Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friends Using Fedora part 2

The comments and email replies I received to my previous post seems to indicate that some people missed the point I was trying to make. A lot of people I heard from privately seemed shocked that I do not come running out the door, guns blazin', screaming USE LINUX! USE FEDORA! I'm not that sort of user. As I previously stated, if people are interested in Linux, I will answer questions. I will help them set it up too, but I do not have the time nor desire to become everyone's personal IT department. I don't even want to be my own sysadmin. Those days are long since over.

My main point was that, in general, Linux distributions have advanced to the point where most users can figure things out for themselves, much like they would have done on Windows or MacOS X. A decade ago, you couldn't really say that about Linux. It's really nice that usability in Linux has reached that point. My fiancée and my friends being able to figure out how to play movies, work with MS Office document formats, and so forth all without asking is nice. At one point in time in the Linux world, answering those questions meant sitting down with someone and telling them how to compile software. Fortunately we are way past that point.

The other point I was trying to make was that despite that fact that we still do development at a ridiculous pace and push releases out all the time, my friends still using Fedora Core 6 have no complaints and no problems. The people telling me that I'm horrible having them still use it because they are missing some security update simply doesn't matter. Most end users don't care about updates, ever. These users are like that. If they were running Windows on this system, they would still ignore updates. Would a Windows system of that age still be usable? I don't know. I'd like to think the Fedora system of that age holds up better.

If I had approached them each time a new Fedora release came out -or- made sure they were installing updates on an almost daily basis, they probably would have said to me, "you know, this is too much work, just forget about it." And they would have left it running whatever was on the system.

So, for those users, in the amount of time since Fedora Core 6 was released, the only thing they wanted that was newer was Firefox. In retrospect, CentOS probably would have been a better option for them. But really, I don't think it matters for them in the end.

Thanks for the suggestions for getting a newer Firefox to them as well as all of the concerns for them being vulnerable to countless security issues. I wanted to make sure knew the points I was trying to make.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Friends Using Fedora

I'm not one to push Linux on people, but if they ask about it and decide to give it a try, I will help them out. First, my fiancée started using Fedora when she bought a new laptop. Her old one just stopped working and she took the opportunity to switch over to Linux on the new system. She is currently using Fedora 12 and has only had minimal questions. Most of her questions have been about how to do things in OpenOffice, which I am generally unable to answer immediately but can usually poke around and figure out what to do. All of the other typical desktop tasks such as web browsing, email, music, photos...she has no problems doing on Linux.

Oh, and in addition to having to adjust to OpenOffice, she has also had severe problems with the touchpad. She has a Dell Mini 10 and the touchpad is absolutely irritating under Linux. It does not have physical buttons on it, but rather button areas on the touchpad. But the driver can't seem to distinguish between a click and a drag and in the middle of dragging if you hit the button region on the pad, it translates that to a click. Very irritating. So irritating that I just got her a USB mouse. If anyone knows how to make the touchpad on a Dell Mini 10 behave, let me know.

Second, I have two friends in Somerville who bought a computer from me several years ago because they needed a new one and I had one that I wasn't using anymore that was less than a year old. I told them I could set it up with Linux and help them with that, but if they wanted Windows, they'd have to figure that out by themselves. They chose Linux. So I set it up with our latest release at the time they bought the system: Fedora Core 6. I was just back in Boston recently and visited them and they are still using Fedora Core 6. They commented on how reliable the system is and it's so nice not having to worry about viruses and spyware and other junk software that tends to pollute a Windows system. Mind you, I really just set it up, showed them a few things, and they haven't really asked me much since then.

They did ask me two questions while I was there recently. One was about mounting an external USB hard disk with an NTFS volume on it. That was easy to solve, they just needed the ntfs-3g package installed (which we had available in FC-6 fortunately). The other was for a newer version of Firefox. I said it would probably be to their benefit to upgrade to a newer Fedora first and they asked what they were running and what the latest was. I told them they had version 6 and we were nearing the release of version 13. They laughed and said, "eh, well we'll worry about that later."

To me it's an interesting type of user. These are people who do not care at all about the latest and greatest everything. Of the new stuff out there, they wanted a newer version Firefox. The fact that they are still running FC-6 and haven't hit any issues is nice to see. I did see some things on their desktop such as iTunesSetup.exe and other such things, which are probably leftovers from attempts to figure something out in Fedora, but learning they needed to take a slightly different path. I saw they had added software to the system since I set it up, mostly for movies.

I imagine they will start to hit hardware failures before the software stops being useful. I wish there was still something like Fedora Legacy for these types of users. When I think about it, it's really security updates that would matter the most as well as updates to high profile applications like Fedora. Even keeping the older repositories still available would be nice. I installed ntfs-3g for them, but had to modify the files in /etc/yum.repos.d by hand to point to the correct repo locations. Would be nice if the last update delivered before a release is marked EOL is updated repo files in the fedora-release package to point to the new repo URLs.

In an effort to help them out, I'm going to see how much of a disaster it would be to upgrade from Fedora Core 6 to Fedora 12, doing a yum upgrade to each release. Sure, I could reinstall, but it would be interesting to see if a yum upgrade through each release quickly would work.