Yellow Dog Linux 4

December 24th, 2004

Slashdot links to a (surprisingly unslashdotted) review of Yellow Dog Linux 4.0 - that niche distribution for those PowerPC geeks who aren’t satisfied with the half unix that Mac OS X provides and want the whole deal.

What I don’t understand is the conclusion of the reviewer. Let me quote the end of the review here:

The good: -Installation and initial set-up was a snap. -Lots of included software. -Most of Yellow Dog is relatively modern; 2.6.8-1 kernel, RPM 4.3, glibc 2.3.3, KDE 3.3, Gnome 2.6, Xorg 6.6, OpenOffice 1.1.1, Mozilla 1.7, Gimp 2.0.

Easy installation is really no longer worth writing about anymore. Linux distributions have gotten so slick that it’s only in extreme situations that you’ll have trouble with the installer. The other ‘good’ points are moot as well; every distribution out there provides these.

The bad: -Lots of stuff (X, sound, hardware GL, xmms, MOL) is just plain broken. Some of it, like X and sound, is simple to fix. Other stuff is not. -RPM sucks. Yum could be as good as apt, but the package selection needs to get about ten times bigger. -Documentation is minimal. Joining a few Terra Soft mailing lists is practically mandatory. -No ReiserFS, yet.

Wow, that’s a laundry list of broken stuff! Far outweighs the initially ’snap’ install. And yet…

Ultimately, I encourage you to try Yellow Dog Linux 4.0, especially if you’ve used Red Hat/Fedora before and don’t mind its quirks.

So all those problems and you still want me to go ahead and check out YDL ? Pray why? What’s the point of a review then? Aren’t you supposed to spend time reviewing stuff so I don’t have to?

Enough dissing. Let me bring up a sort of related point here. Apple hardware is standardized. Whether it’s a G4 Powerbook or a G5 iMac, you know (to a degree) its exact hardware configuration. So why can’t a distribution focused for this market have an installer which knows these model based hardware details? Why can’t we just say ‘I have a G5 iMac’ to the installer and have it instantly figure out and configure all our hardware?