Wednesday, 21 March 2012

What were they thinking

My home computer is a gateway to my data (and stuff other people have shared). So the number of X applications I use is short - OpenOffice, Firefox, kmail and konsole, occassionally xrdp and vnc. So I don't upgrade it very often. The last time was when Fedora 9 was shiny and new.

But I wanted to install Flightgear for my son. Rather than go through all the hassle of trying to build it myself, I thought I'd just use binary packages - but none available for Fedora 9. Since it has been a while since I upgraded my operating system I thought I'd just bite the bullet and upgrade to the current Fedora release (16).

A bit of googling and I read about pre-upgrade - this seems like an easy way to upgrade. How wrong was I. It downloaded lots of stuff then rebooted into Anaconda - then stopped - "What type ofmedia contains the installation tree?" - my hard disk. Which hard disk? Again not a problem. What's the path? more reboots and googling and I had a path. Path is invalid. So then I cleaned up all the mess preupgrade had left behind on my disk and tried to upgrade using a CD. You can't upgrade from a CD. Eventually I found the installation DVD iso. Burned a copy and rebooted. "You can only upgrade from the previous 2 releases of fedora". Grrrr!

Time for bed.

Next day. My /home is on a seperate partition and fortunately I had plenty of spare disk. It has been runing on reiserfs for the past 10 years or so - so I created a copy on top of ext4. Then installed Fedora 16, copied over the passwd/shadow/group data, added the ext4 /home to the fstab and rebooted. It seemed to work - but OMG, booting up takes a long time now.

The colours in KDE made some of the text unreadable - fixed that. Load was high - so I found and disabled nepomunk (desktop search engine - no I don't need that). Firefox and OpenOffice running OK. Then I started kmail. Oh dear. The load on my machine went through the roof. WTF is mysqld doing running? I didn't know that kmail now insists on using Anakondi for something - I'm not sure what - certainly I'm pretty sure I don't need it. More googling....apparently since v4.4 of kmail you can disable Anakondi. OK, how do I do that? Use the advanced tab in System Settings. What advanced tab? There is none!

It seems I'm not the only one to be very disappointed in KDE's bloatware.

If I wanted my PC to run very, very slow I would have installed Microsoft Windows on it. I've now spent nearly as much time trying to turn this into a useful computer as I did with MSWindows Vista on my daughter's laptop.

Oh, and kmail failed to important my configuration for SMTP (but didn't think to tell me) and decided to use the local sendmail instead (which I cannot be bothered configuring to handle authentication and TLS nevermind the complications of SPF).

So now wondering if I should switch to different window manager / desktop, or even a different distribution.

Going to a different distribution offers some advantages and will be just as painful as changing window manager. The big issue is migrating my kmail email database and having something which is likely to continue supporting flash for some time. The latter probably means something I can run Google Chrome in. Which narrows down the choices a LOT. I've never been a fan of the way Ubuntu manages permissions - the root user is there for a REASON. Gentoo is fast - and it will run Flightgear and Google Chrome...but it seems like very hard work. Mandriva seems to still be a popular choice - and there are lots of binary rpms for flightgear. However I think Centos looks like a safe option.

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