Back Home On Fedora

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was giving Ubuntu a trial on my laptop. That trial is now over and I’ve gone back to Fedora. And in the process I’ve upgraded to Fedora 7.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Ubuntu. I want to make that quite clear. I’m sure it would make a great choice for a new Linux user. Or for many old Linux users who fancied a change.

No, my problem with it is simply that it’s not Fedora. I’ve been using Red Hat based Linux distributions for many years. The first version of Red Hat Linux that I used was 4.2 which (I’m surprised to see) was released ten years ago. So I have ten years of experience of using Red Hat Linux and its successor, Fedora. That’s a lot of product knowledge. And it would be a shame to see that go to waste.

Oh, of course there are a lot of similarities between Linux distributions. They are, after all, all the same operating system underneath and they all install largely the same set of software. But there are subtle differences between them that can sometimes trip you up. In my case it was the package management system. Red Hat uses packages called RPMs which you manage with a command line program called yum[1]. Ubuntu uses deb packages which you manage using apt. I could probably become proficient in using apt very quickly if I put the effort in. But I’m already proficient in using yum, so I’m not sure if there’s any point.

So I’m far happier back on Fedora. And Fedora 7 is a really nice advance on Fedora Core 6. But I believe that Ubuntu is probably just as good a choice for people who aren’t as stuck in their habits as I am. Ubuntu is certainly the distribution that is getting most of the publicity these days.

I don’t really think there’s much to choose between in modern Linux distributions. Just choose one that you like.

But please choose one. Don’t stay on Windows. That would be madness.

[1] Yes, there are GUI programs available too, if you’re that way inclined.

6 Replies to “Back Home On Fedora”

  1. Why is Ubuntu getting the publicity?Also, I have to take you to task (or receive clarification from you, more like!) as to whether staying on Windows is madness. I’m thinking only of a desktop system here, not a server. In my job, I need to use MS Word and Excel, because everyone else uses it and I need my documents to be compatible with other people. Despite any claims, no other software is fully compatible, especially when it comes to the more advanced features, as I know to my cost from working with other systems on my MBA. I also need to use software like Photoshop and Adobe InDesign. And because I work in finance I need to use brokerage platforms and software like Sharescope, which I think is Windows-only.Then there’s things like text editors: I use UltraEdit, and I know it like the back of my hand – yes, there’s decent text editors in Linux but I’d have to learn them. The same goes for sound editing, etc.Of course, all of these arguments are blown away if I could reliably run these programs and have them stable under Linux.I’m just in the process of building a new rocket-ship machine, and deciding whether to put Windows Vista on it or stick with Windows XP (I decided to stick with XP). But do you reckon that right here and now (not in a few years time) I could do everything I need using Linux? I’m no defender or lover of Windows, it’s a bloated, slow-running heap of dodgy cack that regularly grinds to a halt or does something stupid, but from an application-using point of view, am I stuck with it?I’d be very interested to hear what you’ve got to say on this one, Dave. As someone with a computer science degree, using Windows feels beneath me! :)

  2. Why is Ubuntu getting the publicity?

    Because Canonical are very good at marketing. And probably because the first first of Ubuntu was one of the first Linux distributions that was aimed at end-users rather than geeks. As I said, I don’t honestly think there’s much to choose between modern Linux distributions, but Ubuntu has (at least in public perception) clung on to the small lead that it had.

    Also, I have to take you to task (or receive clarification from you, more like!) as to whether staying on Windows is madness.

    I’m going to have to remember to put more smilies in when I’m joking.Yes, there are people who use software that is only available for Windows (tho’ maybe a lot of that will work under WINE) and yes, some people produce documents and spreadsheets that don’t work in OpenOffice (tho’ it’s been four or five years since I came across an example). But for most people who use their computers for standard day-to-day work (word processing, spreadsheets, email, the web, instant messaging) then there is really no reason why they couldn’t be just as productive on a Linux desktop.

  3. Gah, a cop-out! Surely most people who do word-processing and spreadsheets need to easily share with others, and make use of their previous software knowledge (usually of MS Office).Also, WINE: is it generally thought of as being much use? Or does it only work with a few programs?

  4. Surely most people who do word-processing and spreadsheets need to easily share with others,

    Absolutely. And recent versions of OpenOffice allow you to do that without any problems in almost every case. I don’t just produce documents and spreadsheets in OpenOffice for my own use. I share my work with other people and I read files that other people have produced with MS Office.I accept that it’s not going to work perfectly in every case. But for the types of files that most people exchange, I’d be really surprised if there was a problem.

    and make use of their previous software knowledge (usually of MS Office).

    Well, you know, in the real world most people aren’t MS Office power users. Most people probably wouldn’t notice the difference between OpenOffice and MS Office. Most people don’t actually have any previous software knowledge.But, yes, there are people who have built up expertise in MS Office. And they might not want to transfer that knowledge to a new software package. Or they might be interested in challenge in applying their existing knowledge to a new (but really rather similar) product. It’s impossible to know.Ian, your view of OpenOffice seems to be rather coloured by some bad experiences you had with it many years ago. But OpenOffice has improved almost beyond recognition in the last few years. It might be worth taking another look.

    Also, WINE: is it generally thought of as being much use? Or does it only work with a few programs?

    The honest answer is that I don’t know. I never use software that requires it, so I’ve never had it installed on any of my systems.

  5. WINE is definitely useful. There are a few Windows applications I’m ‘hooked’ on which aren’t available on Linux. One example is DigiGuide, an interactive TV listings manager. I use this every day, so WINE (under which it runs perfectly, even printing and accessing the listings via a specific port) has allowed me to use Linux as a my main day-to-day desktop. Also I have some personal programs I’d written years ago under Windows which I don’t have time to rewrite. WINE runs these perfectly.I would say WINE is critical in getting Windows users over to Linux because it ‘fills in the gaps’ for people who are concerned they might lose functionality or their software knowledge by abandoning Windows. Certainly that was my experience.

  6. I started using Linux two years ago. Fedora Core was my first distro, but I use Ubuntu now. The distributions are certainly very similar, and in the end for me too it came down to packagement! I found apt/dpkg at least twice as fast as yum/rpm. This is really a trade-off. Fedora has ~13000 packages while Ubuntu has only ~1000, with the other ~18000 from Debian in the unsupported ‘universe’ repository, which is rarely updated between releases.Things that presently impress me about Ubuntu.- The seriously clever bash autocompletion. It completes mplayer options :]- If you try to run a missing command, it finds you what package provides it.- It offered me non-free audio and video codecs when I tried to play some.- The non-free nvidia graphics drivers work [this is pot-luck].Aspects of Fedora of which I am jealous- The extent and quality of the packages in the distribution (esp now extras has ascended into the distro proper)- The very sexy boot up sequence.- The perl packages.- That packages are updated between releases (ubuntu still has thunderbird 1.5 and gaim).Each to his own [unless that be Windows, which no-one owns].

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