Fedora 9 – The first impression

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It took me about 8 hours to download the Fedora 9 i386 DVD image from their server. I did that even when I had my final exams going on, but then Fedora has always had a special place in my heart. I had an existing installation of Fedora 8 on my PC (which I could have just “upgraded”, still I went to make a fresh install. I’ll format the F8 partition later, once I have backed up my stuff from there.

The Fedora 9 download got over in the morning, after which I had my paper. So, I decided to install it after returning home from college. And I did exactly that. 😉

It didn’t take much time in burning the image onto a DVD. As soon as it was done, I popped in the DVD in my DVD drive and rebooted. After a few seconds, I was able to see all the installation options, like perform a fresh install, upgrade an existing installation, boot from the first hard disk, etc. I chose the first option.

To my surprise, it just took about 6-7 seconds to load the Anaconda installer, contrary to the 15-20 seconds it used to take earlier. And the speed boost didn’t just end there. I could clearly observe the increase in speed, compared to the earlier versions of Fedora, in the graphical installer as well (or may be my recent hardware upgrade is to be blamed for that 😉 ). The installer was almost the same as that of F8. So, I had no problems at any step of the installation. The installation went fine and finished in just 25 minutes, after installing 1300 packages!

A reboot was required to get into the newly installed system, and I was eager to do that. So, I rebooted. During the installation, I had chosen to install Fedora’s bootloader on Fedora’s installation partition itself, the reason being simple – I already had a lot’s of them installed all over my PC, one on the MBR and the rest on the partitions of corresponding Linux distros. This meant that I had to add an entry to boot into Fedora 9 manually. I added this entry in the menu.lst file corresponding to the GRUB installed on my MBR:

title Fedora 9
root (hd0,6)
configfile /boot/grub/menu.lst

Theoretically, this should have worked, but on hitting the “Enter” key on the Fedora entry in my GRUB, I got the following error:

Error 2: Bad file or directory type

I was surprised! This had never happened with me in the past. A quick Googling and I came to know that this is a common problem an had been reported on Fedora’s bug reporting system. After that, I tried some 2-3 tricks, but nothing worked. Finally I was able to find the solution. I had to modify the Fedora entry in my menu.lst file like the following to get it going:

title Fedora 9
root (hd0,6)
chainloader +1

What this command did was to tell the GRUB installed on the MBR to pass the control over to the GRUB installed on the Fedora partition, and it did just that. I was able to get to Fedora’s bootloader. I saw it an wondered why in the era of gfxboot-enabled GRUB had the Fedora developers decided to stick to the traditional looking GRUB? Anyway, I hit the enter key and booted into Fedora. I was greeted with the post installation steps which I was required to complete. As soon as had finished all the post installation setup steps, I was shown the login screen of Fedora. I was pleased to see the nice artwork.

I logged using my user account into the default desktop environment – GNOME. I was further greeted by a matching wallpaper. Everything was looking nice. An interesting fact about the default wallpaper of Fedora is that its color changes according to the time of the day, that is, lightest shade in the morning, lighter in the noon, darker in the evening, and darkest in the night. 🙂

I was eager to get connected to the Internet. Initially, I had some problems connecting to the net as I could not get the correct DNS entries permanently saved. But editing the file /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0 manually for the DNS entries and restarting the network service, I managed to get everything right. During this process, I faced another little issue. When I issued the command service network restart, I got an error telling me that ‘service’ command was not found. I frowned! But then I realised that this command could be hiding in some folder that was not in the default command path. I found the command service in the /sbin folder. So, I created a link to service command in the /bin folder (by issuing the command ln -s /sbin/service /bin/service) so that the next time I had to use the service command, I have to write just ‘service’ and not ‘/sbin/service’ in the command prompt. I did the same for the ntsysv command which was hiding in the /usr/sbin folder.

After these glitches were solved, I moved onto use Firefox to browse my regular websites. Firefox 3 beta 5 is installed by default and I was happy to notice the huge improvement in the font rendering there, as the fonts used to be major irritant for me in the pervious Fedora versions.

Then I moved forward to installing the multimedia codecs which were, as always, missing from Fedora due to some legal issues of using the proprietary codecs in some countries. To do that, first I had to add a new repository called Livna (If you want to do this too, follow the instructions at: http://rpm.livna.org/rlowiki/). Then, I issued the following commands:

yum install ffmpeg
yum install gstreamer-ffmpeg
yum install gstreamer-plugins-ugly

Once installed, these codecs can play virtually any audio and video file. So, I am enjoying my web and multimedia experiences.

I briefly checked out the KDE installed with Fedora 9 too. For your information, Fedora has discontinued the support for KDE 3.5 series and the only KDE you would be getting with Fedora 9 is KDE 4 (version 4.0.3). KDE 4 in F9 is fine, but not as good as I had expected. The improper font selection is a big let down.

For now, I am using Fedora as a home-based webserver and mailserver. You can access it through the URL http://granular.myftp.org, but the downtime is quite large as it is not always up (remember that it is a home-based server? 😉 ).

Here is a screenshot of Fedora 9 from my PC to wind the things up.

Fedora 9 Desktop

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