Installing Fedora 12 - Part I

2, Dec 2009


Backup Existing Data and Initial Install

I finally decided that it was time to update my laptop from Fedora 10 to Fedora 12. Fedora 12 offers quite a bit of neat new features. Some things worth noting are the replacement of Pidgin with Empathy, improvements in NetworkManager, and changes to the way the PackageKit manages the repositories and updates.

Additionally, I felt that I had cluttered up my original install of F10 with enough random programs that it was time for a fresh start. Since it had been my first real experience in the Linux world, I had installed, removed, compiled, installed, and removed many things. So, the first step is of course backing up all of your files that you wish to take over to the new install. Generally all you'll need to save should be in your home directory.

Once backed up on to an external hard drive, I downloaded Fedora 12 x686 from the torrent listed at Fedora Project, and when complete, I burned it to a DVD. Then comes the standard install. I've found that Fedora always quickly installs without any problems. To install it, simply insert the burned Live CD into your computer, restart, and allow it to boot. From there, click the icon on the Desktop 'Install to Hard Drive' and follow the instructions. Once complete, reboot the machine, eject the CD, and you are now running Fedora 12.

First Update

Because all Linux distributions, and especially Fedora, are constantly updated your install is already out of date. The first thing do do as soon as you boot into the fresh install is open up a terminal and update your machine. Thus:

su -
yum update

After entering the first command, you will be prompted to enter the root password that you picked during install. Once you have become root (super user), you can then run the update command. This will offer you a long list of packages that need to be updated. Type y, hit enter, and wait.

Fedora 12 actually introduces a new way of managing package updates that will drastically speed up the updates. Instead of downloading the entire package, it will now only download the required changes by using what are called delta RPMs, saving you time. This feature was included with Fedora 11, but it is now enabled by default.

Add Yourself to the sudoers File

For security purposes, you want to run as the root user as little as possible. So, once the computer has updated, the next thing to do is add your main account to what's called the sudoers file. This manages what users can access root permissions indirectly though the sudo command.

While still logged in as root, type 'visudo' into the terminal to edit the suoders' file. To do any editing within this file, you need to have a cursory knowledge of the editor vi. You can find a quick run down on simple commands on this Cheat Sheet. Scroll down to the line in the suoders file that reads:

root   ALL=(ALL) ALL

After that line, create a new line and add the following:

username   ALL=(ALL) ALL

Where 'username' is your account's user name. Then save and quit. This now gives your account access to every command that root could run, but with the protection of not actually being root. For example, you can now install programs under your regular account:

sudo yum install vim

Getting Media Support

Because of Fedora's licensing, there are several bits of functionality that can not be included in the standard distribution of Fedora. This includes support for things like:

For those and other common problems, I point you towards this excellent FAQ

Further Customization

A very useful program to have is Open Office. Open Office is an open source full featured office suite. It contains the equivalents of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. It also has the ability to open and read Microsoft's .docx format, and save as .doc files. To install it run the following command:

sudo yum install @office

Some other very useful programs to have include:

Yet to Come

In the next post, I'll go over installing and setting up a local web server to allow for development of PHP and Django applications.


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