hat - page 2

A New, Improved Red Hat

  • August 15, 2000
  • By All Staff

The addition of XFree86 4.0 to Red Hat 7.0 is a welcome upgrade for users. Font and display management is increasingly better as each X upgrade is released, and this is no exception. Red Hat includes its text-mode /usr/sbin/setup utility, which links to several configuration utilities like Xconfigurator for monitor and card setup and the sndconfig application for sound board installation.

Once the installation is complete, users will see a new look to their desktop environments, especially if they are using Gnome. Red Hat has packaged Gnome 1.2 with release 7.0, using the Sawfish window manager underneath. Sawfish, rather than Enlightenment, is now the window manager of choice for Gnome, and while we missed some of the features of Enlightenment, Sawfish and Gnome work fairly well together. Theme management was the only source of contention, since you have apply GTK and Sawfish schemes separately and sometimes need to play around a bit to get two themes that work well together.

Many KDE fans were delighted to see the KDE2 desktop offered as the KDE choice in Pinstripe. Unfortunately, there's a bit of disappointment ahead. The KDE desktop that will install in the final release will not be KDE2, which was originally slated to be the default release, but rather KDE 1.1. The version is apparently being rolled back due to the stability of the pre-release KDE2 product, which could not be thoroughly tested before the final release of Red Hat 7.0.

There is a ray of hope, however. We have learned that KDE2 will be released as a set of source and binary RPMs with Red Hat 7.0. These RPMs will be offered as a preview for users to explore the new KDE2 interface, but will not be part of any pre-set installation routine in Anaconda.

Tools of the Trade

A lot of speculation has occurred in recent days about which kernel is coming out with Red Hat 7.0. While some have reported that Red Hat is releasing with the 2.4 kernel, this is completely wrong. Red Hat will ship with the 2.2 kernel and this is the kernel that will be installed.

The confusion stems from the fact that the prerelease of kernel 2.4 will be shipped with the distribution's CDs, but this is only for the brave of heart who really like to live on the cutting edge. Red Hat is sticking with the 2.2 kernel for now.

As far as toolsets go, Red Hat still offers a large variety of packages for users to work and play with regardless of the environment they choose. While not as feature-rich as Slackware, Red Hat does a good job of culling out the chaff and providing users with a solid base of apps to choose from. The only real disappointment here was the lack of a productivity suite such as Applixware or StarOffice, which would be a strong attractor for business users (AbiWord is included, but not installed by default).

Getting connected to the Internet is handled solely through the Add New Connection wizard. There is no easy way of editing connections manually, such as through linuxconf. Once connected, the full Netscape Communicator suite (as well as a hoist of other tools) is available for the novice to expert surfer.

For those who want more, the GnoRPM application will assist users to not only install RPM packages, but also to find more of them on the Internet to download and install. Of course, the Powertools CD has quite a few applications to choose from as well. The Up2date application, outwardly unchanged from earlier versions, still provides an easy path to upgrade the applications already installed.

Summary

Red Hat 7.0 is not going to throw a lot of changes at its current user base, so don't look for a lot of surprises in the interfaces or the basic toolset. Stability and ease-of-installation have been enhanced, as well as configuration, so Red Hat still offers users a comfortable place to hang their hats without becoming a plain vanilla Linux offering like Corel.

Because of its stability, price, and powerful customizability, Red Hat Linux 7.0 is still a good mid-level solution for users and businesses wanting to wade into the Linux fray (or plunge right in) without sacrificing a lot of the traits that make Linux unique in the computing world.

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