I was able to play my multimedia pretty easily with Fedora but it prompts you to buy codecs from Fluendo which can be a little annoying (see Figure 5). If you're in the US then it's illegal to use these codecs without buying them but this law is largely useless outside the US. I installed the free Gstreamer plugins from Yumex and was able to watch DivX videos and listen to mp3's without any trouble (see Figure 6). I discovered there was no sound though and even after searching for all long time on the net I couldn't see anything that would help. Fedora comes with Pulse Audio enabled by default and I assume it was a problem with that. I checked the Alsamixer in a terminal to ensure wasn't just an errant volume setting but nothing helped.
On top of this I found random applications would just crash and the whole system seemed very unstable. I suppose it's true what they say about the cutting edge also being the bleeding edge. My system fan seemed to be working overtime and the whole laptop got ridiculously hot while just performing normal tasks. So I was left with no 3D video, no sound and an unstable and overheating system. My mission was to make Fedora work as my desktop OS on this hardware and I'm sad to say I failed. This laptop was purchased with Ubuntu as I said and it runs perfectly, no doubt the Dell and Ubuntu guys got together to make sure this hardware worked but the performance of Fedora 9 was disappointing.
The whole release feels a lot more like a beta than anything else. It's always been experimental, but this release seems to have pushed the experimentation to the limit of usability. It just doesn't seem production ready at all and I'm not sure who exactly this distro is aimed at. When Fedora was first spun out of the Red Hat distribution as a way of separating free and paid for versions there wasn't a massive difference but now the gap seems to be widening by the day.
I found Fedora 8 was much more stable and usable for me and I hope this is just a blip because it feels increasingly like it's just a beta for future Red Hat Enterprise releases. If you want a stable and solid free Red Hat system, I would go for CentOS instead. It's a community project to repackage and freely distribute the source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and they do an amazing job. I use CentOS 4.6 on my live web server and I find it very stable and full featured, much as I imagine RHEL is.
I certainly wouldn't trust Fedora in a production environment and it makes me really sad to say that; it used to be a great distribution and I hope they can recapture that in future. I removed the software after a few days because I was so worried about the overheating problem damaging my hardware. I reinstalled Ubuntu and it now runs at a normal temperature again I'm pleased to report.
I think if you're a Fedora fan or you're a developer wanting the very latest packages possible to test with then this release may be of interest to you. Other than that I can't see a huge market for it. I'm sure the Fedora community won't like me saying that but I'm afraid that's my conclusion. I would choose CentOS over this any time or even Fedora 8 at a push. Download it for yourself by all means, and see if you agree.
This article was first published on LinuxPlanet.com.