Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Switching from Ubuntu to Fedora Linux

Ubuntu has been great for me over about the last ten years. Prior to that I was a RedHat/Fedora user but when I joined a company that was all Debian based I made the switch and learned the joy of apt.

Recently I've run in to some hitches with Ubuntu. It throws up crash handlers from time to time. The ham radio applications offered in the official archives are often very old and recently I found that gnuradio installed with apt runs but crashes in use. (Building from source fixed this).

The announcement that Ubuntu is abandoning the Unity desktop and switching to Gnome prompted me to give Fedora another go (it's already on Gnome).

Things are smoother since last time I looked. On macOS the installer is downloaded in the form of a "media writer" application that downloads the image you need and creates a bootable USB key - much nicer that the dd business I've been doing.

Gnome is very slick these days and on the three machines I've tried so far everything mostly worked out of the box. On an HP laptop it didn't include the Broadcom wireless driver but that was fairly easily fixed. While not much is installed by default, I quickly wanted the nano editor. Amazingly hackrf was built in.

I'm quickly up and running with fldigi, wsjt-x, gnuradio, gqrx, and all the normal unix goodness. The work done by Ubuntu has raised the standard of all desktop linux distributions (not to mention the whole cloud and virtualisation world) and I'll miss Ubuntu for sure.

Fedora notes for an Ubuntu user

Instead of apt (or apt-cache and apt-get) there's something called "dnf" that replaces "yum". For some reason I find it hard to remember "dnf" and sometimes have to type yum so it will remind me.

sudo dnf update
sudo dnf search xxx
sudo dnf install xxx

I've eventually figured out that DNF stands for "Dandified Yum" but that fact is missing from the man pages. Under the hood it's Linux and all the tricks I've learned are the same regardless of the distribution.

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