Fedora and workstations (on Linux distributions for desktops)

July 8, 2009

Comments on the last entry brought up the question Fedora on desktops (what I call 'workstations' out of tradition), and in general the issue of what distribution to run on them. It's a good question and I can't claim exhaustive experience, but here's my views.

I run Fedora on my own desktop and, despite my gripes, it generally works and works well. I deal with the short support period partly by accepting that I'll lose a few days to upgrades every year (or every six months if I'm ambitious) and partly by running Fedora versions well beyond their end of life date and accepting the potential security risks with my eyes open.

(I only run beyond EOL on my own machines, which are single user and relatively locked down, with very little exposed. As far as bugs in things like Firefox are concerned, I am either very safe or very exposed no matter what, because I am still running a custom compiled Firefox from quite a few years ago.)

For all that I don't particularly like Ubuntu, I think that it's your best choice if once a year upgrades (or reinstalls) are still too much disruption. It has a great package selection, relatively recent software versions, and even the normal version is supported for 18 months. And you can move between regular and LTS versions as your needs for stability versus current software versions change, especially since Ubuntu has good release to release upgrades.

I wouldn't run RHEL/CentOS for desktops unless they were basically a captive environment that was used only or almost entirely to run known applications. As general use machines I'd be concerned about a limited package selection and about having rather old software versions (at least eventually, since RHEL releases seem to be happening at most once every two years).

Written on 08 July 2009.
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Last modified: Wed Jul 8 01:10:17 2009
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