Pick a Free OS

Red Hat 7.0

for the enthusiast to check out and is probably there to give Red Hat

users some bragging rights. Just about everyone will want to stick

with kernel 2.2.16. The new kernel also includes USB support. This

feature has been available in Mandrake and SuSE for some time now so

it's really nothing new. You now have RPM 4 as the default package

manager and it is backward compatible but RPMs created using this

version cannot be opened using older RPM releases.

The best feature of Red Hat 7 would be XFree86 4.0.1. This is the

latest release and it is definitely the one to include in any

distribution. The GUI is increasingly gaining importance and it's good

to see Red Hat going with the latest right from the start. We had

reviewed SuSE 7 a while back but we were disappointed to find that it

carried Xfree86 4.0. XFree86 3.3.6 servers are also available if you

have problems but you really shouldn't have to go there. There's also

GNOME 1.2, not Helix GNOME, partnered by the new Sawfish window

manager. Sawfish though not as flashy as Enlightenment, is lighter and

the system definitely feels faster. KDE 2 is included but only as a

preview. It is only accessible if you do a custom install or do a

manual install off the second CD. KDE 1.1.2 is still the installed

default.

One much touted feature is the Red Hat Network. This is supposed to ease

the lives of ordinary users and system administrators alike. Red Hat

first profiles your system and then depending on your system

configuration and packages installed, you receive information

regarding updates. Downloading of packages is also simplified as any

package dependencies that need to be satisfied are also downloaded and

installed. The setup is quite simple and it does work quite well but

it is clearly most effective over a broadband connection. Still it is

a very good feature for new users and even system administrators who

would like to stay on top of things. There is a free trial available

so you might as well use it and check things out.

Red Hat 7 should probably have been Red Hat 6.4, but the same charge

could also be leveled against many other distributions. But it is

getting to be a very competitive market and it's sad to see that

marketing is taking over from the technical. In conclusion, we do

recommend Red Hat 7 for 3 reasons -- Xfree86 4.0.1, kernel 2.2.16 and

Helix GNOME 1.2. There aren't many changes and surprises here. It