My Take On Fedora Core 6

As regular readers will know, I've always been a steadfast RedHat supporter. In my mind, they polished Linux into something a methodical system administrator could use, instead of leaving it as a hobbyist-driven jumble of disparate software, a CTD nightmare like Gentoo or a self-perpetuating (or self-stifling) ideological nightmare like Debian.

But I must confess I'm finding the latest Fedora Core 6 to be more than a bit annoying. It's stable, polished, up-to-date for sure, but it is still a pain for me, and here are my reasons why:

First off, yum has to go. I know my way around RPMs (I've build dozens of them for many different systems), but yum is a piece of useless, slow, bloated crud that makes it a chore to update and maintain systems.

I absolutely loathe the way it persists in fiddling around with package indexes (and yes, I know how to enable caching), the small eternities it takes to figure out dependencies, and can't for the life of me figure out why people keep flogging a dead horse when apt has been shown to work perfectly for RPMs as well.

I wish they'd get rid of it. Print out the source code, burn it in a bonfire in the midst of dancing dervishes, wipe out every single version of it from source control, expunge its man page, the whole voodoo routine (I hope it becomes proprietary software - it should be enough for it to be dropped, and for its quality to be considered "normal").

For me, the straw that broke the camel's back was when I had to update a fresh Core 6 install on a 2GHz Dual Core test server and it took hours, most of which spent doing nothing of consequence.

My second gripe has to do with the extremely poor laptop support. It's not just the power management (I'm used to Linux's flakiness in that, and at least I'm not in denial like the "it works fine for me" Zealots).

No, it's the way Fedora requires you to jump through idiotic hoops just to get a Wi-Fi card, my laptop special keys or a Bluetooth module working in this day and age - putting on my "user hat", I don't care about philosophical discussions regarding licensing. Ubuntu shipped with all I needed to get onine right away, and if the Fedora purists disagree with bundling the required packages, they could at least provide a decent post-install wizard to fetch them from the extras repository automatically.

And the same goes for my third gripe, funky "we know better" multimedia support. Forget about proprietary codecs, I'm talking about stuff like Firefox being unable to set up Flash on its own unless you run it as root - which is plain stupid, considering that the Ubuntu Firefox version did things the "right way" without any manual tweaking).

Finally, my fourth gripe has to do with SELinux. Yes, that hideous beast.

I know that the policy management tools are improving, but what we really need are better monitoring (if not debugging) tools that will make it a lot easier to figure out why service so-and-so won't work properly with it enabled.

Partial failures are the worst, because you spend hours trying to figure out why some service failed to respond in an apparently random fashion or in response to some specific user request (as is pretty common when running sophisticated Apache setups).

For me, it would be great to be able to install and maintain Fedora on a laptop as fast, simply and efficiently as I've found I can do it with Ubuntu (i.e., with proper hardware support and a very responsive package manager).

Time will tell if they'll be able to deliver, but right now it's not looking good. I don't go in much for Ubuntu's "let's change the world" hype, but the fact remains that they've delivered something that works for me (on my laptop) right now.

Fortunately, CentOS is a great alternative for servers (even if there's occasionally need to re-package some more up-to-date RPMs for it).

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