Fedora 18 “Spherical Cow” – What happened here?

[EDIT: Further examination revealed that a majority of the problems experienced were related to the glibc + kernel included with Fedora 18 and the updated glibc+kernel for Fedora 17.  The result was the same in both situations: unstable VIA and IVTV drivers.]


Fedora 18 has the release name “Spherical Cow”.  It should probably be called “Spherical Dung”.


“Why?” you might ask.


Ok, here goes:

From an end user perspective, Fedora 18 is an effective desktop that continues to force certain elements to evolve (*cough* Gnome 3 *cough*), and while that is welcome news, it doesn’t quite cut it.

From a systems administration point of view, Fedora 18 makes some great strides in cleaning up the messy transition from SysV to systemd, eliminating some of the annoyances, and attempting to make the SA’s life easier at the same time it makes it harder (holy dependency hell.. try removing NetworkManager for one).  That’s ok, because that’s what the Fedora tree is all about: being on the leading edge (not bleeding.. or hemorrhaging like with Rawhide).

I heard all of the rumors about Fedora 18 being the buggiest release ever, but having had heard all of that before, the level of skepticism was high.  Unfortunately, after a week of battling with a test server, I have resigned to agree.

In my case, specifically, I was testing on a 2yr old system: dual core athlon X2 4000+, 4GB ram, 1 IDE drive, two SATA drives, MSI motherboard with a VIA chipset.  This system ran fine under Fedora 16, and I followed the upgrade path (anaconda to Fedora 17, then fedup (bad name, BTW.. who ever came up with that should be hit with a clue-by-four)).

I experienced problems right out of the gate.  Graphical (X) interface would not come up and, once attempted, it would not display anything on the screen, even if the init level were brought back down to 3.  Drives randomly reported DRTY errors and locked up the system, and, after all of that, even the NIC would report physical errors and go off-line.  This could happen right away or under high I/O load.  Either way, it was painful.

Thinking the upgrade was the wrong way to go, a fresh install was performed.  That helped.  Only helped to change the drive errors that were reported..  Oh, and although X was working again, now the system would lock up after anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours.

Thoughts of the motherboard having died came about, so trying all of this in another system did quiet things down a bit (different chipset, I might add), but the capture cards in the system now started reporting that they, too, were locked and inaccessible.  rolling back the kernel to even an F16 kernel did not help.

The above was a painful week.  Finally giving up and installing Fedora 17 quieted everything down and the system has been running stable ever since.


Edit: I’m now running Ferdora 19 and had to abandon the motherboard I was using. Supposedly, the VIA chipset on that board has horrible driver support in later kernels and was the ultimate source of the problem.

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