Fedora Mailing List Annoyance

I joined the Fedora users/group mailing list (fedora-list) in April 2005, after being on Usenet since the late 1990’s. I somehow always assumed mailing lists were of much higher quality than the “anything goes” attitude of Usenet. Since then, I really haven’t asked too many questions. For the most part I try to only answer questions that others miss or when I think I have a better response than what is posted or to correct obvious technical errors. I try to avoid opinionated or philosophical discussions. Honestly I have learned quite a bit.

Recently the number of off topic ([OT]) issues and philosophy on the mailing list have become unbearable. A generally helpful user asked a seemingly simple question about Fedora and inadvertently opened the flood gates for discussions (arguments) on open source, free software, the GPL, developers, users and worse: the whole “Linux vs. GNU/Linux” naming argument! For over 2 weeks the misinformed, the overzealous, the trolls and potty-mouths have just been trying to get in the last word. I wish they would stop, even super hacker Alan Cox is sick of the “mountain of turd”.

Quite frankly I really don’t care whose uname string is longer (it’s a joke :-) ) Nor do I think the place for such arguments should stay on a mailing list generally for user related issues with Fedora. I seriously think that the people who keep insisting on such silliness are just exploiting the otherwise helpful users as their audience – i.e. a user support mailing list is not a soapbox!

And to the people who insist that a simple filter in your mail client could delete/ignore the threads, I say that’s not practical (and more importantly – not fair). One zealot keeps renaming and spawning a new thread every time he feels the subject warrants it. In my gmail, I counted at least 10 different threads in the past 4 days. And what about people who pay for bandwidth (e.g. India)? They are paying for pages of useless philosophy. And for people on dial-up access? Spend 5minutes opening your Inbox only to find you need to ignore 100 messages. Hmmm.

I do agree with a lot of principals from free software and I think it is based on good intentions, but, at the end of the day, people who feel they need to take it upon themselves to educate all users, well, they just need to know when to stop. There are people who simply do not care, and most likely never will!

So while I don’t think that I would switch to Ubuntu because of idiots on a mailing list, I do think I might stop using the list as it decays into something rather useless. Which is quite a shame, I used to learn a lot from it. I feel bad for newbies who are told (by people like me) that the mailing list is a good place to get help, only to be flooded with messages saying “don’t call it Linux”. … Hmmm. … Well I guess I could always be more active in the forums or go back to usenet. Or maybe just ignore it a little while longer and hope that some common sense will arise.

And as a final note: Was this worth a blog entry? Probably not, but I can think of much worse places to post such opinionated subject matter.

Firefox 3 Release

According to Spread Firefox the official release time for Firefox 3.0 will be at 10AM PST, so 1PM EST (for me). Are you excited? Really excited? Well if you are, I feel sorry for you ;-)

I took a note from Chris Blizzard and cheated by downloading already by typing out the full URL into a mirror (no, I didn’t use a link).

Unfortunately for Fedora 9 users I haven’t seen any notice of an update (Fedora 8 no clue). Perhaps it will be available in a day or so? Still bugs to deal with? There was a tip for Fedora/Linux users:

a) disable "Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected attack site/forgery"
in Preferences->Security
b) remove the urlclassifier* files in ~/.mozilla/firefox/profile
(while FF is not running)

Not sure if it works, I haven’t tested it – yet.

Otherwise as a last general tip for people who are upgrading/updating straight from Firefox 2.0.x to Firefox 3, I would recommend at least backing up your Mozilla/Firefox profile and settings (just in case):

# cp -a ~/.mozilla/ ~/moz_prof_pre_ff3

Windows users (yes, I still use it), back up:
C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Mozilla

Otherwise, I guess FF3 is very nice for the massive updates on the insides (security, rendering, support, speed, memory, etc.) although I find the some of the user interfaces changes annoying as all ‘heck’. I’m sure they’ll grow on me just like I’ve learned to tolerate many of the often bass-ackwards gui changes the Mozilla team has implemented over the years.

Happy Firefox-ing.

SELinux Preventing SSH Passwordless Login

Since upgrading to Fedora 9, I am trying much harder to work with SELinux. For the most part it is pretty easy.

I am using passwordless SSH logins between my CentOS 5.1 server and my Fedora 9 desktop. Since my Fedora 8 never used SELinux, all my file contexts were “wrong” when I mounted my /home partition. I noticed the following error when I tried to ssh from my server to Fedora (I read /var/log/messages):

setroubleshoot: SELinux is preventing access to files with the label, file_t.
For complete SELinux messages. run sealert -l f414b4c3-ed13-4b83-8a67-3df599e16723

Realizing this is a file context issue, I am pretty sure that a “relabel” (touch /.autorelabel; reboot) would fix this. However I don’t want to reboot at the moment. I ran the above recommendation (I am shortening the output here):

[mirandam@charon ~]$ sealert -l f414b4c3-ed13-4b83-8a67-3df599e16723

SELinux is preventing access to files with the label, file_t.

Allowing Access:
You can execute the following command as root to relabel your computer system:
touch /.autorelabel; reboot

Additional Information:
Source Context                system_u:system_r:sshd_t:s0-s0:c0.c1023
Target Context                system_u:object_r:file_t:s0
Target Objects                /home/mirandam/.ssh/authorized_keys [ file ]

Raw Audit Messages
host=charon.lunar type=AVC msg=audit(1213619507.698:11): avc:  denied  { getattr } for  pid=2396
 comm=sshd path=/home/mirandam/.ssh/authorized_keys dev=sda13 ino=2950756 
scontext=system_u:system_r:sshd_t:s0-s0:c0.c1023 tcontext=system_u:object_r:file_t:s0 tclass=file

Simple fix (without reboot):

[mirandam@charon ~]$ /sbin/restorecon -v ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

While this was not a serious problem (I was still able to login to SSH by using password), the above steps of reading the logs and following recommendations should remedy most SELinux issues. If you are logged into your desktop console directly (e.g. GNOME) – I was not, the SELinux Troubleshooter would help with all of the above with graphical tools.

Fedora 9 Review

After spending a good deal of time configuring Fedora 9 I thought I would take this opportunity to provide my thoughts and feedback. The following is my Review of Fedora 9 (F9).

“Sulphur” smells only just a little.

Installation Media

The first thing I was happy to see was that the team finally decided to offer Fedora 9 in multi-CD installations in addition to the DVD installation. This has been missing since Fedora 7. I’m glad someone realized that Live image installation is NOT the same. I chose the DVD installation.


Note: For the first time I simultaneously installed Fedora on both a Laptop and Desktop. Additionally I used both 32-bit and 64-bit versions for installation.

As always the Fedora installer always seems to slowly lose features. Although in this case some very useful features got added. This release saw the addition of partition-resizing in the installer as well as encrypting your file system. While I do not think that majority of users require the encryption, the re-sizing ability is welcome as it accepts the possibility that many people wish to dual-boot or are not yet ready to abandon Windows. Unfortunately, I did not trust the Fedora installer to re-size my (pre-setup out) partitions.

For Package Selection I was fairly pleased with the default set of packages. I find that with each release there are less changes I need to do. Although I would still prefer if KDE, thunderbird, and k3b were installed by default. Oddly my install later added up to be a whopping 4.8GB! Almost 1GB bigger than I recall the similar installations for either F8 or F7! Not sure what was added!

The First Boot did see some minor changes. The security settings for both the Firewall and SE-Linux (Security Enhanced Linux) were removed. I would guess that many people possibly just disabled them upfront instead of actually learning to use them. I guess this is probably a smart move for Fedora.

Software: Fedora Desktop

After the First Boot configurations were set I made it to the login screen. This is where I will use the phrase: “Familiarity Be Damned!”. I follow the Fedora defaults of using Gnome but this release really had some major changes in software components.

The new verion of GDM (which manages logins) requires you to double-click your name and has this annoying animation after selection. There is an option at the bottom for selecting alternative desktops (e.g. KDE). Overall the login screen seemed incredibly clunky and unpolished. I felt it was a minor detraction, since technically I did not see any major functionality lost.

After logging into Gnome, my first reaction was that nothing major had changed. Which from the perspective of the GUI seemed to be true. I did notice 2 new applets on the top-right. The first was PackageKit and the second was NetworkManager.

PackageKit seemed to give a pretty simple interface for accepting new updates. I liked it for the most part, it reminded of a similar feature in Ubuntu. Although, if one saw over a 100 I doubt there would be much usefulness in “Reviewing” an update before install. Overall positive improvement.

NetworkManager which I was believe was available in FC5 is finally enabled by default in Fedora 9. The previous network service is disabled. This is a potentially problematic issue. Some setup’s (like my desktop) may find NetworkManager a nuisance. I ended up disabling NetworkManager in Fedora and concluded that this option was still too beta-quality. That is until I tested the same on my laptop. I enabled the WiFi and clicked on the applet which showed my WPA2-PSK access point. I entered my pass phrase and I was connected! No configuring, no tweaking, no firmware-ing, no ‘yum-ing’. My Intel Pro ABG3945 Wireless worked out of the box! So, I can only conclude that NetworkManager, while not perfect for all configurations, is definitely worthwhile for some.

Firefox 3 – While I did not go through all the new applications, I am not very impressed with Firefox 3 (not Fedora’s fault). The interface seems a little annoying and only 2 of my 10 extensions work, which makes surfing a little difficult in Fedora 9.

Otherwise the GNOME setup seemed satisfactory. The only other quirk I had was that point-and-click NTFS partition mounting did not work for me like it did in Fedora 8. As usual I just prefer to have all my NTFS partitions fixed and mounted at boot. Also occasionally after I login I find that my time is several hours off? I do have NTP running. This causes a nuisance for dual-booting.

Software: Java

Fedora 9 ships with OpenJDK instead of IcedTea that was shipped in Fedora 8. I want to believe that the development is moving closer to be functionally same as the popular Sun Java, but I am confused. OpenJDK is version 1.6 while IcedTea was 1.7? Okay, no biggie. What was the biggest disappointment was the OpenJDK web-browser plugin did NOT work on the popular Java Test Page. Why does this bother me? Because IcedTea in Fedora 8 worked like a charm.

Software: KDE 4

Although I was initially excited about trying KDE4, that excitement quickly faded after using KDE for a few minutes – “Familiarity Be Damned!” Simply put, it is missing too many features and there are enough changes to frustrate you. While again, I do not blame the Fedora developers for including this, it does add to the feeling that many software components in Fedora 9 may seem incredibly unfamiliar or just NOT ready.

System Issues

While there may be many software updates at the system level, I did not notice anything new that would significantly change the user experience. I would say on a very positive note that sound seemed quite issue-free. The PulseAudio (first included in Fedora 8 ) worked great for me. While not a big deal, the doc writers should have made sure to add libflashsupport in the Release Notes to get sound in Flash working.

Now to SELinux – the super security tool everybody loves to hate and nobody has the patience to learn. For the first time I found running Fedora with SELinux set to Enforcing has NOT caused a single problem. All plugins, drivers, 3rd party and proprietary apps ran without issue. This was 3 different hardware installs! First time ever! It only took 4 years!!! Well, I’ll wait till a SELinux policy update renders my system useless. But overall, I was quite pleased.

Fedora included Upstart which is Ubuntu’s new startup system. While I know that this opens the door to many optimizations during startup, I did not notice any major changes. I think this will be gradually improved over time.

Hardware Support – Laptop

While I do not have much new hardware on my desktop, I do have a Thinkpad Laptop. I was shocked that almost every single feature worked out of the box for my laptop: video resolution, sound, touchpad/pointer, SD card, wireless, battery, volume, brightness and hibernate. While my mute button still does not work correctly and the suspend is a little buggy, I have not really debugged them. Even so, the amount of time in the past I would have to configure all of the previously mentioned options was days of tweaking, researching and kernel compiling. I was really pleased with how well Fedora 9 – 64-bit worked on my laptop.

System Issues – Xorg X-server

Unfortunately the release of of Xorg 1.5/7.4 was not ready in time for the release of Fedora 9 so a development version 1.4.9999999999999 was shipped (not sure how many 9’s). While there is nothing technically wrong with this, the Nvidia binary driver (must have for 3-D and compiz effects) will not work correctly with this release. Since no one knows the Nvidia’s release schedule or the internal working of their hardware, basically you cannot do 3-D or effects in Fedora 9 if you are an Nvidia user (like myself). I wish the Xorg release was ready. I’m eagerly waiting to fix the last remaining quirk on my Fedora 9. Annoying, but people should have patience.


I’m not a big fan of shipping development versions of software, but in the open source world – everything is development software. Overall I am not super thrilled with Fedora 9 on the desktop but the drastic improvements on the laptop front are well worth it. Obviously I don’t plan on using Fedora as a server.

I don’t think I will ever agree with some of the default decisions (e.g. NetworkManager over network) but nothing seemed too difficult to resolve. I think this release was definitely moving in the right direction. Much better than Fedora 8. I feel Fedora is trying real hard to catch up to Ubuntu’s polished quality.

I personally would recommend that people wait for at least the update to Xorg. This seems to be a big road block for many. I do not think that there was a major lack in quality in the distribution as a whole (like in many past releases). I just think that many of the components shipped in Fedora 9 just need a little catch up time.

Glad I tried multiple different installs, it broadened my perspective. Maybe Fedora 9 “Sulphur” will do the same for you? Happy installing!

Fedora 9 Released

Can you feel the burn of “Sulphur” ?

After an unfortunate 2 week delay the Fedora project just announced the release of Fedora 9. Fedora has always been known to be the latest and greatest and this release is no different, rough edges and all. A great deal of hard work has been done to put this all together.

The highlights from the Release Summary:


  • GNOME 2.22 – many added functions, improvements
  • KDE 4.0.3 – the highly anticipated KDE4!
  • XFCE 4.4.2 – now in it’s own LiveSpin as well, just like KDE and GNOME
  • Online Desktop – providing a desktop experience designed around online services


  • Network Manager – major improvements for wireless network management, mobile broadband, GSM, CDMA as well as Ad-Hoc networking
  • Bluetooth – devices and tools now have better graphical and system integration
  • Laptops – users benefit from the “quirks” feature in HAL, including better suspend/resume and multimedia keyboard support
  • PackageKit – An easy to use tool for updating.
  • YUM – performance improvements.
  • Xorg 7.4/X Server 1.5 (almost) – Major updates to X including faster startup and shutdown (unfortunately not quite complete but should be updated soon)
  • Upstart – Originally from Ubuntu, this will eventually replace the old init system leading to faster bootup time


  • GNOME Cheese – a webcam photo and video creation utility
  • PulseAudio – updated and now default


  • OpenJDK – A switch from IcedTea. Closer alignment with Sun Open Source Java


  • Firefox 3.0 (almost) – Not quite complete but massive improvements over Firefox 2
  • Eclipse 3.3.1
  • Perl 5.10 – many improvements
  • OpenOffice 2.4 – many new features
  • Kernel 2.6.25

Installer (Anaconda)

  • More flexibility in installation
  • Partition Resizing – A very welcome option to allow resizing EXT2/EXT3/NTFS partitions before installation (esp when dual booting with that other OS)
  • Rescue Mode – improved now with FirstAidKit

You can download Fedora 9 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 9 Installation Guide which should provide people with some hints for people eager to try it out. Lots more to do!

Fedora 9 as I have examined for a few weeks now is definitely far more polished than the past releases. I am sure people will like it! A more thorough examination to follow. Till then …

… I hope you like the smell of Sulphur.

Download Older Versions of Fedora

A frequently asked question is: Where can I find a specific older version of Fedora? The correct answer is: If you CANNOT find it on the official Fedora Mirror List, then chances are it is too old and not supported.

Unless you need an older version for some very specific task, I strongly recommend that you use a recent version of Fedora.

To find an older version, start by going through the mirrors to see if you can find a site that is physically closer to you (for faster downloads). If you cannot find the version on a mirror, try downloading from Redhat’s site (below).

Some things to note:

  • If a DVD image is not available try to generate your own DVD from CD’s.
  • The SRPM ISO images are for source code and not useful for running and/or installing.
  • The follow links could be removed at any point in the future.
  • The rescue-CD is not needed for installing/running but maybe helpful to boot or fix an existing installation.
  • Since you need to download each ISO individually, make sure to verify the MD5SUM or SHA1SUM.

Download Links:

Fedora Version Architecture Install CD’s Rescue-CD DVD
Fedora Core 1 i386 3
x86_64 3
Fedora Core 2 i386 4 yes yes
x86_64 4 yes
Fedora Core 3 i386 4 yes yes
x86_64 4 yes
Fedora Core 4 i386 4 yes yes
x86_64 5 yes yes
ppc 5 yes
Fedora Core 5 i386 5 yes yes
x86_64 5 yes yes
ppc 5 yes yes
Fedora Core 6 i386 5 yes yes
x86_64 6 yes yes
ppc 6 yes yes

Fedora 7 and newer no longer use “Core” as part of the release name.

Fedora Version Architecture Media Type
Fedora 7 i386 DVD + Rescue CD
i386 Live CD
x86_64 DVD + Rescue CD
x86_64 Live DVD
ppc DVD + Rescue CD
Fedora 8 i386 DVD + Rescue CD
i686 Live CD
x86_64 DVD + Rescue CD
x86_64 Live DVD
ppc DVD + Rescue CD
ppc Live CD
Fedora 9 i386 DVD, 6-CD Set
i686 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
x86_64 DVD, 7-CD Set
x86_64 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
ppc DVD, 7-CD Set
Fedora 10 i386 DVD, 6-CD Set
i686 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
x86_64 DVD, 6-CD Set
x86_64 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
ppc DVD, 7-CD Set
Fedora 11 i386 DVD, 6-CD Set
i686 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
x86_64 DVD, 6-CD Set
x86_64 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
ppc DVD, 7-CD Set
Fedora 12 i386 DVD, 5-CD Set
i686 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
x86_64 DVD, 5-CD Set
x86_64 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
ppc DVD, 6-CD Set
Fedora 13 i386 DVD, 5-CD Set
i686 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
x86_64 DVD, 5-CD Set
x86_64 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
Fedora 14 i386 DVD, 5-CD Set
i686 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)
x86_64 DVD, 5-CD Set
x86_64 Live CDs (Gnome, KDE)

Fedora Public Mirror List
How to download Fedora

Older versions of CentOS can be found here: http://vault.centos.org/

UPDATE: 10/04/2008 – Updated all links to archives.fedoraproject.org
UPDATE: 03/31/2009 – Updated for Fedora 7 and later. No installation CD sets are available.
UPDATE: 02/22/2010 – Added Fedora 9 and 10.
UPDATE: 03/23/2012 – Added Fedora 11-14.


Just for fun … inspired by the Fedora bloggers.

# history | awk '{a[$2]++ } END{for(i in a){print a[i] " " i}}'|sort -rn|head

On my Fedora 8 box:

481 ls
297 cd
54 vim
24 rm
17 du
12 sudo
12 mv
9 who
9 screen
9 find

On my CentOS 5.1 box:

344 ls
234 cd
54 sudo
29 vim
23 rpm
22 ./annoying_app_i_cant_get_to_work_on_centos5
18 ./configure
16 pwd
15 wget
15 scp

On my web server:

378 ls
213 cd
130 vim
47 grep
39 exit
37 cat
30 diff
14 cp
10 who
9 rm

Bonus points for anyone who can point out interesting things…

Fedora Makes a Terrible Server

for me.

I am finally giving up on Fedora as a server. I find it just too unreliable. I have been using Fedora since FC1 (and been on Redhat since RH6.0), but for the most part I only used it as a desktop operating system.

When I was using FC3, I found it very helpful to mirror my website(s) on my local machine. This worked great, however with each new Fedora release I found more things breaking with my scripts and setup. For a while I put up with the struggle by doing things like re-compiling PHP4, but even that became quite tiring. I concluded that Fedora just moved too fast for my server development needs. I cannot fault Fedora, rather that it did not meet my needs. However I still used it.

As recently as FC6, I found the need to access my computer remotely. I started tweaking my desktop for some security and making it more “remote-access” friendly. This did work for a while. All I was doing was using SSH and working on my Apache mirrors. My frustration began with the security. I took a long hard attempt at trying to secure the system with SELinux, however for multiple reasons I abandoned it.

Later when moving to Fedora7 I was pleasantly surprised with the performance. The major problem arose when I updated my 2.6.21 kernel to 2.6.23. Some nasty bug was killing my SSH performance. Basically it left me dead in the water. I accepted to fall back on the older kernel, however soon enough I came to install Fedora8 which also had the bug. For the most part I didn’t use Fedora8 for 2 months since I was out of the country. However when I finally did, I got so frustrated that I ended up installing the old F7 kernel on F8. Of course I broke sound, PulseAudio, ACPI and the X-server, but I REALLY needed SSH to work. While this again is not Fedora’s fault, I find the following comment pretty helpful from the kernel mailing list: “Please note that 2.6.23 kernel has a lot of bugs and we don’t recommend using it…” – Regardless, it WAS a kernel that Fedora used.

I personally do not think that a given Fedora release is very stable and/or reliable. Until I started expanding my usage I really did not mind, however now I am finding it more difficult to handle. While some people may suggest I upgrade less frequently, that’s fine and all, but it does NOT change the quality of the release. Furthermore, as my desktop I like to have a new release. … And some people may tell me that I should have been more pro-active and filed bug-reports and other information. Well, I do agree with that, but unfortunately I just did not have the time.

So what’s the solution? Simple: don’t use Fedora as a server. For myself, I bought a brand new computer. I built a low powered file/web server and put CentOS 5.1 on it. In the next few weeks I will migrate all my development onto this machine. Hopefully I won’t need to upgrade it for a very long time.

Will I stop using Fedora? No. It will still be on my desktop. However I will have more realistic expectations from software considered totally “free”.

Sorry for the rant.