2010-08-10

long time Mandriva user tries Fedora

I have switched my laptop over to Fedora 13 LXDE to check things out properly in normal use; here are my findings so far.  (Remember I have > 10 years of history as a Mandriva user!)

Plus points

  • recognises the Tata Photon+ CDMA data stick out of the box.  The GUI is identical, except for color, to the one in Linux Mint; now why can't Mandriva also use that same software, whatever it is?  In Mandriva, you have to use wvdial (which means you have to install it first!).  The normal drakconf-spawned config screen asks you for a "PIN number" (huh?) and regardless of what you type or not, it responds saying "have you inserted your SIM card" or some such message I can't recall.
  • the ability to create a custom live CD with everything I want on it.  Thanks to my friend Raj, I now have a nice live CD (actually USB stick) that contains more than 200 packages of my choice.  This means I truly don't have to take my laptop around to many places, while still getting a LOT of work done.
  • having a sane set of package repos automatically configured even if you live in India!  Mandriva would always select some mirror in China that, consistently across the last 2-3 releases of Mandriva, has been dead or unresponsive or overloaded any time I try it.  I'd gotten to the point that I'd pretend to be in some US time zone, then change it to India after the install is all done.  Or go to easyurpmi.zarb.org and do a manual mirror selection.
Minus points
  • missing or outdated packages.  (For example, "recoll" -- if I ever have to switch my work desktop this would be a show stopper!  And "atop" is unmaintained.  And unison is apparently deprecated... in favour of what, I wonder?)

    However, the saving grace is that the Fedora ecosystem is just too big for anyone to ignore, so either the upstream themselves will have an RPM available (as in the case of recoll and atop), or someone else (like Dag) might, or -- worst case -- my PFE (personal Fedora expert/evangelist, a person who shall remain nameless in his own interest, lest he be swamped by others' requests for help!) will find me a link from somewhere!
  • keychain doesn't work.  I had to add these 3 magic lines into my own .bash_profile because the one in /etc/profile.d didn't seem to work.  I should probably dig deeper and report it if needed
        keychain ~/.ssh/id_rsa
        . ~/.keychain/$HOSTNAME-sh
        . ~/.keychain/$HOSTNAME-sh-gpg

  • There is no way to have the screen lock before suspend/hibernate.  This is not secure.  I finally had to put "xscreensaver-command -lock; sleep 2" somewhere inside a file called "pm-action".  There is just no other way as far as I know.  From a non-techie user perspective this is horrible, horrible, horrible.  (I realise this may be only the LXDE spin and perhaps the KDE or GNOME versions do it ok).
  • The touchpad doesn't let you click.  You have to run gnome-mouse-properties and change the settings, which would be fine, but they don't persist across a logout/login.  Each time you login you have to run that command again.  (Weirdly enough, you don't have to touch the settings; they're all there.  But the GUI has to come up once...)
Still, all in all it was a pleasant experience, especially because my friend Raj showed me how to make my own live image with whatever packages I want in it.  In the end that might be a bigger point than all the rest :-)

6 comments:

Rahul said...

I am Rahul Sundaram, a Fedora contributor from India. A few comments:

Plus:

* Fedora developed and uses NetworkManager which is the standard across all mainstream distributions except for Mandriva which uses its own custom developed software which is older than NM but afaik less functional in many ways. Not sure why.

* Glad you found the ability to create custom images easily, useful. It is one of the things we promote heavily in Fedora. It would be nice if you can point out the sort of customizations you make. Perhaps others can reuse it as well.

* Mirrors in india is indeed now much better than before

----

Minus:

* Recoll was struck in the review process for a long time unfortunately. However it has recently been approved

https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=612719

You can find the updates submitted just a day back at

https://admin.fedoraproject.org/updates/search/recoll

Atop is not orphaned. It has a maintained listed at

https://admin.fedoraproject.org/pkgdb/acls/name/atop

I have 1.23 in Fedora 13 while the latest is 1.25. You can file a rfe to update to the latest version via http://bugz.fedoraproject.org/atop. Feel free to cc me (metherid AT gmail.com) on any bugs you file.

I am not sure why you believe Unison is deprecated. More info would be good.

Rest of the issues seems very specific to the LXDE spin. You can either report them via bugzilla or mail the spin maintainer directly.

Christoph Wickert

Hope that helps

Rahul said...

Also note that we have a active community in India for Fedora

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/India

You are welcome to participate and provide your feedback. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Rahul/Christoph:

Thanks for your comments.

The unison deprecation info was second hand; I'll look into it and get back; perhaps I was wrong.

Atop has had a pretty significant change between 1.23 and 1.24 for wide terminals. A boatload more info, belying the small version number change. Well worth it...

The screen lock issue is definitely specific to LXDE; my friend showed me just a few minutes ago it's done properly in XFCE, and from past experience I know it's done properly in KDE also. I'd imagine it's not even the spin that's at fault but LXDE itself.

[I'd probably file a bug with the spin saying "pm-suspend" should be runnable by the current console user and not require root, actually...]

Thanks again for jumping in. I didn't even know my blog had an audience outside my friends and colleagues :-)

Sitaram "too lazy to log in to blogger" Chamarty

Anonymous said...

Rahul:

https://admin.fedoraproject.org/pkgdb/acls/name/unison says "deprecated" under the status column

Rahul said...

yum search unison on my box shows a couple of different versions still available in the repo and I guess the maintainer has switched to using versioned names because of incompatible protocol changes. Obviously peers need compatible versions to work properly.

For atop being older and lxde bugs, please report them in bugzilla.

I don't normally follow your blog. I just read through blogs about Fedora via google alerts and someone pointed out this post specifically as well.

Rahul

Rahul said...

Upstream seems dead

http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/unison/status.html

"Unison is no longer under active development as a research project. (Our research efforts in this area are now focused on a follow-on project called Harmony—more details are available on the Harmony home page.) At this point, there is no one whose job it is to maintain Unison, fix bugs, or answer questions."