“It is my business to know what other people don’t know”
After a whole week dealing with a netbook with OpenSuSe and almost a month without Fedora on my laptop, I finally got to install Fedora 25 Workstation on my laptop and Debian Testing on the netbook. There is no much to say about Fedora, is the same I had but with a handful of updates. But Debian…. it’s been years without using it so this is sort of interesting. Is it still true that Debian runs smoothly on any machine even with limited resources? Is still a rather tricky distro to install and, perhaps, to use? Is it Testing anything near to Fedora? Is it stable? What desktop would suit better? Will I be able to do the same things as in Fedora? What else I can do or try with this netbook? What else I can learn?
I bought and prepared two USB sticks as install media, one for Debian and one for Fedora. Oddily enough, there is no way to use Fedora Media Writer in Linux (except, of course, Fedora) but it is possible to use it in Windows.
I booted them both and oh, wonder of wonders! Debian installation process was fast and simple. I selected to install Cinnamon and Mate because I don’t like XFCE, and I wanted to try different configurations. All in all, that’s this netbook all about. For playing.
I booted Fedora and the install process was exactly the opposite to Debian’s: slow and complicated. Two, maybe three versions ago, Fedora was pretty simple and fast, even on my OLPC netbook (RIP). But now installing Fedora is neat untill you have to partition your disk. Then it’s an utter mess. And the trick I used back in Fedora 24 doesn’t work anymore. So I had to install Fedora on a tiny partition (20GB) despite I had plenty of free space. And install twice because the first time, for some mysterious reason, it made separated partitions for /boot and /var (I didn’t ask for and I know nobody who does that) but didn’t separated /home which is the usual (and more sensible) case. In any case, I installed and now it’s running reasonably fine. I even have Recipes working.
The Attic and the Lumber Room
Sherlock Holmes said: “A man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library where he can get it if he wants.” and I say the same applies to systems and development. Place together in a system what is necessary to have a fully functioning computer with graphic session and connect to internet, and no more. Everything else can be taken from library in the lumber room, that is to say installed afterwards from the package manager (Apper, Yumex, Synaptic, etc.).
And this is how Debian it’s built. You have all what you need to start, everything else is up to you. So you configure your system right in the way you want. Besides, this is vital in a netbook that has no spare resources to waste.
So I logged in (Mate) and installed some useful software. Given I can’t do my design/artistic work here, I need way less books to take from the lumber room. In case anyone is interested to know, here is the list of programmes I installed in Debian:
- Themes & Icons
As a side note, Debian Testing has kernel 4.9 which is pretty new. Fedora has kernel 4.10 so they’re almost the same.
I tried Cinnamon (software rendering) and Mate; I prefer Mate. Maybe the looks isn’t that attractive and lacks of “Favourites” menu (or menu entrance) but it works better on this netbook up to now.
What is next
I plan to start using Recipes on Fedora with a new user as it’s rather tricky to claim an old user when you make a fresh OS install. Also, I’m planning to install Recipes on Debian. If I didn’t yet is because it’s not built for i386 architectures. But once this is done, I’ll install and start using it to see how it goes. Maybe we can make it available for Debian/Ubuntu too? Surely will be a smoother process than trying on OpenSuSe.
I’ll try Cinnamon (normal mode) to see how it goes and if there is any difference between this and the software rendering mode, and compared to Mate Desktop.
And the game is off… by now. Thanks for reading!