Actually, this is my first experience with Fedora in general. I am delving deeper into Linux administration, and I’ve decided to put Ubuntu on the side for a bit and work with Fedora. Following is my entire experience with Fedora 14 up until now.

I knew I needed a development server to experiment (safely) with Linux administration. I have a physical server with two drives — one for Ubuntu Server and the other for Windows Server 2008 R2. Both of these operating systems have specific purposes, so I didn’t want to risk damaging either. I installed yet another hard drive and proceeded to install Fedora.

Initially, I downloaded the Fedora 14 x86_64 ISO and burned the image to a DVD. Using an external DVD drive, I started the installer. Curiously enough, immediately after choosing they system language and keyboard layout, the installer was asking where to find the install image. I cycled through the list, trying my target hard drive (where I would be installing Fedora). Obviously, I was guessing — the installer didn’t find any image on that blank drive. Next, I tried targeting the external DVD drive. Fedora seemed to find what it was looking for, but then the installer simply hung.

After researching this issue, I discovered that other users had a similar problem. Then, I found a neat note from the Red Hat team stating that, for some architectures, the 64 bit DVD installer can only start the installer (from here, a hard drive with an image copied to it must be targeted). So much for that method. I immediately switched to a USB installation.

I used the convenient Fedora LiveUSB Creator in place of UNetBootin. I didn’t have either tool installed, so I figured I’d just grab the Fedora-specific one. After creating a 3.7 GB USB installer, I restarted the installation process. Things went very smoothly until just after having the option to configure the boot loader. I suddenly received this fatal error stating, “Missing ISO 9660 Image”. The only options were to retry finding the image or to exit which would close the installer and undo all progress (partitions and LVMs created during the install still remain, though).

Again, back to the forums. Over two hours had passed since I started the first installation process. I was ready to put Fedora aside and revert to another Ubuntu Server installation (I’ve never had any issues, even with hardware, with Ubuntu), and then I noticed one post in a forum which suggested to install Fedora from within a Live environment. So, I used BitTorrent to obtain the latest stable 64 bit Live ISO and again used the LiveUSB Creator to prepare my flash drive. Long story short, the process finally worked. Had there only been a more obvious disclaimer!

I was surprised to be able to create my desired partitions and LVM while in Live mode, but even this was possible. Another thing that surprised me was the fluid operation of and incredible speed (and “lightness”) of the GUIs. Ubuntu has been the fastest I have worked with up to that point. Fedora, on the same hardware as previous Ubuntu desktop and server installations, beat Ubuntu in performance hands-down. This obviously only applies to my machine, though. It is very possible that Ubuntu performs better than Fedora for other users out there.

I restarted the server and then waited for a bit for Fedora to boot. Although that never happened… I told the installer to not add a boot loader to the MBR so that I could continue using GRUB from my Ubuntu drive to managing booting everything. Not even this was available, though. My Fedora drive is now the only drive visible to the BIOS as a boot option. I swapped the SATA cables out to ensure that GRUB still worked on my Ubuntu drive. Everything worked wonderfully; however, whenever I have the Fedora drive plugged in to the motherboard, this is the only drive the BIOS will consider for booting options. So, I ran through the install process again and this time added the boot loader into the mix. Next up, to configure GRUB on my Fedora drive!

Fedora Installation in Live

Fedora Installation in Live

All in all, Fedora looks very promising as a system on which to build my Linux administration skills. Even on my meager hardware (2GB RAM, 2.4 GHz dual core AMD, nothing tuned as of now) Fedora’s performance is wonderful. I am looking forward to learning the insides of Linux and, some day, to convert my Fedora development server into a full-fledged LAN server.

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