How to install Fedora: Hands-on with Anaconda installer

Fedora’s installer is different from the traditional click-next installer and it may be intimidating to a new user. This how-to will help.

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Fedora 21 was released this week and it looks like a great release so far, but one area where Fedora can be challenging for a new user is installation. Fedora developers decided to move away from the time-tested wizard-like installer where the user takes various steps in linear order ensuring none of the important steps is missed, instead adopting the hub & spoke model.

While I appreciate the good intentions of UX designers and developers there are a couple of flaws in the installer that make the whole process a bit, I would say, complicated.

Let's get started

When you click on the Install Fedora button, the first window tells you to choose the default language. You can change the language preference if you wish, click ‘continue’ to proceed.

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The first window allows you to choose the language for the installer.

In the second window you can configure 'Date & Time', Keyboard Layout, Installation Destination, Network and Hostname. Fedora will pick the date and time from the system clock. If you wish to change the date and time, click on the option and make changes, ditto with keyboard and hostname. The most important option on this page is partitioning your hard drive.

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Instructions are pushed at the bottom.

Click on 'installation destination' and you see this window.

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Fedora will display all of the available hard drives on this page. Select the drive on which you want to install the new OS. By default, Fedora will automatically configure the partitioning. If you want to manually configure it, choose the 'I will configure partitioning' option. You can can check the 'encrypt my data' box if you want to encrypt the partition. You have to click on ‘Done’ to proceed to the the next step.

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The next window will show you all the partitions on the selected drive. It will also list if there are other OSs installed on that drive. Fedora gives an option to create the mount points automatically. It will create three partitions: boot, swap and root.

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If the partition scheme looks good, click on 'Done'. Don't worry, Fedora won't write changes to the hard drive yet. You will get a pop-up giving you a summary of the changes.

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If there is something wrong you can 'Cancel' from this window, otherwise 'Accept Changes' to proceed with partitioning.

You can take control of partitioning instead of letting Fedora do it for you. On the first partitioning window, click on the + button and this window opens up.

Typically we need root and swap partitions. However, depending on your hardware and your use case you may have to create additional partitions.

If you are on an EFI motherboard you will have to create a little /boot/efi partition. You can create ‘/boot’ if you use that.

Once again, it depends on your hardware whether you need 'swap.' Click on the + button, enter 'swap' in the mount point and give desired space for swap.

Now we need to create the root partition. Click on + and enter /root as mount point. Even though Fedora requires only around 8GB for system files, please allow around 20-25GB for root so that you have enough space for applications and growth of your system. The ‘/home’ will also share this space, so if you are using some email clients with huge amounts of data you must consider giving appropriate space to root.

You can choose ext4 or Btrf for root. If you are not sure about it then just stick to ext4 unless Fedora makes Btrfs the default file system.

If you have other Linux based operating systems installed on your system and you want to replace them with Fedora, you can also take over the older partition. Select that install and then check the 'reformat' button next to file systems. I would suggest you reformat each partition so you have a clean slate. Once you're done, simply click on 'Done'.

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Check the 'reformat' boxes.

Fedora will show you the summary of changes it is going to make to the system and if everything looks good click on 'accept changes'.

Now you are back to the Installation summary. We have taken care of all the items on this page. Click on 'Begin Installation.'

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Click on 'Begin Installation'.

On the next page, 'User Settings,' you must create a password for the root user and also create a user for your system. Click on the Root Password option and enter your desired password.

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This is where we run into the first flaw in the UX. If you entered a weak password, clicking on the 'Done' button will not allow you to proceed. The indication that you have chosen a weak password and that you must click 'Done' twice is displayed at the bottom of the page.

When you go back to the previous page, there is yet another UX flaw. The 'user creation' button is not highlighted anymore, and anyone could easily miss it. If you skip this step, Fedora will continue with the installation and you will end up with a system with only a root user, which is bad news.

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Once you give root password the warning to create user disappears. 

Don't forget to create user. Click on the 'User Creation' button and give the desired name for user and password. If you want to perform admin tasks as sudo, check the box that says, 'Make this user administrator'. Click on done 'twice' if the warning at the bottom of the page says to. Unlike Ubuntu or openSUSE, Fedora doesn’t provide the option to automatically log in to the system.

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You are all set now. Click on 'Finish configuration' and wait for Fedora to complete installation. Once done Fedora asks you to Quit the installer; you will now be in the live session. Just reboot your system and you are in a brand new Fedora.

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