Workarounds for Problems Upgrading to Fedora Core 2

Workarounds for Problems Upgrading to Fedora Core 2

Tom Bylander
Email: bylander@cs.utsa.edu

I upgraded my computers from Fedora Core 1 to Fedora Core 2 during the summer break (one computer was a new installation). As has become my practice, I describe my workarounds to the problems that I experienced. Fedora Core 2 presented more problems than my Fedora Core 1 experience (which might be useful for Fedora Core 2) with one issue not completely resolved. This was definitely not a newbie-friendly experience.

Here is some background information.

I downloaded Fedora Core 2 from an assortment of mirrors. There are 5 CDs to download, so I ftped them from 5 different mirrors overnight. I had to restart one of them in the middle of the night. Then I used the cdrecord command to write the CDs (by the way cdrecord -scanbus is very useful).

I upgraded 4 Intel machines and created a new installation in another. At work, I have a Dell Workstation and a Dell laptop. At home, I have an old Gateway (was still running Window 95 dual boot, but now has been given away) and a one-year old and a new "Neocomputer". Neocomputers is one of those places that will build your machine from the parts you select. I picked Neocomputers because their selection matched what I wanted, their price was good, and their customer satisfaction seemed ok, though not great (based on online customer comments from various sources). Currently, one of the 512MB memory sticks in the new machine was bad, so I returned it. I am currently waiting for the replacement.

For my machines, I use KDE and try to load as few GNOME packages as possible. Loading as few packages as possible becomes acute on the Gateway because I "only" have a 2GB Linux partition. For historical comparison, Redhat 4.2 comfortably fit in a 200MB partition 7 years ago. Ah, those were the days.

In any case, each machine presented its own idiosyncratic problems (or lack or them), so that is how the remainder of this document will be organized, from oldest machine to newest.

Gateway G6-200 (7 year old machine)

It was really irritating not to have an installation boot floppy for this upgrade. For some reason, this Gateway refuses to boot from the CD drive. Fedora Core 1 had an installation boot floppy, so why can't Fedora Core 2 have one, too?

There is a clever workaround, due to Éibhear Ó hAnluain. This is not recommended for newbies. It is very easy to muck things up. Backup anything important first. You will want to read those instructions in addition to mine.

The problem is that /images/diskboot.img on the first CD is much too large for a floppy. The workaround is to set up your current linux to boot from this image.

First copy the files from the image to your hard disk:

mkdir /mnt/loop
mount -o loop /mnt/cdrom/images/diskboot.img /mnt/loop
mkdir /boot/fc2install
cp /mnt/loop/* /boot/fc2install/

Now if you are using GRUB insert:

title Fedora Core 2 install
	root (hd0,0)
	kernel /boot/fc2install/vmlinuz
	initrd /boot/fc2install/initrd.img
into your /etc/grub.conf file. You may need to use something other than root (hd0,0) in your Grub file. Just copy the root line from another section of your file. This should allow you to select Fedora Core 2 install when you boot.

If you are using LILO, insert:

image=/boot/fc2install/vmlinuz
        label=fc2install
        initrd=/boot/fc2install/initrd.img
        append="ramdisk_size=8192"
	root=/dev/sda1
into your /etc/lilo.conf file, and run /sbin/lilo -v. You may need to use something other than root=/dev/sda1 in your Lilo file. Just copy the root line from another section of your file. This should allow you to select fc2install when you boot.

After this, the upgrade appeared to go smoothly, but on the first boot, X crashed. Booting in single mode, I was unable to fix it. My guess at the problem is that I've been using Redhat/Fedora since Redhat 4.2, so my configuration files were a mess.

So I decided to start from scratch (backup your data first), first creating a new installation with Fedora Core 1 (which has an installation boot floppy), then installing Fedora Core 2 (which doesn't, grrr). After that, X worked fine.

Dell Precision 410

The upgrade went smoothly except for sound. Based on gleaning information from the internet, I was successful using alsaconf to configure the sound. This program is not the CDs, so this is what I did.

I downloaded and installed two packages: alsa-utils-1.0.4-0 and alsa-driver-1.0.4-0. The alsa-driver package has the alsaconf program, and the alsa-utils package is needed to resolve a dependency.

When I ran alsaconf, it failed to completely figure out my sound by itself. I needed to select "generic 4231" as the "ISA card" to configure (this Dell has a Crystal 4237B chip for sound).

Dell Inspiron 3800 Laptop

The upgrade went smoothly except that the ATI X drivers are a little screwed up. My screen is shifted up by 10 or so pixels, so I only have a 790x600 screen now. I don't have a fix for this. The only reason I'm not more upset is that the only thing I can't see are window titles, so it's not such a great loss.

Neocomputers

Last year's machine is built around a Intel 845G motherboard, and this year's was built around an Intel 865G motherboard. Both of these motherboards have built-in graphics and sound, which is fine with me because I'm not a gamer, nor do I need more sophisticated sound. In any case, the upgrade on last year's machine and the installation on this year's machine went fairtly smoothly.

Regarding the new machine, I needed to repartition the hard drive, as all 80GB were devoted to one NTFS partition. Rather than reinstall Windows XP from scratch, I employed a method I found to resize the NTFS partition. The strange thing about this method is that it tells you to use a size that is much larger than the space used. In my case I had about 3 to 4GB of files in my NTFS partition and this method told me that the new partition had to be at least 36GB. And yes, I defragmented the NTFS partition before I did the resizing. Oh well, I only wanted a 15GB partition for Linux, which will probably be good enough for a few years. I did this by creating NTFS partitions in Windows XP leaving about 15GB free for a Linux partition.

Finally, Fedora Core 2 has an infamous problem with new installations: it rewrites the partition table so that MS Windows cannot boot. Knowing about this problem in advance, I found these instructions to be very useful. By carefully following them, I had no problems with the installation or with booting Windows XP.