Review: Mandriva 2011 "Hydrogen"

Before I begin, I'd like to say that the reason why there was no "Featured Comments" post this week was because there were no comments on last week's posts. That's probably because I didn't write a lot last week as I was spending time with friends and family. Anyway, let's get on with the review.

Main Screen
I don't think Mandriva particularly needs an introduction. Suffice it to say that it was among the original premiere easy-to-use Linux distributions, along with MEPIS, even before Ubuntu existed. It came up with the all-in-one Mandrake Control Center (now, of course, the Mandriva Control Center) and made graphical installations easier to do. It has continued with a dedicated following, but in recent months it almost collapsed, even prompting the introduction of Mageia, a fork dedicated to advancing Mandriva while staying true to its core values (more on that shortly). Its financial woes have continued, but while the last few releases made a few changes to the implementation of KDE 4 but overall nothing too drastic, this release aims to bring back some of the old luster by completely rethinking the way KDE 4 is supposed to work. Let's see how true that is in a bit.

I tested Mandriva 2011 "Hydrogen" on a live USB, first made with MultiSystem and then made with UnetBootin. I was surprised that Mandriva booted after having the live USB made with UnetBootin, because for the last few years Mandriva ISO files have failed to work right with UnetBootin. I guess that application has gotten better at properly writing these ISO files to USB sticks. I tested the installation procedure in a VirtualBox VM in a Pinguy OS 11.04 Mini UnetBootin-created live USB host with 1024 MB of RAM allocated to the guest OS; I initially tried to do the VM thing within the Mandriva live USB system, but that failed (more on that later), and anyway, using Pinguy OS ensured better consistency.

I don't think I've ever written about testing a system with both MultiSystem and UnetBootin. So why have I done so this time? Well, this was originally supposed to be a comparison test with Mageia 1 included. However, Mageia was not recognized by MultiSystem, and the UnetBootin-created Mageia live USB failed to boot properly. That was odd, considering that there were reports of older alpha and beta releases of Mageia that booted fine when the live USB was created with UnetBootin. I think I'll hold off trying out Mageia until it is supported by MultiSystem, at which point I'll review it separately but through the lens of a comparison test, sort of like how I approached Scientific Linux 6 and CentOS 6. In any case, I'm too impatient to hold off testing Mandriva for the sake of Mageia. Also note that while I made all the following observations about Mandriva in MultiSystem, I was able to replicate all of them in UnetBootin, as I have seen with other distributions as well.
With all this in mind, follow the jump to see what Mandriva 2011 "Hydrogen" is like.


Resignation of the Jobs

If you look at the headlines of myriad technology news sources, you'll see that Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple. But he's not leaving Apple; he's going to become Chairman of the Board, with Tim Cook replacing him as CEO. It's basically the same thing that Bill Gates did at Microsoft many years ago, with Steve Ballmer replacing him as CEO, though this time, Steve Jobs did it because of his failing health making him unable to keep up with all the duties of being CEO.
Given that Tim Cook has had large responsibilities in the past in the affairs of Apple, I don't think this will significantly change anything. I don't know exactly what Jobs's new responsibilities will be, but I feel like he will still be able to exert a whole lot of influence over the company's direction even in his new position. And even though I strongly dislike many of the things Apple has done and moves it has made, especially with regard to the ridiculously proprietary and litigious business models it has made for itself of late, I really have to congratulate Jobs for turning the company around with his vision a few years after his return to Apple after his first ouster. Thanks to him, the Apple iPod (and its descendants) became more than ubiquitous, and the desktop OS landscape changed from essentially "Microsoft Windows versus nothing" to "Microsoft Windows versus Apple's Mac OS X"; plus, while the official counts show Linux's market share has essentially stagnated around 2%, the market share of Apple's Mac OS X has only grown and grown. So bravo Mr. Jobs on all the success Apple has had so far, and good luck and good health in your new position.
(Note: half of me felt the need to write this, while the other half of me still feels like Apple doesn't deserve quite as much media attention as it gets, and feels like I'm only feeding that frenzy. Oh well.)


2011 August 23: Earthquake!

Yup. We had an earthquake here! Even though where I live is basically smack in the middle of a continental plate, halfway between the nearest two fault lines, earthquakes do happen around here. I also happen to live near a quarry, so initially, I thought it was a normal quarry blast, but then I realized that compared to a 0.5 second long quarry blast, the shaking was going on for a good 19.5 seconds longer. Truthfully, 3 hours after the event, I'm still shaking slightly and warily awaiting the aftershocks.
Even though I live far from established fault lines, apparently earthquakes can happen here because of loose soil just above the bedrock collapsing on itself. It has happened before; this is simply the biggest one in a long time, tying the biggest one on record (magnitude 5.9).
I just think it's ironic that my first real earthquake (I heard of, but did not directly experience, the magnitude 7 earthquake that occurred in Baja California, Mexico when I was visiting Caltech over a year ago — the only indication I got that something was amiss was that I was visiting the beach during low tide, but the tides were almost twice as high as typical high tide) would happen at home; that said, I apparently would have felt had I spent the summer at MIT as well. I say this because when I visited MIT and discussed my housing situation for the coming year (and at that point I was still deciding on which college to attend), the housing manager casually asked where else I Was considering enrolling, and I mentioned Caltech; the manager humorously told me that it's a very good school, but that I should stick with MIT unless I wanted to experience earthquakes every other day. So I enroll at MIT, yet I still feel an earthquake, something I honestly thought I would never experience in my life. Go figure.


Featured Comments: Week of 2011 August 14

There were 2 posts that got a pretty large number of comments (one in particular), so I'll try to repost a few from each.

Review: Linux Mint 11 "Katya" LXDE

Because this wasn't an entirely positive review (and for all that, my only suggestion was to go with the GNOME edition of Linux Mint as opposed to the LXDE edition, and for that people still somehow got up in arms), there were many comments, a few of them rather mean-spirited and baseless, but aside from that, let's get on with some of the more thoughtful (which doesn't mean no disagreements whatsoever) comments.
Reader dotmrt suggested a reason for the RAM usage discrepancies: "Actually I have used Lubuntu on one machine that had 256MB of RAM and it ran pretty smooth. I think that 320MB of RAM idle is simply the result of having more RAM available. Memory management is a difficult topic to tackle, but I can assure that LXDE desktop on Lubuntu's case was really nice and a lifesaver. There aren't much nice options for old machines with 256MB of RAM out there. Sure, you can install some really ugly and user-un-friendly distros, but that was not what I was after."
An anonymous commenter supported my methodologies in the face of some rather tired old comments: "When I boot the live cds, I check the ram usage, and it's generally mucy the same as installed usage, making this a valid form of testing. Don't complain just because you don't get a favourable review."
Another anonymous reader was slightly more critical, but in a good way: "This is not a hate comment :), just my observation of live v/s installed sessions. Quite often i've seen Live CD's loading lot of services and gobbling up RAM as a result, however the same when installed doesn't translate that way. Case in point is Crunchbang XFCE that i've in live & in my hard-disk, live takes about 100-110mb while installed takes about 70-80mb. Even LMDE was like that atleast in my case. Likewise i've seen other distros as well that take up so much RAM in live session but not the same amount after installation. Also in some cases certain things don't work the first time, but the same usb and same image when loaded subsequently seem to work. Call it defective usb, bad install image or anything else but they dont always exhibit the same behavior when installed. Btw this was just to point out the differences in live and hd install, not to incite another war of words."
Yet another anonymous commenter said, "If you understood the internals of how the Live System versus installed system works, you would realize that what you have done is a horribly foolish method for reviewing a Distro.  You can not even tell me now if the INSTALLER recognized and configured your hardware properly. only that the live script did. Not a big deal for me since I design custom remixes of Debian/Ubuntu for a living, and can tell you more about hardware compatibility then some of the folks on their development teams. As far as memory useage. believe it or not LXDE runs in no less ram then XFCE, and both of those only about 32-64MB less then Gnome with the same services running.  I run xfce 4.6 in 116MB Ram at idle. LXDE in the same setup takes 110MB, and Gnome 132MB Ram. (NOT Gnome 3, which sucks and takes a boatload of Ram and CPU. My company and clients just parted ways with bloat-gnome in favor of XFCE.)"

Revisited: openSUSE 11.4 GNOME

Reader enrico said, "is a good review, but i don't agree with conclusion. opensuse 11.4 was released month ago, and it was the only major distro that stuck with kernel 2.6.37 and gnome 2 instead kernel 2.39 or gnome 3, or unity. in fact, this choice is due to the release time, but gnome 3 is in a preliminari stage, and it's usability for now is improving every day, but has also less features than gnome 2. and kernel 2.39 has a big issue with power consumption in laptops. in conclusiom, suse remains major distro with a good release without major hicchups of ubuntu, or fedora. installing it in a real machine is a good choice to make a review, because the speed is good, repository are fully populated of applications. and there is the possibility to turn it into a rolling release, with all the new features of gnome, kde and so on."
Commenter JimC reached the opposite conclusion: "I always have "high hopes" for OpenSUSE leading up to a major release, since it always looks like it will be a great showcase for Linux, with newer versions of KDE, etc. But, I'm almost always very disappointed with the [supposedly stable] releases, since Quality Control appears to be be virtually non existent. For example, with OpenSUSE 11.4, I immediately noticed issues from both a Live CD and a hard drive install with things like the Exposure Blender choice from the graphics menus not working, since you'll see an error that a library needed by Hugin is not installed. I also saw other issues with it during some quick testing. For example, when I clicked on the icon in the tray to install new updates and KPackagekit came up, it installed the updates and went to a blank KPackageKit screen with no indication that it finished anything, then tries to reinstall the same updates again if you try to get it working (even though they were already successfully installed). From what I can see of reviews, my experience is not unique (as I've seen reviewers comment on how KPackagekit appears to have issues). IOW, my first impressions (even after a hard disk install) were that OpenSUSE 11.4 is very buggy, and should have been labeled a beta versus final release (at least for the KDE Live CD version of it, as I haven't tried the DVD version yet). That kind of thing seems to be typical with some distros like OpenSUSE, where I wouldn't want to recommend them to anyone other than seasoned Linux users (that wouldn't mind working through the bugs to get a stable system), so that I wouldn't give Linux a bad reputation when users run into menu choices that don't work, bugs trying to update packages and more. IOW, from outward appearances after a quick look at it, nobody even bothered to test and make sure application menu choices worked, much less test applications more thoroughly to find bugs. IMO, it should have been labeled a beta, not a final release."

Thanks to all those who commented on this past week's posts. Once again, I have nothing planned for this coming week, but I'm sure I'll have something to write about. Again, if you like the stuff here, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Movie Review: Source Code

My family really wanted to watch this movie, but we couldn't watch it until last night because it wasn't available until then.
The premise of the movie is that a soldier who has died in war in Afghanistan has had his brain kept alive and the rest of his body on life support to participate in a program called the Source Code. Basically, it allows a person to relive the last eight minutes of their lives in different scenarios — essentially, parallel alternate realities. While it is initially established that said people can't change the past, they can search for information in the past to change the events of the future. This soldier is being used to find a bomber on a Chicago commuter train who first blew up said train and then plans to follow that up with an even more devastating bombing in the city center. After several tries, in which the same final 8 minutes before the train explosion (in which the soldier supposedly dies, after which the soldier comes back to "reality" inside an odd pod-like room) repeats while the soldier finds more clues and uses elimination to find the real bomber, the soldier finds that he can actually alter the course of reality and make the bombing not happen at all.
This movie was basically a cross between The Matrix (for questioning the nature of reality) and Groundhog Day (for repeating the same scene over and over again, though admittedly, I have not watched that movie yet). After about 15 minutes, the course the movie would take became entirely predictable. Furthermore, it was pretty easy to see that at the end, when the soldier's life was terminated, it would turn out that he could continue living after all. Finally, the circular reference at the very end was just silly and needlessly confusing. In short, I don't recommend this movie, though I did appreciate the inclusion of one of my favorite comedians, Russell Peters.


Revisited: openSUSE 11.4 GNOME

If you guessed again that there isn't much else to write about, you'd be right! That's why I'm looking at openSUSE 11.4 GNOME today.

Slab Menu + GNOME Application Browser
A few months ago, I took a look at openSUSE 11.4 KDE. Before that, I had compared openSUSE 11.3 KDE to other distributions that primarily used KDE. I found that version 11.4 was a dramatic improvement over version 11.3, to the point where I heartily recommended it to anyone who wanted to try it. It was fairly fast, stable, looked great, and had or could easily get all the applications I wanted. But to call openSUSE a primarily KDE distribution is slightly misleading, because while openSUSE does indeed try to promote KDE a little more, it puts just as much effort into making the GNOME edition a unique experience as well. Plus, the developers that created openSUSE also created Mono, which is basically the C# programming language for Linux, and helped develop the applications written in it that are now popularly used in many GNOME distributions, such as the Evolution mail client (UPDATE: Evolution is not written in Mono, though it was developed by the same group/a group close to that one that developed openSUSE — thanks to an anonymous reader for the correction), Tomboy note-taking application, F-Spot photo manager, and GNOME-Do launcher. So I figured it's time to see what openSUSE GNOME is really like.

I tried the 32-bit edition (and, for further clarification, all distributions I test are tested in 32-bit guise unless specifically stated otherwise) using a live USB made with MultiSystem. Because I didn't try the installation process with the KDE edition, this time I tried it in VirtualBox with 1024 MB of RAM allocated to the guest OS inside a Pinguy OS 11.04 Mini live USB host. Follow the jump to see if the GNOME edition is as good as the KDE edition.


Review: Linux Mint 11 "Katya" LXDE

Main Screen
This week, I again found myself in the position of not having much to write about here. Then, I saw that Linux Mint 11 "Katya" LXDE had been released, and considering that I had previously reviewed Debian-based Linux Mint Xfce, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to try Linux Mint's newest Ubuntu-based lightweight distribution.

Recently, the various editions of Linux Mint have undergone much flux. The only certainties are that there will be two GNOME editions, one Ubuntu-based and one Debian-based. I guess it's also pretty much certain at this point that the Xfce edition will stick with the Debian base. Outside of these things, for now, it seems like the LXDE edition, which I am reviewing today, will stick with the Ubuntu base, but that may or may not change after this; furthermore, the KDE and Fluxbox editions appear to have moved to the Debian base, but neither edition has seen release candidate ISO files released, meaning that there still seems to be a lot of work to be done on both. (As a side note, I will probably review the KDE edition once it is released.)

I tested this LXDE edition on a live USB made with MultiSystem. I did not test the installation. Follow the jump to see whether this really makes good on its promise to be a more lightweight version of Linux Mint.


Featured Comments: Week of 2011 August 7

There was one post that got a few comments, so I'll repost most of those.

Revisited: CrunchBang ("#!") Linux 10 "Statler" Xfce r20110207

An anonymous reader said, "shortcuts for menu. #! made me fall in love with shortcuts. thanks, good review."
Commenter tshann had this tip: "Just FYI, you can pull up the xfce menu by hitting the windows key and the alt key. So you don't even need to click on the desktop @ all. Thanks for the review. I've been using Statler xfce for ... well since it came out. It's my main OS - awesome distro."

Thanks to all those who commented on that post. I don't have anything planned for this coming week, but I'm sure I'll be able to think of something to write. In any case, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Reflection: 2011 Summer at NIST

I've mentioned a few times here that I have been interning at NIST this summer. Well, after 12 weeks, today was my last day, and for the next 3 weeks before I go back to college I get to chill out and bum around at home with family and friends. Yay!
I am really, really happy that I got to be able to do my internship this summer. It almost didn't happen; it wasn't until a few weeks before I started that I got confirmation that I could start in the first place. (That's better than my 2009 summer internship at NIST, where I didn't find anything until a few days before I started.) Thankfully, it all worked out in the end, and for the first time, I got paid too! Yay!
Last time, I was working on random stuff regarding reflective surfaces. I enjoyed this one more because I feel like LEDs are more relevant to and more popularly talked about in the discussion about energy conservation than is reflective roofing; this has become especially true with all the debate about the bill that would outlaw the sale of lightbulbs below a certain energy efficiency level. (That bill did not pass in the end, but it did bring LEDs into the spotlight of national attention.) The other reasons why I enjoyed this internship more were that in this one, I got to work in the lab more, I had more coursework background (for obvious reasons), and this internship was much more structured than the last one, where I basically did random data analysis here and there every few days and that was it (along with going to the lab 2 or 3 times in all the 8 weeks of the 2009 summer). This summer, I was able to rigorously detect problems in some of the equipment we were using; these were not manufacturing defects but were fundamental issues in the design of the equipment, because these machines, which I would use to maintain individual chip LEDs at a stable set junction temperature by altering the forward voltage and the temperature of the variable heat sink upon which the LED would sit, would often report that the heat sink was hotter than the LED at low (~<100 mA) currents, which made no sense. I was also able to develop an algorithm for removing flicker from existing LED lamp data. Finally, I got to play around with a spectroscope measuring properties of LEDs inside an integrating sphere.
I doubt my supervisors will read this, but I want to thank them (again) for letting me experience this awesome opportunity. But after that, if you'll excuse me, I have some relaxing to do. Woohoo!


Revisited: CrunchBang ("#!") Linux 10 "Statler" Xfce r20110207

Main Screen + Xfce Main Right-Click Menu
When I've reviewed #! before, I've always stuck with the Openbox edition, because when #! started, it only had an Openbox edition. It wasn't until version 10 "Statler" that it gained an Xfce edition as well, but I always wanted to review just "the original" #! anyway. Fast forward to the last few days, and I haven't really been able to think of much to write. Then, I realized I had never checked out the Xfce edition, so I did so.

#! doesn't need much of an introduction for regular readers of this blog. It's a lightweight Debian-based distribution that, as mentioned before, uses Openbox or Xfce, and packs in lots of cool goodies and a large dose of user-friendliness as well.

I tried the Xfce edition of #! using a live USB made with MultiSystem. I did not test the installation because I did that before with the Openbox edition; my main purpose is to see how the Xfce edition generally behaves in comparison to the Openbox edition, so follow the jump to see how that works out.


Featured Comments: Week of 2011 July 31

There were a few posts that got a handful of comments, so I'll try to repost a few from each.

Review: CentOS 6.0

Reader MIchael J King had a clarification countering one of my gripes: "The Live DVD of CentOS 6 has the special effects you were craving plus many many more applications including kde ones. On my Thinkpad T61 it runs perfectly and is very stable with support to 2016 and beyond."
An anonymous commenter supported my conclusion: "Except for a few nits, CentOS6 and Scientific Linux 6 should be identical. They have been in my testing (for server use). Why anyone would choose CentOS over SL after the repeated delays in updates (for both versions 5 and 6) in the last couple of years is a complete mystery to me. Scientific Linux is also free, is updated more frequently, and is supported by CERN and Fermi National Lab. No contest."
Reader Troy Dawson, who it seems is also a Scientific Linux developer, had this clarification for one of my assertions: "I hate to say bad things about your friend, but he's wrong about SL 'reverse-engineer'ing the RHEL packages. Unless a package has to be changed for branding reasons, we make no change whatsoever to our RHEL's source rpm's. We don't even unpack them. I should know, I'm the person who does it."
Another anonymous commenter countered some of the above conclusions: "CentOS has better hardware support than Scientific Linux. On my desktop computer, CentOS has sound but SL does not, because my sound chip is unsupported by Red Hat. Incidentally, it is incorrect to say RHEL is only a server distro: if you go to their products listing, you'll find separate listings for the server and desktop versions."

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau

Reader Mechatotoro (whose blog you should all read — it has lots of honest, funny, and insightful reviews, able to look at Linux from the perspectives of both the layperson and the expert) said, "Mmm. I'm not into movies myself, but you comparison of the movie being a combination of the Matrix and a romantic comedy stirs my curiosity."

Das U-Blog Turns 2!

Commenter Jussi said, "Congratulations! I have had a link to your blog for some time.http://tietsikka.blogspot.com/"

Thanks to all those who commented on this past week's posts. I had originally intended to review KDE 4.7, but there were a few things that made that not happen: I wanted to review it in ArchBang, but for some reason ArchBang refused to start in any graphics mode other than VESA, so I didn't think it was worth doing a review; furthermore, it seems like the improvements to KDE 4.7 are more technical than visible to the end-user, so I decided against doing a full review. This coming week, I may have another review out, but I can't guarantee anything. I'm sure I'll have something to write about though. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Das U-Blog Turns 2!

Wow. It has been two years since I started this blog! I started it at my internship at NIST (where I'm working again this summer, though I feel like what I'm doing now is far more interesting that what I did then, and that's why I started the blog anyway) on a particularly boring day after seeing that one of my friends had started a blog too. Initially, I focused a lot on politics (aside from a few posts here and there about happenings in my own personal life), because I thought it would be cool and interesting, and only posted marginally about science or technology. After about 2 months, I became a bit more focused on writing about Linux and other technology-related stuff, as well as stuff that sites like TechDirt cover. But really, it wasn't until August of last year when I started to really get serious about Linux distribution reviews, and that's also when (1) this blog went from getting virtually no traffic to quite a bit of traffic and (2) my writing style became essentially what it has remained since then. I've looked back and some of the older posts and laughed at (1) how naive I was (specifically regarding a couple of my politics-related posts), (2) how bad a writer I was (relatively), and (3) how shallow I was when reviewing Linux distributions.
(2010) 0 in July, 544 in August, >20000 in September

Here's a graph of how my blog's statistics have changed over time:
As you can see, it wasn't until 2010 August/September when this site started getting lots of page views, because that's when I started submitting my stories to Linux Today (and later LXer), and those later got featured on sites like Tuxmachines (and later DistroWatch, if they were reviews). That's also when the comments went up from 1 or 2 every few weeks to at least 5-10 every post or so. That was exciting for me to see.

I want to thank everyone who has read and commented on these posts. 99.9% of the time, your comments are greatly appreciated. I also want to thank those who are "fans" of this blog's Facebook page, follow the associated Twitter feed and retweet posts, have subscribed via RSS and/or email, and have shared these posts in other ways as well. It has been a lot of fun doing this for 2 years now, and I look forward to doing this for the foreseeable future as well! Happy reading!


FOLLOW-UP: On the Current US Deficit and Debt Crises

I'm not even going to link to the original post, because so much has changed between then and now that it's frankly irrelevant.
Well, I'm still in my house and not in a cave, so the US and the US economy have survived the debt ceiling crisis, with Congress passing and President Obama signing into law the bill to raise the debt ceiling, in exchange for fairly substantial cuts all along the way. I won't bore you with details, but the gist is that the debt ceiling will be raised by $400 billion immediately, $500 billion in a few months unless 2/3 of both houses of Congress vote against it, and $1.5 trillion later. The first two will be accompanied by specific spending cuts dollar-for-dollar, while the third will also be accompanied by dollar-for-dollar spending cuts (or tax increases) hashed out by a group of 12 members of Congress; if an agreement can't be made in time, automatic cuts will become effective, particularly affecting defense and discretionary spending.
I'm glad the economy didn't collapse and the US didn't default. Of course, I would have liked to see tax increases, or at least the closure of tax loopholes and breaks/subsidies, but with the government as dysfunctional as it is now, I suppose I can't ask for more at the moment.


Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau

A few days ago, I watched this movie with some family members who were over. I meant to write this before, but didn't because of the other posts I put out.
The basic premise of the plot is that the main character played by Matt Damon is in love with the main girl, and an organization called the Adjustment Bureau which controls all human actions is tasked with keeping them apart at all costs. Their distinguishing characteristics are wearing hats and (while wearing said hats) being able to essentially teleport from one location to a totally separate one through a door.
The whole movie just fell flat for me; it seemed like a bad mashup of The Matrix and a rom-com. The only part that made me smile was when Matt Damon's character goes on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (with Jon Stewart actually playing himself in that movie); as an avid fan of that show (and, by the way, of The Colbert Report), I was pleasantly surprised to see just how far that show has come in popular culture, to the point where it is portrayed even in movies on the same level as news behemoths like certain programs on NBC and CNN. One other thing that amused me was that the warning for its PG-13 rating told of sexual themes and "a violent scene". I believe the former referred to the romantic overtures between the two main characters, while the latter referred to the brief car accident where there is a quick shot of a bloodied survivor who helps Matt Damon's character go where he needs to go. Otherwise, I don't think this deserved a PG-13 rating. Either that, or I have been desensitized to violent imagery and sexual themes.
Overall, this movie doesn't do it for me, and I don't recommend it.


Review: CentOS 6.0

Main Screen
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.0 was released a little less than 9 months ago, while RHEL derivative Scientific Linux 6.0 "Carbon" was released a little less than 5 months ago. Yet, it took 8 months after the release of RHEL 6.0 for CentOS 6.0 to be released. Two weeks after that, the CentOS 6.0 live medium was released, so I'm trying it out and reviewing it now.

So what is CentOS? Well, before I say that, it's important to know that RHEL is the flagship product of Red Hat; it's an OS meant for business and server environments, and its price is almost entirely for technical support, which can be purchased at different levels. It isn't available for home users for free; that's where Fedora and CentOS come in. Fedora is basically like RHEL's upstream, in that every few Fedora releases, a new version of RHEL based on that Fedora version is released; for example, Fedora Core 6 formed the basis of RHEL 5, while a combination of Fedora 12 and 13 formed the basis of RHEL 6. CentOS, on the other hand, is RHEL's clone; it is 100% identical to RHEL, except that all Red Hat branding is replaced by CentOS branding, and all references to Red Hat and RHEL are replaced by references to a more generic "upstream" or "Enterprise Linux", due to Red Hat's policies regarding its logo and name. Replacing the branding and rebuilding the packages is not trivial, and as far as I can tell, this release was particularly problematic, which is why it took a full 8 months (as opposed to the typical 1-3 months) after the corresponding RHEL release for the new CentOS version to be released.
Unfortunately, this unprecedented delay irritated some of the more vocal members of the Linux community, and as Scientific Linux 6.0 "Carbon" was released many months before CentOS 6.0 (while typically the newest Scientific Linux version is released after the corresponding CentOS version), former users of CentOS started switching to Scientific Linux. Well, CentOS 6.0 is finally here, so hopefully those disgruntled users are happy.

I tested CentOS on a live USB made with MultiSystem. I did not test the installation because I did that with Scientific Linux, and I don't see any reason why the installation should be any different; this is the same reason why I don't test the installation for every Ubuntu derivative I try out. Follow the jump to see what it's like. Also note that I originally wanted to do a direct comparison between Scientific Linux and CentOS, but I got impatient in waiting for the CentOS 6.0 live CD to be released, so I went ahead and tested Scientific Linux 6.0 "Carbon" by itself. Therefore, this article will make frequent references and comparisons to Scientific Linux. Finally, as was the case with the Scientific Linux review, though CentOS is really targeted at enterprise users and servers, I'm going to be reviewing it from the perspective of a home desktop user. Why? Well, Microsoft Windows 2000, the first home version of Microsoft Windows to be based on Microsoft Windows NT, which was previously just for servers and enterprise users, was very well-received among home users despite it targeting enterprise and server use. I'm reviewing CentOS from that same perspective.