My early impressions of Fedora 22, especially of DNF

June 30, 2015

I recently updated first my office laptop (which runs a relatively stock Cinnamon environment) and my office workstation (which runs my custom setup) to Fedora 22, both via my usual means of a yum-based upgrade instead of the officially supported FedUp mechanism. I feel kind of ambivalent about the results of this.

On the one hand, the upgrade was smooth in both cases and everything in both of my environments basically worked from the start. This is not always the case, especially in my custom setup; I'm used to having to fiddle things around after Fedora version upgrades in order to get audio or automatic removable media mounting or whatever working again. Instead everything pretty much just went, and nothing changed in my Cinnamon environment.

On the other hand, how can I say this gently: I have not been really impressed with Fedora 22's quality control. A number of things happened to me in and after the upgrade:

  • Fedora 22 appears to have shuffled around the /dev/disk/by-id names for disks in a way that broke automatic boot time importing of my ZFS pools until I imported them once by hand. I'm not entirely happy with this, but I am running an unsupported configuration.

  • systemd's networkd exhibited systemd's usual regard for its users by changing which of several IP addresses would be an interface's primary IP address. Apparently my hope was naive.

    (This is where some systemd person smugly observes that the order is not documented and so I deserve whatever I get here, including random decisions from boot to boot. See 'usual regard for its users', above.)

  • Fedora 22 has a broken rsyslog(d) that will casually and trivially dump core. Fortunately the code flaw is trivially fixable; it's a good thing that I know how to patch RPMs by hand. An update is coming out sometime, but apparently Fedora does not consider 'the syslog daemon dumps core' to be a high priority issue.

    (This feels like a facet of the great systemd thing about syslog.)

  • Fedora 22 now spews audit system messages all over your kernel logs by default, which is especially fun if you just got rsyslog working and would like to watch your kernel logs for important anomalies. I have so far disabled most of this with 'auditctl -e 0'; my long term fix is going to be adding 'audit=0' to the kernel command line. I wish I knew what changed in Fedora 22 to cause these messages to start showing up in my configuration, but, well, who knows.

    (I also modified my rsyslog configuration to divert those messages to another file, using a very brute force method because I was angry and in a hurry.)

  • I ran into a gcc 5.1.1 bug.

And then there's DNF, the Fedora 22 replacement for yum. Oh, DNF, what can I say about you.

I believe the Fedora and DNF people when they say that the internals of DNF are better than the internals of Yum. But it's equally clear to me that DNF is nowhere near as usable and polished as Yum and so it has a ton of irritations in day to day usage. My experience with DNF has it slow and balky and erratic as compared to the smooth and working Yum I'm used to, and I've been neither impressed nor enthused about the forced switch. From a user perspective, this is not an improvement, it's a whole bunch of regressions.

On top of that, it's pretty clear that no one has ever seriously used or tested the dnf 'local' plugin, which lets you keep a copy of all packages you install through DNF. I've used the equivalent Yum plugin for years so that I could roll back to older versions of packages if I needed to (ie, when a package 'improvement' has broken the new current version for me). The DNF version has a truly impressive collection of 'this thing doesn't work' bugs. I managed to get it sort of working by dint of being both fairly familiar with how this stuff works under the hood and willing to edit the DNF Python source, and even then it sometimes explodes.

(Many people may not care about this but I actually use yum quite frequently, so a balky, stalling, uninformative, and frustrating version of it is really irritating. Everything I do with DNF seems to take twice as long and be twice as irritating as it was with Yum.)

At this point some people will reasonably ask if upgrading to Fedora 22 was worth it. My current answer is 'yes, sort of, and it's not as if I have a choice here'. To run Fedora is to be on an upgrade treadmill, like it or not, and Fedora 22 does improve and modernize some things. All of this annoyance is just the price I periodically pay for running Fedora instead of any of the alternatives.

(And yes, I still prefer Fedora to Debian, Ubuntu, or FreeBSD.)

Comments on this page:

By liam at unc edu at 2015-07-01 11:58:23:

Why do you prefer Fedora over the alternative you list?

By cks at 2015-07-01 15:32:16:

I've written about Fedora versus Ubuntu for me on the desktop back in FedoraVsUbuntuDesktopView, which also discusses Debian by extension. My general views on FreeBSD versus Linux on the desktop are in FreeBSDvsLinux. I've become a bit more positive on FreeBSD since then due to things like discovering their quite nice init system, but not enough so to overcome the practical issues like clearly less support from software.

I didn't see any core dumping by rsyslogd, but I hit a couple of other bugs: -- Audit messages pollute the logs -- Logrotate is ineffective

Written on 30 June 2015.
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