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  Linux Letter 30

The Linux Letter for April 8, 2004

After a couple of months off, it's time to kick off spring with a fresh edition of the Letter!  This month, we're going to ignore the latest SCO versus the world shenanigans and head straight to the good stuff - Fedora Core 2 is ready for release and Red Hat Linux 9 is almost at the end of the road.  Let's go!

In the last Letter, I introduced Fedora Linux Core 1, a completely open source distribution that is heavily sponsored by Red Hat.  Now, when I say heavily sponsored, I really mean that Fedora Linux is pretty much Red Hat Linux without the non-GPL software.  Fedora Core 1 might as well have been Red Hat Linux 10.

The other significant difference between Fedora and Red Hat is that Fedora has a much more aggressive release schedule - about once every six months.  That allows the developers and users to have a relatively cutting edge distribution without having to upgrade individual packages and resolve dependency and compatibility issues.

Fedora Core 2 (FC2 for short) is scheduled for release in about a month.  A preview version is available now.  The biggest change over FC1 is the new 2.6 Linux kernel.  Better support for multiprocessor systems is also supposed to be included.  New versions of KDE and Gnome should also debut in this version.  And, of course, the latest versions of all of the packages featured in Fedora will be available.

Now, if you're still using Red Hat Linux 9, you should be aware that Red Hat's support for the distribution will end on April 30.  That means that there will be no more software updates or patches for security or bugs.  It means that the Red Hat Network channel for version 9 will be shut down.  It means that if you're using Red Hat Linux 9, you're on your own.

But, as I've mentioned before, Fedora is the obvious alternative to Red Hat Linux.  It is still available at little or no cost and includes a robust and active developer and support system.  As a user of Red Hat Linux 9, you will notice very little difference if you switch to Fedora.

The other alternative is to switch to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.  It is available in workstation and server configurations and includes Red Hat Network subscription update services.  But, of course, it comes at a cost.  So, if you are budget conscious, Fedora is probably the best alternative.

If, however, you are considering abandoning Red Hat altogether, you may want to consider Mandrake Linux.  Version 10 has just been released and the company has recently emerged from bankruptcy protection after a very profitable quarter.  Mandrake Linux 10 is very fully featured and is a worthy competitor to Fedora.  Again, Red Hat users will probably notice very little difference switching to Mandrake.

Hot Tip of the Week

Remember what I said about Fedora using only GPL software?  That means that there are some applications missing that you may have been used to from Red Hat Linux.  One extremely popular program is PINE, the text-based email system from the University of Washington.  It is not released under the GPL, so if you want to use it, you'll have to install it yourself.

Dag Wieers' site has RPMs of PINE for Fedora (as well as RPMs of several other GPL and non-GPL software) available at http://dag.wieers.com/packages/pine/.  Just download the version listed for Fedora, then install it (as root) using the command:

rpm -ivh pine-4.58-0.rhfc1.dag.i386.rpm

Then you'll be able to use PINE as your command-line email program.

Happy computing!

Drew Dunn


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