Yum Groups

The Fedora 18 installer does not allow single package installations, instead it prefers to install by package groups. You can also install groups after completing installation. This is especially useful since you can only select one Desktop Environment at installation. Alternatively, to have faster installations, select as few groups as possible and then only install the ones you need later.

This is just a quick note on how yum can install by groups instead of by individual packages.

To see all of the available groups run:

$ yum groups list

Example (abbreviated) output:

Available Environment Groups:
   GNOME Desktop
   KDE Plasma Workspaces
   Xfce Desktop
Available Groups:
   Authoring and Publishing
   Books and Guides
   Development Tools

Note: Quotes below are not needed when the group name is a single word, however if the group name has spaces make sure you use quotes.

Pick a group above, example Authoring and Publishing.
To see what packages the group includes, run:

$ yum groups info 'Authoring and Publishing'

To install the entire group, run:

$ sudo yum groups install 'Authoring and Publishing'

To remove the group, run:

$ sudo yum groups remove 'Authoring and Publishing'

Note: Generally removing a group is not recommended, you may remove dependencies which may make your system unusable.

Fedora Desktop and Computing

Fedora 18 was released this week and I finally got around to installing it today. To be honest, on either my laptop or desktop I have not really used Fedora much since Fedora 14. I have been incredibly happy with CentOS for over a year and a half now, and I (begrudgingly) accepted Windows 7 on my laptop.

Today’s installation of Fedora 18 made me question my use of time. I switched jobs exactly 2 years ago and found myself in the precarious position of having little to no spare time. I tried my best to optimize. Giving up dual-booting in favor of virtualization (VirtualBox and KVM) helped greatly. However I could never get Fedora18 beta or RC to boot up inside KVM. But that wasn’t the problem that bothered me. Re-running through the installation multiple times using the new Anaconda installer just got me tired of trying to understand a poorly thought out workflow. I kept questioning myself if I had in fact selected the correct options. I don’t think I would ever install Fedora 18 on some of my more complex dual-boot setups in the past.

To be fair for a clean install on a new computer for most people the installer might be a joy, but for me it just wasn’t. I’m not really complaining. I have multiple computers running some form of Linux or if I must, Windows. My existing setup works fine for me. However I just don’t think Fedora’s goals and my needs line up anymore.

I was reminded of this when I was reading Richard WM Jone’s blog post on using Fedora 17 on a Chromebook. The first bullet point is what gives me pause:

Suspend pretty much doesn’t work.

I too own a Chromebook and just like many others I have quite a few things I dislike about, but where it never fails: power management. It suspends and starts up in seconds, lets me do my browsing/work and then I can close the lid and forget about it. The last time I had this experience with a laptop was with Fedora 9. After so many years, I’m disappointed problems can still exist for power management. My desktop CentOS suspends and hibernates perfectly, so I know things can be made to work, but I just don’t have the time to find out how.

Outside of work, I spend most of my time on my Android smartphone. Occasionally I monkey around with a tablet, but the Chromebook is incredibly nice for quick tasks. And then when I have the dedicated time: I will use my desktop or laptop for more major work. What do all of these devices/setups have in common? – Answer: they don’t change much. As we all know, change is the heart of Fedora – the latest and greatest software. I commend the Fedora team and all the volunteers who manage to somehow keep it all together.

If ever find the time, I would love to come back to Fedora. I finally got it working in my Virtualbox and I’ll write up some of my notes eventually. If you plan on installing Fedora 18, the official Fedora Installation Guide has evolved amazingly. I highly recommend reading it.

CentOS Desktop

I’m migrating away from Fedora as my desktop operating system. I’ve been testing CentOS 6 which was released recently and I feel I would be much more efficient using it instead of Fedora.

I still have quite a few quirks to resolve, but I have no doubt I’ll find the solutions.

I bought a new desktop some time ago with the intention of running virtualization, so I plan to still test and use Fedora time to time, but I can no longer keep up with the rate of change. If things stabilize to some degree I might come back, but for the time I am quite content with CentOS.

People are still welcome to contact me regarding Fedora stuff and any of the content on my site. I will do my best to support it.

Firefox 4 for Fedora 14

Wow! That’s a lot of F’s!

Courtesy of Tom ‘spot’ Calloway, install Firefox 4 on Fedora 14 (or Fedora 13):

# su -c 'wget -P /etc/yum.repos.d/ http://repos.fedorapeople.org/repos/spot/firefox4/fedora-firefox4.repo'
# su -c 'yum install firefox4'

To run:

# firefox4 &

In Gnome: System > Preferences > Preferred Applications
Change ‘Web Browser’ to Custom, and for Command: firefox4 %s

To remove Firefox 3.6:

# su -c 'yum remove firefox'

ref: http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Firefox_4

Downside to Enterprise Linux

(Note: For the purpose of this post CentOS is equivalent to RHEL)

It has been about 2 and 1/2 years since I built a dedicated server and chose CentOS instead of Fedora. Since I installed CentOS 5.1 I have used the upgrade process 4 times with no problems bringing me to version 5.5 with practically no re-installation, re-configuration or troubleshooting upgrade issues. This is the goal of enterprise linux. A long term stable solution with no major changes to preserve compatibility with every piece of software that was provided since it was released (in this case April 2007). In the time I’ve been on CentOS I’ve upgrade/replaced Fedora at least 5 times on other machines. Each time learning the changes to software, languages, security and many other components.

I’m very pleased with CentOS knowing that after the next yum update all my software will keep working. And everything is 100% secure.

However the exact reason enterprise linux is so great is also the exact reason why it can be a major pain. Once a main component is locked down, Red Hat will not provide updates unless needed for security or stability.

An objective for my server was for web development. The state of web as defined in 2007 when RHEL was created is coming close to obsolete. CentOS 5 includes PHP version 5.1.6. However PHP 5.2, which was released before RHEL 5, has become the default standard requirements for many PHP applications. I was updating some code to utilize JSON when I realized I would have to deviate from standard updates to install PHP 5.2 on CentOS. (This wasn’t too bad)

Another objective was a file server and backups. I’ve been playing with DropBox (*) as means of an off-site backup solution. What makes it great is it’s support for Linux! Even text-based linux which is what my server is. However the first requirement is Python 2.5. CentOS uses 2.4, and you can’t do a major update of Python in a CentOS/Fedora install without breaking many things since this is a critical component. You can do a parellel install for Python 2.5 but this is a bit annoying to maintain as you have 2 versions of python installed. (I have yet to get Dropbox working well on my server)

I also have been writing C++ software using boost. I recently realized the asio library was standard in boost 1.37 and later. I was locked to 1.33 in CentOS 5. No big deal since, the boost package was not critical for me in CentOS and it could be easily replaced. So I decided to recompile a newer Fedora boost src.rpm. However I would see errors like this:

error: unpacking of archive failed on file /home/mirandam/rpmbuild/SOURCES/boost-1.41.0-iostreams-zlib.patch;4c7880e5: cpio: MD5 sum mismatch

The above error is simply because Fedora 12 changed the RPM compression algorithm used and rendered older versions of RPM incompatible with newer packages. I don’t dare meddle with RPM as it is a core component, so I ended up compiling an older Fedora 11 version of boost 1.37 src.rpm which did the job.

Overall I’m still happy with my setup, but slowly I’m spending a great deal of time patching different pieces as my needs have slowly evolved. Interestingly Red Hat recently announced extended support lasting up to 10 years. That seems way too long considering the state of software (although everyone still uses Windows XP – now 9 years old).

I’m getting a little antsy running 3 year old software. The good news is that RHEL 6 is in beta, which means that soon after release the totally free CentOS 6 will follow as well. Which I’m eagerly waiting for, because all my issues will be addressed … at least for the time being.

(*) Affiliate link – I highly recommend Dropbox.

Fedora 13 Released

Paul W. Frields announced the release of Fedora 13.

The email there is quite comprehensive, so please take a look at it. Otherwise you can read the release notes in 1 page.

I have not had much time to spend with F13 in the beta period, but from what I have used, I’m quite pleased at how many things work with little to no effort. I encourage the upgrade.

Please download Fedora 13 using the standard mirrors or using the Torrent (recommended).

(Note: I have not published any guides/information for this release yet. This will happen in the next few days. Most of the Fedora 12 information applies.)

Stable Release Updates in Fedora

If you missed it there seems to be yet another debate going on about updates in Fedora. I don’t intend to rehash anything. Josh Boyer has a bit of an op-ed post which I think is a good read.

Think of the issue in a simple scenario:
Should Fedora 12, which was released in Nov 2009 with KDE 4.3 receive the recent KDE 4.4 update? Or should KDE 4.4 be reserved for Fedora 13 which will be released in June 2010? And who benefits or loses in each of those options?
(In case you don’t know, KDE 4.4 was available as stable update at the end of February).

My personal opinion is that it really does not matter FOR ME. I do not mind 4-6 month wait for software. (BUT Some people are impatient) And on the flip-side if I get a massive problematic update, I am experienced enough to work through it. (BUT Some people are total newbies)

I read the Stable Release Updates Vision, and the only thing I can express is surprise. I don’t know if Fedora as it exists will accommodate this or if it can work out as envisioned. I would think this puts more responsibility on the contributors (who are mostly volunteers).

I would love to see more stability in Fedora, but I don’t know what the fair cost should be.

Please read the Updates Vision and if you partake in this debate please be considerate of the many different types of users and contributors involved in Fedora.

Fedora and Linux Blogs

I know the trend now is “status updates”, but I still enjoy reading blogs more. And I’ve been doing lots more reading and far less writing lately.

I thought I might share the Fedora and Linux blogs that I enjoy. (Sorry I don’t have an OPML link).


CentOS / Red Hat related

Linux miscellaneous

If you don’t know about Planet Fedora its a great place to peruse through some blogs. The volume is way too high to subscribe.

There are few other Fedora/Linux blogs but they either seem dead or their authors have moved onto other things. Right now, I like my mix of technical snippets as well as general Fedora discussion – especially from the people who put their dedicated effort into it.

ps. Even though I generally don’t read many “Howto” style blogs, I am always interested in recommendations.