Linux

Fedora changing the choices: good or bad?


For the next release of Fedora things are going to be a bit different. And I'm not so sure they are going to be for the better. Let me explain to you what they are doing. 

As of FC7 the isos will come in different flavors:

  • Fedora Desktop
  • Fedora KDE 
  • Fedora Server 

Fedora Desktop will be the standard set of desktop packages that one generally uses with Fedora Core, and the desktop environment will be GNOME 2.18. Fedora KDE will be similar to the Fedora Desktop release but will replace GNOME with the K Desktop Environment. Finally, with the last official Fedora 7 install spin, Fedora Server will be targeted for server administration with its set of packages. So this is all fine and good but it negates people like me who are heavy-hitting desktop users but choose an alternate window manager instead of one of the big two. Or what about those who like to have both DEs installed? What about those who administer servers but want to do so via either GNOME or KDE (or Enlightenment, AfterStep, XFCE, etc). Too bad????

The Fedora team is saying that these new flavors will make installation easier than ever. I say POSH! I say this will just require me to do more work than ever. I realize that one of the TADAS of the up coming release is that they are merging Fedora Core and Fedora Extras. Big whoop! In my opinion it should have been that way all along. If I remember correctly a typical Linux installation (of installations gone by) included all the "extras" all along. But now Fedora is waving their "cutting edge flag" saying what they are doing is moving Linux forward? That may be but at the same time they are taking it two steps back by splitting the distro into three distinct flavors.

I run a server and a desktop on one machine. That's my flavor of Linux. I want an iso called Fedora EVERYTHING that will give me all the tools to play with because that's one of the biggest strengths of Linux - you can do everything with it.

I want the devel packages. I want the scientific tools (even though I'm a far cry from a scientist.) I want servers and games and GIMPs and GNOMES and attacks of d20 plus 2! I am a freakin' Linux geek! Don't short change me by short changing my distribution.

I'm telling you right now Fedora (whatever you are calling yourself now), don't go the way of Ubuntu (with no disrespect to a distribution I really like) and have Kedora, Godora, and Sodora if you're not going to offer Eudora. 

Oh wait - that's already been offered by another company. 

But you get my drift. 

Here's what I think needs to happen. Fedora needs to offer the Linux distribution that will, at install-time, ask the user what packages they want to install. Offer them the KDE desktop, the GNOME desktop, alternative desktops, and Servers. But also offer them everything. If I want to do a 6 gig installation, give me that option. Don't strip Linux down to its constituent parts. Linux has always been about bridger of gaps and the linker of links. Linux is about community. Linux is not about dividing it's followers to conquer one another. But it looks like Fedora is ready to say "Choose a camp. But choose wisely - else you change your mind you're gonna have one hell of a journey!"  If you opt that method, people will choose wisely and choose another distribution.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

32 comments
jmgarvin
jmgarvin

FC4 was a mess, FC5 was buggy, and FC6 borked up stupid things (SELinux for one). Red Hat Enterprise is rock solid, but Fedora is REALLY in Beta...I mean not just that they say it's in Beta, but it needs a lot of love to get things working right. I just can't defend Fedora anymore. I've really tried to like Gentoo, but it's pretty buggy with some stuff too. For the server I'm leaning towards RHE and Debian, while for the desktop Debian and SuSe seem to be coming out on top.

jlwallen
jlwallen

This is probably a topic I should address in a blog soon. But I think I can sum this up in one word: Ubuntu. Without a doubt that distro is probably the best. Between it's intstall and the apt-get front end, Ubuntu is as simple as it gets.

stress junkie
stress junkie

Each ISO version may have different default packages but you can always take any one of them and add packages that you want to have. Presumably that strategy will still be available. This will mostly just affect newbies who want to learn Linux on Fedora Core. While I always advise against newbies using Fedora because it is by definition unstable still many newbies take the plunge with it. I expect that there will be many questions on the forums regarding the issues raised in this article/blog.

prplshroud
prplshroud

I personally don't like the new installer that started with FC5. I find it to be more cumbersome than the old installer from FC4 and earlier. If there are going to be different versions of Fedora, then, IMHO, it's not Fedora anymore. While my system at home is technically a desktop, it's also a server. I'll have to reserve a hard opinion on this until I download a FC7 test release and see what's what.

joe
joe

I've been using CentOS for servers for quite a while and it's been the best decision I've made. Being that the server is not for profit (no donations or anything) and I am unable to work I can't go the whole RHEL rout. I would if I could. As for desktops, I have been at this whole thing far to long. I can find no appreciable difference between the major distros other than whether they are Debian based or not. (Source based distros are not for general desktop consumption) I've been using Fedora from version 1 through 5 (will get around to upgrading to 6 sometime this decade. Maybe). No problems with any of them on the myriad hardware they got installed onto. Yes, Fedora does take a little preliminary work before doing an install or upgrade, but it's not like it's difficult. Everything you need is all right there within arms reach. Fedora is neither better nor worse than any other distro. Not if you have a modicum of patience and a little common sense.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

based distos are my favorite. I have been running Ubuntu for a while now and love it. I keep trying Suse, hopeing to like it, but I never do. Its stable, looks good, easy to instal, but it leaves me flat. The apt package management system is the One Ring.

joe
joe

I generally end up helping non-linux people with their first immersion into the life at some time or other. They seem to have more trouble with Ubuntu than all the reports would have you believe. Ubuntu is a find distro but it's no easier on the newbie than Fedora and far more difficult than Lindows^H^H^H^Hspire or XanrdOS. The latter is probably the best Windows like distro on the planet. Without exception. I do think that Ubuntu will get better but it sure would have helped if it weren't crippled by being Debian based.

stress junkie
stress junkie

... IMO the best distro for anybody to use on a desktop computer is PCLinuxOS. You should look at that before you write your blog article. According to distrowatch.com it is becoming very popular and it works with fewer installation problems than any other distro that I've used. (and I've used quite a few, including Ubuntu.)

joe
joe

Just like having regular, extra and premium is keeping people from putting gas in their cars. Or having dozend of radio stations to choose from. Or the bazillion TV channels. Lord, how does anyone get anything done in this world!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Most of us are already so distro-confused it won't make much difference...

dawgit
dawgit

for an installer now? I've lost track. -d

stress junkie
stress junkie

I understand the emotional fatigue of working with someone who doesn't know everything that you know. Once I learn something it seems self evident. That's the way my brain works. It takes a deliberate effort for me to remember that people are not born knowing how to add users to a Unix system or how to mount a disk partition. The one thing that I keep in mind is that I am a bit of a slow learner so I try to remember how I struggled with what now appear to be the simplest things. (Mind you I'm not retarded. My IQ is about 133. It just takes me a long time to gain a firm understanding of new things.) So when I'm working with someone who is learning something that I already know I try to remember my own learning experience. Your post does not show any sign of understanding how a newbie can be frustrated by things that seem like they should be within reach if a person has "...a modicum of patience and a little common sense." When you are starting to learn a new system most things build on a base of knowledge. When a person does not have that base then they have to look up everything. That can be tiring. Anyone's patience will wear down at some point. It isn't fun to learn how to add a user account if you don't already know about user groups, file permissions, the passwd command, home directories, the PATH environment variable, the shells, authorized shells in /etc/shells, and other things that are related to how user accounts work. The first time that a new Linux or Unix user tries to create a new user account they may have to look all of those things up in some reference, which requires knowledge of the man and info utilities, knowledge of how information is presented in those utilities, how to find local system documentation in /usr/share/doc, and other things. All of these things can appear to be more effort than a given person is willing to contribute to learning a new system at a given time. I'd say that it takes more than a modicum of patience to get started learning Linux, or Unix, or a second human language, or mathematics, or anything that builds on a knowledge base. Getting started in these kinds of endeavors is a struggle. The new person has to put in a maximum effort and be satisfied with minimal progress for that effort. Experienced people should, at a minimum, avoid making statements like the one that you made about how a modicum, meaning a small quantity, of patience is all that is required. That is not true. It requires a lot of patience and effort and commitment to learn a new system. This relates to Fedora Core by way of the fact that FC is an unstable development distribution. It certainly has a place in the Red Hat family of products, but use as a newbie distribution is not a good idea. The fact that it is unstable means that there will probably be more problems getting components to work than you would experience using a stable distribution.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Care to elaborate for the benefit of the newbie? Maybe the cause of some of the problems I have is a lack of proper preparation.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Little things keep cropping up. For instance, my ssh daemon in the lab will randomly disconnect people. I've tried everything from installing ssh from scratch to using different NIC drivers. They also use a new traceroute that doesn't have the -i option! What is that? Fedora makes far too many Fedora specific packages. It'd be nice if they just built from the actual packages or at least gave you the option.

joe
joe

> The apt package management system is the One Ring. apt is no better or worse than yum. Wait, strike that. It's ever so slightly worse than yum. Compared to yum it's complex and unwieldy. The one place that Debian (and by extension all Debian based distros) went wrong was their packaging and file system layout/naming convention. Otherwise it's all fine.

Jaqui
Jaqui

The un-natural offspring of Mandriva and Debian. :p the installer, Mandriva's Drakx. the "Control Center" Mandriva's Drakxtools [ including the urpmi based software management tools, just altered to use the debian repositories ] the functionality of PCLinuxOS is Mandriva. PCLinuxOs uses a different logo, and a different gui conf for background etc, but in all other respects, it's Mandriva with Debian's repositories for software.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The differences between stations are much easier to see, it takes almost no time to determine if you like a station, almost no effort to change stations compared to reloading an OS and apps, no retraining is required when you change stations, and no one expects me to be productive when I'm watching the tube.

seeprakash
seeprakash

After reading this .. My opinion is Fedora Team is likely following the Microsofts way of dividing an OS into Desktop,server..... All of us know why we like Linux ... Because it offers you everything you want... It does not limit you nor stop you from doing what you want...

stress junkie
stress junkie

Oddly enough Red Hat/Fedora Core is probably one of the few really bad choices for newbies. Unfortunately it is also about the only one that a newbie may have heard of. Most of the other significant distros are better than Fedora Core, IMO of course. If you want to know how good it can be, "it" being Linux :), then try this. pclinuxos.org v93a Big Daddy They will have a new version out in a few weeks that claims to have Firefox 2.0.0.1 working with Adobe Flash Player plugin v9. If so that's more than I could do on my own. They distribute a combination live CD plus installation so you can try it before you commit to an hour of installation and whatever changes made to your hard disk. Naturally it runs slower off of the CD than it does off of a hard disk. I recommend PCLinuxOS to everybody. It has an extensive application repository. It uses Synaptic for software package installation and maintenance. It has the ability to play MP3 files and other naughty formats. You can optionally install libdvdcss so that you can watch commercial DVDs on your computer. In other words it does all of the stuff that Microsoft would like to keep to itself, which is all of the stuff that people want to do with their computer.

dawgit
dawgit

That you have there ?:| sort of tip of the day..... hummmmm

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I've thought for a couple of years that somebody could make some small change with a Linux command version of those "Page a Day" desk calendars. I hereby formally renounce all rights to this idea in the open source spirit. Somebody crank this sucker out.

rhomp2002
rhomp2002

I am a newbie to PC's but a long time IT person with mainframes (over 40 years until I retired). What I have problems with is following instructions that get to a point and then "after you have done thus and so" and give you no idea how to do "thus and so" and no direction where to look. You go looking in the manuals and they assume everything has worked correctly but what do you do if you get an error message. The other day I was trying to do something and I got the message that it would overwrite something and then the process stopped. I looked for a way to tell it that overwriting that thing was what I wanted it to do but I could find nothing on the error messsage at all. When I looked in the manual it assumed that no message appeared and that all had worked. I would love to find a good glossary of the terms used in Linux and also a good error message book for the various distros. I have gotten almost all the things I want to work the way I want them to somehow in my fumbling and my asking on the forums but I still am not confident that I understand all the things I need to understand to keep up with what is going on. I keep printing off the good methodology that I have found works but am not sure exactly why it works or what all the instructions are really doing. I am just about at the point where I am going to cut Windows XP off as I almost never do anything there anymore and when I do I spend more time updating the spyware detector and the security updates and the defragging than I do in doing what I want to do. Would love to find a general purpose book that explains exactly what the various command line instructions do. The man tells me what works but does not explain why it works. I find it rather frustrating since in my previous life on mainframes I was able to infer from what I could see what was going on behind the scenes. I find that I am not able to do that with PC's and O/S software yet and am not sure where even to find the info.

willda
willda

Your statements are right on the mark! I am what "I" consider a learned newbie. I have been administrating Windows networks since DOS 6 & Windows 3.11 & NT3.5 (am I showing my age?). Anyway, I have been playing with different distros now for about a year and have had success with several (Debian, PCLinuxOS, Umbuntu, FreeSpire, etc.) I have a Smoothwall linux box in use as our firewall/proxy server. I have become half way adept at using vi & vim. I understand the file structure and can find my way around the command line. All this does not put me in the same class as a true linux user. It takes time to develop the background knowledge to build on. I didn't learn DOS, Win 3.11, NT3.5/4/W2k/XP overnight. Anyway...Thanks again.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

One of the best summations of the newbie experience it has been my pleasure to read.

dawgit
dawgit

If you really look, it's all location related 'warnings' I think they may have had to do that in order to be a distrabution in some countries. In others it's wide open. -d

Jaqui
Jaqui

just like it's parent Mandriva in those respects. [ outside of libdvdcss, Mandriva doesn't include it ] I only knock it because of the bloat in it, which is exactly the reasons you like it :) We have opposite views on what's needed in a distro. Though for newbies, Mandriva or PCLinuxOS are probably the best options, simple install and configure, with the multimedia support most people seem to think is important.

stress junkie
stress junkie

It's my favorite distro. You may not like the pedigree but it works well with very little trouble. When it comes to wireless networking it is as easy to use as Windows. That is very rare in Linux land. The wireless connections can easily be configured on demand, as people want to do when they roam from one public wireless access point to another. All of the other distros that I tried recently wanted me to make a permanent configuration of from one to four WAPs being configured. That isn't how people use wireless networks. Then MP3 and other multimedia file formats are supported. You don't have a sanctimonious statement about not using these file formats as you find on the Novell SuSE site. http://en.opensuse.org/Restricted_Formats

dawgit
dawgit

Jaqui is working on exactally that. (for you / all ) Hang in there. The problem is that most of us once turned on to a Linux way of doing things, don't get near AD ever again. So be careful what you ask for, M$ might just loose another loyal customer :0 . (yes, I'm being sarcastic) SuSE has been my choice for a while, and it connects almost automaticaly with a Windows Workgroup. But like I said no AD here. (no need now :D ) -d

supportguy
supportguy

I'm setting up a dual-boot Ubuntu/OpenSUSE machine right now, I'll look into Active Directory and let you know.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'll keep that in mind next time I feel like beating my head on the wall. I've posted in several topics asking if anyone is successfully using a Linux client on an AD domain, and I'm always disappointed in the lack of positive responses. If it was being done, I figure somebody here would be doing it. Apparently not...

supportguy
supportguy

SUSE and Xandros claim to be Active Directory friendly but I haven't tried them yet. Might be worth taking a look if you haven't already. I tried OpenSUSE but couldn't easily get it logging into an AD domain but that may just be me.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm still looking for a distro configured out of the box as a desktop client in a Windows Active Directory domain, one that prompts for the necessary responses a sysad would know to enable file sharing and authentication synchronization by default. I'm not as interested yet in apps as I am in connectivity.