Taking Fedora Core 6 Test 2 for a Live-Spin

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The FedoraUnity.org community group released a selection of "Live-Spins" of Fedora Core 5 and 6 recently and since I still have trouble with Anaconda liking my harddrive, I hoped I'd get to test a Fedora in the livecd format. I was fortunate and was able to get my first look at Fedora in quite a while. The isos are offered for Fedora Core 5 and Fedora Core 6 Test 2 in both cd and dvd for i386 and x86_64. I downloaded the 1.4 gig 386 DVD version.

The live cd boots to a lovely splash screen with the basic directions of pressing Enter to boot or using the function keys. F2 gives you a few options like single or multi-processor, memtest, or debug. F3 gives some general information and F4 offers the License. At this point I just hit Enter and a verbose text boot took me to a configuration wizard. First asked to agree to the License, the user is then taken through some basic configuration steps such as Firewall, SELinux, Date/Time, Users, and a Sound test. Afterwhich one is taken to the login screen.

        

The Readme that accompanies the iso states that there are a root and Fedora user, and their passwords are kadischi. Since the configuration wizard includes setting up a user, the Fedora user will probably not be used, but it was nice knowing the root password. I logged in using the user account I set up and was taken to a Gnome 2.15.4 desktop featuring this tasteful wallpaper of primarily green with an image of a dew drop about to fall from a leaf. Reflected in the droplet is the famous Fedora lowercase f. The theme is a lovely offering called Clearlooks. Other than that and some customized icons, the rest of Gnome seemed fairly standard issue. The menus were typical as well. The default desktop for me at first login was 800x600, but I was able to easily adjust that to 1280x1024. Performance was almost acceptable and the fonts were lovely under Gnome using the default vesa graphic drivers.

        

My two sound chips were detected during the boot configuration, and I tested and affirmed my sound blaster. Upon first login a printer wizard appeared, autodetecting and offering the correct drivers for my Epson R200 printer. My scanner was auto-configured and was instantly available to Xsane. My old Logitech usb webcam wasn't so lucky. The voip application (Ekiga) didn't see it at all and instead tried to use my bttv card. My bttv card is never properly setup by any Linux, but it was moot this time since no app was available in the menu for it. All in all, I'd say hardware detection was about par for the course for me, or perhaps a stroke better.

KDE 3.5.4 is also available on the live dvd system. It seemed to use the Red Hat theme of Blue Curve with the same wallpaper and similar icons as found in Gnome. However the default fonts and performance of the KDE desktop were painfully ugly and slow under the vesa drivers, but a switch to 'nv' cured both. The X server in Live-Spin is Xorg version 7.1.1, and now after 4 distros exhibiting the same symptoms I'm fairly sure there is something up with Xorg 7.1.1, vesa, and nvidia 6800 chips.

        

In both the Gnome and KDE menus we find plenty of applications for our daily tasks. OpenOffice.org 2.0.3 is the featured office suite. Firefox and Thunderbird 1.5.0.5 are the default browser and email clients. Gaim and Kopete are offered for instant messaging, and Ksirc as well as Xchat are available for irc.

        

There are a lot of developmental applications in the menu. I had trouble with Eclipse not starting here, instead shooting an ugly error. There are plenty of configuration and preference settings as well as utilities and system tools. One (or two) of the most notable are the Package Manager and Package Updater. These appear to be front-ends to yum. The Package Manager adds and removes applications while the Package Updater checks mirrors for updates. The Package manager didn't seem to work too well here, giving me an(other) ugly error instead of installing software, but the updater seemed to work rather well. Besides this entry in the menu called AutoRun that wouldn't open, these were the only problems encountered with apps.

        

        

Well, I say those were the only problems encountered with applications, but I guess that depends on your perspective. In the multimedia menu we find apps for burning cds, ripping audio cds, listening to music files, and playing video. All seemed to function well enough, except the movie players couldn't play any movie files. It appears they require codecs and plugins, but as default they didn't work at all.

        

Also included are some games for your enjoyment such as Blackjack, Mines, SameGnome, Tali, Nibbles, Mahjongg, and more. For image viewing and manipulation we find The Gimp, gThumb, Xsane, amongst others. In most of these categories we find several KDE apps as well as those listed.

        

Overall it was a pleasant experience testing driving Fedora Core Live-Spin. The system as a whole seemed to function fairly well, especially considering we were testing a developmental snapshot and not the stable release. The Kadischi live cd generator and boot system seems to be functioning pretty good these days as well, or at least from the clueless end-user standpoint. Performance was still a tad sluggish even after using nv. I was testing the i386 version and suspect the x86_64 version would have been snappier. Otherwise it was quite the treat running Fedora Core and hope someday to be able to install it.