Boot Failure When Fedora 12 Grub Installs to non-MBR Partition

I prefer to keep Windows on the MBR. So I install grub to a separate partition. I then allow the Windows Loader to chainload grub (example).

I noticed a problem with the Fedora 12 Anaconda Installer. If I chose to install grub to the First sector of boot partition instead of the MBR, I get an un-bootable system.

It is easy to see the problem if you compare fdisk output. (I reduced the output for clarity)

Before I installed Fedora 12 32-bit to /dev/sda10

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *           1        2089    16779861    7  HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda4            6268       36479   242677890    f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sda10          23762       25589    14683378+  83  Linux
/dev/sda14          34076       36192    17004771   83  Linux
/dev/sda15          36193       36478     2297263+  82  Linux swap / Solaris

After I installed Fedora 12:

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1               1        2089    16779861    7  HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda4            6268       36479   242677890    f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sda10  *       23762       25589    14683378+  83  Linux
/dev/sda14          34076       36192    17004771   83  Linux
/dev/sda15          36193       36478     2297263+  82  Linux swap / Solaris

The boot flag is set to the wrong partition.

To fix this problem

Just boot with a CD/DVD, choose “Rescue” mode and run fdisk at the shell to change the boot flag. If you need more help, details follow:

  1. Boot with the system using your Fedora DVD or CD#1.
  2. Select “Rescue installed system”. (Select the proper settings, networking is not necessary)
    At the “Rescue” screen, you can “Skip” the mounting of your installed system.
    At the “First Aid Kit quickstart” menu, Select “shell”.
  3. At the shell prompt, use fdisk (BE CAREFUL!)
    bash-4.0# fdisk /dev/sda
    Command (m for help): a        (toggle bootable flag)
    Partition number (1-15): 10    (the partition you installed Fedora)
    Command (m for help): a        (command needs to be run twice)
    Partition number (1-15): 1     (the partition with MBR)
    Command (m for help): p        (verify everything looks correct)
    Command (m for help): w        (write table to disk and exit)
    The partition table has been altered!
    Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
    Syncing disk.
  4. Reboot.

I doubt this will affect many people since most people choose to install Fedora directly to the MBR. However I am reporting here in case someone else might find this useful. I noticed this a few days ago on Fedora 12-Beta 64-bit, but I had been too busy to check the bug reports. Will do that soon.

If you run into this problem (or similar) please leave a comment or contact me.

UPDATE: Should be fixed for Fedora 13. Bug 533658

Fedora 12 Released

It’s that time of year again, the Fedora Project announced the release of Fedora 12.

This release has received a great deal of polish, and with that plenty of media and documentation to go along with it.

Please see what’s new in Fedora 12. Some of the highlights include:

  • Optimized performance – The 32-bit packages have been compiled for i686 systems
  • Faster updates – The yum-presto plugin is default and RPM has updated its compression format
  • More comprehensive networking and broadband support
  • Next-generation (Ogg) Theora video
  • Bluetooth on-demand
  • Moblin graphical interface for netbooks
  • Gnome 2.28
  • KDE 4.3 (with updated “Air” theme)
  • Better webcam support
  • Better tablet support
  • Improvements to Virtualization

There is also available a condensed form of the release notes in 1 page, also in PDF.

As always, you can download Fedora 12 using the standard mirrors or using the Torrent (recommended).

When reading through all the information and documentation, it is easy to tell that a great deal of polish went into this release! Happy installing.

Default Xorg Resolution

Recent versions of Linux and the Xorg X-Windows system have been engineered to require very little configuration settings to properly detect graphics options and display resolutions. In most cases graphics should “just work”.

The Xorg system stores all its configuration options in the file: xorg.conf. Many distributions including Fedora and CentOS keep this file in the /etc/X11/ directory. In the past this file would contain a great deal of information that was not easy to setup. However as of recent releases, this file is not required for graphics to work correctly. Both Fedora and CentOS will provide a very minimal xorg.conf file if required.

Typically the proper resolution for your display will be detected at run time. While this is great for most users, it often leads to strange resolutions or blank screens depending on your monitor or LCD screen.

EDIT: If you have NO file at all, on the Fedora wiki is: How to create xorg.conf. This works for both Fedora and CentOS.
There are two solutions if you have no xorg.conf. As ‘root’ run either of the following:

# yum install system-config-display
# system-config-display --noui


# yum install xorg-x11-server-Xorg
# Xorg -configure
# cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Whenever I install Fedora or CentOS with the X-server, I typically edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add the following Section (or at least the missing parts):

Section "Screen"
        Identifier "Screen0"
        Device     "Videocard0"
        DefaultDepth     24
        Subsection "Display"
                Viewport   0 0
                Depth     24
                Modes     "1024x768"

The Modes line will control the resolution. You should put the proper resolution for your display. You can also add mutiple modes if you monitor supports it. For example:

Modes     "1280x1024" "1024x768" "800x600"

If you have an LCD and Xorg does not properly detect the resolution, set the mode to the maximum resolution your LCD supports. If you have a standard CRT monitor that Xorg detects higher resolutions (with poor refresh rates) set the mode to the resolution you are comfortable. Also, if you have a CRT you can set multiple modes, then using either Gnome or KDE you can pick a resolution you prefer.

Note: This does NOT apply to everyone (most people will find the defaults correct), however many people have reported that setting a fixed resolution is helpful. Especially for some LCD’s which just seem to go blank.

For more information run man xorg.conf

Edit: 11/23/2009

SELinux – the good

There is brief intro presentation on SELinux for “everyday” users. The 12th slides is titled “SELinux – the good”. It has quoted someone by the name Larry Loeb:

“Let me assure you that this action by the NSA was the crypto-equivalent of the Pope coming down off the balcony in Rome, working the crowd with a few loaves of bread and some fish, and then inviting everyone to come over to his place to watch the soccer game and have a few beers. There are some things that one just never expects to see, and the NSA handing out source code along with details of the security mechanism behind it was right up there on that list.”

I just found that hilarious so I had to pass it on.

I had been disabling SELinux, since it was released in FC2, but as of Fedora 9 I leave it on. For the most part now, it operates pretty transparently.

(Presentation link via James Morris)

Google Chrome on Fedora

Try out Chromium. Courtesy of T ‘spot’ Callaway:

Using your favorite text editor (as root), create chromium.repo in /etc/yum.repos.d/, with the following contents:

name=Chromium Test Packages

Then run (as root):

# yum install chromium

From spot’s blog:

The packages are i386/i586 only (and the i586 chromium is a bit of a lie, it isn’t compiled with the correct optflags yet) because chromium depends on v8, which doesn’t work on 64bit anything (yet). Also, plugins don’t work at the moment and some of the tab functionality doesn’t work right, but as a general web browser, it seems functional enough. (And, it seems to pass the Acid3 test, which isn’t surprising at all, since WebKit does and Chrome uses WebKit.)

Looks interesting!

64-bit Linux

There was some discussion on the fedora-devel list about changing the default architecture for 32-bit Fedora. Which would mean that users running 32-bit Fedora with modern CPU’s will see some improvement, while older hardware will need to be supported by some secondary means or not at all.

There are some good points in the thread, but the question I found myself asking was: “Why do I still run 32-bit Linux at all?”. For 3 years, all of my computers have been 64-bit hardware.

I thought it was the web, however …

  • Flash: Runs great using 32-bit software in 64-bit Fedora (the native 64-bit plugin is currently in beta).
  • Java: OpenJDK has had a native 64-bit browser plugin for Java for over a year (the official native 64-bit plugin for Sun Java was released almost 6 months ago) .
  • I don’t even use things like RealPlayer anymore, and most websites no longer bother to embed video directly.

I often would recommend to people that multimedia had limitations or would require work in 64-bit Linux, but all my DVD’s, music and collected media work perfectly fine! And if you’ve looked at tutorials for media playback, there is little or no difference in the work required. (FYI: I have not missed anything for NOT having the win32 binary dll’s).

The only insignificant difference is the (sometimes) 10-15% size increase in downloads and applications for using 64-bit software. However for the performance gain, the cost in hard disk or download time is well worth it.

I feel silly for installing CentOS 32-bit on my personal server last year. That is not even used for multimedia or web. I think may upgrade it.

I admit I’ve been a luddite for far too long. If your hardware supports it (almost no new hardware is pure 32bit), then you should be using 64-bit Linux. In your next update or install cycle, skip the i386 and go download the X86_64!

Fedora 11 Released

“This is Fedora!”. Leonidas is in command!

After a minor 2 week delay, the diligent Fedora project just announced the release of Fedora 11.

The Fedora 11 Feature List seems rather spectacular with many big (and small) inclusions. There really are too many updates to list, some of the the highlights:


  • GNOME 2.26 – Disk burning, Simpler file sharing, Better volume control, Media player enhancements
  • KDE 4.2.2 – more updates to KDE4
  • XFCE 4.6
  • Better font installer
  • Faster startup (20 seconds to get to Gnome)


  • DeltaRPM support – faster, smaller downloads for updates
  • Bluetooth Improvements
  • Default EXT4 Filesystem
  • Nouveau Driver as Default for Nvidia Video Cards


  • Firefox 3.5(beta) – HTML5 and native video support
  • Thunderbird 3.0
  • Kernel 2.6.29
  • Netbeans 6.5 – popular IDE (alternative to Eclipse)
  • X-Server 1.6

You can download Fedora 11 using the standard mirrors or using the Torrent (recommended).

Please user the Fedora-List mailing list or any of the forums for help. I have published my Personal Fedora 11 Installation Guide which is quite similar to Fedora 10 (but with less issues)!

If you try Fedora 11, on the surface you may not notice how many major and minor improvements have been worked into this release. Download, install and explore and I’m sure you will realize the positive changes in this rapidly moving distribution.


I finally got around to signing up with the microblogging site Apparently it’s where the true geeks are! I used the handle mjmwired to make this more specific to my site and technical stuff. For the time being, unless I know someone, I am subscribing only to Linux and Fedora related people and groups. I hope to change that.

I am currently following a group of Fedora developers and contributors that have participated in mailing lists or have a blog, etc. Most are above my league, but my intention is only to silently listen to the traffic there.

If you’re on let me know and I’ll subscribe to anyone who visits my site, reads my blog, has sent me an email or wants to communicate. I honestly would like to better connect with my readers. I’m hoping this will be fun and interesting!

* As always if you want to send me any message, I appreciate any and all comments through my standard contact form.