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Red Hat 8.0: Past the Hype and Under the Hood - page 3

Evaluating Red Hat Beyond Uncle Ralph and Aunt Faye

  • November 4, 2002
  • By Carla Schroder
Once again, there is no easy way to enable 3D graphics acceleration. My video cards are a 3dfx Voodoo 3 and S3 Virge, two of the best-supported video cards in Linux. This problem is quite annoying, as it is a considerable pain to enable acceleration manually. Artists and designers need 3D and Tux Racer and Chromium should be able to work out of the box.

There are no mp3 or DVD players included, due to licensing issues.

Macromedia Flash and RealPlayer come only with the Professional Edition. Java support in the Web browsers is still an add-on. To me, these should be basic installation options for a 'desktop' Linux.

The appearance of menu icons for a newly-installed app is still a crapshoot--sometimes they appear, sometimes they have to be added manually. Not Red Hat's fault, just annoying.

Sendmail installs itself even if you select Postfix, there is no way to stop it outside of performing a custom install.

Red Hat continues to do bizarre things to Apache. It ussed to be weird file locations, and using their own startup/stop scripts, instead of the perfectly nice apachectl. Now everything Apache-related has been renamed to httpd: apache, apache-devel, and apache-manual are renamed httpd, httpd-devel, and httpd-manual, respectively. I found out later from several readers, though, that this was Apache's idea, not Red Hat's, since Apache Foundation manages several products beyond their famous Web server.

On the positive side, the command-line RPM utility has been divided in twain, one part for installing/removing software and the other for building RPMs with rpm and rpmbuild.

Red Hat has always favored GNOME as their preferred desktop environment. KDE has more things that I like, such as different backgrounds for each desktop, tabbed windows, and a more full-featured file manager. GNOME 2 is quite a leap forward from 1.4. It feels faster, and tabs are creeping into GNOME apps too. Both desktops ran fine, nice and stable.

All the included packages are the latest and greatest, which in the Linux world lasts at least a few days: Apache 2.0.40, Sendmail 8.12, Postfix 1.1.11, GNOME 2.0.6, KDE 3.0.3, gcc 3.2, Perl 5.8, and XFree86 4.2.0, to name but a few. There is no XFree86 3.3.6; older video hardware should still be supported. The newest gcc is hot stuff, better and faster in every way, with a much-improved debugger.

Sendmail starts up automatically after installation, but restricts itself to local connections only. lpr does this as well, so you get local use of both right away, with fewer security worries.

There is no Netscape and Mozilla is the default Web browser.

GUI configs for VNC (Virtual Network Computing) and NFS (Network File System) clients are included. There is a new naming convention for all of the Red Hat configuration tools: they all start with redhat-config: redhat-config-printer, redhat-config-date, and so forth. The time and date config includes connecting to a time server.

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