Saturday, June 30, 2007

Welcome back Linux

Linux came back to my life after three years when I purchased a new desktop. I wanted to try some latest distributions of Linux and the experience is

Ubuntu 7.04
When I searched for the most popular distribution of Linux for installation on my system, I was surprised to find out that a new distribution called Ubuntu had gained immense popularity. I downloaded the latest version 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) and installed it without any problems. The installation was very simple and fast. I was impressed when the it auto detected iPod and started playing music on RhythmBox Music player. I would like to list down some key features:
  • Debian based distribution (Gnome
  • Single CD installation (unlike 3 CD installation I used to do for Red Hat 9)
  • Simple Installation
  • Good hardware support
  • Out of the box support for MP3 etc
Ubuntu gave me a a feeling that Linux is now ready for Desktop use.
The only problem I faced was configuration of my 19" LCD to its native resolution of 1440*900. I found information on Ubuntu Forums. Installation of 915resolution resolved my resolution problem and my desktop looked much better.

Fedora Core 6
As my linux experience started with Redhat 7.2, I wanted to give Fedora(community distribution backed by Redhat) a try. Fedora 7 was not released then, so I installed Fedora Core 6. One strange thing I noticed was that once you install some basic set of packages, you can add more packages from the DVD later on. Anyway, here to my LCD did not work on the native resolution and I was unable to find a simple way to do so (was unable to devote enough time)
In the meantime, Fedora 7 was released and I thought of giving it a try

Fedora 7
I started the ambitious download of Fedora 7(nicknamed Moonshine) with my modest broadband connection. The torrent completed in 120 hours. This time, I had bought a NVIDIA graphics card which replaced my onboard graphics by Intel (so both Fedora 6 and Ubuntu were not booting up as they were unable to recognize the new card).

The installation was simple (more of a norm now :)). Few steps I took to get my linux box in shape are listed below:
  • Screen Resolution - This time too, the LCD was not detected at its native resolution. I compiled the driver provided by NVIDIA for linux. When i restarted the XManager, I was able to find the native resolution of my screen in the configuration.
  • MP3 and Windows Media Support - Got help from here and the single line command is :
    • yum -y install gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-plugins-ugly xine-lib-extras-nonfree
  • Fonts - Somehow the fonts look ugly on the LCD. I found this post which made my linux desktop fonts much better.
  • Desktop Effects - Again, this worked great on Ubuntu but gave me an error message in Fedora. Now I wouldn't let it go and so started searching again and I found something better - Beryl (at least in terms of eye-candy). Check out this video.
Now Fedora 7 is going to be my primary Linux distribution and I will most of my time on it. Still Eclipse (my fav. Java IDE) looks ugly in Linux, so I installed Netbeans which inherits Gnome fonts and looks better.

It feels nostalgic to do all these minor discoveries in Linux all over again after such a long time :-)

Some links for Fedora 7:
Fedora 7 howto
Linux Post Installation

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