Need opinions & comments - thinking of switching to FC5
I apologize ahead of time for the long-winded post...I'm posting to get some simple, honest answers since I'm almost entirely unfamliar w/ Fedora and haven't touched it since FC2. I'm sure a lot has changed so please fill me in!
I've been using Gentoo since 2002 and have been (mostly) happy w/ it. It has been a great learning tool and has really made me appreciate Linux...it's the reason I'm a using Linux today - other distros at the time couldn't match up and turned me off *fast*.
These days, I'm a little tired of the maintenance Gentoo requires and don't really have the time it takes to "hold hands" and make sure nothing breaks when upgrading packages. I've once again started looking outside of Gentoo for another distro that is equally as stable, flexible, and fast. Granted, Gentoo is only as stable as you make it...mine has been rock-solid since I'm very conservative about how my system is configured...and careful.
I can't see a distro out there today that's advancing and innovating on the level that Fedora/RedHat is. When I started w/ Linux, I started w/ RedHat (5.2) and it was pretty rough until 8.0/9.0 and beyond...right about the time I switched to Gentoo.
FC5 looks absolutely fabulous. I built a PC last night for my 15 yr. old step-son and didn't have time to go through the Gentoo install & configuration pee-pee dance afterwards...I wanted something he could take home and just run with. I installed a basic FC5 desktop and ran all of the updates...it looks incredible...but I haven't had enough time to break it yet.
I'm thinking of installing it on my workstation, which runs an up-to-date install of Gentoo. Before I do this there's a few things I want to know so I can make a clear comparison and determine if the benefits are there to switch to FC5.
1. First and most important. I'm a Java developer...and now that Redhat owns JBoss (sah-WEEEET)...I'm going to assume Java is heavily supported & advocated by Redhat. I absolutely have to be able to run the Sun JDK 5+ without *any* restrictions. I run Eclipse (non-gcj) and MyEclipse...and JBoss. I need unencumbered use of Java...will I be able to get that in FC5?
2. I just bought an iPod nano...and I *must* have mp3...is this still a problem? I remember older FC releases "not allowing" (out of the box) mp3 encoding & usage in XMMS. I'm not interested in ogg...period - not to be a snob...I can't use ogg w/ my nano and I've got a massive mp3 library I'm in no way ready to drop and re-rip as ogg, either.
3. I use VMWare on a daily basis, is there any problem running it w/ FC5?
4. I use Crossover Office regularly, any problems there?
5. How stable are the offical & 3rd party repositories? What are the best and well-known repos out there? Nothing is more frustrating than running an install and having it completely wank your system....forcing a month or two of tweaking to fix (or worse - reinstalling from scratch.) Gentoo is very solid in this respect...portage, the pkg mgr, keeps unstable packages "masked" until they've had all the bugs worked out...but you can force an install if you *must* have those packages.
6. Are system-wide upgrades available through yum/apt AND...are they mature enough to actually use safely? I love Gentoo in this respect, "emerge -u world" will update your entire system...hypothetically, you never need to use a disc to upgrade your system once it has been installed...though it's not perfect...you have to be extremely careful what you upgrade sometimes - just to be fair.
7. How true is Redhat when it comes to supporting their "community" and being involved w/ their users? I had read some things on-and-off over the years about complaints from users & potential contributors...that Fedora isn't as open as it "should be". This is a big one for me - Gentoo is on the extreme end of the spectrum in this respect because they are extremely open and supportive of their users but have no official commercial support. I want a balance between the two - a well commercially & community-based supported distro under the auspices of a good, solid, market-respected company (like Redhat.) I love that I can go to Amazon and pick out a series of books on Redhat...Gentoo won't allow this for me...so I see that there is clear *industry* support...but I'm looking for a strong user-base (community) as well.
That's all I can think of for now! Please give me your honest thoughts...I'd like to go home tonight and install FC5 on my Toshiba laptop and really start to evaluate it! In the future, my company may start using Linux on the desktop...Redhat appears to be a real market-leader and Fedora might be a good "upgrade path" to that end.
Thanks very much!!