Redhat Linux 8.0 GPL
As usual, I began the installation by booting from the CD (which, since Redhat seem to enjoy being awkward, are not allowed to have Redhat Linux written on them....).
The first thing I noticed was a rather strange precaution - the installer insisted on "checking" at least the first CD of the install set. I guess this is a precaution to prevent hacked/damaged CDs being used. This does take a comparatively long ammount of time - I get bored easily :-)
Then, finally I'm into the main install. The package selection is VERY painless, with different package sets being available - on this occasion, I decided to go with "Personal Desktop". Other options are the usual ones offered including "Workstation", "Server" and of course "Custom".
Partitioning can be done automatically, but I was, as usual, disappointed with the poor FS support in Redhat. The only "different" FS available for use in the installation is ext3. Maybe it's just me who feels like this, but I like to have the opportunity to at the very least use Reiser - XFS wouldn't be bad either :-)
Most of the installation is pretty much the same as previous versions at this stage, with the usual network and firewall configuration included.
Another thing that I increasingly find annoying, is having to tell the installer that it is in the UK several times... first it's the language, then the keymap, the timezone...etc.
I may feel this way because SuSE takes note of this the first time and so I'm used to it, but would it REALLY be so difficult to assume that if the language is English-UK, that the keymap and timezone might be too?
Package selection is next. The installer quite nicely presents you with a list of key components, and tells you what is currently selected for each one.
E.g. Window Manager, KDE. Web browser, Mozilla. Office Package, OpenOffice.org etc etc.
I will resit the temptation at this stage to lay in to the window manager arrangements recently highlighted in the Linux press - I'll save that for later.
I then reboot after the installation has finished to discover that both sshd and xinetd are installed and running. Since I selected a personal desktop, I would suggest that these are not only unneccessary, but also a potential security risk to a user who doesn't know they're there.
On first boot, the installer continues and gives you the chance to configure the date/time, sound, Red Hat Network updates and to install packages from additional CDs.
The only thing I'll say about this stage, is that the sound level for the sound card test it too low - I could hardly hear it.
The graphical environment then started and I was greeted with a very nice looking login screen - much nicer than the KDE or Gnome login managers.
I then logged in and thought for a moment I'd installed XP by mistake. Maybe it's just my imagination, but I'm sure they have deliberately made it resemble the look of XP.
Anyway, after I got over the initial shock, I was given another one. I suddenly discovered all my favrouite applications - OpenOffice, Evolution, Mozilla etc.
The only problem with this was that NONE of them had the proper icons provided by the people who make them. Redhat had substituted every one for one of their own design. While I will admit they were nice icons, it did mean that I didn't know what was what since all the icons were different.
Now, I must mention the controversy surrounding "Redhat's" desktop environment, Bluecurve...
It is very nice.
However, I don't think it's very fair to the thousands of developers who work on both KDE and Gnome to change them so much that it is not only difficult to tell the difference between them, but difficult to even tell which one you're running.
I am hopeful that after the controversy surrounding this move, that the next release will be back to normal. It's fair enough to customise the window manager, but not fair to remove the credit from the people who designed it in the first place. All it requires is a KDE or Gnome logo placing in a few places, and that's an end to it.
Anyway, It is a nice distro. I regually use Redhat for server installs, because I find it easy to install a nice lightweight system without things I don't need. I also find it stable and most importantly, it tends to be the standard for RPM packages.
While I haven't yet put Redhat 8.0 to use on a server, I will be doing so in the future.
As for it's usefulness as a desktop OS, I think Redhat have done a good job. I think it does target newbies well, and it easy to use. However the sacrifice they have made, is that it is more difficult for more experienced users to use since everything has been moved around (e.g. the icons).
Recommended for server installs (particually if you don't want X) and desktop installs, but only if you're a new user :-)
Added: Friday, October 04, 2002
Reviewer: David Johnson
Related Link: Redhat.com