A few months ago, I built myself a new PC using a Shuttle XPC case and motherboard. It was an interesting experience. I’ve done a lot of upgrading and swapping of components, but never started from scratch. The whole thing went pretty well, with only a couple bumps. I had to fiddle with the BIOS settings to get Windows XP to recognize the serial ATA hard drive and I never could get Red Hat Linux to install. A little Googling revealed that I would have to compile my own kernel to get Linux to recognize the SATA drive. I decided to set Linux aside and live with XP for the time being.
The week before Christmas, I stumbled across a web page that mentioned that Fedora Linux has serial ATA support in the kernel. I’d never heard of Fedora, but soon discovered that The Fedora Project is Red Hat’s non-commercial successor to their old Personal Linux product. I downloaded and burned the 3 CD images and started what I anticipated would be a difficult installation. The graphical installer worked without a hitch and I was up an running in no time. Fedora boots directly into X11, so on the surface at least, the experience isn’t too different from Mac OS or Windows. What’s more, Fedora includes Mozilla, OpenOffice.org and loads of other applications, so it’s useful from the start.
The last time I used Linux was probably six years ago, running MkLinux on a Power Mac. The installation process was challenging to say the least and the system booted to a command line. It was an educational experience, but that’s about the extent of it. Flash forward to today. I’ve been running Mac OS X as my day-to-day operating system for almost four years, and make frequent use of its BSD unixy underpinnings. I’m even somewhat proficient in Emacs. The world of Linux, at least in the form of Fedora, is much more inviting to me now. It’s come a long way. On the other hand, I can see why lots of former Linux users are moving to OS X. All the power with none of the hassles. Anyway, it’s been fun exploring Fedora Linux and the world of build-it-yourself PCs.