So this week I did something unprecedented for me. I downloaded and installed a new Fedora release the same week it was released officially. After reading a bit about how stable and quick it is for others I decided to take the plunge. I’ve now installed it on three machines (in this order):
- My laptop, an older Toshiba Satellite system. Previously running Fedora 10 and dual booting with Windows XP.
- My home system, previously running Fedora 10.
- My work system, previously running Fedora 8 (see my earlier post on my experience with Fedora 9)
The install on my laptop would have made a Linux novice ditch Fedora completely and run screaming from it. The actual upgrade went smoothly. I booted up from the DVD and told it to upgrade my previous installation which it found with any problem, and update my boot loader config. The updating of the boot loader was a mistake. I rebooted the machine and “GRUB” was filling the screen as fast as the poor laptops GeForce4 chipset could pump it out. I booted the DVD again and chose rescue mode and re-installed grub. After that all was fine. It booted up and Xfce came up with my old desktop settings. Looked good, faster boot. I was a bit disappointed to not see any suspend or hibernate options, which was part of my decision to do my laptop first since these were included in the latest Xfce. More on that later, though.
I will say that it did take almost 5 hours to upgrade my laptop, but I kind of expected that since it is about 6 years old now.
The second system was my home system. Same process, and I even the same mistake with grub. My home system is quite a bit faster, and it only took about two hours to upgrade. I upgraded my home system the morning of the 11th. I only had about an hour or so to work with it before heading into the office that morning, but the upgrade itself seemed to be fine (once I finished kicking myself for having to fix the grub setup — again).
So, great, things appeared to go smoothly. Since I knew I would only be at the office for a few hours on Thursday and probably wouldn’t get much else done, so I decided to start the upgrade there, too. That and the fact that I like to be consistent at home and at the office — I’ve always been that way, it makes transitioning back and forth much easier for me. That one wasn’t so great. You can only upgrade to Fedora 11 from a fully updated Fedora 10. So, I upgrade from Fedora 8 to Fedora 10, do a ‘yum clean all’ and then a ‘yum update’, then boot from the Fedora 11 disk to do my upgrade. This time I finally got smart, though and told it to create a new bootloader configuration. No problems with grub on this install.
Thats where the successes ended. A bit of back story first.
As I mentioned earlier, I use Xfce now. Between KDE’s attempts to be like Windows Vista Aero and MacOS/X and Gnome’s brain dead window placement (though it has gotten better, it is still not good enough and you can’t change it) I chose to go with Xfce. Xfce is light-weight looks good and is well maintained. It stays out of my way, is configurable “enough” and I really like the Terminal and file manager (Thunar). It also plays pretty well with Gnome and KDE apps. It works exceptionally well with non-Gnome Gtk apps (i.e. Firefox and Thunderbird) since thats the toolkit it is written with.
The failures of Fedora 11. The most notable was the inclusion of Firefox 3.5 beta 4 and Thunderbird 3.0 beta 2. Its nice that they tried to include the latest and greatest, but it broke almost all of the extensions of both apps. The way that Mozilla tags extensions, you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get them re-installed. I haven’t even bothered with it yet, I’ve been too busy trying to get a stable Xfce again.
Something that I figured out yesterday was that after upgrading to Fedora 11 from Fedora 10, it didn’t actually upgrade everything. I had to do another “yum clean all” and “yum update” to download another GB of files before I was actually updated.
Now that my machines are all completely updated, I’ve discovered a few other issues. Notably, a bug was introduced into the Xfce Terminal. The option MiscAlwaysShowTabs if set to TRUE now causes the app to segfault on startup. I prefer to have that option enabled so my windows don’t resize when I open a new tab (major annoyance). Several of my custom keymappings also vanished or no longer worked.
If I had done a clean, fresh install it might have been different (except the Terminal segfault), but I’m just not happy with Fedora 11.
Thunar also doesn’t seem to support LUKS encrypted volumes, either. Patches were approved for adding that about 4 months ago. I’m thinking Fedora is racing to try to beat some other distro in having the cutting edge, and in that they seem to be succeeding, but for most people I’m sure its not worth the several days it will take to work around the quirks.
As I was writing this post, I was downloading the latest Xubuntu. I know of a lot of people that have switched to using Ubuntu for their desktop and are really impressed with it. I think its mostly because of the compositing, though. I may just end up re-installing today, we’ll see…