Sunday, December 5, 2010

Distro Hopping

Ubuntu to Fedora to Suse to Ubuntu.  Wow.  Yes, that's what I recently did.

Driver Problems
I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) when it came available.  Not at any real fault of Canonical, my ATI card didn't work properly.  It seemed that there was some driver incompatibility there.  Every time I logged in, I had to play with the settings to enable the title bar and correct the resolution.  I searched for a solution but only found that the driver would be fixed soon.  Ha, whenever soon is.

The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side
I have always held a certain appreciation for Fedora.  I tried it in the past with the Fedora Core versions and liked the idea of "bleeding edge" software.  Fedora didn't seem to have issues with ATI cards so it seemed like a worthwhile pursuit.  I installed Fedora being wise to make a separate /home partition this time (Ubuntu, unfortunately, does not do that by default).  The graphics worked fine.  My hardware was recognized.  All seemed wonderful.  I even managed a full system upgrade from v13 (Goddard) to v14 (Laughlin).

Fedora seemed slow and complicated in comparison to Ubuntu.  Ubuntu seems to have so much more software readily available.  I cannot say if this is because of that Debian heritage or from the large user base.  I didn't care.  I like my applications.  I like easy to install packages.  RPMs worked.  I won't argue that.  Its just that I like a lot of them and I like a system that will really move.  (As a side note, I looked at Phoronix and didn't find anything conclusive for my purposes.)

Perhaps Chameleons Are Greener
openSUSE, as its correctly called, has also been an old favorite.  I wanted to try something new again.  It had been a while since I have give Suse a fair shake and figured this would be the perfect time.  I read through the side and the wiki pages.  I wanted to be more prepared than I was with Fedora.  I had to know that multimedia codecs would work and I would have plenty of program options.  The Build Service looked promising.  I searched for a few programs like the Firefox 4 Beta and found it in an RPM ready to go.  Wow, now that's awesome.  YaST looked helpful by providing a go to place for all the configuration options I'd possibly want.  Lastly, I decided I wanted to try KDE 4 again.  The last few times, it was pretty but bloated.

As the ongoing theme suggests, openSUSE didn't cut it either.  For starters, the Build Service didn't pan out.  I tried installing several programs through it with none of them actually installable.  YaST wasn't anymore helpful than the GNOME Control Center that can be enabled in other distros.  Software updates were slow.  I mean, real slow.  Updates in a newly installed Fedora or Ubuntu system take me half an hour at worst.  In Suse?  More than an hour, perhaps longer.  Even adding new repos was a slow and tedious process.  The only thing worse was trying to find an application to install.  Ubuntu's Software Center is well laid out and easy to find programs with Synaptic available for all the other packages.  In Suse, it appears everything is lumped together.

By the way, KDE 4 is still slow compared to GNOME.  I like the appearance of KDE better.  It looks sharp.  Its new and clean. GNOME is plain and simple without exactly being ugly.

Full Circle
Finally, I went back to Ubuntu, upgrading to 10.10 Maverick Meerkat in the process.  The graphics card driver issues had been resolved and installation went through beautifully with a pleasant surprise.  Ubuntu now installs all the updates plus the better part of needed codecs during installation if you tell it to.  Are there quirks?  Sure, I still have problems occasionally with enabling repositories and adding the keys but I can get passed that.  It runs pretty quickly with a decent start up time (last than a minute compared to almost two on openSUSE or Fedora).  The Ubuntu Software Center is neat and well laid out.  It works!