Having already installed (what would be) F13 on my work and personal laptops the traditional way — by installing a fresh copy (since I wanted to modify the partition layout), I tried an upgrade on my desktop.
My desktop was running Fedora11 and I moved it to Fedora13. I wanted to test how the upgrade functionality works, does it run into any errors (esp. since it’s from 11 -> 13, skipping 12 entirely), if the experience is smooth, etc.
I started out by downloading the RC compose from http://alt.fedoraproject.org/. Since all my installs are for the x86-64 architecture, I downloaded the DVD.iso. I then loopback-mounted the DVD on my laptop:
I then exported the contents of the mount via NFS; edit /etc/exports and put the following line:
This ensures the mount is only available to users on my local network.
Then, ensure the nfs services are running:
On my desktop which was to be upgraded, I mounted the NFS export:
And copied the kernel and initrd images to boot into:
Then update the grub config with this new kernel that we’ll boot into for the upgrade. Edit /boot/grub.conf and add:
Once that’s done, reboot and select the entry we just put in the grub.conf file. The install process starts and asks where the files are located for the install. Select NFS and provide the details: Server 172.31.1.12 and directory /mnt/F13.
The first surprise for me was to see the updated graphics for the Anaconda installer. They got changed in the time I installed F13 (beta) on my laptops. The new artwork certainly looks very good and smooth. More white, less blue is a departure from the usual Fedora artwork, but it does look nice.
I then proceeded to select ‘upgrade’, it found my old F11 install and everything after that ‘just worked’. I was skeptical about this while it was running: I had some rpmfusion.org repositories enabled and some packages installed from those repositories. I was wondering if those packages would be upgraded as well, or would they be left at the current state, which could create dependency problems, or if they would be completely removed. I had to wait for the install to finish, which took a while. The post-install process took more than half an hour, and when it was done, I selected ‘Reboot’. Half-expecting something to have broken or to not work, I logged in, and voila, I was presented the shiny new GNOME 2.30 desktop. The temporary install kernel that I had put in as the default boot kernel was also removed. Small thing in itself, but great for usability.
Everything looked and felt right, no sign of breakage, no error messages, no warnings, just some good seamless upgrade.
I can’t say really expected this. Coming from a die-hard Debian fan, distribution upgrades are something that was the forte of just Debian. For now. The Fedora developers have done a really good job of getting this process extremely easy to use and extremely reliable. Kudos to them!
While the Fedora 13 release has been pushed back a week for a install-over-NFS bug, it needs a certain combination of misfortunes to trigger, and luckily, I didn’t hit that bug. However, when trying the F13 beta install on my laptop, I had hit a couple of Anaconda bugs, one of which is now resolved for F14 (crash when upgrading without a bootloader configuration) and the other one (no UI refresh if I switch between virtual consoles until a package finishes install — really felt while installing over a slow network link) is a known problem with the design of Anaconda, and hopefully the devs get to it.
Overall, a really nice experience and I can now comfortably say Fedora has really rocketed ahead (all puns intended) since the old times when even installing packages used to be a nightmare. This is good progress indeed, and I’m glad to note that the future of the Linux desktop is in very good hands.
Cheers to the entire team!