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.

  • Bob

    Quite a write-up you’ve got there! Made me laugh loud enough to look silly.. :-)

    I thought exactly the same thing when I installed RC3 maybe a week ago. I looked up at Fluendo to see what the hell it was, and after reading a couple of interviews, I saw that it’s employing a few Fedora developers.. Not quite sure I like it shoved down my throat though!

    Thank God for Livna.. ;-)

  • http://www.fsckin.com/ Wayne

    Thanks Bob, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Where did you see that Fedora developers are working for Fluendo?

  • http://lokilistens.wordpress.com Jack

    Fedora, like RedHat has always been the average computer users’ nightmare. If Linux is to make it’s way into homes it will be smart, easy distros with ubuntu and gOS that do it.

  • http://distrogue.blogspot.com DistRogue

    openSUSE also has… err, _issues_… with codecs (and recommends Fluendo). I had to go without my entire Killswitch Engage collection when I tried out 10.3. 0.o

  • Bob

    Right here:

    http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Interviews/CodecBuddy

    Not officially a developer, but a contributor – my mistake, guess I read wrong, but the difference is not that large IMHO.

    I reinstalled Ubuntu on another machine, and while I’m more used to Red Hat’s layout and configuration, I feel more comfortable using Ubuntu for day-to-day work..

    I’mm sure this Fluendo thing will be seen as a mistake in a near future…

  • nerdbert

    Thanks for the warning. *ugh* I’ve got RHEL on my laptop and we use it in our compute farms at work but I use Kubuntu at home. I had thought about F8 to maybe consolidate my experiences a bit. Not now.

  • http://mjnbrn.net Ben P.

    I used SuSe 10 as my first distro… It had fails like this too. Then I decided that blocking things because they might be proprietary. I thought that the spirit of linux was to Be Free. Of course… I also think Music should be open source. :)

  • Jiggy

    Check out OpenSuse 10.3 and one click all the codecs you could imagine, even got DVD playback with out running off looking for libdvdcss and the like. Running fine on x64 out of the box.

  • Marshall Place

    I agree with your points, these things should work out of the box. Its Linux though, you have to expect some tinkering. I believe thats the price you ultimately pay for a free OS and its accompanying software. With a little Googling though I was able to solve all these issues fairly quickly and I am by no means a Linux guru. Ran into some issues dual booting with GRUB and Vista. That was remedied with EasyBCD and installing GRUB on its own boot partition(should have trusted my instinct on that one). Regrettably I didn’t Google the task of dual booting Vista beforehand, so I underwent a rather lengthy task of moving stuff over to other partitions so I wouldn’t lose data. :( It was so easy with previous Windows versions.

    I found the following URL via Google which helped a lot after my dual boot was completed successfully: http://www.mjmwired.net/resources/mjm-fedora-f8.html

    I should note and I’m not sure if that guide addresses it but the default movie player totem should be uninstalled and replaced with totem-xine if you want Fedora 8 to launch your DVDs and actually work when it attempts to play them. The Livna repositories work with other video players but for some reason not with totem. I wish I knew a way to manually edit the Preferred Applications because Mplayer and VLC are my video players of choice over totem, but at least totem-xine works now. I actually enjoyed getting all the stuff to work regardless of the time it consumed which in my estimation wasn’t much. Yeah so there is work involved. This is true with any OS, updates are needed, with Windows getting your AV up, installing your preferred browser, installing your preferred media player. There is a whole laundry list of tasks that I do when installing any OS and with Linux of course you’re going to have to get your hands a little dirty. I wouldn’t say Linux isn’t ready for the desktop because of these issues, but they definitely are legitimate barriers, especially for this distribution which is otherwise really nice once you get it running in tip top shape.

  • http://windowto.blogspot.com Kiesor Sose

    IMHO, this is not a problem with a distribution, but the industry as a whole. There are solutions in linux, but it takes some tinkering. I believe, but I couldn’t give you specific references other than to read the wiki about the codec buddy, that codec buddy is intended to be a one stop shop for whomever provides proprietary codecs for linux, it doesn’t violate the GPL, but allows the customer (essentially) to violate the GPL, which is completely legal.

    This article is a bit of a flame, but I understand because I get frustrated with simple things about linux too. I would recommend everyone stop thinking in the “software in a box” theory and embrace the OSS basis, especially read the GPL. If anyone is here (using linux) and not using Windows or OS X, it’s probably because you don’t like agreeing to licenses for those things that work really well together, but don’t allow the freedom of ease of distribution of linux.

    Either way, Linux has come a long way since slackware and the 1.19 kernel I started out using in the 90′s. There will be a time when everything will just work, but like lightbulbs that burn indefinitely, it’s going to take time for the industry to embrace widgets (as in the factory, not the Arlan Rose widget), and not software, are going to be the future.

  • Yaro

    Makes me glad I don’t use Fedora, but Arch, which doesn’t cower about merely POTENTIAL licensing issues.

    What are they trying to do, make Fedora crippleware like gNewSense?

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