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DistributionWatch Review: Red Hat Linux 7.1 - page 2

Red Hat's Subtle Movement

  • May 18, 2001
  • By Brian Proffitt

Though I have recently preferred using SuSE as my personal distribution, my first working install was Red Hat and it was like a nice little homecoming to come back and see what changes have been made.

One of my favorite features, up2date, has been significantly improved and coupled with the Red Hat Network Software Manager that lets you monitor bug fixes and errata reports online. Working with these tools was a definite pleasure, though the up2date tool has been turned into a wizard that rather annoyingly stops after the package download and installation steps, so this is no longer a fire and forget operation.

Everything about the way the apps are organized in both GNOME and KDE screams "corporate desktop" to me, too. This was especially true, interestingly enough, in the KDE desktop, but I'll get to that in a moment. The inclusion of the Loki Games CD seems counter to this, but neat as playing Alpha Centauri is, I am discounting the games' inclusion as merely eye candy.

GNOME users will be disappointed to note that nothing really cutting edge has been added in this environment: no prerelease of Evolution or Nautilus to whet user's whistle. This is a good, solid GNOME 1.2 install and nothing more than that. This plays very well into Red Hat's conservative nature of not releasing anything that might be construed as unstable.

On the other hand, the default KDE 2.1 configuration has placed many of the KOffice icons right on the KDE Panel right in plain sight. This certainly is aimed toward corporate ease of use. I like what the KOffice development team has done, don't get me wrong, but its placement at the forefront of KDE's desktop might be a tad premature since these apps aren't the most stable critters in the world. Here, it seems, Red Hat is dancing along that edge again.

It's this kind of dichotomy that lends to a little confusion on judging Red Hat. Conservative in many ways on what's released but every once in a while they run off and implement something that's way ahead of the rest of the Linux distros. They did it with glibc, they did it with gcc (which is version 2.96-RH in this release, by the way), and they are doing it with the inclusion of ReiserFS.

While I have personally had no problems with Reiser, many people have questioned its use on production systems--enough that you would think Red Hat would wait and see a bit before releasing it in their distribution.

Second guessing what Linux distributors are going to do seems to be almost every Linux journalist's favorite hobby. Speaking for myself, it gives me a headache. The ever-changing market conditions and technological breakthroughs make this task as easy as using a Ouija board to compile source code. Still, long-term I think there is little doubt in my mind that Red Hat is moving towards getting this distribution onto the corporate desktops of the world. Red Hat Linux 7.1 confirms this.

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