Fedora Core 4 review

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Fedora Core 4 review

Postby A-Wing » Tue Jul 12, 2005 5:26 pm

Its not often that an issue of LXF annoys me, but I have finally got round to the review of Fedora Core 4 in August's issue and it has ruined my evening. 4/10?! Why?! It is fully functional, a big improvement on Core 3 which got a higher score and the reviewer has missed many obvious improvements over 3. Please get someone to look at it again in depth and try again.
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RE: Fedora Core 4 review

Postby drunkahol » Tue Jul 12, 2005 6:27 pm

Linux Format is not renowned for it's even handedness in reviews.

No point complaining about it though - nothing's going to change.

You could however cancel your subscription like I did a while ago.

LXF was like a breath of fresh air before I had broadband. Now however, I have a nice fat broadband pipe down which I can download anything I want whenever I want.

Magazines don't need to be controversial to succeed, thought provoking would be better. But most paper based jornalism is based around controversy to boost readership.

Shame.
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RE: Fedora Core 4 review

Postby A-Wing » Tue Jul 12, 2005 6:59 pm

Agreed, I will think about canceling. I had noticed a kind of bias previously, but never this bad before.
I suppose I do have more time for online reads nowadays. Hmm....I think I'll add some nice RSS feeds when I redesign my LUG's site this week.
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RE: Fedora Core 4 review

Postby andychannelle » Wed Jul 13, 2005 8:33 am

I know people grow loyal to different distros, but reviews are based on personal opinion; if you disagree with them, the best thing to do is, as you've begun to do here, debate the points. Tell the writer what you disagree with and offer a counter argument to the issues raised.

Disclaimer: I've yet to read it the review.
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RE: Fedora Core 4 review

Postby A-Wing » Wed Jul 13, 2005 9:12 am

I'm not loyal to Mandrake/Mandriva, in fact I hate it, but I would still give it a good review as for new users it is a great operating system and seems to put a lot back on the useability front. In fact I used to sell computers with Mandrake installed to people who have never used a computer before.
I just think that if this guy was going to do a fair review of Fedora he should review the product and not the flame wars that surrounding it.
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Postby Andy » Wed Jul 13, 2005 10:00 am

Andy (A-Wing),

I'll write a full response to your posts later on when I have more time, but I am interested as to why you think that I am biased, having reviewed FC3 and FC2 before hand...

Thanks,

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Postby A-Wing » Wed Jul 13, 2005 10:04 am

I haven't got my mag with me at work, I'll post about it when I get home tonight.
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Postby A-Wing » Wed Jul 13, 2005 4:04 pm

First point, you are attacking Fedora as if it is a distro for newbies, it isn't and doesn't even pretend to be. Which kinda leads to my second point, the GUI config, if you click the Desktop button on the top bar, bingo you have your GUI config. Its no YaST but it i very functional. But since Fedora isn't for newbies it is not essential anyway.
GCC 4: early reports do show a speed increase, I can't say for certain here as 3 didn't really run slow doing anything for me. The other big advantage is security, GCC 4 has techniques to help prevent buffer overflows in code. Makeing code compile in GCC4 is no easy task, there are a lot of programs that use out of spec techniques which now are not valid, the Fedora project has had to fix a lot of code for other projects. I really wouldn't call GCC a gamble either, RedHat have a lot to do with the GCC project and they wouldn't have switch to it without extensive testing. I think you'll agree it is quite stable.
I don't think there is anything wrong with Fedora Extras program, it is quite understable that people don't want to download 9GB of data as is the case for Debian (not that I have any problem with Debian). Most users I know use apt repositories anyway with many more packages than extras. I think I read somewhere that there are plans to put extras on CD/ISO as well but I can't confirm that as I don't pay attention to the lists that often.
You have missed the huge jump from mysql 3.23 to 4.1 and php 4.3 to 5 which many people have wanted for a long time. Many of the changes are for things you don't generally see on the GUI front, a lot of work has gone in there.
I really can't find any justification for a 3 under ease of use.
Another correction which may not have been announced when you wrote the article is you said core 5 would be Q4 this year, its acually going to be Q1 next year, there will be a 9 month gap.
I trust Fedora Core 4 on my desktops and servers just as I have on 3, the quality and stability gets better each time, it has not gotten worse so I can't see any justification for such a low scoring review.

*rant over* :)
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Postby A-Wing » Thu Jul 14, 2005 10:06 am

And todays newsletter seems to contradict the review a little too
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Postby M-Saunders » Thu Jul 14, 2005 10:51 am

A-Wing wrote:And todays newsletter seems to contradict the review a little too


In what way? If you're referring to the news item where it says:

"Early reports suggest it's a solid release."

Bear in mind that was written a few weeks ago, and it's just noting that some initial feedback around the Net was pretty positive. Then people started to use it more thoroughly, more demandingly, and problems surfaced.

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Postby Nobber » Thu Jul 14, 2005 10:53 am

Also interesting: Andy Hudson is co-author of the book Red Hat Fedora 4 Unleashed. How must it feel to contribute to a book on a distro release you don't care much for?
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Postby mugstar » Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:06 pm

DistroWatch seem to have found the review itself newsworthy:
http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=current#1
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Postby A-Wing » Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:35 pm

mugstar wrote:DistroWatch seem to have found the review itself newsworthy:
http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=current#1


And if you look in the comments, several people share my views (and there are a few having problems installing).
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Postby Andy » Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:45 pm

Hi Guys,

Sorry for the delay in posting my response - I have a 5 week old baby that is consuming a lot of my time (and most of my sleep) away from work - it's all good though :)

Anyway, let's answer a few questions:

I've been using Fedora Core since it's release, and Red Hat Linux for many years previously. Each release of Fedora Core has become better and better - more functionality has been added, software has been upgraded etc etc.

What has also happened is that core components have not been improved in any way and have been left behind or overlooked - am I really happy still to use the GUI tools I used two or three years ago? You may argue that YAST is a bloated beast of an application, but at least they have the options to do things. I pointed towards the continued development of utilities that are built into GNOME as a possible way of Fedora addressing the problem and time will tell if this is the case.

As for your point about Fedora not being for newbies - I totally agree... I would never advise that someone who has absolutely no experience of Linux or UNIX chooses Fedora. Mandriva or Ubuntu yes, but not Fedora. But also look at Fedora - what is it's raison d'etre? Answer: to act as a sandpit for Red Hat to test new features that may or may not get included into RHEL. Given that RHEL is supposed to be suitable for deployment on desktop machines, one would have thought that usability and (limited) configuration would become easier and more straightforward - I have seen limited evidence that any work has been done in Fedora itself to make this happen.

Nobber - thanks for the plug ;) I wasn't going to bring it up, but it is also a key part of my review - having tracked FC4 through it's development as part of Rawhide and into the official test releases and onto the final release, I have been using it on and off for the last seven months. It's given me a chance to dig deep into the software and ultimately in the current climate I find it somewhat lacking compared to the configurability of SUSE or the general user-friendliness of Ubuntu.

I agree with you on the GCC comment - perhaps gamble was not the best word to use in this instance, although it is a step out into new territory. Any new technology has risks attributed to it, and I agree that Red Hat would not have allowed its inclusion if it was terribly unstable. Give it time and we'll see what happens - I only hope it goes well.

The whole Extras repos is something else that is underway at the moment - the ultimate aim is to reduce Fedora Core to just that - a core base of software. I didn't say that there was anything specifically wrong about the Extras approach - what I said was that there were fierce expressions of opinions (read flame-wars) in the Fedora Development and Testing mailing lists. What I'd ultimately like to see is something along the lines of the RHEL line-up, where you have Fedora Desktop, a Fedora ES and a Fedora AS; people could just download the CD's they want and off they go - anything extra would be retrieved via Extras.

You are correct - the FC5 annoucement was after this review went to press, so I couldn't do anything about that... I did read rumblings about people wanting to extend the cycle, but no commitments.

Finally - awarding 3 under ease of use. Defining ease of use is a fairly subjective thing. Harking back to Nick and Rebecca's GUI/CLI article I know I can do a lot of the configuration by hand at the command line. Do I want to? That's another thing. The simple fact is that whilst SUSE, Mandriva and even Ubuntu have moved on with ease of use, Fedora is stumbling forward.

Nobber - don't mis-understand me... I do care a lot for Fedora Core, and if anything I should be biased in it's favour. But with FC4 I am seeing it more as an interim release in the run up to FC5 which promises to be a great release.

Anyway - I like this kind of interaction - after all, the forums are an extension of the magazine and it's great to get feedback and debate the various points of reviews.

Now back to bed....

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Postby Hudzilla » Thu Jul 14, 2005 1:24 pm

'lo all,

I figured I should wade in and say a few words, just because I find it hard to stay out of flame wars. Woohoo! ;)

i) I talked to Andrew about the 4/10 score when the review was written, and after a long discussion he said he definitely wanted to stick by it. It wasn't an off-hand thought or a typo.

ii) I totally think Fedora is a desktop distribution. As Andrew says, it goes into RHEL for use as RHEL WS and RHEL Desktop, both of which are not aimed at servers. Please keep in mind that Fedora was called Red Hat Linux only a few years ago, and sold in bookstores the world over.

iii) GCC 4 does not, as yet, bring about any substantial speed improvements to the best of my knowledge. This is supported not only by our extensive tests (see the feature in LXF66), but also by others (see http://www.coyotegulch.com/reviews/gcc4/ for the quote "Is GCC 4.0 better than its predecessors? In terms of raw numbers, the answer is a definite "no".") That said - and this is important - I still think GCC 4 is a great release. It has built the foundation for a number of further optimisations that will come in the future, so I expect FC5 to really be able to make the most of it.

iv) The jumps from MySQL 3 to 4 and from PHP 4 to 5 are most welcome, but these are just version bumps. I am honestly sick of distros that do little beyond updating their packages, and version number superiority just doesn't impress me any more. Of course I'm glad to have more people using PHP 5, but to be honest it's way, way overdue - PHP 5.0 was released on the same day as FC3 Test 1, yet (presumably to avoid breakage in RHEL 4) didn't find its way into that release. I don't think Red Hat deserves any kudos for leaving PHP 5 so long...

v) Obviously it's not possible for Andrew to accurately predict the release of FC5! ;)


Regarding the overall scores, I would still have scored Fedora higher if I were reviewing it myself. I too am thoroughly annoyed at the lack of configuration tools - and indeed the lack of any real innovation - but I would still probably have scored it 5/10. As I wrote in my column a few issues ago, we re-adjusted all our scores to really mean what they say - 5/10 is "average", meaning that the majority of distros out there should get that score. I consider FC4 very average as a desktop distro. On the flip side, I would never, ever use it as a server distro either, simply because it doesn't provide a good enough security infrastructure for my requirements.

Nobber: it's not the case that Andrew doesn't care about Fedora. If that were true, he wouldn't run it on so many machines. Instead, I think the negative review is more of a reflection on the general disappointment of the release - it's not what it could (should) have been, particularly given the long lead time before RHEL5 is frozen.

So, to sum up: I think 4/10 is low, but Andrew's the expert. Like Andrew I've been using Fedora for a number of years, and have been using FC4 since before Test 1 - but I would still have given it 5/10 rather than 4/10. The points you've raised are valid, and I'd like to think that Andrew will take onboard all you've said and let that give him a fresh perspective when reviewing products in the future. He has reviewed Fedora for us for several releases now, and has a Fedora book out with his name on, so there can really be no question of bias - what is he biased in favour of, exactly?! ;)

Take care,


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