Wednesday, August 20, 2014

dpkg -i mistakes-0.10.deb: 24 hours into Fedora 20

I did a very stupid mistake yesterday. Oh yes, I did learn from my mistakes very much, thank you!

So I installed Fedora 20 on my main desktop. As some of you know I use Debian 7 (Wheezy) for my main desktop--isn't that "old"? Well, I can play Skyrim, Guild Wars 2, install the latest NVIDIA drivers, etc, so yea, it works wonder for me.

That's not the point though, far from it. I had problems with Fedora 20 I never thought I would run into, maybe because I'm not that experience with its whole ecosystem and vast libraries. However, I'm more of an end-user than anything else. There are things in Fedora 20 that were real deal breakers for me.

Just a note: This post is not meant to be an attack against Fedora distribution or its users.

I told myself yesterday, "you know what? I'm gonna go install Fedora and use it until Debian 8 is out", and that I did! After testing the distro in my overly abused virtualbox hard drive it was more than obvious that Fedora is a very stable distribution.

So, let's start with things I didn't like so we can later concentrate on things I did like:

Fedora 20 Installation process:

Fedora uses anaconda to manage all the installation tasks, get the user info, etc. One of the things that was a heavy deal breaker was how IMPOSSIBLE it was to create a partition with rest of the space available. The case was the following:

I have my /home separated, like any sane person would, and well it was a total of 4 partitions: /, /home, /boot, /another_partition. These were existing partitions and they have never failed me in any way. So, what went wrong?

Fedora didn't want to use the remainder of the space left for my root partition. What it did was the following: It created a root partition of 8.523 GB, and there was NO WAY to alter that value because it would revert to it.

After battling with the partition manager--which I wasn't that comfortable with in the first place--the installation finished. I booted it up, entered my credentials and surprise! Another issue: I think this is because Fedora 20 has SELinux in a more strict mode, I'm not sure if I'm correct here. The thing is that they were permission errors and I had to do a restorecon to fix my /home and finally it would let me enter.

It wasn't much of a problem. I won't lie, I thought Fedora messed up my /home partition, it scared the hell out of me. Usually I've done like 4-5 retaining my /home partition with no backup. I know, I know. It's a bad idea, right? So anyway, it was a solid KDE experience. Everything worked! So you know what this means right? Install ALL DEM APPS AND DEPENDENCIES!

Alright there's a problem. I love yum. I love how cohesive it is, you don't have the silly "apt-file, apt-whatever", instead you can use yum whatprovides and it works flawlessly. BUT! The naming convention for the libraries is a bit nuts. You can have lowercase library names, you can also have lower/upper libraries and it's MADDENING. It's not a big deal, right? Well, that's what I thought until I ended up wasting more time reaching my shift key and deleting characters, even the tab for auto-completition didn't help.

I could live with it though. But then the following case happened: I installed steam through rpmfusion. It was easy and straightforward, yet finding the DEPENDENCIES for each game was itself the biggest chore ever. And some of the dependencies I installed didn't even work when ldd reported to me that the library is not found. The dependencies problems were making me go insane because not only that happened, I couldn't even play a mkv/mp4 video because for some reason it didn't pull the libvpx.

Now, I know that what I'm going to say may or may not bother you but: In Debian if I pulled from the repos mpd or smplayer it made sure to pull all the required and optional libraries. You might object "why install the optional library?!", for the very same reason that we must think of the end-user. It's not about having a tidy, minimal installation. To me, if you can't provide a decent experience that I have to go on hunting then there's something horribly wrong with the user experience.

Now, without further ado: What I liked about Fedora 20:

- Stability. It felt incredibly rock solid for a distribution that has like 2-3 years cycle. I do wish they extended the support up to 3-4 years but Fedora is bleeding edge itself and they do a seriously great job.
- yum - I really like yum, like I said before it felt really great using it.
- Installation - Despite my crappy experience with the partition section, the installation was the shortest and most straightforward thing ever. This is great for anyone lacking technical experience.
- A polished KDE experience
- Useful sites and tools like Fedy, rpmfusion, fedorapeople repos.

I went back to Debian. In less than 2-3 hours I had my setup running with all the applications I used. Funny enough before running apt-get install kde-full I installed openbox, lightdm, thunar, xterm, smplayer, zsh. I mounted my other hard drive disk and proceeded to watch TV Series while kde-full finished installing.

Will I revisit Fedora? I think that yea, maybe in a near future I will. But not as my main OS.

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