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May 10, 2006 / gus3

Fedora Core 5: Not Rockin’

As I type this, my system needs over 700 megabytes of updates. I can’t download them all at once, so I am applying them in smaller chunks of packages and their dependencies. I didn’t let it slip that bad. I only installed Fedora Core 5. Well, tried to install.

Fedora Core 5 has possibly the buggiest Linux installation I have ever used. I believe the problems stem from the crucial media verification. I verified the recorded CD’s on two different computers, and all reported "PASSED." However, the actual installation process reported something much different. On my laptop, it reported an error unpacking the "xsri" package on the first CD. I rebooted and re-verified the disc, and it reported "PASSED." So I tried the installation again. The installer then reported an error on a different package, after successfully installing the "xsri" package.

What the defrag is going on here?

I tried everything I could think of: disabling DMA, using 16-bit I/O, using the text-mode installer (memory crunch from the GUI?), and nothing seemed to do the trick. Time after time, a package failed. A couple times, the installer itself crashed, giving me a backtrace on the screen. In that case, my only option was to exit and reboot. I gave up the laptop installation.

I was met with similar frustrations on my desktop. The only approach that worked was to use my USB CD-R drive as the source. Surprisingly, using this drive eliminated the errors. (I say "surprisingly" because this drive has never worked as a recorder for me.) This successful approach exposed another problem: Damaged packages from earlier attempts (such as "xsri") no longer appeared as "installed," so their packages were skipped. The net result of all this is an incomplete installation.

I have a usable Fedora Core 5 desktop system now. However, the frustration of the installation is giving me serious pause. I am unable to do a complete update in one step, partly because of my slow internet connection, partly because of a missing dependency for "bind-config."

The laptop is a different, not better, story. I decided to go for broke, telling the installer to start from scratch with a "Typical Desktop" setup. It wiped the partition table, re-partitioned and re-formatted, and then crashed on the second CD, first with a "damaged package" error, then a Python execution error in the Anaconda installer.

The laptop is now running Knoppix.

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