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Fedora Core 4 Test 2--Plenty to Look Forward to in FC4 - page 2

Looking Forward

  • April 25, 2005
  • By Bill von Hagen

The Fedora Core installation process uses the Anaconda installer that is familiar to any Red Hat user. This has always done a great job of detecting hardware and probing its characteristics, and the latest generation is no exception. Like most modern Linux installers, the FC4 Test 2 installation process "just works." (Which, I hear, is a new, ironic slogan from Microsoft--hope I don't have to pay royalties!)

The first step of the installer, after pressing Enter to start in the first place, is a screen that offers to let you test your install media. I first saw this in FC3, and frankly, it's a good idea. There are few things more frustrating than going through most of an install before the whole thing goes south because you encounter problems reading a CD. I've continued past install errors such as not being able to read a package or two, but can you really trust such an installation? I certainly wouldn't for anything other than home use.

There were a few minor blips in the install process. There was a long, inexplicable pause at the step where it prompts for the keyboard type. Eventually the Next button appeared and the installation continued. I selected my favorite install type "Custom", selected "Everything" for my default set of packages, and everything installed smoothly. I always tend to install everything nowadays, assuming that my time is more valuable than any wasted disk space if I were to be selective and subsequently find out that I was missing some package that I wanted at a critical compilation or creative moment.

There are two interesting aspects of the FC4 installer that are worth discussing separately, one great and one simply to be aware of. The first is the fact that the default disk configuration for FC4, like previous FC versions, is to create logical volumes on your disks, rather than simply partitioning them into traditional physical and extended volumes. This is such a great idea that I don't see why every Linux distribution doesn't default to it. It eliminates one of the classic problems of ever-expanding Linux installations, which is what part of the filesystem hierarchy to migrate to a new partition when an existing one fills up. Figure 1 shows Anaconda's disk partitioning screen with a default logical volume/volume group setup.

The second point regarding the FC4 installer is simply that it has moved some of the default questions for the standard install to the firstboot wizard that runs the first time that you boot with your new FC4T2 installation. I don't remember whether this happened in the Fedora timeline, but it's still disconcerting. I'm used to creating a non-root user during the install process, and the fact that it wasn't present then made me wonder if something had gone wrong. Don't worry--you'll be asked to do this the first time you boot your fresh install, along with favorite setup/install-related questions like date and time configuration.

Speaking of starting up, I love the startup screen used by the last few releases of Fedora, as shown in Figure 3. It provides the best of both worlds for most users--a comfy scroll bar and friendly graphical display for people who don't really want to know the details of the startup sequence, with the textual blow-by-blow of the startup scripts only a mouse click or Alt-Key sequence away.

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