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Fedora 13 - Ubuntu's smart but less attractive cousin

Inner refinement

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Old masters

Fedora's Anaconda installer has also been reworked again, offering what Fedora's release notes call "a simpler workflow for desktop and laptop users." Essentially, there are few options to decipher during the installation process, though most of the old fine-tuning menus are still available to advanced users that want to access them.

Interestingly, on systems with more than 50GB of free space, Anaconda defaults to creating /home on its own partition. I'm not sure why Anaconda only does it when 50GB is available, but keeping /home separate from the system is fairly common practice and you can of course still customize your disk partitioning by hand during the installation process.

Fedora 13 also sees a number of upgrades to common software packages - Gnome 2.30 is the default desktop, OpenOffice 3.2 is included,and the Empathy chat framework has been updated.

Quality video

Firefox has also been upgraded to the 3.6 version with support for HTML5 video, provided the video is encoded using the Ogg Theora video codec. Fedora was among the first to ship the new Theora 1.1, a much-improved version of the open video codec which features video quality on par with proprietary solutions like H.264. The Theora 1.1 project is a combined effort between the Xiph.Org Foundation, Mozilla, and Fedora developers.

Anyone doing graphics work on Fedora will like the new color management system for the Gnome desktop. There's even support for vendor-supplied ICC or ICM profile files - just double-click them to config.

Python programmers will be happy to know that Fedora 13 comes with a "parallel-installable" Python 3 environment that will make it easy for those looking to upgrade their code to test in both Python 2.6 and 3.0, without the need to install Python 3.0 from scratch.

The KDE varient of Fedora has been upgraded to KDE 4.4, which offers better Pulse Audio integration.

Fedora 13 already looks like it will be a worthy upgrade to the Fedora line. While it may lack some of the more "everyday user" features of Ubuntu 10.04, Fedora is still a very user-friendly distro and - for many - Fedora 13 will be worth the upgrade for the NVidia support alone. ®

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