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Fedora 18 Installer: Counterintuitive and Confusing? 458

An anonymous reader writes "Igor Ljubuncic, former physicist and current IT Systems Programmer and blogger, reviews Fedora 18 with its new installer. In his role as alter ego Dedoimedo, the self proclaimed 'king of everything', Igor's Linux distro and DE reviews are often wry and biting and this review is no exception: 'You enter a world of smartphone-like diarrhea that undermines everything and anything that is sane and safe. In all my life testing Linux and other operating systems, I have never ever seen an installer that is so counter-intuitive, dangerous and useless, all at the same time.'" The non-linear installer interface does look like kind of confusing, at least from the screenshots posted.
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Fedora 18 Installer: Counterintuitive and Confusing?

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  • I must agree (Score:5, Informative)

    by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <> on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:08PM (#42653473) Homepage Journal

    I am also extremely disappointed in this Fedora release. The installer is confusing and exhibits seemingly random behavior. I was so overjoyed I managed to get it to install it the way I wanted just once on a VM that I went and tried to install in a number of other places. No go.

    And after you install, a lot of things are kind of buggy and seemingly incomplete.

    Of course, since the installer didn't really work at all until you got to release candidate 4 or so, I can't really expect any other part of the system to have been decently tested.

    This is a horrible release and should be skipped. If Fedora continues to go in this direction, I will have to abandon it, despite the fact that the only other decent alternative is Ubuntu, and I despise it. I've been an RH/Fedora user since 1999 or so.

    • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:47PM (#42653687)

      For those of us fed up where with where distros are going these days, it's looking to me like Linux Mint is probably the place I'm going to end up. I want a system I can understand, manipulate and use. Crap like this installer, the new systemd stuff, I just don't need or want. Sadly it looks like Microsoft has little to fear as we're doing a good job of taking ourselves out of the game and market without them having to do much.

      Given that the installer is so dangerous, I cannot recommend F18 to any non-expert. Who knows what it will do to your existing windows or linux installs. Maybe F18 should be considered VM only?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But my keyboard only goes up to F12... What gives?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Screw Linux Mint. if you want a true traditional system then go with Linux from Scratch and roll your own. Alternatively, go with Gentoo and have more control then any of the other distro's offer.

        My personal reasons for using Gentoo was the fact that it was actually the closest to what the Floss/Oss standard actually said while ensuring that you the user had the needed control to roll your own kernel when Debian had already made it damn difficult and the attitude on the forums/lists was RTFA NOOBIE. Sorry b

        • Well, those are certainly some reasons to use Linux from Scratch or Gentoo. However, you haven't given us any reasons not to use Linux Mint except the nebulous comment about "true traditional systems."

          • One thing that many non Gentoo users realize is that a Gentoo installation is completely customized from the beginning. This customization includes decisions made about the many dependencies and features that are pulled in during the build process. A good example of this is the ability to prevent "Gnome" from being pulled in or to include a feature that Debian/RH and others don't include by default but unlike a packaged Distro, the user has to examine each and every package along with the optional flags to

        • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @03:32AM (#42654687) Journal

          If you want control, screw Gentoo and go with Arch. There's no good reason to rebuild everything from source, when vast majority of packages are going to result in the same exact binaries all the time.

          However, most people don't want a "true traditional system" in a sense of hundreds of terminals running vim. They want a simple to install distro that more or less just works and gets out of their way, but still lets them get down to the shell or muck around with configs when they want (as opposed to all the time). Today, Mint is pretty much the perfect distro for that. Or, perhaps, LMDE is.

        • by fisted ( 2295862 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @08:01AM (#42655575)
          If you ever went down the LFS road, you'd know what you end up with is an unmaintainable system. Nice try, though.
      • Distro families (Score:5, Insightful)

        by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @03:26AM (#42654663)
        While suggesting alternatives, it's good to suggest members of the same 'family' of distros, since the user might have had reasons for picking one. If someone's trying out Fedora, then alternatives would be PCLinuxOS, Mageia, Mandriva, Blag or Scientific Linux. If one is trying out Ubuntu, one might want to go w/ Mint, Hybryde, Zorin, Trisquel or any of the others. If one was w/ Slackware, try out Vector, Slax, Salix or Slackel. If one was w/ Gentoo, try out Sabayon or Calculate Linux. If one was w/ Arch, try out Chakra, Frugalware or Manjaro. In short, suggest something that's more likely to preserve most of the attributes of a distro, while avoiding the rough edges.
        • Re:Distro families (Score:5, Interesting)

          by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @07:27AM (#42655465) Homepage Journal

          Scientific Linux is not an alternative to Fedora 18.
          It's based off Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, which is based off Fedora 12. Yes, 12. It uses kernel 2.6.32, grub 1, Gnome 2, System V init scripts and fstab instead of the systemd abomination, and is in short stable.

          With Fedora, cutting edge is what you want, and bleeding edge is what you get. And, lately, hubris-high maintainers who don't give a fsck about the users, nor that Fedora is meant to be the basis for RHEL. F14 was the last usable Fedora from a professional perspective. Now, they're catering to dumb users and changes that break with the Unix paradigms that were there for a reason. Being different for the sake of difference and abstracted to the point that easy things become hard (or, in some cases, impossible) doesn't make for a good OS.

          Devs/maintainers: If you want a new OS, go ahead and make one. But leave the existing "Unix-like" systems behind, please, you've screwed them up enough already.

      • by smash ( 1351 )
        Try PC-BSD.
    • by pepsikid ( 2226416 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:38AM (#42653971)
      I don't see what was wrong with the old installer. It was straightforward and covered all the bases. This new one was like a frustrating chose-your-own adventure, and left me fearing that I'd skipped over part of the process. I felt like it was fighting me when I wanted to erase various vista, ubuntu 10.10 and dell diag partitions and just give it the whole drive. I asked myself "they delayed the launch 3 months for THIS?". However, I'll probably stick with F18 for now since I'm reading that F19 will not have fallback gui. I use the fallback exclusively since I don't have to install any further guis and gnome 3's vino vnc server sucks rancid goat balls when I'm trying to remote into the desktop.
      • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @01:29AM (#42654207)

        Mate runs on F18 and presumably F19 as well. And the fork of Gnome fall-back is likely to have packages for Fedora as well. So the desktop itself shouldn't really play much into your decision whether or not to stay with Fedora, and some version of Fedora. Lots of other things definitely play into this unfolding story.

        Seems like devs are chasing mythical "normal/beginner" computer users and in the process leaving those of us who are a bit savy and use Linux in the lurch. In the end, they will have no users at all. Everyone I know is pretty happy with Windows 7, or more likely, Apple.I honestly can't offer them much with Linux anymore, unless they are a programmer and want the sweet development tools Linux can host (Qt and cross-compiling!). But I digress.

    • You should check out Mint. Debian goodness without the UI insanity of ubuntu of late. aptitude > yum, to boot - and I say that as a centos user.

  • Do all the cool touch screen wicked BITCHUN shit but do it for the wrong system in the wrong way with the wrong tools and make them happy Magic Kingdom goers GAG on it.

  • fedup (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    worked great for me.(It upgraded from Fedora 17 to 18)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:33PM (#42653603)

    Quoth the Fedora wiki [],

    With the change to a hub-and-spoke model rather than a linear wizard model, the new UI allows users to entirely skip screens that they aren't interested in interacting with, streamlining the install process to only those screens that are most essential for installation to proceed.

    So, it's like the Debian installer, only less powerful and more confusing!

    /me runs away

    • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:39AM (#42653977) Homepage Journal

      Agreed. Debian got it right. Installation is a mostly linear process. There may be some steps that can be skipped in some cases, but the order will not really change. You never install the base system before partitioning the drive, etc. I am an expert and I very rarely have any need or desire to go out of order with a Debian installation.

      I appreciate that Fedora wants to accommodate those rare cases, but doing away with all concept of a linear order isn't the way to do it. I can't imagine what they're thinking with Fedora.

    • by mewyn ( 663989 )
      > So, it's like the Debian installer, only less powerful and more confusing!

      Well, yeah, but it's a lot of new code for this release. I'm hoping in Erwin's Kitty they will have an advanced button that will help out. If nothing else, at least have a way to get more package granularity.
  • Try OpenSuSE! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Negroponte J. Rabit ( 2820825 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:34PM (#42653609)
    A beta of Fedora 18's installer completely wiped my hard drive. I told it to partition the drive. It partitioned it, installed Linux fine, and ALSO formatted every NTFS partition to a fresh EXT4. Even for a beta, this is a sign there's something seriously wrong. After using SuSE for years, then Ubuntu for years, then a very brief love affair with Fedora 17 KDE (mainly, delta RPM updates), I returned to OpenSuSE after 10 years away and probably will never switch away again. As far as integrated admin tools and the installer, OpenSuSE's have always been exceptional. Also, my reason for switching from DEB to RPM-based distro was it seems Debian's core package management tools haven't seemed to evolve much in years while RPM appears to have improved quite a bit. The delta-compressed updates is a huge deal for me, but also the general speed of the tools. OpenSuSE's zypper tool also gives a bit of freedom in installing 'unmatched' later versions of libs but if things go wrong, it's easy to trace and downgrade. Also, the package management tools integrate with btrfs snapshots and there's a powerful tool called 'snapper' which gives you quick access to rollback or version diffs.
    • I used SuSE in the past and really liked it, but broke away from it when Novell/SuSE got in bed with Microsoft. I'm curious to what extent OpenSuSE and Microsoft are connected, if at all.
    • Satisfied SUSE/OpenSUSE user here, since 2004 or so.

    • by Sipper ( 462582 )

      After using SuSE for years, then Ubuntu for years, then a very brief love affair with Fedora 17 KDE (mainly, delta RPM updates), I returned to OpenSuSE after 10 years away and probably will never switch away again. As far as integrated admin tools and the installer, OpenSuSE's have always been exceptional.

      I started with Slackware, then switched to Debian in late 1999 and have been using it since. However I recently tried a bunch of distros, one of which was OpenSuSE (12.1) with KDE4 and I was surprised at how much I liked it. If I ever switch away from Debian, OpenSuSE would be one of my top choices. I also liked Arch (super-fast package installs, but there's no graphical installer) and Vector Linux (based on Slackware but with package management). I also liked Fedora 17, but for obvious reasons I don't

  • by atomican ( 2799855 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:49PM (#42653703)

    I don't understand what's happening with Linux these days. Buggy installers, crappy UIs in an attempt to change the "GUI paradigm" for whatever reason, unstable software (particularly compared to that in, say, Windows 7), kernel/power regressions, etc. I was interested in Linux because it was (at some point in time) more robust and stable than Windows, that it was technically superior. Now I'm not so sure anymore.

    NB. I'm talking about desktop use; I'm sure Linux is superior in many ways for servers and embedded devices - the desktop experience as a whole still seems rather immature still unfortunately.

    • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:08AM (#42653821)

      I'm currently using Precise Pangolin with KDE 4.9.5 as the desktop.

      It's spectacularly stable and useful.


      • KDE seems nice, but it's also the anti-GNOME - GNOME has too few functionality, KDE has too much. Nothing against a lot of functionality (I definitely prefer more to less), but when it gets to the stage where you have a dedicated checkbox in KDE which allows you to toggle between a tick or a cross for the Checkbox style, I think it becomes a bit too much. Makes it harder to find the actually useful options you want to fiddle with.

        Having said that, the KDE team doesn't appear to be interested in destroying w

    • Fedora was always buggy as hell, it's officially a test platform for RHEL so I don't know what did you expect. If you want stability use Centos or a Debian based distro.

  • I haven't used RH in over a decade--but do remember years ago they had a decent installer that would even pull up a tetris game to occupy you while it copied files. Sad to hear it's gone downhill. (Or am I recalling Caldera's installer?)

  • A while ago, everyone tried to copy Apple's "intuitive" interface. The idea was, mostly, to make it confusing for geeks so it has to be intuitive for non-geeks, or at least they have to feel on equal footing, at least it seems that way from the usual results.

    Now the source for ideas is Windows 8, the "everything must look like it's for a tablet" experience?

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      yea linux has been doing this bullshit for a couple years now, and continuing to make the whole system worse ... pretty sad that ubuntu 8 is the current high water mark

  • Yep (Score:5, Interesting)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:24AM (#42653905)

    I installed Fedora 18 (KDE Spin, of course) on Friday and "counterintuitive and confusing" was a pretty good description. And the partitioning- yeesh, what a mess- please just give me the option for something nice like gparted. I was very disappointed. 17 was much better. Both were still better than Ubuntu. Neither is as good as Mandriva/Mageia.

    There has to be a balance between streamlining vs. asking questions vs. expert mode. There is little balance in Fedora 18. I have a feeling it will be revised quite a bit for 19 (at least I hope it will).

  • Dare I say this is why people use Windows and not Nix? I'm sure you could recompile the mess to your liking though... Just get g'ma to do that.
    • by Maow ( 620678 )

      Dare I say this is why people use Windows and not Nix? I'm sure you could recompile the mess to your liking though... Just get g'ma to do that.

      I dare say that anyone making that choice would be mistaken - at least if it's for the reason that this installer sucks.

      Does Microsoft allow you to resize existing partitions to make space for the new OS? Has Microsoft stopped their long-held practice of hosing the first primary partition & MBR as either gross incompetence or punishment for dabbling with the competition? Does Microsoft allow you to remove / replace the desktop environment if you find the bundled one doesn't suit your needs / preferen

  • It looks like there's an option to disable SELinux, which I consider a screaming pile of excrement. Previously, installing SELinux couldn't be prevented and disabling it caused the boot process to fail. I'm delighted that there's now an option to turn it off, if that works.

    Too bad I rely absolutely on one computer, and can't afford the risk involved in a botched install of F18.

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @01:21AM (#42654173)

    I don't know what I was thinking to enlist in redhats beta program (AKA fedora) .. I never admitted to having a brain.

    Starting from Fedora 16.

    Put F18 disk in drive and boots new UI. My immediate thought was oh great more ultra modern zombie interface bs.

    I was confused do I just click next and continue? Where are all the options/upgrade settings and all of the old raid/enterprise? Will it just be smart enough to work and upgrade my system?

    What scares me the most is that I'm 95% sure it would have auto-installed itself had I clicked continue with NO prompting and no scary messages of any kind. I say this cause I later spun up a VM with F18 and when you click continue on the main screen if its not shadowed out thats it.

    Then I give up and RTFM check wiki apparently you can't upgrade from anything earlier than 17.

    Okie so previous attempts to use the yum repo approach always ended in disaster...burn DVD... upgrade 16->17 from DVD runs flawlessly as ususal.

    I'm now running F17. Wiki says I need to install fedup to upgrade to F18... alright do that.

    Reboot and the fedup fedora icon keeps blinking on screen as if it is doing something but nothing happens..ever.. I waited an hour and it was not even touching the disks... hit escape to check for any useful hints messages or errors...none...of course.

    So much for fedup... fedup with fedup just way too obvious.

    Next reboot to F17...hey I know I'll type yum update and ah try again..yea thats it... it downloads tons of patches and I reboot to an instant kernel panic.. apparently a I spend the next 20 minutes trying to figure out how to change grub to prefer the old kernel version that still works. The files I found had an annoying nack for being auto generated with comments pointing to stuff only relevant for previous versions of grub. In hindsight uninstalling the bad kernel package would have been a lot easier.

    So next I try fedup again after clearing out its data and surprise the same problem.

    So much for F18 I'll try again with F19 and hope for better luck.

    If linux distro folk are looking something actually broken to improve here are a few ideas:

    So once installed the UI's look really love KDE's windows 7 gadgets knockoff down to the exact behavior and configuration icons.... but still linux fonts suck, low quality, poor selection, too big, too aliased.

    Try replacing a failed disk in a raid1 intel matrix fakeraid setup with a drive of a different (larger) size... WTF.. honestly.. its f'in impossible. or mirroring an existing system without reinstalling. Also impossible. In windows it takes 20 seconds and a few clicks of a mouse.

    Replace ping with a version that works with both address families like all of the other operating systems and all of the other network utilities.

    Please keep at the least the basic x86 libraries by default on 64-bit systems so we can run the same commercial stuff without going thru unecessary hoops.

  • Presumably the bad installer has no impact when upgrading in place. Any field reports from those running preupgrade on F17?
  • His whole review is on KDE. Now granted Fedora might of setup KDE wrong but their main suggested desktop is gnome. I really didn't see anything wrong with the installer. Still better then Windows.
  • NEXT year will totally be the year of Linux on the desktop.

  • by neiras ( 723124 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @03:03AM (#42654573)

    Did a fresh F18 install on my laptop this past week.

    I have to agree with a lot of the criticism of the new installer, and particularly the user interface for disk partitioning. I've been running Linux since the late 90s and I don't think I've ever been confused by a partition editor, from fdisk on up - until now.

    I mean, the error message I got was "Not enough disk space to create a mountpoint". WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!? And this while trying to get the thing to recognize my existing /home partition.

    It's like someone who has never partitioned a disk before created a really bad abstract model of the process and then based the whole user interface off of their grand concept. In the process of trying to make things easy they made it hard for anyone who knows what they are doing to be specific about what should be done. A liberal sprinkling of incorrectly-used disk partitioning terms makes for a real perfect storm of confusion.

    Once I got things installed, I had no problems at all. I hope to never feel that "oh shit, I hope I haven't just blown my /home away" thrill ever again though.

  • The times (plural) I've tried this installer in VMs or on Netbooks I've not been able to see the partition size box on the right of the screen so I had no way of having any form of custom partition sizing. Now given that the default is to split a disk in half for /home and half for / I think it's pretty reasonable that people might want to give 90% of their big fat disk to their data and a perfectly adequate remaining amount to the OS.

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission