May 18, 2004

Fedora Core 2...

As hinted in my SuSE Linux Professional 9.1 entry, I decided to upgrade my server to Fedora Core 2 (which was just released today) prior to upgrading it to SuSE Linux Professional 9.1, although the latter is still forthcoming. But as I wanted to see what Fedora Core 2 was all about, this gives me the time to give it a whirl.

The first thing I really like about Fedora is its announcements. The Fedora Core 2 Test 1 release announcement included some good poetry and a good read. The actual release announcement made it into a credit role for a broadway play, complete with reviews. It makes it much more enjoyable to read the releases, although they do not give a lot of detail of what is included.

I first downloaded everything via BitTorrent. I started the process and continued working. The Torrent comes with 5 ISO images; 4 are the installation CD's and one of them is a Rescue CD. When it comes to burning, I would recommend you burn them all, but you only really require the 4 installation CD's.

I decided to simply do an upgrade instead of a full installation. In comparison to SuSE, Fedora is very texty. The installation process starts a text console, which eventually comes up with a text-based Anaconda. This anaconda sets things up, and then eventually starts an X environment. When compared to how nice SuSE installed, Fedora fades in comparison.

Once that it was in the X-based installation, it was nice. The splash screen is really nice, and the interface itself appears to be similar to what I remember Fedora Core 1's interface being.

The first problem I hit is again with SATA. This machine has an ATA/IDE drive as the system disk, and four SATA drives on a Promise SATA/150 adapter which use the Linux software RAID driver. Under Fedora Core 1, the ATA drive was /dev/hda and the SATA drives were /dev/hde through /dev/hdh.

The installation tool recognized my system disk, and proceeded to mount everything, and it failed miserably with the SATA drives. "No problem," I thought, "I'll deal with that after installation." So I had to reboot into Fedora Core 1, comment out my RAID from the /etc/fstab, and restart the installation.

Everything continued nicely. One very nice touch was when the installer indicated which CD's would be required for the installation. In my case, this was each CD, although it used the first one the most and the last one for almost nothing.

One thing that bugged me with the installation was the time estimate. It looked as if the estimate worked in increments of 5 minutes. It started by saying the process would finish in 60 minutes, and about 6 minutes later, it said 55 minutes. At first I thought it was just because of large packages, but it continued like this until the very end, where it seemed to show me 8 minutes and 6 minutes.

But once it was over, I rebooted, and viola! Kernel 2.6.5-1 here I come! Once I was in, though, I was very impressed. If you recall from above, I mentioned that my Software RAID was using disks /dev/hde through /dev/hdh. Well, whereas SuSE made this hard for me, Fedora Core 2 actually updated my /etc/raidtab and updated the disks correctly, and all I did was start up the RAID services and mount my RAID disk. I have not yet rebooted, but I think that the SATA driver loads after the RAID driver, so there could be an issue here later.

One of the things I was interested in seeing with Fedora Core 2 is X.org's server. If you recall, XFree86's licensing changed, which resulted in Fedora Core and many other distributions to drop XFree86's X implementation in favour of X.org's (SuSE 9.1 is currently running XFree86 4.3). I wanted to see what difference to the user this makes and how the transition from XFree86 to X.org was, and overall, when I started X, everything worked out of the box (With the exception of an dialog indicating a potential internal X.org error), and I was happy to see it work this way, but of course, I do not use the head on this machine very much, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

The machine definitely seems faster than it was before, and I'm happy to hear this as the machine is aging away up there...

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