Much of your editor's work has, for the last couple of years, been done on
an x86-64 system running the Fedora Development ("Rawhide") distribution.
Running Rawhide - just like running any other development distribution -
has certainly provided sufficient experience to keep your editor grumpy for
some time. Even so, the current state of post-FC6 rawhide is, perhaps,
The gnome-terminal package picked up some interesting behavior where it
seemingly grows without bound - a 350MB virtual address space on your
editor's system, with 76MB resident. It easily outweighs lean-and-mean
applications like emacs and liferea - though it remains outclassed by
firefox. The cursor does not respond to focus events; your editor has
learned to type at terminals even if they look like they are not listening.
Occasionally a terminal will get into a mode where it refuses to respond to
input until it receives a mouse click or two. And, occasionally, the whole
thing just crashes, taking down every terminal window and every associated
Your editor's longstanding appreciation for xterm is on the rise again.
In the hope of picking up a fix in a timely manner, your editor has been
tracking the Rawhide repository a bit more closely than usual. Or, at
least, attempting to do so. It can be quite discouraging to type
"yum update" and have yum simply go off forever. Among other
things, one must wait a great long time to distinguish this behavior from
yum's normal mode of operation. Other times, it comes back very quickly
with a message saying, for all practical purposes, "RPM crashed, you lose,
That is the sort of message that can chill a system administrator's blood.
There's no end of system problems which can be addressed by reinstalling a
package, perhaps moving to an older version. That is especially true for
systems which are following a leading-edge development repository; one
simply expects to install an ill-fated package occasionally. But if the
package management system itself fails, this important tool goes away and
one's ability to restore a sick system is severely compromised. It's about
at this point that one begins to think it would have been good to check the
system's backups a little more frequently.
Some digging around turns up the fact that these problems are well known
and well documented in the bug-tracking system. Also found was a magic
command, previously unknown to your editor, which evidently needs to be
part of every system administrator's toolkit (at least, those who work with
Sure enough, every time your editor's system goes nonlinear (i.e. after
every "yum update"), removing those
cache files makes the problem go away. It would be awfully nice if RPM
could figure out for itself that its cache is corrupt and not depend on people to
clean up its messes for it. But that, evidently, is more than we should
feel entitled to expect.
Still, one could consider taking this issue - perhaps with a patch - to the
RPM maintainer. Except that, for the purposes of most distributions, there
still is no RPM maintainer. Your editor asked who maintains RPM? back in
August, but no distributor has since announced a plan for moving to the
current "upstream" version of RPM or establishing a formal fork. The
November 20 Fedora Board
meeting talked about an upcoming "RPM
announcement," but it remains unannounced as of this writing. Getting a
handle on the status of that crucial package would be most beneficial for
users of RPM-based distributions, whether or not they do silly things like
track development repositories.
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