I have been thinking about this already for a while and yesterday I finally took the decision and the related actions. I have replaced my main OS and have removed Ubuntu 12.04 and have replaced it with Fedora 17. To answer the obvious question first: was I unhappy with Ubuntu? No, not really although …
As can be read in my latest blog posts about my first steps in “64-country” and getting the touchpad working you may have noticed that I had been struggling to get things properly installed and/or working. Was this purely to blame on Ubuntu? No, certainly not. Some of the hardware that came with my latest laptop just is not compatible with Linux, regardless of distribution.
I must say what did bother me is the fact that I, besides the hardware issues, also encountered (too frequently) complete system freezes. Mouse and keyboard just would stop working and the only way out was pressing the power button for several seconds and perform a full power down. I wondered whether it had to do with my “experiments” with getting the touchpad working and the installation of bumblebee, but a colleague of me went back to Win7 as main OS since he also encountered the freezes and that was with a clean install. Is this to blame on Ubuntu? I really can not tell at this moment.
So why Fedora? In my work I work with SAS Software and the “server part” of this software is installed on a VM that has CentOS (currently 6.3) as a distribution since this is one of the distributions that is being supported. Opposed to Ubuntu CentOS is an “rpm based” distribution and in the beginning I did have to get used to this. But over the years I have learned to work with it as also can be read in several of my (older) blog posts. So since I already had an “rpm based” distro running, very stable I must admit, I went looking for an “rpm based” distribution as well for my main OS.
One of the things I, sort of, disliked about CentOS that they are not so “state of the art”, their applications, kernel and so on is – how to say this - somewhat “old fashioned”. Therefore I went for the more upstream RedHat-ish distribution: Fedora. Does make sense, no?
In order to install Fedora I simply downloaded the Fedora 17 Desktop Edition, installed it to a USB stick using unetbootin. Next I moved the files I wanted to keep to an external disk, inserted the USB stick and rebooted. I started by using the Live Edition just to see if (most) things worked out of the box and they did. So once I had this confirmed I started the installer and went for all the default options (full disk installation with LVM and an encrypted disk). The installation completed without any issues and after the reboot and answering the first boot questions Fedora 17 was up and running. Next I moved the files back from the external hard disk and then I came to the part where I had to start adding the applications I need for work.
Initially I tried to install VirtualBox by adding the repository and install it from there. However I ran into an error and did not really feel like searching for the actual cause. So I took the “easy road”, I simply downloaded the rpm from the VirtualBox download site and have that installed by using the software installer. That ran without issues and after adding the VirtualBox extensions I could re-register my Virtual Machines and all worked (almost immediately) again.
For my work I also need the Citrix Receiver. Also for this I opted for the “easy road”. Download the correct version and have the installer perform the check for dependencies and install the product. Also this seemed to have gone okay until … I actually tried it. At that point the Citrix Receiver simply did not want to start. Turned out I wasn’t the only one that had some issues. After following the instructions in the blog post “Installing Citrix on Fedora 16/17” the receiver worked as expected. So another hurdle taken to a fully operational environment.
For the installation I used this blog post as a guideline. However, it did not go entirely flawless. When I tried to install LibreOffice I got the error message that the package libgnomevfs-2.so.0 was missing and with some checking (amongst others by using yum list) I found out that the package that was needed was gnome-vfs2.x86_64. So prior to installing LibreOffice you may need to install this package (as root)
# yum install gnome-vfs2.x86_64
Once the installation was completed I tried to start LibreOffice but it did not start.
/opt/libreoffice3.6/program/soffice.bin: error while loading shared libraries: libpng12.so.0: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
A quick search showed that this has happened before, plus also the answer was provided. So I installed the indicated package
# yum install libpng-compat.x86_64
Now LibreOffice started as expected and everything, as far as I can see now, seems to be working.
So, from a hardware perspective, does Fedora offer more than Ubuntu? No, it doesn’t. As with Ubuntu neither my touchpad, my fingerprint reader nor Optimus is working.With regard to the touchpad, an official bug is registered and the solution proposed is basically the same as I have used for Ubuntu. With regard to the Optimus technology a very similar solution to Ubuntu is suggested, use BumbleBee. More on this solution can be found in this blog post. For now I will leave things as they are and simply (only) use the Intel graphics card, but who knows ….
Do I mind that all hardware is support? Not really. Although it seems somewhat odd to me that a laptop producer that does sell Linux pre-installed laptops makes use of hardware that is not recognized by any Linux distribution.
Although Ubuntu has the name of having a simple installer, the Fedora installer was not any harder. At least not IMHO.
Fedora 17 does not come with as much pre-installed as Ubuntu (for example no office products are installed in Fedora), it is quite complete and thus providing you with the option what to install.
There are still some minor items to “tweak” but overall I am pleased with the way Fedora 17 installed and how it is working at the moment.
Whether it is more stable than Ubuntu is something that time will tell.