Red Hat 9


The CD-ROM includes the KDE-EDU package, a nice collection of educational and recreational programs. This household's favorite is KStars, shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. To Infinity and Beyond with KStars

Scanning and OCR

As already mentioned, Shrike was the first Red Hat version to let me use my scanner without changing any settings. I was able to scan without a glitch, so when I saw the OCR button I immediately pressed it (I consider this the number one application area still sorely missing good software for Linux, be it free or proprietary). The system answered with “gocr: command not found”. I didn't find this program on the CD-ROMs, so it does seem to have escaped the dependency checks. I found the gocr RPM on-line and am still testing it.

CD Burning

During the first weeks of life of the Shrike users list, a noticeable amount of traffic was devoted to CD burning problems. On the test system used for this review, using Xcdroast on a Philips CDRW1600 device, no problems were observed. Everything was recognized without manual intervention, and no disks were wasted. Several users reported that problems disappeared by removing the magicdev package. This tool is supposed to perform several user-friendly actions when removable media are inserted—playing audio CDs, opening a burn window in Nautilus and so on. The fact that Nautilus (and its dependencies, like magicdev) were not installed on the test system seems to confirm the hypothesis that magicdev, at least as packaged in Red Hat 9 version 1.1.4, is not ready for prime time, at least not for all systems.


Red Hat 9 is indeed a nice desktop. Overall performance, even on a relatively limited system, is not slower than with the previous release. The convergence imposed on KDE and GNOME is much less dramatic than it may seem and hopefully will lead to less work to maintain future versions and fix the quirks reported here.

Marco Fioretti is a hardware systems engineer interested in free software both as an EDA platform and (as the current leader of the RULE Project) as an efficient desktop. Marco lives with his family in Rome, Italy.


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