Navel Gazery, Ubuntu, and Fedora

Welcome to the first non-lorem ipsum post on this, my non-work blog, where many of the things I might write about on my work blog, but don’t, because they seem way too navel-gazy, I may end up writing about here.

One such thing: the ongoing (sort of) battle between different Linux distributions on my work notebook. I used to jump around a lot between different desktop OSes: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, BeOS, SuSE Linux, Red Hat Linux, Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Gentoo, Fedora, Ubuntu, Ubuntu, Ubuntu, Ubuntu…

For a while now, most of my OS jumping has been from one version of Ubuntu to the next. In the earlier days, there were tons of problems with running Linux on the desktop, and my distro to distro jumps had a lot to do with checking out the solutions that different projects and companies were coming up with.

In recent years, though, it’s seemed that only Ubuntu has been focused on solving desktop problems. Fedora, a distribution that I’ve followed since its first version, should be my distro of choice. I’m one of the relatively few fans of SELinux, and I eagerly await each new *Kit that Red Hat’s developers come up with… PackageKit, PolicyKit, et al.

BUT, a few things really annoy me about Fedora. First, the whole focus on Live Free or Die. I’m a free software fan, I get why it’s so great, and so on, but the best thing about Linux and open source is the Taking Care of Business bit, the getting shit done bit, and if I need a codec with questionable software patent provenance, and that codec is available to me, I’m going to use it.

Honestly, there’s no software without questionable patent provenance, at all. That’s our system. It’s screwed up. Open source rocks because it routes around that garbage. Job #1 for Fedora, well, Job #2 for Fedora appears to be making the FSF happy, and being the best possible counter-example to the various evils that the FSF rallies against.

Job #1, of course, is to get the development work that Red Hat needs done done, which is why cool stuff like SELinux that no Fedora user actually wants (except me, I guess, at least when I am using Fedora) gets done consistently.

Every new Ubuntu release comes with features and improvements aimed at making my life as a desktop Linux user easier, and, gosh darn it, I appreciate that. I know that Canonical is in large part a charity of Mark Shuttleworth, and that Red Hat’s arms-length approach to the desktop is part of why they, in contrast, are on the road to being a billion dollar revenue company, but, I’m a user, not an investor.

Fedora 15 recently went gold, and I have it loaded up on a few machines. I used it to test out Gnome 3, and I used it to run some AES-NI vs. no AES-NI tests, and I’m looking forward to checking out SPICE integration in virt-manager.

My main work machine? It’s upgrading to Ubuntu 11.11 alpha one, as we speak…