Fedora 8: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Yeah, so after about a month of slamming my head into Windows Vista (and even defending it) I flat-out decided it wasn’t worth it.  It is a freakin’ hog.  If you’re rolling around in One Sweet Machine (which I am), then Vista will (mostly) work.  But if you have anything less than the latest graphics card, a quad processor, some enormous hard drive, and more RAM than God himself would have on a computer, well then you should consider staying with XP.

But this isn’t about XP.  It’s not about Windows (not directly, anyway.)  It’s about Fedora.  Linux.  That penguin OS that I’ve started to (finally) adapt and evolve to.  Linux developers, meanwhile, have finally started to realize that even the most seasoned veterans of the Windows world (shy of those insane pundits of Microsoft technology, the MCSE) really have no idea how to write their own wireless-card drivers.  This means good things for the rest of the world as “that other OS” finally becomes something my mom can use. 

That’s not a totally fair analogy – my mom’s actually pretty good with a computer.  Point is, however, that Linux distros have finally become useable.  Some will thank Ubuntu, and it’s true that Ubuntu is responsible for a nice, big, fat marketing campaign that spanned far and wide to make itself (well, Debian) the marketshare dominator.  But I don’t agree.  I think that Red Hat is the real driving force behind it all.  RH has been there since the beginning, and they were the first to offer a distro that wasn’t freakin’ impossible to use.

I remember the first time I tried using Linux.  My roommate at the time – some jackass named Manesh, or Manish, or who the heck knows (or cares) – convinced me to give up my comfortable Windows environment in favor of what he called “Slackware”.  The name, you gotta admit, is appealing.  Thing is, unless you’re a CS major (that’s Computer Science for the under-nerdy) Slackware is downright useless.  To this day, I once in a while throw in a Slackware CD just to see how far it *hasn’t* come.  You know what, though?  It’s cool that there’s even a distro for the ultra-nerdy kids out there.

Anyway, Red Hat was the first distro I got my hands on that installed mostly well.  Hardware worked without too much kicking and screaming.  Software worked.  It wasn’t half bad. 

Now, granted they went and got all commercial.  I can’t blame them for wanting to make money.  But it’s cool, they’re totally down for making money off the Big Dogs… the Corporate Giants that can’t imagine using something that might be ‘free’.  No, seriously, I’m convinced that Red Hat went commercial (as commercial as open-source can really get) just because Big Corporate won’t do it if it’s free.  “Well, that’s fine” said Red Hat… “it’ll cost ya.”  And now RHEL is firmly ensconced in the trenches with such greybeards as Sun Microsystems and IBM.  Good for you, boys.

Seems like they didn’t forget us, either.  While they were busy charging down Corporate hills while wearing kilts and swinging big nerd-sticks around, the Fedora project was created to keep RH In The Game.  And, let’s face it, it’s a good place to try new stuff out. 

8 iterations later.  It works.  Fedora is one sweet distro.  People (very nerdy people) are waving their live-CD’s around and saying “try this.  try it.  you won’t regret it.”  People who are fed up with Ubuntu’s weird hug-the-world mentality are finding Fedora.  And it lives up to the hype.

Linux is one buggy freakin’ system.  That being said, it’s significantly more stable than Windows will ever hope to imagine being (doesn’t say much for Windows, considering.)  Nonetheless, it is still twitchy, a bit buggy, and stuff doesn’t always work right out of the box unless you’re meticulously careful about every last bit of hardware.  And even if you are, you might still run into issues.  But it’s okay, because there’s this thing associated with Linux… it’s called a community.  And there’s lots of people in these communities, and they’re all willing to help.  It’s awesome.

So Fedora 8.  What makes it so hot?  I’m going to save that for the next post.  This one was just to say “Hey.  Try this.  Try it.  It doesn’t freakin’ suck.”  It really is worth a look.  And if you’re not into Linux, well, maybe it’s time to start.

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