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perrin (4270)

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Perrin is a contributor to various Perl-related projects like mod_perl, Template Toolkit, and Class::DBI. He is a frequent speaker at OSCON, YAPC, and ApacheCon, and a contributor to several perl-related books.

Journal of perrin (4270)

Wednesday January 05, 2005
01:57 PM

still looking for the perfect Linux distro

[ #22582 ]
After a total harddrive failure in my IBM ThinkPad (don't let anyone tell you IBM makes reliable laptops), I installed Ubuntu. Now I have Ubuntu at work and Fedora Core 3 at home. Ubuntu did a great job at recognizing hardware: found the bizarre wi-fi chip in the ThinkPad correctly and mounted an iPod automatically (both failed with FC3). However, it has no working mplayer package, even with all of the crazy "totally unsupported illegal software" repositories enabled. It was fairly tricky getting mp3 encoding to work in Sound Juicer too. There was one specific package that would do it, and no documentation about it except on some wiki page. My main problem with Ubuntu though is the lack of KDE. I run Gnome at work and KDE at home, and KDE is just better in many small ways. The extra integration and the handy support for using remote files via scp in any application are great. Gnome's attempts at these things just don't work as well.

I tried loading KDE packages from Debian, but they look awful and I don't know enough about the font issues to fix them without considerable effort. I also ran into problems with the X config. The auto-detection stuff at install time worked, but I couldn't find a way to run it again when I got a new monitor. FC3 has more obvious config tools.

On my FC3 system, KDE and Gnome both look great. The mp3 stuff had to be chased down, but it was a bit more obvious than with Ubuntu. Working mplayer (and kplayer) packages are available. However, hardware detection has problems. Besides the iPod and wifi issues, it also gives me annoying screens about hardware detection if I configure it to work with a USB printer and then turn that printer off sometimes, or configure a laptop to use a keyboard and then use it without the keyboard. Ubuntu doesn't have those issues.

So, I guess I just have to keep updating these things until one or the other gets it all right. I'm not inclined to do something crazy like go back to Slackware at this point, and Suse seems determined to make free versions of their distro impossible to find on their site. Any other suggestions?

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  • I've become spoiled by Mac OS X. There are a few quirks here and there, but everything "just works". I get the power of a real shell with the ease of use of Windows. They cost more, but if you don't mind that, it's a great trade-off.

  • You might try reporting your problems with FC3 to the developers. I've found the Fedora community to be fairly responsive. They're on such a quick release schedule that waiting for FC4 probably isn't out of the question.

    Overall I've been pretty happy with FC2 and FC3. Sure, I had to get my hands dirty to get my wifi card working but that didn't spoil it for me.


  • “Go back to Slackware” and “crazy” just don't belong in the same sentence. :-)
    • I liked it well enough back in the day, but none of my Linux friends use it anymore. It's still the coolest dist though, and it ran well on my Micron laptop 8 years ago!
      • I still use it on my home workstation and love it. :-) There are even add-on tools to do dependency tracking for packages if you want that, nowadays, but they're all third-party and none as slick as apt and friends. I run Debian on a server which is also occasionally a workstation; all the extra smarts annoy me as much as they please me. With FC it's an even more intense like/hate relationship.

        At the end of the day I prefer to settle for a little more manual work in exchange for less drama.

        I've been for

  • you didn't mention Mandrakelinux yet. With the PLF package sources, you'll get working mp3 encoders and mplayer packages with dvdcss enabled. And it's not that far from an FC3, except that urpmi is much more closer to apt in terms of functionality than yum.