OK so normally I would wait and do my unofficial reviews of a new Fedora version after I had some time to use the system extensively ( 2-3 weeks) however I though being the huge changes I am seeing in this release even before the installer finishes that a two part review would be a good idea.
First off I am not a professional in this field and the views expressed in this review are solely from the point of view of the average intermediate user. Power users and Linux gurus might not appreciate the content of this review as it is geared toward people of a similar experience level as myself.
Now enough with that little disclosure on to the real reason for reading this post the review!
First let me start by giving a summary of how i tested the installation process of Fedora 13.
When it comes to installing Fedora (or any linux distro) now days there is alot more involved then simply placing the dvd (or cd) into your drive rebooting and following an on screen wizard. You have roughly 3-4 different ways (and that is just an rough estimate there maybe more) to install Fedora or upgrade from a previous version. I did 3 of these to test the installer, Upgrade (from fedora 12) to 13 from an older version, Fresh install (both in a virtual machine and natively) and a partial-Netinstall (fresh install using a dvd but allowing access to the repositories during install)
AMD AThlon x4 2.6ghz
12gb of ram
64bit version of Fedora
3+ terabytes of installation space (only about 1.5 used for fedora the rest consists of Win 7, Ubuntu 10.04)
two 1gb ATI Radeon 4650 HD graphics cards
1 Blu-ray drive
1 DVD-RW drive
Virtual Machine Specs
22gb Hard drive image
1024mb of ram
only allowed 1 Core to be used for this VM (4 available from my CPU)
Host OS Windows 7 Pro 64bit
VM Software Virtual Box 3.1.8
12mb of video memory
mouted ISO image as CD drive
Fedora 64bit install from DVD ISO
Virtual machine CPU extensions turned on
Ok so now that you know what equipment I was using to test the install lets get to the guts of the review shall we?
Polish and Overall feel of the Installer
Anaconda has undergone a major overhaul in appearance here in the F13 installer, the images appear more 3-dimensional and professional looking. The colors were kept simple with a few exceptions ( the logo and progress bar to name a few). This minor variations on color did two things that I can notice, 1) it allowed the installer to be more peppy due to the load on the CPU being less due to very few graphical changes, and 2) it made the installer seem like it jumped out of the background at you and not like a standard Anaconda screen were use to. See the image below for visual reference (images of the installer were taken during VM installation.)
Upon going through the installer you see some familiar looking dialogs especially if you have installed Fedora in the past. However one hugely noticeable change was that you instantly have more options for configuring your hard drive partitions. You can choose from options such as “Use free space”, “replace all linux partitions” and so on you can see them in the screenshots below.
Initial Storage configuration options
Special Storage Options (SAN, NAS)
Basic Storage Options Menu
Custom Layout Screen
While some of the screens have not changed to much from the original others have a huge difference mainly the ability to select weather you want to use a traditional storage method or use some more advanced methods such as storing the OS on a mainframe, SAN or NAS.
The installation is super fast on my pc when run natively however it is fair to note that on my virtual machine (note the specs above) this blazes along as well. I have use identical specs for a second VM and compared the F12 install time to F13 and F13 hands down is alot faster. I also remember reading that the Anaconda installer started getting components updated/re-written starting with F12 so this may be the fruition of all that hard work by the developers.
Moving on to the next part of the installation I chose the graphical desktop install option and did not alter the package manifest at all however i did run this install twice once with the online repositories enabled and once without to see the difference in install times. While the option of having the repositories enabled slowed the installer by a few minutes over all this was by far the fastest Fedora install i have ever experienced using the online repositories during install. A huge nod goes out to the Anaconda development team for their hard work with that feature!
Traditional offline install using only the DVD as the source was blazingly fast even on my VM! Fedora seems to be getting much better streamlining their installation process this is a huge plus. Of course if your machine is rather old say 8 + years you might experience slightly slower install times but i imagine even on that hardware this installer will be faster then the previous installers for past versions of Fedora have been.
Overall I give the Fedora 13 installer a 9 out of 10 for huge leaps in speed and features since its previous incarnations. The initial boot prior to the first run wizard is also very fast.
Sound off below let me know if I am the only one experiencing much improved install times with F13.