Fedora Core 6: A few quirks you need to watch out for.

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.


17 thoughts on “Fedora Core 6: A few quirks you need to watch out for.

  1. …now don’t take this personally. :p

    What is it with Pakis? For some reason, they will never fulfill the requirements, will always try to find a way around it and then complain about “the system.”

    If the installation process ‘requires’ 5 CD …. then what makes a person (read paki) think that they can do without it. Either they have given the word “requirement” a different meaning or that they feel to that they are jus too good/smart to follow the prescribed procedure.

    Never have I seen a pakistani without his list of “how the system should be”.

    If the requirement asks for 5 CD ….I can bet you, the its not bluffing.
    If you have assured it that you have 5 CDs, it will definitly ask for the 5th CD; by this time if you lie to a computer application and try to find a way around it, it will definitly give you problems.
    Why do Pakis expect a simple installation procedure to have STATE OF THE ART ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE that can detect any problems (from telling a lie to spillin tea on the cd or what not), and resolve it on its own. why can’t pakis be careful and jus follow simple procedures? are simple procedures too complex for them? or do simple procedures insult their intelligence due to which they feel a compellin need to out smart it n “teach’ a computer application a thing or two in the name of “providing a service to society – free of cost”.

    Sorry dude…but the problems u faced with installation is not FC6 fault. All i can say is that…u r jus a Paki.

    As for the upgrading problem…that one is new cuz i’ve upgraded my systems FC4 with CV/DVD n it works jus fine. Maybe, us missed something on the 5th CD that enables that feature. :p

    You don’t install the complete OS n yet expect it to perfom all of its functions.

    …i’d love to continue this ..but boss calls :P

  2. You are way off-base here, Saud, on multiple counts.

    First of all, Paki is a offensive way of referring to people of Pakistani origin, and I really do take offence at being called a ‘paki’.

    Secondly, which requirement are you talking about? Find me any place where it says during the installation that “If you don’t have all the FIVE CDs, you CANNOT install this system”. Do it. If you can find something like it, I’d like to hear from you.

    Thirdly, a *sane* and *decent* Linux installer should be at least this much capable. If it can’t, it needs to be re-written or modified to make it flexible. Ever used the text-based installers for, say, Debian and Slackware? You’ll know if you give it a try.

    Fourthly, you forgot it is Linux we are talking about. I sincerely hope you have spent enough time with Linux to actually appreciate the points I have raised in my blog.

    Heard of ‘defensive coding’? What about ‘writing applications that are flexible enough to accommodate at least the glaringly obvious and basic features’?

    I think all you wanted to do was to grab a chance to flame me. And that’s what you have done, really, without actually honoring more than a glimpse to my blog piece.

    By the way, if you go to Red Hat’s bugzilla system that manages the bug reporting system for Fedora Core, you’ll be surprised to see that almost all of the issues I have highlighted have been reported there, and most of them are marked as ‘Missing feature from FC6 – to be added in the next release.’ They aren’t a reflection of my annoyances only. Others have found them to be a nuisance too. :-)

    There you go!

  3. ” Never have I seen a pakistani without his list of “how the system should be”. ”

    Thank U for proving my point.

    As for the 5th CD.
    lets assume we don’t know if the 5th CD even exists. During Pre- Installation process, its asks if u have 5 CDs. OMG!!!! this means there there have to be 5CDs and Installation REQUIRES 5CDs. NOT 4, but 5..cus thats what the installation system is asking for. = REQUIREMENT ESTABLISHED.
    The system confirmed from the user of the availability of the 5 CDs. If you tell it that U HAVE IT, than u’ll be required to use it during installation(common sense). ELSE don’t tell the system that you have 5 cds when u don’t. ITS A SIMPLE IF-ELSE scenario. every programmer knows (or shld know) the value his/her actions in an IF-ELSE scenario esp when dealin with computer applications. IF U HAVE 5 CDs, THEN PROCEED, ELSE DON”T. HOW SIMPLE CAN THAT BE??? IF SIMPLE PROCEDURES ARE FOLLOWED, WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR DEFENSIVE PROGRAMMING?? WHY DO APPLICATIONS HAVE TO BE FLEXIBKLE ENUF TO CATCH HUMAN LIES??? WHY CAN’T HUMANS BE SIMPLE, HONEST AND STRAIGHT FORWARD??? SORRY TO SAY AYAZ, U R NOT BEING LOGICAL HERE.

    Now, the Linux part.
    Different Distribution have different procedures => different ways of doing things. U r free to choose which ever style suits u the best.

    Khair…me starting my own blog … catch me at saudansari.wordpress.com

  4. You are falling off the edge.

    I just hope you don’t write code with that kind of attitude, for if you do, the quality of the code you write would leave a lot to be desired.

    If the fifth CD gets corrupted mid-way, or if any package on the fifth CD fails for any reason, the installer should at the very least be intelligent enough to provide a means of skipping that package or CD and continue and finish the installation, instead of doing nothing and forcing you to reboot in the middle of the installation, leaving a partly installed yet useless system behind. Do note that bootloader setup and a lot of *important* post-installation operations are done *after* the installation of packages. If they aren’t done properly, the system becomes unstable and possibly unbootable. The text-based installers of all the other distributions are at least this much intelligent.

    If the fifth CD contained base packages (packages that you really need in order to get a minimal Linux installation running), it would make sense for the installer to bail out if it couldn’t find the CD. But, the fifth CD contains ‘extra’ packages that 99% of the users never need anyway. There are packages in there you wouldn’t have heard of. And, if you look around, that is quite the norm with every distribution: the base packages go into the first CD (which you absoutely *must* have to install the distribution), while the rest of the CDs contain extra packages which don’t affect the state of the distribution if they were missing. Fedora’s GUI installer is pretty stupid, period.

    This isn’t a question of different procedures: It is one of missing a basic functionality.

  5. now u r actually makin some sense, considerin that if some pkgs were corrupted, the installation setup shld be able to recover from it. I agree.

    what i was reffering to in my previous posts was …
    “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”.

    Here u said “all the five CDs are required…or reboot” …that got me wondering….why did u assume such a thing when all was so clear.

    khair….lemme install FC6 myself n i’ll write a blog abt it :P …. if only i can get the CDs.

  6. The reasons I blindly assumed that are:

    a) Almost every other Linux distribution I have installed ever provided a ‘skip’ option to bypass missing CD(s) even when you had selected packages that were found in those CDs,
    b) It seemed like the natural and right thing to do for an installer.

    But, as I found out, FC6’s GUI installer isn’t intelligent enough to do that. Plus, what is worse that, if you decide to install only the base system and the rest of packages later, you can’t do it (not easily, anyway). The Package Manager currently does not have the option to package information from the CD/DVD media. In fact, if you run the Package Manager without a network connection, it fails and quits. There are ways around, but they are difficult to set up for an average Linux user and even difficult to get working.

  7. this is the first time I see people installing linux from the CDs… :-) why don’t you just grab an (about) 40MB installer from the net. install that en select your packages afterwards.

    don’t just blindly go for “I want everything”, because, although it might seem a viable use case, most package repository maintainers are not testing that situation.

    now, after telling you that your way of installing look “rather strange” to me, I must say that you do make a lot of valuable points here and these should be fixed, in my opinion.

    maybe ESR wasn’t just bragging about when he wrote , exactly on the day you wrote this post. :-D

    and of course, going form full control systems as slackware and gentoo to dummy distributions as fedora or suse always keeps the power user frustrated… stick to slackware I say, or if you’re up for a change, go for gentoo or FreeBSD.

    you’ll just love it!

  8. I read ESR’s open letter. He went a little over the edge in going out and knocking and complaining at everyone’s door. Nonetheless, I agree.

    In this part of the region, and for people like me, having CDs is the best, quickest and most feasible way of installing Linux. It also makes it easier to distribute the CDs to friends, or take them places to install Linux. The Internet installer is a handy and attractive alternative only if you have a fast Internet connection, which home users hardly have here. The norm is to download the ISOs at the university, where there is a fast connection, and burn as many copies and distribute as are needed.

  9. in response to your answer concerning my suggestion to go for a netinstall: you’re going to love this: shipit DOT ubuntu DOT com. this costs you absolutely nothing and brings you as many CDs you want. great for distribution purposes at university or among friends!

  10. Yes, Tom, I did too. But if you fiddle with the package selection before installation, you will never know which package belongs on which CD. For example, if you let the default package selection be, and carry on with the install, then only the first CD images are used. But the resulting installation misses out on a lot of packages, including KDE, which is distributed across images 2 and 3.

  11. It’s worse than that. If one rpm package, no matter how great or small, can’t be installed, the entire install fails. That’s right, if Tux Racer or the Chinese Simplified Language Pak lies under a scratch, it can’t be skipped. One must start over by trying to guess which install group contains the defective RPM.

  12. Absolutely right, rick. But that annoying bug has been a irreparable part of the RedHat installer for a long time. If a package is corrupted and fails during install, the installer gives no option to skip it.

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