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Living With Fedora Rawhide

I always had this question, “Can we use Rawhide daily as our main and only OS?“. And here I’m now, using Rawhide (Fedora 21) as my only OS for the last past 2 weeks.

Never ever trust someone that will say that Rawhide works flawlessly (or the opposite!), and that’s because Fedora is a very famous OS for giving two kinds of experiences. From perfection to the totally catastrophe. A small bug is enough to get you there.

Nowadays, speaking for Fedora, we mostly mean Fedora workstation and GNOME desktop that comes as default. Starting from Fedora 21, by removing GNOME and using something else (e.g Cinnamon, XFCE, Mate etc), you pretty much don’t have a Fedora OS, but a RPM Fedora-like distroThat’s the bond of the upcoming Fedora with GNOME, similar to Ubuntu/Unity, Mint/Cinnamon and so on, but with the difference that Fedora and GNOME are two totally different teams.

Notice that Fedora also includes and maintains Qt5 libs and they will also officially(?) support KDE 5 with a different product, called Fedora Plasma.

Fedora 21 will be branched from Rawhide somewhere in July, where the stable release will come out by the end of the year. You can see the F21 schedule in their wiki.

Since there isn’t a F21 yet, I want to share my experience with Rawhide, rather talking about the changes or making a Fedora 21 preview.

You can check Fedora 21 details at:


Customizations

For what it’s worth, I have disabled SELinux & a few more services, I’m using no-debug kernels, I’ve switched swapiness off and I’ve added some proprietary repositories.


DNF, Yum, Software

Rawhide gives 3 choices out of box (all three pre-installed) to update/upgrade the system, DNF, Yum and GNOME-Software. DNF will be the default update method in Fedora 22, but right now many people (Software uses DNF methodology too!) are using it.

While in practice it won’t raise issues but it will bring confusion, these three tools seems to give different sets of updates. However DNF & Software are under heavy development, so that may isn’t the case in a few months.


GNOME

Rawhide always updates to the latest GNOME’s unstable releases. That means that they ship the unstable GNOME releases, but they don’t upgrade from daily GNOME Git, as Ubuntu GNOME PPAs. For example, at the moment Rawhide uses GNOME 3.13.2 and the next version they are going to ship is GNOME 3.13.3, a few days after June 25, which is the 3.13.3 release date.

Most of the bugs I encountered in Rawhide have to do with GNOME, rather with other parts of Fedora. However Shell is rock solid and I didn’t had not one single crash!

Some apps like Boxes, Empathy and Clocks (probably more) don’t work at all (even if they work upstream! -if we build them our selves), while Files has annoying bugs with tabs and Terminal has random crashes, which is the very worst bug I found.

The workaround here (specially with Terminal) is to install alternative applications, till the bugs are fixed.


Third Party Apps

All third party applications I tried worked fine, so you won’t get any issues there, although I didn’t install the very popular Steam. Steam is a binary bundle (everything included) and it should work too.

[caption id="attachment_26646" align="aligncenter" width="640"]software3132 Rawhide includes more or less the same applications as Fedora
Software won’t show every available application under Fedora![/caption]

Development tools, servers, databases and other frameworks run and build also perfectly, so yes you can work with them in Rawhide. Obviously I didn’t try everything, like 3d graphics engines, but if you develop with such tools, you should be able to find a workaround to a potential building problem.


Critical Errors

So far I wasn’t hit by any major issue, like an unbootable kernel, a broken XServer, a damaged dual-boot loader, a corrupted file system or “heavy” unresolved dependencies. If that happens though, Fedora doesn’t provide any auto-repair mechanisms, which in my opinion is one of the big weakness of Fedora.

In any case the latest Rawhide has nothing to do with Rawhide at version 18 & 19 that I had tried and they were totally “crap”. It is clearly that Fedorians have put a lot of effort to make Rawhide usable and provide an “as stable as possible” platform that people can use daily and provide bug reports.


Rolling Release

Rawhide isn’t a rolling release since they offer much of unstable software. However judging by the level of quality of their upgrades I won’t get surprised if in their version 23 or 24 announce that they will turn Fedora into a rolling release, or at least provide such option/repo.


Rawhide Overall

Rawhide (so far!) simply didn’t give me a single reason to revert back to Fedora 20. It performs fast, there is the next generation graphic system (Wayland) we can try, we have the very latest desktops, plus it won’t stand in our way if we want to do some serious work in it.

[caption id="attachment_26631" align="aligncenter" width="640"]fedora21 Epiphany again isn’t pre-installed.
What will they do now with the DRM-ed Firefox?[/caption]

Rawhide can be particular useful for GTK+ developers that want to use the unstable GTK and GNOME stack, and of course Theme authors since they can use the new GTK Inspector which is totally brilliant!

Rawhide is also suitable for people that are interested to learn what GNOME.next is building & file bugs, but the final answer for using or not Rawhide would be, “Why not?“.


Downloading

You can get the latest images from Koji

Choose a “closed” state and “Fedora Workstation” images, preferably the 64bit.

If you want to play it safe, you can wait till mid August to get the Fedora 21 alpha release (with the known bugs reports), and GNOME 3.14 Beta (3.13.90). This might be a good idea, specially if you are a new Fedora user and not familiar to repair a Fedora system ..if that ever needed!


 
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