Fedora 13 gives off plain vibe, but offers power and stability under the hood

Developers of the Fedora Project have put together a fine distribution that's rock-solid and user-friendly.

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This gives us another clue about Fedora: who the target audience is. The Ubuntu distro is clearly aimed at the beginning user, who will be using Ubuntu as a way to get out onto the cloud. Customization and optimization are possible, but with a slick enough interface, new Ubuntu users won't have to bother.

Fedora, on the other hand, is a distro for Linux users. Its purpose in life is to be the Linux desktop, with the flexibility to function as a solid work or development platform. Can it sit on a netbook and do cloud? Sure, but that's not its main goal. Fedora is for slightly-more-than beginner Linux users who know their way around the platform and have a job to do.

A job that Fedora will handle very well. One of the great advantages about working with a Red Hat-based distribution is the high availability of applications. Fedora has just as many apps as Ubuntu, because most developers port to either one or the other. As such, if Fedora doesn't pre-load the apps you want, they're usually very easy to find.

Installation of Fedora via Anaconda was a breeze, as usual. All the hardware was recognized, and my WiFi card and dual monitor set up were picked up without a hitch. The inboard CDMA modem wasn't initially identified, but it didn't take much to get the right configuration going.

Which brings up a minor concern: there's some really good documentation out there for Fedora, and I was eventually always able to find what I needed -- but not always from Fedora or Red Hat sources. The Fedora documentation seems, on the whole, a bit more scattered than that found for openSUSE and Ubuntu. Third-party sites have picked up the slack, so like I said, you can get what you need eventually. To be fair, the documentation situation has vastly improved for Fedora from what it used to be, and the Fedora documentation site has a great interface. It just seems like there needs to be a little more content in there.

Fedora's package set is on the minimal side if you install from the LiveCD, as I did. If you are a developer, you might want to save some time and burn a copy of the DVD installation media to get all the packages you need right away. The same suggestion holds true for graphic-intense users.

Again, this is not an admonishment, as much as a heads up. Basic users will have more than enough to get them on their way. The latest version of Firefox and the Empathy IM client are great apps to start working on the Web (see Figure 2).


Figure 2: The latest version of Firefox is fast and flexible in its own right.

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