Scientific Linux 7.1 review

I was wise enough to use Scientific Linux 6.6 at home.  I started the SL6x series with 6.2. ]In 2003, I started out with RHEL 3.3.  I don’t like 7.0 and would use it later.  Why would anyone prefer SL 7.0 for daily desktops over SL 6.6 when everything is at stake? It wasn’t wise to use SL 7.0, it actually crashed twice.

Let’s start with the GOOD news:
Scientific Linux 7.1 is vastly improved over the disaster known as
Scientific Linux 7.0. The coders and developers at both Red Hat and
Scientific Linux need to be highly commended for their efforts they
put into 7.1. The BAD news is Scientific Linux 7.1 is UNPOLISHED and
still needs a lot of work.

One of the advantages of having a
pair of mirror image machines is you can spot problems that would
normally have you tearing out your hair trying to solve. I had no
problem this time around doing the initial install of Scientific
Linux 7.1. It was only after I did the install that I started having
troubles. The single biggest problem was in adding the latest version
of kmod-nvidia drivers. I also ran into issues installing VMware
Player 7.1.0 — which installed just fine… but then crashed the
first time I started it up. It was the problem with the Nvidia
drivers that would throw me. I found every hack in the book, but no
matter what I did, the second I rebooted the machine I got a Black
Screen with a blinking cursor. After 5 complete installations I was
set to throw in the towel and live without the Nvidia working.

While I did my install using manual partitioning, my buddy
did his using LVN partitioning, but did not want to lose his Windows
partitions. He got the same results as I did. So we decided he should
try to manually partition his SSD. He never made it past the point
where he could install the OS, which I breezed through. We decided to
check into BIOS. The first thing we noticed is that he had two CD-ROM
drives listed, not one, even though he only had one physical device:
One UEFI and one NON-UEFI. The UEFI was listed first, then came the
NON-UEFI. Just for fun we had him change the order and placed the
NON-UEFI CD-ROM first. He then rebooted and had ZERO problems with
the install. Next he then found an interesting link in regards to
installing kmod-nvidia drivers in Scientific Linux 7.1, and followed
the instructions, and PRESTO he had Nvidia up and
running.

http://linuxsysconfig.com/2014/09/nvidia-drivers-on-Scientific
Linux-7/

Excited by the news, I jumped on it,
only to end up with a Black screen and a blinking cursor. One other
difference in our install procedures was I installed the whole thing
— 7 GB — which required that I install it from a thumb drive, while
he installed his from a DVD live version. In BIOS the thumb drive
shows up as a UEFI hard drive. Based on my buddy’s experience I went
over to the “Boot” portion of the BIOS and found in there a
NON-UEFI version of the thumb drive. While I could not put this
version in train I could over-ride the boot sequence and boot
directly from this NON-UEFI version. The first thing I did was to
install the LVN version and followed the hack my buddy found… and
like him my system came up with Nvidia. I then went back and
installed a test version via manual partitioning, but first I checked
out to see what partitions were created by the automatic LVN
partitioning scheme. What was created a a /boot, a /home, a /, and
/swap; where as in all my installs there was also a /boot/efi
partition. This time I left out the /boot/efi partition and the
software installed just fine!!! Also the hack worked just fine and
and the kmod-nvidia drives installed just fine as well. For the 8th
time I did a total re-install only this time I booted from the
NON-UEFI drive and left out the
/boot/efi partition during the install.
. It is just a
guess but I suspect that Microsoft with its undue influence over
everything, everything now defaults to UEFI, to include UEFI devices,
motherboards, etc, and these receive priority over non-UEFI items,
thus if you have a recent vintage motherboard, or other devices, they
are set up to comply with the Microsoft UEFI policy, but to be
backwards compatible, there is a list of non-UEFI items. If you are
installing Scientific Linux 7.1 your first trip should be to BIOS, to
ensure that whatever device you are booting from is NOT
UEFI ENABLED
. If you are doing Custom Manual Partitioning
DO NOT install a /boot/efi
partition — you do however need a /boot partition. Once you have
done that the rest of the install is rather straight forward.

The
BIOS hack needs to be published and save everyone from tearing out
their hair in frustration. Were it not for the fact I was working
with a mirrored computer I might not have caught this.

The
biggest problem with Scientific Linux 7.1 is that it is grossly
unpolished. There is no reason that you should have to jump through a
bunch of hoops just to install kmod-nvidia. A “yum install
kmod-nvidia” should be all that is needed. Other problems come
to the installation of Users and Groups. In Fedora, all you do is go
to Administration –> click on “Users and Groups” and be
on your merry way. Both in Scientific Linux 7.0 1406 and 7.1 1503
there is no easy way to add Users and Groups, as the administrative
icon is missing. If you want to add Users and Groups you need to be
Old School and do it from the CLI. That said I was able to add the
Users and Groups icon back in: You need to 1) enable several repos
including elreo, epel, extras, and nux-dextop. 2) Run yum grouplist
3) Run yum groupinstall “MATE Desktop”, yum groupinstall
“Xfce”, yum groupinstall “Milkymist”, and
groupinstall “Haskell”. It is somewhere in one of those
four groups. When you next click on Applications –>
Administration you will find the familiar “Users and Groups”
icon.

What about tunes?!? If you are looking for kscd, forget
it, I’ve looked and still can not find it. The news is slightly
better if you are a fan of Amarok. IF you plan to run amarok do try
to install it before
you add your kmod-nvidia drivers. Before I “fixed” the OS
to run kmod-nvidia, I had no problem installing amarok, and it worked
just fine; after I “fixed” it so I could run kmod-nvidia I
went to install amarok I got the following message:

Error:
Multilib version problems found. This often means that the root

cause
is something else and multilib version checking is just

pointing
out that there is a problem. Eg.:

1. You have an upgrade for
qtwebkit which is missing some

dependency that another package
requires. Yum is trying to

solve this by installing an older
version of qtwebkit of the

different architecture. If you exclude
the bad architecture

yum will tell you what the root cause is
(which package

requires what). You can try redoing the upgrade
with

–exclude qtwebkit.otherarch … this should give you an
error

message showing the root cause of the problem.

2. You
have multiple architectures of qtwebkit installed, but

yum can
only see an upgrade for one of those architectures.

If you don’t
want/need both architectures anymore then you

can remove the one
with the missing update and everything

will work.

3. You
have duplicate versions of qtwebkit installed already.

You can use
“yum check” to get yum show these errors.

…you can
also use –setopt=protected_multilib=false to remove

this
checking, however this is almost never the correct thing to

do as
something else is very likely to go wrong (often causing

much more
problems).

Protected multilib versions:
qtwebkit-2.3.3-3.el7.x86_64 != qtwebkit-2.3.4-3.el7.i686

I
suspect the problem occurs because when you run the hack that “fixes”
it so you can install kmod-nvidia part of it requires you to install
32 bit libraries. To quote the source:

“When running a
64bit OS, the 32bit Nvidia libraries may also be needed for
compatibility, I always install them. The good thing is that
kmod-nvidia also disables nouveau automatically, so no more manually
tweaking modprobe and grub

“yum
install kmod-nvidia nvidia-x11-drv-32bit”

I suspect that
the “!= qtwebkit-2.3.4-3.el7.i686” is 32 bit and that
conflicts the amarok install. You might try to get around the problem
by installing amarok before you fix the nvidia drivers problem. No
guarantee, but it is worth a shot.

The alternatives included
in Scientific Linux 7.1 are sparce — Rythembox being the ONLY
alternative.

Another place where Scientific Linux 7.1 falls
down is when it comes to turning ON and turning OFF services. You use
to go to Applications –> Administration and find “Services”,
you go there open it up and then at a glance you could see what was
running, and what was not. You could also choose to STOP and/or
RE-START any given Service. Like “Users and Groups” this
too is missing. There may or may NOT be something similar in
Scientific Linux 7.1: If you go to Favorites –> System Settings
–> find System Administration –> find and open Startup and
Shutdown –> Service Manager you have something that looks sort of
like the old service manager. things such as ntp, etc, are missing.
The *old* version was far better, and for better or worse, it should
be included as an alternate to the “new” version.

One
place that is a clear improvement is VMware Player. Once I “fixed”
the problem with installing the kmod-nvidia drivers, it also it
seemed to “fix” the problem with the Vmware Player. It now
opens all my Virtual Machines without a problem. One BIG improvement
was that even though during the install the 1 TB SATA is not in the
train (it is listed as being found, just not listed in the boot
sequence)Scientific Linux 7.1 goes out and can see all the
directories on that HD. You just need to select the directory, enter
your secret sauce root password, and BINGO!! you now have access to
the data on your other drive!!!

OTOH if you are looking for
Games — card, or board — SORRY you are out of luck. I’ve gone in
search of these and none can be found.

CONCLUSION:
Unlike Scientific Linux 7.0 1406 which was a Total Disaster,
Scientific Linux 7.1 1503 is very much a usable OS though still
lacking in features. It is clearly NOT designed for a newbie who
would through up their hands in total defeat. It really is a DIY type
of OS — if you are willing to sink a lot of time into it, it really
is a nice OS with some nice features, but there are clearly places
where it can be improved: It still needs a way for people to Add
Users and Groups; kmod-nvidia should be a rather straight forward
install without needing to jumps through hoops; amarok, kscd, should
be part of the multimedia package set as these are two old standards
people know and love; games — totally missing and found on every
distro except Scientific Linux 7.1 (and probably RHEL 7.1) need to be
added; Administrative tools such as the “classic”
“Services” that was found under Application –>
Administration should be reinstalled; and overall the OS needs to be
polished. In short Scientific Linux 7.1 needed far too much hacking
to be made usable. Unless I encounter other problems I can now say I
will be migrating off Fedora 20 and to Scientific Linux 7.1. While it
still needs work — a lot of work — Scientific Linux 7.1 is quite
usable, even if not as polished as Fedora 20, and 21. The Problem
with Fedora, is you are always on the Bleeding Edge — and trust me
you do a LOT of BLEEDING; Scientific Linux by contrast is nice and
stable for the most part, however Scientific Linux 7.x has been quite
a disappointment. With the release of Scientific Linux 7.1 1503 I can
now say it is usable even if it still needs work. For the Newbies out
there I would pass on Scientific Linux 7.1, and wait until Scientific
Linux 7.2 is released when hopefully many of the problems I have
encountered have been fixed; for the more experienced user with a
handful of tricks published above I think you’ll really enjoy this
release, understand this is closer to a Beta or a RC1 release than a
final release since it still needs work.

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