GUI configuration applications and utilities are lacking
Nothing Flashy: This latest Red Hat offering is certainly functional but not quite ready for the “deluxe” tag.
Two installation CDs
A getting started guide
Red Hat Network
Complimentary subscription provides for free updates to one system
The long-awaited Red Hat with kernel 2.4.2 is finally making its debut. And while Red Hat fans should take the plunge to upgrade their systems, Red Hat 7.1 is for the most part an evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary, upgrade. To paraphrase Al Franken’s Saturday Night Live character Stewart Smalley: And that’s okay. People like it.
It’s Good Enough, It’s Smart Enough
On specs alone, Red Hat 7.1 is as modern a Linux distro as there is. It sports the enterprise-class Kernel 2.4.2 with many updated device drivers and expanded USB support, XFree86 4.0.3, glibc 2.2.2, broadened application SSL support, as well as increased security.
Being that Red Hat was trumped by Mandrake 7.2 and SuSE 7.1′s GUI and kernel innovations last year, we expected a bit more innovation this time around. If you were expecting GNOME 1.4 with Nautilus and all the third-party utilities and trimmings, you will be sorely disappointed — Red Hat 7.1 sports the same generic GNOME 1.2 environment as Red Hat 7.0.
Setup is no different from 7.0 — 7.1 also uses the graphical Anaconda installer, which is about as simple and idiot-proof an install program as you are going to find on a Linux distribution. And those of you who’ve picked up a new Pentium 4 system will be happy to know that according to “the powers that be,” Red Hat 7.1 will have no problems running on the P4, unlike the previous kernel 2.2-based version.
It could be argued that Red Hat is sticking with a tried and true stable environment to address the needs of its corporate customers, but frankly, we don’t buy it. Corporate customers don’t care about the desktop GUI — GNOME is end-user territory. We were expecting Red Hat to redeem themselves in this area this time around, but to put it frankly, they blew it. Our advice — if you’re using Red Hat as a GNOME workstation, head right over to Ximian. com and give the machine a monkey-style GNOME 1.4 upgrade.
Noticeably absent were GUI tools for advanced filesystem configuration for volume management and creation and mounting of reiserfs and ext2. Yes, we’re nitpicking, but we can always hope that Disk Druid will someday be as good as Mandrake’s DiskDrake. We did like the new printer configuration tool, printconf, which configures CUPS for over 500 different types of printers; our HP LaserJet 4500 was up and running in minutes.
Red Hat Network
As was introduced in version 7.0, Red Hat 7.1 includes a complimentary subscription to Red Hat Network (RHN) for systems management and software updates. For more information on RHN, see http://www.linux-mag.com/online/redhatnet_01.html. Red Hat recently introduced a $19.99 per month pricing scheme that covers one additional server profile per month. This means that if you buy a registered copy of Red Hat 7.1 and create a logon account on RHN, you will get updates for one system for free — any new systems added to that ID will cost $19.99 per month.
It seems that Red Hat’s objective with this release was to do a refresh of their core components; they weren’t looking to make major changes. If you are an existing Red Hat customer running 6.2 or 7.0, 7.1 is an important upgrade. But if you’re looking to build a new system, or have desktop aspirations, you might want to look around, as Red Hat is not the only kernel 2.4 Linux in town.
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