Looking Forward: Fedora Core 5: Feedback

Rahul Sundaram sundaram at redhat.com
Wed Jan 18 02:41:34 UTC 2006


In between the ever so crazy work involved in getting a new release of 
Fedora Core 5 out of the door, it was a pleasant surprise to generally 
get a good pat on the back through your detailed review[1] of the second 
test release of Fedora Core 5 [2]. Thank you for that. I wouldn't want 
to quote and gloat about the positive comments. Your readers are already 
all over it anyway. I would just like to offer my viewpoints on some 
potential criticisms in the review.

" Red Hat's (and consequently Fedora's) installer hasn't changed much 
over the years, so when I loaded this version one of the first things I 
took notice of was the differences. This release will finally see some 
definite changes to the install process, and from what I could tell 
they're well thought out and welcome changes"

I would agree that the overall look and feel of the installer has not 
been changed much and this has been to a good part, intentional to 
provide some familiarity to the users of Red Hat Linux and subsequently 
Fedora. The underlying changes though have been more or less steadily 
progressing towards improving the installation process. We now use yum 
as a backend to the installer in hopes of minimizing the differences 
between a upgradation through the installer and through the ill advised 
option of using Yum to upgrade a distribution and more importantly 
providing the ability to support additional software repositories such 
as Fedora Extras. You can find a major list of planned changes to 
Anaconda here.


"How many newbies do you know who will know right off the top of their 
head what SSH, FTP, HTTP, etc are? Sure, I know many might, but I've 
been in the business of supporting end users for over a decade now and 
let me tell you that you'd be amazed. So this isn't a slant on Fedora at 
all. They've done very well. The only thing I could say would be to 
maybe put some plain English titles next to the check boxes or maybe 
some short but descriptive comments."

Agree with that completely. Now we do provide the ability for everyone 
to file requests for feature enhancements to all the Fedora components 
in http://bugzilla.redhat.com. It would very nice if you can file such a 
request and then refer to it within your review and set an example of 
community feedback. Getting such media attention to small but nice 
requests such as this might be a good idea to get your favorite peeves 
resolved since the distribution being reviewed will like to pay better 
attention to such requests. (hint hint ;-).

" SELinux is here again in this release, but without it's baggage from 
what I saw. For quite some time now you've had to disable SELinux at the 
boot prompt if you were to use a file system such as ReiserFS for the 
bootable partition, but this time I wasn't affected at all. "

The default filesystem Ext3 is being supported by Fedora project. Others 
are merely been made available as the upstream project provides it. The 
project on the whole has decided to concentrate its expertise and not so 
unlimited resources into others areas that require more attention 
instead of gaining support for yet another filesystem. SELinux is 
actually broken again in both XFS and reiserfs.


The general lack of upstream involvement in providing SELinux capability 
which is one of the driving features and part of the pro-active security 
strategy of Fedora ( Refer to http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Security for 
other details) is also the reason why Ext3 is preferred within the 
Fedora project as it is something that Red Hat has contributing heavily 
and has engineer expertise on to stand behind and support any issues or 
the ongoing feature enhancements within the subsequent releases in the 

" GDM, the GNOME login manager, hasn't changed much at all for the next 
release. It's still very plain, which is all fine and good. As with 
everything else in Linux, It's themeable, so if you require more eye 
candy it's available to you. I don't mind the minimalistic look at all 
so I left it untouched."

While you might prefer the minimalistic look, it might be of interest 
that our interaction design expert, Diana fong has produced some 
excellent artwork for this release and as part of her efforts has also 
produced a mockup of a new GDM theme to match the rest of the artwork 
included in this release. Our engineers unfortunately have not had time 
to implement this new GDM theme though. Hopefully they will be able to 
do this before the GA release of Fedora Core 5.

" Performance on the desktop up until this point is not good at all. 
Applications were extremely slow to load and Nautilus would crash on cue"

Dave Jones, Fedora kernel maintainer introduced a patch in the 
development tree that added some important debugging features. Though it 
slowed down the performance considerably, it has resulted in some 
interesting findings that will help towards fixing some issues. I 
believe the performance issues cited in the review might be related to 


Nautilus issues mentioned in the review is a known bug.

"There was one issue I found with mounting CD media and it appears to 
stem from their new volume label usage in fstab. Basically, what happens 
is it generates mount points on the fly depending on the volume label of 
the media being mounted. For instance, I inserted a DVD with a volume 
label of “DiscMakers”. When the system mounted the device, it mounted it 
(//dev/hdc/ as the DVD drive is properly known on my review PC) as 
//media/DiscMakers/. That's all fine and good under normal 
circumstances, but in this case it fouled it up to the point of not 
allowing me to unmount it properly... if at all. As you can see by the 
screenshot below, I was having some real trouble getting the thing to 
eject. When I would right-click the CD/DVD icon on the desktop and 
select /Eject/ from the menu, it would generate and error saying that it 
didn't exist in fstab. To add insult to injury it would tell me I wasn't 
root... as if I didn't already know. "

I would request again a bugzilla report on this problem to enable our 
engineers to fix this issue.

" Fedora includes a package management tool called Yum. Think of it as 
being very similar to the way Debian's <http://www.debian.org> Apt 
works, dependency resolution and all. While Yum can be slow, and an all 
around pain in the ass at times, I have to say the wealth of software 
available is really amazing and it /does/ work."

Yum is usually perceived as being slow since it checks the repository 
metadata before its runs its operations while you will have to manually 
do this with Apt. As an example of this, if you do a installation of a 
latest package called "foo" in Debian or even in Fedora using Apt-RPM 
available in Fedora Extras. (APT-RPM is not recommended for other 
reasons documented in http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Tools/Apt), you 
would use the following commands

# apt-get update
# apt-get install foo

If you use yum, it does a equivalent of apt-get update (yum 
check-update) automatically and only have to use the following command

# yum install foo

While this makes it appear slow you can use Yum -C install foo to do a 
equivalent of a typical apt command thereby showing similar performance. 
Yum in this release of Fedora Core goes even further by retaining a 
timeout period of 1800 seconds by default (which is configurable in 
/etc/yum.conf using the option metadata_expire) for repeated operations 
of Yum during which it does not attempt to resync its metadata and 
performing its operations faster.

" On the topic of support, I have to take this time to plug 
FedoraForum.org, which is official forum of Fedora and the best resource 
possible for this distribution. Period. It isn't just because Mad 
Penguin™ staff member Ewdison Then owns/operates it either... it's just 
/that/ good. Since this is a community release, it's up to the community 
to provide support for it, and they've done so with exceptional results. 
Thanks to Ewdi, we've got FedoraForum.org, and there's others out there 
as well. Here are a few of them plus others for those of you who are 
getting into Fedora and are looking for help, tips, tricks, tutorials, 
and everything in between"

Being a active forum users and one of the community managers there I 
totally agree on this. /me waves to Ewdi.

"*Management: *Good (needs a centralization control center)"

# yum install system-config-control and you will see a work in progress 
(Screenshots available from indianoss.sourceforge.net/) volunteer effort 
from one of the local language computing people - Ankit enabling 
Gujarati language in India who also happens to my office colleague 
locally. Incidentally we were brainstorming on this tool when I came 
across your review. So yeah we are working on it. Thank you once again 
for your interest in the Fedora project.


Fedora Bug Triaging - http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/BugZappers

More information about the Fedora-marketing-list mailing list