Fedora 18 Linux

Yesterday I installed Fedora 18 LXDE spin, (which I will refer to as FC18). I have a fair amount of experience with Linux, having started using it in 1996. Fedora redid 'anaconda' the installer program (which is written in python, hence the name). The old installer was ok as far as I was concerned. With the new installer, it is 'streamlined', which means it is hard for me to use. The disk configuration utility is quite bad. The old one was far better. The Mageia disk configuration is quite good, and other Linux distributions disk configuration are pretty good. I had windows XP installed on the disk, along with FC17 and FC16. I wanted to get rid of FC16 and put FC18 in instead. Perhaps there is a way to do that, but I couldn't figure it out. I ended up getting rid of FC16 and FC17 and letting FC18 auto partition the empty space. Even Microsoft Windows does a better job with disk partitioning. I could find no way to specify individual packages during install. Another 'feature' is when you have multiple monitors, the installer runs in 'span' mode. That is the display spans multiple monitors. This may make sense for some hardware, but 'cloning' the display on all monitors is a much safer way. For example, if you have a notebook sitting in a rack with an external display hooked up to it, you will be unable to do a install as critical info is displayed on the notebook display which is inaccessible. You will have to remove the notebook from the rack and do something such as disabling the display or switching to 'clone' mode. I reported this bug with FC16, but it has not been fixed. One nice feature of the installer is once you have selected a few options, it happens without further interaction. When it is done, there is a confusing display, where it says it is done and to reboot, but the button you need to press is 'quit' not something like 'exit' or 'reboot'.

When you boot up FC18, it also comes up in 'span' mode, which is a bug, not a feature. Configuring the firewall should be straightforward, as it was in previous versions of Fedora. There is a new, improved firewall, with a new improved interface. Unfortunately it is a POS. There is the 'runtime' firewall configuration and the 'persistent' firewall configuration. There are 9 different zones. I added a few firewall rules, and nothing happened. I tried reloading the firewall, but that didn't work. There is no onscreen help for it. Actually, there is a help button, which will display the version of the tool. After much thrashing around, I was able to modify the firewall to do what I want. What FC18 needs is decent onscreen help to explain what every option does and how they interact. Next it needs a simple mode which would likely work for 90-95% of users. Next it can have the full monty version (still with help menus). The simple mode could look like the FC17 firewall, which worked quite well.

I tried to configure the 'users and groups'. When I press the button however, it does nothing. I can manually run /usr/bin/system-config-users, which works fine. Another bug. If you want to configure disk partitions and mount points you can use the tool under System Tools->Disk Management. Unfortunately, that isn't the tool you want as it is for users to mount user mountable partitions. As far as I can tell, there is no GUI to do disk management, unlike every other Linux distro I have used. This is not a new FC feature, but a long time bug. Similarly, there are no administration tools I can find in the menu for things like configuring hardware, network, display, and the like. The way you install new software or update existing software is called 'yum extender', which is certainly not obvious for novice users. Fedora needs a whole lot more polish. Perhaps they could start with Mageia's administration tools, which work quite well.

Fedora 24 Linux

A pretty solid OS. There are a few issues. Using their yum/dnf GUI it is unclear how to uninstall software. Installing is easy. It is a crappy user interface. I am running it on an older IBM notebook. I can't run the last 2 versions of the kernel. When I try, I get a completely blank screen during boot. I sent in a bug report @ Nov-02-2016, but I have heard nothing back.

Fedora 25 Linux

Runs well on x86 hardware. On my problem IBM notebook (which has run fedora 18...24) the installer hangs before showing any text or graphics. I reported the bug. The only reply was it was likely a kernel issue. Not very helpful. Fedora 25 is the first version officially supported on the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3. I tried it out. You can't install or update any binary packages. So no emacs (unless you build it from source). I sent in a bug report @ Nov-22-2016 or so. No useful feedback, workarounds, or solution yet. Also the wifi doesn't work on the raspberry pi 3 (which is documented).

Fedora 26 Linux

I installed Fedora 26 on my raspberry pi 3. Earlier, I tried the alpha version. It hung during booting. I reported the bug July 2017, but I was told I needed to try to the nightly build because the alpha was old. I was also told to use the mailing list, not the bug reporting system. Well, the officially version 26 came out, and it also hung during booting on my raspberry pi. The Pi 3 works fine with Fedora 24, Kali, rasbarian, and open SuSE. Clearly someone did not do enough testing. I have heard hat there is only a few people supporting the raspberry pi. I never got a response to my bug report.

I installed Fedora 26 on another computer which has a 4k monitor. Everything was so small, I needed to use a magnifying glass to see what was happening. I ended up switching video inputs to HDMI 1.2 so that I could see the install. I also installed Mageia 6. Even with the 4k monitor, everything was very large and easy to see. I suspect monitor was being run in some lower resolution mode, which makes a lot of sense during installation. 4k monitors aren't very rare, nor are high resolution laptops...

I was able to install it on two other x86 based computers without issue. The installer is generally user friendly, except when it comes to partitioning the hard drive. The process is very unintuitive and of course hard to read on a 4k monitor. The goal is readability and understandable. The installer has neither attribute.

Fedora 27 Linux

Fedora 27 is the first version of fedora to support the Raspberry Pi 3 with a 64 bit operating system. I installed it on my pi 3. It hung during boot. This was not so surprising to me, as the official version of fedora has never worked on my pi 2 or pi 3. I send in yet another bug report in Nov 2017. I wonder if I will get a response. The last 2 ARM specific bug reports I sent in were unanswered. It looks bad when there is a linux distro that fails to boot. Better to not support hardware than to produce a broken distro. I booted up the latest version of OpenSuSE 64 bit, and it works fine. It is a bit slow, which is a combination of s slow processor and a graphics driver with no hardware acceleration support. Still, it boots and is useful, which fedora has never been on the pi. So someone at Redhat has the same problem, and updated my bug report. It turns out the computer is not hung, as the serial console works. The video is hung, which is a pretty serious problem, as almost everyone uses the HDMI video. Perhaps the issue will get addressed.

On the x86 64 bit platform, fedora 27 works well. It still has a very hard to read login screen on my 4k monitor. The idea is to convey useful information, not to have tiny icons.

Fedora 28 Linux

Fedora 28 is the first version of fedora to support the Raspberry Pi 3+ with a 64 bit operating system. I installed it on my pi 3. After about 30 seconds, the video went away during the boot process. It didn't come back. . This was not so surprising to me, because I have had this issue with fedora 27 and 28 on the pi 3. I reported this bug, just as I did for the last two operating systems. I am quite disappointed with claimed support for the pi. If fedora doesn't want to support the pi, that is ok. However, claiming that it works when it can't even get to a login screen makes fedora look bad. I presume nobody has ever tested it with a pi. They are certainly cheap enough to buy...

Fedora 29 Linux

Fedora 29 is the first version of fedora to actually boot on my Raspberry Pi 3B with a 64 bit operating system. Fedora 28, 27, and 26 all froze when trying to start the graphics system, which I dutiful reported. It is good to see that fedora finally fixed the issue after about one and a half years. The 'workstation' image, is the full fedora Gnome interface, which is unusable slow. You can move the cursor, and wait several seconds to see it move on the screen. It is so bad, that starting Firefox will take over a minute to start up with one tab. Doing a google search will also take a minute or more. What is worse, is after a few minutes, the system completely freezes and requires power cycling. Clearly nobody tested this on a real raspberry pi. You can start a terminal or two, but without a working browser, I think the distribution is pretty much useless. They really should have used Mate or LXDE or LXQT for a super slow CPU with only 1 gb of RAM. But it does work, which is pretty amazing. The wifi and Bluetooth do not work, even after downloading the documented file and rebooting. The GUI interface (which is the default fedora GUI) is quire weird. Also it seems that fedora 29 got rid of the root account by default, in a way similar to Ubuntu. Perhaps that makes sense, but the logic baffles me.

Since the 64 bit version of Fedora doesn't work on the Pi 3, I decided to try the 32 bit version. A LXDE version is available. I successfully installed it, and I decided to update it. It took several hours, and during the time the screensaver kicked in. The screensaver is broken, and you can't unlock it, nor start a new session. I decided to wait overnight and then power cycle the pi. It now fails to boot. During the boot process, it doesn't switch from the low res text to the high res text. So the pi 3 is bricked. During the update, I tried to configure the wi-fi without success. The GUI for it is pretty crappy. Fedora needs to actually test their software before making it available for general download. If they said this is alpha or beta software, which is unreliable, I could live with that. Clearly not ready for prime time.

Normally, I would send in bug reports for Fedora. However, after having my bug reports for 26, 27 and 28 pretty much ignored, I have given up on sending in bug reports for Fedora. I think there needs to be some kind of understanding that when you send in a bug report, that someone actually looks at it, and ideally addresses it. Failing that, there is no point in sending in bug reports. Anyone who tries to use Fedora on a raspberry pi will almost certainly have the same issues. It is not like there is a shortage of raspberry pi's.

Things work much better on x86-64 machines. I was able to update mine from fedora 28 to 29 with minimal effort. And my root account stuck around, and was still usable after the upgrade. I am using the Mate GUI for x86-64 which seems more intuitive to me.

Mageia 5 Linux

Mageia is a community based linux distribution. I have been running it as long as it existed (that is a long story). It works on machines with small amounts of memory (512mb). It works on 32 bit machines. It works on 64 bit machines. Mageia 6 was supposed to come out in August 2016. It didn't. In December 2016, they released Mageia 5.1, which is Mageia 5, with all the patches since it came out. Mageia 6 is scheduled to come out in Jan 2017. When I send in bug reports, they are usually quickly addressed, but not always.

Mageia 6 Linux

I was planning on installing Mageia 6 in early Aug 2016. However, the scheduled release slipped about a year. In any event, it is shipping now. I installed Mageia 6 on three computers. The default desktop is 'Plasma', which is a version of KDE. It is not obvious how to scale the menu bar at the bottom of the screen. It turns out the first step is to click on 'Unlock Widgets' which is far from obvious. Then you can change the height of the menu far. It isn't a simple or intuitive user interface. I hate to say it, but Windows 95 was simpler to configure. If the Linux desktop is going to take over the world, it needs a simple and easy to configure desktop. The apple people have done a great job of this,. Microsoft has done a mostly decent job of this. KDE needs to get much better.

The installation went quite smoothly, unlike Fedora 26 on my 4k monitor.

I updated another computer from Mageia 5 to 6. Although the upgrade process went smoothly, the results wee pretty bad. I was unable to start the Mageia control center from the menu. I was able to access it from the command line. The menus looked disorganized. The menu bar looked pretty bad. I am now in the process of doing a fresh install. It will take a bit to configure the computer to my liking, which is why I tried the upgrade first. I have another computer to update, and I will do a fresh install on it, based on my experience trying to update the OS.

The full install went smoothly and all the menus look great. The menu bar also looks great. Unfortunately it seems the rpm database is a bit borked for Mageia 6. I can't install samba or openssh-server because the new versions need older versions of other software that is currently installed. I hope the issue is resolved quickly as these are pretty important programs. Well, it turns out that the installation media has never versions of the programs than the online repositories. I like to use the online repos, but I decided to install the programs from the install media. It went smoothly.

Mageia 7 Linux

Mageia has a problem during installation of detecting mdadm raid arrays. If you try to install the OS with a bunch of mdadm raid drives, the install er will say it can't recognize the drives, and asks if you want to format the drives. This isn't ideal, but what is worse, it the installer can't find any space on an OS disk to do an install. Fortunately, my raid drives are hot stoppable, and I simply remove them before I do an install. I have reported this problem for the last several versions of Mageia, and they claim the issue is fixed, but it isn't. I reported the issue for Mageia 7.

A problem that seems new with Mageia has to do with KVM switches.I have lots of computers attached via a 8 port KVM switch to a display. While attached to a Mageia computer, there are no issues. However, if I switch displays to a different computer, and then back to Mageia, sometimes the screen gets screwed up. It is so bad that the graphical server won't recognize the display, and the graphical environment becomes unusable. I did something quite crude to fix the issue. I think the x configuration is stored in .local/share/kscreen in a file with a long seemingly random name. Perhaps if I delete that file, I might be able to fix the x server not starting, but I have yet to try that specific fix. In any event, having a KVM switch isn't so odd, and Mageia shouldn't crash the x server when switching displays with a KVM switch. Windows doesn't have any issues with a KVM switch, and I expect that Linux should work at least as well.

Gentoo 64 on raspberry pi 4

There is no official 64 bit build of Gentoo. However, I did find an unofficial build which I was able to install. The good news is that it comes with gcc and emacs. The bad news is that it has kernel 4.19. WiFi works, at least at 2GHz. My 5GHz signal is not detected. I run several computers with a KVM switch, which works flawlessly, including with my raspberry pi 4. What is really troubling, is running this Gentoo, screws up the mouse, and sometimes keyboard on the KVM switch. When I switch away from Gentoo, the mouse stops working. I need to reboot the KVM switch, which I haven't done in over a year. When switching back t Gentoo, the mouse doesn't work, so I need to plug in a dedicated mouse, or reboot Gentoo. If I don't have focus on a keyboard, I need to power cycle the raspberry pi. This makes Gentoo unusable for my use case.

Kali 64 on raspberry pi 4

Kali has an official Linux build for the raspberry pi 4. It is running kernel 4.19.93, which is quite out of date. It is not very user friendly. The good news is that it does work for someone who is very familiar with the command line. I ran my benchmark program on it, and it was twice as slow as raspbian (which only has a 32 bit version). The display on my Philips monitor showed up as 1920x1280. There was no way to resize the display. There was blank areas on the right and left of the screen, and I couldn't figure out how to fix it. If you try to update all the software on the system, it will render the installation unusable. The solution it to make a new flash drive. An operating system that can't survive a update is unusable in my opinion.

OpenSuSE Tumbleweed @Jan 2017 Raspberry Pi 3 Linux

SuSE Enterprise linux and OpenSuSE are the first 64 bit operating systems for the Raspberry Pi 3. I installed it, and it works pretty well. Unlike Fedora 25, the wifi works. Also unlike Fedora 25, you can install binary programs such as emacs. There are some obscure programs that I can't find a repository for, but overall it is really quite nice. That is until you try to update the system. The update succeeds, but the system hangs during boot.

OpenSuSE Tumbleweed @Jan 2019 Raspberry Pi 3 Linux

I was able to download and install OpenSUSE Tumbleweed Jan 2019. I have been unable to get the wifi working, but other than that, I was able to install software as well as update the system without incident. This compares to fedora 29 (32 or 64 bit) which is unusable slow and freezes after a few minutes (64 bit) or fails to boot after updating (32 bit). In my limited testing, tumbleweed actually seems usable.

OpenSuSE Tumbleweed 6/10/2017 Raspberry Pi 3 Linux

I installed it, and it works pretty well. The wifi is not installed by default, unlike the previous build I tried. Overall it is really quite nice. That is until you try to update the system. The process is less than obvious, but I was able to do it via the command line. The update succeeds, but the system hangs during boot.

Raspberry Pi OS May-27-2020

This is generally the most useful raspberry pi distribution, which makes sense because it is from the raspberry pi foundation. Unlike several other distributions, the screen is the correct resolution, and is fully visible on a 1920x1080 monitor. The OS is based on Debian buster, which is very stable, but far from leading edge. No doubt some functionality has been back-ported to support all the raspberry pi 4b hardware. The update process was a bit rocky, likely due to poor availability of the update servers. Eventually I was able to fully update the OS. The wifi worked find right out of the box. When I updated all the software, I was unable to connect to the internet via wifi. The wifi networks were visible, but I couldn't connect t anything. Hopefully that will be fixed soon... I have seen similar issues with other linux distributions for the pi.

Now the wifi 'country' is unspecified. When you specify a country, it remains unspecified. I looked at the config file and it has the correct country. I reported the issue Jun-11-2020, which is over a month ago, but got no reply of any kind. The bug report has no update in the bug tracking system. Today Jul-21-2020, I updated all software, and the issue persists. For an operating system to be viable, there needs to be a working process of submitting bug reports. Acknowledging the bugs, and perhaps fixing them might be a good idea.

Well, there is a new release, Aug-20. I installed it from scratch, and the initialization is a bit different than the previous version. After updating, the wifi works! The 5ghz connects, but doesn't seem very happy. The 2.2ghz works reliably. I never got feedback from my bug report, but working wifi is always good.

Ubuntu 20.04 64 on raspberry pi 4

First, Ubuntu does not have a desktop version of 20.04 for the raspberry pi 4 (or any other raspberry pi). But it does have ubuntu server. The good news is ubuntu server is running a Linux 5.x kernel (5.4 IIRC). And if you like the command line, you can download the desktop software, which is about a 3 giga byte download. After a bit of fussing around, and realizing that the primary window is the console, and that you need to switch to a different window to log in, you can indeed log in and start X-windows. When you do, you will eventually get a working desktop. Unfortunately, like Kali, it thinks the display is 1920 x 1280, and there is nothing you can do to fix it. Curiously, it also thinks the refresh rate is 0 Hz. It seems quite sluggish compared to rasbarian, but it doesn't fail to reboot when you update the software, which is nice compared to Kali or OpenSuse. Still, not ready for prime time.

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