Fedora to Linux Mint – Major Switch

A major switch requires a major blog post. This will be a long one.

Five days before I changed my OS. I switched from Fedora – which I had been using for a really long time (i think five years) – to Linux Mint. Had a lot of thought, before choosing Linux mint. But in the end I did go for it. In this blog I talk about why I moved.

Linux is all about options. There are so many distributions out there that sometimes, it is not wise at all to keep browsing the web for new distributions and features. Because you will definitely get sucked in and want to switch. If all your work is in the cloud, then I think switching should not cause much irritation to you. Or if you are trying out distros on a virtual box. But if you are like me, with loads of post installation work to be done after getting a new OS, switching is not really a walk in the park. Sometimes it can be really frustrating. So, the point is, do not switch, unless you really have to or something about your distribution really bothers you. With that said, I was accumulating my grievances for a long time before I made the switch. I want to list those here.

Package Manager/Packages

Although dnf is really good and i liked it a lot more than apt because of the really nice way it summarizes the things you are going to install, i recently found out that there is a HUGE difference between the number of debian packages compared to rpm packages. This literally means that I will have more of the software that the rest of the world has been using under the debian/ubuntu umbrella.

I am not sure why. But there was a time when I had a lot of trouble installing a simple virtual box on fedora. Not sure what I did wrong. But I did not spend time on it to find out what happened. I left it after that. It could be my lack of knowledge.

Policies

There are a lot of policies that red hat based systems seem to have that hinder the installation and support of drivers and software. I am not really clear about this. But it annoyed me a lot in a lot of instances and, unless you are a sys admin, I think it is not worth to go learn these things as well. I did not have this much trouble with the ubuntu machines at work. The word SELINUX brings a lot of stress to me.

It was one of those things that bothered me a lot. I was installing a LAMP stack on a fedora machine to build a web app once. Through the period of time while I was developing this app I had a lot of SELINUX related stress. It took me a lot of time to learn those things. Although this is a good thing to do, I felt it was not necessary for me. I guess I wasted a lot of time on it.

Desktop Environment

Although gnome is the most widely used Desktop Environment for linux machines, I feel it might be the worst as well. I felt bloated when I was using gnome. I also felt that it is not suitable for a desktop or a laptop used as a desktop, as in my case. Why do I say this? Because of the design decisions they have made. Large proportions given to the menu bar and icons and everything, that use up valuable space on the screen. It felt like working on a laptop with lower resolution sometimes.

I switched to MATE Desktop sometime back on fedora itself, since it was a light weight alternative to Gnome 3, which was default with Fedora. It was really good. I liked it. It was in fact a fork from Gnome 2. But then, there is something I have noticed with desktop environments. I feel it is not a good idea to install a second desktop environment. It is a lot of work to make it look like as if you downloaded the Fedora MATE spin itself. I found the Fedora MATE spin to be more stable than the Fedora Gnome edition onto which MATE was installed. Similar thing happened when I installed cinnamon on my Fedora Desktop at home. Not a good idea. There is something missing. What I’m saying is: Download the distro with its native desktop environment to reap the most stability out of it, because I think that is where most of the focus is going.

Updates and Support

When someone says fedora, the word that comes to my mind is ‘cutting edge’. Fedora focuses on providing its users with all the latest technologies. But the downside of this is that it also stops supporting older OSes in 13 months. This bothered me a lot. By the time you get adapted to one, people are already on the next one. I did not like this. I was more of a Long Term Support guy. Took sometime for me to realize this.

Ubuntu does this, with its Long Term Support editions. But the linux mint folk are offering support till 2022 for the OS I am using right now. Linux Mint 18.2 Sonya. That is just amazing. If you are looking for something stable and you want to sit on it for a long time and most of your software are old anyway, then this is it!

User Experience

I tried linux mint via a flash drive a long time back (maybe 2/3 years?) and it was not something special. Just thought that it felt like a linux that looked like windows. I read somewhere recently that the linux mint community is focusing a lot on its cinnamon desktop and user experience. I sampled the new 18.2 version and it was SO evident. So many design decisions taken just right. Nothing more nothing less. You just feel the professional desktop feeling oozing out of cinnamon. I love everything about it, right out of the box! The way a company sets its default values for first use speaks a lot about their design team, I always say. Linux Mint with Cinnamon is just a very usable distro right out of the box.

The file manager Nemo is so good, compared to Nautilus which is the default in Gnome 3. It is miles ahead in terms of user experience. Again, right out of the box.

I also installed virtual box and installed windows on it and it runs really well.

Please do not get fooled by the fact that some people say, mint is for beginners. No. It is rather for people who want to focus on their work and worry less about the rest.

Conclusion

Decide what you want from a distro before you make a choice. Different distros do different things differently. Make a choice as to what is important for you and what is not. Do not ask your friend for a suggestion with a question like “Hey what is the best distro out there”. No that is not the right question. The question is “Hey, what do you think is the right distro for me” and tell him your needs. The more accurate you are with these requirements, the more closer you will be towards finding the right one.

Almost all major distros are great. It just depends on what you want.

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Desktop Environments – Linux – Order of Preference

Over these past five years I’ve been using five of the major desktop environments, regularly. My usual Linux distribution is fedora but I’ve had my fair share of experiences with Ubuntu and Mint as well.

This will be a short post. I just wanted to list out these DEs in the order of my preference and talk a few lines about why the order of preference is the way it is.

1. Mate
2. Gnome 3
3. Unity
4. Cinnamon
5. Gnome 2

I’ve been using MATE only for a short while now and I absolutely love it. I was in search of a really light weight environment that just gets the job done with less over head and mate does it for me. It’s built over Gnome 2 so it has the traditional Linux desktop feel but don’t be fooled by that. I initially thought it would miss Gnome 3. But I did not. I loved the fact that it was light on my processor but at the same time give me a really user friendly way to handle things. But if you’re looking for something flashy, you would not like mate. Infact you would probably like kde i guess, although i have never tried to experiment with it. My requirement was specific.

In a similar search for a light weight environment. I had previously ventured into Cinnamon. I did like it. But after using MATE, I feel that cinnamon does not have the refinement that mate has. Hence it does not have the edge over Gnome or Unity which i feel are well tested and refined. 

Yes. There are DEs like LXDE and XFCE which are supposed to be light weight but I did not feel like experimenting with them. Maybe sometime later.

Proxy Settings for Yum Install : Fedora 17

You can find the usual proxy settings for fedora in the network settings. Which is pretty straight forward. But this will not be applied to the yum installations that you do from the terminal. So for that you need to do a small addition in the yum.conffile that is present in the etcfolder.

Step 1: Head on to the etc folder and openyum.conf  using the vi editor. You can use the following command but before that.

Become the root user first by typing
su –
in the terminal and entering the password required.

Now type
vi /etc/yum.conf

This will open the yum.conf file in the vi editor.

Step 2:There will be many parameters already specified for about 5-7 lines. To this add another one

proxy=your_proxy_server:port_number

Example:proxy=http://proxy.abc.net:8080

This should do the trick

You can also add username and password if you are required to do so by specifying
proxy_username=johnsmith
proxy_password=smithjohn

Cannot open font file True : Fedora 17

This happens when i booted fedora up

This is because the system is looking for a font file named ‘True’ which is not actually present anywhere. So we have to make it look for the default font file. This is how you proceed.

Step 1: Open the grub file in the etc/default/ folder by executing the following command. (Be the root user first by using the “su -” command and entering your password.

vi /etc/default/grub

Step 2: Change the SYSFONT parameter specified inside.
When you open the file the SYSFONT will be

SYSFONT=True

Replace that with

SYSFONT=latarcyrheb-sun16

Step 3: Generate the grub configuration by executing the following command

grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

This should resolve the issue