Ubuntu vs Fedora

My Linux workstation runs like a slug. I get stutters when editing source code in VI. So, it’s that “find a Linux to work with time” again… (Watch for certain fanboi comments, those of you who read on will find them quite amusing ;)

Our servers (and thus my Linux dev machine) were originally RedHat based. When RedHat split into RedHat (Commercial) and Fedora (Free), we pondered long (even renewed our RedHat contract) before deciding to move to Fedora.

Unfortunately, our “unless” case panned out to be true: Fedora is maintained by folks with an eye on the cutting edge of Linux development. That means no long term support for older versions, and in recent times. Fedora doesn’t even seem to do a reasonable job of maintaining the current version :(

A while back I polled you on possible desktops for my Linux systems, and Ubuntu came out strong. Our original sysadmin, James/Showkilr, recommended Gentoo when he left. A good idea if we had a full time sysadmin. Gentoo is basically a roll-your-own system that produces nicely optimized systems. Fortunately for us, the OS has very, very little impact on server performance/efficiency.

I gave Ubuntu a shot back then and it didn’t go so well for me.

So I downloaded Fedora Core 12.

Pass 1: Wouldn’t work under Virtual PC.

Pass 2: Grab Sun’s free Virtual Box. Windows 7 release works beautifully under my (about to expire) Windows 7 RC (I pre-ordered 7, why the hell haven’t I installed it yet???). But FC12 causes Virtual Box to blue screen.

Pass 3: Download VMWare Workstation free trial (I can’t find my license info so it may be a really ancient VMware that I bought). Fedora Core 12 finally installs, with a bunch of tinkering. Yay!

Sadly, FC12 from the release ISO has some issues, including the fact that the update path is broken. I found tons of people with the same issue, and the only solution is to upgrade to pre-release FC13!!!

Plus, FC12 just doesn’t feel clean.

So I decided to give the latest Ubuntu a shot for kicks.

All 3 virtual machine systems were happy with Ubuntu and when I came back from making dinner, I had four Ubuntus ready to go (one 64 bit under VMware).

From the offset, I was liking it. It’s not Windows 7 or OS X, it just doesn’t have that visual “zing” somehow. Like most Linux desktops, it just somehow lacks that bit of flare – things look flat and 2d.

Someone will chirp in that KDE (or insert name here) looks better. Yeah, KDE does look a bit more polished, but I find it to be needlessly complex and a performance hog. I want simple and zingy, thank you :)

I was intrigued when I noticed that Ubuntu comes with the cross-platform .NET system, Mono, installed. Infact, some of the fundamental desktop apps, such as Tomboy, are .NET apps! I’ll take C#/.NET over Java any day. For all that Java has going for it, I have just never liked Java. Sun’s licensing policy is partly to blame for that.

I was really pleased at how quickly I managed to get everything I’d need to use Ubuntu as a development machine at work installed. Fedora has been losing support in the form of software developers making Fedora specific bundles of their apps for a long time, so it was a real treat to be running a distribution where it feels like everything is bundled for it rather than ported.

Even with Star Trek Online and Battleground Europe running in the background, applications like CodeBlocks and Kdevelop were running more smoothly and usably than my poor, aged linux box at the office. (Although CodeBlocks is still at its best when running natively under Windows).

Those of you who’ve been reading my stuff for a while will know I have a fairly short tolerance for bedding down any new software/system. If you don’t take anything else away from torturing yourself with this wall of words, take this: I slipped into using Ubuntu, even inside it’s virtual machine.

Quite naturally, I tried building the server code under the virtual machine. No problems. And since I’ve recently made a CMake project, I even tried working with it under Kdevelop and CodeBlocks (I prefer codeblocks as an IDE because I’m familiar with it, but I was fairly pleased with Kdevelop – it just feels a little retro/chunky, like Visual Studio 4 or 5, and here I am toying with VS2010 under Win 7, sorry Kdevelop)

And then, for giggles, I shipped one of my Ubuntu-based server builds to our Fedora-based dev cluster at the office.

This is another nail in the coffin for Fedora, IMHO: The binaries I built under Ubuntu ran perfectly on the Fedora dev cluster. Actually, slightly better since they were even built with the latest GCC (4.4.3 vs 4.0.1); whereas I’ve always had problems getting binaries built under Fedora to run on anything but the same release and configuration of Fedora. And sure enough, the binaries I built under Fedora Core 12 don’t work on the dev cluster. They don’t even work on my experimental FC10 virtual box… *Sigh*.

I still don’t understand why anyone would choose a Linux desktop over an Microsoft or Mac offering, its like choosing ice cream over gelato because gelato tastes better.

And I’d pre-order Visual Studio for Linux in a heartbeat. Sure, I could probably use Cygwin or MinGW … and maybe one day I’ll bribe someone to come show me how to set it up so I can actually do the development under Windows, but for now that’s just a whole set of additional management overhead that I just can’t be bothered with.

So – Gophur is building me a new box for the office, which will probably wind up being the fastest box any of our devs has. I’ve asked him to put Win 7 64bit on it, and I’m going to run 32-bit Ubuntu in a VM.  And I’ve already asked Killer to look at replacing our Fedora-based installs with Ubuntu Server.

One thing I’m particularly liking about Ubuntu is that when I gave the test version of the upcoming next release, I was immediately hampered by all kinds of things being relocated and renamed, and Ubuntu specifies the lifetime for a given distribution upfront. With Fedora, how long a release will be supported is anyone’s guess — it seems to be the inverse of how broken the release is. People jump ship from the broken releases fast, meaning there are less people supporting them.

9 Comments

You can never have a too-fast computer.

One thing to watch/remember is that Ubuntu is debian based under the hood – so be careful if you go 64 bit as the implementations are rather different (though that might have changed inthe last couple of years)

Also with vmware if you “move” your VM then the MAC addr will change.

The short lifetime cycle of Fedora was what drove me away, now I’m trying CentOS on my development machine/raid server and apart from the very old system python (2.3) and difficulty of finding packages of obscure stuff, I’m pretty happy with it. And knowing I don’t have to deal with the upgrade crap until the machine needs to be retired anyway: priceless.

buy more ram.

i’m not a fan of ubuntu server at all. just something about ubuntu bothers me on the server side. idk, at any rate when i don’t feel like giving redhat money (most of the time) i use centOS since it is identical to RHES.

if for some reason i’m ever bored enough to run linux on a desktop/laptop idk what i would use. thank god im not that bored.

Hmm. Would love if you could figure out why :)

I’m not a Microsoft fan. But I’m not a Linux fan either, when it comes to the desktop. And I’m not an Apple fan, for that matter. Mac OS is the best-of-breed Unix desktop I’ve seen, but I think it only wins out over Windows if you happen not to be an established Windows user.

MacOS carries its single-button mouse legacy well, and that means things are laid out differently. There is right clicking, and there are context menus, but real Mac users are totally thrown when they can’t figure out how to get at the properties for My Computer because they can’t seem to get far enough down the icon chain to find properties. Whereas to a Windows user, MacOS is a hell of a lot of clicks to get stuff done.

And then there are Linux desktops.

W.
T.
F?

It all looks very simple and obvious when you have a clean distro install. A few menus with a few subcategories.

And then time passes. You install some stuff. You upgrade your distro. Some of the sub-menu names change. Some applications get moved between menus. Maybe a new menu appears. One probably dissapears. And it very quickly all falls apart.

Folks working on Linux desktops/window managers need to stop taking pride in how many people have downloaded the aqua + redmond themes. IT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT! Your UI has to be pretty terrible for most of your userbase to rush out and download a skin that makes it look as much like Windows 95 or 2000 as possible!

yeah i gave up caring about linux on the desktop years ago. it just isn’t ever going anywhere.

servers though … god i hate windows server and server apps.

Really? 2003 made me go “hmm” and 2008 go “ahh!”.

And now that things like “likewise-open” make Windows integration such a breeze, I’d have very few qualms with going for Windows for an Enterprise server, and that’s my lack of familiarity with Exchange.

But when I want a high-performance server, I’d still look to Unix. I still can’t believe that CCCP run their game on Windows servers – and most of all, Microsoft SQL server, roflamo.

you don’t want to be familiar with exchange. the windows world has some enterprise desktop management tools that are unrivaled but they weren’t always good, hell they weren’t even decent for a long time. specifically SMS is a fantastic yet extremely complicated piece of software but it was horrid before 2.0 and even then it wasn’t that good. 2003 is pretty solid though.

but yeah, i can’t think of anything high performance and or mission critical i would willing choose windows over linux.

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