Fedora 14: Who is Reviewing the Reviewers?

I like to write reviews. I have written quite a few of them over the years... even back in my Atari days for a few print magazines. I mention this because while I'd like to write a review of the Fedora 14 release I feel like too much of an insider to be objective and I'd have trouble being as critical as a non-biased observer would be.

The Anti-Review

Yesterday I ran across a link on Fedora Planet for a video review on the Linux Action Show. I have watched a few of the LAS episodes before but am not a regular viewer... but since the topic of the episode was listed as "Fedora 14 Review" I decided to give it a viewing. About 33 minutes into it they get to the Fedora review... although it is hard for me to call it a review. It is unfortunate but they started with the Fedora 14 Release Announcement and used that as a basis for their review. Historically release announcements are very brief documents that give only spartan details but include links to other sources of more complete information, like the Fedora 14 Release Notes for example. Given the fact that the release announcement only states two new features for desktop users (libjpeg-turbo and Spice) it seems they assumed that was all there was to the release, given the fact that their main focus is desktop usage. As a result they spent most of their review time in ridicule mode... divided in two... with both an attempt at humor and at a "wake up call" style denouncement of everything Fedora. They even included an original conspiracy theory.

I think everyone who knows me understands I have a pretty healthy sense of humor that can sometimes go to the dark side... but I found almost nothing about their show funny. I'm guessing some people find their show hilarious... but me... and this episode... I'd say frustration was my reaction.

I did get on the Linux Action Show IRC channel (the only form of contact on their contact page that I use) for a few minutes and discuss with someone (probably not them) that it was unfortunate that Bryan and Chris had chosen the very brief release announcement as the authoritative source of "what's new in Fedora 14" rather than the release notes... but I do concede that the release announcement could have been much better than it was.

Desperately Seeking Reviews

While I could spend considerable time picking apart the Linux Action Show commentators' various comments I think it is more productive to examine a couple of other actual reviews.

Review 1: Distrowatch

Distrowatch had a review of Fedora 14 as a feature of their weekly edition. In it they had some background information, mentioned that the Fedora Project has a new website, had a mini-interview with Fedora Project Leader Jared Smith, and then proceeded to go through the actual Fedora 14 release.

They didn't find Fedora to be perfect (it isn't nor is any Linux distribution) nor did they find any major flaws. The reviewer mentioned what he thought Fedoras strengths were as well as some of areas that need additional attention. I thought it was a reasonable review and that the reviewer had actually put a considerable amount of time and effort into it... trying to be an information resource for the reader.

Review 2: Desktop Linux Reviews

Desktop Linux Reviews is a site that is fairly new to me but I ran across their Fedora 14 review, if I recall correctly, from a blurb on Linux news site LXer. It is obvious from the amount of coverage they provide (seven sections, lots of screen shots and even a 6 minute mini-review video) that they put a lot of effort into the review.

As a Fedora person I find it somewhat irritating that they approached the review from a very Ubuntu-specific mindset. They even say that there aren't many features for desktop users. I'm not sure why they thought that but if I had to guess I'd say it was from the two bullet points on the release announcement that the Linux Action Show guys got stuck on.

They were confused by "firstboot" and thought it odd that Fedora would ask for additional information post-install, because that isn't the way Ubuntu does it. They concluded that the Fedora installer needs to be updated to be just like Ubuntu's while completely overlooking the fact that the Fedora installer has many advanced features not found in the Ubuntu installer. The Fedora installer services a larger class of use cases and isn't solely targeted at desktop users. While you can find some of the Fedora installer features sprinkled across the various Ubuntu media types (alternative, server, etc) the Fedora's installer is more complete for advanced users while being user friendly enough for desktop users. That isn't to say that there isn't room for improvement in the Fedora installer because there is, and it is something they continue to work on every release.

While there were things I, as a Fedora fanboi, found annoying in the review... I do give the reviewer props for the effort that was put into it and the fact that he was not in any way disrespectful or mean... and was sincere with his comments.

Review 3: The H

The H published an article entitled, "What's new in Fedora 14", that took the time to look at the Fedora update policy that was recently put into place... what was new about the policy and how it might affect Fedora 14 with respect to future updates.

Now that's what I want from reviewers... additional information... incite... background information. I was already familiar with the new updates policy but I'm sure a lot of the readers weren't. Of course The H also went through the new release and examined the good, the bad and the ugly just like you'd expect of any distro review.

What is to be learned?

For reviewers - I think some folks (*cough* Linux Action Show *cough*) need to acknowledge when they have a bias, like I have, and stop calling what they do a review.

For some of the rest of you, keep up the good work.

Anyway, a review should NOT be an attempt to be completely ignorant about Linux, the target distribution and the community who made it. Reviews are a form of journalism. The reviewer should do some research and be informative. If your review is mostly an opinion about subjective things, it isn't a review.

For Fedora - First of all, I think Fedora needs to put more effort into their release announcements and needs to mention more new things that are in the release. Unfortunately they tend to mainly concentrate on the "developed here" stuff from their feature proposals and overlook all of the updated packages and vast amount of changes and updates that happen from release to release. Fedora does an excellent job of finely detailing all of that in their release notes but many reviewers don't make it to the release notes.

Fedora has a marketing team, made up of mostly volunteers I believe... and they work hard and do a good job... BUT someone dropped the ball with the release announcement as it gives the greater community, those less familiar with Fedora, a inaccurate perception of the vast amount of work that went into the Fedora 14 release.

Fedora has had a greatly expanding package set with each successive release... and during each release's life cycle a significant number of new packages are added to the Fedora Updates repository even though they aren't updates. A large percentage of packages have updated versions with new features and bug fixes and there are a lot of features for all kinds of users including desktop users. In fact, the amount of software overlap that exists between all of the mainstream Linux distros is a bit scary. There really isn't that much of a difference with the most commonly used software packages across them.

Where distros differ is in their installers, their range of packages, their admin apps (which includes package managers), and with the "polish" they provide which is mostly a function of their default theme and artwork. So far as software applications and features for their various users, not so much. Oh, one other area where they differ is in the amount of software development they do as well as their marketing muscle. To me Fedora (and their sponsor Red Hat) stands head and shoulders over the competition with regards to the software development and the amount they give back to the community... but they could use more help with the marketing part and it is that part which I hope improves over time... along with the steady stream of improvements that make it into each new Fedora release.

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Fedora 14: Who is Reviewing the Reviewers?

I got around to watching the show Friday and after thinking about it I have some comments. Mind you, I didn't watch the whole thing due to several things that happened from falling asleep to Flash locking up the entire system but I feel that I got the tone of the show. Also I sometimes do a light read of reviews of Fedora and a couple of others and they usually don't cover much but how to install and then add programs and maybe it's faster or slower. What I read here by Scott have been much more informative on Fedora and KVM which I am now getting somewhat familiar with.

Though I work to keep my comments objective I do have my own prejudices and many things have developed, changed and people, including me, have changed sides since I first used Linux.

1. There was a caveat before the actual review about every other show is a bash Fedora show and this was that show.

2. It seems to me that they may be trying to pattern after the Daily Show but miss by a wide margin. By Jon Stewart's admission he is NOT a reporter or even a critic. He is a comedian. In my words he is the Court Jester or the Fool who can speak truth to power without being hanged. These guys are, in my opinion, not reporters only entertainers of some sort.

3. My experience with Linux started before 2000 when I bought a thick book and CD at Costco on Red Hat 6.7(?). I was daunted by the size of the book thinking "How is an OS that takes 600 pages to explain going to make my life easier?" I did download Red Hat V. 7 in 2000 and just jumped into it. It was actually no great leap from NT 4 or W98. It was way more stable and I didn't need an anti-virus program.

4. At that time Red Hat seemed to be regarded as the Gold Standard for Linux distros and, I think, still is. I think it may be a sign of that success of Red Hat that some people are happy when they can point out a perceived deficiency. Like I could say when I bought my '02 Subaru "Yes, but can you drive on icy roads in your new Caddy?"

5. My actual day to day use of Linux is almost like a newbie. I have always been satisfied with Red Hat and then Fedora, at least since the inclusion of GnuCash. My main uses are OpenOffice, Firefox. GnuCash, Gimp. Inkscape, Audio CD Extractor, K3B, several music players and several photo viewers. They all work perfectly out of the box. I think it's a little off base to say that Fedora is not suitable for the newbie or casual user. If a person sticks to these basics then life is good and if they then want to delve deeper into more advanced subjects Fedora is ready for that too.

6. I used Eeebuntu on my netbook for a couple of months (now Fedora 14) and I recently put Ubuntu on a grand-kid's computer (my old one) because it is supposed to be better for newcomers though I'm still not convinced.

6.A. I have read over and over of how Ubuntu is better for new people and simpler but they don't offer me any more than their opinion to back it up. [see #5 above] It starts to remind me of the “Linux isn't ready for the desktop” we have all heard since around 2000 when the truth was that it was Windows that wasn't ready for the desktop. I too am getting a little tired of that.

7. Back to the show: To me it was too much cover and not enough book and only marginally funny. I can, however, see how some people would like it and I may get a kick out of seeing another show.

Bottom line, consider the source. And this whole thread has reminded me that I need to dig in to using the new features in Fedora, KDE and even Gnome. Thanks to all for that nudge.

I may be wrong now
but I don't think so.
Theme from Monk

Those who has used recent

Those who has used recent Fedora releases has already noticed some changes in Fedora installer (Anaconda). The changes has mostly been "under the hood" so far (Anaconda is extremely powerful installer), but now the developers are starting to concentrate UI too.

Chris Lumens has written couple of very interesting posts:
This Week in Anaconda #0
This Week in Anaconda #1
This Week in Anaconda #2
This Week in Anaconda #3
This Week in Anaconda #4
This Week in Anaconda #5

Scott Dowdle: I guess Fedora could be classified as a "dev distro" but I prefer "innovator distro". I like the fact that Fedora concentrates more on building a contributor culture rather than a purely consumer culture... and the four Fs. I realize that isn't for everyone.

That was really well said.

Rahul Sundaram's answer for

Rahul Sundaram's answer for Charles Kerr's post is interesting read.

Richard Hughes:
"The way Fedora is fundamentally different from Ubuntu (in my experience) is that Ubuntu is perfectly willing to bodge some code on top of an Ubuntu only project which is stuck together with sticky-tape and string. The way I, as part of Fedora, work is that I design projects and code that can be shared with other distributions so we can all work together. But it takes longer, much longer. But in the long run, it's the correct thing to do."

review of a review of reviewers

first of all, those people who claim that LAS has a fixed in bias against Fedora and/or RedHat probably watched less than 5 LAS episodes. It's as if you watched an episode of Glee where Kurt was thrown in the trash-bin by some jock and made the conclusion that Glee is a homophobic show.

When LAS started those two pretty much were Fedora fans. This season they put in a retro show where they made many praises for Fedora. In fact back then they used to knock on Ubuntu a lot. What's changed is Ubuntu took criticisms and made changes to their distros, while Fedora was ambiguous on the direction and was pretty much at a stand still.

Instead of being fanboyish, Ubuntu fans asks Ubuntu for those things to be changed, and Canonical may not always listen, but they have an idea where they want to take the distro.

For a while one can feel the bitterness of Fedora losing the newbie share to Ubuntu, but still not entirely embracing the developer share. It went back and forth. Now that "wife-friendly", "dev share" and "power user share" are all cornered by great distros, i still am not exactly sure where Fedora stands. Or was it always going for the "RedHat Enterprise server IT's PC OS" share?

So, a person who obviously is already very familiar with everything Fedora, who doesn't really seem to need a review to know the changes that went on with Fedora, what exactly bothered you having someone poitning out this is a distro that isn't at top of any of the 3 big category for linux users? Is it because reviews like this will further deplete incoming newbie linux users? Fedora is a dev distro now, they don't care right? Is it because it pointed out as a dev distro Fedora isn't on par with OpenSuse yet? OpenSuse has pushed out a lot of dev specific services that you can't get on other distros just by installing a few packages. Or is it because they pointed out Arch is more for Power users than Fedora? I mean is this point even up or debate?

Or you want a review to read off the release note, and confirm every single claim of new functionalities is useful or not, which seems like you obviously already know. That's one way to do reviews. But not every review has to do that. I like Phoronix's benchmarking new releases against each other with a bunch of stats. But I wouldn't say people shouldn't call themselves reviewers if they didn't do the same.

It's nice to see Fedora are becoming more clear on being a developer oriented build, and actually doing something to support that claim. I am sad to see Fedora is no longer the gateway distro of choice, but if they keep on working towards a distro for developer direction, Fedora could be great again, even if it's great for a different group of people.

Scott Dowdle's picture

I've seen about five episodes

Yep, that's about how many I've seen. I've also watched a few videos of Bryan from LFNW. Perhaps part of it is because I have children that act a lot like they do. Whiners! I find 99% of their show annoying not just the Fedora review section. :)

You seem to want to deflect attention away from substance and turn this into a "distro wars" type discussion... and irritate me by dissing Fedora. Ok. I'm not really into distro wars. It's all about personal preference. When someone asks me what distro is best or which one they should use, I do not automatically recommend Fedora. I have to ask a few questions about what they want to use it for and how much effort they want to put into learning something new. Sometimes I've recommended Ubuntu. Sometimes I've recommended CentOS. Sometimes Fedora. Sometimes a few others. One good thing about Linux is all of the flavors and all of the choice. Some see that as a negative.

I guess Fedora could be classified as a "dev distro" but I prefer "innovator distro". I recall Linus Torvalds asking if people were tired of their computers working and if anyone wanted to join him in an adventure. I paraphrase. I like the fact that Fedora concentrates more on building a contributor culture rather than a purely consumer culture... and the four Fs. I realize that isn't for everyone.

I don't really want Linux to be as polished as Mac OS X and I don't want it to be as popular as Windows. I like it how it is... as long as our communities and what they produce continue to progress, that's all I care about.

Opps, now I've gotten way off topic. Sorry.

Worzie's picture

Just to add to what Scott mentioned...

Just to add to what Scott mentioned about recommends and I'm sure Scott would agree... I will notice a preference someone has when they are about to install Linux for the first time and not give them a recommendation unless I know they are expecting me to be their primary source for support and troubleshooting. I'd rather no be at their beckon call if they choose to use something I have very little experience with such as Gentoo.

Always the same ...

LAS have been bashing Red Hat and Fedora quite a long time. Unfortunately their "reviews" and shows are always like that - embarrassing and childish. They tend to spread blatant lies (on purpose?) about Fedora as well which is unfortunate.

I agree the concern you raised about the release announcement. The best place to discuss about it would probably be the marketing mailing list.


Scott, thanks for taking

Scott, thanks for taking these piss poor reviewers to task. Linux Action Show is a joke. Come to think of it, the Ubuntu installer is a joke as well. I wanted to make a dual boot system with Fedora/Ubuntu but Ubuntu doesn't seem to know about LVM!

Readers: The Best Reviewers of All

One last comment about who reviews the reviewers. In my case, it is is my readers.

Each review usually generates a fair amount of comments. In these comments my readers are very quick to note mistakes or omissions in the review. I'm very grateful to them since I write, produce and edit all of the reviews myself. No matter how hard I try to avoid mistakes, I will make them.

But my readers catch them quickly, and I can then fix the mistake. My readers also include their own takes on the distro, and often their comments contain very helpful information to me and to the other readers.

So my answer to the question is that review readers are always reviewing the reviewers, and that's a VERY good thing.

Thanks for the Kind Words About DLR

Hi all,

I write the Desktop Linux Reviews blog, thanks for the kind words about the Fedora 14 review. I do the best I can to cover the elements that I think most desktop users care about in a distro.

I understand that sometimes some folks aren't satisfied with coverage of a particular distro or simply don't care for the site at all. No problem, one size definitely does not fit for everybody when it comes to reviews or online content in general.

I am always open to helpful feedback about the reviews, and I always do my best to cover things that your average desktop user is interested in.

I perfectly agree with you.

I perfectly agree with you. I've read too many so called reviews showing merely screenshots and simple howto. I wonder if they really know what "review" means. To me a review should mainly focus on the NEW features or how the fixed bugs are working (or not) compared with the previous release. Things like step-by-step instructions should be considered as tutorials. It is okay to have bias but please be try to be technical/practical. The point is to show what's significant and how it is different.

One article or review they claim talked about a gadget. The author disliked the product because it is ugly. There is no spec nor brief info at all. Too bad it's from a well known famous uk magazine. (of course it's about linux)

Roots of bias...

When Linux was still "new" the supporters were almost entirely "fanbois". However as time gone on, Linux and the users have matured things have changed somewhat. For example, I am Debian and related distro supporter; in the early years I championed Redhat because when dealing with IT departments that knew less about it than I did it was often a choice of Redhat or Windows. For various reasons no other distros were even in the running. In some adventuresome places you could sneak Suse into the system but for the most part it was a Redhat world. When my only choice was Redhat or Redmond, I wore the Fedora with pride. Then a funny thing happened; places I worked started using more Linux, I started to have more choice and more to the point, was able to earn a living coding for it. On top of that, I found myself needing to make Linux work in more and more varied situations, from embedded medical devices to set-top boxes to the Playstation to routers and embedded NAS units. This is not to mention the dozen or so different machines we have running here of all different stripes. Many are headless providing this service or that, even if its just computing power. About this time (I think FC 6 or so but my memory is dodgy) I had a rather intense trick to pull off, upgrading a server in a datacenter from Suse (some version) to Redhat (the accepted answer at that point) and basically everything worked from a semi-mechanical standpoint but I wound up in a Yum/RPM generated hell. At this point I switched to APT-based distros (the aforementioned Debian since many of these machines were servers) and because of the flawless way it worked, APT sold me and since Debian worked well natively with APT, I was sold on it. When I was able to put Deb on a router, a firewall device, a NAS unit, a medical device, a Playstation and more, I was sold since I had the same basic system running everywhere. It made maintaining stuff a breeze.

This is not a post to slam RPM over APT, not at all. I know you can shoe-horn APT onto RPM-based distros and they have gotten better over time and for all I know, are better that what I have now. Thats not the point: I needed/depended on an RPM-based distro working for me at a point where there were still brittle points in the system and it bit me. Hard. Since Debian and friends have just worked for me both personally and professionally, I have had little incentive to go back to an RPM-based solution. Call it an instance of "if it aint broke, don't fix it". However reasonable I feel about my choice, it leaves me in the same bucket as the fanbois who love Windows, tried Linux once 10 years ago and have formed every opinion about it since then based on that experience. As time goes on, in their mind the comparison is the latest version of Windows with the way Linux was 10 years ago. I am no better in that when I look at the choices I see what Debian is doing for me *now* and what Redhat did to me back *then*. This particular shoe fits either foot; RPM guys who diss APT-based distros probably had a rough time at a point where hardware detection on Redhat/PCLinuxOS/whatever was better than a Debian or Ubuntu or whatever many years ago and have formed every opinion since then based on this.

I guess I am saying I see it as less of a matter of being a fanboi for this or that but rather what you have grown comfortable with versus the last thing that did not work well. Right now I don't see myself as championing anything in particular; APT just continues to follow the magical "path of least astonishment" for me. It is far beyond the apps; administration counts for a lot with me but one that depends on a GUI loses as I have to maintain so much stuff that doesn't have a monitor that the old school methods work best for me/us (the missus is a geek and Linux-lover too; her problem is that once she gets a set of hardware and a distro she likes, she upgrades it for years after the natural support cycle has expired and won't let me upgrade the box until some hardware breaks in a manner tragic enough to call for an OS install).

As for reviews, the install is now for me an old story. I want to know how it does with things like disaster recovery, how easily a machine can go from bare metal to a usable development and multimedia station because that is what is important to me. How easily can I get this distro to go onto non-standard hardware and if its not supported, give me the tools to support myself. The look of a desktop is a non-starter too...

Scott Dowdle's picture

Package manager wars?

If I understood you correctly you were trying to migrate or upgrade a SUSE system to Red Hat with a package manager... and that made sense to you because they both used .rpm packages? Yikes. I hope I got that wrong because that sounds destined to fail. I'm not much of a fan of package manager based upgrades... if there is too big of a difference between the source and the destination. Going from CentOS 4.7 to 4.8, no biggie. Going from 4 to 5, it's better to do a data backup and a clean install. It is just so much cleaner that way. I realize that some folks prefer the upgrade method and if it works for them, more power too them.

I've had many arguments over the years with people about package managers and I didn't take your comment the wrong way and can appreciate where you are coming from. I won't take away your apt if you don't take away my yum. :)

The conclusion I've come to is that apt and yum are pretty much equal with regards to features and quality. apt has a speed advantage mostly due to the fact that it is written in C and yum is written in Python. The package formats are pretty similar too. Where the two vary is in the package quality. I'll give Debian props for having more skilled packagers (on average) producing better packages. Fedora is definitely trying to produce more and better packagers but their community is younger than Debian's so it'll take some time.

Another advantage that Debian definitely has is that they support more architectures than pretty much anyone. And if you are into a variety of systems, especially embedded... Debian is pretty compelling.

So many people try to position Fedora and Ubuntu as competitors but I think it is more Fedora and Debian. Ubuntu came along and started building off of Debian so they have an advantage there... because so much of their work is already done for them. I'd like to see someone come along and do that to Fedora... take their work and build on top of it to make a more polished experience. The main difference there is that Debian sits around for much longer whereas Fedora is quite challenging to keep up with given the 6 month release cycle. There are some within the Fedora community that are pushing for a longer development cycle and if that ever happens (doubtful at this time), perhaps there will be more of an opportunity there. I know there are a number of Ubuntu spinoffs (like Mint for example) but I'm guessing that being a third gen distro is even easier... yet still a lot of work.

When people complain that Fedora isn't as polished as Ubuntu I think they should be comparing Fedora to Debian instead. I mean, who complains that Debian isn't as polished as Ubuntu? While it's true, it doesn't sound like an appropriate comparison.

As the LAS guys mentioned, Fedora is busying creating new stuff and helping it mature. Who can keep doing that every release and polish it up a the same time in a 6 month release cycle? I think people are wanting the impossible from Fedora. I just like being along for the ride. :)


Greetings and tks for reading my drivel. No I was not trying to upgrade Suse to Redhat via packages; we were going from Suse to Redhat simply because they used the same kinds of packages and were better understood by the rest of the IT weenies. No, in my case the trick was to upgrade the box (basically installing redhat over a suse installation) completely through an ssh session since access to the data center was expensive and it was in a seriously remote location. Thus I had to manually massage the partitions to squeeze in a Redhat boot and enough system to provide ssh abilities, then trigger a remote reboot and pray real hard. It came up so I was able to log into the new box and start filling in the rest of the OS via the package manager and eventually had a full-blown OS working, at which point I mounted the old data partition and life was good. Sorry to confuse.

The point of what I was saying is that many of us, myself included, formed opinions based on things that happened years ago (I still think of Win95 when I think of doing maint. on a Windows box and Win31 when I think of coding for it) which cause pains and because our current choices are better, our choices tend to calcify around them. Windows peeps are the same way; they maybe tried a Linux distro years ago and when it was hard for them they gave up and never tried it again because in their minds, Linux is too hard, you have to do everything at the command line, etc. My experiences with Windows are similar. I have no reason to ever try Windows again so the current one may be as great as everyone says and I will never know because Linux does what I need out of life and so have no need to relearn the Windows way of doing things. I had some bad experiences with Yum that I never had with APT and so will probably never go back to an RPM-based distro until and unless something goes really bad with my current one or an RPM-based distro does something I cannot easily to with Deb. So far, nothing. We use an ancient version of Suse at work (10.3) which still has the RPM issues I hate so I am reminded on a daily basis why I don't use it at home. Still, at least its not windows.

LAS never was serious journalism...

LAS never was serious journalism. It is more of an entertainment show showing off some news they click together during the show.
The Reviews as far as I know and they claim are their personal experience they had with the distro/application about a week or a few week of usage.
This is in my opinion nothing wrong. Even the comparison with Ubuntu isn't so wrong, as both are sharing almost identical technologies. (and as long you don't refere to the argumentation: "ah its different than ubuntu so its bad")
So even if I don't 100% agree with their opionion and doubt there profession journalism I need to accept it.
In my opinion the fact that Fedora has a different target audience is undererstimated.

I did not read the Desktop Linux Review fully because it got borrying while reading.
But I guess the comparison to Ubuntu from this and other reviewers reveals a secret whish that Fedora could be a serious competitor even in the home desktop user to Ubuntu.

I just moved from ubuntu

I just moved from ubuntu 10.10 (had been using ubuntu for a year with no major issues till my ethernet stopped working on 10.10).

The only thing I think fedora needs to do a better job of is letting new users know where to go to get the stuff to quickly get their desktop in working order. I bounced around googling and posting in forums till I found the unofficial fedora faq site www.fedorafaq.org. In 2 minutes from just cutting and pasting from that page, on my x86_64 bit computer I had the rpmfusion repos enabled, dvd, flash, java, and bookreading from firefox enabled. I guess it is roughly the same as enabling restricted extras from ubuntu but I really should not have had to bounce all over the place to find that site, perhaps fedora should just put a link to that site on the desktop...Anyway after using fedora for 2 days now I just don't see the massive hoopla over ubuntu...

plus if you ever encounter a redhat system at work (much more chance of this then an ubuntu server) you will know how use yum, chkconfig, and how services such as apache are managed on redhat.

I think ubuntu is on the path to being great and I hope Shuttleworth makes is as user friendly as possible. But after using the fedorafaq page, I see it is mostly smoke and mirrors at this point with ubuntu. They are just making it easier to enable stuff people need, if Fedora would follow suite I think they would begin to play catch up a bit in distrowatch...

Where to get the stuff

The best place for this, in my opinion, is the Unofficial Fedora FAQ http://www.fedorafaq.org/. Takes me about 30 minutes from the conclusion of an install to having everything needed for desktop usage. Usually less time. The job that Max Kanat-Alexander has done with this is really amazing.

Most reviews I have seen

Most reviews I have seen tend to be rinse and repeats that follow the same basic formula. A series of screenshots showing the installer and almost nothing about the actual distro itself and how it handles various functions such as setting up a printer, adding users, maintaining the system etc. and whether any of that actually works. Since potential users spend almost no time actually using the installer and almost all their time actually using the distro I find most reviews useless.

Additionally many distro installers completely miss important functions and areas that should be included in the installer at the start, not later in the distro. For example, setting up networking, setting up Samba and workgroups/users, setting up printers etc.. All of those should be part of a decent installer. Ubuntu is especially bad in this area. Using a barebones installer to do basic setup of partitions, time zones, and a single user while leaving the really more important "meat" to half baked barely working utilities in the actual system is really skirting the issues by taking the easy way out and not in my opinion a modern installer that satisfies the needs for a modern operating system and user.

Most reviews ignore these issues entirely while spending their time focusing on how pretty the wallpaper is or useless screenshots of the minimalistic installers being used.


The Linux Action Show guys are whiny children who don't like anything that is not Ubuntu. Check out each of their past "reviews" of Fedora and they are the same every time. I think there was a thread on a Fedora mailing list one time after one of their "reviews" that got fairly heated because of their clear bias. They are not serious Linux users and still show their Mac fanboi roots.

LAS Bias

Long time Linux Action Show listeners know that there is a bias against Fedora. When they aren't reviewing it, they knock it consistently between releases. If you don't like then you should stop listening.

Personally, I think that Fedora 14 far from perfect. I was running F12, but installed F14 on another partition and had nothing but troubles. They range from no multimedia sound and no compositing to crashing plasmas in KDE and broken package management. I can fix any of the above, but they keep breaking after I fix them. So I switched back to F12 where everything works and nothing breaks.

So, while LAS may be biased in general, they may have a point when it comes to F14.

Fedora 14 Upgrade

I attempted to do a CLI inplace upgrade from F13 to F14, only to end up with a broken F13 that couldn't be updated since all the prepwork for F14 including the YUM Repositories was done. In the final step of the CLI update using yum, the update would just scroll on forever, never finishing, never actually doing anything. I tried the two workarounds to the problem --ignore broken and rpm -Va, but neither would resolve the issue. Fortunately, I had made a image of the my F13 installation so I could just restore it and get back to work. I was hoping that the F13 to F14 upgrade would work as it is not my desire to reinstall everything I have on F13, which as in your case, "everything works and nothing breaks." I have posted my comments on Fedora 14 at http://www.boiselug.org/node/123 if you want to read more.

Scott Dowdle's picture

Upgrades vs. Clean Installs?

I haven't tried an upgrade from one Fedora distro release to another in years. I used to do it in the RHL days but not in the Fedora days. Well, let me take that back. There is one specific case where I do do upgrades but it is when I'm building OS Templates for OpenVZ and the package count is very low... mostly server apps that don't change a whole lot from one release to the next... and all of the configs are stock anyway.

Some people think I'm crazy doing clean installs but let me clarify that some. I make my own remix. It is a LiveDVD and it has pretty much everything I want/use pre-installed (stock packages, rpmfusion, flash, etc) and takes about 5-10 minutes to install... give or take. I rebuild the remix about once or twice a week... and I install it to test it... and it is fast to install. Fast I tell you. Even if an upgrade goes well it takes at least 2 to 5 times as long. Even if 99% of it goes well, there is still that 1% that is a PITA. With a clean install you know what shape everything is in and you don't have to worry about what line in a config broke something between versions.

Even doing it the way I do, I still could run into personal config conflicts because /home is a separate partition that I retain... with all of the dot files/dirs. Whenever I've had a problem with a personal app config, and it hasn't happened very often, I usually just nuke the config files/dir of the problem app and let it start with its default config and customize from there.

I've seen people have fabulous upgrades and others have nightmares (like you did). I've seen the big variances with Fedora and Ubuntu. Debian seems to go more smoothly than everyone else but they take a lot longer between upgrades and spend more time making it be that way. I avoid the situation completely which I consider even better. :)

Do I recommend everyone making their own remix with all of the apps they like pre-installed? Sure if they have the desire and the time to learn about it... but I know that is only a small percentage of folks. Just for fun, if you want to provide me with a list of apps you always install... I'll make a custom LiveDVD just for you and you can give it a try. I'm guessing it won't be too different from my current remix... although I bet I install more stuff than you want so I could probably scale it back some for you. :)

Scott Dowdle's picture

Issues with Fedora 14

I strongly encourage you to see if you can find bug reports on any of the problems you have experienced with Fedora 14 and for those not found to file bug reports.

I'm at a loss as to your problems as I have had nothing but good experiences with each successive release of Fedora. To me, each release builds on the last. There have been some regressions though... not necessarily caused by Fedora. For example, on my netbook I have a problem with losing sound after resuming it from sleep. I filed a bug report against the kernel, because it appears to be a kernel regression, and a few others have piled on the bug report so I'm hoping it will be fixed at some point.

Most of your issues sound like issues related to the video driver. If you haven't already, check the Fedora 14 Common Bugs page (http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Common_F14_bugs). Maybe that nomodeset suggestion would help.

So far as package management issues, you'll have to be more specific. Being an old Red Hatter... I use the command line for a lot of things, not because there isn't a GUI way to do it, but because I prefer the command line... so I use yum rather than the PackageKit stuff. PackageKit has had a few bugs but they always get reported and fixed fairly quickly.

Something that is hopefully obvious in the Fedora community is that they want to encourage participation and being part of the bug reporting process is one way you can help out. Of course they strive to make each release as bug free as possible but as with all software, a lot of bugs don't materialize until the software has been released to the masses. All distros have these types of bugs... and participating with your distro is a good thing.

I've upgraded 4 machines

I've upgraded 4 machines from 13 to 14 over the last week and none of the users report problems on any of them (except for the guy that has two weird black and white medical imaging monitors that he brought from home and hooked to a second graphics card--but that has yet to work on any Linux distribution he's tried).


I fully agree with you. The "Review 2: Desktop Linux Reviews" I was ticked off because they weren't reviewing! They were offering a biased opinion of how they saw Fedora 14. Fedora 14 is NOT Ubuntu and that is the beauty of Fedora! I don't even like Ubuntu, because it feels too commercial and some of the administrative things are forced/removed on you.

Freedom (aka the force) is strong with Fedora. I have been wanting someone to create a Fedora spin that does what Ubuntu does for Debian, but I'm now thinking no. I want the ability to do things for myself. It only takes a few shell scripts and downloads, and my Fedora is fight ready! It kinda makes me feel like more of a geek when I can "hack" a couple of things.

I am making a site dedicated to just that. Soon actually. I have too many people I'm supporting with Fedora installs and want them to all have a place to go to learn.

Anyway, I'm off topic.

Thanks for a great review!

Idea's for 'release notes'

Merely adding emphasis to the paragraph "What's to be learned / For Fedora":

When someone wants to review a new version of a distribution, the first thing one does is go and look for "some list of what's new". So that list better contained what the people who made the distro perceived to be 'reasons to use this version'; 'why this version is better than the last'.

When I set out to review F12, the graphic environment didn't show at all and the display just flickered / powered down and up in a weird way, and it was a real hassle to fix. That was the reason I didn't review F12 at all, because I didn't want to be too negative about it.
If Fedora 13 has a newer Nouveau driver causing less people to have these problems, then shout it from the roofs and put the word out! Even if RedHat / Fedora didn't contribute to Nouveau (or anything else), these are far more important things to most users than 'faster loading of pictures'!

It might also be interesting to separate between corporate / non-corporate features: Most desktop users with 'simple computing needs' are probably not interested in Spice.

So what I want to say is this:
If some distro has newer "3d party software" (not developed by the distro itself) which fixes serious errors the older versions of the distro suffered, tell it in release notes! Those things probably are more important than the technologies the distro invented itself, IMHO. This can be a 'copy paste' of the 3d party software release notes. Say, a newer version of KDE-PIM fixes some of the errors in the Akonadi-selftest-list, put that in the release notes of Fedora as well! These are the things that annoy people and may keep them from using some distro, so fixing these issues is what might bring them back.

Scott Dowdle's picture

Release Announcement vs Release Notes

I tried to be clear in my article but maybe you missed it. The Release Announcement is what is too brief and doesn't include much info... and that is what only had two bullet points about new features for Desktop Users and the ones they listed weren't as directly desktop related as we would hope.

In stark contrast to the release announcement are the Release Notes which are very verbose... detailing the changes to (almost) all packages from the previous release with a reasonable amount of detail.

I'm wondering if they need something in between the RA and the RN?

Half way...

> I'm wondering if they need something in between the RA and the RN?

RG is halfway between RA and RN.


You're right with the overlap, I mean on the surface for the average desktop user there not much difference for example between Kubuntu and Fedora 14 KDE, except that the first uses Openoffice and the second KOffice, and then like you said a few admin tools differ.
Basically at this point they only differ in their package management, installer, and a few tools. With environments providing mostly a default set of applications all KDE distros essentially are the same, ok, perhaps stability will differentiate them and ease of use of installing proprietary drivers.

I wished there was more choice, because simply having 500+ distros does not really constitute choice any more. Perhaps Ubuntu with all its changes upcoming will make things interesting again.

And yes, DLR suck, slagging one distro off for not being like the authors favourite one? Because the installer is a little more advanced. I found his reviews always quite biased and light on information.

Just hope mine are a bit better ;)

Scott Dowdle's picture

Post install app additions?

You mention that Fedora KDE uses Koffice whereas Kubuntu uses OpenOffice.org. I usually don't stick with the default apps. I add hundreds of them after the install. In fact I like to have all available desktop environments and managers installed to so I can switch between them. So for the installer I usually pick the DVD flavor because it has the most stuff.

Well, in reality I've been building my on Fedora REMIX (since it is so easy) as a LiveDVD with everything I like... and rebuilding about every time there are a lot of updates... so my current REMIX LiveDVD is either current with updates or pretty darn close... and installs very quickly... and I don't have many updates... and I have everything I want.

My point is that these various spins with pre-selected packages installed... doesn't mean much either since you should be able to add anything you want after the install. I do realize that the Debian package set is considerably bigger than the Fedora set but Fedora continues to grow and the vast majority of apps that the vast majority of users use... are available in most all distros.

Linux reviews

Linux Action Show rocks

Same old same old

I share your annoyance. Every review seems to be "How this upstart differs from Ubuntu". Makes a change from how the distro is not Windows I suppose.

Reviews.. Pointless and self serving. Nothing more.

Nathaniel's picture

Eh, what are you going to do.

I never read reviews once the release is out. I do all my info searching during the development cycle. Once a distro (Ubuntu really) comes out, there is nothing more for me to learn. Most reviews are the same old, same old, every single release. I wouldn't sweat it, most people probably, I think, get their sources from a wide variety of places.

Linus got inside my head!

Linux reviews

Most Linux reviews are pathetic. The only exception I can think of right now are the ones at Dedoimedo and Techiemoe who has stopped reviewing for the most part.

Desktop Linux Reviews articles are also pathetic. The lack content besides what you actually see if you boot the live cd yourself with screenshots and whats included in the menus.

In the Fedora review he didn't even explain how to get the stuff that is not included. It was indeed one of the 3 worst "reviews" I've seen.

Recently he was bitching about people not including hardware requirements and release notes so he wouldn't have to look them up himself! What's worst is that he makes money from the site both from advertising and from donations. And now he started another site. Its obviously a business.

I don't listen to streamcasts so I cant really comment on that, neither do I use Fedora.

Regarding Eye On Linux

Oops, one last bit of feedback. You mentioned my new site Eye On Linux (http://eyeonlinux.com). I started EOL because I wanted to publish opinion columns about Linux and also quick looks (a quick look is simply a mini-review of a distro update that doesn't warrant a full review on DLR).

I wanted to avoid adulterating the content on DLR (which is comprised of full distro reviews) with the other stuff. Hence, Eye On Linux was born.

I hope you check it out and you find the content there interesting, informative and helpful.


Regarding your comment about my asking distro makers for requirements/release notes...Linux Mint does a great job with this and I wanted to encourage distro makers to emulate them.

It makes a reviewers job so much easier if there is a concrete list of changes/additions to the distro. It lets us spend our time homing in on new features and changes in the review rather than trying to guess at what has been changed.

We want to give our readers as much detail as possible about these things, and if the distro makers provide a page like Linux Mint's What's New then it lets us spend our time writing the review rather than hopping around trying to find information.

Just want to let you know why I brought that up and why I will continue doing so. It's important and it helps the reviewers and the readers.

Sorry you didn't like the review

I do the best I can to cover what I think most desktop users are interested in. I usually do cover software management on that page of the review, so folks know how to add/remove software, etc.

Please note that the donation link on my site is usually used by those who run ad blockers but who wish to contribute to the site financially. No one is forced to donate.

Yes, I do make money from ads. That money goes to pay rent, food, heat, health insurance and other necessities, as well as the site's bandwidth and hosting costs. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Most of my readers like the reviews, and I think I am providing enough value to them that they keep coming back.

I am always open to feedback about how to improve the reviews, and I also urge you to consider starting your own blog to do reviews. They're fun and if you have a good idea on what to include in them, you would be providing a valuable service to the Linux community. So it's something you might want to consider doing at some point.

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