For quite some people it seems if you use Fedora you are committing an open source sin; at best it seems as if there is no good reason to use it, or so has been my experience. Fedora is generally regarded as a test-bed for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and even though that is true to some extent, that’s not my perception.
My first serious distribution was Linux From Scratch, so I have thought quite a lot about how a Linux distribution should be. For me, it should have state-of-the-art technology, be developer-friendly, and stable.
The only real contenders so far have been: Ubuntu, Gentoo and Arch Linux.
Arch Linux is a great distribution; simple and useful. Unfortunately, it’s not very popular and that shows in it’s stability. Perhaps that has improved since the last time I tried, but I don’t have enough time nor motivation to try it again.
Gentoo might have been the next logical step away from LFS, but there’s a reason why I stopped doing my own distribution: I didn’t want to compile everything by myself. As far as Gentoo stays away of serious binary packages; it’s not an option.
That leads to Ubuntu. Yeah, it’s a great distribution and everybody loves it… I’m sorry but I don’t. The fact that it’s a desktop oriented distribution makes certain decisions as no-root quite annoying. Also not having any choice of the packages to install or different installation methods; I like to install Fedora with an USB key and download the packages over the network. It’s graphics-only installer also doesn’t play well with QEMU.
Those are quite annoying, but minor details. My biggest rant is the package management system.
I’m quite fond of the following RPM commands:
rpm -q --requires foo
rpm -q --provides foo
rpm -q --whatprovides foo
rpm -q --whatrequires foo
Note that “foo” can be a package, a file, or some identification string, like “perl(Error)”. That solves all the possible dependency querying needs you can have.
In contrast, a query of “dpkg -S /etc/localtime” returns nothing on a debian system, or at least the one I have at hand.
There are other annoying details like “apt-get install” and “apt-cache search”; why do I need to know which one to use in which situations? “yum install” and “yum search” are much friendlier.
Finally, there are some common miss-conceptions regarding Fedora:
- The “dependency-hell” still exists; that’s not true thanks to yum.
- It’s unstable by nature since it’s RHEL’s test-bed; not true, there’s Fedora development, testing and stable.
Despite having bleeding-edge technologies Fedora is always quite stable, and very often they choose new technologies that are aligned to exactly what I would have chosen if I was still doing my own LFS.
It’s not perfect but I don’t see any better option.
Do you have any recommendation?