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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Sun, 14 Jan 2018

Giving Ubuntu 17.10 a try (don't worry, it's one of the new ISOs)

I'm doing my Linux due diligence by trying out Ubuntu 17.10 now that Canonical has issued new ISOs that won't brick a BIOS. That's a bit of nasty business, to be sure, but it's not enough to put me off of Ubuntu for good.

It's unfortunate that Canonical/Ubuntu made the kind of mistake that would brick a computer, and I can't see Fedora doing this kind of thing, even though the Red Hat-sponsored distro is closer to the bleeding edge.

Not coincidentally I just tried Fedora 27, and I liked it. I don't see much different in Ubuntu 17.10. Both distros use GNOME 3, feature Firefox as their default browser (good because since FF 57/Quantum, it's also my default browser) and offer the LibreOffice suite.

Sure there are major differences in package management (dnf vs. apt) and firewall (firewalld vs ufw), but it's still more similar than different.

The distros both look fairly similar on my 1920x1080 screen, and the fonts seem about the same in both, though Ubuntu features its own font in places where Fedora offers Cantarell. Both are interchangeable, so it's horses for courses, as they say.

The GNOME-ified Ubuntu made its debut in 17.10, so there will be no GNOME-powered Ubuntu LTS until 18.04 (which, now that I look at the calendar, is due in 4/2018, which is only a few months from now).

Until Ubuntu dropped GNOME 2 for Unity back in 11.04, all of the "top" distros shipped GNOME as a default. By that I mean Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Red Hat/CentOS and Suse. So there was a great deal of uniformity that made the distro "wars" seem kind of stupid since the desktop is such a major part of a user's experience, and every major distro pretty much offered all of the major desktops (GNOME, KDE, Xfce, Cinnamon, Mate, LXDE). It was notable that only Ubuntu shipped (or even offered) Unity (to the best of my not-comprehensive knowledge).

Now that Unity is dead and Ubuntu is back to GNOME, I hope that there will be more emphasis placed on not just tweaking GNOME but actually developing it to have more of what "power" users want (like actual knobs, levers and buttons to tweak to get the behavior we want).

Hey, as I write this in the Ubuntu 17.10 live environment, my screen keeps momentarily turning upside down and blanking for a moment. This is on an HP Envy with an Intel i7 processor. Hmm. Hopefully that's a byproduct of the live session and not something that will persist in a full installation. I hope not. I didn't experience that behavior in Fedora 27 or Debian 9.3.

To sum up, I'd say that Ubuntu 17.10 and Fedora 27 are more similar than different, with six-month upgrade cycles unless you opt for the Ubuntu LTS in a few months' time. Both are much more "polished" than stock Debian, with less setup pain, though probably more maintenance pain, as Debian Stable is exactly what the second word in its name says it is.

It all comes down to how new you want your packages to be. This really only matters (to me) for the purposes of software development. I think you can either run Fedora, or Ubuntu (possibly the latter with PPAs), and have things be acceptably new. If you need a newer stack, you'll probably be managing it outside of distro package management anyway, so it all comes down to personal preference and what works.