As a follow-up on my previous entry, I decided to spend some time with Fedora Linux. Release 24 just got out, making me curious what the most recent offering has to offer (pun intended). Everyone knows Red Hat has a strong presence in the enterprise sector and everyone also knows that it has a somewhat negative reputation. Of course, in the long run this does not matter much, especially when one decides to go all hands on deck to land an IT job. CentOS is an extremely solid workstation/server operating system, rivaling even the notorious Red Hat. Their close cousin Fedora makes for a reasonable development and open-source software (OSS) promotion platform. Alas, because of Red Hat’s stigma, many a GNU/Linux user would rather chew on the logo, than actually use it…
In all fairness, I did use Fedora Linux in the past (version 21 and 22, respectively). Both were solid releases, though I would eventually hit a licensing roadblock. Problems with audio codecs (missing or broken), Adobe’s Flash plugin (why do websites even use this fossil?) and proprietary kernel modules. Fedora 24 is not much different in that regard. RPM Fusion had to be enabled manually as always and kmod-* packages oddly required a different kernel version than the one available from the main Fedora repositories. Thankfully, the akmods management utility aided me in fixing the Broadcom STA driver issue, though I got an extra useless (non-bootable) kernel in GRUB2 and the kernel module would anyhow not load properly on system boot. It would have been so much easier to provide just the kernel module sources and use akmods, dkms or any other such facility to compile the module for the currently used kernel. Who knows, maybe in the future!
Other than the random licensing fuss, which can be easily addressed with a csh shell script, Fedora 24 is a solid release. I was positively surprised to see both mplayer and mplayer-gui (Mplayer with GUI support), and a couple of other small tools and libraries. There is no csh per se, but tcsh can be installed from the main repositories. Coming from a FreeBSD background, I also expect quality documentation. The main wiki pages are well-written, similarly to the FreeBSD wiki. However, some key information is outdated or incomplete. On a positive note, what really surprised me was the Administrator’s Guide for each Fedora release. The way it covers GNU/Linux system management is incredible. It could easily pose as the main GNU/Linux resource, despite being written for the Red Hat line. Alas, there were some squabbles also. At some point I tried removing GNOME Network Manager to handle my wireless connections via wpa_supplicant only, though it proved futile. systemd integration in the Red Hat line is simply too deep (surprise, duh!). I guess one has to grit one’s teeth a bit and get on with one’s life.
To sum up, I am often amazed by how solid Fedora releases are. Ubuntu suffers from constant regressions, even in the most recent 16.04 LTS version (big letdown). This is somewhat hilarious, because Ubuntu is not bleeding edge at all! Contrary to that, Fedora has a lot of updates daily and just keeps on pumping quality. The focus on GUI applications is strong, though the command-line is still equally relevant to developers. Nevertheless, on servers, where Getting The Job Done is of paramount importance, I would rather see CentOS or Red Hat (or FreeBSD, though that’s quite obvious…).