My current unhappy thoughts on Fedora 12

November 23, 2009

Right now, I have two machines (a 64-bit desktop and a 32-bit laptop) at Fedora 11 and one (another 64-bit desktop) that's still back at Fedora 8. Upgrading to Fedora 12 soon is the obvious thing to do, since there are drawbacks to waiting too long to upgrade (although this is not an issue if you use PreUpgrade or yum-based upgrades).

Except, well, I haven't been having the best of luck with Fedora 11. On my desktop, Flash has been broken for all of Fedora 11 (and the free alternatives don't work for me), and then sound stopped really working in the 2.6.30 kernels. On my laptop, wireless stopped working with the 2.6.30 kernels (I'm detecting a trend). It doesn't seem likely that upgrading to Fedora 12 will fix those problems, especially the kernel related ones.

(I have not bothered filing a bug for the sound issue, because my impression is that sound is a huge mess in Fedora right now and worse, it is partly a political mess. I've certainly seen Fedora bugs of 'my sound card stopped working' be answered with replies that boil down to 'well, that's what you get for buying a sound card from people who aren't open source friendly'.)

I would like to upgrade to Fedora 12; I generally like getting the new stuff (although not always), and it avoids various future issues. But upgrading doesn't seem like a wise decision right now, and I'm not convinced that it ever will be; I have no confidence that any of my issues will get solved over the lifetime of Fedora 12.

(My cynicism suggests that things that stay broken in kernels for more than a relatively short amount of time stay broken for good, because no one cares enough to try to fix them. I can't blame the kernel hackers; I certainly don't have enough energy to try to build stock kernels and git bisect my way to the changeset that broke wireless. Not on what is an old and slow system that, for now, works fine when I stick to an older Fedora 11 kernel.)

What this really leaves me nervous about is the further future. If these issues aren't fixed in Fedora 12, will they be fixed in Fedora 13, Fedora 14, and so on? The odds seem against this, and there's only so long I can run Fedora 10 and Fedora 11.

Sidebar: dealing with my Fedora 8 machine

This means that I should bite the bullet and do the odd thing of upgrading the Fedora 8 machine to Fedora 10. Yes, it's just about to go out of support, but I don't really have a choice; it's the most recent Fedora where Flash worked for me in a 64-bit environment.

Comments on this page:

From at 2009-11-23 05:54:16:

If it's that ruined why not bite the bullet and swap to a working distro? :)

(Just try a few different ones out and see what you [don't] like, perhaps)

From at 2009-11-23 09:05:10:

My T61 thinkpad worked very nicely with Fedora 10 but with 11 the wireless was basically broken and I had lots of problems with the installer which forced me to back everything up repartition the whole drive to what it would instal onto without crashing. Needless to say I didn't upgrade my main laptop from F10

I upgraded the thinkpad to F12 beta a couple of weeks ago and wifi is back working, the installer bugs are gone and generally its working very nicely. Upgrading my main laptop is a job for this weekend.

So yes F11 was a bit dodgy (and Paul Frields admitted as much) but F12 is (so far at least :) a vast improvement.

From at 2009-11-23 09:11:11:

I too had sound card issues when F11 first came out, but subsequent kernel updates fixed it. My machines are all 32-bit so maybe life is still better in that world, I guess I'll find out when I put together my new 64-bit machine. Have you tried running F12 in a VM to see if your problems persist in F12?

I can't speak for all of the Fedora Project, but in my experience working on Fedora, the group really does care about making things work. It doesn't hurt to file a Bugzilla report, and it might result in your problems being resolved.

If you do end up switching distros, I'd be interested to see what you switched to and how it stacks up against your Fedora experience.

Ben C

From at 2009-11-23 10:32:31:

I try to be pretty distro-agnostic, but it was issues with sound, wireless & suspend/hibernate on Thinkpads that pushed me from Fedora to Ubuntu. I'm still running RPM-based distros on our servers, so I'm not a Deb fanatic. But I too would be curious to see whether you saw improvements in any of these areas under Ubuntu.

I dragged my heels for quite a while & then was surprised at how painless the transition was . . . but I think in part that's because I wound up switching machines & was going to have to rebuild/reinstall a lot of stuff anyway. And there are still certain things I haven't gotten around to messing with (hello ffmpeg) so I don't know how they compare.

But on my main laptop, I'm either in a terminal window, a web browser, or Lotus Notes (and The Man provides .debs of Notes, so . . .) & having a machine where the sound, wireless & suspend all just basically worked felt pretty good. More than outweighed the cognitive irritation of having to remember how to use two different package-management systems. Mostly.

Ross Grady

From at 2009-11-23 14:34:49:

I have had great luck with PreUpgrade. I took a very old machine (Pent III 350 Mhz) that was running Fedora 10, and successfully used PreUpgrade to go straight to the new Fedora 12 (Constantine).

Earlier, I had gone from F10 to F11. Then lost the hard drive. So I reinstalled F10 from my own install media. Then using PreUpgrade, I went directly from Fedora 10 to the new Fedora 12. I ran into the /boot size issue where /boot is too small, unless you previously set /boot partition to a much larger size than is set with a stock install of Fedora 11.

My solution to the /boot problem, though risky, worked. After the machine was booted up, I moved everything out of /boot over to my home directory, then, keeping the machine running, I ran the preupgrade and everything worked just great. If for some reason, an early reboot occurred, well then I would just have to do a basic re-install of the Fedora 10 from my install media and then start over.

Carl G Louisville, KY

By cks at 2009-11-23 17:22:04:

Unfortunately, I can't think of a distribution I'm likely to like better than Fedora, especially on a 64-bit machine. I have lots of experience with Ubuntu to make me grumpy, for example, and I think that Debian made completely the wrong choices on multi-arch support in package management.

(And switching to a different distribution is a huge pain in the rear, since it is basically a migration to another machine without both of them being live at the same time.)

I'll have to try Fedora 12 in a VM to see if I can at least solve the Flash issues (and it would give me a completely stock test environment, which my existing 64-bit machines definitely aren't). My sound and wireless issues can't really be tested in a VM since they're hardware dependent, but I suppose once I have a F12 test environment I can see if the working F11 kernel can be used on it.

(Hmm. I am going to have to use rpmrebuild, aren't I, since Fedora purges old kernels from the updates area, and pre 2.6.30 kernels are now old.)

By cks at 2009-11-23 18:10:54:

A quick test shows that without sound, Flash works fine in a stock 64-bit Fedora 12, both the experimental Abode 64-bit plugin and the normal 32-bit one when wrapped. (Unfortunately my most handy VM environment doesn't have working sound at the moment.)

I suspect that my Fedora 11 environment is damaged somehow, but I'll have to do more testing.

By cks at 2009-11-24 12:18:59:

Two brief updates: first, I solved my Flash problem on Fedora 11. It was actually kind of embarrassing that I hadn't fixed it before now, in fact, given the solution was simple and easy to find.

Second, I have tested and I can use the current Fedora 11 kernel on Fedora 12 (after reconstructing it with rpmrebuild), although it requires also installing mkinitrd and fiddling around a bit.

The net result is that I now feel a bunch happier about the Fedora 12 upgrade situation and may actually go ahead with it sometime soon. (Certainly there is no longer a reason to upgrade my Fedora 8 machine only to Fedora 10; with working Flash, it can go to at least Fedora 11.)

Written on 23 November 2009.
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