Fedora

Opinion: Fedora Lacks an Update Policy

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I periodically check out Fedora Planet and today I noticed a big post by Josh Boyer entitled, "Why Fedora needs an Updates Policy". I left a medium-sized comment there that I decided to post here as well.

It is working pretty well without a policy... but that isn't to say that a policy isn't needed, because it would be good to have an update policy. I however like the rapid pace of updates and version churn in Fedora and I think the codification of an update policy would be slanted to always favor more conservative updates.

I like that Fedora updates KDE every time there is a new release from the KDE project. I like how I can get newer versions of things as they appear... and yes it will sometimes lead to breakage, but that was one of the charms of Fedora. On the other hand it seems that some packages are constantly updated, like every other week. That may be an exaggeration but sometimes it feels like that.

Ideally there would be a conservative updates repo and a newest-stuff repo... but I'm sure that would be more work than your already overworked group of Red Hat employees and Fedora volunteers would want to take on... and I don't blame them.

Given the rapid 6 month development cycle of Fedora and the limited lifespan of any given release... the better answer, if stability is the considern, would be to lengthen the development release cycle... but no one wants to do that, right? Another solution would be to have stated LTS releases every couple of releases, but again... that idea has been batted around several times and dismissed.

It seems many wish something would fall between the rapid development cycle of Fedora and the slow development cycle of RHEL. I don't see how that is going to happen.

Not having an update policy and the recent complaints about it will be something that is heavily criticized by those from other distros and the Linux press... but it doesn't mean that the system you have been working with and the decisions you have been making haven't been working well enough. Package makers are supposed to submit their stuff to testing, people are supposed to test and provide feedback, and only when a package is deemed sufficiently ready should it be considered. I think it is better to leave it up to the package maintainers themselves on what version of a piece of software they want to release... unless of course is an underlying package that disrupts things above it... and you have tried to address that by identifying core/critical packages and putting more rules on their being updated.

I would hope any update policy Fedora comes up with would retain the current flavor of Fedora with rapid and constant updates... rather than being stuck with older releases of things when upstream has fixed a lot of bugs and released newer versions with additional features. If you don't retain that quality then it will just encourage the development of yet more third-party repositories with newer software and just make an even bigger mess. This gets back to the seeming constant desire for Fedora to define itself and who it is targeting... and then potentially limiting itself to those more strictly defined goals. I for one like it fast and loose... but I'm just a user. :)


Fedora 12: Upgrading vs. Fresh Install

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I originally wrote this as a comment on LWN in response to a feature article Jon Corbet did entitled, "Between Fedora 12 and 13". It was basically Jon's review of his upgrade experience from Fedora 11 to Fedora 12 in which he claims that features don't matter, only the upgrade experience does. I felt compelled to comment.

- - - - -

I started writing a review of Fedora 12 a while ago but put it on the back burner as things came up... thinking the longer I wait to finish it, the more time I will have had with it... the more complete of a review I can do.

I don't really recommend upgrading to anyone... except under certain conditions. On servers where the package count is fairly low and the possibility of third-party add-on packages is low, upgrading has been painless for me for the last 5 or 6 releases I've been doing them.

On desktops where there is a large number of packages as well as a greater potential for third-party packages to be installed (think RPM Fusion for certain verboten media codecs and apps)... I don't upgrade.


Some Fedora related news

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Just some news bytes I've run across recently.

Fedora 12 Alpha includes flavor of Moblin 2
Moblin is a "usage experience" originally designed by Intel for devices designed around their Atom CPU mostly available in Netbooks and other embedded devices. The Fedora Project is basically integrating the Moblin 2 userspace stuff into Fedora so it is a selectable desktop from the graphical login's Session menu. Fedora will probably create an official "mini" spin but that remains to be seen. For more info see: fedora mini alpha testing

New Fedora 11 release for OLPC X0-1 models
You might have already known that the OLPC project is working on an XO-1.5 unit with vastly faster hardware and more storage space and that they were going to change the software so that the OLPC user could switch between the Sugar Desktop and the Gnome Desktop if desired. Fedora/OLPC developer Steven Parrish has released an update for OLPC X0-1 laptops based on Fedora 11 which includes the Gnome Desktop stuff as well. For more info see: Announcing a new release of F11 for the XO-1 and F11 for XO-1

Now here's a video about what Moblin 2 is for anyone interested:


HOWTO: Linux on the Intel iMac - Triple booting

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Introduction - Why Macs?

I work as a System Administrator for a Computer Science Department and as a result I manage both server machines and lab machines. Some time ago the department decided (and I was in agreement) that it would be a good idea to offer the students additional variety in the computer lab by replacing some of the "Pee Cee" machines in the main undergrad lab with some Apple Macintosh systems. This would give students access to Mac OS X (pronounced "ten") in the lab in addition to Linux and Microsoft Windows.

Although Apple switched to Intel-based machines a few years ago, you can't just run their OS on any Intel/AMD machine as they have both licensing reasons and technical reasons why their OS should ONLY run on Apple hardware. They don't seem to be friendly to running Mac OS X inside of Virtualization either. Mr. Jobs, why do you hate us? I digress.

The first three years we had Macs in the lab they only ran Mac OS X and as time passed, fewer and fewer people used them. The usage slowdown was caused by a number of reasons that I'll not go into here. This year though, I decided not to give up on the Macs and to make them triple-boot... so if people don't want to use Mac OS X they don't have to, and the machines can get better utilization.


Screencast: Virtual Machine Manager, Fedora 11 Preview

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I've been doing quite a few Fedora 11 installs on various hardware in preparation for the review of I'm working on but I wanted to give a short glimpse of KVM in Fedora 11 with the Virtual Machine Manager (virt-manager). I also show MontanaLinux (a Fedora 11 remix), some of the new features in Fedora 11 and some additional software.

For those running a browser that can do HTML 5's video tag (like Firefox 3.5 beta), you can watch the Ogg Theora version which is about 1/3 the filesize of the Flash version but bigger and better quality. Or download it: kvm-fedora11-preview-smaller.ogv (right-click, Save link as...)

Fedora 11 Has Landed

As has been widely reported, Fedora 11 came out today. This weekend I was fishing their mirrors and found a few open... which allowed me to get it earlier. I have created updated MontanaLinux builds for i386 and x86_64 based on Fedora 11 for anyone interested in that.

I installed Fedora 11 on my Acer Aspire One D150 netbook... and it solved all of the minor issues I was having with the previous release.

I also made pre-created OpenVZ OS Templates for Fedora 11 that I have uploaded to the contrib section.

How about a review? Well, since I've only been playing with it for a few days... I haven't had enough time to put it through the paces. Expect a review in a week or two.

Video: Fedora First - LFNW2009

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Larry Cafiero gave a presentation entitled, "Fedora First: An Introduction" at the Linuxfest Northwest 2009 conference in Bellingham, WA.

Unfortunately he had some trouble with the laptop to projector hookup and as a result his he doesn't display his slides in the video.

To view the video, click on the full story or the thumbnail image on the right.

Video: Fedora Remix - LFNW2009

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Clint Savage gave a presentation entitled, "Fedora Remix" at the Linuxfest Northwest 2009 conference in Bellingham, WA. A PDF of his slides has been added as an attachment.

To view the video, click on the full story or the thumbnail image on the right.

Video: Fedora 11 Sneak Peek - LFNW2009

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Jesse Keating gave a presentation entitled, "Fedora 11 Sneak Peek" at the Linuxfest Northwest 2009 conference in Bellingham, WA. A PDF of his slides has been added as an attachment.

To view the video, click on the full story or the thumbnail image on the right.

Screencast: How to Build a Fedora 10 Remix

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I made a two-part screencast on how to build a Fedora Linux remix. The first video has some slides at the beginning that explains the process and then walks through it with a live demo. The second video boots the LiveDVD that was created, shows an "Install to Hard Drive" and then shows some of the features of the remix.

Why would you want to make a remix? Two common reasons:

1) You want updated install media that has all of the updates already applied. Given the fact that Fedora has a lot of package churn and a constant stream of security fixes, bug fixes and feature enhancement updates, their install media gets out of date pretty quickly. That is especially the case if you want to use an .iso image of the LiveCD media to make a LiveUSB out of.

2) You want more software included on the Live media than Fedora provides. The Fedora folks usually fill up a single CD but how about a LiveDVD with additional desktop environments, a slew of window managers, a ton of application software, and multimedia apps that Fedora won't include in the distro? That's what I make during the screencast... a custom LiveDVD with all of the updates applied and all of the additional software I want in a LiveDVD with a painless, quick install-to-hard-drive if desired.

Here is the end result. I boot the the LiveDVD image and even do an install.

You can find the full-quality Ogg Theora videos here (Right-click, Save Link As..):
fedora-10-remix.ogv (130MB)
fedora-10-remix-boot.ogv (65MB)

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