Scientific Linux 7.1 review - More fiasco


Updated: July 1, 2015

I decided to be brave. I decided to give Gnome 3 another chance. And this time, on top of Scientific Linux 7.1, which was released last month or so. A decent operating system, based on RedHat, it's somewhat like CentOS, but supposedly more geared toward a scientific community. In the past, my experience has gone from solid to quite bad. But maybe this time?

Well, let's see what gives. I also have new hardware, so it's going to be interesting, especially as there's a fair amount of dread in the community regarding UEFI. Then, I will try to get a perfect kind of desktop running, if possible. Well, guessing from the title, it prolly won't happen, but you might as well lean back and enjoy the rant.

Teaser

Live session and such

Much like Fedora 22, which we crucified only days ago, Scientific Linux started with a great hope. UEFI wasn't a challenge, yay. We were booting, babe, we were booting, and then, much like Fedora, it got stuck. No Lenovo G50 for me. It will have to be the aging LG machine with its Nvidia card. Well, at least we can test something.

Live desktop

Network connectivity

Wireless works, both in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz range. Samba sharing works without having to molest the firewall, but much like Fedora, name resolution is nyet, you must use IP addresses, because it's so rad to be retarded in 2015. Bluetooth is also okay, but you cannot print, because apparently, this is such a niche task that the developers didn't bother adding 30kB worth of data to make you feel like a normal human being. Hint: The printing applet keeps on sucking even after the installation. So you can breathe now, as I've just tuned down the suspense. Right, it was killing you. Oh such a thrill.

Samba, must use IP addresses

No print services

Gnome stuff

As fas as Gnome 3 goes, and we're ignoring the fact it's retarded, so as far as retardation goes, it's slightly less stupid than it used to be. You will almost get a moment or two of charm when you play with the Activities and such. Still, my initial impression from over 9,000 years ago stands. Font rendering is horrible.

Activities

Search through Activities

Menu

Installation

Identical to our earlier Fedora adventure. Boring, slightly dangerous, uninspiring. You get the 100% progress bar, and then you wait for the banana like a silly monkey. The slideshow should be called the slimeshow, as there's nothing to see really.

Installation

But just when you think Scientific Linux 7.1 cannot up the game with stupid, it does. You are supposed to accept some kind of license agreement, but how does the system present it to you, pray? It shows a text yes/no thingie during the shutdown sequence, which you can easily miss or misinterpret for an init script debug message or something. If there's a more convoluted, pointless way of doing, I can't really thing of one at the moment.

Trying to use Scientific, and failing

Now, the un-fun part. We've enjoyed ourselves much, not, and now that the system is installed, it's time to try to redeem it. Perhaps we will succeed. Oh, again, the suspense is killing me.

Desktop

Updates & package management

In one word, nope. This didn't work out well. Remember my Scientific Linux repo guide, or my fine pimping guide, which begin both by adding extra sources to your system, so you can actually install useful stuff? Well, not here. The new package manager, or whatever Gnome 3 visual abomination sits in front of it is rather pointless. You can expand the categories by clicking on the little arrows. Double click does not work. Silly.

No ffmpeg in the repo

But that's only just a cosmetic problem. Functionally, I could not find any addons in the repos, like there used to be, the program is slow, and what little software is there does not really offer anything useful. Sure, if you use this for work, then yes, some of the software may actually make sense. But for home purposes, forget it.

Multimedia

Problems, problems, problems. That should have been Steve's pitch. First, finding codecs is very difficult. There are none available in the official repos, and browsing them is about as fun as searching for WWII leftover mines in a forest. I mean none as in none that matter if you want to do something cool and fun.

I did find a reference to how one might obtain the EPEL repo stuff, but this didn't help one bit. Even after I managed to install the bad gstreamer codecs, Scientific refused to play my music. So no MP3. Likewise, no Flash in the repos. Hey, at the very least, YUM works and you don't get any of that Fedora DNF (Did Not Finish the race?) nonsense.

EPEL repo, at least yum works

No codecs

That black theme is the default. Zero integration, that's what it's called.

Ergo, concordingly, on Youtube, I didn't have Flash, but the browser kept pestering me. At the very least, HTML5 worked fine, so I could at least listen to some fine music, but even True Survivor in all its mighty 80s retro glory couldn't uplift my spirit. I mean I don't mind Flash going away forever, but still. Well, great music is great music.

Youtube, HTML5

The only thing that played properly is my HD video, which comes encoded with xVid and MP3, so there's really no reason why you should have audio, or rather, if you do, why individual MP3 files don't play. Moreover, the system volume is muted by default.

HD video

Applications

I feel like I'm repeating myself from the previous review. And this is largely true, because Scientific Linux 7.1 has made zero attempts to become better at what it can do. The previous major release at least tried to be home-friendly, and it did come with a bunch of programs that could help you both be productive and enjoy yourself at the same time. This is no longer the case. You have no repos, no cool software, and the baseline is just poor. Almost depressing. Taking selfies in Cheese is the only thing really. Or you can tweak the verbosity of the SELinux vomit. Lovely. Nothing else, I'm afraid.

Apps

Resource usage

Gnome is meant to be light, right? Wrong! It constantly nom-nom-noms 6-7% CPU on idle, and while this is an old system, it's no excuse for gluttony. Plus the memory usage is about 520MB, which isn't very good. But then, I didn't have the Nvidia drivers available, because I didn't have any normal repos available. Because this thing sucks. And no swap used? More fail.

Resource usage

More about Gnome

The fact you have the Gnome desktop at your disposal exacerbates things further. This is such a pointless desktop environment it makes FVWM sound like a winner. You still cannot pin applications, you still need to go through a dozen convoluted menus, everything is too big, damn frigging smartphone big, the programs come with neutered, bland interfaces that serve no purpose, and you still cannot create a bloody text file with a bloody right click.

Cannot create text files

Again, we go back to the desktop background thingie. Why does it have to suck so much. It's not Romulus trying to feed on his wolf mother beast mythical thingie. It's a desktop, and you should be able to change the wallpaper without selling your kidneys.

Background crap

Moreover, the desktop reads Trash, but the file manager reads Wastebasket. Whoever designed this didn't even bother to do the basic of most minimal of QA to make their release look even remotely professional or presentable. Like playing hopscotch with a corpse.

You get no extensions, nothing to make this desktop look friendly. And if you click on the relevant link in the Tweak Tool, it takes you to the official website, which tells you that it cannot detect Gnome on your system. That's all you need to know about it. Fail. FAIL.

Gnome extensions failure

Extensions fail, zoomed

Zoomed more

Conclusion

Scientific Linux is supposed to be a serious, stable, useful operating system. So is CentOS. And they both try to be fully compatible with RedHat Enterprise, because after all, that is what they are all about. However, while the latter does manage to do this in a rather smooth, pleasant manner AND still be a great candidate for home use, Scientific Linux fails in its mission statement on oh-so-many levels, definitely not helped by using the Gnome nonsense. Oh man how have the tables turned. Gnome 2 used to be my favorite desktop environment, and Gnome 3 is my most hated one.

But even if we ignore the presentation layer completely, Scientific Linux 7.1 is still a poor choice for any kind of home-related use. It's slow, it has no useful software, and worse, you can't get any, even if you want to. It won't even let you print, for pity's sake. It's made zero progress from the previous release, and it's infinitely more retarded than the 6.X family. Fedora 22 is also quite bad, but it's supposed to be a bleeding edge test bed, and even though it failed me horribly, it still managed to do more, and more gracefully, than Scientific Linux did today.

I can't think of a single reason why you should waste your precious time with this distro. Grade wise, 1/10, and I'm being generous. Stay away, go with CentOS, and I'm shelving this for a few years, until and if and when the dev folks decide to be serious about offering a fun, cozy and practical distro like they used to only a couple of years ago. And thank you for ruining my morning. I'm off.

Cheers.

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