One of the great strengths of Ximian Red Carpet is the broad range of distributions it supports (Debian, Mandrake, Red Hat, SuSE, and others). Furthermore, the interface is consistent across all of these different platforms. Get used to Red Carpet on one system, and you'll find it just as easy on another.
Like the other options I've discussed, Red Carpet takes care of making sure that any dependencies necessary to install a package are met and taken care of?automagically. Best of all, Ximian offers this service free of charge. It also offers a premium service that gives you access to dedicated servers with much faster access. As part of its premium service, Ximian occasionally offers additional bonuses, such as free versions of commercial software. Whichever way you choose to go (free or premium service), you can get started by downloading the client appropriate for your system from the Ximian Red Carpet Web site:
Ximian has a number of other products, including the email and calendaring package called Evolution (which I covered in Chapter 10). Ximian also produces its own version of the GNOME desktop called the Ximian desktop. When you visit Ximian's site to download Red Carpet, you'll get a message telling you that the best way to install Red Carpet is by installing the Ximian desktop. You can choose to do this if you like, but it is not necessary. Red Carpet works perfectly with KDE.
Download the Red Carpet RPM, then install it with kpackage, or download it and install it by opening a shell window and typing the following (keep in mind that the version number of the package will vary based on your system type and Ximian's own release cycle):
rpm -Uvh red-carpet-1.3.1-1.ximian.i386.rpm
To run Red Carpet, open a shell (or use your <Alt+F2> program launcher) and type red-carpet. Because Red Carpet needs administrative privileges to run, you'll be asked for the root password. The first time you run the program, it will ask you whether you are behind a firewall and whether you need to use a proxy to connect. Most people can safely ignore this screen and click OK to continue. That is pretty much it?no lengthy form to fill out.
Red Carpet works on the principle of channels that you subscribe to. When you first start the program, click on the Unsubscribed Channels icon on the left (Figure 12-4). Choose those areas that you wish to keep up, then click the Subscribe button for that channel.
You can select individual packages or click Edit on the menu bar and click Select all to choose every package.
Ximian's Red Carpet is an excellent service. There are only a couple of drawbacks that I have seen. For starters, Red Carpet is usually a little behind in terms of providing client programs for the latest and greatest distributions. If Red Hat or Mandrake comes out with a new distribution, you might have to wait two or three weeks before Ximian provides a client. The second drawback is that Red Carpet tends to be GNOME-centric. This isn't surprising, given that Ximian is a major supporter and developer of the GNOME project.