Fedora 11 Installation

I recently installed Fedora 10 on my media PC. That was the hardest Linux installation I've ever done... until now. Just when I thought Fedora's installer couldn't get worse, it did.

The problems begin when Fedora's installer doesn't know how to start graphical mode on my media PC. You'd think that by now a computer connected to a TV would be one of the things that just works, but sadly, it doesn't. Even the basic VESA driver doesn't work for me. My TV output works fine with the nVidia binary driver, but I don't think there's a way to install the nVidia binary driver during installation, and thus I have to use the text-mode driver.

Well, Fedora is well on its way to having the industry's most useless text-mode installer. The Fedora 10 installer stupidly broke my system when it upgraded Fedora 8, and so I wasn't going to take chances and upgrade again; I wanted to do a fresh install. The installer provided me three options:
  • Install using the whole disk
  • Upgrade Fedora 10
  • Install in the "Free Space"
Well, using the whole disk is out, and using the Free Space is out because I have no free space, and upgrading is out because I want to keep 10 working until I am sure 11 is ready for me to use. Where is the option to repartition?

It was at this point that I should have turned back, but I decided to tough it out. I switched to the second virtual terminal and manually deleted my unused Fedora 7 partition using fdisk. "That should do it," I thought. WRONG. 28GB wasn't enough space to install, according to the installer. So I grudgingly deleted my Windows XP partition, which was unused on that computer. This freed up an additional 120GB and then the installer was happy to continue.

The installer asked me one more question: "What is your root password"? After typing that in, it said "Making filesystem... done. Installing software... done. You may reboot."

Wait, what?

Where did my network setup go? Where did package selection go?

Ok, well... maybe the installer is two-stage and a second installer will start after I reboot?

Nope. Turns out that's all there is: The installer installed the base packages and nothing else. Well, I guess I can set up my wireless network card now... nope, wireless networking packages were not installed. Ok, let me start the X gui: nope, X isn't installed. Hm, let me install software: nope, the yum command-line tool doesn't know how to install from the DVD.

What is going on here?

Fedora's installer
  • didn't know how to install on my hard disk because I didn't want to use the whole disk and there were no empty partitions
  • needed more than 28GB to install nothing
  • left me with a system that had no network and no way to install software from the DVD.
And even though the installer knows I have a Fedora 10 installation that I didn't overwrite, that I took great pains to protect, it didn't set up a grub entry for it, so the system only boots into Fedora 11 and doesn't offer any other choices.
Maybe the graphical installer would work, but the only monitor I have for this computer is a TV (my other computer is a notebook). Maybe I could use the VNC install, but the wired network is in a different room from the TV, so I can't see what I need to type to set up the vnc install. And the worst part: The text-mode installer doesn't explain, at any point, what it is doing or what other options you have. A single help screen, saying what the text-mode installer was capable of, and notifying me of the fact that I am out of luck using this installer, would have saved hours of aggravation.

So far I've managed to get things working bit by bit by moving the computer to the room with the wired network, typing blind to log in and active the network card (why isn't it on-boot? sigh), and then ssh'ing from my notebook into the computer. At that point I can at least install packages from the network and see what I am doing. But it should not be this difficult! I've been using Linux for 12 years and it seems things have started getting harder, not easier.

1 comment:

cdan said...

I tried to install Fedora 11 too, and i say try for a reason. You have expressed my feelings perfectly: "wait, what?"
I felt the same thing, wtf? is this it? maybe it's a two stage installation and it will go on after reboot.
Too bad...I really wanted to install this, and i don't have any other means to get this done.
Minus many points in my book for Fedora Project.