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LinuxLinks Fedora 7 Review (page 6)
LinuxLinks Review
By Kevin E. Glosser

Making your own version of Fedora

For the masses to move to Fedora, both Linux and non-Linux user a like, it would surely require a custom Fedora “spin”. A spin is a variation of the software available in Fedora. I don't think the masses are ready to give up their shackles to embrace freedom yet, as peculiar as that sounds. While I find most, if not all of free software acceptable today, the reality is most people just want things to work the way they've always worked. They don't want compromise.

The great thing about Fedora 7 is it gives you a lot of options; options like creating your own version of the distribution to include anything you feel is left out! Included are tools that allow you to create your own LiveCD or make your own complete distribution adding software from any repository or location you wish.

Pungi, new to Fedora 7, is a command line composition tool. It takes rpm's from various repositories and turns them into a burnable ISO image from which you can install your distribution. It's what the Fedora team used to create Fedora 7 itself. Also included is the LiveCD creator which does just as it sounds. Using the graphical front end to both of these applications Revisor, the process is simplified even more.

With these great tools, it's difficult to criticize the Fedora team for leaving software out. The tools exist for you to make the changes you feel are necessary, if any at all. There is no longer a compromise required. You can create the exact Fedora distribution you want, or simply wait for someone else to provide it. It's this freedom that pushes Fedora 7 into new territory. You can now compare it with Ubuntu's ease of use, because a totally user friendly version is very possible to make. Perhaps you could make a version of Fedora that Richard Stallman might tolerate? Maybe not, however, it's that kind of flexibility that is intriguing.

In true Fedora fashion however, good concept does not always lead to a perfect implementation. Fedora users are aware of new software additions in the past that took some time to get just right. SELinux being the most obvious example. It appears Revisor/Punji/LiveCD might be falling into this category. I tried to make a LiveCD using Revisor. 

The interface was great and I was able to tailor make a LiveCD, in concept, for my father. The only problem was that the process hung midway when the ISO image was created. I had no problem selecting all the options and software I wanted to include. It was very easy to do. If you can install any operating system, you can create your own Fedora 7 distro. Well, that's assuming you don't run into the problem I did. I'm not sure why it failed. I did get some SELinux denial messages in the middle of the process. I originally assumed this was the problem, since I have SELinux set to enforcing mode. However, when I switched it to permissive mode, it didn't resolve the issue. I tried using the command-line tool to take Revisor out of the picture. I encountered the same issue. The only information I could get during either process that concerned me was the proclamation that certain packages I had excluded were still being downloaded and installed into my custom LiveCD even though I requested they not be. I don't know if that actually was occurring, but it did seem odd. The LiveCD creator seemed to download everything ok. It stated it installed everything ok. It hung during file system creation it appears.

However, it's difficult to pinpoint as the Revisor interface indicates it does several things simultaneously, leaving it difficult to speculate what actually caused it to fail. I waited a couple weeks to see if a software patch was coming to fix the issue, but it hasn't arrived at the time this review was written. I really wanted to see if these tools worked as advertised. Obviously, they do to some extent, it's what made Fedora 7 in the first place. In this case, I'm going to have to troubleshoot some more or in a worst case scenario just wait a bit. I know from experience, in the future these tools will work and continue to improve. If its not functioning well soon, it surely will be by Fedora 8.

Final thoughts

Read ahead

1. Introduction
2. Installation
3. Flying High with Fedora
4. 3D Desktops and the default software lineup
5. Fedora and the Free Software Movement
6. Making your own version of Fedora
7. Final thoughts

Last Updated Sunday, August 05 2007 @ 03:07 PM EDT

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