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Fedora Linux by Chris Tyler

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Obtaining Fedora Core Software

The Fedora software exists in two parts: Fedora Core, a Linux distribution that includes base applications for desktop and server systems, and Fedora Extras, a repository of additional applications that can be added easily to a Fedora Core system.

The first step is to obtain a copy of the Fedora Core software itself.

How Do I Do That?

The Fedora Core installer is a bare-bones configuration of Linux designed specifically for the installation process. Once the installer is running, it configures and installs the Fedora Core software on your system.

There are, therefore, two parts to the software: the software used to boot up the system for the installation session, and the software that is installed on your system. These may be on the same media, or they may be separated into boot media and installation media.

Determining your architecture

Before selecting the media and obtaining the software, you must determine which architecture (machine type) you are using. Fedora Core is available for three different architectures:


All Intel-compatible 32-bit systems with a standard BIOS, including all Intel 32-bit Celeron, Pentium, Centrino, and Core systems; AMD 32-bit Athlon, Duron, and Turion systems; and VIA CPUs such as the C3 and Eden processors. Older processors such as 80386, 80486, and K6 processors will also work. Fedora Core may be installed on Apple Mac systems with an Intel processor by using Apple’s Boot Camp software (included in Mac OS X 10.5 and available in beta form for Mac OS X 10.4).


All AMD-compatible 64-bit systems, including Opteron, Athlon 64, Duron 64, and Turion 64 systems, and Intel 64-bit Pentium 4, Xeon, and Core 2 systems. These systems can also run the i386 version but will do so in 32-bit mode.


Systems based on the PowerPC G3/POWER4 and later PowerPC processors, including recent PPC-based Apple Macs (manufactured between 1999 and 2006), IBM eServer pSeries, and IBM RS/6000 systems.

This chapter focuses on the i386 and x86_64 platforms, but the PPC installation procedure is quite similar.

Choosing boot and installation media

The Fedora Core installation boot software is usually started from a CD or DVD disc. It’s also possible to boot from a USB flash disk drive if the system’s BIOS supports it, or to boot from a network boot server using the PXE protocol. Table 1-1 outlines the boot media requirements.

Table 1-1. Boot media requirements for installing Fedora Core 6

Media typeMedia countSizeNotes
DVD14.7 GB (or larger)All of the software will fit on one disc (which serves as both the boot and installation medium), so this is usually the fastest and most convenient installation option.
CD18 MB (any CD)A single CD or mini-CD can be used to start a network or hard disk installation. If you will be using CDs for both the boot and installation media, five 700 MB discs are required (see Table 1-2).
USB flash drive18 MB or higherRequires a Linux system to configure the drive. Useful for network or hard disk installation. The BIOS of some systems will not permit booting from a USB flash key (beware of BIOS versions that permit booting only from a USB floppy or Zip drive).
PXE Server (Network Boot)16.5 MBRequires an existing system to serve as the PXE server (see Lab 10.3, “Preparing Alternate Installation Media”).

Once the system has been booted, the rest of the installation software can be on a DVD, several CDs, an existing hard drive partition on the computer (or an external hard disk drive), or an FTP, NFS, or HTTP server. Table 1-2 outlines the requirements.

Table 1-2. Installation media requirements for Fedora Core 6

Media typeMedia countSizeNotes
DVD14.7 GB or higherSame media used for booting.
CD5700 MBThe images will not fit on 650 MB discs, such as some CD-RWs or old CD-Rs.
Network server (HTTP, NFS, or FTP)13.5 GB of disk space on the serverHTTP is the lightest of the three protocols and is often the easiest to set up.
Hard disk partition13.5 GB of disk space Only ext2 and ext3 (Linux) and FAT (Windows/DOS) partitions are supported, on an internal or external disk drive. NTFS and LVM-based partitions will not work. This option is useful when adding Fedora to a computer that already has an operating system installed; the existing OS can be used to download the installation images. Note that the file size exceeds the maximum for FAT16 filesystems (2 GB).

Creating Fedora Core CDs or DVDs

To create a Fedora Core CD or DVD set, you must obtain the ISO image files.

To download the entire Fedora Core distribution for installation direct from disc, use one of these two procedures:

  • Go to the web page http://fedora.redhat.com/Download/mirrors.html and select an HTTP or FTP site for direct download. Select the directory for the desired Fedora Core version number (6), then the directory for your machine architecture (i386, PPC, or x86_64), and then select the iso directory. You will probably not need the files containing “SRPM” in the name. If you want the CD images, get the files containing “disc1,” “disc2,” and so forth in the name; to obtain the DVD image, get the file containing “DVD” in the name.

  • Use BitTorrent (http://www.bittorrent.com) to obtain the files from one of the Fedora torrents listed on http://torrent.fedoraproject.org/.


Some download tools have problems with files over 2 GB in size. Most of the time, these problems affect only the download size, progress, or time-remaining displays during the download process, but some versions of the Lynx browser will not successfully download files over 2 GB. Older versions of wget also have a 2 GB limitation. If you are downloading onto a Windows system that is formatted with the FAT file system, the maximum file size may be 2 GB (FAT16) or 4 GB (FAT32).

To download only the boot disk ISO (for use with a network or hard disk installation):

  • Go to the web page http://fedora.redhat.com/Download/mirrors.html and select an HTTP or FTP site for direct download. Select the directory for the desired Fedora Core version number (6), then the directory for your machine architecture (i386, PPC, or x86_64), select the os directory, and then select the images directory. Download the file named boot.iso. (You can also find this file in the images directory of the Fedora Core DVD or CD disc 1).

Once you have the image files, burn them onto optical media using the CD-creator program available on the platform used for downloading. For example, on Windows you could use Nero or Roxio Easy Media Creator; on a Linux system (such as Fedora Core 4), right-click on the file and select “Write to disc,” or use a tool such as K3B, xcdroast, or growisofs.


When burning a CD or DVD, use the ISO image file as the disc filesystem, but do not place the ISO image inside another filesystem on the disc. You will usually get the correct results if you save the ISO file to the desktop and then double-click on it.

To verify that the disk was created correctly, open it after you burn it: you should see several files and directories. If you see a single file with a .iso extension, the disc was not created correctly.

Buying Fedora Core CDs or DVDs

Depending on the speed of your Internet connection, it may be faster and cheaper to purchase a set of Fedora discs than to download the software. A list of online Fedora Core vendors is available at http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Distribution/OnlineVendors, and a list of local retailers carrying Fedora Core is at http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Distribution/LocalVendors.

Preparing files for a hard disk installation

To install Fedora Core from a FAT, ext2, or ext3 partition, simply copy the ISO image files for the DVD or CD set onto that disk partition. For example, on a Windows system with a FAT32 disk partition D:, download the DVD image file as though you were going to burn it onto a DVD but place the image file on drive D: (be sure to record the name of the directory/folder containing the images!).

Preparing a USB flash disk, network installation server, or PXE boot server

Each of these tasks is most easily performed on a running Linux system; see Chapter 10 for instructions. (Similar software is available for other platforms.)

How Does It Work?

An ISO image file is an exact copy of the contents of an optical disk. The name comes from the fact that data on optical discs is stored using a standard known as ISO 9660.

Each type of boot media has a unique standard for specifying how boot data is stored. On optical discs, the El Torito standard permits the system BIOS to find the boot software. For USB disks, a standard hard disk boot sector is used. For PXE network booting, a boot protocol (bootp) server is used to identify the boot files, and a trivial file transfer protocol (TFTP) server is used to serve them to the client system.

The first piece of software that loads from the boot media is the bootloader: isolinux for optical discs, syslinux for USB flash drives, or pxelinux for PXE boot servers.

After accepting boot parameters from the user, the bootloader subsequently loads two files:


A compressed Linux kernel; the heart of the Fedora Core operating system.


A filesystem image that is loaded into memory and used as a ramdisk. This provides the drivers, startup scripts, and programs to get the system started.

Once these files have been loaded, the kernel is executed and begins the install process.

What About...

...installing from a floppy disk?

The Fedora installer has grown to the point that it no longer fits on a floppy disk. The USB flash disk method has replaced the floppy-disk boot procedure.

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