Big Bubbles (no troubles)

What sucks, who sucks and you suck

CentOS 5.0 a Success?

(Compare “success” in Fedora terms: “doesn’t corrupt hard drive beyond repair”.)

Upgraded the Glamorous Research Assistant’s PC from CentOS 4.5 to 5.0 yesterday and…it actually went pretty swimmingly. Using the recommended Anaconda upgrade method took about an hour, including a moderately long pause after the final package update, after which it rebooted successfully. Only one major issue below.

  • The Seamonkey browser isn’t included in 5.0 and it isn’t in any of the companion repositories either! The previous 4.x package (a mid-lifecycle replacement for Mozilla) causes a conflict with the bundled Firefox package on the GRE config file, so one of them has to be removed. This was almost a showstopper given that Seamonkey is the household browser of choice around the lab here; the GRA would not have been impressed by “command not found” errors. Fortunately, the FC7 seamonkey RPM can be installed, although you’re then committed to manually tracking off-distribution packages that change regularly.
  • Several 4.x packages are orphaned and one or two have to be removed to avoid YUM conflicts.

Tempting as it is to go with the stress-free stability of CentOS for BB’s own PC, we’re currently succumbing to the temptation of Fedora 7 owing to the newly extended support period and some of the juicier package updates included therein. In fairness, FC5 has been exceptionally stable since shortly before its EOL, although this might also be connected with the RAM and motherboard upgrade carried out recently.

Interestingly for both CentOS and Fedora, a fresh installation is always recommended over the provided upgrade path. BB’s PC has survived from RHL 6.2 through half a dozen upgrades to FC5 (and replacement of almost all the hardware barring the case) so far, but it hasn’t been a smooth course, with a number of manual interventions required at various points. Outdated RPMs also tend to accumulate and require the occasional careful clear-out; it’s amazing how many “next generation” open source frameworks and libraries quickly turned into dead ends. This really demands some attitude adjustment on the part of Red Hat; yes, it’s easy to keep user data on a separate partition and thus preserve it, but restoring an entire system config - possibly a carefully customised one, as is the way of “freedom” - on a newly installed standalone PC is really no fun and nobody should be expected to do it. I choose to upgrade because I have a lot of carefully tweaked settings and third party packages that I want to retain, and while I can accept that this won’t always be as reliable as a fresh install, I don’t expect the default answer to be “Please don’t do that”. (Resists opportunity to mention Solaris by comparison.)