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Fedora 18 part one

Filed under: Fedora,General — Thomas @ 12:10 am

2013-1-17
12:10 am

Yesterday, I was wondering if there shouldn’t be a new Fedora out by now and if it would fix a bunch of my current GNOME 3 annoyances.

So I checked, and lo and behold, the final release date was yesterday! Excellent.

Let’s do some completely unscientific scoring this time around. In part one, it’s bound to get ugly because you always run into the negatives first when doing an upgrade.

First challenge was finding the torrent links for the full DVD. Apparently the DVD is now a well-hidden option, and the torrent even more so – I had to google for it, I couldn’t find any links on the download site. -1 and -1. I appreciate that there is a small CD with a live installer and everything, but I have to upgrade 3 computers in total so I prefer to download once as much as I can – although it’s likely all of them will need to upgrade gazillions of packages soon after.

The second issue: after booting, by default it gives you the second option – test media and install. I didn’t realize that, and just hit Enter. Then anaconda starts counting something without telling you what it’s doing, at which point I figured it would be a media check as it was really slow. But if you hit Esc to abort it, you get dropped into a rescue shell, instead of just continuing. Err, OK. I don’t know if anyone out there really uses or prefers the media check option, but I never do.

Reboot, make sure to go up to select the first option (which, really, should be switched to the second if you’re not going to default to it ?)

-1 for being confusing and defaulting to wasting my time.

This is the first anaconda that is actually full-screen on my laptop, nice. +1

The first impression of anaconda is that it looks good and it looks very GNOME 3-y. Not entirely sure I like the ‘things popping up on my screen as anaconda presumably checks stuff’ without telling me, because there’s potential for getting it wrong (-1), but I’ll accept it for now. Definitely liking that it figured out my network connection automatically, if NetworkManager is behind it then I’ll be darned – yay for NetworkManager! (+10 alone for that one, so NetworkManager pulls out slightly from minus infinity.)

Date & Time, since you now can rely on network possibly working maybe you should look me up by IP as a sane default instead of New York ? Network Time was on by default, but no. No points for or against though.

On to partitioning. I’ve always used a custom layout. The new dialog scares me a little; I checked “I don’t need help” but the only option forward is ‘reclaim space’, so I’m not sure it’s not going to do anything bad to my drives. -5

On the next screen, I see a tree with New Fedora 18 Installation, Fedora Linux 15, Fedora Linux 16, and Unknown. I typically have two or three root partitions so I can test different Fedora versions and fall back to older ones when I’m upgrading. It’s a little confusing to use the tree, but basically I figured out how to go through the Fedora Linux 15 config and get it to move the ones I wanted to use to the New Fedora 18 Installation. I definitely see the potential for this being easier to use than the old way but it needs a bit more documentation or tooltips or explanation to make it really feel safe to use. Maybe it would help too to have a final overview page when finishing partition so you can confirm that it looks like it’s going to do the right thing. -1 for the confusion, but +5 for finding partition info from all my roots.

It’s a small touch, but it’s nice it’s asking for your root password *while* already installing packages. Makes it a little faster to get it done. +3 guys! I’m wondering if it couldn’t do more of that – your time zone config for example ?

The redesigned anaconda really looks nice, and fits in well with the GNOME 3 experience I’m now used to. Gutsy move, but this is going to pay off in the long run. +10

After waiting for the packages to install, I clicked Reboot, and it dropped me in a text mode that said [terminated]. oh well, nothing’s perfect I guess. -2

On a hard reboot, I got greeted with a reasonably nice GUI that had managed to pick up my old boot options – even the Windows partition I have on this machine. +5 The text looked ugly and stretched (-1), but it could have been worse.

Firstboot starts and greets me first with a big white square around my cursor (-1), and then the nice-looking GUI. Firstboot asks me for date and time info again, not sure why. Maybe an oversight. -1

And then we’re on to the login screen. And it definitely looks nice! +5

Logging in. Being told there are updates. Holy crap – 218 updates – for a release that’s a day old. Does the word ‘release’ mean anything anymore? -5. Seriously, freeze that crap for a few days, only real security issues or facepalm bugs.

My updated failed to process – because I had installed the rpmfusion rpm and it doesn’t have the GPG key. Yet again, by default updating packages fails completely when anything in the config is not working, instead of at least getting me the updates that can be installed, in the name of, you know, security. -10 because this is a persistent attitude problem for yum.

Create some missing symlinks, and the upgrade can continue. So I leave for lunch.

And when I come back, I am greeted by some kind of lock screen. It looks pretty. (+3) It’s like a video game, those arrows. Yes, that’s it – it reminds me of when I pretend to be Batman in Arkham City and I’m on a mission and it’s telling me to glide down in the direction of the three floating arrows. Except, it’s not actually acting like a lock screen – when I click it, something happens and I go to a user selection ? It looks like I got logged out behind my back ? Really ? Is it doing some kind of automatic logout after upgrading ? I hope not, that would be horrible as a default. No clue what happened. -5

I log in again, and recover my vim sessions that got so brutally killed.

I start running the install commands that are part of my general upgrade checklist. In the meantime, I check out this rumour I heard that Fedora 18 installs with kernel 3.6 by default but the one day old upgrades install 3.7, so I run rpm -qa | grep kernel.

Oh my. It’s spewing db errors halfway through the query. Three times in a row. Contrary to popular belief, rpm is really robust, and you really need to do evil things to get it to corrupt, like drop your hard drive or kill -9 during package installs. But here it just fails simply querying, presumably for the first time in my experience it can’t handle querying while installing ? -5

After letting it sit there and install some more, I get that lock screen again. I click it, and some arrows flash. Maybe I’m supposed to drag it up or something ? But before I can do, the screen flashes, and I’m back to the login prompt. Oh, so even worse – this new lock screen crashes my whole desktop somehow ? Ouch. -5

Evolution forgot my sort settings (per folder) and 3-pane window. -3 for making me suffer through having to sort every single folder by date, descending again (really, is unsorted a sane default to anyone ?)

The lock screen looked cool at first glance, but after what feels like lifting up the door to my garage four times today already it’s getting on my nerves. -3 Same with the ‘pressure-triggered’ notification area, which is starting to cause pain in my hand on my laptop, and I never have that kind of trouble. I wonder if these things got designed with a console joypad as an interface, where you could accept that pressure-triggered actions make sense. -3 for sucking and another -3 for making me think originally that it looked cool until I actually had to use it.

My first login as a ‘fresh’ user (I don’t mount my real home until I’m sure all the basics work ok) is very zippy and GNOME 3 looks tidier. +5

However, my second login, with my old user, takes a good 30 seconds before anything at all appears beside the desktop. I don’t know which dead weight I’m dragging along from before, but this upgrade is not liking it one bit. No feedback whatsoever on what’s going wrong though. -3

Total score so far: -13.

It didn’t pull back to breakeven, but don’t despair – now that the basics are done, it’s bound to get better in the next part.

(editor’s note – see if you can tear this whole article to pieces by pointing out a counting error in the score, cleverly invalidating my already unimportant opinion!)

20 Comments »

  1. I really enjoyed this article, thanks. I actually laughed out loud at: “Holy crap – 218 updates – for a release that’s a day old. Does the word ‘release’ mean anything anymore? -5.” I don’t think the word “regression” means anything anymore. (Not that this is, I’m just saying in general…)

    Comment by James — 2013-1-17 @ 2:02 am

  2. Haven’t installed F18 yet, but I assume that the bit about selecting a user from the lock screen is to allow a second user can log in, without having to log the first user out.

    Comment by Simon — 2013-1-17 @ 2:22 am

  3. The lock screen is buggy: If you click on the area with the arrows a few times, it will crash. Dragging it upwards or pressing Enter or Escape works fine, though. About your rating: You ran into the lock screen bug twice, and scored it -5 both times. If you continue like this, the number will get very negative indeed. (The first time you erroneously thought it was an automatic logout. It seems like you crashed the session during package installation; this might well explain the issues with the rpm database. Which would mean that you rated the bug 3x -5 in total.)

    Comment by Martin — 2013-1-17 @ 2:30 am

  4. Just for the sake of your poor wrists: the message tray isn’t pressure triggered. You just have to move the pointer to the bottom edge for a second. (You can also get to it with Ctrl+Alt+Tab or Super+M). The plan is it _will_ be pressure triggered in the future, which should make it easier than what I assume you were trying to do :)

    Comment by Dylan McCall — 2013-1-17 @ 3:05 am

  5. I echo many of your thoughts on Anaconda, but… torrent being hard to find? I had no problems. Went to the main Fedora project page, clicked on “More Options” under Download, searched within the page for “torrents” and found the link to standard torrents. Another link on that page “See all torrents” took me to all available torrents, including the DVD.

    Here’s the link to that page for others:

    http://torrent.fedoraproject.org/

    Comment by jigbol — 2013-1-17 @ 5:04 am

  6. I also use a custom partition and the whole “i don’t need help” + “reclaim space” combination was not giving me much assurance on what was going to happen next. I sat on it for a bit before I decided to go forward and see what happened. They need to rewrite that button. A go to partition steps or so would have been better.
    Overall, I’m digging the new installer.

    Comment by ernesto — 2013-1-17 @ 5:39 am

  7. Me too, it looks slick!

    Comment by Thomas — 2013-1-17 @ 8:23 am

  8. Now that you’re telling me how to get there, I can find it too, and I vaguely recall it being hard last time around too. Yeah, I guess searching for the word would have been the wise thing to do. It’s still three clicks on really small links away though, but I agree torrents aren’t the obvious download choice for most users, so I’ll accept it.

    Comment by Thomas — 2013-1-17 @ 8:25 am

  9. The update process is way too slow, it is faster to download and install a nightly build iso than to update fedora 18 fresh system with 200+ packages using yum update (download, drpm->rpm, install/update, verify). Really slow!

    And restoring Grub2 (after windows 7/8 install) is not available with live-cd;

    Here’s how to restore grub2 with livecd

    Restore grub2 using fedora 17/18 livecd:
    ———-
    First mount the / parition using nautilus (here Fedora.18 (sda4) is the ROOT (/) parition and sda2 is the /boot)
    ————-

    [root@localhost liveuser]# mount –bind /dev /run/media/liveuser/Fedora.18/dev
    [root@localhost liveuser]# mount –bind /proc /run/media/liveuser/Fedora.18/proc
    [root@localhost liveuser]# chroot /run/media/liveuser/Fedora.18
    ——
    Now mount your /boot (here /dev/sda2) parition to /boot
    [root@localhost /]# mount /dev/sda2 /boot
    [root@localhost /]# grub2-install /dev/sda
    Installation finished. No error reported.
    [root@localhost /]#

    Success!

    —-
    And talking of non-free codecs, totem, rhythmbox, etc., they prompt to install rpm but they simply don’t know which rpm packages to install from rpmfusion repo (enabled); can’t play mp4, mkv, mp3, etc… unless manually install gstreamer plugins (good bad ugly) along with ffmpeg gst*libav; which is a trouble for new user.

    fedora 18 is more like windows vista, hopefully fedora 19 or fedora 20 will be stable like windows 7 after unkempt windows vista.

    Comment by Asif Ali Rizwaan — 2013-1-17 @ 8:26 am

  10. Good to know, thanks. I heard it was going to be, and when bottom-right-corner triggering didn’t work anymore I just kept pushing down until something happened. The third time I did that it started feeling strained. I’ll just let it sit there to see. Ctrl-Alt-Tab is probably going to be about as painful though! Also, I think that used to cycle backwards through Alt-Tab ? On rare occasions I used that.

    Comment by Thomas — 2013-1-17 @ 8:28 am

  11. Aha, so it’s not just me. I’ll be doing Enter/Esc from now on, thanks. You’re right, the first time I thought the new update handling was to blame and had logged me out.

    I’m not convinced the crash happened during package installation, as I had a 40 minute lunch after starting the upgrade. So if it indeed crashed on the lock screen, the install would have been finished. Also, the rpm querying started working again when the next set of installs was finished – will post some output from that that I saved before.

    The -5 for that is an educated guess about something changing in rpm’s locking, but I could indeed be proven wrong about that – and I guess I’ll see on the other 2 installs I do.

    Comment by Thomas — 2013-1-17 @ 8:32 am

  12. Yes, but it’s not actually on the lock screen. It was the lock screen crashing, and then the dm starting again on the login screen.

    Comment by Thomas — 2013-1-17 @ 8:33 am

  13. “First challenge was finding the torrent links for the full DVD. Apparently the DVD is now a well-hidden option”

    Well-hidden option seems to be stretching it a bit – there’s a big header “Other Options” with “Formats: DVD ISOs, Physical Media” on it. Click that, there’s your DVDs. Someone else explained about the torrents. IIRC, the download page has not changed since at least F17 and possibly F16.

    “It’s a small touch, but it’s nice it’s asking for your root password *while* already installing packages. Makes it a little faster to get it done. +3 guys! I’m wondering if it couldn’t do more of that – your time zone config for example ?”

    That’s one we’ve considered, but no – the key is in the question “why have date/time setting in the installer at all?”, which I asked the anaconda team this cycle. The answer is that, apparently, on some systems the clock can be really _badly_ wrong – like, 1970, or some ridiculous time in the future, or something – and that can sometimes break package scripts. The point of having date/time setting in the installer at all is to make sure it’s at least sane-ish before beginning package install, so it can’t be done at the same time as package install.

    “Logging in. Being told there are updates. Holy crap – 218 updates – for a release that’s a day old. Does the word ‘release’ mean anything anymore? -5. Seriously, freeze that crap for a few days, only real security issues or facepalm bugs.”

    See this: http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showpost.php?p=1624604&postcount=123

    There isn’t really a need to freeze the pending updates beyond release. Really, there’s some fixes in there we want to have available _immediately_. There is still a benefit to them being 0-day updates rather than in the release package set: they can’t screw up a media install if they’re broken, and you can roll them back / avoid them if one of them happens to be bad. Again this isn’t new, we’ve done 0-day updates forever.

    “Yet again, by default updating packages fails completely when anything in the config is not working, instead of at least getting me the updates that can be installed, in the name of, you know, security. -10 because this is a persistent attitude problem for yum.”

    It’s not ‘in the name of security’. If you have a repo enabled then you are indicating you want to install stuff from that repo. Why should we assume that if one of your repos is broken, you don’t mind at all not getting packages from it? What if you want the version of package foo from your broken repo, not the one from another repo that’s working? yum isn’t about to start trying to intuit whether a repo is ‘really important’ to you or not. It just figures, you enabled it, you want it.

    “Evolution forgot my sort settings (per folder) and 3-pane window. -3 for making me suffer through having to sort every single folder by date, descending again (really, is unsorted a sane default to anyone ?)”

    They ported a bunch of settings from gconf to gsettings between 3.4 and 3.6, they tried to get them all to migrate but a few don’t seem to make it, indeed. And yeah, the sorting defaults seem pretty off.

    “The lock screen looked cool at first glance, but after what feels like lifting up the door to my garage four times today already it’s getting on my nerves. -3 Same with the ‘pressure-triggered’ notification area, which is starting to cause pain in my hand on my laptop, and I never have that kind of trouble. I wonder if these things got designed with a console joypad as an interface, where you could accept that pressure-triggered actions make sense. -3 for sucking and another -3 for making me think originally that it looked cool until I actually had to use it.”

    As others have pointed out, ‘Esc’ to open the unlock screen. You can use super (start) to bring up the overview to get at notification area easy. Note the change to accessing notifications was a response to user feedback: people were complaining that they were triggering the notification area accidentally too often. It’s hard to please all of the people all of the time.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Comment by Adam Williamson — 2013-1-17 @ 8:58 am

  14. “It’s not ‘in the name of security’. If you have a repo enabled then you are indicating you want to install stuff from that repo. Why should we assume that if one of your repos is broken, you don’t mind at all not getting packages from it?”

    I think the point was that unrelated repo breaks -> no security updates.

    My experience with 3rd-party repositories in Debian is that they are somewhat flaky. I think the default in Debian is just to ignore broken repositories. So in theory you could have the problem you mention that you overwrite a package, but I think in practice version numbers prevent that from being a real problem. Sometimes practice beats theory.

    Comment by Ole Laursen — 2013-1-17 @ 4:20 pm

  15. Ctrl+Alt+Tab is for switching between areas in the Shell. Reverse Alt+Tab is Alt+Shift+Tab. And yes there is a Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Tab for reverse Ctrl+Alt+Tab. ;-)

    Don’t forget that you (most likely) have modifier keys on both hand sides, so for example right-Ctrl+left-Alt+Tab isn’t that hard to press. But Super+M is probably easiest, and close it with Esc (I think Super+M is a toggle in 3.8, but sadly not in 3.6).

    Comment by Dag — 2013-1-17 @ 4:23 pm

  16. Adam,

    didn’t get the date/time reasoning. To fix the clock, why does it need to ask me about what timezone I’m in ? It could just reach out and get an ntp date and see if it’s insanely off, no ?

    As to the updates, I get the rationale for not putting all these tested updates on the release DVD, completely. I disagree with the fact that as soon as the release is out, the floodgates open and all these things pour through. I think there should be a slight window where updates are blocked to be really essential instead of everyone who’s woken up to test and update their packages pushing them through. So much more concerted effort went into testing the actual release than in the updates, that it would make sense to let people use what was actually released and see what the shakeout of bugs from that is. But that’s just me.

    For yum, ‘security’ is what the argument has been in the past. None of your arguments are incompatible with the obvious solution of updating what is available. You can still make me mind that my repository is broken by telling me so. If I want the version from the broken repo, I’ll be fine when it gets updated when the repo works again. Why not keep going with what’s possible ? Why is it a good idea to make sure no security updates get installed from Fedora repo’s until the configuration is fixed somehow ? Why default to copping out ?

    I’ve stuck with Evolution for a really long time, but I feel it’s slowly degrading. The huge horrible error messages in the top section, the problems logging in to address books that worked fine before, the amount of unkillable (even with evolution –force-shutdown) runs, … Evolution has gone through a bunch of “Let’s move our settings or our files or folders and change the db type” in the last few years, and the migration has never been flawless. I think messing up migrating data and config is a bad mistake. I want to believe Evolution is going to get back on track though.

    I definitely understand triggering the notification area is hard to get right. I’m not sure this one is it – I guess I was led to believe I had to pressure into it because, with the little thinkpad nub, unless I actually push it in a certain direction it doesn’t necessarily stay exactly on the bottom pixel line. To be honest, I don’t understand why it didn’t go for a mirror effect to show that the bottom right corner would trigger the notification area – it’s being done for the top left corner already, so it seemed obvious to me?

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Comment by Thomas — 2013-1-17 @ 4:24 pm

  17. Regarding the RPM Fusion GPG key, perhaps you were following the historical RPM Fusion process that involved installing the “-stable” versions of the release packages? If you do that, you’ll get an old one dating back to F-16, which expects to find an arch-specific GPG key file for the current Fedora release, but of course doesn’t include one for Fedora 18. That’s what happened to me anyway.

    The current configuration instructions on the RPM Fusion wiki say to install rpmfusion-*-release-18 packages; these work OK for me and come with the correct keys.

    Comment by Paul — 2013-1-18 @ 12:48 pm

  18. [...] Fedora 18 part one [...]

    Pingback by Links 18/1/2013: CentOS 5.9, Linux Revenge For The Netbook | Techrights — 2013-1-18 @ 3:55 pm

  19. “didn’t get the date/time reasoning. To fix the clock, why does it need to ask me about what timezone I’m in ? It could just reach out and get an ntp date and see if it’s insanely off, no ?”

    Doesn’t work if you have no network connection. Might be an interesting refinement if you do, but I think the feeling was ‘well if we have to have it in there for some cases, let’s just have it be a proper time setting thingy’. I can see your point, though.

    Comment by Adam Williamson — 2013-1-24 @ 4:56 am

  20. That’s definitely possible, as I copy and paste my upgrade instructions from a file I update with each release. Hm, wouldn’t that mean that the upgrade path for that is broken too though ?

    Comment by Thomas — 2013-1-25 @ 6:39 pm

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