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Fedora 12 -- A 'Must Upgrade' and 'Strongly Consider' Distro
Morphing Into Maturity, No Mono, Great Documentation
January 12, 2010
Let's face it -- when it comes to choosing one Linux distribution over another, it often boils down to personal preference. You'll find arguments for one being more user friendly or another being drop-dead simple to install, but in the final analysis the real reason is probably one or more of the following:
Unless you've had problems with a particular distribution, it's a fairly safe bet you'll upgrade to the latest and greatest version when it comes out. The more cautious might wait a short time to see if anyone else has problems with your particular hardware but eventually take the plunge. Newbie Linux users typically fall into one of two camps. Either they have grown tired of the issues with their Windows machine and want to try Linux to see if it will be any better, or they have purchased a new machine, typically a netbook, with Linux pre-installed.
Fedora the Project
The Fedora project made its first release (Fedora Core 1) in 2003 as a completely open source alternative to the commercial Red Hat Linux distribution. From the initial release announcement:
Fedora Core 1 provides a complete Linux platform built exclusively from open source software. Available at no cost, the release serves the needs of community developers, testers, and other technology enthusiasts who wish to participate in and accelerate the technology development process.
In the beginning the Fedora project was targeted at the developer / enthusiast with an interest in the Red Hat platform. Over time this has morphed more into anyone with a desire to run a truly open source version of Red Hat Linux. If message boards and news groups are any indication, the distribution has a huge following. So where does Fedora fit in the landscape of Linux distributions? DistroWatch.com groups it in with openSUSE, Debian GNU/Linux and Mandriva Linux as "good middle-road distributions." They lump Ubuntu, Linux Mint and PCLinuxOS into a group "considered the easiest for new users who want to get productive in Linux as soon as possible."
What's New in Fedora 12?
New and improved features for Fedora 12 fall into one of three categories: applications, installation and administration, and core OS improvements. The release notes have separate sections detailing changes for each audience such as desktop users, system administrators and developers.
On the application front there have been a number of changes and additions to the standard set. The Palimpsest Disk Utility is a new tool with a slick user interface to help you with everything disk related. It provides graphical charts showing disk performance and health for SMART devices including the current operating temperature. Palimpsest also lets you mount foreign disk formats such as Windows NTFS volumes.
Gnote has replaced Tomboy in Fedora 12 as the default note taking application. It removes the dependency on the Mono runtime stack. Empathy is the new default instant messaging client, replacing Pidgin and Theora 1.1 for video encoding / decoding. The NetworkManager tool has been enhanced to provide support for mobile broadband and Bluetooth PAN support for connecting to the Internet using your mobile phone.