Monday, July 14, 2008

Fedora 8 -> 9 upgrade

Yesterday, I decided that it was time to try out Fedora 9; after all, it's been a few months since it was released, and having just made a backup, I found that this was a convenient time to perform the upgrade.

Things did not start out so well, though. The installer seemed incredibly slow this time. There is a progress bar which shows how many packages that have been installed, but this could probably have been dropped; the next phase of installation, which I believe is the configuration of the just-installed packages, seemed to take just as long as the installation itself, and that with no progress bar at all (though, admittedly, with a rather honest "This may take a long time").

Well, the installer eventually completed and I rebooted the system. GRUB loaded as usual, except for the new spiffy background image. I picked the most recent kernel in the list,, even though the 'fc8' suffix puzzled me somewhat, but no, it didn't boot. Apparently the kernel (or initrd?) was unable to find my LVM volumes, and so couldn't mount my root partition. Well, at least the old kernel,, was still present in the menu, and choosing this the next time got me all the way to the (now even spiffier) graphical login screen.

My desktop shows up as usual and things seem fine. I decide to grab the most recent updates from the web, as I had downloaded the release DVD which contains packages which are now almost two months old. Unfortunately, all that 'yum' can do for me is to print a message about a missing _sha256 python package and some download instructions. I search the web for the exact error message, and I find a forum where others have the same problem [1]. The suggestion there is to download the RPMs that I need and install them manually using the 'rpm' tool, which I do. This method did in fact work, but only after resolving a few dependencies by hand and downloading amongst other things the updated python and yum packages.

And now that yum again runs successfully, I turn to those updates I've been waiting for. In the world of Free Software, changes happen quickly and the Fedora packages are usually updated quite frequently. However, all I see is a list of just two lone packages which both belong to the ".fc8" set of packages. Did the upgrade somehow forget to switch my package repositories?

No, that question will have to remain unanswered. I do not know the internals of yum, nor do I have any wish to do so (beyond fixing my broken system, obviously). I don't want to spend time on fixing the package manager; that's why I use one to begin with!

For the record, though my opinions might be biased by the experiences just recounted, I am also unimpressed by the new Firefox 3. I feel that the new user interface has been forced upon me, and it would be better to leave the former theme as it was and instead allow the user to choose the new one, if so he or she dares. I simply don't like the way things look; the elements of the drop-down URL list/chooser now displays titles of the webpages in addition to the URL itself, an incredibly annoying misfeature when my habits are already tuned to one specific behaviour. I can now also report that Firefox, only showing my Gmail inbox, now defaults to using 10% CPU when idle instead of the usual 3% of Firefox 2.5.

So thank you, but no thanks. I should have stayed with F8.



PS: When attempting to start gvim (to copy this very text into my browser), I got the following error: "gvim: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory".

PPS: Several other programs were broken as well, including git, which made the computer completely useless for me. In the end, I installed F9 from scratch and restored my home directory. Yum has been downloading/installing updates for an hour now. Still, Tomboy Notes crashed while Yum was installing a SELinux policy update.

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