Farewell to Heisenbug

So the last operating system I discussed in any depth was Fedora 20, which I installed around October 2014. Given the length of support that Red Hat gives any edition of Fedora, I was lucky that it was maintained until June 2015 owing to delays to Fedora 21. Being of a paranoid bent, and knowing that sometimes a security flaw is found in a Linux kernel, I wasn’t inclined to blithely continue running an out-of-date release that wouldn’t receive a patch the next time an issue was found. So I had to upgrade.

Here my problems began. KDE had retired Plasma 4 (which my copy of Fedora 20 had as its desktop environment) in August 2015, meaning that if I continued to use Fedora with KDE, I’d be using Plasma 5. And at the time (July 2015ish) the reviews were basically saying that Plasma 5 had been released too early and was not just unpolished, but positively unfinished. If I wanted Plasma 4, I had to go retro.

At the time, I was used to Ubuntu’s old long term service model. The .04 release every two years was maintained for two years and this had been the case for a while. So I expected Kubuntu 14.04 to have a lifespan until April 2016 – about 9 months (yes, I know this is wrong, it’s just what I thought I knew at the time). Furthermore, I had already tried Lubuntu 14.04 and had difficulties with it. Even 18 months on, I wasn’t convinced these issues would be fixed*. This was when I stumbled across Mint. Mint had been recommended to me by a work colleague a long time ago, and reading their web page, I thought their philosophy was right. Mint is based on Ubuntu, but where Ubuntu releases can be deal-breaker buggy for a few months, Mint doesn’t release their version until it’s good and ready. Furthermore, they base their releases on the long term support versions of Ubuntu, meaning that Mint 17.2, would be supported until 2019 (I hadn’t twigged that this was because Ubuntu had already extended their long term support editions from two to five years). And besides their home-grown desktops, Cinnamon and MATE, there was also a KDE edition. With Plasma 4.

So I replaced Fedora 20 with Mint 17.2 – and that’s when my troubles began. You see, I had an issue in Fedora with the suspend functions. I avoid the “hibernate” function because I’ve never seen it work in any Linux edition, but “sleep” was temperamental. If I had switched users too often, or didn’t leave a good 30 seconds after closing my browser before sleeping, my computer’s screen would go off but the fan and lights would stay on. And it wouldn’t come back to life again. I quickly discovered that in Mint 17.2, this “sleep coma” would happen every time, regardless of circumstance. Given that I can be on and off my computer all day, this is a problem.

*In an update to the audio issue, I eventually got a reply to my bug report that amounted to, “Not our problem; submit it to the PulseAudio devs.”

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~ by Scary Rob on 18 May, 2016.

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