I see Linux distributions as if they were cars. You usually have a favorite brand, a model that has a special place in your hear but that you ‘ve replaced by a better one, and in between you take a few test drives. This is my relation with Linux distros.
I began with SCO (UNIX in school), Red Hat, Suse and finally Ubuntu. I tested a few versions of Fedora along the way but it always failed to remain on my PC for lots of reasons, being the main one the lack of a good software repository and packaging distribution system like APT. I still remember installing FC4 and the huge amount of time it took to made the first update.
I’ve been a Ubuntu fanboy 🙂 since 5.10 and enjoying every bit of it. Ubuntu became a very popular distribution with a very active community. The distro’s user friendliness has gather lots of users and has been responsible for a large number of switches from Windows to Linux. Ubuntu is indeed a great distro, nonetheless, 6.10 has let me down.
As you can see, following my latest posts, I recently upgraded to 6.10 (both server and desktop pcs) and everything went fine with the upgrade, but the Ubuntu installation on my desktop pc revealed some flaws I wasn’t expecting crippling features which I consider crucial on a desktop system. First and most critical, it became slow and unstable. Edgy is slower than Dapper and the fluidity of the system has changed, even without playing with eye candy stuff like Beryl or Compiz. Second, applications in Gnome crash like hell, mainly Firefox, Evolution, Thunderbird and Gaim, I’ve never used the “Force Quit” button as often as I did last week. If Ubuntu wants to be the open source replacement for Windows it shouldn’t crash and freeze like Windows does.
And so, I got tired of it and decided to install another distro. Suse 10.1 was on the list but all the latest Novell and Microsoft crap (by the way tell them how fucked up they are) has turned my head on another direction. Fedora Core 6 was released almost at the same time that Ubuntu 6.10 was, so I went and gave Fedora another try. And I’m pleased I did so because I wasn’t expecting to be so positively surprised like I was.
FC6 install took ages, I installed from a DVD and even so it seemed an eternity, after of course, crashing twice due to ACPI issues with my Asus P4C800 Deluxe board. (Note to self – Buy a New Computer!!!)
After an hour FC6 was installed and working. The first thing that captures your eye is the new DNA theme that comes with ZOD (All Hail Zod!) which is great and way better than the brownish theme from Ubuntu. The Fedora Art Theme has done a great work no doubt about that, and you should see what are they working on for FC7, the new icons are great… but I digress.
After the eye candy, what FC6 shows you is the fluidity and stability that I had never seen in the distros I installed since 2005, more or less the year that GNOME has been growing heavy on resources. FC6 reveled itself has a working power horse but lacking features that came on Ubuntu installed by default or, even worse, installed by Automatix. God, I never gave so much value to Automatix like I did today at 3 AM when trying to figure a way to play DVDs on FC6. Every “How To” I followed didn’t work, only after a tip from VD and removing and installing a few packages related to video and multimedia did the trick, which remembers me that YUMEX is still slow as shit, but nevertheless functional and secure. Working with repos like Livna has made YUM more tolerable, still the download speed is not even close of the APT mirrors from Ubuntu. While banging my head all night long I was almost ready to quit and put the Ubuntu 6.10 CD in the drive, but still the stability and speed of the system overcome my laziness and moved me from going back to “Brownux“. The old days of Linux tweaking and hacking were back! Soon I got the system working the way I wanted, with the apps I needed, it was only a matter of time and information. One just has to follow the myriad of FAQs and How Tos on the web, most of them, unfortunately, still cover Fedora Core 5.
Summarizing: I’ll keep my FC6, I’m very pleased with it. It’s like that car you buy with manual shifts after you drive auto for sometime. I’ve got get some info on SELinux implemented on FC6 and check a few more details in order to optimize my system. Meanwhile, I’m making a page on my blog with some useful info on FC6. Keep an eye on! 😉
[tags] Linux, Fedora, Fedora Core 6, Ubuntu, Suse, Novell, Microsoft, shift[/tags]