Trying Fedora Core 6 out, I had a horrifying experience. The last Red Hat-like distribution I had installed was Red Hat-9.0 (codenamed Shrike, if I remember correctly), and that must have been years ago. I discovered Slackware (years ago) and migrated to it. Ever since (years ago), I’ve stuck with Slackware (and quite contentedly so). I use a variant of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, at work, however, where I do all of the Linux software development.
After all these years of not touching Fedora Core, and yet being fascinated by the frequency with which newer releases have been coming out, I felt an itch down somewhere to give it a try. I scratched that itch, not only because I wanted to try it out, but also because I had been dying to test Linux on the desktop system I had bought. Besides, with an Intel 2.4-GHz and a blasting 512-MB RAM (it might not be blasting for you, but it is for me), that system seemed well off to run Fedora Core.
ISOs of Fedora Core 6 were lying in the office, and I grabbed them one day and burned CDs.. The fifth ISO was missing, and thinking that it would only contain extra packages that I wouldn’t have any dying need of anyway, I popped the first CD inside and rebooted the system to boot from the CD. The first time (yes, and we’ll see why I say this) I booted from the CD and proceeded along with the installation, the setup crashed with an Exception when I unwittingly clicked on “Add Additional Fedora repositories” on the package selection menu. The system rebooted.
On my second attempt, I avoided that option like the plague, and moved ahead. I selected nearly all the packages (for I had a whopping 20-GB waiting to be filled, and a lot of curiosity waiting to be quenched). Before the setup could format the drive and start copying the files, it showed a notification that said to the effect that all the five CDs are required, and if I don’t have them, I can either go back or reboot. Blindly assuming that any sane installer supports an option to skip a CD if it isn’t available without disturbing the installation process, I quietly shrugged off the message and continued. Half an hour later, when it asked for the fifth CD, I realised how stupid I had been to have discarded that message I got before starting the installation. The glaring prompt on the screen read, “Please insert the fifth CD and click OK”. And, sure enough, there was only one clickable button, and it read ‘OK’, fair and clear. I tried a variation of different things, from clicking Escape, to putting different CDs one by one (and even no CD at all), only to somehow force the installer to complain that “the fifth CD isn’t available, so I am skipping installing those packages that are to be found in the fifth CD, and will continue with the post-installation procedures”. But, to my utter dismay and complete anguish, the stubborn prompt just wouldn’t go away. I had to reboot.
The third time around, I opted for the ‘Upgrade Installation’. A couple of packages from the first CD were installed, and then, the system rebooted. The messages whizzing by on the boot-up screen gave me the sort of feeling you get when you know your system is screwed up. Sure enough, it was. I couldn’t log in as root. I booted into single user mode to reset the password for root, but the subsystem that handles authentication and book-keeping seemed dead. Furiously, I booted off, and restarted the installation, again.
This time, on the package selection menu, I carefully selected packages so as to avoid choosing those that might be found on the fifth CD. How did I know which would be on the fifth CD? I didn’t. There is no way to tell. I only relied on my gut feeling and whatever little experience I have had with the likes of Red Hat. I got no-where with that. I logged on to #fedora on irc.freenode.net to release my frustration and find any possible workarounds. Suffice it to say, I realised it wasn’t my lucky day.
I restarted installation once more. I didn’t touch anything on the package selection menu, even with a ten-foot pole. Installation proceeded, showing me the same alert again that “You need CDs one to three for installation”. I sighed. The install process went smoothly, and within an hour, I was soundly using Fedora Core 6, jumping up and down at the revolving screens and wobbling window effects.
That wasn’t the end of my worries, though. I really wanted most of the packages I had missed out during installation. And thinking that as with any Linux distribution post-installation of packages is as easy as anything, I invoked the ‘Add/Remove Software’ system, which is a graphical Package Manager for Fedora Core. I want to go on and on into grinding details, but I
think it would suffice to say that the Package Manager is bitchy enough not to work without a network connection. Not only that, whatever packages you select to install, it downloads them from Remote Repositories over the Internet and installs them. What that means is that the Package Manager, currently, does not support the feature to do post-installation from CD/DVD media. Sucks.
I love Slackware. And I can’t emphasize it enough.