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> Red Hat Linux 8.0 Review, By Joey
post Nov 30 2003, 07:56 AM
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Red Hat Linux 8.0 Review By Joey
Created on October 16th 2002.

I wrote this review the other night while I was installing Red Hat Linux 8.0 on my Dell Dimension 8200 desktop. For those of you who
are curious, the machine itself is a 1.7GHZ box with 256 megs of ram, a 40 gig IDE hard drive, a Nvidea GEForce2 video
card, an old cdrw and an optical wheel mouse. I currently have Windows XP (NTFS) on the system with a partition or two set aside for my Red
Hat Linux install.

After downloading the ISO's from a [URL=/mirrors/] I went ahead and burnt them to cd. If you plan on doing the
same, you only need the first 3 ISO's for the install. ISO 4 and 5 are just the source RPM packages (SRPMS).

After the cd's were burnt I popped in CD 1 and rebooted the machine. The standard options of continuing with either a graphical install or
text based install then appear. I went the graphical route.

You now have the option to test your Red Hat Linux 8.0 CD's to verify if they are valid and fully operational cds. "Eh why not?" I thought to
myself and after about 5 minutes into the testing of CD 1 I realized that this was a waste of time. After the testing on CD 1 was complete I
decided not to test CD 2 and 3 and just to go ahead with the install. One good thing was that I was not forced to test all three.

After the testing is complete it proceeds to load up Anaconda, the Red Hat Linux Installer. It takes a few seconds for the installer to load
but once it does I must admit that I'm a little impressed with the icons and shading on the screen.

The first few menus allow you to select the language type and configure your keyboard and mouse. The installer reconized my USB
optical mouse however it didn't seem to detect the scroll wheel. I had to manually change the mouse type to scroll mouse and although the
scroll wheel did not function for the rest of the install it worked fine once I loaded Red Hat 8.0 for the first time. On a side note, the
Mandrake Linux 9.0 installer picked up on the scroll wheel mouse right away.

After you configure the keyboard and mouse you then get to select your installation type. There are a few different options here which
I'll list below. I choose the custom install.

  • Personal Desktop - "Perfect for personal computers or laptops, select this installation type to install a graphical desktop
    environment and create a system ideal for home or desktop use."

  • Workstation - "This option installs a graphical desktop environment with tools for software development and system

  • Server - "Select this installation type if you would like to set up file sharing, print sharing and web services. Additional services
    can also be enabled, and you can choose whether or not to install a graphical environment."

  • Custom - "Selct this installation type to gain complete control over the installation process, including software package
    selection and authentication preferences."

  • Upgrade Existing System

    Once you've selected what type of install you want you then are taken to the Partitioning Setup screen. From here you can have the
    installation automatically partition your hard drive for you or you can partition the drive manually using either Disk Druid or fdisk.
    I choose Disk Druid and began to set the mount points for my 2 Linux Partitions. Once again, the Red Hat Linux installer failed to let me
    specify mount points for my NTFS filesystems (WIN XP). This pissed me off a little as I was able to do this during Mandrake Linux 9.0 install.

    After the partitioning is done you then are able to select the boot loader. The default boot loader is grub, not a favorite of mine.
    Since this install is only temporary I wanted to boot off the system off a boot disk and not install any kind of boot loader onto the drive.
    They've now hidden this option under a "Change boot loader" button.

    Once you've selected the boot loader the install moves onto the Network Devices. I currently have 1 ethernet card in this machine and the
    installer picks it up without a problem. You have to click the "Edit" box and disable DHCP if you need to enter in the
    DNS/Gateway/IP/Hostname of the machine. It took me a few minutes to figure this out as the options are hidden once more.
    After the Network Devices are configured you can then configure the firewall, add additional language support if you wish and configure
    the time zone for the machine.

    The next part of the installer lets you select your root password and add a few user accounts to the system. Nothing much has changed here.

    Packages Packages Packages! The package selection menu has changed slightly and looks a lot nicer. The screen is now broken down into
    different groups of software and lists the total number of packages selected verses the total number of packages available per group. The
    default desktop is Gnome however I'm going to install both just for fun :)For a complete list of packages and their version numbers, please visit

    I must say I really like the new layout of the package selection screen. It makes package selection so much easier. I've noticed that a
    lot of the KDE optional packages are not selected even though I selected to install KDE. I guess Red Hat wants to move away from KDE in the near future. Anyhow, the total amount of the install is 1985 megs and I've selected a fair amount of crap. Package wise theres 680 packages to

    Once you've selected what packages you wish to install, anaconda will format the required/requested partitions and begin the package
    installation process. The status bars now have a nice hue to them and they are nicely detailed and curved. You can tell someone at Red Hat
    spent quite a large amount of time working on the interface/graphics.

    It would be nice if Red Hat would include some tunes to listen to while you were waiting for all the packages to install. After looking at the
    same Red Hat Linux ads over and over the install begins to drag on. "Red Hat Bluecurve - A polished desktop interface with new graphics. The
    Linux desktop has never looked better." The package installation took about 15 minutes to complete.

    Once the package installation has completed you then have the option to create a book disk which I highly recommend. You never know if
    you'll need it down the road and it might just save your butt one day.

    Once the boot disk has been either made or skipped (you bad boy you!) it's then time to configure X. The installation detected my
    video card (NVIDEA GeForce 2 MX) and the amount of video ram (32 megs) it has without a problem. It even detected my monitor (Dell
    M781s) and the sync ranges. After I selected my desired color depth (24 bit) and screen res (1152x864) and the login type (text) the installation was complete.

    The installer kindly ejects the cdrom and my computer reboots. The good ol boot floppy kicks in and Red Hat Linux 8.0 begins to load for the
    first time. The usual Loading blah blah [OK]'s appear on the screen. I'm a little puzzled why it loaded PCMCIA stuff on my desktop when
    there are no pcmcia devices/adaptors attached to it.

    Red Hat Linux release 8.0 (Psyche)
    Kernel 2.4.18-14 on an i686
    dell login:

    One thing I noticed about the installer is that it didn't give me the option to choose what daemons/services I wish to have start at boot
    time. I'm now noticing that I have a bunch of crap running in the background that I have no need for ie portmap, apmd, rpc.statd,
    anacron, atd and sendmail.

    When I loaded X up for the first time I was impressed with how clean and polished the desktop interface looked. The first thing I noticed
    was the little flashing red icon at the bottom left hand side of the screen. This is the Red Hat Network Up2date agent letting me know that
    there are available updates for my system. After going through the Red Hat Network registration process (which is fairly quick and painless), the
    up2date client downloaded a few packages and installed them automatically. Once my system had the listed updates installed
    the icon changed over to a blue checkmark.

    The menu's load up in a flash and the icons are very crisp and well done. Once thing you'll notice is that the package names are no longer
    listed in the menu system by default. For example, under the "Internet" section, you'll find "Web Browser", "Email" and "Chat Client" instead
    of the usual package names, for example: "Mozilla", "Evolution" and "X-chat".

    The default mail client on my installation was Evolution which looks and feels just like Microsoft's Outlook. You can decide on your own if
    that is a good or bad thing, personally I like it.

    I've also noticed that a few programs that I definetly know are installed do not appear in the menu's in X (such as Xmms) for some reason.

    They've also added an "Add / Remove Programs" sort of option that resembles the package selection system during the installation. This
    feature, while a great idea, has not worked 100% for me and could probably use a little work. I tried removing a bunch of software that I
    don't intend on using on this machine and while the "Add / Remove Programs" said the removal was successful, a quick run of "rpm -qa
    | grep ....." proves otherwise. Also it could use some work on how to handle dependancies. If you try to remove a package and it has dependancies, it errors out but does not really tell you what section/group the package belongs to so you end up having to search
    through everything to find it. Maybe it will work as it should come 8.2.. Actually the whole RPM system in general could use some work on
    solving dependancy issues.

    Update: Okay, I've been playing around with this option/feature set a little more and it's truely
    broken/has issues. Perhaps it is because the system auto-mounts CDROMs when you put them in the drive but when it comes
    time to install software and asks you to put CD 1 in the drive, it never detects it. This option is definetly not ready for prime time.

    Anyhow, with all that said, like Mandrake 9.0, Red Hat Linux 8.0 is again, a step in the right direction. I'm definetly looking forward to see
    the improvements and bug fixes they'll release in 8.1 and 8.2 down the road.

    For those of you who are interested in screen shots, here are a few:

    Menu System (Shot 1)
    Menu System (Shot 2)
    Package Installation
    Control Center
    Email Client
    Web Browser
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