Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fedora Core 6 - not for me !... SuSE -- The Linux community will miss you.

After my first blog on my experience with Kubuntu Edgy, I am going to write about my rants with Fedora Core 6.

After the release of Red hat's Fedora Core 6 on Oct 24th, a lot of linux gurus and dedicated Red Hat fans have downloaded it and commended it as very update and bleeding edge distro. Nov 2nd 2006 is a black day for Linux/Open source/Free software loyalists (I am one of 'em) as Novell signed contract with big bully of the software industry. Reading various blogs and news clips made me think of replacing my Open SuSE 10.1 which was running on my Desktop. Fedora was the answer. It is from the leader and pioneer in Linux distributions and many reviews said its new release "Zod" is worth trying.

I downloaded the DVD iso from a mirror near me and rebooted my system with the DVD on. Fedora core 6 booted with a professional looking installer. The DNA theme it has adopted recently can be prominently seen in the installer too. The anaconda installer was slow and sometimes unresponsive as usual. The best part of Red Hat/Fedora installers is that they look very sleek and professional, much better even when compared to WindowsXP installer. I opted for a desktop installed and in about 15 minutes, I was in my newly installed Fedora core. I can't stop praising the look and feel of the system, especially the login screen. Once logged in, I could see the simple and elegant Fedora desktop. Everything looked great. But, wait... here comes the worst part. I can't connect to the internet from my home broadband connection.

I would'nt blame Fedora for everything. I have a ADSL connection from Netviagator the biggest ISP in Hong Kong for domestic as well as business customers. Its a pity that such big company cannot support users of Linux. Its pathetic that they even don't have the technical work force to offer some kind of support to Linux customers even if they as for them repeatedly. SuSE's internet connection wizards to setup the ADSL connection worked for me without any effort. But for Fedora, it seemed almost impossible. I googled a lot and tried various methods, like using Roaring Penguin-PPPoE . Then tried using webmin to configure my broadband modem to save my account name and password, but it the company has set its own passwords to administer the Router which I don't know. I tried several methods from various forums but none seemed to work. Fedora doesn't have easy system tuning wizards builtin. I would expect a distro to install at least the necessary tools for a home ADSL connection on a Desktop installation. I don't even find "adsl-setup" a package I found on a forum installed by default. After several frustrating hours, I had to shutdown Fedora and start hating Fedora.

Actually, I have not been a fan of Red Hat since when I first started experimenting with it. I started with Red Hat 6.0 and everytime I install it I was only amazed by the neat layout of the Desktop. My biggest dislikes for Red Hat was, 1)I had to mount my other windows partitions manually and 2)installing rpm packages with rpm was like working in hell. Most of the times, Red Hat would even recognise my sound card. At that time Mandrake provided a very good alternative with its good community and userfriendly configuration tools. Now that I am with Ubuntu, I am happy because it works most of the time and finding a solution and implementing is not impossible.

Fedora/Red Hat disappointed me as it always used to do. Open SuSE offered a very good solution to me. SuSE's installer and configuration wizards were the best in Linux distros. Yes, they are important for users like me who are not well versed in Linux and yet want to use Linux. SuSE used to be very advanced and professional looking but from recent turn of events, I see no future for SuSE. A wonderful German distro doomed in the hands of Novell.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Kubuntu - Edgy Eft mini review

I have been playing with various Linux distros since 1999. I consider myself intermediate user of Linux, I use Linux for my research work. I was one of those million people who feel unsecure leaving windows environment. But just a few months ago, I decided to be 100% Windows-free and I discovered that open source software is really bliss.

I have been using Kubuntu Dapper Drake as my prime OS for about three months and I was satisfied with it. And yesterday was a big day for Ubuntu fans as the distros new version codenamed "Edgy Eft" was released. I downloaded Kubuntu as soon as it was released on the internet.

My prime machine is my laptop, a "no brand" 1.8 ghz Centrino with Intel 855 chipset, 1gb of RAM and 80 gb of hard disk space. I backed up everything including my Firefox bookmarks, xorg.conf and sources.list. I booted the Kubuntu Edgy cd initially, I was a bit disappointed as it took about 8 mins to logon and show the desktop. While Edgy is booting, I couldn't see any text on the screen except for a big blue "Kubuntu" and a blue bar below it. This is a bit unusual for a open source OS. Kubuntu developers could have let the user be aware what's going on when the system takes time to book, this idea seems to have been copied from Microsoft world. From the long bootup time, I decided that kubuntu is a bad live CD, as Mandriva2007 live cd booted within 3 minutes, and impressively, it could also offer the 3D desktop with wobbly windows and everything inspite of my onboard Intel855 graphics chipset.

As soon as Edgy booted into the graphical environment, I was impressed by the beautiful and elegant desktop. Edgy definitely looks polished and pleasing. I noticed this version of kubuntu has shifted from a highly bluish desktop to a violettish desktop which I liked very much. Without spending much time on the live CD, I headed for the installation. Installation was smooth, Kubuntu asked me some details about my login name and time zone, keyboard etc. Then I came to the partition manager with which I partioned my entire harddisk to my liking. The partition manager in Edgy is much improved than Dapper as I had much problem partitioning with Dapper. Dapper wouldn't mount the / partition in the right place and when I asked it to use the entire hard disk the partitions were not as right as what I got from openSuSE. After that copying all the essential files from the live CD was fast and soon I rebooted into my new Kubuntu desktop.

The startup time was noticeably faster. It took exactly 1 minute to boot into the desktop whereas it used to take 1minute 20 secs when I was using Dapper. This improvement must be due to Upstart instead of init. After install, everything worked fine, including the volume control buttons in my laptop which did not work in Dapper. One bug I noticed after booting was I got a message "laptop lid is closed" on the top right corner though it was not.

I searched for firefox, but it was missing from the fresh install. I updated the sources list by chaning to "edgy" from "dapper" in my old sources list. Then I did apt-get update and installed firefox. Edgy includes the new Firefox 2 and after install, the fabulous browser worked fabulously.

Next I had to fix the screen resolution for my widescreen laptop. OpenSuSE could automagically install the 915resolution patch and setup the right resolution of 1280x800, but no other distro so far could do it. In Kubuntu I had to install "915resolution" and modify the xorg.conf file by changing the available displays to "1280x800". When I restarted X, the resolution was set correctly and I had a basic Kubuntu system installed. I am yet to install the other good stuff like the LaTeX packages, thunderbird, and then the Automatix2 script.

I am very happy with Edgy as I was with Dapper. I did not find any major gripes and I am loving it. Overall I would give a 8 out 10 for Edgy Eft.