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DistributionWatch: Another Tip of the Red Hat - Examining Red Hat 7.3 - page 2

Overview and Installation

  • June 14, 2002
  • By Bill von Hagen

Red Hat 7.3 is the largest Red Hat distribution yet, consisting of eight CDs in the off-the-shelf personal version. The distribution is composed of three installation CDs for the core distribution, two CDs of source code, one of documentation, and two applications CDs - one containing Star Office 5.2 and another containing productivity applications. Given Red Hat's recent gripes to the press about Sun beginning to charge for Star Office 6 (pot::kettle::black, anyone?), I would have expected Red Hat to provide Open Office 1.0 rather than a version of Star Office that's been around for a year or so, but they seem to have ignored my phone calls.

The Productivity Applications CD includes software such as Fax2Send (2.1), an old version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader (4.05), StuffIt (5.1.6.588), and some industry-specific tools such as Photodex's CompuPic digital content manager, the Dataplore data analysis package, and the impressive VariCAD design and modeling package. To clarify, the items on the Star Office and Productivity Applications CDs are not a part of the default Red Hat installation, but must be seperately installed after you've installed Red Hat 7.3.

The core Red Hat 7.3 distribution is based on the 2.4.18-3 kernel, and provides reasonably up-to-date and patched versions of the most popular Linux software with some interesting new additions. Red Hat 7.3 includes glibc 2.2.5-54, XFree86 4.2.0-8, KDE 3.0.0-12, GNOME 1.4.0.4-54, emacs 21.2-2, Ghostscript 6.52-8, BIND 9.2.0-8, Sendmail 8.11.6-15, MySQL 3.23.49-3, PostgreSQL 7.2.1-15, PHP 4.1.2-7, and Apache 1.3.23-11. Red Hat 7.3 still insists on providing GCC 2.96 (now up to patch level 100 - what a surprise), and unfortunately does not include any version of GCC 3.x. On the browser front, Netscape 4.79-1 and Mozilla 0.0.9-7 are included, as well as recent versions of KDE's Konqueror (3.0.0-12) and GNOME's Nautilus (1.0.6-15), both of which you can either view as browsers or as file managers that happen to understand URLs. The versions of both Netscape and Mozilla were disappointing - while I'm still a fan of Netscape "Classic", Netscape 6.2 should have been provided in some form, and release candidates of Mozilla 1.0 have been all over the Web for months now.

Aside from my disappointment regarding the Netscape and Mozilla versions, the most irritating aspect of this dirtibution for me is the version of emacs included with Red Hat 7.3. The default emacs is compiled with the Xaw3d widgets, and therefore provides stupid eye candy like 3d scroll bars and an icon-oriented toolbar across the top. I'll send $5.00 to the first person who can give me some X Window system magic to disable this crapola without recompiling emacs. For God's sake, leave emacs alone! People who want those sorts of bells and whistles should be running xemacs (21.4.6-7) in the first place. The next thing you know, Red Hat's default version of vi will have a toolbar and "What's This" help. (If this is actually something you'd like to see, you can run "gvim", but you and I must be from different universes.)

Above and beyond the basics that you expect to find in any Linux distribution, Red Hat 7.3 includes a nice collection of productivity applications as part of the default instalation process. It includes AbiWord 0.99.5-1 (almost ready for prime time!), GNUmeric 1.0.5-3, GNUcash 1.6.6-3, KOffice 1.1.1-5, and now includes Ximian's excellent Evolution email client (1.0.3-4), which is a complete replacement for Microsoft Outlook except for the virus distribution features. Unfortunately, this version of Evolution lags a few versions behind what you can get from Ximian's Web site (www.ximian.org), and lacks some of the bug fixes and features that you will need if you want to use Ximian's proprietary Outlook Connector to interface directly with Microsoft Exchange mail servers at any level beyond POP and IMAP.

A truly pleasant surprise in Red Hat 7.3 is their inclusion of the "Mr. Project" GNOME project management software package (0.5.1-8). Though there have been a number of open-source project management packages under development for Linux and Java, Mr. Project is much more usable than the others, even in its current "actively under development" state. If you'll pardon the expression, Mr Project is a project to watch, because a full-featured Microsoft Project replacement for Linux is the last mandatory application for corporate users who can no longer afford to use Microsoft Windows. Mr Project currently does not provide import/export for Microsoft Project files, but that functionality will certainly be on their plate in the future.

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