Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekend fun

Ha! I had some more Linux fun over the weekend. On Saturday I wiped my two machines and put Lubuntu on. Although Ubuntu was pretty smooth... it had a lot of "features" that I just didn't want.

So I played with Lubuntu for the rest of the day. It's big feature is that it's light weight. It runs LXDE and has very little overhead when compared to other distributions. It is pretty plain. But, I've never viewed eye candy as being that important. I like functionality and efficiency. So that made LXDE pretty appealing.

After messing around most of the day I had things set up pretty well. That's when I started thinking about Fedora. Not only are there different flavors of Ubuntu, there are also different "spins" of Fedora. And there is an LXDE version of Fedora. In theory it should be fairly similar to Lubuntu.

That's when it occurred to me that there was no reason why my two machines needed to be running the same distribution. So I proceeded to wipe my laptop and put the LXDE spin of Fedora 19 on it. I figured that it would very similar to Lubuntu.

Well... it was similar but different. I would say that the installation program for Lubuntu (which is essentially the same as for Ubuntu) is better. But it was really no problem.

One of the primary differences between Fedora and the Ubuntu derivatives is that Ubuntu derivatives use the Debian package system and Fedora uses RPM (from the original Red Hat). Shortly after I installed Fedora I ran into an installation issue with the VirtualBox application. It makes use of custom kernel modules. This was no problem at all for Ubuntu and such. But in Fedora the installation process for VirtualBox errored out with some cryptic errors regarding kernel header source.

Come to find out... Fedora updates that I had run earlier updated the version of the kernel. But because I hadn't rebooted, the installation process for VirtualBox was looking for the old version of the kernel source, causing the problem. Not a big deal. Once I rebooted, all went well. But it was an illustration of differences regarding ease of use.

It didn't take long for me to realize that Fedora was a different beast. There are a number of things that I typically get working when I initially do a Linux installation. I've had a lot of practice doing them lately. And with Fedora many of those were more difficult to achieve than they should have been. Things that just should have worked didn't. So because of that I decided against continuing on with Fedora.

In spite of the article I had read on ZDNet about Fedora being for people who "knew" Linux... I think I'd rather use a distribution that I don't have to work so hard at. In the exploration of why things weren't working properly, I ran across bug reports explaining that a number of these things were known issues. That didn't leave a good taste in my mouth.

I also ran across threads in the developer's forum that indicated discord among the team with regards to the direction Fedora will take into the future. Now I'm sure all open source projects experience that to a certain extent. But reading it did not give me a lot of confidence. With Ubuntu the deal is about their recent focus on mobile devices and touch screens. A case could be made that they are losing their focus and diverting their resources away from desktop Linux.

At any rate... I figured what the heck... and on Sunday morning I wiped both my systems and installed Xubuntu. This is also somewhat light weight flavor of Ubuntu like Lubuntu. But a little better in the departments of visual appeal and functionality. It uses the Xfce desktop environment.

The Xfce environment appears to be a bit more integrated than LXDE. More of a complete experience. So far I really like it. And I have both machines completely set up and purring.

I think Xubuntu is where I will stay for awhile. Time to relax and enjoy.