January 24, 2006

My desktop OS: Fedora Core 3

Author: Nader Aeinehchi

Half a year ago, I was in a point in my professional life where I wanted to start over with a completely different developer environment. My Windows XP-based PC simply worked too slowly. Antivirus software, disk fragmentation, network settings, and an ever-growing registry were eating up the performance. As a Java developer, I had about a million small files installed on my computer, and the antivirus software had a hard time. I decided to install Linux on my brand new ThinkPad T43P laptop. Having been a Red Hat fan for many years, the obvious free alternative was Fedora, so I installed Fedora Core 3. Today, with Linux, I have more control over my development environment than I did with Microsoft Windows.The installation itself was easy. Every device except the wireless network card worked out of the box. I went to www.thinkwiki.org and found links to the driver of the wireless network card, but it nevertheless took me almost two weeks to get the card working. When I succeeded, I realized that the problem was my own mistake. I had downloaded wrong version of the driver -- one which was designed for a multiprocessor computer. When I went back and downloaded the right version, I had the wireless network card worked perfectly in a few seconds.

Installation of software on Linux has a couple of problems. Firstly, there are a lot of distributions, and you need to find the right version of the software for your distribution. Secondly, every application has dependencies on other software, and those in turn have dependencies. Because Fedora Core is one of the most popular distributions of Linux, most applications are available as binary RPM packages. RPM handles dependency problems automatically. Nevertheless, I often need to find and download numerous additional applications to satisfy dependencies.

Besides bundled applications such as OpenOffice.org, Acrobat Reader, the GIMP, Firefox, Thunderbird, and Opera, there are many other high-quality applications available for Linux. I have enjoyed using Kuickshow and Photo Tool for browsing photos, Dia for diagrams, Kivio for drawing, K3b for burning CDs, and Totem Movie Player and several other multimedia applications.

I was impressed with how easy it was to use Remote Desktop to connect to Microsoft Windows Terminal Server. With Kopete, I can use Yahoo and several other instant messaging systems. I was really impressed with Konqueror, which is a Web browser, file manager, and more.

In my job, I need to work with Microsoft Office documents. Occasionally, I visit some Web sites that absolutely demand Microsoft Internet Explorer. I installed CrossOver Office, and it provided Windows compatibility for those applications on Linux.

As a Java developer, I need Eclipse, NetBeans, and similar tools, but also tools for database management, design, and modeling, drawing and photo management, networking, security and hacking. Although many of these applications are available for Microsoft Windows, I get the impression that many bleeding edge software come first for Linux/Unix and Fedora Core.

Sometimes it takes longer to install software with Linux than with Windows, but in many areas I am more productive. With Linux I have better control than with Microsoft Windows when it comes to installation and managment of software, user and process rights, terminating processes, and so forth. My system's performance (since there is no real-time antivirus software and no registry) is lot better. The desktop environment is at least as good as Microsoft Windows. Linux, and Fedora Core in particular, gives me almost everything I need.

Nader Aeinehchi works as chief architect at EDB Business Partner, one of Scandinavia's largest IT companies. He has been working with computers and software development since 1986, and has long experience with Unix, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.

What's your desktop OS of choice? Write an article of less than 1,000 words telling us what you use and why. If we publish it, we'll pay you $100. (Send us a query first to be sure we haven't already published a story on your favorite OS or have one in hand.) In recent weeks, we've covered SimplyMEPIS, Xandros, and Mac OS X.


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