jb’s open source blog

A look into my work and play in open source

Installing Fedora, Part 1: Frustrating, but it was my fault.

with 5 comments

To begin work on my OSD600 project, web based virtual machine builder, I needed to install Linux. I wanted a distribution which had a decent user community (i.e. lots of existing support resources – blogs like this one), and one that had some knowledge of virtualization (i.e. had supported, distribution-provided packages for KVM, Xen). I was running Ubuntu Feisty, and I know I could have stayed there and done everything without reinstalling. While Ubuntu has an excellent user community, I got the impression that I’d be better off using something like Fedora — which has had kvm ship with the distro (and therefore, presumably, would be somewhat supported) since Fedora 7. Anyways, I had some partitioning issues (no space to backup, moving partitions not feasible, not enough primary partitions, etc. etc.) and wanted to start from scratch and also switch over to LVM, which I know I’ll be using in some context for my project.

I downloaded Fedora 7 for i386 (i.e. 32 bit) and burned it. Then I got a brainwave: “won’t Fedora 8 be out soon?” I did a search, and found the Fedora release schedule. It will be out November 8th. I think “hmm, I’ll be dealing with fairly bleeding-edge software in kvm, xen, virt-manager, etc. and would probably want to be using the latest versions”. I’m also remembering how stable Ubuntu’s test releases (specifically: Feisty Herd 6) were. Essentially, some strings and artwork were unfinished, and there were obviously some known bugs, but none of them affected me at all — and it was a breeze to upgrade from ‘testing’ to ‘release’ a week or so later when Feisty was officially released. Given that Test 3 would be the last testing release of Fedora 8, I thought I’d have some luck. So I downloaded and installed the x86_64 version of Test 3.

Bad idea.

Starting to install, I get the warning that this is prerelease software and is not for day-to-day use. Warning one.

I ignore it and begin to go through the installer. When trying to partition my drive, I notice that the diagram that shows a representation of my drive hasn’t been fully painted — the previous screen was still partially visible. I had to move a dialog window over top of it and around and around to force the paint operation, so I could see what it said. Warning two.

To me this was just a weird quirk and I ignored it. I go through partitioning and get the LVM volume group set up like I want it. Easy going. Then, I go to pick my packages. Telling the installer I’d rather pick them now than later, I go through and look at the packages. Virtualization looks good: I select kvm-36, qemu-0.9. I change GNOME to KDE, and disable some packages I don’t need. When I disable a font for some weird language I’d never heard of, boom! Unhandled exception (from my notes, not verbatim: GtkTreeModel.get_iter_from_string(): argument 1 must be string, not tuple). Warning three.

This should have been a sign for me to quit, but no, I decided to keep going – stubborn as I am. This unhandled exception kills the installer and makes me reboot. Warning four.

With some reluctance, I go through the whole installation again, but this time avoid deselecting fonts, and it works.

Booted into Fedora 8, I start doing some tweaks to get my system into working order. Once things are settled, I notice something in my system tray (aka notification area) which says ‘110 updates available’. I click it, and here we go again: Unhandled exception. (again, not verbatim, pirut: NoneType object has no attribute GetProperty). That was the final straw. I know there was probably a trivial solution to this problem, probably contained within one or more of the 110 updates. But I realized I was backpedalling. Any problem I fixed now would mean two more problems to fix in the future.

I should note that I knew what I was getting into, or so I thought. I expected instability, and bugs. And I expected to do a little work, given that it was a 64-bit system I was setting up (the repercussions of which I’m well aware). But, I misjudged what was really meant by ‘test release’. My positive experience with beta-quality Linux distributions was limited to that one time with Ubuntu Feisty Herd 6. So, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

I suppose I could have done my due dilligence and file a few bugs on Redhat’s Bugzilla, which is probably what I’d normally have done. But I was not in any mood for this today. I’ll leave Fedora 8 on the shelf until November. Right now I’m in the middle of installing Fedora 7 32 bit, which I should have done in the first place.


Written by jbopensrc

October 8, 2007 at 9:47 pm

Posted in Open Source

5 Responses

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  1. And if you want a *really* wild ride, try “rawhide” (the live devel version of Fedora, which changes hourly).

    Chris Tyler

    October 9, 2007 at 3:02 pm

  2. […] 2: Not so frustrating after all. Filed under: Open Source — jbopensrc @ 8:26 pm In Part 1 of “Installing Fedora”, I made the mistake of installing a testing release of Fedora, […]

  3. […] was not possible (kind of, see code for more details). Before I could start to do this, I needed to install Fedora, and tinker with […]

  4. If it’s any consolation, I downloaded what was supposedly the Fedora 8 i386 (non 64bit) release DVD last night, and I was having the exact same Python problems within anaconda (where it would say “GtkTreeModel.get_iter_from_string(): argument 1 must be string, not tuple”). Looks like I must have hit an outdated mirror, because if this was baked into the release, there’d hopefully be more complaints about it.

    I guess what I’m saying is, the fact you were using the x86_64 version probably had nothing to do with it, so you should try it again- with my best luck and wishes, of course. :)

    Chet Nichols III

    November 29, 2007 at 11:30 am

  5. @Chef Nichols III:

    I believe I isolated the cause of this to selecting “Additional Fedora software” (can’t recall the exact name ATM). It seems that anaconda gets flaky when you try selecting/deselecting any of the packages from the additional repos. When I just did a vanilla installation without the additional repo, I couldn’t cause anaconda to crash.


    November 29, 2007 at 3:51 pm

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