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Trying out Fedora 16 Alpha.

I’m sure there will be plenty of news reports on the wire with Fedora 16 Alpha reviews. I wanted to share a couple brief thoughts, as opposed to a long review. I downloaded a copy of RC5 (which is the candidate that got the gold star) from the stage location and made it into a Live USB stick using the livecd-tools package’s livecd-iso-to-disk tool. These were some things that popped out at me when I was using it:

  • The Design team’s background image is quite striking. Although it’s a little higher energy than some previous desktops, I really like the underwater motif (I liked the underwater background in Fedora 9 too). From what I understand, the login screen should have some significant changes shortly, and that should show off the background well.
  • My ThinkPad x220′s hotkey (Fn+F8) for switching the touchpad on and off now works! This is fantastic because I often find myself brushing the touchpad, which is not recessed, and it can cause me problems in some interfaces. But at the same time, I don’t like turning it off in the BIOS because (1) I do sometimes use it in mouse-only interfaces, and (2) although I have no problems altering BIOS settings, I don’t think users should have to interact with them, especially when they have a clearly labeled keyboard function they should expect to work.
  • Bluetooth wasn’t working for me at all. This was only a brief test and I had no time to track down the problem. It’s quite possible this is a hardware dependent issue specific to my ThinkPad. So this is merely an observation, and if it’s not done already I’ll be looking further into the situation later, and filing an appropriate bug.

Sadly, I don’t have quite as much time to do deep testing of Fedora as I used to. So the above is basically a minimal report from about 3 minutes of usage I was able to fit in a couple nights ago. But I can say I’m looking forward to doing more! Remember that if you’re testing and finding problems, we need bugs! Without them it’s really hard to make a better product. So do your part for free software, and report them. :-)

Nice work to all those involved thus far with the release and all the collateral that goes with it.

Eager beaver, no. 38.

I was really eager to get my laptop onto the branch that will become Fedora 15. A recently uncovered bug (possibly in glibc), along with another unrelated problem (in pygobject?), are preventing installs via the nightly composed ISO images of the pre-release. So if you’re on Fedora 14, and want to get on the new branch, you could do this:

  1. Back up your data and at least your /etc directory. You never know what you might wish you’d kept!
  2. Also run the following command to save the names of your installed packages: rpm -qa –qf ‘%{NAME}\n’ > /home/rpmnames-old.txt
  3. Download the Fedora 15 Alpha release, Desktop Live spin, in your choice of 32- or 64-bit, and install. In a moment you’ll update everything.
  4. After you start up and run through the normal setups, don’t bother logging in at the GUI yet. Hit Ctrl+Alt+F2 to switch to a text terminal. Login as root, or else use sudo with the following commands.
  5. Install any -release type repository RPMs you may want. I keep copies of these hanging around for just such occasions.
  6. Get the names of the newly installed packages: rpm -qa –qf ‘%{NAME}\n’ > /home/rpmnames-new.txt
  7. Run: yum –skip-broken install `diff -u /home/rpmnames-old.txt /home/rpmnames-new.txt | tail -n +4 | grep ‘^-’ | cut -c 2-`

Note this is not a perfect solution. Releases change, and some packages may not be available in the new release that were in the old one. You may want to rerun steps 6 and 7 a couple days later if there are any broken dependencies that foil you from installing everything you wanted. Or alternately, you might want to stick in a step 6.5, which runs a few yum groupinstall commands to make step 7 shorter. This isn’t a panacea, it’s just a quick way to get up and running if you want to try out the new hotness but are stymied by the bugs listed above.

And of course, you could just download the entire Alpha DVD and point it at  so you won’t have to twiddle as much afterward; quite a few services that run by default in a DVD install, like sshd, aren’t necessarily enabled by default in an installation from the Live image. The above is just a quick way to get started if you know you’ll be doing further installation testing or other hackery later anyway. And it will give you a good flavor for the awesome new GNOME environment.

What if you want recapture your user account and password? Just refer back to your backup you made. Do not simply restore it over the new /etc files. You could really get hosed that way. Instead do something like this. I’m going to assume you only have a couple of users on your system, starting with userid 500 per normal:

mkdir /tmp/restore && cd /tmp/restore
tar xf /path/to/etc-backup.tar.gz   # Got backup?
for i in $(grep ':50[0-9]:' etc/passwd | cut -d: -f1); do
  for f in passwd shadow group gshadow; do
    grep ^$i etc/$f >> /etc/$f

Here’s something I also recommend: move your user’s ~/.gconf directory to a backup before you login the first time. Try the spiffy new GNOME 3 out in its default settings. If you need to tweak or restore, you still have the old settings to which you can refer. But it’s worth trying everything as it was intended out of the box. I’m totally excited to run the pre-release so I can rock the new GNOME Shell. Pretty soon I’ll start working on a new branch of PulseCaster that will use the new PyGObject available in Fedora 15, and maybe a few of the cool new GTK+ 3 bits I’ve seen might be helpful in the  new UI.


Fedora 14 Alpha is go!

As John posted last night, Fedora 14 Alpha was declared ready for release next week. Although there was a one-week slip to handle the fact that our blocker list wasn’t clear, Fedora developers and testers in the community have worked hard together both to resolve the remaining issues and make sure that our Alpha would pass the release criteria. There were a number of developers who hopped in to fix things quickly to yield package builds that would clear the runway, so thanks to all of you guys.

I also wanted to take a moment to say how impressively the QA team has beefed up the definition of these criteria. Not only that, but the team continues to take opportunities to refine them whenever we hit a question that’s difficult to answer under the current criteria. We still can improve our effectiveness at turning the combination of the blocker bug list and the criteria into getting response from developers where needed, but that’s more of a shared issue. As with our criteria and our schedule, we continue to improve these processes in an iterative way, and openly to boot.

Here’s one place where everyone will be able to pitch in — making sure that any common issues in the Alpha are properly noted. We have a wiki page for common Fedora 14 issues, and it’s very important for us to keep it updated for all those trying out the pre-releases. If you’re in doubt whether it’s a common issue, that’s OK. There are some notes on that wiki page on how to add your issue:

  • Add it yourself, if you have wiki access. Please follow the style and guidelines explained in the comments in the page source. (You’ll see them when you start to edit.)
  • Or, add the CommonBugs keyword to the bug report. Someone from the QA team will then inspect the issue to determine whether the bug should be listed as a common bug. To expedite your request, add a comment to the bug that includes
    1. a summary of the problem
    2. any known workarounds
    3. an assessment on the impact to Fedora users

If in doubt, we’d rather see the issue than not. :-)

The Alpha release is meant for advanced users and Fedora participants to download and test. It’s not code-complete, meaning a few things may be broken. We want and need your help to identify, report, and resolve these problems. As always, the best way to do that is to file bugs! Random blog entries, tweets/dents, and mail may be interesting, but to track the problems to resolution, bugs are the right way to go. We look forward to your participation as always — if you’re not already installing from the pre-release tree, you’ll be able to pick up the official images next Tuesday, August 24.

In summary, nice job to everyone involved, and I’m looking forward to switching a few systems here at home to F14 Alpha!

Link tracking

Starting with this release, a few of us have tossed around and then quickly ramped up a process for link tracking. This started with a question from Mike McGrath on the logistics list, and the purpose is to know where people are finding our download site and other properties. Eventually we can build some of this into our community maintenance practices. We’re not doing anything fancy yet, but certainly we would love people to help improve the idea and the process, and help make it easy to find ways we can better promote Fedora.

It would be helpful if everyone pitched in with links they make to the Fedora 13 Alpha release (and beyond, to the Beta and then the final).  You can read about how to do it on the wiki. We’ve also set up some additional links for your use in status tools like Identi.ca, Facebook, Twitter, and so on.* You can copy these links to use in your own status updates and blog entries:

If you think of other major areas where we might want to track links, so that we know where people are finding their download links, feel free to contribute to the link tracking wiki page.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention — this is all being coordinated by the community Fedora Marketing team, and since we have an event coming up this coming weekend, hopefully we’ll have a chance to see how the idea and execution are working out.

UPDATE 2: Two new link trackers added above for your blogs and status updates, totally free software services!

* Of course we prefer fully open source platforms for these services, but we also know there are a lot of reachable people out there, and want to leverage all the channels we have available.

Fedora 13 Alpha!

Our first major test release for this cycle, Fedora 13 Alpha, is now available! You can read all about it in the release announcement on the wiki.

I’m running it here and would encourage contributors and early adopters to try it out. We could really use your help in finding remaining bugs so we can squash them before the Beta release near the end of this month. You can find a list of common bugs on the wiki as well.

Catching breath, no. 75.5.

Upgrade went smoothly, although I did run into this common bug at the very end of the process. Not only was the bug known about, it’s already been fixed, so no one should see it in the next test release. Nice work Anaconda guys!

The bug’s been written up on our “Common F13 bugs” page as well. That page is where we record issues that we’ve seen in the test release, to lower the surprise factor even for people who are gearing up to test our pre-release software. As we go through the release cycle and these bugs are stomped out, we edit this page as needed. Because it’s a wiki we invite our community to help us document problems there and track them throughout the release cycle — a great way to collaborate that can help innumerable other people helping to test Fedora.

Other than that issue — which itself required no mitigation on my part anyway — the update was extremely boring (just the way it should be). I’ve already noticed a few things worth calling out:

  • The NVidia 8400M GS video card in my laptop supports 3D and compositing out of the box with the new nouveau driver and the mesa-dri-drivers-experimental package. The compiz compositing manager seems to work fine, and although GNOME Shell is still in the process of being ported to the new Clutter toolkit version, I expect that will be giving me joy shortly too. I’m thrilled to see NVidia joining the advances made in the free ATI radeon driver in our last release just a few months ago. That’s walking the walk when it comes to free software!
  • Mozilla Firefox 3.6.1 showed me a standard notification that I had some add-on updates available — integrated perfectly with my desktop. Unexpected and very cool!
  • The new cursor theme has thicker action forms (or whatever it is you call the shapes into which it changes as you move it over actionable things), and makes it much easier to discern shapes and expected actions.

That’s just what I saw in the first few minutes. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the other excellent new features coming in Fedora 13. Our first pre-release, Fedora 13 Alpha, is due next Tuesday, March 9. If you’re a savvy Linux user who wants to see the latest and greatest new technologies, you can pick up a copy and help advance the future of free software by testing the pre-release and reporting bugs. The more we squash in the pre-release, the better the final Fedora 13 will be. With 0ur recent move to a special pre-release branch,

I’m expecting a very solid release — but nevertheless I am very much looking forward to exploring the nooks and crannies of Fedora 13 Alpha, especially if what I’m using now is any hint of what’s to come!

Catching breath, no. 75.

This morning, I’m doing an upgrade of my main workhorse laptop from Fedora 12 to what will soon be Fedora 13 Alpha. I may not be using the method that most people use for such an upgrade. Here’s how I’m doing it:

  • I have a mirror of fedora/linux/development/13/x86_64/os on a workstation, which is connected via Ethernet cable to the same router as my laptop, and is offering that directory tree over HTTP.
  • From that area, I copied isolinux/vmlinuz and isolinux/initrd.img to my laptop’s /boot folder, appending -f13a to each filename, and made an entry in /boot/grub/grub.conf:
    title Install F13 Alpha
        root (hd0,0)
        kernel /vmlinuz-f13a
        initrd /initrd.img-f13a
  • I rebooted, held down the Ctrl key so I’d see the boot menu, and booted into this entry.
  • Once the installation process started, I chose the URL installation method and pointed the installer at my HTTP server, specifically to the …x86_64/os/ folder under which the images/install.img file lives.

That was it. So far the upgrade process is actually a bit boring really… which is a great thing to say about an upgrade process.

The work that the Anaconda team has put into this release really shows. Choices are more fully explained in understandable terms. Icons make more sense and better illustrate the process you’re choosing. I’m going to do a fresh installation to a VM later so I can see how some of the other code paths work, but I’m totally impressed with the improvements.

I know that once I start up the new Fedora 13 pre-release, I’ll have more goodness to report. :-)

Fedora 12 Alpha!

Today marks the Fedora 12 Alpha release, hot off the presses! You can pick up a copy to try all the latest technologies here:


I’ve been running the Alpha version for about a week or so on one of my home machines. While there are some minor foibles here and there, most of it seems to be working like gangbusters — and better than ever. The PackageKit “command-not-found” plugin is pretty cool, and I’m also enjoying some of the other sweet new features like the new Virtualization Manager upgrades.

Not everything is guaranteed to work perfectly, because there are some pretty new bits in there. But we do encourage people to at least grab a Live ISO image and run it from a CD or USB stick. And of course, it’s very important that you FILE A BUG if you find something that’s wrong! Remember kids, Twitter and Identi.ca are not substitutes for good open source practices — they’re a good way to encourage people to check your work, though, if you’re looking for a second opinion. I hope everyone trying F12 Alpha will blog a little bit about the bits they find that they like — and if you don’t like something, tell us about that too, and let us know how it can be made better. Then file a bug about it!

You can tell I’m big on the bug filing today. That’s because we seriously want your help in testing the release. Yours, and everyone you know! The more problems we can find and knock out before the Beta, the better Fedora 12 “Constantine” will shine in November! I, for one, started using the command-line bugzilla client for doing this quite often, and it’s very convenient when I’m in a terminal or otherwise not using a Web browser. You just run bugzilla login and bugzilla new — the latter with a bunch of required options — and you’ll get a reply with your bug number assigned.

I hope you enjoy this very early sneak preview of what’s coming Fedora 12! And thanks as always to our awesome Release Engineering and Infrastructure teams for their usual fantastic job at getting Fedora out the door into the hands of our millions of users.

Speaking of which: Only 10 weeks into our release, our latest stable offering, Fedora 11 “Leonidas,” has surpassed one million registered updating IP addresses, as noted on our statistics page. That’s almost 40% higher than our uptake from the previous and very well-regarded Fedora 10 release. I also see that our number of completely unique IP addresses registered for updatesm from Fedora 7 through Rawhide is now at slightly over 15 million for the first time. There’s some helpful information floating around about how that might translate to user numbers, but for my part, I just love being able to just look up these numbers in our completely open and transparent infrastructure — another reason to enjoy being part of a project dedicated to building 100% free software for you and yours.

Sad daily confessional: I meant to have this out in the morning but the upcoming Red Hat Summit has me hopping more than usual. Sorry about the delay and hope to see you in Chicago next week!

Update: Fixed the “sweet new features” link above, thanks Rahul!

This. Is. ALPHA!

[This post was supposed to be out yesterday, but somehow I managed to brush my touchpad the wrong way and... well, the dog ate my homework. Or WordPress did. Either way, sorry about the lateness of the hour, and all that. Revised now for more contemporary enjoyment. -- Ed.]

Yes, that 300 joke isn’t getting any funnier. But it’s not getting any older either! Well OK, maybe it is, but remember that “beta” works just as well there, so you may have to endure it one more time, sorry.

Anyway, yesterday our Fedora 11 Alpha release hit the wires, and they are humming hotly even as we speak with flying bits. We’ve provided a brief set of release notes where you can see some of the major changes called out.

I often get questions from people asking, what’s the point of an Alpha anyway? Well, essentially it’s to ensure we can effectively compose a Fedora release that can be installed by most people, and once that’s done, to give our community a chance to test the current state of features from a known starting point. Testing is, in fact, our focus once an Alpha release of Fedora is out the door, and every bug you file can make a big difference in the quality of the final Fedora release.

Typically people will install Fedora 11 Alpha on a test machine, and then update to the latest Rawhide packages. You see, Rawhide, our development branch of Fedora, keeps moving after we’ve started working on an Alpha release, so some bugs might be fixed with that update. On the other hand, you might also see totally new ones. It’s very early in the development cycle, so don’t expect a Fedora 11 Alpha system to necessarily be ready for your daily non-testing use (although I do know people who essentially run on the development branch almost all the time, and my hat’s off to them).

The point is, once you have your system running, we’d love to receive bug reports from you. That helps us eradicate problems early and provide a better release by the time the Beta, Preview, and final emerge.

Interestingly, there were hardware-specific bugs in previous releases reported by numerous people that could have easilly been found, had someone taken time to test an Alpha installation or boot on their hardware. So by testing, you really can be a big help to the overall Fedora community! You can often file bug reports straight from the installer, for instance, if your network hardware is supported. You can also use our helpful wiki page to learn how to file a bug. By the way, if you find a problem on that page, you can use its discussion page to tell us what needs improvement.

Basically, it’s a great time to try out the beginnings of Fedora 11 with our Alpha release, and let us know how you fare. And when you do, you’re part of the enormous (and still growing) Fedora community.

© 2002-2014 Paul W. Frields License: CC BY-SA 3.0. Some rights reserved. -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

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