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DistributionWatch Review: Red Hat Linux 6.1 - page 6

Red Hat Linux: A Mainstream Linux

  • December 6, 1999
  • By Kevin Reichard

Unlike almost every other major Linux distribution--including some that are actually based on Red Hat Linux itself--Red Hat Linux pushes GNOME as its default desktop environment. We're not going to get into a huge GNOME vs. KDE debate here (though we probably will in the future), but the Linux market is moving toward KDE as a default desktop environment. You do have the option of installing both GNOME and KDE, but most users won't go to the extra steps of actually changing GNOME as the default. (Red Hat Linux does include a handy utility called Switchdesk that allows you to switch between GNOME and KDE, but the assumption is made that you'll never want to uninstall GNOME or change its default setting.)

There are some ramifications behind the decision to include GNOME as the default, however. Having installed GNOME, you're also committed to installing all the GNOME libraries, and these eat up some serious hard-disk real estate. How serious? In our installation, a complete Red Hat Linux installation, which doesn't include one byte of the contributed applications, eats up 1.2 gigabytes of hard-disk space. (The marketing materials from Red Hat Software suggest that 600 megabytes is a more realistic installation expectation, but this was not true in our experience.) New users won't know exactly what packages they'll need, so they'll probably be performing a complete installation. This doesn't even include any source code from the second installation CD. If Microsoft came out with a user-oriented Windows operating system that ate up 1.3 gigabytes of hard-disk space, you can bet that Linux devotees would be screaming to high heaven about how inefficient Microsoft was and how Windows is a great example of bloatware.

In addition, the default window manager for Red Hat Linux 6.1 is Enlightenment. With GNOME, you'll need to use a GNOME-compliant window manager. Compliance in this sense means that a window manager must explicitly support GNOME. There are several window managers that will work with GNOME to some degree (including fvwm, Icewm, and WindowMaker).

While we're not thrilled with the default status of GNOME and Enlightenment, the fact is there's a lot to like about Enlightenment. Most noteworthy is the Enlightenment Configuration Tool, which provides a graphical interface to all things Enlightenment, including keyboard focus, resize methods, themes and a lot more. As you'll be able to tell later in this article, we're big on centralized configuration tools.

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