First Impressions of Fedora 9

For first impressions, this was not a good one. I know that if I were using Fedora 9 as my first Fedora distro, I would probably ditch it for a few small reasons. In the past six months, I've watched alot of the development that has gone into Fedora 9, and considering the number of changes, it's quite an impressive amount of work. It's a challenge to do this much experimentation in six months, and release a finished installable product that simply just works. So far, many of what has been loudly advertised works. PackageKit is doing what it's supposed to be doing, GVFS is pretty slick, and Firefox 3 is as good as it is on Windows. Even Nodoka looks great, and it made the installer alone look pretty slick. I'm sure I'll be writing more about what I find good and great in Fedora 9 in the future, but one of the requirements to that is having a working computer. I am still trying to accomplish this.

So without further ado (bug reports will follow), here are the following issues I had with Fedora 9.

For starters, I had problems just downloading the media. I tried to download the i386 DVD installer and the i686 LiveCD using Deluge as my bittorent client. Deluge recognized the two torrents as the same thing, and would then not download anything at all. There was no success there.

Then I tried to download them off one of the mirrors. Using Firefox, the downloads stopped at around 30% each, and claimed they were 'finished'. Failure.

Finally, I ran the torrents through Transmission. There were no problems there, but it didn't take advantage of my bandwidth, it took nearly 12 hours to get the DVD. Success, but I had to wait a full day to use Fedora 9.

Onwards to the installer. This is a known problem, and I was fortunate to have read about it on the Fedora mailing list. When I tried to verify the disc, the verification was successful, but Anaconda got stuck in an infinite loop. I also don't like it when Anaconda ejects the disc I'm about to use to install Fedora. Rather, it should eject the disc only when the user selects to scan more media. I had to reboot to make things work.

I decided to do a clean install. I was having random issues with Fedora 8, and I wanted to see if Fedora 9 could make them go away, before I would have to call Dell tech support to have a look. My normal setup on this laptop is to put everything in an extended partition. There is a 100 mb partition for /boot and the rest is devoted to LVM. In LVM I give 15 gb to /, 20 GB to /home, 2 GB to swap and the rest to a /storage location. I left /storage alone, and tried to reformat the other three partitions, as well as /boot. This threw up some random error in LVM halfway through the formatting process, and I had to restart the installation.

On the second try, I would get unexplained errors from Anaconda, that would constantly popup for a while, until Anaconda crashed. Unfortunately, I can't recreate this, because I think it had something to do with Anaconda crashing the first time. So I had to restart the process again.

The third time worked. I deleted the other Logical Volumes and nearly started from scratch. This brings me to the next problem. I decided to do a clean install so I could encrypt everything I can. I probably have very little use for this feature alone, as I am very particular about hardware, and I have yet to lose a laptop. I also don't think it's necessary to encrypt most of my documents, and I would be better served with a small encrypted USB key for these things. That said, I decided to test it, the same as I like to keep SELinux enabled on all my machines. (Speaking of which, there was no option to turn it off.) For each partition I encrypted I was prompted for a password. This was a little frustrating, since I would prefer to have the same password for all my partitions. They are encrypted for the same reason, after all, and this is not a multi user laptop. At that point, I thought it as only a minor annoyance.

The rest of the install was slow if uneventful. I did an install of both Gnome and KDE 4, so I could have a chance to poke around at both. I'm looking forward to playing with KDE.

Booting up was problematic. First I am faced with the typical Red Hat nash gunk that shows up on boot. Supposedly this is unavoidable, and I'm not complaining.

In this screen, I am asked twice for my security key for the encrypted partitions, once for / and once for swap. What a pain. Then RHGB loads. It's a pleasure to see that the dotted line around 'show details' has been replaced with a sexy almost glowing ring. I only get to stare at this for a minute or two until RHGB crashes, so I can be prompted for my security key again, this time to mount /home. Here we have two bugs. Firstly, we need a more efficient process for collecting the keys at bootup. Perhaps a feature to add the key to a USB or memory card at install time would be nice, so I don't have to type anything. Having a single key for several volumes would also be nice, so the system can be unlocked only once. The second failure is that RHGB has no mechanism to handle this event. The least it could do is use its built in terminal to type in the key. The worst is to crash, let me type in the key, and then restart. Instead it picked failure.

Firstboot was also a complete failure. I selected a Dvorak keyboard in Anaconda, which worked fine. It even worked in GDM and in my initial Gnome login. It did not work, however in firstboot. I'm sure it has something to do with some of the changes made to X, but it has honoured my keyboard settings up until now, and it's rather disappointing to see something so inconsistent happen. We really need more quality control.

Finally, I arrive at the login screen. the new GDM isn't quite as pretty as the old one, but I hear it will be a while until they have full screen themeing available. What a pity. Nevertheless, it works, and it logs me in. What more can I ask? I think at this point, it implies that Upstart also works. I spot the next problem. I'm not sure if the artwork team intended it to be this way, but there is some sever banding issues on the wallpaper. I will try to take a screenshot, but if this is a display adapter issue, you may not see it.

Last but not least, I come to the biggest failure of all, my laptop. For the past two days, my CPU's speed governor has been stuck at 800mhz. This makes certain sites like gmail and facebook run painfully slow. No amount of coaxing can get it to work properly. This bug persists. My smolt profile is here:

Fortunately, my sound finally works! I had a problem with Fedora 8 where I couldn't get any sound out of my speakers, nor any microphone. I'll test the microphone later, but it's a real pleasure to finally be able to use my speakers in Linux. The only catch is that the volume control is really spotty. At about half volume, I can't hear anything. I suspect something is being set down at a double setting, probably due to misconfiguration.

Tomorrow I shall have some fun with Dell Tech support. Rumour has it that if you tell them that you are running Linux, they'll hook you up with other in house Linux technical support.

I think I am going to have to make a point of running Fedora 10 on this laptop when it comes out in Beta. Fortunately my course load next semester is going to be about 2/3rds of the previous, which should leave alot more time for hacking.

8 flames:

Matt Domsch zei

Any chance you saw which mirrors you were being directed to for the direct download that failed at 30%? Yours is the first such report I've had.

Fedora Mirror Wrangler

Smooge zei

I would also put to running even the USB live keys in alpha and beta modes.. that way you don't have to lose your existing data AND would have tested the dvorak keyboard since maybe 1 in 10000 people have those.

Yankee zei

Matt, I don't remember offhand, but it could have been anything between the ends too. My connection is not always without its faults.

Smooge, running the USB live keys don't let me test the installer :P. That said, there are ways to test multiple versions with multiple boot pretty easily. One of the advantages of LVM is the ability to resize my partitions temporarily. I can also use other hard drives when need be.

The problem really centers around that I didn't test it before hand, when the option was available to me.

Nigel Aves zei

I wish I was able to get this far with Fedora 9. I've downloaded using Bittorrant and direct download (no problems with either approx 2.2 hours on a dsl connection), burnt the DVD, verfified the DVD after burning (Nero) BUT in both cases Anaconda reports "bad disk" (just after the 4% mark) when verified during install. If I ignore this phase I end up with a blank screen.

So, anyone need a Fedora 9 coaster, I have 4 of them :) ....

p.s. This is the first time I've ever had a problem loading Fedora and I've been using it since Fedora core 4 ...

gcdart zei

Interesting .. your blog came as the second result when i Googled for "Fedora 9 a failure ? " ..
you forgot to mention about the "PackageIt" that hangs indefinitely , and the removal of the auto-login feature. Shame!, they removed beryl too :(, that was the saving face of F8 in my opinion wrt graphics.

Yankee zei


wilfred zei

I put Fedora 8 into my PC two months ago. Then Fedora 9 came and I upgraded 8 to 9. Not much pain. The real pain was how I struggled again to let my Java kits sit there comfortably. I also spent time in letting my IDE stop complaining. Now it looks good, except that the packagekit is slow and the lvm GUI still did not come up even if I installed the lvm2 package ;(

krish zei

I am a complete Newb with Fedora 9. Download was problematic but i got it and then the install worked after 4 tries. Now the login screen keeps looping! Arrrgh.