Building a Fedora 13 Beta Remix


From attending Jesse Keating's talk about the upcoming features in Fedora 13 I learned that the rawhide repository has been split in an effort to provide a more stable build environment for Fedora releases. I also learned that it is a good idea to disable the updates-testing repo to help avoid potential breakage. Jesse also said that at some point during the upgrade cycle that the Beta will turn into the release version. With the new information, I decided that it wasn't too early build my MontanaLinux Fedora remix.

I had installed the Beta on a couple of physical and virtual machines and was fairly impressed with it so I decided to go ahead with the remix effort. First I would have to find all of the repository URLs to pull the packages from. That wasn't too difficult... just look at the files in /etc/yum.repos.d/ on a Fedora 13 Beta system.

To save on bandwidth over many builds I decided to rsync the entire development tree down so I would have a local copy. The i386 devel tree is about 19GB with 16,787 packages. The x86_64 devel tree is 21GB with 20,811 packages. I also have to rsync every day or two to keep up with package updates.

The RPM Fusion folks already have packages for Fedora 13 and the existing Adobe packages work fine on the Fedora 13 Beta as well so the this remix will be pretty close my previous remixes.

I am building from within a Fedora 13 Beta KVM virtual machine. I composed the first build yesterday and installed it on my netbook last night. I have noticed a few glitches in my initial package selection. For example I installed sugar* and that brought all of the sugar packages including sugar-logos which is a boot-time Plymouth animation. As a result, booting my netbook for the first time after install showed the Sugar animation which I wasn't expecting at all. Also the number of packages I had was right on the edge of 2GB and I wanted to insure that it would continue to fit on a 2GB USB thumbdrive... so I decided to update the package set. I decided to remove sugar completely because that would free up some room and get rid of unwanted boot animation.

I'm doing a second compose right now. We'll see how that turns out.

Video: LFNW2010 - Fedora 13 Sneak Peek

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What's under the hat? A sneak peek at Fedora 13 by Jesse Keating.

Func: Fedora Unified Network Controller


I recently started using a tool that I find very handy. It is named func and it is a remote api for management, configuration, and monitoring of systems. What does that mean exactly? I'll get into that but first a little background.

In my day job I manage a number of Linux systems. Some are servers and more are desktop machines in labs used by students. All of the lab machines are triple-boot (Windows XP Pro, CentOS 5.4, and Fedora 12). Fedora has a lot of updates... and it is hard to keep up with them. Typically I have to ssh into each machine to work on it but most of what I do is the same thing over and over again. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to manage multiple machines at once with one command line? That is what func does for you. func allows you to manage remote machines with one command line in parallel.

func was written by Fedora developers mainly to help them manage the server infrastructure that makes up the Fedora distribution's online public servers and build systems. They have an active mailing list that you are encouraged to participate in if you are interested in asking questions and helping to shape the future development of func.

func is written in Python and comes with a number of modules that are custom built for certain tasks. If there is an existing module for your task(s), use the existing module. If not, you can use the command module which basically allows you to run whatever command(s) you want on your remote machines.

Opinion: Fedora Lacks an Update Policy


I periodically check out Fedora Planet and today I noticed a big post by Josh Boyer entitled, "Why Fedora needs an Updates Policy". I left a medium-sized comment there that I decided to post here as well.

It is working pretty well without a policy... but that isn't to say that a policy isn't needed, because it would be good to have an update policy. I however like the rapid pace of updates and version churn in Fedora and I think the codification of an update policy would be slanted to always favor more conservative updates.

I like that Fedora updates KDE every time there is a new release from the KDE project. I like how I can get newer versions of things as they appear... and yes it will sometimes lead to breakage, but that was one of the charms of Fedora. On the other hand it seems that some packages are constantly updated, like every other week. That may be an exaggeration but sometimes it feels like that.

Ideally there would be a conservative updates repo and a newest-stuff repo... but I'm sure that would be more work than your already overworked group of Red Hat employees and Fedora volunteers would want to take on... and I don't blame them.

Given the rapid 6 month development cycle of Fedora and the limited lifespan of any given release... the better answer, if stability is the considern, would be to lengthen the development release cycle... but no one wants to do that, right? Another solution would be to have stated LTS releases every couple of releases, but again... that idea has been batted around several times and dismissed.

It seems many wish something would fall between the rapid development cycle of Fedora and the slow development cycle of RHEL. I don't see how that is going to happen.

Not having an update policy and the recent complaints about it will be something that is heavily criticized by those from other distros and the Linux press... but it doesn't mean that the system you have been working with and the decisions you have been making haven't been working well enough. Package makers are supposed to submit their stuff to testing, people are supposed to test and provide feedback, and only when a package is deemed sufficiently ready should it be considered. I think it is better to leave it up to the package maintainers themselves on what version of a piece of software they want to release... unless of course is an underlying package that disrupts things above it... and you have tried to address that by identifying core/critical packages and putting more rules on their being updated.

I would hope any update policy Fedora comes up with would retain the current flavor of Fedora with rapid and constant updates... rather than being stuck with older releases of things when upstream has fixed a lot of bugs and released newer versions with additional features. If you don't retain that quality then it will just encourage the development of yet more third-party repositories with newer software and just make an even bigger mess. This gets back to the seeming constant desire for Fedora to define itself and who it is targeting... and then potentially limiting itself to those more strictly defined goals. I for one like it fast and loose... but I'm just a user. :)

Fedora 12: Upgrading vs. Fresh Install


I originally wrote this as a comment on LWN in response to a feature article Jon Corbet did entitled, "Between Fedora 12 and 13". It was basically Jon's review of his upgrade experience from Fedora 11 to Fedora 12 in which he claims that features don't matter, only the upgrade experience does. I felt compelled to comment.

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I started writing a review of Fedora 12 a while ago but put it on the back burner as things came up... thinking the longer I wait to finish it, the more time I will have had with it... the more complete of a review I can do.

I don't really recommend upgrading to anyone... except under certain conditions. On servers where the package count is fairly low and the possibility of third-party add-on packages is low, upgrading has been painless for me for the last 5 or 6 releases I've been doing them.

On desktops where there is a large number of packages as well as a greater potential for third-party packages to be installed (think RPM Fusion for certain verboten media codecs and apps)... I don't upgrade.

Some Fedora related news


Just some news bytes I've run across recently.

Fedora 12 Alpha includes flavor of Moblin 2
Moblin is a "usage experience" originally designed by Intel for devices designed around their Atom CPU mostly available in Netbooks and other embedded devices. The Fedora Project is basically integrating the Moblin 2 userspace stuff into Fedora so it is a selectable desktop from the graphical login's Session menu. Fedora will probably create an official "mini" spin but that remains to be seen. For more info see: fedora mini alpha testing

New Fedora 11 release for OLPC X0-1 models
You might have already known that the OLPC project is working on an XO-1.5 unit with vastly faster hardware and more storage space and that they were going to change the software so that the OLPC user could switch between the Sugar Desktop and the Gnome Desktop if desired. Fedora/OLPC developer Steven Parrish has released an update for OLPC X0-1 laptops based on Fedora 11 which includes the Gnome Desktop stuff as well. For more info see: Announcing a new release of F11 for the XO-1 and F11 for XO-1

Now here's a video about what Moblin 2 is for anyone interested:

HOWTO: Linux on the Intel iMac - Triple booting

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Introduction - Why Macs?

I work as a System Administrator for a Computer Science Department and as a result I manage both server machines and lab machines. Some time ago the department decided (and I was in agreement) that it would be a good idea to offer the students additional variety in the computer lab by replacing some of the "Pee Cee" machines in the main undergrad lab with some Apple Macintosh systems. This would give students access to Mac OS X (pronounced "ten") in the lab in addition to Linux and Microsoft Windows.

Although Apple switched to Intel-based machines a few years ago, you can't just run their OS on any Intel/AMD machine as they have both licensing reasons and technical reasons why their OS should ONLY run on Apple hardware. They don't seem to be friendly to running Mac OS X inside of Virtualization either. Mr. Jobs, why do you hate us? I digress.

The first three years we had Macs in the lab they only ran Mac OS X and as time passed, fewer and fewer people used them. The usage slowdown was caused by a number of reasons that I'll not go into here. This year though, I decided not to give up on the Macs and to make them triple-boot... so if people don't want to use Mac OS X they don't have to, and the machines can get better utilization.

Screencast: Virtual Machine Manager, Fedora 11 Preview


I've been doing quite a few Fedora 11 installs on various hardware in preparation for the review of I'm working on but I wanted to give a short glimpse of KVM in Fedora 11 with the Virtual Machine Manager (virt-manager). I also show MontanaLinux (a Fedora 11 remix), some of the new features in Fedora 11 and some additional software.

For those running a browser that can do HTML 5's video tag (like Firefox 3.5 beta), you can watch the Ogg Theora version which is about 1/3 the filesize of the Flash version but bigger and better quality. Or download it: kvm-fedora11-preview-smaller.ogv (right-click, Save link as...)

Fedora 11 Has Landed

As has been widely reported, Fedora 11 came out today. This weekend I was fishing their mirrors and found a few open... which allowed me to get it earlier. I have created updated MontanaLinux builds for i386 and x86_64 based on Fedora 11 for anyone interested in that.

I installed Fedora 11 on my Acer Aspire One D150 netbook... and it solved all of the minor issues I was having with the previous release.

I also made pre-created OpenVZ OS Templates for Fedora 11 that I have uploaded to the contrib section.

How about a review? Well, since I've only been playing with it for a few days... I haven't had enough time to put it through the paces. Expect a review in a week or two.

Video: Fedora First - LFNW2009

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Larry Cafiero gave a presentation entitled, "Fedora First: An Introduction" at the Linuxfest Northwest 2009 conference in Bellingham, WA.

Unfortunately he had some trouble with the laptop to projector hookup and as a result his he doesn't display his slides in the video.

To view the video, click on the full story or the thumbnail image on the right.

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