23 January 2013

fedora 18 update: beginning to damage my calm

“you’re beginning to damage my calm.” — jayne cobb

since i’m an experienced fedora updater, i gave no second thought to downloading install media for the task. no live update spin since i wanted to get as much installed as i could in one sitting. booting from the dvd took me into the new anaconda, the redesigned installer. it looked sharp! it was clean and looked less like it had from the last couple of decades. but looks really aren’t everything as i would come to discover.

my situation: i have a hard drive with a single install of fedora and a couple of partitions of data i want to carry over untouched to the next install (/home and /usr/local). these two partitions are also segmented in a logical volume mount (LVM).

in the past, i would have performed a manual partition configuration and kept the whole partition layout reformatting all but the aforementioned two. that was my plan this time.

time to install. i got through the first part of the install screens without any problems. but when i tried to deal with the partitioning, i got stuck.

the wording of the partitioning piece was something i had to pay close attention to. i couldn’t just assume that it was all going to be click here to reformat, click there to preserve. i ended up reading the help section after several failed attempts finding in the end it wouldn’t let me keep my existing partitions. i tried this several times, a few of them after rebooting to start the process from scratch. i finally was able to get all the partitions under the fedora 18 install header, but it still told me there were errors.

fedora 18 partitioning
fedora 18 partitioning

i wanted to reformat root (/), boot (/boot), and swap. but i wasn’t really deleting these partitions, which is what i believe the installed wanted in order for the necessary space to be available for the install. in fact, i didn’t come to that realization until at the end i made the decision to wipe my entire hard drive and start from scratch.

no matter what configuration i ended up on the partitioning screen, i would always end up with the same error message not allowing any progress forward. (on a few occasions, my configuration combinations ended up locking or crashing the installer forcing me to restart from a reboot.)

fedora 18 installer errors
fedora 18 installer errors

here is what i have come to understand at the end: this installer will work if

  1. you intend to do a clean wipe of your hard drive and install fresh, or

  2. you have multiboot partitions of linux and can swap out an entire segment with the new stuff.

the latter choice is actually a variation of the former in reality. give that logic, there is no way to preserve your existing partitions. if there is a way, it’s not clear, it’s not in the help documentation, and it’s not online (at the time of my adventure).

in the end, i backed up my /home and /usr/local partitions to an external hard drive, did a complete wipe of the hard drive, set it up the same as my  previous install, and restored from backup the data in my favorite two locations. this took way longer than it should have for a “streamlined” install process, which is how it’s presented. i don’t believe enough testing was done on non-virtual environments with layouts like mine and by people who had no behind-the-scenes knowledge of how the installer worked. i do believe they will improve on this going forward given that this has been the focus point of many negative reviews.

many people complained about redesigned interface. i can handle something like that as long as the look is not off the deep end or made to look like any fruity technology. it’s the functionality that pushed me to the edge of calm.