How’s Fedora 13? Linux in its prime?

Every once in a while I just feel compelled to try out a new/updated distro and see how things are going with Linux. If you read my previous reviews on Linux you’ll know I’m partial to Fedora and Ubuntu. Well this time around I’m sticking to where I’ve liked things in the past – Fedora 13 is fairly fresh out there. I have some things to work on related to JBoss and Jasper so I’m going to check out Fedora and get the machine setup with those tools and a development environment. This will give me a good indication of what’s new and cool with Fedora at the same time.

Getting Fedora 13 Installed

I’m working with a T60p ThinkPad with 2GM or RAM and a decent processor – basically my standard machine…although I guess these days this box is getting a bit long in the tooth. Installation of Fedora 13 (F13) couldn’t really be any easier. Boot up with the DVD and after a few simple choices you are left with a complete installation, GUI, decent graphics support, a working WIFI configuration, and a decent set of programs and developer tools. I even see that now Firefox 3.6 is included, GIMP picutre editing, even a BitTorrent client, and a CD/DVD burning package (yes it even works!), but no open office. What’s up with that? Seriously though  – this is top quality and simple installation that anyone could do.

Updates and Adding Programs to Fedora 13

Another win – simple and easy. I added a whole bunch of programs, developer tools, and other junk. I didn’t get one dependency error (the dreaded awful crap!) and I got about 15 programs added all at once including Eclipse, MySQL, and a whole bunch of crap. Updating the system was equally as simple, although the updater did seem to take a long time.  That all seemed to go pretty well – it would be nice to have some kind of “report out” after adding programs – for example where did MySQL get installed? No clue…gotta go look around. Minor picky problem I guess – and some programs do show up in the Applications menu like Eclipse.

Fedora 13 Post Setup Reactions

Its really all good here – the machine seems to perform pretty nice – screens are snappy, memory use is low, and network speed is fast compared to my Windows machines. I’ve got my eye on the temperature and fan noise, but so far so good – I guess its a little warm right now, but I’m doing a ton of things all at once.The WIFI support works great with my home setup using WEP. The bluetooth configuration is also really nice and includes a config pre-setup to allow for file copies to your downloads directory. Pairing with my b-berry worked perfectly. That’s wicked cool! The Firefox setup is decent and has all the same issues I find with other operating systems – ex. Flash plugin doesn’t work OOB, but after a quick install it did work.

I’ve installed this on a laptop – in the past treacherous territory for Linux, but no longer. In and out of standby is both fast and error free. Going to standby on a hard wired LAN and coming back up on WiFi works faster and better than Windows or OS-X. Power management and hot keys for screen brightness also work. I haven’t tried external video yet.

My main reaction to this distro is that – really Linux is finally easier and better that either Windows or OS-X. Why? I use Linux about as much as OS-X. I can find my way around this machine, get some stuff configured, install the things I like, tune it a bit, take screen captures, configure WEP and Bluetooth without any issues or real trouble at all. That simply isn’t true on either Windows (because its too complicated and just dumb) or Mac OS-X (because it is “different” from the desktop interface that Linux and Windows share).  This is from the distro that’s for tech weenies! Pretty impressive.

Setting up Jasper for Development on Fedora 13

Next up is getting a suitable set of tools installed and ready to go for some work with Jasper’s reporting tools. So I need to get JBoss 5.1 installed, MySQL setup with a database, get the MySQL JDBC drivers installed, get Jasper server installed, and the get the Jasper iReport package installed to build some reports.

To start off – I installed MySQL from the Add/Remove Software program….while I was doing that I downloaded JBoss (yes download the zip file), extracted it to my home directory and then just opened a terminal, switched to the bin (in my case  /home/beren/jboss-5.1.0.GA/bin) and ran – after about 79 seconds I had JBoss running on port 8080. Nice! JBoss is pretty simple to install on just about any platform, a true testament to the quality of that project and the team of developers and testers that work on it.

I found the MySQL deamon registered in the services panel and started it up. The binaries are installed to usrsharemysql. I think I also installed the GUI tools, but I can’t seem to find them anywhere. With the server started I decided to grab the GUI admin tools from the MySQL site and also get the JDBC drivers too. Put the Connector/J jar file in your jboss server’s lib directory for me: (homeberenjboss-5.1.0.GAserverdefaultlib) that’s where it is.

MySQL Workbench is the GUI tool – its still a bit rough, but a pretty decent tool. Getting things workin gin there is pretty simple, remember to have the server started from the service panel or you will need to correctly setup a sudo file for your accounts to start it from within workbench. In there I create a user called jasper and gave it DBA rights  – don’t do that on a production system. Now I’m ready to configure jasper.

I downloaded jasper server 3.7.1 distribution. I extracted this to my home directory. Its a good idea to grab the install instructions – they are pretty good – in fact they were exactly right. I created all the sample databases and loaded them up as well. Once you are done you should be able to log into the server and see the main UI, reports, domains, and stuff. I’m not going to go into how to use Jasper, but I did navigate around and make sure that pretty much everything is working right. The tool in generla seems snappier on my Linux box, but that’s probably not a fair comparison to my XP box where I have so much stuff installed.

So the Verdict on Fedora 13?

This is the first linux distro where I can really say it is as good as Windows or Mac OS-X. The ease of installation, no problems running on older hardware, and perfect laptop performance make this a real mainstream OS that both techie and non-techie user can easily use. What really puts this distro over the top is the good support from software vendors with accurate instructions for getting their packages installed. I think it is also a general benefit that the desktop GUI blends a lot of Windows concepts with a few useful, but not overly complex GUI features that make things easier for the user – a great example is the pre-configured Bluetooth support.

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