Trying Fedora and Suse, on Arch

I’m no “distro hopper”, and pretty much set with what I have on my machine – and if you are reading this since a bit, you’ll probably know that I’m normally using Debian Linux, and for some newer things, Arch.

So when my friend Bill from Florida (a really good photographer who also has cats and dogs and is a computer nerd) wrote about Fedora and some problems he’s having with it, and when shortly after that seeing that I just got new Gnome “Boxes” on Arch, I decided to try and see…

For those of you who might not know Linux: on that OS you normally have both qemu and also kvm, which means that virtualisation is built into the kernel and your operating system already – and with a smart tool like the mentioned “Gnome Boxes”, the installation of other systems is only a few mouse clicks away, and really child’s play, even if you’d want Windows.

So I went and downloaded Fedora Workstation, and because I was curious I also downloaded openSUSE Tumbleweed, and installed them both in Boxes. First, Fedora:

Welcome Screen of Fedora Linux 36

and a few minutes later, Suse:

Configuration of openSUSE Tumbleweed

Because my machine has “only” 16GB of main memory, and my host operating system has a system drive of ~240GB, I was a bit conservative and chose the default settings of 2GB of RAM and 20GB of storage for both. Fedora comes with Gnome42 by default which is fine, and openSUSE asks you, and from (old) experience I assumed that the first option (namely, KDE Plasma) was/is still their default one, so I chose that.

And voilá, both running in parallel on my Arch system as their host:

Linux³

I haven’t tested much yet since I just interrupted my “work” on a beautiful Wikiloops song for this, but what I can say so far is that at least in my virtual machine and from my desktop, printing wasn’t a problem with Fedora – I had to give the Gnome desktop the local IPv4 address of our printer (an OfficeJet Pro 7740), but then I could print a test page no problem.

I’ll have a look at both and report more if there is something to say about these.

For now, and like always, thanks for reading.

P.S.: just discovered another first of usually many little “niggles” I have when testing Fedora – look at the clocks, after falling asleep for a while:

Fedora likes to sleep a bit longer as it seems…

So often I have tried to love it… :/

This is impressive…

… and also a bit frightening. In the online Fedora Magazine, Marius Schwarz yesterday described how to build your own personal voice assistant on Linux, and that’s the impressive part.

The frightening one is how close professional voice generation has become. If you listen to Google’s text-to-speech examples, and switch to a British or a German voice (and give it some text of course), that’s the “Wow!” part. But for this, your text will be sent to Google’s servers to process it in realtime, so some privacy issues might occur. But it won’t be long now, so is my guess, before you can really trick us humans into believing that this would be a real person speaking… see Turing test and so on.

As always, thanks for reading.

A bit intrusive…

Now this is what I call a serious step backwards:

Thunderbird asking for money

Thunderbird had this all the time, in all black, blue, and grey, but this? Wow. This is like ‘shouting’ IN ALL CAPS, so thanks but no thanks guys… I’m supporting quite some number of free and open source projects, can’t support everything. But this definitely turns me off. Did you guys hire some marketing stuff for this? Bad idea. You have a fine email client there, thanks a lot for it, but I won’t support loud guys, sorry. This is a bit too much, seriously.

The good thing about rolling releases

I wanted to headline this the good thing about Arch LInux, but that would have been unfair – there are other rolling release distributions, like openSUSE Tumbleweed or others (children like Manjaro, Endeavour, and the likes).

So the good thing about these rolling release distributions is that you’ll always get the latest and greatest software, automatically. You read about it, like I just did with the new Firefox 102 (which is also the new ESR release), and as soon as you log in and update, bam, you’ll have it.

Don’t get me wrong: Debian stable is still my main Linux distribution of choice, I’m using it since almost 20 years now, and that won’t change that fast. But nice and stable is one thing, curiosity or the wish to just see what’s out there is another – and for that, these rolling release distros are a godsend.

They say that Arch is difficult to install – well for me it wasn’t, but then again I’m used to using a (system) terminal window, so I’ve set up my triple boot system starting with Arch (and I wouldn’t even have known about the Windows EFI partition being too small without first reading the wonderful Arch installation Wiki). But if you don’t even need dual or triple boot systems, Arch now has an installer which is pretty helpful already, and if that’s still too much, well, there are the other ones I’ve mentioned above.

For me, running Linux isn’t only all about choice, but it’s even about daily or hourly choice – I can switch back and forth at will, as often as I like. And unlike with commercial systems, my system is *mine* – and only *I* decide if and when a machine gets too old, and should be retired (or find another home with less demanding jobs). Want to try making music using the latest pipewire and wireplumber setup? Switch to Arch. Want your well known stable workhorse? Go back to Debian. That easy.

As always, thanks for reading.

About software and operating systems (Linux)

On The Register there are several new and interesting reports, some of which mirror my own experiences.

Manjaro Linux which is based upon Arch and which should be more beginner friendly than that, isn’t. It’s just different but not easier at all in my opinion. And so thinks the Reg’s author.

The same author reports about the 38th birthday of the X window system, and also reports and links to an article about the mess that is called Wayland, which is more and more replacing X.Org tho it actually can’t. Screen recording works now in Arch where I have tested it this week, but otherwise it’s a great big mess, and not ready for production, full stop.

Another article, this time on linuxiac is reporting about why Ubuntu isn’t a flagship Linux distro anymore. Again, exactly my thoughts about it, and maybe time for my wife or our daughter to look out for something better, and more user friendly? In case you’d want The Reg’s take on Arch and/or Debian, they’re pretty good, too.

Ok, that much for now… thanks for reading.

Brenden Matthews explains conky

If you have seen screenshots of my desktop, you have seen conky – it’s the one thing which is always and on all of my desktops. Looks like this:

conky, easyeffects, and a half hidden terminal

or, a bit bigger, like this:

conky

It’s a beautiful piece of software, avaliable for almost all Unix-like systems including MacOS and the BSD family. I just found a video where its maker explains it:

Conky: An Introduction

Of course, on a modern Linux system you don’t have to compile it, since it’s usually in all software repositories of the available distributions – my example from above for instance was on Arch, but I have the same on Debian or on my login on Mitchie’s Ubuntu desktop.

There’s a Wikipedia page about conky where you can find more info. And its homepage is on GitHub as you might have seen.

As always, thanks for reading and for viewing – and thanks to Brenden for his nice little program.

Modern day Linux on an older machine

Recently I reported about another article on why people run Linux on their machines. And one of the reasons is always: because it doesn’t make your hardware obsolete, like Windows or MacOS both are doing. Proof of the pudding: here is Mitchie’s old Lenovo SL500, a dual core (Intel T5670) 2GB notebook from ca. 2008, running a current Arch Linux with the latest 5.18.2 kernel, the same which I have on my main machine:

7e6_6084386-modern-linux-older-machine
Modern day Linux on an older machine, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2022

If you enlarge the photo on Flickr you can probably see that its CPU is at 1%, which means it’s doing nothing except wait for any user input. And the system together with the very nice and modern XFCE desktop consumes just about 750MB of the total 2GB main memory – so it’s perfectly usable. Well maybe not for real number-crunching, video de- or encoding, or music production, but you get the point – as an everyday surf machine or even to watch videos on your lap, it’s perfectly fine.

I always encourage friends to try this, and we have converted many older machines in the greater family to Linux, no need at all to constantly spend any money just to stay “current”. As you can see, the version of Linux I’m running here is as current as it can get, much more modern, safe, and stable than your typical consumer OS.

We only boot into Windows if we absolutely must, and we’re all doing that since years (and Zuleikha since she was born). So this is an easy recommendation from friends to friends, ’cause that’s what we’re doing here. Oh, and by the way: thanks again to my son Jeremy who first suggested trying Arch to me some years ago. If you need “current”, that’s a nice one!

As always, thanks for reading.

On ByteXD: Why people use Linux

There’s a nice article over at ByteXD on “13 compelling reasons why people use Linux“. In case you aren’t, you still are – you only don’t think about it 😉 And that article also sets some numbers straight.

Good to know that some of us had a vision even more than 30 years ago 🙂 And I knew why some 25 years ago (or more? forgot) I was turning away from closed source because it’s simply not worth your time…

Recommended reading.