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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Fri, 18 Jul 2014

One year, two months with Fedora this time around

I looked back in the archives and found out that I've been running Fedora on this particular laptop (HP Pavilion g6-2210us) for a year and two months.

Since this el-cheapo, about- AMD laptop is NOT a top-of-the-line Intel-running Thinkpad, it hasn't gotten anywhere near the same level of love from the Linux kernel and driver developers.

But things have gotten better and better over time. And excepting the relentlessly rolling Arch Linux, things improve more quickly in Fedora than anywhere else. New kernels, drivers and applications, for the most part, fly onto Fedora systems via regular updates.

In many ways, Fedora releases are "semi-rolling." I'm not exactly sure what parts of Fedora don't continually update in the middle of a release cycle other than desktop environments, but there are some components that do seem to wait for the next release. For instance, I needed libimobiledevice 1.1.6 so Linux would work better with my iOS 7-running iPod Touch (don't ask). However, it looks like Fedora 20 is sticking with 1.1.5. But 1.1.6 is right there for F21 and has been packaged for F20 by others, so it's all good.

On this laptop, I started with Fedora 18, quickly moved to F19 and then F20. All via Fedup. The Fedup utility itself is getting better with each release, though it can still be a bit rough.

While Radeon has improved by leaps since I started running Fedora on this hardwre, I still run the AMD Catalyst proprietary video driver because the laptop runs cooler and suspend/resume works with a modification to GRUB. Unfortunately the Catalyst driver disappeared from RPM Fusion in the Fedora 20 cycle.

After using AMD's installer for a while, I'm now running Catalyst in Fedora 20 with Fedora 19 packages. That bit of "just works" will unfortunately end when F19 goes EOL unless somebody who develops for RPM Fusion deigns to pick up the driver, which was dropped for F20 because the current maintainer was tired of doing it.

And even with Catalyst from AMD (or RPM Fusion's F19 repo), GNOME 3 won't start at all without modification. I skirt desktop death by running Xfce. Is anybody mad as hell? The fact that the level of outrage is way below the noise probably says more about Linux's slow death on the desktop that it does about core functionality (in my case suspend/resume) STILL being a pain in the ass to get working after so many years.

O freedom lovers who hate proprietary drivers, bring me working suspend/resume in Radeon on all "modern" AMD APUs and all will be forgiven. Sorry I didn't buy a Thinkpad.

Problems on the Linux desktop happen. Despite everything, I've been very happy with Fedora. Especially with Xfce. With the help of RPM Fusion and other savvy Fedora users, I've been able to run every kind of multimedia I want. Just about everything works most of the time. And despite the constant newness, things seem remarkably stable.

I love the Fedora community. There's really nothing else like it.

The relationship between the project and overlord Red Hat seems to work.

Despite their seeming non-use of the AMD Catalyst driver, Fedora users are desktop users. They care about the desktop experience. Fedora is chock-full of packages. For many users, staying in the RHEL/CentOS/RPM universe on the desktop makes a lot of sense.

I'm anxious to see what Fedora.next brings to the desktop. Right now I have no idea, but I'm curious. That's another thing keeping me around.

So let's see what's great about Fedora 21 ...

Why does the title of this post say 'This time around? I should have explained myself. When I first got my last laptop, the Lenovo G555 (also with an AMD CPU and GPU), the first distros I ran were Fedora 13 and 14 before the whole thing went pear-shaped and I turned to Debian for the rest of the machine's life of not quite three years.