Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Distributions (yet) again

I know some people who use Linux, who have a massive collection of Live and Install media which goes back a long ways. If I keep up at this rate, I'll be one of those people before long.

See, this started a few days ago when Mum decided she didn't like OpenSUSE, and wanted something new. Her computer isn't exactly robust, however, so we always try out potential candidates before they touch her computer.

We went through, and settled on Mandriva. I've heard a lot of good things about it, and I'm sure in other circumstances, I might even have seen a few of them.
Mandriva, to me, is a pest. I used the GNOME Live CD, because her computer doesn't have a DVD drive, nor does it support booting via USB. A bit of a pain.
It booted on another computer perfectly, and apparently it 'looks perfect' according to her.
It working, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.
On first boot after install, it started downloading files without any explanation of what they were. After examining what scant details were available, I concluded it was adding repositories and checking for updates.
So, when I finally got to a useable desktop environment - two hours after starting the install because of it's immense slowness - nothing seemed to be different, so I told it to check for updates. It said there weren't any.
So I went hunting for packages that she wants. To my surprise, there are no packages uninstalled!
It hadn't added repositories at all, and it took me the better part of half an hour to finally track down why, and get it to add some. Even then, a good half of them told me it couldn't download some file, and therefore couldn't be enabled.
But, it provided updates and some of the missing software, so I accepted what it let me have, and turned to RPMDrake.
And turned away from RPMDrake.
While RPMDrake is good in the sense that it allows you to mark actions easily, it is, in comparison to urpmi - the backend, like apt-get - dreadful.
DistroWatch's page on package management came to the rescue, allowing me to finally upgrade from the command line.
With that finally done, I decided not to trust RPMDrake, and merely made lists of the package names I'd need to install, passing them directly to urpmi. Most of them worked. Some of them, like K3B, downloaded a dependency and then complained loudly that it didn't exist.
But it just downloaded the package it's telling me doesn't exist? (And yes, I did check. Several times, in fact.)
While sorting this out, I thought I'd go and start up rhythmbox, and put on some of my music to ease my mood - joy for being able to keep /home separate.
However, even this complained about half my media, forcing me to retreat back to RPMDrake to find missing gstreamer plugins, which, you guessed it, downloaded dependencies and then told me they didn't exist again.
Mandrake may have it's good points, but I saw almost none of them before I gave up at that point.

I've since gone through my growing collection of media, and tried some others.
Slackware invariably gives a Kernel panic, regardless of the computer I try to install it on, or what's in that computer.
OpenSuSE has a window manager that doesn't work.
Debian Lenny is old.
Ubuntu Karmic... well, speaks for itself. I've yet to hear one good thing about Karmic that Jaunty can't do with an extra repository, or a compile-it-yourself source archive.
BSD had another small look in, and a look out again after I remembered that I understand absolutely nothing about it.
Linux Mint had a Nautilus that segfaulted almost immediately.
Fedora has SELinux. 'nough said. See my earlier rants about Fedora.

All in all, not very useful.
So now I'm trying to try (yes, you read that right) Ark Linux.
The problem now is that the computer being used to test this on, when using the graphic installer (I prefer them over text based, but if the text based explains what it's doing, why, and what I'm meant to do clearly, I don't mind them either. An example is Gentoo with the Handbook) the mouse isn't detected. Meaning I can't set up partitions correctly.
I'm seriously considering breaking out an old Windows XP install here. And coming from me, who tries to avoid Windows at all costs, that's saying something.
Buck up, Linux. You need to do better than this.

Rock on, people.

1 comment:

  1. > Debian Lenny is old.
    First, so? Its like 1 year old or something; what is new that your mum would need so badly? Second, you can change your /etc/apt/sources.list file to use the 'testing' or even 'sid' (unstable) branches of Debian, which are both rather stable and good for desktop use, giving your Debian setup newer software, well-tested stability, and 'rolling-release'-like updates.

    That is my suggestion, go with Debian Testing. Or with SimplyMEPIS when the 8.5 is released, any day now...