After 24 years of Linux on the desktop, 15 of them with Fedora, I recently had a bit of a mid-life crisis that led to a brief and unfortunate indiscretion.
The cracks in my relationship with Fedora have been developing for some time. I work from home and have for a very long time. I have room for one desk in my house, and I need to work with a very finely tuned ergonomic desk setup. Red Hat provides me with Lenovo hardware and a docking station which typically runs Linux pretty good. My solution then was to get myself a Lenovo laptop that would work well with that thunderbolt dock so I can easily switch between work and personal and still use my same setup.
This docking and suspend/resume has been the bane of my existence. Every new Fedora release seems to break suspend/resume/dock/sound in some combination, over and over and over, year after year. At times it’s been rock solid, but it feels like that was quite some time ago and now every day when I sit down to get to work, it’s a gamble as to whether or not I can pick up with where I left off, or I’m rebooting and getting everything decrypted and opened again.
I’m also not as young as I used to be. I was once happy to spend hours configuring and tweaking and debugging problems. I don’t really have that kind of time anymore, and frankly my body can’t handle much more time infront of a desk beyond my workday. I’ve been drifting towards someone who wants everything to “just work”.
A few weeks ago I snapped. After weeks of unrealiable resumes and now facing a graphical glitch in Gnome and then dnf history undo crashing on me, for the first time in decades I started distro hopping again. I wanted to see what was out there that worked better, and had a longer support cycle.
I tried out Elementary OS (lovely, but still dock issues and off the beaten path), CentOS Stream 9 (same dock/audio issues I hit on Fedora), and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (worked great but ugh, Canonical). As a long time Red Hatter, it was always unlikely I’d be able to live with myself running another distro.
But then, I really hit rock bottom.
I nearly bought a Mac.
We recently got an M1 Macbook Air for my wife. It’s sleek, slim, and beautiful. It’s reasonably affordable. It runs with speed I’ve never seen before. It’s absolutely silent. It works flawlessly with my damn dock. It edits my photos better than anything I have.
I thought on this for several days but kept researching and especially trying to talk myself out of it. Eventually it worked.
Linux is in my blood, and I don’t want to join the cult of Mac. It’s clearly amazing hardware and a really slick experience, but I don’t want a proprietary OS. I don’t want Apple cloud. I don’t want to pay for things I should be able to do for free. I want open source and privacy. I want vm’s and containers. I want a choice of desktop environments.
I really suspect we won’t ever have anything as pure as Linux on the desktop today, and I don’t want to give up on that.
This all brought me full circle. Yes, at times things break for my specific semi-complicated workflow and I’m going to get pretty cranky. The magnitude of what Fedora does right however outweighs the downsides.
I was somewhat surprised to learn the reputation Fedora has developed in the community, it’s been a long time since I explicitly looked. In the past I recall folks were somewhat skeptical of the project and Red Hat, Ubuntu was considered the gold standard. Now however I see a lot of folks praising everything Fedora is now well established as doing right and recommending it to other users: upstream first, free of proprietary code, and the latest and greatest delivered in as stable a manner as possible.
I’ve also remembered what Linux has done for me. If it weren’t for discovering Linux at 15, I’d likely be an accountant today. (no offence to accountants, but software engineering is a far better fit for me) Linux and open source gave me a hobby, and then gave me a career beyond anything I could have hoped for.
Thankfully Fedora took me back, we’re together again and very happy.
I am however, going to have to learn to buckle down and file some bugs now and then.