Installing Fedora Core 3 - Part I
Please see the notes at the end, for later Fedora releases and take them into account when following this installation guide.
Why install Fedora? Because it's good to try new things! Ok, maybe that isn't very convincing.
The Fedora Project is sponsored by Red Hat and is a community effort. The Red Hat developers and many others in the Linux community work on this distribution in an open environment. It is a nice selection of free, open source software.
The system is relatively current, making use of the latest Linux technologies. I would also describe it as being rather well polished, from the straight forward easy graphical installer, through to the desktop, graphical configuration utilities and the graphical front end to the up2date automated software update utility.
We are going to be installing Fedora Core 3, using the CD set created from downloaded ISO files.
Find an FTP mirror that works well for you (see mirrors in the left pane of links), download the ISOs, check the md5sums and create your CD set. For Fedora Core 3, these are the files you want. You don't need the srcrpm distribution set unless you want to obtain the source code in that manner.
You can also download a separate Rescue CD image, though a rescue routine is built into the main installation image so you probably don't need this.
An example path where you'll find these files on a Fedora ftp mirror is:
Alternatively, if you do not have a high speed Internet connection or prefer to, you can purchase a Fedora Core CD set from a number of vendors listed at the Fedora site. It is very inexpensive.
Starting the Installation
After you've created or otherwise obtained your Fedora CD set, start the installation by booting the computer with disk 1 of the CD set. You may have to enter your computer's bios setup to change the order of boot devices so that the CDROM drive is searched first.
On successfully booting with the first CD, this is the first boot screen that you will be presented with.
Most people will want to hit enter to begin the graphical installation here, but if you want to see some of the other available boot options, it is safe to press the indicated function keys to view the information. You can always press F1 to get back to that original boot screen, those options are just informational and present available boot commands.
Press enter to start the graphical install, and the first text screens appear. You will be presented with the option to test your installation media.
I highly recommend that you take the time to verify your installation disks. (even if you checked md5sums). You don't want to find out that you had a "bad burn" during the install. You'll see later in the tutorial what happens.
After this, it probes for hardware and the graphical installer starts. Say goodbye to those nasty blue and red screens. It's pretty slick, my mouse scroll wheel even worked during the graphical install.
The next screen prompts to choose your language for the install. After that you'll see a similar one to choose your keyboard type.
The next screen needs a bit of consideration. It is where we choose the install type. This affects what packages are going to be selected by default
We are going to choose the Custom install option.
The first and second choices are more appropriate for people who have never installed Linux before, and don't really know what they want.
You may want to try the Workstation option, but if you do you should at least choose a custom package install later in the process, when prompted. If you go with the "Install Default Software Packages" choice, you may not be very happy with those choices. Remember to watch for this screen (it'll come right after you are prompted to choose a root password), if you've chosen "Personal Desktop" or "Workstation"
If you've chosen the Custom Install Type, you'll not see that screen.
The next step, is to partition your drive. How you want to do this depends on whether or not you already have partitions. What you do need though, is at least some unallocated ("unpartitioned") space. I would want at least 8 gigabytes to be comfortable.
This is the first choice we have to make.
If you have an empty or expendable drive, and really don't have a clue what you want to do, it is OK to select Automatic Partitioning. Note, however, that this will use LVM (Logical Volume Manager) partitions. You can read about the advantages, at that link. For example, it's possible to later add another disk to that volume group, and then extend one of your logical volumes to use it.
If you choose Automatic Partitioning, this is what you will see.
Now, there weren't any partitions on this drive so it's bringing up this alert. Choose Yes.
I would recommend checking the "Review and Modify" box, so you will be presented with a display of what the partitioning utility is going to do.
This is a 10 gig virtual VMware disk (I did an installation in a virtual machine to get these screenshots), but it works exactly the same as a real disk.
This is what the Automatic Partitioning wants to do with the disk:
Weird looking, but this should be just fine. Essentially, this is a 100 mb /boot partition (it has to be a normal partition) with the rest of the disk allocated for a volume group. We've got a 9 gig root partition and a 768 meg swap partition as logical volumes within the volume group. From our perspective, using it like this, it isn't really much different than an extended partition containing logical drives. Click Next to accept the defaults, if it suits you.
If you choose the "Manual Partitioning with Disk Druid" choice, you can make standard Linux partitions. I would indeed recommend manual partitioning and keeping it simple.
Here is the modern Disk Druid partitioning utility, showing the entire disk as "Free".
Click the New button, to create a partition
I am assigning the first mount point as /boot (a small partition to house the kernel and boot loader). It will be 100 megs in size, and will be formatted with the ext3 filesystem. The choices are limited, there's no 'reiserfs' or any exotic filesystems available.
I am checking "Force to be a primary partition" because that's what I want, but there is really no reason that any of these partitions need to be primary.
To create another partition, simply click the New button again.
I'm creating an approximate 9 Gb partition to mount as the root partition (/) and I'm saving the rest for swap. Click the New button again, to create the next partition:
This time, I'm choosing swap for the filesystem type, which makes the mount point choice not applicable. Since I'm using the rest of the capacity of the disk for this partition I can simply choose "Fill to Maximum Allowable Size" so that I don't have to specify.
Here are the finished partitions. Nice, standard Linux partitions.
These are just examples, you can partition your drive however you see fit. Just be sure to allocate plenty of space for installing software, if you mount /usr on a separate partition. Nowadays I prefer to just have a single large root filesystem, so as not to waste space unnecessarily allocating it for various parts of the filesystem heirarchy.
This is how I partitioned my real 40 gig hard disk that I used for my Fedora Core 3 installation. A small boot partition, and the rest of the disk used for the root partition and a bit leftover for swap.
You may want to allocate more swap than I've shown here, depending on how much RAM you have, and what you do with your computer. For example, I like to allocate 1 Gig of swap for a server or development box. Having large swap can save your ass if you run into a situation where your memory gets exhausted.
Next, it prompts to install a boot loader.
If you do not wish to install a boot loader (e.g. If you already have another Linux installation on the system and want to use its bootloader instead), click the Change Bootloader button.
It should have detected a Windows installation if present, but if it did not you can add one here. You can probably click Next here, but you can put a check in the "Configure Advanced Boot Loader Options" box so you can see what's on the next screen. You can change some defaults or add parameters to the kernel command line. If you have nothing to change or haven't a clue, you can just proceed without changing any of the advanced options.
The next step is to configure your network. At this point the installer should have already detected your network adapter.
It is configured to use dhcp by default. Most workstation users will want to leave it that way, but if you need to statically configure your network, you must click the Edit button at top right. You should, however, probably manually configure your hostname.
Next, you are prompted to configure some security options.
By default, it wants to enable a firewall, and the SELinux system. Unless you understand the implications, you should probably set SELinux to Disabled. Read a little about it at that link and decide.
The next tasks are to choose your language and time zone settings.
Check the boxes of any languages you wish to have support for.
Straight forward stuff. Choose your timezone.
Next, you are prompted to set a root password.
Do set one, and confirm it. You will create other users a bit later in the installation.
Now, we move on to package installation.
Now, we must choose groups of packages to install.
It is very important that you take the time to click Details and look at the selections within each category you are installing, to make sure you aren't missing what you want. In many cases, the defaults when you select the package group will be good enough, but you probably should at least look. Note, however, that if you miss something it's not a big deal, for you can get back to these same package management screens using the Add/Remove Applications wizard once you get the system installed.
For example, when you get to "Graphical Internet" software packages, if you don't click Details you won't get gftp!
You certainly (unless you are doing a server installation) want the X Window System and the Gnome Desktop Environment. You'd end up installing much of gnome anyways, due to dependencies. I would also want to install KDE. Make sure you go into the Details dialog for KDE, so you get all the packages you need.
I also install XFCE, for it's my favourite desktop.
Another category you want to be sure and click Details for, is Sound and Video. If you don't go in there and go through the choices, you won't get software like the XMMS music player, or the K3B CD Writing application.
Fedora comes with pretty much all the server capabilities that you would expect in a full featured Linux distribution.
You can selectively enable what you want, here. If you are installing the Server services, I'd recommend selecting the Server Configuration Tools. Otherwise, there's no need as it will still install the utility for configuring system services.
If you expect to be able to compile software, you must install the Development Tools.
Click Details and go through the choices, but it should give you most of what you'll need by default. You also want to enable X Software Development for sure. You may want to enable the Gnome Development choice, as there are some things in there that you may need to compile software.
When you get to the Office/Productivity category, something to watch for is Open Office i18N.
This will install over 600 megabytes of language files for the Open Office suite. Unless you need support for other languages besides English and other charsets, you might as well save yourself some thrashing and deselect that package. Of course, if you do need support for a different language or charset, then you must install this package. Depending on which Installation Type you chose, this package may be selected by default.
Do yourself a favour, and install the Administrative Tools category.
Take a look at the System Tools category. You may not need much from there. Perhaps the Samba client software, so you can connect to Microsoft Networking shares, if applicable.
Down at the bottom, under Miscellaneous, you'll see two options, Everything and Minimal.
If you select Everything, all your package choices will be greyed out. You will get "everything", including packages not listed in any of the categories.
Minimal is similar, if you select it everything else will be greyed out. Don't go there, because it doesn't let you choose any packages and you don't get much. Even if you are just wanting a minimal system, this isn't terribly useful. You would certainly end up needing to install many more packages afterwards using the command line rpm utility. It would be better to do a custom install and choose only the packages you want.
Just for the Hell of it, I experimented with the Minimal package selection choice. The finished install uses less than 600 megs of disk space. If interested, you can view a list of the packages it installed, Here
For contrast, I also did an "Everything" install, which consists of some 1600 packages, and takes up nearly 7 gigabytes on disk after the installation is complete. You can view the whopping list of packages Here
This concludes the package selection.
Now that the hard work of configuring the installation is complete, we get to kick back and watch progress bars.
Depending on your choices, you will likely be asked for the first three installation disks (it will warn you which CDs you need to have). The 4th CD mostly has extra devel stuff, some of which you may need to install later if compiling software. It also contains some of the language sets for KDE and other applications. Components of the Mozilla suite are also on Disk 4.
It will first take some preparatory steps and commit your partition changes, format your partitions, then the package installation will start.
It will prompt you to insert subsequent media
Now, near the beginning of the install you were prompted to test your installation media. This is where taking that time would have paid off.
If you run into this:
You won't like it. You have two choices. Retry, or shut the PC off! At this point the disk isn't mounted and you can eject it and go to another PC (if you have one) and burn another and come back and click OK, but there's no "skip package" and fix it later option. It will incessantly return you to that prompt. Your install will be toast unless you can supply a CD that can be read without errors.
When the package installation phase completes, you'll be prompted to reboot the computer.
After the reboot, there are some Post Install setup steps to perform. See you on the other side!
Please continue reading Part 2 of this guide:
Installing Fedora Core 3 - Part II (Post Install Configuration)
Fedora Core 4
I haven't noticed anything different in the installation procedure for Fedora Core 4, so the Fedora Core 3 information and screens are still applicable.
Notes for Fedora Core 5
Again, the procedure hasn't changed significantly for Fedora Core 5 but the software installation dialogs have changed a bit.
This is similar to choosing the Installation Type, with respect to package group selection that will be installed. Consider what the role of the machine is going to be.
You would probably want Office and Productivity for a desktop/workstation, but if you intend to be able to compile software you should also choose Software Development.
If you are lazy during the install, you can leave it set to "Customize Later" and then add or remove packages later.
If it were me, I would choose Customize Now, so I don't have to waste my time removing the stuff I don't want, and adding the stuff I do want later.
This is what you'll see if you choose Customize Now:
There are now package types on the left, and then package categories on the right. To be sure you have everything you want, you have to click on each package type on the left, and then on the right, you have to check the box for, and click on each category and click Optional Packages to see what is available.
For example, this is Graphical Internet, and gftp is what I consider an important application, that is not installed by default.
Other than changes to the dialogs, Fedora Core 5 installs much the same as previous releases.
Also, please see:
Installing Fedora Core 3 - Part II (Post Install Configuration)
For more notes on Fedora Core 5 at the end.