Desktop Faceoff: Fedora vs. Vista: Page 3

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Software installation and updates

Fedora and Vista both include automatic update systems. Vista includes individual ones for the operating system, Java, and -- if it's bundled -- Norton Internet Security, while Fedora's updates are available from a single applet. Nor, in an acknowledgement of the typical GNU/Linux user's preference for keeping control of their system, does Fedora update automatically by default. That choice may seem less convenient, but with a competent administrator, it's far safer than automatic updates -- if nothing else, administrators might want to wait to hear more about the reliability of updates before they install them.

Vista does users no service by declaring that their system is unsafe if automatic updating is turned off. Such warnings may stampede users into major system upgrades that disable working parts or expose them to other vulnerabilities. Based on past performance, Vista's automatic updates may also give users a false sense of security, since Windows patches have frequently failed to address all known vulnerabilities on a system.

Like any GNU/Linux distribution, Fedora also features on-the-fly installation of free software from its repositories. With Vista's Windows Marketplace, Microsoft has tried to copy this feature, but with proprietary products. Windows Marketplace seems to offer some discounts, but the fact that only proprietary software is available makes it less desirable than Fedora's Yum installation tool. Moreover, although Windows Marketplace has several hundred programs, Fedora's repository offers over six thousand, many of them equal or superior to their proprietary counterparts.


At the turn of the millennium, GNU/Linux administration was conducted from the command line. Expert users might still prefer the command line, which is generally more powerful and versatile than a desktop program can ever be. All the same, Fedora's GNOME desktop offers a full range of administrative tools in its System menu. Screen resolutions, keyboard shortcuts, system date and time, locales, network connections, printing, sound card configuration -- all can now be handled from the desktop in routine circumstances. If troubles occur, you can also view GNU/Linux's extensive log files in the hopes of tracking down the problem. These tools could do with a uniform interface of the sort found in the KDE Control Center, but are generally adequate for the job.

Despite such recent advances, Fedora's administration tools are still lagging behind those in Vista's control panel. In particular, Vista wins out with controls for backup, tablets, and, even more basically, font management. You can download tools for these purposes in Fedora, and even add them to the Administration menu, but Fedora fails to install them by default. The GNOME desktop's administrative tools are rapidly closing the gap on Window's, but currently they're still running slightly behind.

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