Thanks for Giving Us Fedora

Fedora 10 hit the net today with its General Availability Release, or rather the un-beta version.  I posted earlier this summer that the version 9 release passed me by as I noted its two month anniversary.  There's plenty of resources out there for the first timer, but I wanted to write about the handy yum upgrade process for those of us who can't afford a clean wipe every six months when the Fedora Project releases its official versions.

Appropriately named YumUpgradeFaq, the wiki page documents all the release notes for upgrading from version to version.  It's important to realize that you can't really upgrade from FC2 to FC10.  But who would want to do that anyway?  The beauty is that you can get on board with the short Fedora Release Schedule without compromising your system's current installation.  Being that Linux is a solid OS and you want your system to stay online forever, the yum upgrade process is very handy. 

Myself, I have been burnt too many times by the Fedora Updates Repo expiring within two release schedules.  For instance, if you're running Fedora 8 the updates will disappear when Fedora 10 is released.  Bad news if you have some need for your Fedora 8 install to live on past this week.

I have had people ask me why I run Fedora, citing my insanity.   Claiming that the security updates will be outdated in six months.  Well YumUpgradeFaq addresses this and makes me feel a bit less crazy.  And for the advantages, I get the latest binaries for MythTV from Atrpms, I get the latest kernels from the Fedora Project and I can get the latest drivers to taint my system ever so slightly...  without having to compile anything.

This weekend I upgraded two machines via the yum upgrade process and both upgrades were fairly seemless.  It took about 40-50 minutes for each machine to download their packages at about 900-1100MB.  I could have reached some efficiency by caching yum to a central location and re-using alot of the packages (i.e. run man yum.conf and look at the cache directives).  However, I had to update an i686 and an x86_64 so I really had no choice but to download twice.  The actual upgrade process was fairly quick at about 30-40 minutes for each machine.  And the post configuration was almost nil.

There were some caveats to the process that were important outside of the Yum FAQ.  Remove your third party repos BEFORE upgrading.  Use yum remove <package> to get rid of anything that breaks dependencies on the yum transaction tests.  And make sure if you remove something that it exists in the FC10 repos that you'll be using AFTER the upgrade.  For instance, I had to search through Livna, Atrpms and RpmFusion to make sure my nvidia drivers and kernels modules would be available after upgrade.  And I had to add RpmFusion after the upgrade to get some of my MythTV plugins back after the upgrade.  Otherwise, if you follow the Yum FAQ and your handy with yum and rpm, your system should live on.

What about Ubuntu?  They uprade automagically.  Well, I do love Ubuntu and I run  it on my laptop for longevity and easy-install mobility purposes.  Back when FC9 turned out, I ran a quick install of FC9 on the lappy and it turned out to be sub-par for my Dell Latitude 620.  Wireless drivers were hell because I had to find them myself and the xorg.conf was a bit off.  Now, I know how to fix all that stuff, but when you have several machines to keep up it's not so much fun.  And unfortunately, I can't get the latest kernels or MythTV packages on Ubuntu.  Even with the specialized media repos, I still run slightly behind the latest releases.  The MythTV developers are well known for introducing key features to the system without going to the next version.

So my MythTV network gets the Fedora goods (x3 machines), my laptop gets Ubuntu (x1) and my servers get CentOS (x3).  Next up will be Xen and the art of virtualization (and consolidation of hardware)...  but that's for another day.