F7 and Stuff

august 14, 2007

So, I have been playing with Fedora 7 recently and want to write down some of my findings. I did convert my two notebooks to Fedora 7, my storage server is running Scientific Linux 5. So, cosmetically, I think Fedora 7 is a mixed bag. Some people really love the hot air balloon stuff, I don't. What I do like is the new system font, icons and blue color theme. The new menu layout is also quite nice. Fedora 7 works great out-of-the-box for my main notebook. It supports the Intel Pro Wireless 3945abg card out-of-the-box, which is nice. It is also the only distro so far which detects and sets up the Intel video correctly during installation. On my work notebook, it is a different story. Atheros support is missing -- which is a given since the madwifi driver does not quite fit with the Fedora philosophy. I tried to use dkms and madwifi (from FreshRPMs), which worked great with a fresh install. But, the minute I upgrade the system, things go weird. Madwifi does not seem to work very well with the new kernel 2.6.22. It will work, but every couple of minutes, the system will come to a complete halt. After a while, the wireless stops working completely. In order to make my Atheros-based card work, I used the madwifi kernel module from Livna. That kernel module works just fine. I found some very useful yum plugins. The ones that I like to use are: yum-protectbase (to protect the Fedora base packages from 3rd party repositories), yum-priorities (lets you set priorities on repositories), yum-kernel-module (manages getting kmods when the kernel is upgraded) and yum-fastestmirror (name kind of describes this one). With Fedora 7, I can also install Abiword and Gnumeric. These two are a lot faster than OpenOffice.org. They aren't perfect though. For instance, I have found the OpenDocument exporter for Abiword to be a little buggy, double-spacing gets turned into single-spacing is one bug. Also, I get to use Firefox/Thunderbird 2 without the big hassle of downloading/updating myself. There is also a really nice Gnome applet in Fedora 7 that lets me control the LCD display brightness on my new notebook! That is very cool indeed since the display brightness on that notebook is software controlled and I had no way to control it in previous distros. I also found that the hardware volume buttons on my work notebook have magically started to work when I switched over to Fedora 7. Nice. I tried to use Revisor to build a respin of Fedora 7, complete with extra drivers and codecs. But, I still haven't gotten it to completely work. And it is so slow that I have since gotten frustrated and not tried again. I will see about trying it out again sooner or later. Anyways, I am using Fedora 7.