John Smith's Blog

Ramblings (mostly) about technical stuff

The saga of getting Fedora 14 running on a Dell Mini 10 netbook - part 4 of several

Posted by John Smith on

Netbooks obviously have a bit of a flaw when it comes to installing Linux distros - namely their lack of an optical drive. Many distros now offer easy means of making a USB key, but Fedora's process is a bit of a faff-around.

In particular, I was rather annoyed to find that it wouldn't actually fit on the 4GB USB drive I had earmarked for it - as well as the ~3.5GB ISO image, there's a separate boot image that you have to install, that pushes it over the age. Fortunately, I did have some 16GB drives kicking around, and after clearing out some old files, I had enough space for Fedora 14.

Unfortunately, even though I was able to boot from the Fedora'd USB drive on a regular PC, I was unable to convince the netbook to boot from it, despite fidding around with BIOS settings and the like. (Not that that was necessary for Ubuntu.) I did contemplate trying a network install, but ultimately decided to buy my way out of the problem, and acquired a cheap(-ish) external USB DVD drive. As I've got 3 netbooks, hopefully it might get some long-term use, but I can't actually recall the last time I used optical media on a PC other than for installing operating systems or burning backups...

I then had a minor mis-step - which was nothing to do with Fedora per se - in that I tried to boot from an x86_64 DVD, but the Atom CPU in the netbook seemed to only want to work with 32-bit binaries. Given that I have a Mini-ITX Atom motherboard that quite happily runs a 64-bit OS, I'd naively assumed that all Atom chips were 64-bit, but evidently not.

Luckily I'd already got a 32-bit DVD to hand from some time back, so I was able to get Fedora installed with no further problems. Unlike Ubuntu, it defaulted to having a separate /boot filesystem, so I can be sure that I can easily get rid of Fedora should I ever choose to. The boot installer recognized the Windows XP drive fine, but it seems that - for now at least - the Dell backup stuff is still out of reach :-(

On booting Fedora from the hard-drive, I wasn't in any way surprised to find that it failed to use the proper graphics drivers - defaulting to a non-native resolution - and was also lacking in any sort of working networking drivers. Evidently the USB drives were going to come in useful after all...

About this blog

This blog (mostly) covers technology and software development.

Note: I've recently ported the content from my old blog hosted on Google App Engine using some custom code I wrote, to a static site built using Pelican. I've put in place various URL manipulation rules in the webserver config to try to support the old URLs, but it's likely that I've missed some (probably meta ones related to pagination or tagging), so apologies for any 404 errors that you get served.

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About the author

I'm a software developer who's worked with a variety of platforms and technologies over the past couple of decades, but for the past 7 or so years I've focussed on web development. Whilst I've always nominally been a "full-stack" developer, I feel more attachment to the back-end side of things.

I'm a web developer for a London-based equities exchange. I've worked at organizations such as News Corporation and Google and BATS Global Markets. Projects I've been involved in have been covered in outlets such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, the Financial Times, The Register and TechCrunch.

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