A Few Notes on Fedora Core 5

I had some time during the past few evenings to download and tinker with this a bit - the bottom line? Gnome is getting better and better, and it shows.

I do wish it was lot better, though. As it is, the current experience is only marginally better than what I had with Fedora Core 4, save for the newer, slicker metacity theme and a few extra tweaks.

Contrary to what most people report, suspend/resume does not work out of the box for me. On an M100, it completely blanks the display upon resume with X set to truecolor, and works most of the time in 16-bit mode.

I have yet to update my M100 node with my tweaks, and the reason is simple - there is still no built-in (i.e., shipping) support for Intel Wi-Fi chipsets or the Toshiba Bluetooth hardware - which I got to work last time around, plus I got fundamentally fed up with the power management (which has a nice, albeit completely ineffective GUI), so I have since re-imaged my laptop with Windows XP.

Fedora Core 5 will run on it again, but not right now. Not without VMware, at least.

There were some very nice things, though. For instance, fnfx worked fine, and getting an off-the-shelf Option 3G card to work was painless - slotted it in, saw it recognized as a set of USB serial ports in /var/log/messages, and then all I had to do was use the GUI to set the modem port and add the usual AT Commands - which in this case was just AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP",internet.vodafone.pt.

All in all, it took me all of 5 minutes to get online, although it's a bit unnerving to have to get a 3G card to download the Intel Wi-Fi drivers.

Before you ask, due to my Disclaimer I can't comment on HSDPA card support. At all.

Once I had sorted out the Intel drivers (which still persist in creating two network devices rather than just one), NetworkManager worked great with both dial-up and Wi-Fi connections - in fact, it's faster and better than Windows XP's bloated Wi-Fi network selector, although the connection status balloon is as ugly as they come (someone in the visuals team missed that one for sure).

I also liked having vpnc integrated (even if vpnc doesn't support X.509 certificates, which is what I need to access my corporate VPN). Citrix over UMTS worked just fine, though (even if I had to soft-link one of the libraries due to changes in openmotif).

So, despite Fedora Core 5 still not being the distro that is going to make me acknowledge that Linux is ready for the laptop (never mind the desktop, the laptop is where it's at), it feels a lot more solid than most in that regard - and, admittedly, Toshibas aren't the best laptops to run Linux on anyway.

The new package set is pretty damn impressive, and it's refreshing to see a bunch of updated libraries, recent (but stable) Ruby and Python package, and Beagle - which got me wondering why it isn't installed by default, along with the new deskbar.

Make no mistake, though - Evolution is still a dog, OpenOffice still isn't up to scratch, and there is some bloat creeping in in other sections - despite noticeable speed increases in terminal windows, the overall environment feels a tad slower than XP.

Still, it's progress. Oh, and there is no way the new funky OpenGL effects will work unless you invest your time (and hardware - neither of which was there for me).

Let's see what the first batch of updates brings. Until then (and despite my running it on my desktop with no issues), my laptop will keep running XP.