Operating systems

"Respinning" my stance on Fedora 7


A couple of months ago I tore into the Fedora developers for how they were approaching the upcoming release of Fedora 7. It seemed as if they were going to forget about the users needs and basically tell them what they can and can not have. It looked like they were going to release a GNOME release, a Server release, and MAYBE a KDE release. That wasn't looking too promising to me. So much so that I was looking to drop Fedora as my main OS. This was tough as I have been with Red Hat since 4.2. It was a ship I didn't want to jump.

But this last weekend I embarked on an article about Fedoras' new technology called "respins". It intrigued me. On top of which I really had to at least give Fedora a chance to redeem itself.

So I downloaded the Fedora 7 live CD and, in about twenty minutes, installed the OS onto a hard drive. It was an install to rival the simplicity of Ubuntu. I was impressed. But not NEARLY as impressed as I would soon come to be.

After I had the OS up and running it was time to give Revisor a try. I fired it up and after a short time had my very own version of Fedora 7 ready to burn onto disk. I was just short of amazed.

This is a really serious evolution for operating systems. Revisor will take the art of installation to a much-needed new level. If you don't believe me, give it a try.

So for dinner tonight I will be eating a nice helping of my own crow. I was very much wrong about where the Fedora developers were taking Fedora 7. In fact I am fairly confident that have made this user a life-long fan. If they keep pushing the envelope the way they are pushing it, and in directions that will make Linux the single most flexible operating system available (bar non), they will be winning over scores of new users.

Bravo to the Fedora developers. You have re-invented the operating system by allowing the individual to "invent" their own according their needs or desires.

And now it's just a matter of creating my own different spins and waiting for the creative juices of the Linux community to get smoking to see what kind of flavors are cooked up. You can find a single location for Fedora respins at  respins.org.

Now it's time for you to download Fedora 7 and start spinning!

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

11 comments
johnson12
johnson12

I am very happy indeed that fedora seems to be putting more focus on the user dt not just corporate interest. Other distros have had this feature for quite some time now thou, it's nothing new.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I get the impression the CD you created with Revisor differs from the live .ISO you downloaded. But I don't know what you mean by your "very own version of Fedora 7." How does it differ from what you downloaded? Is it like a Ghost image, with system-specific drivers already loaded? What does Revisor generate, an .ISO that anyone can open, or does it require Revisor to access the output?

stat geek
stat geek

Yes, if you want us to continue to read your articles, at least give us some information beside your opinion.

jlwallen
jlwallen

what i downloaded was a live CD. it was linux on one CD - so it didn't have a ton of packages. what Revisor does is allow you to create your own distribution. so for instance you want to create a distribution for graphic artists...you could include The Gimp, Scribus, Inkscape, and a number of other applications and base it on, say, Enlightenment. once you use revisor it would create all of the necessary iso images for you and all you would have to do is burn them onto CD. i've created my own Fedora spins that only used 1 cd and i've created them that required 4 cds. it really is an amazing new tool.

stat geek
stat geek

Sounds like they are heading VMware off at the pass..

bluemoonsailor
bluemoonsailor

Look at it this way - you can use Revisor to create specialized distros that you can then load using VMWare. The two are not competitors, the are fantastic complements to each other! Steve G.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't see this as competing with VMware. It sounds like Revisor is a way to pre-configure a distro for further distribution. VMware allows you to run multiple virtual systems on one piece of physical hardware. Where's the overlap?

lsatenstein
lsatenstein

Would this method serve as a fast recovery vehicle in case of having to rebuild the system. Say, after 1 month, I generate my own respin with revisor. In theory, I should be able to restore from it. Right? Leslie

jlwallen
jlwallen

Revisor could be used to design a server "template" (basically saved as a kickstart definition) and the related install tree. If I understand you correctly, this will not be a live-image/stateless server so you will be installing from an install tree using anaconda (the installer program.) Let's see if I can express it correctly: 1) Design a system using Revisor and build your installation tree. Basically, this is your "template" that will be used to update the install tree at a later time. Currently, Revisor doesn't have the ability to "save" a kickstart definition that is the "template"... but I am told this is coming soon. To express more what I mean by installation tree; it is the ISO image that is created by Revisor. Soon, revisor will be able to build just "install trees" that are not in a iso9660 fs, rather just flat files that makeup what the iso image would be. This is also coming soon. 2) You will want to "explode" or mount the data from the ISO image (or install tree) and share it over the network. Some supported protocols are currently ftp, http and nfs. These are just what anaconda support. It could be you export a directory or loop mount an iso image and export the contents. 3) To recover a system, you just bounce (reboot) it and have it PXE boot. The Revisor team currently has not enabled automagic PXE boot server configuration, but they are fairly easy to setup. You could alternatively use the boot.iso media (from the install tree) or other method of booting the system. On a tangent, we are working on a neat automated install solution.... but it is nowhere near done. You will basically be able to boot the server and it will install itself based on your Revisor template. 3 Details) Basically, you boot the server however you see fit. There are certain options you pass to the booted kernel to define the actions needing to be done. Things like "method=" which is the install source, "ks=http://server/path/template.ks" for the kick start that defines the server and other neat things. You would basically share the Revisor "template" on the network as well. 4) Whenever you see fit, you will load the "template" into Revisor and tell it to "Spin" an updated install tree and you start near step 2 again, or publish the tree as another resource so you have more then one "method=" you could use. Some more info: http://docs.fedoraproject.org/install-guide/f7/en_US/sn-automating-installation.html As far as using Revisor to "restore" user data, etc. you will still need backups to restore from. I don't think the Revisor team will do much heavy lifting for making it very easy to restore user data, but maybe. Something they *are* working on that you might be interested in is an ability to use Revisor to "snapshot" a system and turn it into a live/stateless image. They could maybe look at also allowing an install source to be setup that would rebuild the server in the current state. This would either require some magic in a kickstart %post (to be able to save a "template" definition) or some other automagic. I would not personally mind a feature like this, but it will be a lot of work to make it work correctly.

wenton
wenton

One frustration I keep finding with Fedora has been some of the simpler joys - something like playing mpg videos or mp3s. I am constantly having to remove packages that exist, but have features disabled so I can recompile and reinstall the same packages. I might as well do just a minimal install and integrate the things I want manually. I understand they don't want to get into a copyright or patent infringment situation, but it's frustrating to me to have features disabled when those were features I needed. Why waste time and space with packages that seem like demo models with functions turned off? FC 6 is about to come off my computer and I'll experiment with other distros. Would FC 7 leave me with this same problem?