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  #1  
Old 1st December 2012, 09:57 PM
gjwalsh Offline
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linuxfirefox
Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

I have had a preliminary look at Anaconda. I appreciate what is being attempted here so I am not going to fire broadsides. BUT, before I attempt an install, I would appreciate some guidance as to how to handle existing partitions.

The server has 3 large drives (which Anaconda sees, marking the first drive as the boot drive which is also fine with me.) The partitions are defined across the 3 drives in such a way that each partition has a backup on another drive. Weekly backups are written on still another, all by rsync scripts. This has worked perfectly for some 5 years now. There is no LVM or RAID to complicate matters.

But I am not quite sure how to handle labelling under the new installer.

There are the regular partitions for /boot, swap, /home and /, of course, along with /usr/local, var/lib/pgsql, and var/www. The corresponding backup partitions are /bup/home, /bup/local, /bup/sys, /bup/pgsql, and bup/www, with weekly backups in /bup/weekly and finally /archive to hold the last few weeks of history.

Anaconda starts by telling me that there is no room to install Fedora 18 and wants to reclaim space because the drives are fully partitioned. I would normally format /boot, /, and /bup/sys on a fresh install.

Because I don't feel quite confident about referring to partitions by labels I stopped at this point. Assuming I request manual (custom) partitioning, and 'standard' file type (existing are all ext4) I would presumably label /boot as 'boot', and / as something like 'root' or 'base' or 'system. If that is the case, then is it permissible to label existing /bup/home as 'bup/home' or would I have to use 'bup_home' to avoid the slash?

Once that is done, I am assuming I will be able to view the partition details similar to F17 and make the choice there as to whether to reformat or not, thereby protecting other partitions through the install process.

Wordy, I know, but I am more than willing to work through it as long as I know I have the same level of protection, and assume the same level of risk as I had with F17's installer and those before it.
  #2  
Old 3rd December 2012, 03:06 AM
AdamW Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

Er, you don't 'refer to partitions by labels' when *creating and assigning* them. The labels are just for displaying your existing partitions.

If you have three existing partitions you wish to use as part of the new install you can just select each one, enter the mount point you want it to have in the 'Mount Point' box on the right, and check the 'Reformat' box under the 'Customize...' expander (if you want to reformat it: you can choose not to reformat the /home partition, if you're doing that sort of 'upgrade'). If you then hit 'Apply Changes' you'll see those partitions now show up in the group for the new F18 install.
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  #3  
Old 3rd December 2012, 03:07 AM
AdamW Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

Also note that nothing actually *happens*, at all, including partitioning, until you hit 'Begin Installation' from the hub. Until then, nothing is written to disk at all. You can always bail prior to that point.
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  #4  
Old 3rd December 2012, 05:21 PM
RainyDeodar Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

Also, you *must* reformat whatever the new "/" partition will be,
and at least for me you first have to click the "reformat" box before
it will then let you assign the "/" mount point to it. But not only can
you choose the filesystem type to reformat it as, but it will also
preserve/regenerate your old label for that partition, when it makes
a new one (at least for "/" which is all I've tried), at least for me it has.
  #5  
Old 3rd December 2012, 09:27 PM
gjwalsh Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

Adam, thanks so much for the assurance I was looking for. I admit to having become confused by the label thing - probably after reading too much negative stuff. This afternoon I'll get in there again and mount each partition in turn, then formatting those required by the install to make room, the procedure I've followed since Fedora 12/13. The "Apply Changes" was a warning bell so I stopped in the interest of safety. I had no way of realizing I'd get to the "Begin Installation" phase had I finished mounting. (I abhor the stench of spilled milk).

What all this means, at least to me, is that Anaconda is becoming ever more specific and that is a good thing. No, its really a great thing! At least you can appreciate I've taken the humorous warning about the Beta release seriously.

Long time since we've had an exchange. Goes back to Mandriva days and Colin's work with pulse audio as I recall.

My best (from across the strait in Victoria)

"George"
  #6  
Old 4th December 2012, 01:02 AM
AdamW Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

yeah, I'd like to make it clearer somehow that the entire screen is just prep work, and nothing done there will take effect until installation time. The 'Apply Changes' button just updates the display on the left with any changes - like if you assign an existing partition a mount point for the new install, 'Apply Changes' makes it appear in the new install group.

There's definitely stuff we could do to make the interface clearer, people are certainly looking into that. How much we can do before F18 final is a question, though.
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  #7  
Old 4th December 2012, 06:06 AM
gjwalsh Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

Hmm .... if you were able to make that clear, Adam, you'd make the entire anaconda operation so much more solid - and not just in appearance. The idea of being able to 'set' the parameters in the Installation Summary display without incurring unknown risk would be a big asset, and most especially for new linux users we all hope to attract.

This brings up related issues which I can deal with but the naysayers won't want to address. For example, the idea of using the little orange triangle to identify function sections which must be completed 'before continuing' is a fine new addition, but it can be problematic. Basically, anaconda begins by wanting the user to identify the storage scheme/partitioning before anything else, but it doesn't say this. During my first attempt I was not expecting to see this and so I immediately began with the local date/time function. That complains about having no ntp protocols available. Ok, so I would have gone to the internet connectivity section and set up the ethernet, the ntp ids and assigned the hostname. I know the latter is still a problem easily worked around, but I could not get out of the time/date section, presumably because the storage scheme had not been completed.

I'll try again tomorrow, starting with the storage first, thanks to your earlier explanation as to the degree of risk I would be exposed to.

Seems to me that it might be possible, then, to place a clear, vibrant statement atop the Installation Summary to the effect that no changes will be made until each function is acceptable to anaconda. A simple symbol in front of each function would make this instantly clear, whether a reassuring green checkmark or something like 'OK or 'SET'.

And to compliment the obviously detailed thought that has gone into this new installer release, I'd recommend consideration be given to forcing the user to actually enter each of the function sections on the Summary. In other words, the user must review each section. If he decides to accept the default in a section, (keyboard is obvious in this regard), then doing so costs but 2 strokes and the function is okayed and marked as such. This is consistent with the need to mount individual partitions we were discussing earlier.

And then, once all function sections have been at least seen, where a default is acceptable, or set, where the user has made choicves acceptable to anaconda, we arrive at the 'in your face' statement that if you really want to give effect to these changes and tell anaconda to get on with its work, click [here] and if I do that, the new parameters will definitely replace the old.

Hope that makes sense. If I can help out with this from a server admin's point of view, I'll be more than happy to, Adam.

Again, so nice to know you are still on board.

The best,

George
  #8  
Old 4th December 2012, 07:32 AM
AdamW Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

"Ok, so I would have gone to the internet connectivity section and set up the ethernet, the ntp ids and assigned the hostname. I know the latter is still a problem easily worked around, but I could not get out of the time/date section, presumably because the storage scheme had not been completed."

No, that's not correct, that just sounds like a bug. You are supposed to be able to complete the spokes in any order you like, really; if anaconda doesn't want to let you into a spoke at any point it's supposed to grey it out. I think your case is simply a bug in that you ought to have been able to escape from the spoke, not a bug that you shouldn't have been allowed in at all.

"Seems to me that it might be possible, then, to place a clear, vibrant statement atop the Installation Summary to the effect that no changes will be made until each function is acceptable to anaconda. A simple symbol in front of each function would make this instantly clear, whether a reassuring green checkmark or something like 'OK or 'SET'. "

This might be the way to go, or something close to it; I'll add it to the bug report.

"I'd recommend consideration be given to forcing the user to actually enter each of the function sections on the Summary. In other words, the user must review each section."

well, the idea is kind of to optimize the flow and not force you through screens you don't really _need_ to go through unless you want to change something.
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  #9  
Old 4th December 2012, 08:58 PM
gjwalsh Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

Thanks for the follow up, Adam.

Regarding your last sentence: "well, the idea is kind of to optimize the flow and not force you through screens you don't really _need_ to go through unless you want to change something", I understand this concept but on the other hand, and at this key juncture, it can be trying for folks who go through the whole install process on a fully automated process, only to find they lack even the most essential option selections. It is so much easier to do this at the beginning, regardless of the length or depth of user experience.

I can't imagine setting up even a completely fresh install without having first been at least 'exposed' to the function areas at the cost of 2 clicks each. And even in situations like our own where we preserve everything except for the system files when we 'update', it is a good, secure feeling to be in charge of what is installed and written to disk. One man's opinion, for sure, but one based entirely on actual usage of a server, rather than simply a test platform. I have for years combined both with great success. This is the only real-world test I know of in this situation.

And one other related thought: I cannot see where/how I can tune the selection of software packages. This seems limited to selection of package groups.

I know, I know, makes me look like some control freak, huh? Well, the shrink in me suggests that is a fine trait in a system administrator's profile :-)

George
  #10  
Old 5th December 2012, 02:25 AM
AdamW Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

There's a thread going on for that - http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?t=286377 (last few posts). Control freakery...you need to let it go. Just let it go, man. Just let it go. I used to be like you. I used to sit at the 'package selection' screen in the installer (this was Mandriva's installer, ah, back in the day) for hours when doing a new install, considering whether I *really* wanted to include man-pages or not. Then I snapped, and after I hid the bodies and hosed down the power drill, I realized it was a giant waste of time, and it ultimately worked out just fine to install the damn default package set and tweak it afterwards. Or leave it alone, depending.

If I'm deploying a server I start with @core (minimal) and build out from there; if I'm deploying a desktop I just go with the default package set and quit worrying about it. It's fine. It does the job. Hey, just my perspective, but this was years before newUI, so it's not exactly a biased one - I've thought per-package selection in the installer was really a bit silly for quite a while now.
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  #11  
Old 5th December 2012, 02:33 AM
jpollard Online
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

You obviously haven't worked on a government server.

If you don't know what you are installing and why you are installing it then you aren't supposed to install it.

It is more acceptable for a test. But production servers are to be minimal... And each package to be authorized by a change control board.

Doing anything else is usually considered sloppy - and may get a censure during an audit.

And assuming a workstation is not under change control depends on the circumstances - some are very controlled.

Last edited by jpollard; 5th December 2012 at 02:38 AM.
  #12  
Old 5th December 2012, 03:08 AM
DBelton Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

I totally agree with jpollard above, but then again, I have been working in government installations for over 20 years now. If I don't know or don't want a package intalled on MY machine, then it doesn't get installed.

If you think per-package selection was silly, then you didn't have to use it. But it was there for the ones that did want to use it.

As far as the "Control freakery" I won't comment on the egotistical developers with their "control freakery" attitude that is pretty much running what was a great distro into the ground with their changes that take control from the users and force upon them what they wish instead. This is something that has been going on for certain since F15.

Now as soon as the bug report where system-config-kickstart being broken and not working at all in F18 even gets a response over 2 months after it was filed, I might look at using kickstart to customize my installs, but the developers can't even take the time to make a response on a bug report where a package is completely broken and won't run at all.

The anaconda developers keep telling you that if you wish to do some of the customization, then use kickstart, but system-config-kickstart doesn't even work. Won't even start and try to run.
  #13  
Old 5th December 2012, 07:45 PM
gjwalsh Offline
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Re: Anaconda - protecting existing partitions

Hi again, Adam and thanks to JPollard and DBelton for joining in.

I'm not ignorant of the continuing attempts to be 'too smart by a half'. While I can admit to the control freak label with a touch of humour, I'm not about to relinquish it, either. It's an integral part of my 'job description' as Dbelton and Jpollard have attested to in their own environments.

Regarding software specifically, I have since Mandriva days had control of the software installation on each server simply by making it easy to load (and discard) what I wanted on my server and those I have responsibility for. All this required was my maintaining a custom install list from update to update. There was a big bonus in this. It would bring to my attention without effort on my part those packages which are no longer available. And bitter experience has long shown that if you leave this to post-install, then you are invariably going to run into ill thought out dependencies which 'will destroy your system'. Huh, just try in a GNOME install to get rid of everything from KDE libraries!

The 'old' procedure was a great help in automating the overall install but even more importantly, it brought my attention to changes which I would never have seen or been aware of until users started complaining about not having some service. This gets to my whole point. There is and always has been far too much specialization in our field, akin to the pains in the medical field. I have the greatest respect for what specialists attempt, but I know enough of human behaviour to realize that hyper specialization is heavy on costs, whether in time or money or both, and the patient/user suffers because all problems tend to be seen too narrowly. Linux demands a holistic approach, just as medicine does.

A smooth, efficient install is a pleasant experience, sure, but the real test is always in the trenches. For years I have been warned so many times not to use a development release in a product development server. We have benefited richly from ignoring that narrow viewpoint. I found myself being condescended to when I was actually sharing experiences of a full test bed but I have learned to filter what I read and hear.

So, I will have to kind of reverse engineer now. In other words, I will initially load whatever somebody at Fedora decides I should or must have, edit that against what my folks are familiar with and add or subtract binaries as desired. It makes a 'custom' update a 2 step process, but that is of no concern to isolated system software engineers. I understand how and why that happens, but I have resisted Microsoft's approach for 30 years and I sense, evidently like others, that we are following here instead of leading.

A word of advice? Do not release Fedora 18 with a problematic installer. I can only rhetorically ask why anaconda wasn't 'perfected' at the very beginning of the F18 cycle, not at the end of it.

Houses do not erect well upon a foundation of wet cement.

Last edited by gjwalsh; 5th December 2012 at 07:48 PM.
 

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