April 17, 2006

Fedora Frog brings the bling to Fedora

Author: Tina Gasperson

Fedora Core 5 users now have a way to install and update games, productivity software, and multimedia support applications all at one time, much as Ubuntu users can do with Automatix. The script is called Fedora Frog, and it is available at EasyLinux.info.

Raivis Dejus, Linux Center project coordinator at the University of Latvia, runs EasyLinux.info. He finished Frog about a week ago, he says, adapting the Automatix script for the RPM-based Fedora Core and using yum to handle downloading and installing the packages. Dejus used his own ideas and some tips from others on the Internet to create Frog. "It seemed like a thing that had to be done," he says. "Ubuntu has Automatix and I decided that Fedora should have something similar."

According to instructions at easylinux.info, you can install Frog (after downloading the tarball) with the command:

tar zxvf frog.tar.gz -C ~

When I entered this command, tar returned:

tar: C: Not found in archive

I got around this by removing -C ~ from the command. I was then able to proceed without any issues. Frog starts with a simple splash screen that asks for the root password, and loads a choice menu that is similar to the one in Automatix.

Many of the installable application choices are the same as those in Automatix, including Thunderbird, Skype, RealPlayer, LimeWire, and utilities that enable DVD playback and audio codecs not included with Fedora Core. The first option is to add more RPM repositories in order to have access to more types of files and applications.

I told Frog to install all the options, even though I didn't think I really needed any KDE games (Fedora Core uses GNOME by default) and clicked start. Frog also has an option to run a script that would reverse the installations performed by Frog, and I selected that too. I noticed that Frog doesn't have an option to install an IRC client. Automatix doesn't either, but Ubuntu comes with an IRC client already installed and FC5 does not.

Frog took almost two hours on a standard broadband connection to complete its tasks. Part of the reason it takes so long is that, in addition to adding the list of programs selected, it also updates a long list of packages already installed, including Perl, OpenOffice.org, the kernel, Ghostscript, and others.

Another thing I noticed was that some of the repository servers didn't give me much bandwidth for downloading, but at least I could walk away and do something else while I was waiting. The only interaction required from me was when Frog needed to install Java. Frog asked me to agree to the Sun Java license terms by typing "yes" and pressing Enter.

When Frog was finally done, the choice menu opened again, but this time I could select packages to uninstall. Since I hadn't tried any of the programs yet, I decided to just leave the menu open, explore the new setup, and decide later whether I wanted to remove anything. Unfortunately, later, when decided I didn't want to remove anything, I left all the options unselected and then clicked "OK." I should have clicked cancel, because Frog proceeded to start over from the beginning, downloading a long list of programs to install. I stopped it by entering Ctrl-c in the script's terminal window.

Browsing through the GNOME menus after Frog was finished, I saw some new things, such as the GIMP and support for multimedia that was not there before. For the time it took, it seemed like there should have been more stuff.

One problem I found was that the DVD support didn't work -- I was unable to load and play movies from my DVD drive, because even though Frog downloaded and installed some DVD plugins, it hadn't installed all of the necessary ones. I fixed the problem by opening the package manager and installing several libraries related to DVD playback that Fedora Core didn't provide at the time of installation: libdvdread, libdvdplay, and libdvdcss.

Frog is a brand new project and could stand a few additions and some tweaks. It takes too long to run, especially considering that it ought to make more applications available, but it is easy to install and configure, and in time should become a valuable resource for beginning to moderately experienced Linux desktop users that run Fedora Core.

Click Here!