- Fedora acts as sandbox and test polygon for RHEL developers. Technologies from Fedora eventually got their way to RHEL.
- From another side CentOS is based on the existing RHEL and uses its source code with minimal changes. In spite (or because of) being free, CentOS is widely used on server market.
New version 5.6 was released recently. Should I check what is new? Sure!
So, image is downloaded from torrent. It weights just enough to get to one CD, so CD-RW was burnt. I am usually reluctant to burn CDs in KDE's default K3B, but this time I tried this option and was nicely surprised that CD-RW was burnt without any issues at all.
Disk is in the drive. Reboot. Choose to boot from CD. Let's go!
Once initial boot is done, you have screen with seconds countdown. The screen says that boot will be done after 10 seconds. It's slightly confusing because you don't know what is going to boot. Anyway, any keystroke shows options available. Of course, default action is to boot to Live version. Full boot time is about the same as it was before. But subjectively disk during the booting process noises are less then 5.5.
You have another question during the boot - and this is username. Again, there is 10 seconds countdown until default username is used. That default username is good for Live version. Don't know if you can use any other username actually.
Full boot time is 3m24s, not counting 2*10 seconds of countdown (I pressed Enter both times as soon as invitation appeared). It has been placed into Racecourse scoreboard.
Once booted, you get to standard GNOME desktop environment with panels on the top and at the bottom. CentOS logo is in the left-top corner.
First impression from CentOS 5.6 is slightly better than from 5.5. If, as I said, I was pushed to 20th century by 5.5's icons, then 5.6 is leap forward to 21st century, but still to early 00's.
I might be wrong, but this version also got better video driver and default wallpaper. So, quality of what I have seen on my screen was better than before.
CentOS 5.6 has shortcut to keyboard layout configuration right on the default desktop. But this configuration is kind of trimmed. You can only select one (default) layout there. Yes, it works correctly if you only have one layout to use. But what if you need more, like me? Then solution is in usual place for GNOME. Full configuration is available at System - Preferences menu. Using this tool, Russian layout was added easily. Although, I did not get any indicator on the panel, which is minor defect from my point of view.
My HDD has about half a dozen partitions. CentOS 5.6 recognised several of them, but unfortunately not all. The one which I missed (and missed dearly - see below) was NTFS partition with WinXP installed. I could not even mount it manually using standard sudo mount command. Neither ntfs nor ntfs-3g filesystems were recognised, even though man mount lists ntfs as available.
Software wise, CentOS 5.6 has minimal required set of packages to start working on it.
- Firefox 3.6 is default browser in CentOS. But you cannot tell it from the first sight, because icon for browser on the quick-launch panel is not Firefox-distinctive globe with a fox. It is in blue gamma, close to the whole CentOS default theme.
- Open Office 3.1.1 is included into CentOS in shortened version: Writer, Impress, Calc. This OS also includes Project Management tool from GNOME project. Not sure that this one is critical for CentOS users though.
- As for graphics, CentOS only includes viewer. No graphic editor is included in distribution.
- Multimedia tools are also represented by basic tools: CD player, Totem movie player, Sound Juicer CD extractor. I could not check if they work at all, because neither network nor NTFS partition was available.
As you can see, there is enough tools in CentOS 5.6 to start working in the office. But what if you need more? Then you need to install more software. There is Package Manager tool available for this in CentOS.
What is general feelings about CentOS 5.6? I would say I saw progress since last version 5.5. It is not quantum leap, but steadily progressing system. Bearing in mind that this Operating System is based on commercial software which is used by thousands of customers, you should not expect sudden significant changes in it. That is normal in corporate world.
From another point, changes which I saw today can be attributed to my own experience. I am now not the same as I was half a year ago, when my first acquittance with CentOS happened. I now know what to expect from OS, and what I can or cannot change in it. Maybe I became more realistic?
Anyway, today's review improved my general feelings about CentOS project from neutral to slightly-positive. I'll keep an eye on future developments of this project, and hopefully will report them in future posts.
Do you want to try CentOS yourself? Why not order CD from my Buy Linux CDs page?