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New Linux Install - Fedora FC5

Fedora LogoI've just installed Fedora on my home desktop machine. The Fedora version I used is called Fedora Core 5 (often referred to as FC5), and is the community distribution from RedHat. I do try different distributions, and try and have at least two different distributions on my machines, using a Debian based distribution on one (normally Ubuntu), and a RPM based distribution on another (previously I had Mandriva installed). More about different Linux Distributions.

The install was fairly straight forward, although it took much longer to install than Ubuntu, which I'd installed recently. The Fedora disk does however include a lot more software on it's almost full DVD, compared to Ubuntu which squeezes everything onto a single CD-ROM. Although more software is available for Ubuntu which can be easily downloaded from the Internet.

Nvidia Graphics Card

The first thing I do after installing Linux is to get the graphics drivers for my Nvidia graphics card. Nvidia creates their own Linux drivers for their graphics cards. The driver is distributed using a proprietary license, so is not normally supplied as part of the Linux distribution which only have open source software.

Normally it's a simple job to download the Nvidia drivers and then install them using the installer.

I've had problems with my Nvidia card before. Once you get it working, it's great well supported and you get full 3D graphics, but the proprietary nature means it is not as well integrated as most other hardware. Details of how I gotit working with Ubuntu Linux.

The installer didn't work. After saying that there was no pre-compiled binaries it tried to compile the kernel module itself. The kernel source code wasn't installed, so I had to install the kernel development packages. First I tried installing the package using the "Add Software" option in X. At this point I found the one problem with Fedora. The add programs didn't offer the choice of using the packages from the DVD, but instead tried downloading them from the network. This was taking ages, and eventually I gave up and instead installed the packages manually using the rpm command. The rpm command is actually quite easy to use, but not as user friendly, particularly for anyone not familiar about what the different packages do.

Unfortunately even after adding the kernel source code, the Nvidia installer didn't work, this time complaining about the compiler. At this point I gave up with the Nvidia installer and after a quick search on the Internet found a package that had already been compiled. I found that the problem appears to be with the kernel version provided as standard with Fedora FC5. As I'd found the pre-compiled drivers I decided to use these rather than try again with the Nvidia installer on a new version of the kernel.

Actually getting the Nvidia Drivers to work

These instructions have been taken from Mauriat Miranda's Fedora 5 Installation Guide. This is an abbreviated run through:

Update your kernel

yum update kernel

Setup Livna Repository

rpm -ivh http://rpm.livna.org/livna-release-5.rpm

rpm --import http://rpm.livna.org/RPM-LIVNA-GPG-KEY

Note Other than for drivers there can be some problems with the Livna repository,

hence I disable it:

cd /etc/yum.repos.d/

mv livna.repo livna.repo.bkp

sed 's/enabled=1/enabled=0/' livna.repo.bkp > livna.repo

Install the nvidia driver through Livna:

yum --enablerepo livna install kmod-nvidia

Then simply log out completely (using logoff), which will put you back at the graphics login prompt, with the Nvidia drivers loaded.

Test by running: '/usr/bin/glxgears' (included in the glx-utils RPM package).

Canon PIXMA IP4200 printer

The next thing I installed was the driver printer. I have already posted a review of the printer (a Canon PIXMA iP4200) with information about the Linux drivers. Canon provide a Linux driver for this printer (although it's one of the view that it does).Although the source code is provided the printer driver is not free as in the sense of the rest of the operating system. I'm not sure if it means they'll be able to add it into future updates to the distribution or whether it continue to have to be downloaded and installed separately. At least Cannon do provide Linux drivers and that's a start. To install you have to follow the instructions provided by Canon. Even after installing the CUPs drivers the driver doesn't show in the list of available drivers, but using the lpadmin command the printer can be setup fairly easily.

Web Browsing

That's it the operating system is up and running, including web browser(Firefox or Konqueror), Office Suite (OpenOffice.org) and Photo Editor (The GIMP), plus lots more applications.

There are still a few things that need setting up separately, again due to licensing issues, including DVD playback etc., but those I'll leave for another day.

I did get a nice surprise when I started writing this post using the Konqueror browser. I normally stick with Firefox as that is the same browser as I use on the PC, but thought I'd give Konqueror another go, not having used it for some years. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it provided automatic spell checking as I wrote this post. Of course it's not perfect, it flags up many of the parameters in the embedded images etc. but is still very useful. The closest I have to this on Firefox is the Google Toolbar, which includes an option to check the spelling in forms, but doesn't do this in real-time.

Book Review of: Red Hat Fedora and Enterprise Linux 4


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