Fedora 18 Pre-Release Report
I've been remixing Fedora 18 pre-release for quite a while now. As you may recall The Fedora Project has delayed the release of Fedora 18 Beta several times now... mainly due to blocker bugs in their new installer and Fedora Updater (fedup). I think the rest of the distribution has benefited from the delays because I've been running it a while and it has been very solid for me... as or more solid than Fedora 17. In fact, Fedora 17 and Fedora 18 share a lot in common... because a Fedora release, during its lifecycle, gets a lot of updates and upgrades.
I started by putting Fedora 18 on my netbook. Then I put it on my home desktop system. I ran it for more than a month... oh, and by the way, I disable the updates-testing repository. Since it has been so solid on my hardware at home I finally decided, perhaps being a little haphazard, to put it on my workstation at work. When did I decide to do that? Well... I picked the day before Thanksgiving about 1 hour before it was time to go home. Care to follow me on my journey?
Update: (8PM, Thanksgiving) - I noticed an email that said that there was a Fedora 18 Beta release Go/No Go meeting today and that the decision had been made to finally release the beta on Tuesday, Nov. 27th... the so called "exploding turkey" release. Yeah!
I made sure to grab a list of packages I had installed on Fedora 17. My personal remix includes the vast majority of software I use but not everything. Just to be safe, I made two complete backups... one was to a free partition on my local system and the second was to a remote machine. rsync sure is handy.
Doing the Install
I booted my work machine from the live USB of the remix and proceeded with the install. I told the installer to reclaim /boot and / but I left /home intact and did not try to even assign it to anything so... so far as Fedora was concerned it was just an unused, unassigned partition. I did that just to be overly cautious. I also had a /vm partition that I store virtual machine disk images on which I treated just like I did /home. The install took about 10 minutes which isn't bad considering it is more than 6GB of software. For whatever reason the install image has a problem actually shutting down or rebooting. It seems to hang... so I had to manually power cycle the machine. I was expecting that because that's how it acts as a virtual machine too.
First boot and post-install configuration
The machine with the fresh install booted up and went through the firstboot process, I created the primary user account that has sudo access. Then I edited /etc/fstab and added back my /home and /vm partitions and rebooted again. Then I copied over my sshd keys from my backup and enabled the sshd service. Then I made the few modifications that were needed to the httpd config using my previous config as a reference. Then I ran a yum install of the package list I had saved from Fedora 17 (that were striped of the package version numbers and contained just the names). Then updated to the few updates that had been released since I built my remix.
The whole process took about 45 minutes and during a considerable portion of that I had my regular set of applications opened up and was using my desktop as usual. I copied over the cups config files for my configured printers from my backup and restarted cups. I made sure the firewall had the ports opened up that I wanted. I copied over my virtual machine configurations from my backup and restarted libvirtd.
Knowing how things work and where various services store their configs makes all the difference. That was pretty much everything.. and everything worked.
A Pleasant Surprise
Since I had about 15 minutes of time left I decided to check out the Fedora 18 x86_64 virtual machine I had had for weeks. I installed a few 3D type games... like prboom, darkplaces (Quake I-based), and Tremulous (Quake III-based). Please note that I do not play these games at work but I do load them and run them occasionally to test things out. Oddly they all worked in my VM just fine. Yes, there was a performance hit because I was running them in a VM but that is to be expected. The surprise is that they actually worked in the first place. I was using the SPICE protocol for the display and SPICE doesn't support 3D stuff but I guess with the fairly recent support for gegl software 3D that enables GNOME 3 Shell, KDE 4.x desktop effects, and Cinnamon to work... that these games work too. glxgears runs just fine and glxinfo says direct rendering is available. I'm guessing this also has something to do with the fact that the system I'm connecting from with the SPICE client (the same physical machine the VM is running on) has an ATI video card that works fairly well with the stock xorg packages and provides accelerated 3D. The whole working 3D in a KVM virtual machine was a surprise to me. I don't know how well that will work on other combinations (both VM server side and SPICE client side) but hey, it's working for me so I'm very happy.
Over all, Fedora 18, even in this pre-beta stage, is working great and I enjoy the refreshed versions of GNOME 3 Shell, KDE 4, XFCE, LXDE, MATE, and Cinnamon. Oh, btw The Fedora Project did add packages for the MATE Desktop and Cinnamon for Fedora 17 so you can easily add those if desired (yum install @mate-desktop cinnamon). Should you give the pre-release version a try? If you are adventurous like me and are sure to take the precautions I did... go for it.
Thanks Fedora Project!