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Technical Blog of Richard Hughes - Moving from Fedora to Ubuntu

Richard Hughes
Date: 2006-10-19 15:18
Subject: Moving from Fedora to Ubuntu
Security: Public
With a little regret, I'm writing this blog entry. These are my opinions only.

Ever since I've been a Linux user (and now developer) I've stuck with Redhat and Fedora.
Back in 2002 I was happily using Redhat 8.0, then 9, then FC1, FC2, FC3, FC4, FC5 as each were released.

I don't tend to install "distro-of-the-month" as Fedora always did what I needed.
Recently, Fedora has been annoying me (yes, I know some have solutions).
  • YUM, pirut and yum-updatesd seem to want to fight with each other all the time. This stuff should just work but the interaction seems very immature.
  • It's a pain in the arse to use proprietary drivers (some hardware you don't get to choose).
  • Sometimes I need to access NTFS stuff on my windows partition.
  • Fedora Extras is growing all the time, but it is still no match to the packagers of debian.
  • A single broken rpm/yum transaction hoses my entire system.
  • Mirror balancing never worked, and often the yum update would just fail or worse, hang.
  • I was compiling kernel.org kernels by hand to get all my hardware working.
  • Upgrading from stable version to stable version / rawhide using yum sometimes breaks horribly.
So I gave Ubuntu Edgy 2 weeks on my new laptop, vowing to return to Fedora if I found I couldn't do certain things.

Things that have been great:
  • Hardware that just works, or that works correctly after installing firmware.
  • apt-get, it's faster that yum and seems to just work, Plus no meta-data downloading just to install one quick package.
  • NTFS volumes that work out of the box.
  • No arguing over what belongs in extras and core.
  • One CD installer, that doubles as a live CD. This is amazing.
  • The concept of soft-deps, i.e. where a package can "suggest" another but not depend on it. Very sane IMO.
  • Ability to install modified DSDT easily without hacking the kernel.
  • More random oddball packages (that I need for Uni) than in extras.
  • Less licence hassle. Yup, enable the multiverse and restricted repo, and done.
  • Synaptic. It's so much more mature than pirut. And it's easy and quick to use.
  • Community response. I've got better response from Ubuntu dev's in launchpad than I did in Redhat bugzilla.
  • Sane menus. I want to see Firefox and Evolution in my menus rather than "Web browser" and "Email"
  • Boot speed. Not sure what the Ubuntu guys have done, but it's 4 seconds quicker to get me to the login window.
Things that have been less great:
  • Less patches tend to go upstream from Ubuntu than Fedora in my opinion.
  • Compiling a .deb seems very complicated to me compared to a .rpm.
  • No compiz support out of the box.
  • The horror of xorg.conf is back. Fedora seemed to detect stuff automatically which is more sane.
  • No root user. Not sure this is a good thing or a bad thing. sudo seems to do what I want.
  • The grub screen is hideous compared to the Fedora boot artwork. (bug filed)
  • The Ubuntu shutdown is slower by one second.
So, after a couple of weeks, I can't imagine going back to Fedora, which is a little bit worrying.
Don't get this wrong, I love Fedora and think Redhat as a company are great, but I think Ubuntu is more the distro for me at the moment.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 15:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Don't feel so bad about switching distro, it is not like you are cheating on your wife... :)
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 16:14 (UTC)
Subject: What's so bad about cheating?
What's so bad about cheating? Nobody needs to know ...
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 16:12 (UTC)
Subject: Real men use Gentoo...
If you need to recompile most of the packages yourself, try out Gentoo.. it's overlay system makes managing custom stuff almost painless...
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Richard Hughes
User: hughsient
Date: 2006-10-19 16:52 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Real men use Gentoo...
I'm not sure I've ever heard the words gentoo and painless in the same sentance before. :-)
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 16:21 (UTC)
Subject: Nice
It's always good to test other distros, it helps put things in perspective.
Good news that's you've found one that suits you best. One size does not fit all.
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Дюкарь
User: duke_igthorn
Date: 2006-10-19 16:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Amazing! Absolutely same story! Full RedHat career (from 5.0 though). And finally installed Ubuntu on both my machines, 2 months ago.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 16:27 (UTC)
Subject: ubuntu
# Boot speed. Not sure what the Ubuntu guys have done, but it's 4 seconds quicker to get me to the login window.

Ubuntu just replaced the old sysV init by a new tool called upstart:
http://upstart.ubuntu.com/

upstart could explain a faster boot but as of now it is mostly running the sysV scripts in a backward compatibility mode so the gain is not always noticeable.

Another possibility could be that you are simply running less services.

# The Ubuntu shutdown is slower by one second.

You still win by 3s in total :-)
But once again, at some point in time, upstart is expected to become faster than the old init.

# No root user. Not sure this is a good thing or a bad thing. sudo seems to do what I want.

That's easy to fix. Just use 'sudo passwd' to set a root passord.
By the way, you can get an interactive root shell with 'sudo -i'

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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 17:02 (UTC)
Subject: Re: ubuntu
> That's easy to fix. Just use 'sudo passwd' to set a root passord.
> By the way, you can get an interactive root shell with 'sudo -i'

An alternative method to become root without seting root password is typing 'sudo su-'.

BR.
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Re: ubuntu - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: ubuntu - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: ubuntu - (Anonymous) Expand
Ben: tux
User: simplisticton
Date: 2006-10-19 16:28 (UTC)
Subject: I switched too...
Keyword:tux
I switched from Fedora to Ubuntu when Dapper came out. I was getting tired of fighting with Fedora to get things working "just so" with every release (sadly, proprietary kernel modules were a major driver (pun intended)).

In my opinion, Fedora is a terrific distribution for people who like to tinker, and Ubuntu is great for those of us who just need our machines to work consistently. I used to be firmly in the tinker crowd, but as I've become totally reliant on my Linux desktop for everyday tasks, I've needed a system I can rely on. The fact that Dapper has five years of long-term support was what made the switch a no-brainer for me.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 16:36 (UTC)
Subject: Compiling packages
Recompiling existing packages is insanely easy:

apt-get source foo
cd foo-version
...make any changes you want, or even none...
dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot

(Make sure to have build-essential, dpkg-dev and fakeroot installed)
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 16:51 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Compiling packages
Yes, that is what I've been using for small changes, but for new versions and packages like HAL you really need a new buildroot. It will just take some getting used to :-)
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 16:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think you've gotten just about everything just about right (except you go waaay too easy on yum), I only wanted to comment on this one:

> Less patches tend to go upstream from Ubuntu than Fedora in my opinion.

While that is probably true, it is hard to beat Fedora, that is *very* good at this and have been doing it for years. Good thing! :) That said, Ubuntu's whole organization is built around the concept that *everything* should go back upstream (if upstream wants it), with every bug and patch forwarded to appropriate places. So I wonder what you feel is held back? If nothing is held back, then I suppose it's just the issue that Fedora may be fixing more things... :) There's also some things that upstream is welcome to take at any time, but don't want until it has proven itself, like upstart.

Welcome to a better world. :)
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Richard Hughes
User: hughsient
Date: 2006-10-19 16:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
> with every bug and patch forwarded to appropriate places.

I have to take argument with this one. As author of gnome-power-manager I have to trawl through the ubuntu diff every few months looking for "the good ones" - an issue I've raised loudly in the past.

Richard.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 17:52 (UTC)
Subject: interesting
Really interesting to read because i'm on the way withershins.
My plan is to switch from Ubuntu Dapper to FC6 if it is released.

So for me, your review of Fedora is interesting.

>* YUM, pirut and yum-updatesd seem to want to fight with each other all the time. This stuff should just work but the interaction seems very immature.

This is also my concern. The whole debian system (deb, dpkg, apt-get) is really mature and works well and fast.

>* It's a pain in the arse to use proprietary drivers (some hardware you don't get to choose).

This is for me an advantage of Fedora. I want a 100% Free Software Distribution and not a distribution which installs non-free blobs even without asking me.

>* Fedora Extras is growing all the time, but it is still no match to the packagers of debian.

right, i already know some packages i will not find in Fedora (even not in the third party repositories). For example offlineimap.

>* Upgrading from stable version to stable version / rawhide using yum sometimes breaks horribly.

Upgrading Debian/Ubuntu systems is one of the greatest and easiest things. And i will definitely miss it.


So yes, some of your points are right. But i have to say that my experience with Dapper was that "Ubuntu-GNOME" was one of the worst GNOME i have ever used. This together with my requirement to have a 100% Free Software distribution will lead me to Fedora Core 6 if it is released, at least for a test.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 19:57 (UTC)
Subject: Re: interesting
What non-free blob is installed in Ubuntu?
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Re: interesting - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: interesting - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: interesting - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: interesting - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: interesting - (Anonymous) Expand
halfline
User: halfline
Date: 2006-10-19 18:00 (UTC)
Subject: grr
You'll definitely be missed in the Fedora Community and by Red Hat.
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Richard Hughes
User: hughsient
Date: 2006-10-19 19:11 (UTC)
Subject: Re: grr
Cheers. I'm still subscribed the m/l, so I can put in my opinion where required ;-) And I still run FC5 on my server, so still expect bugs.
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Re: grr - (Anonymous) Expand
User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 18:02 (UTC)
Subject: It's a hype
I bet you'll go back to Fedora eventually.
I had similar experience few months ago, I was like wow Ubuntu kicks Fedora ass ! But then after using Ubuntu for a few weeks I came crawling back to Fedora.

It's just I feel at home on Fedora...
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 22:13 (UTC)
Subject: Re: It's a hype
Your reasoning for it being hype is that Fedora "feels like home"? How about, I don't know, some actual facts?

Try supporting a group of users with laptops with all kinds of strange hardware. Try it with Fedora first, and then Ubuntu, and tell me it's hype.
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ant33060
User: ant33060
Date: 2006-10-19 18:09 (UTC)
Subject: Mirror use
# Mirror balancing never worked, and often the yum update would just fail or worse, hang.

You should check out metalink (http://www.metalinker.org). It's not used for FC or Ubuntu yet (except for ISOs downloads, where it is great - see http://metalink.packages.ro/), but is being added for Arch Linux.
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User: skvidal
Date: 2006-10-20 04:44 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Mirror use
You should try out the mirroring mechanism we put together for FC6.
We check through the mirrors every hour to see who is in-sync with the master and then the cgi that is the 'mirrorlist=' in your yum.repos.d/*.repo files returns a list of mirrors closest to you based on GeoIP results.

It's worked quite well from what we've seen thus far and it should solve the problem of 20 mirrors and 10 of them are out of sync.

-sv
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 18:29 (UTC)
Subject: bug number?
>The grub screen is hideous compared to the Fedora boot artwork. (bug filed)

can please you provide the bug number ? :)
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Richard Hughes
User: hughsient
Date: 2006-10-19 19:09 (UTC)
Subject: Re: bug number?
Ahh, you are right. I tried to report it a few days but got "grub does not use Malone as its bug tracker" and so gave up. It's sitting as a tomboy note on my desktop right now.
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Re: bug number? - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: bug number? - (Anonymous) Expand
User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 19:35 (UTC)
Subject: As for the sudo thing...
you can easily enable root on Ubuntu. Just type `sudo passwd` and give him a password. The you can login as root, as usual.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 19:43 (UTC)
Subject: Re: As for the sudo thing...
...but you really shouldn't ever need to. Only people who for some reason wants to remember two separate passwords ever do that (or, if they use they same password, then they are really really scary).

You can use any combination of sudo bash, sudo nautilus, and sudo -i to do the exact same thing as su [root].

sudo is just better.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-19 20:12 (UTC)
Subject: Seth would be hurt!
Package Management is certainly why I never looked back (though I'm on a Fedora system at this moment, Ubuntu is currently downloading for the same reasons that you state). Anyway, don't let Seth (creator of Yum) see this or he will hunt you down for switching over to the Devil.

I'm anonymous for a reason. I don't want him hunting me down either!
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Richard Hughes
User: hughsient
Date: 2006-10-19 20:27 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Seth would be hurt!
I don't care! I would tell Seth what the problems are, and how it compares with apt. :-) Nowadays, a distro is identified by it's packages, so I don't he should take my switching as an insult.
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Hubert Figuiere
User: hub_
Date: 2006-10-21 02:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
putting aside the copyight violation. the users have MORE power to act against the manufacturer than the developer. Too bad AMD will lose a lot in the mean time...
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-20 00:59 (UTC)
Subject: Opposite change for me
Until around five months ago, I was an Ubuntu user and before that a Debian user. I think that the dpkg/apt package manager makes things very easy, which I've always liked. However, yum isn't that much worse in my limited experience. It's much slower (which is supposed to be fixed in FC6), but it solves the "dependency hell" problems that were historically associated with rpm based systems. I haven't yet tried to do a system update with yum, but I know from several years of experience that problems can arise with system upgrades with apt as well. My system got borked while upgrading from Breezy to Dapper, which is what prompted me to try other distros out.

Things that have made me a Fedora fan:

- Besides the fact that you need 5 disks, the install is better with offering great organization for different packages and categories - I found it easier to get what I want during install.
- SELinux by default (which takes a bit of getting used)
- The menu organization is not terribly different, but I find it better (system -> administration, for example is better)
- On my 1Ghz system, it seems to be more snappy in general. Maybe it's different compilation options or better caching
- Overall seems like there's more polish
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-20 01:02 (UTC)
Subject: We all win
I got all excited reading this blog entry and through the comments. There's so much competitive spirit and so many specifics about where problems lie that it just shows that both Fedora and Ubuntu are pretty damn good in their own ways and that the bar of quality has been raised, challenges are being laid down and inevitably, as the open source world has proved time and time again, things will get much better for all of us as a result of these ongoing discussions. It'll add some fuel to the fire that propels us quickly towards the kind of quality found in commercial desktop operating systems. Keep it coming.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-20 10:19 (UTC)
Subject: speed up ubuntu more
sudo apt-get install preload prelink
sudo sed -ie 's/unknown/yes/' /etc/default/prelink
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-21 03:30 (UTC)
Subject: my story exactly
i was on redhat 6.0 onwards as my exclusive desktop (no windows at home or work)...

always loved the early gnome days.

but after 12 months on ubuntu i'm loving it.

it just seems more bleeding edge, more packages options.

sure i've spent countless hours building apps from source but i just need good packages.

and i love the ubuntu philosophy and vibe.

still respect redhat though.

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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-23 03:19 (UTC)
Subject: Synaptic on Fedora
Synaptic is available for Fedora too (in the Fedora Extras). In fact, it's what I use. :-)
-- Kevin Kofler
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-10-30 09:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
# No compiz support out of the box.

I installed edgy in my laptop. It has an intel embedded graphics controller; I added beryl-project repos, installed two (2) packages, then without even rebooting launched beryl-manager, that was all i needed to have a beautiful desktop. AWESOME.

# The horror of xorg.conf is back. Fedora seemed to detect stuff automatically which is more sane.

As I mentioned, no xorg problems for me....

# No root user. Not sure this is a good thing or a bad thing. sudo seems to do what I want.

trick: if you want a root terminal, open a terminal and type "sudo su". that's it. or install the root terminal package :)

# The grub screen is hideous compared to the Fedora boot artwork. (bug filed)
agreed...

# The Ubuntu shutdown is slower by one second.
at least it is faster than previous versions :)
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-11-10 07:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

It's a pain in the arse to use proprietary drivers (some hardware you don't get to choose).


The solution to that is to put *all* that pain where it belongs: on the hardware vendor. You're their customer. Tell them how much of a pain in the arse they are causing, and that you want them to do whatever they have to do to get their driver into the kernel.

All the instructions they need are in the kernel's 'Documentation/HOWTO' file.

You are the customer. You, and hundreds others like you, have far more clout with the vendor than the distribution developers. It's up to you, not them.

Anything else is not going to solve the problem, but exacerbate it.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-11-17 09:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Problem with those drives is:

*exaggerated*
There are 2 million people using Linux
There are 3-4 billion people using Windows

So why should i (as hardware producer) change something??? Look at *my* substantial gains....

Just my 2 cents
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-12-12 14:40 (UTC)
Subject: Enabling the root user.
It's just at matter of that the password isn't set for the root user type.

sudo su -
- so you become root, then just type

passwd

- and then type your root-password.

After that you should be able to log in as root, at least doing an "su -" the normal way.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-12-15 14:51 (UTC)
Subject: Keep up this great resource.
I have enjoyed visiting this site many times over. So many wonderful works of art to see !
Thanks))))

look.... http://lovmusic.theblogaddict.com
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