Fedora 8 : At This Pace, Linux On The Desktop Is Going Nowhere Fast

Fedora, in their infinite wisdom, decided it would be a great idea to make it difficult to install proprietary codecs, drivers, and much more due to vague licensing issues that may exist. Let’s talk about what doesn’t work by default in the latest version of Fedora.

WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE AND OFFENSIVE SEXIST ALLITERATION AHEAD

Fedora helpfully provides a list of “Forbidden Items” that are not included with the distribution, nor are they easily obtained for a Linux neophyte. I’ll list them here:

  • MP3 Support (In any application)
  • nVidia Graphics Driver
  • ATI Graphics Driver
  • NDISwrapper network driver
  • Real Media (and Player)
  • DVD Playback
  • Cryptography
  • Sun’s Java
  • VMware
  • Flash Player
  • Acrobat Reader

If that wasn’t enough, on that same website, the fine chaps at Fedora attempt to insult our intelligence by offering ridiculous alternatives, here’s the best example:

fuck-fedora-up-their-stupid-ass.png

Are they serious? Who in their right mind would suggest using the Ogg Theora codec to watch a DVD?

I think the suggestion is taken out of context. This is what it should actually say:

Fedora Suggests: Use a broomstick dipped in Icy Hot to sodomize yourself.

The new “Codec Buddy” in Fedora 8 (aka Codeina) appears to be a get rich quick scheme hatched by Fluendo, the 3rd party vendor behind the program. Hmm… the name of the company sounds like the word “innuendo” – that’s catch! Their motto should be something like this:

“We snatch your cash when you wanna watch some snatch.”

The total price of all the codecs provided: WMA, WMV, ASF, MPEG2, MPEG4, MP3, AC3… all for low, low price of somewhere around or near $50 US Dollars after exchange fees. Buy the Complete Set of Playback Plugins for the i386 architecture now, and you only pay two easy payments of fuck right the hell off, and feel free to eat some shit pie if you decide to switch to 64-bit, because you’ll need to buy them all over again.

Codeina Screenshots:

codec-installer.pngscreenshot-codeina.pngscreenshot-codec-installer.pngscreenshot-getting-plugins.png

What is the solution? Glad you asked. Thankfully someone who doesn’t have their head firmly lodged up their ass over at Livna.org decided to build a most excellent package repository. This collection of useful software provides things like fglrx, gstreamer-ffmpeg, gstreamer-plugins-bad, gstreamer-plugins-ugly, lame, libdvdcss, madwifi, ndiswrapper, ntfs, and nvidia just to name a few.

Unless you’re intimately familiar with these names of things that “just work” in other Linux distributions, it’s everything that Fedora wants to charge you $50 for, plus dozens more codecs and drivers that makes your system be able to do things with your computer. You can’t do small things like oh…. connect to the internet, browse the web, play DVDs or music, or even play some video games.

Fedora isn’t all bad, by the way.

review-time-640.pngI believe a quick review is in order to restore my karma. Time to get the testbeds ready!

For a Linux enthusiast like myself, I’m not gonna lie, Fedora is an excellent distribution. Installing is a simple affair, configuring all the junk that they leave out is relatively simple (once you find it), and it’s got some really sweet features that are just icing on the cake. The small things are what matters most. If you’re familiar with any Gnome-based distribution, you’ll be right at home on Fedora.

The bonus feature that many reviewers may gloss over is the fact that Redhat Enterprise Linux (RHEL for short) is based on Fedora Core 6. Familiarity with RHEL can be a determining factor in hiring for a job. In fact, I think I’m going to run Fedora 8 until CentOS 5.1 is released and give that a try. CentOS is the free version of RHEL.

Without more from me, let’s see tons of screenshots of the installation:

Two things stand out to begin with. First, dictionary word password warning – not a bad idea. Then, the desktop changes colors based on what time it is.

Neat! Notice the system time in each of those screenshots… morning, noon, evening, night. The colors change in incremental values, but that gives you a pretty good idea of how it works. I love it. Whoever thought of this is worthy of a pat on the back… and certainly worthwhile for people who don’t get out much.

The package manager is useful, but generally I prefer a command line.

screenshot-package-manager.png

Firefox dies a slow death and requires manual installation of Adobe Flash Player:

screenshot-plugin-finder-service-failed.png

A built-in firewall and SELinux policies are pretty smart to keep around if you’re operating in a DMZ or with hacker-magnet ports open to the world.

screenshot-firewall-configuration.pngscreenshot-firewall-configuration-startup.png

Other than previously discussed above, Fedora is a very solid distribution. Once it’s up and running, it’s great. It’s stable, feels faster and snappier than Ubuntu (especially in Firefox), and has nifty little things like PulseAudio installed by default which is pretty snazzy. Another thing – if you’re looking for pre-built proprietary software packages, RPM is pretty much the standard for companies to provide.
screenshot-pulseaudio-volume-control.pngscreenshot-pulseaudio-volume-control-1.pngscreenshot-pulseaudio-volume-control-2.png

PulseAudio is a very welcome inclusion, but I’m not quite sure how Fedora expects people to be listening to multiple audio streams at the same time without any audio codecs – nevertheless, a very nice addition.

Updated Gnome 2.2 features like leaving a message for someone when a PC is locked are pretty groovy as well…

locked-leave-a-msg.pngleave-a-msg-type-in.pngmsg-recd.png

In the end, Fedora is great for a geek like me, but quite possibly the least favorable choice for someone who isn’t very familiar with Linux.

If you’re ever up Fedora creek without a codec, make sure you bookmark this page.

I feel so much better now.