After being delayed seven times due to reported problems with the new installer, Fedora 18 has arrived. On the plus side, Fedora 18 delivers new management functionality for IT administrators and offers improved Active Directory support. However, a complicated installation process and some issues with the user interface make it a less attractive option than desktop competitors like Ubuntu and Mint.
We loaded Fedora 18, also known as "Spherical Cow," on three computers: an old Acer laptop, with around 1GB of RAM and a 2.13-GHz Intel Celeron processor; a desktop with 5.6GB of RAM and an AMD Athlon II x2 processor running at 2.80 GHz; and another desktop computer with 3.9GB of RAM and an Intel Core i3-2120 processor running at 3.30 GHz.
Right off the bat, Fedora failed to recognize the wireless drivers on the laptop, which previous installs of Ubuntu and Mint had no problems recognizing. However, there were no problems with Fedora recognizing the wired connections or dual monitors on the desktops.
Fedora is a relatively lightweight platform compared to Microsoft Windows, but slightly more resource intensive than the popular Mint and Ubuntu distributions of Linux. For example, Fedora took up 453MB of RAM on our Intel desktop, compared to 426MB for Ubuntu 12.10.
We ran into a number of minor annoyances when installing Fedora 18, most of them related to the fact that the installation process was significantly different than that of other Linux installs. We found it to be less intuitive, and it took us several tries to get it working.
For example, Ubuntu and Mint give users a choice of erasing the entire hard drive during installation, or installing the new operating system alongside the existing one with a simple slider mechanism to determine how much space to allocate to the new operating system. A third option, a custom install, offers a list of available drives and the free space on each, so the user can decide exactly where the operating system will go.
With the Fedora 18 installation, there were no simple alternatives, and we needed to reclaim space for the operating system by manually resizing individual partitions. In addition, there was no upgrade option, even though the computer was already running Fedora 17.
In addition, the operating system intentionally does not include support for DVDs, and it took us an extra hour of fiddling with packages to get that installed and working. The benefit is that Fedora is completely free, open source software.
After getting Fedora installed and running, downloading software was a headache because Fedora uses a different repository for software than Ubuntu and Mint. The result is less software from which to choose.
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