With Easter just around the corner and possibly spring coming shortly after–Canadians have to wait a bit longer for spring t0 properly arrive and winter to make her final exit–that it would make sense to update my blog. Many things have changed in the past few weeks . Like we have a new pope, Pope Francis, just in time for Easter. (I’m not going to weigh in on my opinions of the decision of the Conclave, other than I have mixed feelings. And each passing day does not ease my general feeling about unease.) Some things have not changed. Like most things in the world I guess.
With the slow coming of warmer weather, I have a good excuse for a bit of spring cleaning and growing myself. In terms of spring cleaning, I have meant to really organize my activities and my surroundings. Unfortunately since I had to make do without my laptop for a few weeks, that has not helped me get more things done. Especially when it comes to dealing with my overflowing inbox. Apologies for everyone expecting me to get back to them. I’m getting there slowly.
I did get to play around with setting up Python on my hosting environment and with Clojure. Clojure, while definitely useful still feels like an exercise in academics than industrial programming. (Still one can write a full implementation of Snake/Nibbles in Clojure in under 100 lines of code? Madness!) Python on the other hand is too much fun to feel like work. I considered using something like a static website generator like Nikola or benjen to port some of my websites. But I think for kicks, I will go the route of using Flask and craft my own mini-site just because working with Python is a such a joy.
One unfortunately necessary bit of spring cleaning will be changing Linux distros again. It seems that Canonical is doing a fair bit of wild experimentation nowadays. Too wild and it smells like they are suffering from NIH (not invented here). The idea to chuck out everyone’s hard work on replacing X with Wayland, with their own thing was just too much. So it looks like I’m going back to openSUSE for good. It is just a matter of when I get around to migrating all my systems over. I have no real issue with Canonical doing what they want with their own distro Ubuntu. I just don’t agree with the philosophy, and the needless experimentation, especially since I am quite happy with using a relatively standard KDE 4 desktop.
Hopefully once I finish all the spring cleaning I’ll get to finish up and show off some the projects I’ve been working on.
If you’ve followed my dents on identi.ca, you may have noticed that I asked people for their recommendations for a good KDE4 Linux distribution. Well after a bit of thought I decided that I would move away from Kubuntu to openSUSE. Why the change?
- KDE4 is the desktop environment that gets all the attention and polish. Kubuntu is great and valiant effort by the community to bring the Ubuntu experience to KDE4. However, there is a lot of polish and integration missing that openSUSE provides.
- A system that supports my hardware. From some weird reason, the Ubuntu kernel maintainers removed a flag that cause my DVD burner not to see CDs. This is not the case in openSUSE. I actually tried to burn something off a LiveUSB before installing openSUSE. Yes, I could of recompiled my kernel with the right flags. But if I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t have moved off Gentoo to Kubuntu.
- A system with lots of packages and community repositories. This is why I didn’t choose some of the lesser known distributions. openSUSE (and Fedora) do a good job at this.
- A stable system. Fedora does not do that. The upcoming release of Kubuntu LTS et al, seems to break things. openSUSE is extremely conservative in this manner.
- Something I am familiar with. This was not a hyper-important point, but I do like the fact that I’ve used SuSE in the past. So installing openSUSE is a bit like going back to an old and comfortable place.
And so far I am pleased. The desktop looks polished, quick and a great KDE4 experience. All that said there are somethings I don’t like:
- Configuration is weird. I am not a huge fan of YaST. It is good, but somehow my brain has gotten used to thinking either configuration files or KDE’s System Settings.
- Leaving Upstart. Upstart is really, really neat way of dealing with services. Now I’m forced to think in terms of rc.d runlevels and I’m not a happy bodkin.
- NXServer installation breaks things. Oh yes it does. I fought for quite a while with getting my OpenSSH server starting at boot. It looks like the bootscript for nxsensor (nxserver’s statistics gathering engine) screws up runlevels. Never ever had this issue in Ubuntu.
- No DEBs. I miss DEBs, aptitude and various DEB tool. I’m hoping that zypper and yast manage RPM dependencies in a saner manner than what I remember from 2004-2006ish.
Somethings I look forward to trying out:
- How easy updates work. openSUSE 11.3 is in the works, and I can hardly wait until it comes out in July. I got a taste of KDE 4.4 via a backport PPA in Kubuntu. And I want that that goodness, without my system acting weirdish after the update.
- Easy to do backups. I could not for the life of me setup a decent backup scheme under Kubuntu. openSUSE provides a backup module right into YaST.
- Better performance. So far openSUSE feels snappier than Kubuntu. We’ll see what will happen once I restore all data from a backup.
- Developing and distributing KDE and Qt with ease. This is a huge one. I want to get into programming in Qt and enhancing the KDE experience. I’m hoping that the tools and build system in openSUSE makes this braindead easy.