Doing an Everything Install

A long time ago, far far away there was an Operating System named Red Hat Linux. In that Operating System there was an installer which had an option called "( ) Install Everything". Now "( ) Install Everything" was a wonderful tool for QA a release because one could get everything onto one system and find all the problems people could run into (oooh need more than 8GB to install stuff, oh look package XYZ conflicts with ABC, oh hey this package if installed will reboot your system.). It was also a bane of developers because people by their nature will install everything and then open bugs because one really only wanted Reboot-My-Box-Daily-0.1.rpm installed if you knew what you were doing. And because so many people would install everything and complain about things like "My goodness Red Hat Linux is bloated! It takes over 8 GB to install now.", it was decided to remove it.

The feature would get removed in betas, people would complain and it would show up again.. until finally late Red Hat Linux or early Fedora release it was removed for good. This fixed various issues, but for those of us who like to have broken systems (I am looking at you Jonathan Corbet of LWN.net), it made things harder to find. This last weekend I decided to install a box and see various things:

  1. Can someone do an everything install using the installer or yum ?
  2. How much diskspace does an "everything install" take these days ?
  3. What problems will I run into trying to do this?
  4. Will a system work after I have done this install?
Well here are the answers to the questions with tl;dr; answers in bold.

  1. Can someone do an everything install? No, no they can't.
    Fedora 15 is HUGE. After a lot of conflict fixing, problematic packages and such, I ended up with 18586 packages taking up 76GB.

    While one can click on every option in anaconda or try a "yum install *" on the command line after the install, they will run into multiple problems. First there are outright conflicts like generic-release conflicts with fedora-release (there are 45 conflicts I found of this type). Then there are multilib issues yum will point out where xyz-1.0.i686 won't install with xyz-1.0.x86_64. And finally we have file system level conflicts that have somehow creeped into the repository (33 packages came up as conflicting here). Eventually I ended up with a long "yum install --exclude="*.i686" --exclude.. --skip-broken '*'" that worked (sort of).
  2. How much diskspace does an everything install take? Over 76 GB.
    While installing packages I kept running out of space early on. I forgot that I had installed yum plugins which stored every download in a _local database.. this uhm made my disk space usage larger than expected. But cleaning that out got me going again. I still needed more disk space for the remaining ~5600 packages I could not install.
  3. What problems will I run into trying to do this? Lots. Between dealing with php-pear packages hanging for no known reason, packages that would fire off cron jobs every hour, and various other issues, this was a long labour of getting the system into a very broken state.
  4. Will a system work after I have done this install? No. First off installing upstart and systemd on the same system makes a broken box PERIOD. It took several reboots into rescue mode and removing all packages labeled upstart to get the system working. After that there is dealing with all OLPC/Sugar. These packages are meant to work on a dedicated system and I had to remove various ones to get the box to "boot". Following that you will need to deal with interactions with bootchart and grub+grub2. This took even more reboots into single usermode. After 2 days of futzing I am at the point where I can get into runlevel 3... sort of.

All in all, it has been an interesting experience. It should be clear to people lamenting the loss of "( ) Install Everything" that adding it would currently not work in any shape or form. If it were ever to return, a lot of stuff would need to be removed or repackaged in order for it to "work". It also showed that the vastness of Fedora currently has many many types of conflicts that aren't taken into account for just by "yum".


GNOME3 versus GNOME2 debates

tl;dr version: These "wars" are no different from many other UI debates in the past.

In the past couple of months, I like many others have been caught up in the GNOME3/Unity changes and the various debates of "are they good, are they evil." I have continually had this case of deja-vu as if the words being said were ones I had heard before but maybe slightly different. While having deja-vu a couple of times is normal, having it constantly means I am probably "Forgetting History" and "Doomed to Relive It" (or some variant of the quote.)

And then this morning it hit me while reading some long equally pro/con thread at work. The conversations aren't any different from the "use a TTY" vs "use a GUI" from the late 1980's and early 1990's. Then there was a constant debate of which one was best ("the TTY of because it required mental aptitude and knowledge of systems" or "the GUI because it allowed one to easily switch between tasks and use a more intuitive layout"). I have no idea how many megabytes of storage were used up in USENet posts in those days... but in general the gist was GUI's were the purview of Tech Writers and AOLers and TUI's were where the real engineers lived. I got caught up in it a bit (ok there are probably several megabytes of me parroting other posts about why TUI's were better.) but was brought out of it once when one of my university mentors (John Shipman) reminded me that this discussion was no different from ones in the past.

In the olden days the hard-wire people had gone through the same culture shock when software was introduced. Sure software allowed you to do different things, but really do you really know how a computer works? And how much time are you spending because a compiler is making mistakes. Later the punch card people would say similar things to those people using TTY's. Sure you can type faster, but you really have to code better on punch cards since it might be days before you can run a compile again. And all the radiation you are getting from the monitors... it will kill you. The TTY'ers were replaced by the various GUI's (*and the flame wars between GUIs*). But in general what happened was a small population of people who have been there, find themselves surrounded by a new population who do not speak the same language, don't seem to know things and whatever they are doing freaks out the old population.

The wars getter tougher and uglier as each of the supplanted populations get bigger with more and more "rules" put in place to try and keep the old generation in power and the new generation "assimilated" to what the old generation thinks is best. [Hey its just like Political Studies but with computers!] Each time it eventually fails and the new generation becomes the new paradigm.

And in each case the important thing is to remember that these are all tools. Use the tools that you know to the best of your ability, and always learn new tools because its the only way to have fun in life.

[Thanks John and sorry it took 20+ years to learn it.]


Fedora Advisory Board Nominations soon

With Fedora 15 coming out soon, new Fedora Advisory Board elections are to be held soon. There will also be 2 appointed advisory seats coming up, one of them being mine.

I will say that working on the board has been different and has helped stretch and grow my people skills somewhat. I have tried my best to listen to the various Fedora groups and bring up their points of view at meetings. I know I have not always done so and hope that the next appointed person will be able to do a better job.

Being on the board is not about changing fedora. People running for election in order to change "How Fedora is done" are often up for disappointment. For the most part the Board's job is to listen when people disagree and see if we can get people to start listening and not shout past each other. It doesn't always work but that is how things go.


Dungeons and Dragons needs to reset their currencies :)

So in Dungeons and Dragons there is a standard set of prices for various metal coins (copper, silver, gold, platinum in the latest, electrum was in various prior editions). Also depending on the edition the rate of 1 troy oz coins (a troy ounce being different from an English ounce by being 1.333333333x heavier, or for those of us who like the metric system, 1 english ounce equals 28.3503 grams and 1 troy ounce seems to equal 28.8004 grams.) In the 3rd edition of Dungeons and Dragons, the ratio of coins is 1 platinum coin = 10 gold coin = 100 silver coins = 1000 copper coins with all the coins being the same weight (to help figure out other things).

Anyway, in looking at doing a math game I wanted to check up what prices would be these days and what the ratios would be.

Metal Price/troy oz (2011-05-02)
Platinum 1875.70
Gold 1557.10
Silver 44.01
Copper 0.12
Tin 1.21
Nickel 1.01

This leads to more made up ratios of "1 platinum = 1.2 gold = 42.6 silver = 15,630 copper pieces (and about 1500 tin pieces and 1875 nickel pieces)." Now somewhere in here I have somehow lost what I was originally working on which was a math game of dealing with different commodity prices at different places being paid in different coins... now hopefully I will be able to get that dealt with soon.

FudCON NA: Blacksburg, Va

So it looks like the North America FUDcon will be in Blacksburg Virginia, the site of Virginia Tech. It is close to Roanoke and 2 hours away from the place that I am seriously jonesing for, Mitchie Tavern. As a child, my grandfather would drive down from Pennsylvania and sometimes stop by Monticello. But the real reason for going was to have lunch at Mitchie Tavern... mmmmmmmm. I will definitely have to see about driving up one day of FUDcon to eat there.. even if it is 2.5 hours away.

Blacksburg FUDcon info