Tuesday, June 1, 2010

CentOS 5.5 Left Me Clueless

CentOS is a venerable server OS, no doubt about it! But when it comes to desktop, the same OS is a pig - you can't tame it to your liking. I had mentioned a few of the centOS desktop annoyances here in my previous post. As the time goes on I keep on getting more and more problems. Who told it's a no-nonsense desktop!

The USB issue still persists. And I now encountered a new problem related to file-roller. CentOS 5.5 comes with file-roller-2.16.0-2.fc6. Yes, it's the versions that originally came with Gnome 2.16. It's been very long... the package has been hardened by Red Hat in each of its point releases. CentOS also packaged the same, may be after doing some QA. However, I found a weird (and critical) problem – file-roller is unable to roll at all in some cases, i.e., though it easily archives directories with a few homogeneous files (such as docs, spreadsheets and text files), it fails to archive directories with complex structures and varied file types (such as completely saved web pages including css, js, html and other files).

First, I thought it's a regression, and went on to downgrade the package with the stock CentOS 5.2 disk. Nothing to my avail. Then I came to know the problem is deep-rooted in something that went wrong while upgrading.

What Did I Learn? CentOS is not Debian, that means, you can't upgrade from one point release to another and be assured of a stable system.

CentOS desktop behaves well if you don't fiddle. As I told earlier, you can't tame it to your liking the way you can do with a Debian system. At CentOS, I am clueless about this problem. Steadily CentOS is losing all its glory before me - I can't strip its kernel to suit my fancy, I can't tinker the runlevels and boot processes the way I did with Debian, I can't play with all the system internals the way I did with Lenny. Compared to Debian it seems more of a closed system.

In short, if you want to deploy CentOS on desktops, don't fiddle. Better still, choose Lenny or Squeeze. They won't let you down. You can always use CentOS on servers. Here, server side is very much standardized.

Good Heavens! There are some nice CLI goodies like tar, bzip, gzip.... they do the job.

Edit: I got file-roller working the way it should after removing brasero (by mistake). But I still wonder why and how brasero messed up with the archiver.

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