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Red Hat Linux 7: A Brief Look Under the Hat

A New, Improved Red Hat

August 15, 2000

When the public beta of Red Hat Linux 7.0 came out a few weeks ago, the Linux community was given a taste of the upcoming release of Winston, Red Hat's code name for the 7.0 release. Winston, by all accounts, came out of the gate looking very good and was pretty stable by the time the Pinstripe public beta was released.

For this version of Red Hat Linux, the North Carolina company has kept many of the features that has made this product a favorite in the Linux community. In doing so, however, it has taken more conservative path to the addition of new tools to the release than has been reported in the media of late. There are some misconceptions out there regarding the version of KDE and the Linux kernel being released with Red Hat 7.0. If nothing else, this review should set these two issues straight.

Installing Red Hat Linux 7.0

The installation application, Anaconda, is basically identical to Red Hat 6.2, with some minor improvements. Now entry-level users don't have to decide between Gnome or KDE workstation installs: they can have both, or neither, if they so choose. Besides Workstation, Anaconda will has the Server installation setting, Custom, or Upgrade. Upgrading from 6.2 to 7.0 was a fairly painless process, but we still recommend a clean install if you can manage it.

Disk Druid still manages disk partitioning in a reasonably straightforward manner, and the explanatory text has been cleared up a bit to make the whole partitioning thing easier for newcomers. (The automatic partitioning option works very well, even for dual-boot machines.)

Package selection can still be handled on an individual level, though there are three preset package groups (Gnome, KDE, and Games) that make it easier to just get going without a lot of fuss. Should you choose to select both desktop environments, a setting on the X configuration screen will let you set the default environment.

X configuration is handled in much the same manner, though you can now specify the amount of video RAM your card has. The PCI probe did a great job on recognising most of the cards we used, and a fair job in identifying monitors. X is still a critical area of the installation process, but we were left with a sense of security before leaving this section of the installation as long as we tested our settings first.

One additional pleasant surprise was the automatic detection and configuration of our sound cards, a feat that in the recent past was not consistently handled in installation. Hearing sound without having to run sndconfig right off the bat was a nice improvement.

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