After months of running FC5 on my laptop, I finally upgraded my main machine. I’m usually fairly conservative about upgrades. In this case the driver was that Classpath needs some newer development libraries, and I wanted to be able to continue working on this machine instead of on my laptop. Also I plan to move my laptop to FC6 test 2 so that I can test out the cutting edge a bit better.
This upgrade (actually I reinstalled) went quite well. It had a few nits… pretty much the same things as last time.
One odd thing about waiting so long to do an install is that the initial
yum update (first thing I run on a new OS install) is huge — in this case, a 600M download. I don’t think there’s anything to be done about this, it is just a fact of life. Still, this is so voluminous that it would almost make sense for me not to do a CD-based install (I already had the CDs… so this time it still did) and instead just install over the net.
After my big update the mirror lists seemed to stop working. I thought I read something about this, but I was lazy so I just disabled the mirrors and pushed forward.
I clicked the “developer” option in addition to whatever was selected by default. Unfortunately this missed a number of developer tools I actually use:
emacs (!), and I think
x-chat. (The eclipse install, with all its dependencies, is ridiculously big. Maybe that is why it isn’t in by default. But there’s no excuse for Emacs!)
I also like to install some of the tools using gcj — azureus and rssowl. And I installed inkscape, since it is cool. Also I like to have the terminal in my nautilus menu, so I install
nautilus-open-terminal (this approach is a pain, but I suppose that is the point).
Finally I had to build my own
xchat-systray-integration from its SRPM (fixing a couple build buglets in the process). I don’t know why this isn’t just built in to x-chat, I find it indispensible. Likewise, for some reason
mail-notification is not installed by default. This time, I remembered that and installed it, but not before I had logged in.. at least this time I didn’t switch to KDE like I did previously.
X started up with the wrong display type and resolution. Luckily I had remembered to save my old xorg.conf, so I was able to fix this up pretty quickly. X now seems to put my monitor into low-power mode after it is idle for a while. Great improvement!
My printer driver doesn’t exist — under FC4 I went through a multi-day struggle to get this printer working. I’m afraid to test it now. I forgot to back up this config file, so I’m thinking I will get to fight it all over again.
NetworkManager isn’t the default — a decision that most likely makes sense, given the wide variety of systems out there. (Perhaps it should be the default for laptops, I don’t know.) I enabled it, though, because I wanted an easy way to hook up to the VPN from my desktop. My old setup for this was rather painful. I exported my VPN configuration from the laptop and copied it to the desktop machine. It’s a pity it isn’t somehow simpler to preserve all this info. I suppose I ought to be doing upgrades and not clean installs.
My overall experience was quite good, much nicer than some of the other updates I’ve been through. We still seem to have trouble with some hardware, but that has long been a sore point for Linux in general.
There’s been a thread on the Fedora list lately about how Ubuntu is more user-focused; it arose due to an editorial. Perhaps we’d see more favorable comparisons if someone here went to outer space…
I suppose the fuss must really come down to a small number of concrete things: proprietary X drivers, proprietary wireless drivers, a live CD, and seamless upgrades.
For the driver issue I’m solidly in the Fedora camp, even though it has been personally painful. Andrew Overholt ended up shipping me a somewhat old pcmcia card so I could make my laptop go wireless again… the advice I got from other folks was to buy a card, but not a very new card. Silly!
As to a live CD and upgrades: we need those. I know the latter wasn’t historically popular in the RPM-based community. I never understood why, it seems like an obviously useful feature. By “upgrade” here (and confusingly, not elsewhere in this post) I mean a real Debian-style upgrade, where the system can be upgraded in place over the net via some yum command. (I did do this once but the experience was mixed and as I understand it this isn’t supported.)
Oh, dammit, I just realized today that I forgot to save my somewhat odd mail configuration. Next time I am going to upgrade (the anaconda way) rather than reinstall. I’m just incapable of remembering all the configuration bits.