Why I’m using Fedora 13 now

There’s a reason I don’t update that much anymore: I’m no longer as excited by Linux as I was before. What I mean is, I no longer install every OS and every application anymore, just to know what it’s like. Linux is Linux, and no matter what major distribution you install, you get more or less the same product.

I was using Arch and KDE and while everything ran more or less smoothly, I disliked two things about it:

1) As I’ve said before, I prefer GTK applications over Qt ones. I use Pidgin, Chromium, Audacious, Comix and Emelfm2 no matter what DE I’m using, and I prefer Rhythmbox over Amarok, and Thunar over no matter what other file manager because of it’s excellent batch renaming capabilities.

2) I find Dolphin to be slow, and it inexplicably doesn’t sort files alphabetically anymore whenever I want it to sort them by type.

The main reason I used KDE was because it’s fast, beautiful, configurable, easy, and KWin is a far superior window manager than Metacity. GNOME even needs a totally unrelated window manager (Compiz) to have any kind of desktop effects, and even then configuration is a total mess.

But as I said, as my excitement about (but not enjoyment of) Linux ebbed, I found that I no longer needed the latest and greatest of whatever the open source community had to offer, and I planned to install Arch with XFCE or GNOME on a spare partition, use my favourite software, and forget about desktop effects or any other bells and whistles.

I hit a snag though: whenever I installed any DE or WM that used GTK the system became unbearably slow after I was done configuring it. Because the problem didn’t show up right after the fresh install, obviously it had something to do with my configuration. It mainly happened in “Open File” dialogs, and upon logging in. It wasn’t WM or DE specific: it happened in GNOME, XFCE, PekWM and Openbox. It wasn’t distribution specific: I had the same problem in Ubuntu, Mint, and finally Fedora, which I had installed because reviews were raving.

At that moment, I had enough and devoted an entire evening to solving the problem. I looked at logfiles. I installed Arch again, checking speeds every step of the way. I browsed every forum I could find. SVG based icon themes might have been the cause, but it turned out the problem was there with basic icon themes too. GDM was a possible suspect, because that would explain why I didn’t have the problem in KDE, but using SLIM or even “startx” didn’t solve everything. I searched through the logfiles and noticed gnome-vfs errors, which did provide the explanation of that but not a solution. And I still hadn’t found the reason why a fresh install of any distribution would run smoothly as anything.

Finally, I discovered that /etc/fstab (which contained a couple of lines I copy-pasted every time) was the problem, specifically the line that mounted the file server. Prejudice got the best of me for a moment and I briefly blamed Ubuntu, because that was what the server was running. That didn’t make any sense, however. As usual, the fault was entirely mine: I mounted a directory containing over 6000 mp3s, and most of them weren’t categorised into folders. And some movies. And some games. Creating a bit of order in the mounted directory took 5 minutes and solved the problem immediately. Which of course left me feeling a right fool, but I’m used to that.

Of course, at the time I was running Fedora, which was running fine, fast and stable, and had found by network printer just by looking at it. RPMFusion took care of the necessary media codecs and the nvidia driver (although that disabled the pretty plymouth theme, but I can live with that), and while I was surpised I didn’t find Chromium in the repositories, instructions on how to install it can be found here.

In short, I’m not running the latest versions of applications anymore, because Fedora doesn’t have a rolling release schedule. This used to be a big deal for me, now I find that I don’t care. The repositories are extensive, but of course Arch has the AUR which contains almost all open software known to man…but I’m not running anything exotic anymore.

In short, I like it. Let’s see how long it stays.

San

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16 Responses to Why I’m using Fedora 13 now

  1. Gertm says:

    I’ve had a very similar experience. Slack->Gentoo->Arch->Fedora. Fedora does keep up very nicely with the upstream packages. It may not be the latest and greatest, but it’s very close. Updating is painless and stuff just works as you’d expect. Since Fedora, I have no more need to try the newest flashy distros…

    Have fun with it! :)

  2. vga=788 or vga=791 as a kernel parameter will get you the splash screen back, though likely not at native resolution – those two are either 800×600 and 1024×768 or 1024×768 and 1280×1024, there’s apparently no way to specify more modern resolutions (bigger, and widescreen) with a vga= parameter that I can find.

  3. Chris Smart says:

    @Adam, I thought the problem with the splash was using the nvidia driver rather than nouveau meant no kernel based mode-setting, which means plymouth drops back to text mode? (Although I admit you’ll now far more than me!)

    @San, I have actually found that Fedora does a much better job at updating programs than Ubuntu. For example, you usually get the latest KDE point release (and often major release) before too long. You also get Firefox updates (something that Ubuntu is only now looking to do).

    I still don’t really like the package management on Fedora (but I put up with it). It seems to get into a mess from time to time and why it can’t just remove dependencies that are no-longer needed is beyond me, i.e.:

    Installing a package pulls in 5 new dependencies.
    Removing said package should remove those 5 dependencies.

    All in all, I really like Fedora though :-)

    -c

  4. Rahul Sundaram says:

    Adam’s boot option will make plymouth use framebuffer mode which gives you pretty graphics without using KMS. As far as yum removing leaf dependencies, there is a plugin in the repository for that.

  5. Chris Smart says:

    Hi Rahul,

    Specifying that will certainly give a nicer resolution (hardware support depending) but it will still be in “text mode”, right? He says that switching to nvidia “disabled the pretty plymouth theme” and AFAIK that pretty plymouth theme will never come back as long has he is using nvidia.

    The remove-with-leaves plugin is OK, but it doesn’t seem to do a perfect job. For example on my KDE install I just ran:

    “yum install gnome-disk-utility”

    This pulls in 5 dependencies: avahi-ui, exempi, gnome-disk-utility-ui-libs, nautilus, and nautilus-extensions.

    After installation I remove it straight away with:

    “yum remove –remove-leaves gnome-disk-utility”

    But this only wants to remove two of the installed dependencies, namely avahi-ui and gnome-disk-utility-ui-libs.

    This is what confuses me.. why doesn’t it remove all of the dependencies that it itself just pulled in? Now I have three orphaned packages.

    Unless I’m doing something wrong, which I could well be.

    Cheers,
    -c

  6. Chris Smart says:

    Oh, I see. My apologies! Adam is (of course) right, passing the framebuffer resolution turns on pretty graphics without KMS. So I guess it’s not plymouth but it looks similar.

    That’s great!

    -c

  7. Rahul Sundaram says:

    Chris,

    Giving that option switched Plymouth to framebuffer mode and it is no longer under text mode. You will get a splash screen but won’t get mode switching. Most people wouldn’t notice the difference.

    I don’t the use leaves plugin but if it isn’t working correctly for you, file a bug report.

  8. Rahul Sundaram says:

    I forgot to note something. I use yum history undo which works well for me. Check that out

  9. Chris Smart says:

    Thanks Rahul,

    I hastily wrote that reply on my way out of the office and afterwards realised what you’ve just confirmed – Plymouth can use kernel base mode setting, older vesa framebuffer, or none (text). Using NVIDIA you can’t use KMS, but vesafb works. As for the resolution, vga=ask might help San to see what resolution he can get on his hardware.

    Was remove-with-leaves the Yum plugin you were referring to, or is there another. I’ll report a bug and see what they say. There are plenty of them (which made me think it just doesn’t work the way I was expecting). Installing the gnash browser plugin after you already have firefox wants to remove firefox if you uninstall it.. whoops.

    Thanks for the yum history undo, that’s handy.

    -c

  10. celettu says:

    Adam: Thanks, that sexified things right up :)

    Chris: Yep, I noticed that dependancy thing too..after installing and uninstalling banshee, mono was still on by system.

  11. [...] distributions is so much fun, isn’t it? There was nothing really wrong with Fedora, in fact it did a lot of things right, but I wanted to configure my file server with a lightweight environment and then leave it alone. [...]

  12. Prabakar Sera says:

    Same here, like arch Linux a lot. But it is really time consuming and configuring my printer was pain.Fedora 14 works out of box with some tweaks. All my Brightness keys worked, none other distros worked with my brightness key. Having easylife makes easier installing of basic needed softwares such as flash, Java, etc.

    So far, I’m loving it!!! :)

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