After using Fedora for quite a time, I wanted to test Centos for my workstation. Centos is a really nice Linux Distribution which I already use as a server operating system. Now I want to know how it performs as Desktop Distribution.
Centos is a stable rpm based Linux Distribution which uses sources derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
With Centos 7 Initd was replaced with systemd and the Gnome Desktop got a major version bump (from v2.x to v3.x). Centos now supports the XFS file system.
Let’s start testing Centos 7:
Here are the things I usually doing on the desktop machine:
- Developing Haskell and C applications
VirtualBoxto test some distributions or using snapshots to test software under various conditions
- Playing games via Steam (which requires proprietary NVidia video driver)
Step 1: Download and Installation
I selected a net install ISO from http://isoredirect.centos.org/centos/7/isos/x86_64/. To install you need to input a package mirror where the packages should be downloaded. (A source could be http://mirror.centos.org/centos/7/os/x86_64/).
Centos uses the same installer as Fedora. The installer creates a default partition scheme using XFS as default file system. Setting up users and password was no problem.
Two clicks later and 2 min waiting.. Voila ready to reboot!
Step 2: Third-Party repositories and proprietary NVidia video driver
Because the Centos basic repository does not include a lot of software I need I activated a few third-party repositories:
- EPEL: A third party repository enables a lot of software which is available in Fedora is maintained by the fedora community (http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/EPEL)
- ELRepo: A repository focusing on driver support for Centos 5/6/7. (http://elrepo.org/)
- nux-desktop: A media repository which offers packages for VLC and steam
To enable Epel:
yum install epel-release
To install ELRepo:
rpm --import https://www.elrepo.org/RPM-GPG-KEY-elrepo.org rpm -Uvh http://www.elrepo.org/elrepo-release-7.0-2.el7.elrepo.noarch.rpm
Finally I added nux-desktop for packages of vlc and steam:
rpm -Uvh http://li.nux.ro/download/nux/dextop/el7/x86_64/nux-dextop-release-0-1.el7.nux.noarch.rpm
Step 3: Installing Xfce and NVidia drivers
I neither like Gnome or KDE. That is why I always install Xfce as desktop environment.
yum groups install "X Window System" yum groups install "Xfce" yum install faience-icon-theme yum install dejavu-sans-fonts dejavu-serif-fonts
This will install around 120Mb. Because of the ELRepo repository
kmod-nvidia is now available for install:
yum install kmod-nvidia
Before I rebooted I enabled X at start-up.
systemctl set-default graphical.target
Step 4: Install all the things
After reboot I needed to setup icons and backgrounds. I also downloaded and installed the greybird theme.
Now I installed all things I need:
yum install git vlc gvim ghc cabal-install firefox tmux steam ...
Step 5: Haskell Environment
Centos 7 does not provide Haskell support from core. Fortunately Fedora does. That’s why EPEL contains all needed packages to setup a Haskell environment.
EPEL currently ships: ghc 7.6.3 and cabal-install 220.127.116.11.
I updated cabal-install and removed the package with yum because I want to use the sandbox feature of cabal (cabal >= 1.18 is needed).
yum install zlib-devel cabal update cabal install cabal-install yum remove cabal-install
$$HOME/.cabal/bin to my $$PATH.
Step 6: VirtualBox
To use VirtualBox I needed to enable the VirtualBox own
rpm repository www.virtualbox.org.
cd /etc/yum.repos.d wget http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/rpm/rhel/virtualbox.repo
I installed dkms before VirtualBox
yum install dkms
yum install VirtualBox-4.3
Ready to rumble!
Centos is an Enterprise Operating system which focuses on business and server applications. This means the development focus lies in stable server and basic office software. The result:
Unfortunately some packages were not available which I’m daily using (like pavucontrol which is not even available via third party repositories). The lack of a lot normal software makes it necessary to add a lot third party repositories. This clearly will negatively affect the stability in long a term.
This is clearly a showstopper (because the main reason why I tested Centos was to gain more stability).
Despite the fact that a lot software I’m using was missing Centos was running really smooth and nice. Surprised by topicality of some software (e.g. GHC 7.6.3 which is also the latest version on Fedora 20),
Conclusion in short: Nice server OS but as Desktop distribution I will stay with Fedora.
And a new Fedora 21 with xmonad and Xfce looks great too!