Fedora's default Anaconda installer features a new approach to installation in Fedora 28 Workstation. Anaconda now performs an OEM style installation where the user is created after installation on first boot as part of an expanded GNOME Initial Setup program. Other than this new approach, installation with Anaconda from a live image remains largely the same since the last major change -- the addition of the optional Blivet-GUI partitioning component in Fedora 26.
This article presents the installation steps of Fedora 28 Workstation as well as some of Fedora's resources for users related to installation.
Installation using Fedora's Anaconda installer is quick and simple for those who are already familiar with it. For those who didn't like the partitioning and partition selection method of Anaconda prior to Fedora 26 have the option of using the Blivet-GUI, introduced to Anaconda in 26 but available in Fedora's repositories since 21.
The big change this year is Fedora's adoption of an OEM style of installation, where the user is created after installation on first boot in an expanded GNOME Initial Setup. This program also lets the user specify common system settings before allowing them to start using the OS.
There were two things I didn't like about this change. First, is that the there was no way to set the hostname in the installer or the initial setup program. In past versions of Anaconda -- which is still used as the installer of the KDE Spin -- this aspect of networking configuration was part of the installer. Second, when rebooting after installation, the user is subjected to messages on the console before the desktop starts and the initial program is displayed. It seems to me that if Fedora developers expend the effort to refine the desktop user experience of the distribution by using an OEM type installation with an initial setup program, some effort should have been made to hide the aesthetically jarring messages. This issue is not just a symptom of the two stage installation, but the normal behavior of Fedora 28 during boot, unlike in Fedora 22, my last review of the distribution which was so polished during startup it seemed like a mainstream OS.
Other issues that I thought could have been prevented are that the swap partition was not included in /etc/fstab and that the real time clock was set to local by the installer, which is not recommended, and also caused a conflict with the other distributions on this laptop which were set to recognize that the RTC is reflecting UTC time.
The Fedora 28 Workstation download link is prominent on the Fedora Project home page. Not only that, but the website developers make it easy to find everything else a user may need related to downloading and installing Fedora. This includes easy to find links to resources, such as gpg signatures, sha256sum checksums, and instructions for using these to verify the integrity of the download and the authenticity of the ISO. This is not always the case with some distributions which require users to dig around the website and sometimes even google for these items. The download page also has links to the release notes, common bugs, and the installation guide. This is the kind of good infrastructure that is unfortunately available with distributions that have corporate sponsorship.
I appreciated that Fedora makes the required files to verify the integrity of the download and the authenticity of the ISO easy to find as well as providing good instructions on using these files to perform the verification.
The Installation Guide has instructions on creating an installation medium using various methods including the command line program dd. I determined the block name of the USB thumb drive using lsblk, and blkid, instead of the suggested method of using dmesg, and used dd to write to the thumb drive.
Installation using Fedora's Anaconda installer is quick and simple for those who are already familiar with it. For those who didn't like the partitioning and mountpoint specification method of the past versions of Anaconda or have advanced configuration needs have the option of using the Blivet-GUI.
Anaconda Using Traditional Partitioning
Selecting the Custom item under Storage Configuration on the Installation Destination screen starts Anaconda's traditional partitioning tool.
Anaconda Using Blivet-GUI Partitioning
Selecting the Advanced Custom Partitioner (Blivet-GUI) item under Storage Configuration instead of Custom on the Installation Destination screen starts the type of partitioning tool that is typically found in other distributions. Available disks are displayed in the left pane. Selecting a disk shows the partitions on that disk in the right pane. If a partition is selected, it can be manipulated, either by right clicking or choosing the menu icons at the top of the pane.
Testing Anaconda's Capability for Mounting Additional Partitions
When using Anaconda's traditional partitioner, I experimented with specifying the data partitions I usually add to mounting the data partitions that I usually add to /etc/fstab after installation during installation. The partitoning component of the installer allowed me to select the existing partitions and set a mount point without complaining. However, this causes a serious error in the installed system where none of the folders and files that would normally be in the users directory are not created.
Some distributions would allow this without any errors -- even creating the directories that would be used as a mount point automatically.
I installed Fedora 28 workstation three times (actually Workstation two times and the KDE Spin once), the first time as an experiment, attempting to add my data partitions to mount points in my home directory using Anaconda's traditional partitioning tool. I found some installers, most notably the openSUSE YaST installer, are capable of this, even creating the specified directories used for mounting. This experiment did not go well as, despite the installation completing without errors, the actual installed system had problems.
The second and third installations, using the Blivet-GUI (Advanced Custom) partitioning tool and the traditional partitioning tool, respectively, without the above experimentation went smoothly and quickly. I did have an issue with removed functionality in the installer that was not added to the GNOME initial setup program, namely that the hostname was not able to be specified. Other unrelated issues include that the RTC was not set to UTC -- the installer could at least query the user as to what the setting should be -- and that the swap partition was not made available for hibernation. Also, the console messages that are displayed during the first boot after installation, before the GNOME initial setup program is encountered, detract from the polish that the Fedora developers are attempting to provide to the distribution with the change to an OEM type install and an initial setup program.
If these issues are addressed Fedora will provide an even more excellent installation experience than it already does.
A similar regression in startup aesthetics occured in Ubuntu after the switch to systemd, but Fedora 22 used systemd.