Installing Fedora 9 (Sulphur) in Virtual PC 2007

Fedora 9 was released last week, which you can download here:  What's new?  Highlights from the release notes include:

  • GNOME 2.22. GNOME now includes a webcam photo and video creation utility called Cheese, improved network filesystem support, a new international clock applet, Google Calendar support and custom email labels in Evolution, a new Remote Desktop Viewer, improved accessibility features, and PolicyKit integration.

  • KDE 4.0.3

  • Xfce 4.4.2

  • NetworkManager 0.7 provides improved mobile broadband support, including GSM and CDMA devices, and now supports multiple devices and ad-hoc networking for sharing connections.

  • The Fedora installer, Anaconda, now supports partition resizing for ext2/3, NTFS filesystems, creating and installing to encrypted file systems, improved Rescue Mode with FirstAidKit, independent locations for the second stage installer and the software packages. A redesigned, larger netboot.iso image now features a second stage installer partly for this reason.

  • PackageKit, a new set of graphical and console tools, with a framework for cross-distribution software management, has replaced Pirut in this release of Fedora. The PackageKit graphical updater is available instead of Pup. Behind PackageKit, the performance of yum has been significantly improved.

  • Ext4, the next version of the mature and stable ext3 filesystem is available as a option in this release. Ext4 features better performance, higher storage capacity and several other new features.

  • This release of Fedora uses Upstart, an event-based replacement for the /sbin/init daemon.

  • Firefox 3 brings a number of major improvements including a native look and feel, desktop integration, the new Places replacement for bookmarks, and a re-worked address bar.

  • 2.4, with many new features, is available as part of Fedora 9.

  • Fedora 9 features a 2.6.25 based kernel.

  • Kernel crashes can be more automatically reported to and diagnosed in a friendly way via the kerneloops package installed by default. Crash signatures are commonly referred to as oopses in Linux.

  • Work on the start-up and shutdown in X has yielded noticeable improvements.


Will this be the installation that "Just Works" out of the box?  Nope.  Same problem that Ubuntu 8.04 has within Virtual PC... "An unrecoverable processor error has been encountered. The virtual machine will reset now."   Good times!


Fortunately, from our work with Ubuntu, we know the solution.  On the main boot screen, hit [Tab] to edit the options. Add noreplace-paravirt to the end of the boot parameters, and hit enter.


There we go... Fedora is able to boot the kernel and start up anaconda.  The problems I noted in my previous Fedora Posts (Fedora Core 6, Fedora 7, and Fedora 8)  of no mouse and messed up graphics seems to have been fixed.  Very Nice!


Stepping through the installer options is relatively plain-jane, until you get to the hard drive partitioning screen.  Is that an "Encrypt system" checkbox I see?  Why, yes it is!  I am guessing that this is a Bitlocker-esque feature, although I can't make heads or tails of how exactly this feature works on the Fedora Encrypted Filesystem Support page. Enabling the feature is easy enough, you just check the box and enter a passphrase twice. 

Does it work with a TPM? Backup to a USB key? Escrow your key into your LDAP directory for safekeeping?  Beats the heck out of me... I wasn't ever prompted for anything relating to those safeguards.  I don't even know what encryption algorithm it uses.


After hitting "Next" a few more times, Fedora finishes installing with no problems.  After rebooting, however, unless you are SUPER-quick on the keyboard, you will hit the unrecoverable processor error. You'll need to hit any key, and then "a".  As before, add noreplace-paravirt to the end of the boot parameters, and hit enter to continue booting.


As mentioned before, I chose the option to encrypt my boot drive.  The screenshot below is the highly intuitive user interface asking me to enter my passphrase.  What else could "Enter LUKS passphrase for /dev/sda2" possibly mean?


Finally... the hallowed Fedora boot screen.  Looks pretty nice!


After a final few questions (creating user, re-confirming my time preferences), I am asked to send my Hardware Profile to Fedora.  This is actually a great idea!  Perhaps if enough people send a profile showing that they are running on Virtual PC/Virtual Server, some of these silly bugs requiring workarounds (such as Fedora 8 requiring "i8042.noloop" and Fedora 9 requiring "noreplace-paravirt") could be fixed before the OS releases.  Heck, Virtual PC is free.  No incremental cost is involved in adding it to the test matrix!


After logging into the desktop, and checked for updates.  A mere 5 days after release, there are already 22 bug fixes and 4 security updates, including a network-exploitable remote memory leak in the kernel.  Good times.


Looking around, it seems that I must have missed the option during the initial install of the OS to include KDE, which I prefer to Gnome.  To be honest, I have absolutely NO idea where to install KDE once Fedora is up and running.  I went into Administration --> Add/Remove Software, but it finds no software at all to install.  You would think it has something to do with the Repository Sources, but my only options there are various Fedora ones. (Fedora 9 - i386, Updates, etc). 

According to the Software sources help, "At this time, PackageKit does not offer a way to add new repositories to your system.  It only allows you to enable or disable known repositories".

Oh well.  No KDE for me.

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Other than that, Fedora seems quite plain-jane (as I mentioned earlier with the installer).  The simplicity is nice, but nothing really stands out that would make anyone want to switch from Vista (or Ubuntu, or Mac OS X).  I wonder if this is a side effect of the fact that Red Hat is leaving the desktop Linux business.

One final reminder... to make sure that you do not have to enter the noreplace-paravirt each time you boot up, go edit your /etc/grub.conf file to add that parameter at the end of the line that looks something like kernel /vmlinuz- ro root=dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 rhgb quiet.  If you ever update your kernel, you'll have to do it again.  Oh well... maybe Fedora 10 will fix this issue.  I'll keep my fingers crossed...