Coming to You Now From Fedora 9

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Well, as many of you know, I have been wanting to blow away the operating system on my personal machine for some time now. Besides being unwieldy and bloated, I've had one or two software and driver issues that I just haven't been able to get motivated enough to do anything about under the old system.

Well, thanks to a colleague who sorted out an ISO image for me, this blog is now coming to you *live* from Fedora 9! To my great delight, the install took less than hour from shutting down the old system to starting up the new one, and with about twenty minutes of fiddling with plugins and upgrades I can now do virtually everything on this machine that I used to do. I resorted to use of the console on only one occasion - everything with the exception of the Adobe Flash plugin was done through the graphical interface.

I note this, not so much because I don't like the console (on the contrary, I now use the console to do most basic tasks, as it is generally quicker and easier than the alternatives), but because I was trying to get a feel for what it might be like to install and use Fedora for the first time as a new user. Admittedly, I've done more than my fair share of Red Hat installations (thanks to RHCT training and the like) so nothing in the Fedora installation came as a surprise, but attempting to analyse the instructions as a new user, the only thing that I thought likely to trip someone up was the request for a root password. Most Windows users are used to the concept of "administrator" privileges, and the use of the term "root" could be potentially confusing.

Setting up was perhaps not the easiest thing in the world for a new user. When installing the flash plugin in Firefox failed, I had to resort to yum, so that could potentially be a problem, although this is only indicative of a bigger issue - installing software under Linux, when you come from Windows-world, is a pain in the proverbial. The package manager under Gnome does a reasonable job of simplifying the task, but it often results in either dependency-hell, or a non-specific error. This situation gave rise to my comment to a friend the other day - get someone who knows what they're doing to set the system up for you, and you won't have to do anything much out of the ordinary. It's a sad fact ... day-to-day, the desktop Linux flavours have so much going for them. Try to do something that isn't web browsing, emailing or IM though, and you're going to require a console and some command line magic.

You may have came across what has been dubbed the "Great Ubuntu-Girlfriend Experiment" in recent months. It's a subject that has caught the interest of a number of mailing lists to which I subscribe, and the general consensus (if I may baldly generalise) seems to be that, while the experiment was fairly reasonable and the motives fairly noble, the wording has upset a few people. By labelling a "girlfriend" as someone who is not likely to be Linux- (or even particularly computer-) savvy, the author got a lot of people on the wrong foot before they read the article.

I'm one of those who thinks the article was useful, but I'm also up for a shameless plug every so often too. After a discussion online with some friends a week or so ago, a few facts became obvious to me:
1. I'm about to perform a fresh Fedora installation (check!)
2. I have a Linux-n00b boyfriend (check!)
3. The boyfriend in question is willing to subject himself to experimentation by yours truly (errr .... check!)

It would appear as though we have the fixings for a very tasty dish here ...

"The Great Fedora-Boyfriend Experiment!"

Watch this space, folks :)


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