The CD of Fedora 8 Live was burned; the install worked; graphical user interface displayed. (When the Live version starts up, you have to enter "Fedora" as the only login name.)
It worked! (Unlike Gusty Gibbon.) And all the hardware worked without me needing to hunt down device drivers. (Unlike Windows 2000.) But not quite.
Following the first boot, the Gnome user interface showed just the desktop with four icons -- My Fedora, My Computer, and such. No access to apps; no task bar. I could view files, but that was it.
That was disappointing. The other item that failed to work was network access via a D-Link wireless network card plugged into the PC Card slot. I shut down the 7-year-old notebook computer.
Some hours later, I booted it again. Curiously, this time the Gnome user interface displayed correctly. I could access the built-in apps -- remarkable how much software can be made available on a single CD. I found I prefer the simpler Gnome over KDE.
But another problem arose: Live runs off a CD, so as not to interfere with the existing operating system on the hard drive. So, disc access is pretty slow, no surprise there.
Live also depends on a good chuck of RAM being available. Red Hat Software says it can run with as little as 256KB; my notebook has 320KB. But, Red Hat says, it works best with 1GB RAM or more, because then it can cache software from the CD, resulting in faster access.
Screen resolution is limited to a maximum of 800x600, again, I assume, because Live needs to run in a limited memory environment.
After a half-hour playing around, I shut down Fedora 8. The CD access and limited RAM meant it was taking 5-10 minutes for applications to launch. But at this point I am not ready to convert my notebook computer to Linux, because it acts as a backup when one of my university-age kids needs a spare.