Installing a Linux-Based Development Environment - Fedora 15 Fails

I've scrapped my VOIP project with the realization that, advanced DSL or not (whatever THAT is, AT&T), I just don't have the upload bandwidth to support the project to a place of anything usable.

So, after a couple months of looking at an inactive PC sitting on the top of my desk doing absolutely nothing, except irritating my OCD bone, I decided to embark on a new project -- installing a linux-desktop based IDE platform.

Keeping my goals simple, I want a LAMP development environment with the option to later build out to a compiled-based environment/IDE for C/C++.

I am installing on an older PC - an HP Pavilion Slimline S3300f  that initially had Windows Vista installed but has since advanced and evolved to host a variety of various Linux platforms.  The CPU is a AMD Athalon X2 64-bit Dual-Core hosting 2-gb of PC2-5300 SDRAM, a 500-gb hard drive and a 2007 Phoenix BIOS.  Perfect for Linux.

I thought about which flavor of Linux to install - over the years I've used pretty much all of them and finally decided to try something new...new in that I've not used it in quite a while.  I decided on the latest 64-bit Fedora install with the Gnome IDE available from the Fedora Project.  While I normally choose CentOS as my linux-of-choice, I picked Fedora because I wanted to re-visit the distribution.

I've not used Fedora since 2002.  I was never that enthusiastic about Fedora since it seemed, to me at the time, to spend too much time customizing what was, at that time, standard unix configurations.  Well, I really like CentOS, which is based on Fedora, so maybe it's time to put past-prejudices aside and see what's up with one of the most popular distributions in the world.

And, while we're at it, let's eliminate our past-dependencies on KDE and stagger completely free from our comfort zone and go with the Gnome desktop, shall we?  <muted screaming noises>

I downloaded the Fedora x86_64 CD ISO from the Fedora project and booted my Pavilion off the CD.  A desktop soon appeared which, I have to admit, is really nice.  The default boot brings you into a run-time environment chock-full of neat applications which I didn't take the time to explore...unfortunately...but I do like the concept.  This ISO gives you a portable and secure desktop system that, with internet access, provides you with the ultimate, secure, thin-client.

Anyway, I clicked on the install-to-hard-drive option and dove into the Fedora installation program.  I have no screen shots for you  - I am writing this blog on my Mac OS-X bootmaster partition of Windows 7 (Ultimate-64) because I'm too lazy to reboot back into Mac OS X and I'm going to play Rift later...

The Fedora installer took two options, initially -- my language and the storage device choice.  English and local (as, say opposed to SAN) and it paused because I had encrypted, in a previous install, the hard drive.  So, it waiting patiently until I was able to dredge the password out of my abused long-term memory.  Luckily, I had saved it in a keychain...

I then configured standard stuff - machine name (codemonkey), root passwords, and storage option.  I elected to use the entire hard-drive which will wipe whatever crap I previously had installed/stored.  In this, I was also given the option to encrypt the file system (which is cool in a James Bond sort of way but a pain-in-the-ass in RL because you have to remember your password and you do take a CPU hit), and to review the partitioning schema.  I went with no encryption and no review -- nuke it, Chuck.

While it's installing, I wanted to add that this system is using a 17" LCD monitor.  While this type of monitor used to be the shizzle, it's now dwarfed by my iMac's 27" display and the slaved 23" LCD next to that.  On the other hand, I now have 71" of LCD wrapping around my two keyboards...which is pretty cool.  Traditionally, Linux never seemed to give me the same video resolutions on this monitor that Windows was able to.  8x6 or even 1024x768 just doesn't seem to cut it anymore, so I'm curious as to what Redhat will deliver.

The Fedora installer copied the live image to my hard drive fairly quickly.  I noticed that the installer should update it's (C) date and include 2011 - I believe this install was last update just a few days ago...and, the entire time the installer is running as a windowed app beneath the live desktop.  My first linux install was sometime around 1991 under version 0.91 or so -- so the installers have definitely evolved!

After about 10 minutes, I was presented with the reboot message....so I popped the CD out of the tray and rebooted...exiting the installer took me back to the live desktop.  I had to manually power off the machine, reboot, remove the CD from the tray...so I missed the short window to pop back into the BIOS to reset the boot order.

Booting from the hard drive, I was brought to a Welcome screen (very snazzy!) and querying me for more information.  I was asked to create a user account - which I added to the administrator's group assuming that this would bestow me with su privileges.   I then set-up the NTP server and submitted my hardware profile back to the Fedora Project.

Following this, I was presented with the log-in window...and I after entering in my password, I was introduced to my first-ever Gnome desktop environment under Fedora.  (2001 Space Odyssey music playing in my head.)

I'm immediately happy because I'm at 1280x1024 resolution for the first time, ever, in a linux install on this hardware.  I'm going to play around with my desktop for a bit and get used to the UX while finding a comfortable configuration.

The system information informs me that I am running Gnome 3.0.1 with 1.8gb of RAM, and AMD Athalon 64x2 Dual Core Processor 5000+ X2, a Gallium 0.4 on NV4C graphic driver, 64-bit OS and 931.4 gb free on the hard drive.  df -h output shows that I've used 6% of my 50gb root partition and I'm worrying that this won't be enough to support system updates.  Looks like everything will have to be installed into /home.

So, I have the following (default) filesystem set-up:

/ (root) at 50gb with 94% free /boot at 500mb with 91% free /home at 864gb with 99% free /tmp at 50gb with 94% free

Interesting that this window also provides me with update notification which was my next step...installation of updates and installation of new packages...the software has located a staggering 634 updates at 197.3mb...the majority of which appear to be bug-fixes with the remaining packages listed as enhancements.

The package install fails immediately with what I suspect are permissions issues.  I then next learn that Fedora has disabled root logins into Gnome.  Since this is an administrator account, I need to figure out how to install these updates.  I re-login and try to re-install and get another failure, albeit a different failure message.  I try to, and succeed, in installing a single update and the installer informs me I have to re-login for the updates to be effective.  I do so, but it's a bit of an Easter-Egg-hunt as the installer reset my terminal...I have to Ctrl-Alt-F8 to get back to my terminal session and I re-login and restart the software update program.

And I keep getting errors...geh... time for terminal.  I google the issue and discover that it's a known bug in the package kit installer and to use yum instead.  I switch to terminal, su to root and yum update ... The (now) 302 updates I need spin down to the box effortlessly and the entire system is updated in about 10 minutes.

The next step is to identify and install the development components.  Also, I'll need to install some server software (apache2, php5, mysql, mongodb, etc.) for the LAMP development environment.  For now, what I have is a working desktop environment.

I pulled out an old set of Logitech speakers from the garage, rescuing them from an in-progress garage-sale, and now I have working sound which is cool.  I also want to get network shares up and running so that I can copy files back-and-forth across the network.

As a final note to this post, I had a hell of a time trying to get Firefox to connect.  It's a DNS server issue with Fedora 15 and FF that's based on auto-enabling of IPV6 protocols.  To "fix" the issue, simply add google's default nameserver configuration to your /etc/resolv.conf file:

nameserver 8.8.8.8

And any name-server resolution issues in firefox should disappear immediately.

[EDIT]

I'm going to have to trash Fedora 15 as a viable option.  I had the desktop lock-up on me while displaying the application listings following a Chrome install.  When I rebooted, I lost the nameserver configuration that I added to /etc/resolv.conf (above) and had to manually add it so that other network-based applications (browser, chat client) would work.

All in all, there's probably fixes for these issue but at this point I really don't care.  There are other Linux distributions out there that are stable and don't distract you from accomplishing real work with niggling little issues such as what I've experienced.  The application lock-up was unforgivable, to be honest.  If I wanted to experience fun like that, I'd install Vista back on this machine.

I'm really kind of surprised to have this much trouble with a Fedora install considering their reputation for reliability and stability in the enterprise.  Clearly, Fedora isn't ready for a desktop/client market.

I'm in-process of downloading CentOS 6 -- we'll see how that goes in the next installation....