Setting up Fedora 7 on a ex-Windows machine (Ottawa)

Brad Paulsen brad.paulsen at
Sat Feb 2 19:17:48 EST 2008

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Aaron Konstam" <akonstam at>
To: "M. Edward (Ed) Borasky" <znmeb at>
Cc: <devel at>
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 3:25 PM
Subject: Re: Setting up Fedora 7 on a ex-Windows machine (Ottawa)

> On Sat, 2008-02-02 at 10:39 -0800, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky wrote:
>> James wrote:
>> > Hello OLPC people!
>> >
>> > I am working on a Snakes and Ladders game for the XO, to help young
>> > children learn to count.  You can find my first draft of the game
>> > here: <>.
>> >
>> >
>> > I'm looking for help in getting Fedora 7 to run on a Sony Vaio PCG-
>> > GRT796HP laptop that used to run Windows.  It's a Pentium 4, running
>> > at 2.67 GHz, with 512 MB of RAM.  I've spent several hours trying
>> > various approaches and distributions, without success.
>> >
>> > This is my first excursion into Linux territory, and I'm still finding
>> > my feet with Python.  I'm more at ease with development on Macintosh,
>> > and have only scraped the surface of using the Terminal.  Please don't
>> > hesitate to spoonfeed me in all things Linux and Python.
>> >
>> > What I can do
>> > -------------
>> > I'd almost given up hope of getting the Vaio to run Fedora when I
>> > tried using the XO LiveCD from <
>> > livebackupcd>.  This worked perfectly, which encourages me to believe
>> > that the issue is not with the machine but with what I am doing to it.
>> >
>> > Where I get stuck
>> > -----------------
>> > I've downloaded the F-7-i386-DVD.iso file from 
>> > <
>> >  >, and burnt it to a DVD-ROM. The initial menu screen appears.  If I
>> > choose the default (graphic) installation, eventually the screen
>> > starts to display vibrant pulsing graphics which I do not believe are
>> > intended.  If I choose the text mode for installation, and step
>> > through the various screens, I eventually run into a bug in the
>> > installer script.
>> >
>> > Rodney Smith entered a description of the bug into the RedHat bugbase
>> > on 2007-07-08, but there seems to have been no movement on it since
>> > then.  This leads me to believe that there must be an obvious
>> > workaround, so others have just side-stepped the bug and moved on.
>> >
>> > The original bug report was marked as NEEDINFO, so I supplied that
>> > info on 2008-01-21.  You can read the complete report here:
>> >
>> >
> First I assuume that you did a sucessfule media check.
>> >
>> > What I'm hoping to do
>> > ---------------------
>> > My aim is to install a version of Linux as close to the XO version as
>> > possible.  This will make it easier for me to get into the correct
>> > mindset and best practices for developing for the XO.  I'm not married
>> > to the idea of getting Fedora 7 to run if the line of least resistance
>> > is to install something similar.
>> >
>> > In his bug report, Rodney Smith notes that "System previously had fc5
>> > that was installed using a dvd and the graphical interface without a
>> > hitch and that ran fine."
>> >
>> > I've looked for a downloadable version of Fedora Core 5 or 6 for a x86
>> > machine, but all the links that I have found end up at the Get Fedora
>> > page, which now limits itself to downloads of Fedora 7 and 8 
>> > <
>> >  >.
>> >
>> > I get a similar bug when I try installing Fedora 8.  I've also tried
>> > installing Ubuntu 6, but run into the graphic-interface-shows-vibrant-
>> > pulsing-graphics issue.
>> >  >
>> > If it hadn't been for XO-LiveCD_080130.iso performing perfectly on the
>> > machine, I'd have written off my Sony Vaio as being incompatible with
>> > Linux.
>> >
>> >
>> > If anyone can help me get some version of Linux installed on the
>> > machine, I'd be most grateful.  If there are any Python developers on
>> > this list in the Ottawa area, I'd be interested to hear from them too.
>> >
>> > Thanks in advance,
>> >
>> > James
> Second, I hope you did not do what the bug poster did, that is , allow
> the machine to set up a default partitioning.
> If you understand how fdisk works, at the point that patitioning is
> asked for, type ctl-alt-F2 which willget you to a termineal then
> remove all partitioning at partition from scratch. Have a swap partition
> = to 1 of 2x Ram size and the rest make into /.
> Then type ctl-alt-f7 to tqake you back to anaconda and continue.
> This is in tex installation. You cna then use the gui partitioning tool
> to make any final editing of the partitions.
> It may still fail to install but you have started out without mysterious
> partitioning problems which should help.
> --
> =======================================================================
> Darth Vader! Only you would be so bold! -- Princess Leia Organa
> =======================================================================
> Aaron Konstam telephone: (210) 656-0355 e-mail: akonstam at
> _______________________________________________
> Devel mailing list
> Devel at


Have you tried installing from the LiveCD?

I have Sugar running just fine (jhbuild) in a dual-boot configuration on a 
5-year-old HP Pavilion running XP Pro (SP2) and a 9 month old Toshiba laptop 
running Windows Vista.  I installed from the Fedora 8 LiveCD distro in both 
cases.  GRUB handles the dual-boot on the Toshiba while Acronis Disk 
Director handles dual boot on the HP (I couldn't get GRUB to work on the XP 
machine).  Installing single-boot on a clean machine should go much easier.

Setup from the LiveCD is started by double-clicking an icon on the GNMOE 
desktop.  I believe the icon's label is "Install Fedora from LiveCD."  The 
partitioning is performed during setup.  You will need an "empty" partition 
which you will select during setup (parted is run from a GUI shell by the 
startup program).  Be sure to select the option (when presented) that says 
to remove any previous Linux distros from your machine.  I have not had any 
problems running Sugar (to date anyhow) on either setup and I let the setup 
program do the default formatting in both cases.

What follows is for people who might want to install Fedora (or Linux in 
general) in a dual-boot configuration on a machine with an existing Windows 
XP or Vista installation.  James, you can probably ignore what follows.

BEFORE installing Linux, I had to create a blank partition on each machine's 
Windows system drive (drive 0, usually labeled C:).  This was no easy task 
given that I didn't want to remove the Windows OS or files (data or program) 
from either machine.  The only program I could find that would allow me to 
add a partition to a drive by resizing an existing partition, without 
loosing any data on that drive, was Acronis Disk Director. Neither 
fdisk/diskpart on Windows nor parted on Linux would do this (at least I 
couldn't get them to do it -- and believe me, I tried 'cause Acronis Disk 
Director is a $50 program I knew I would probably only use once).  Both 
diskpart and parted claim you can use them to resize partitions.  But, this 
is (as far as I could determine) only true if you're willing to potentially 
loose everything in the partition you are resizing.  I couldn't do that. 
Acronis's product really lets you resize a partition (even an active or 
boot/system partition) without loosing the partition's current contents (or 
your ability to boot the machine under Windows).

You can buy Acronis Disk Director here:  Don't bother 
downloading the demo version.  It's completely crippled and, if you decide 
to buy, you will have to download the non-demo version (it's not just a 
matter of entering a registration code into the demo version).  Also, if you 
decide to buy, before checking out of their e-commerce page, open another 
browser window and Google "Acronis coupons" (without the quotes).  Their 
e-commerce purchase form contains a field to enter a coupon code, so it 
stands to reason there are coupons somewhere on the 'Net.  Google will find 
them for you.  Some will be for other Acronis products, some will have 
expired but, eventually (10 minutes or so), you will find a "keeper."  I 
saved $7 with this tactic.  If you buy on-line (i.e., download the 
installer), make SURE to create the Disk Director "rescue" CD before using 
it on your system.

    1.  Before creating the new partition, run Windows Disk Cleanup (or your 
favorite cleanup utility) on the target disk and reboot.  Then backup 
anything you can't afford to loose forever from the target drive.  I didn't 
need the backup I made, but you might.  If you have a lot of data, this can 
be a big pain.  But, what's even a bigger pain, is loosing data and programs 
or the ability to run your existing OS (which usually means loosing ALL of 
your data and programs).  In my case, this amounted to having to find about 
50 GB of free space somewhere.  Fortunately, I had enough on a 120GB Seagate 
USB external hard disk (and a backup program from the disk manufacturer that 
compressed the files being backed up).

    2.  Defragment the target disk drive.  There is a great free program 
that will run with less than 15% of the disk free (something Windows Disk 
Defragment utility will not do) and is at least 10 times faster than the 
Windows utility.  It's called Auslogics Disk Defrag.  It's free (really: no 
adware, no spyware, no nag dialogs) and you can download it here:  Do this at least twice or until the 
fragmented percentage remaining doesn't change much as the result of the 
last run (you can never get to 100% defragmentation on either FAT or NTFS).

The goal of Steps 1 and 2 is to free as much Windows file system space as 
possible and move it physically closer to the "front" of the existing 
partition (defragmenters almost always do this and Auslogic's program is no 
different).  This allows you to create your new partition in available space 
following the partition being resized.

    3.  Size your partition to be about 98% of the total amount available 
after Steps 1 and 2.  You don't have to label it or format it.  Linux will 
do that.  You will need to reboot Windows and it will probably holler like a 
stuck pig.  Ignore this and let the regular reboot go forward.  You may have 
to reboot more than once to get up and running back in Windows.  This is the 
operating system coming to terms with the new disk partition configuration. 
You will very likely loose ALL of your System Restore points so make sure 
you are doing this from a "stable" Windows system configuration.

Disclaimer: I do not work for either Acronis or Auslogics.  Nor am I a 
member in either company's affiliate sales program.  In fact, the only 
relationship I have with either company is that of a satisfied 

Good luck!



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