Monday, May 19, 2008

She is crawling (and walking ?)

It's hard to capture "crawling" with a still picture, but here is a shot ...

Ready ... set ...


She loves mommy.

In Him.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Fedora rescuecd vs. Debian netinst ... with Screenshots

Other than a few obtuse references to some of the features of the Fedora 8 rescuecd, I could not easily figure out how to install Fedora 8 (fc8) in a similar fashion to Debian's netinst installer.

By the way, the word "netinst" is difficult for some people because it could be confused with a network boot using a protocol like PXE or bootp. So let's mention here that a "netinst" refers a local boot (from cd, usb, or some such device) followed by a network installation.

So, can you do a netinst of Fedora? Yes, but looking at their download page it's not obvious how to do a netinst type of install with the media files provided by Fedora. Looking at the Fedora wiki, it somhow becomes even less obvious. And after googling permutations of "fedora", "netinst", "rescuecd" ... well it's even more frustrating.

So, here are the step by step screenshots of a fc8 rescuecd install which does allow you to do a local boot from a cd (no DVD necessary) followed by a network installation from a fedora mirror of your choice.

Fedora core 8 rescuecd initial boot screen

Choose your Language

Choose your keyboard

Ok ... here is where it starts getting interesting ... none of the community sites I found showed this. These are your options. Either FTP or HTTP would be similar to your debian netinst options

Choose IPv4 and/or 6 for your network installation

This is also something that needs clarification ... I could not find this clearly explained anywhere ... you need to have your favorite Fedora mirror URLs memorized for this step. And you'll need to know how to break it up into the pieces they request here.

Oh yes, and you'll want to end the URL with the directory that contains the "Packages" directory, so in this case it ends with the "os" directory. If you end your URL too high up in the directory tree or too far down in the directory tree, you may get a chance to correct this mistake after the next screen when the installer figures out that your URL is not what it wants. No clear error message is given in those cases ... you are simply prompted for the URL again.

Just choose skip here, and it's at this point that if your URL was not correct you'll be taken back to the previous screen to re-enter the URL.

This screen begins what is called "stage 2 anaconda", which should be familiar to anyone who has done a graphical install of Fedora before.

There are many advantages to doing a local boot and installation over the network such as:

1) a DVD burner is not required to produce your installation media.
2) a DVD player is not required to perform the install.
3) you can be sure that you will only need one small cd image to do the install.

I suggest you install as little as possible before your first update of all your packages. It will just make the update go faster.

It looks like the main advantage of a Debian netinst over a Fedora rescuecd is that with Debian's netinst you are given at least one mirror by default. A big problem with both of these distros is that it's difficult to know from their web pages what link to click on to get the netinst (iso) image you need in order to burn a CD.

For fedora, look for the "rescuecd.iso" on one of their mirrors. Here's a fast one I used (out of date now).
For Debian, try here.

Hopefully now it's more clear.

NOTE: Screenshots taken with Sun's VirtualBox and imlib2

UPDATE: It looks like the fedora community is trying to improve on their current netinst capabilities with Fedora 9. And here is a recent interview where Jeremy Katz and Chris Lumens give their reasons for improving the netinst process.