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May 29, 2009 @ 13:40

Fedora 11 fail because of Anaconda :(

I have tested Fedora 11 alpha, beta and now preview releases on few of my laptops and I’m really impressed by how Fedora 11 works once it is installed.
The problems I’ve encountered are those within the installation part – it seems like anaconda installer has become much worse than it was in Fedora 10 and in previous versions.
I watched how OpenSuse and Ubuntu teams have really polished their installers and hoped that Fedora 10 or 11 would have some more polish in GUI because if you just look at OpenSuse or Ubuntu screenshots you will see how outdated Fedora’s anaconda installer looks in comparison to them. I agree that in Fedora 10 there was no feature that lacked (except installer failed on Asus eee 701 laptops) but I really hoped that GUI would get a fresh look also, it really needs one general overhaul, especially in partitioning part of the installer. The inner working of anaconda previous to Fedora 11 was in top shape so that is why I was so surprised how bad anaconda is performing in Fedora 11 Preview release!
The only way to install Fedora 11 is to leave the default settings while in partitioning part of the installer. If you try ANY option with existing partitions on the hard drive, it will just crash the installer! I didn’t find any way how to create custom partitions in anaconda installer, delete partition or delete the whole disk without installer crashing on me. Are you looking how to create custom LVM partitions? Forget it. Encryption? No way. If you have hard drive with no partitions the chances are 50:50 for your installer not to crash, and again, you can’t erase the hard drive without installer crashing :(

I’m really disappointed in the current state of anaconda for Fedora 11. There are only few weeks for Fedora 11 to ship and there is no way to install Fedora 11 if you aren’t satisfied with default partition layout :(
Later I’ve found out that the reason for bad anaconda performance is probably because of this feature. I also looked for currently open anaconda bugs and didn’t see bugs that I was seening so I also posted bug report regarding these issues.
How do you like Fedora anaconda installer? What do you think about it’s general look and feel? What do you think about anaconda graphical user interface, especially when compared to other installers? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.
Sorry for not replying to your questions and suggestions, but I was out of town on Croatian Linux conference. I hope to get to these issues soon and report back here.
It looks like this is the reason why Fedora 11 is slipping :( I was the canary in the mine and I hope this message got to the right people. You can look at Bill Nottinghams e-mail to anaconda-devel page for more details.
Red Hat please give more resources to Anaconda team.

Filed under english, fedora, gadgets, linux, wireless


  1. Posted by Jayson Rowe

    May 4, 2009 @ 0:08

    I’ve installed the Fedora 11 Preview Release on my Desktop and Laptop, doing
    custom storage configs on all of them – most intricate my Desktop which has 3
    physical drives w/ their own mountpoints…I do not use LVM however…
    I have a 150G 10K drive that gets /boot, /, /home and swap
    I have a 320G that gets /virtuals
    and a 1TB that gets /data

    My laptop, while a single drive does get seperate /boot, / and /home partitions, but on a single drive, and without LVM.

  2. Posted by Jayson Rowe

    May 4, 2009 @ 0:08

    P.S. Sorry for the strange breaks in my comment – the text box was rendering very oddly on my screen :-)

  3. Posted by ignacio

    May 4, 2009 @ 3:39

    Things that work well enough usually break before they get better. This is just the breaking before it gets better.

    Also, your Mugshot applet obscures part of this textbox.

  4. Posted by Smooth Criminal

    May 4, 2009 @ 6:55

    Yeah, I pretty much had to partition whole disk fron CLI and use ext3 because ext4 was not present (or at least no mkfs.ext4). Then i went with custom partitioning sheme without format option in GUI (just assign partitions to their mount points).
    As it goes for graphical design of anaconda: it tottaly KICKS ASS. I love it! Is is simple yet feels so distinct.
    And for the problems – it all comes to tinkery/hackish nature of person: I did it ;)

  5. Posted by nicu

    May 4, 2009 @ 9:41

    I had a similar crash when installing F11 Beta on my desktop: it crashed after installing all the packages. But I was kind of lucky: after a couple of minute of panic I restarted the computer, F11 started, the boot process took an incredible long time until stopped. Rebooted again and it worked.
    Now I must gather enough courage and try installing the Preview Release on my laptop… Wish me luck :D

  6. Posted by Jon Pritchard

    May 4, 2009 @ 13:10

    I remember when I finally wanted to just make manual partitions in the installer without using a gparted livecd, since I’d grown tired of LVM not easily allowing me to upgrade Fedora keeping my home directory. This is not exactly easy and requires a lot of knowledge and pre-thought. You cannot choose to make a certain extended partition and then put primary partitions in it, it’ll just make an extended partition after the limit is reached.

    Another time when I was installing from livecd it just presumably took forever to repartition my NTFS drive (Which is a good feature) but it didn’t give any feedback at all, it appeared as if it had crashed, after leaving it for 2 hours it had finally done its job and moved on to the next stage of installation. A less experienced/patient user could’ve ruined the system by power cycling.

    Finally another gripe of mine is that Fedora to my knowledge doesn’t detect other Linux installations and create a GRUB entry for them to make them bootable.

    When I used Fedora 5, for the first time I was impressed by the look of the installer, now it looks too old and unfriendly. It’s one of the most important features, if you get a crash half way through repartitioning drives etc. you could lose all your data and be left in a no boot situation.

    In shot, it needs a lot of work. I was thinking that the storagerewrite would make it more reliable but what you’re saying seems to shows the opposite effect.

  7. Posted by Bucky

    May 4, 2009 @ 17:06

    I haven’t tried it in a couple iterations of Fedora, so this may long since have
    been fixed, but I gave up trying to do package customization in Anaconda. For
    me, it has always ended up in a crashed installer.

  8. Posted by Paul W. Frields

    May 4, 2009 @ 18:04

    I did an installation of Rawhide to my laptop last weekend. That system has a hard disk with encrypted LVM and many pre-existing partitions. And I had no such problems like the ones you describe here. Maybe you’re using something out of date? Anaconda is not the same now as it was at F11 Beta stage, and in fact it’s now even had some additional fixes since the Preview was released.

    Can you point me to the bugs you filed showing your problems, so we can address them?

  9. Posted by valent

    May 10, 2009 @ 19:27

    Sorry for not replying to your questions and suggestions, but I was out of town on Croatian Linux conference. I hope to get to these issues soon and report back here.

  10. Posted by valent

    May 29, 2009 @ 13:40

    This is the reason why F11 is slipping;

    Bill Nottingham:

    Not knowing if this had been formally done or not, I figured I’d look.

    I looked at all open rawhide anaconda bugs opened on March 1 or later.
    (126 bugs). The following list of 28 bugs are all crashers or things
    that render the system non-bootable.

    Some of these may be fixed already; some may not be fixable, some may
    have workarounds we can put on the common bug page. But if there are
    any other open bugs like 500808, they’d be in this list; if someone
    wants to do a sanity review to see if any of these are worth holding
    out for, go for it.

    Anaconda crashes when disks with no partitions contain a filesystem

    DeviceError: cannot commit to disk sda after 5 attempts

    Custom partitioning creation/edit causes traceback

    Traceback while installing with lvm/luks

    anaconda exception when formatting drives

    Anaconda traceback when installing with another LVM already existing

    Unhandled exception at the end of partitioning

    Anaconda crash: Error opening /dev/sdb: No medium found

    RAID1 volume create failed

    Installation fails with partition scheme

    allocatePartitions extended partition handling needs work

    Anaconda exception on upgrading from F10

    Anaconda crashes in the partitioner screen

    Anaconda crash during install: MDRaidError: mddeactivate failed for /dev/md1

    MDRaidError: mdactivate failed for /dev/md2

    FSError: filesystem has not been created

    Failure at the start of Live install – device is already mapped

    FSError: mount failed: (2, None)

    ValueError: Cannot remove extended partition sda4. Logical partitions present.

    SystemError: (2, None)

    Anaconda does not see Individual SATA11 drives — linux nodmraid is ineffective

    swap format error – SwapSpaceError: format has not been created

    TypeError: float() argument must be a string or a number

    AttributeError: ‘DeviceFormat’ object has no attribute ‘mount’

    FormatSetupError: format has not been created

    Initial initramfs created during installation has no keymap support

    RuntimeError: Returning partitions to state prior to edit failed

    backtrace when setting up md raid.

  11. Posted by Adam Williamson

    May 29, 2009 @ 19:23

    Not…really. You’re not exactly understanding the process.

    First, everyone was entirely aware there will be regressions in Anaconda in F11. You say “The inner working of anaconda previous to Fedora 11 was in top shape”, but it wasn’t. The storage code was old and crufty and holding a lot of things back. So for F11 the Anaconda team bit the bullet and entirely rewrote it.

    That’s why a lot of stuff broke – it’s inevitable with a rewrite, but we really needed to do the rewrite regardless.

    The second slip was for one specific bug in Anaconda, but it’s given us enough time that it’s worth re-evaluating the full list of Anaconda bugs to see if any others are sufficiently severe to be worth fixing this week. This was not in any way done in response to your post, sorry – it’s just part of the ongoing blocker review process being done by QA and RelEng in co-operation with the development teams involved (in this case, the Anaconda team).

    Your post didn’t tell anyone involved anything they didn’t already know. :)

  12. Posted by kf2

    May 29, 2009 @ 23:19

    I imagine 6 months isn’t time enough for something like a total rewrite of a backend to be going into production and throwing more developers on a problem doesn’t necessarily help.

    But then, fedora has been continually slipping into many regressions ever since F9 and no one seems to mind… or, likely, those that do, have already left.

  13. Posted by Jhosep

    July 14, 2009 @ 9:32

    Anaconda is bad…….
    I don´t know because Fedora used this…..
    change that … or better this……

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