First Thoughts on Fedora 7

So as I said, I installed Fedora 7 and that I’d complain later. Well I installed F7 on a decent box to play with Kerberos, SELinux, LDAP, to give Fedora a shot to see what it’s like on the other side of the fence and to play with stuff like Evolution and a load of other apps which I’ve never given a chance (Evolution irritates me for a number of reasons so I’ve never used it properly). Fedora are doing some cool stuff and I’d like to familiarise myself with some of the stuff that would be useful at work and useful in the future. Besides I think Red Hat are putting together a fearsome stack of middleware, which doesn’t mean so much to me at the moment, but maybe it should and maybe it will in the future.

It seems like a really nice desktop and the theme is great, though I thought the FC6 theme was nicer. I took the tougher path by leaving SELinux in enforcing mode and it hasn’t been a problem yet apart from when it wouldn’t let kadmind, the Kerberos admin daemon touch it’s own log file and after a bit of dithering, I took the SELinux Troubleshooter’s advice and ran restorecon -v /var/log/kadmind.log which solved the problem, guess I should look at what that actually does and whether it’s a bad thing from a security point of view.

A few things I noticed about Fedora:

  • No graphical package manager, or none that I can find.

Why not? Ok, well maybe I missed it out in the installer, I picked all of my own packages. Most people including me know that I can use yum or install synaptic or whatever else the Fedora people use, but well that means people who are new to Linux won’t have a clue what to do to install stuff. Most people don’t know how to search google in way that gets them a specific technical answer, such as how to install software on Fedora. It’s only one thing, but I think this might be among the reasons why Ubuntu seems to be getting more of the new users. Aside from getting it’s name in the headlines and into people’s heads, these things are easy straight off in Ubuntu. Maybe grabbing new users isn’t part of Fedora’s primary objectives, but it ought to be. New Linux users mean mind share, exposure, community and developers and contributors of the future.

  • The fonts don’t look as good as Ubuntu.

Don’t know why that is, they appear to use the same font and the same rendering scheme. It’s a trivial issue but one that bugs me.

  • Gnome starts fast as hell.

Almost immediately after login, I have a desktop. Unbelievable. No splash screen or anything.

  • No installer CD iso

DVD or a Live CD only. This isn’t a biggie but it took a few mins to figure out. On my designated flaky client machines for my Kerberos etc test setup, they only have 256MB RAM, a 2GHz Celeron and a CD drive, no DVD drive, the Live CD craaaaaaaaawls, I’m talking 20-30 seconds for the next step to load from the CD after clicking the Next button. This might be a flaky CD drive though. The installer makes me initialise the swap partition immediately after creation, which is cool by me but later on, the system froze (flaky hardware I suspect) and so I decided to enable the swap partition as soon as I could after the Live CD booted to make the system more responsive, but then the installer kept bailing saying that my swap partition hasn’t been initialized and that I should click OK to reboot, which I dutifully did and left the machine to reboot. Three apparent reboots and 3 aborted installs later and the installer is still saying the same thing, so now I come to the conclusion that clicking OK to reboot isn’t making the machine reboot, so I’ll have to struggle on with no swap and imagine what I could have done with my wasted evening had the machine rebooted when I clicked OK, as the label suggested.

I should abandon my flaky hardware and just use it as an opportunity to try Xen virtual machines as my client machines, but I want to try out real physically networked hardware to make sure my thing is working as I expect, rather than being some fluke which is down to the fact that things are working by being on the same physical machine. I want the packets to go across the wires. I also don’t want to have to learn too many new subjects as once, which might mean I start to forget details as it all merges into one. It also means I won’t fall into the trap where if something doesn’t work I don’t have to dig into several software stacks that I don’t understand to see which one is causing the issue.

  • Fedora has some great GUI tools which make fiddly things simple.

Like switching MTA without having to fiddle with the alternatives command. I did that once for a self-compiled Exim install on FC4 and it was a pain in the ass. Like having an authentication configuration tool to turn on stuff like Kerberos and LDAP authentication. Like GUI tools to manage DNS, Apache and NFS (though I prefer the raw config files for each of these). Fedora make some of the more complicated stuff easy. No more fiddling with PAM, though I will be doing things the hard way. I could at least do it the easy way and then see what the config files look like afterwards.

  • With a little knowledge, Fedora isn’t as package shallow as it might seem

The one thing that has always bugged me about almost every non-Debian based distribution is the package manager and the depth of the repositories. Hand’s down apt and .debs push yum and .rpms into the ground, but yum is usable. It’s a bit irritating how it updates the package lists every time you touch it, but yum is ok. It’s the depth of the repositories that bugs me more. On Debian and Ubuntu (with Universe) you have around 19,000 packages. On Fedora you have a few thousand and that doesn’t include a lot of the things I want in my repositories. It seems that Fedora has quite a few 3rd party repos, such atrpms, thatfleminggent (formerly Enlartenment), livna, dag wieers and so on, you just have to know about them and then work out how to set them up. Once you’ve done it then you’re cool, but it’s still an irritation that you have to trust 3rd party packages, albeit well respected ones. The thing is though, I’ve found that the 3rd party repos tend to install their packages over the official ones where they overlap when you update and in some cases cause dependency problems, so you either have to install what you want and then disable the 3rd party repos and track 3rd party updates for sensitive packages or just live with a mixed system and sometimes broken dependency situation. Maybe I’m just a crap Fedora user.

  • Fedora machines never seem to power down

I’ve never seen one power off and I have 50 at work. They always seem to say they have powered off but don’t. The first version of Ubuntu, Warty, did this, the second, Breezy didn’t. Thats around 2 years ago. Debian hasn’t done this as long as I have used it (Potato was my first I think) and people say Debian is behind the times. Maybe this is a kernel patch that Fedora doesn’t ship for ideological reasons. I don’t know but it gets on my nerves.

Note to Fedora/RH users before they start blowing flames into my comments: I’m happy to hear you tell me how I should be doing it this way rather than that way. Take these comments as coming from an Ubuntu desktop and Fedora/Red Hat/Centos CLI user. I’ve no recent experience of using Fedora as a desktop.

Well thats all for now, more when I’m not pissed off with waiting for a stupid ass machine to install all night.

4 thoughts on “First Thoughts on Fedora 7

  1. About the fonts, the default font on Fedora is sans, just like on Ubuntu I think. It seems to be the rendering or the lack of ‘de-uglification’ that is the problem. I haven’t checked whether the Liberation fonts are there, I’m sure they are.

    I mean to play with Fedora Directory Server too at some point, but last time I did it asked me too many questions that I didn’t know the answer to.

  2. Thanks for the comment re: “respected packager” (haha) – I do try not to touch the “core” packages and those that do should be reported to the repository maintainer (or just have them whacked ;-)). BTW – you forgot Matthias Saou over at, who inspired me to start up the enlartenment (now thatfleminggent) repo.

    In regards to GUI package managers – yumex is very capable and serves most needs well, being a nod to synaptic in style. It’s available in Extras / F7 proper, although not in the “Prime” DVD/CD spins. “yum install yumex” and you’re set.

    boot.iso in /images will allow you to boot off a CDROM and do an install off local HTTP/FTP/NFS shares. My dinky PII monitor box only has an old CDROM so this has been the standard procedure for some time 😉

    “poweroff” seems to work better in F7 than “shutdown -h now” for reasons unknown.

    Michael “Enlartenment.Com RPM maintainer” Fleming

  3. With regards to SELinux I have 1 word for you, audit2allow.
    This is a pre-emptive hint just in case you aren’t aware of audit2allow (like I wasn’t).

    I used to have a hell time with SELinux and used to turn it off, but I pretty much have tio use it at work now.

    That’s forced me to get off my butt and while I still don;t understand all of the concepts in detail enough to write my own policies, I have found that with audit2allow I can get stuff to work with the supplied Redhat policies.

Comments are closed.