20090728 Tuesday July 28, 2009

Intstalling Fedora 10 on a Mac Mini

I was on an interview once and the interviewer asked me what kind of Unix I run outside of work. I thought this was an excellent question and one that I often use myself when hiring sysadmins. With few exceptions, the people who are enthusiastic enough to have a machine at home that they can play with and learn from tend to make the best sysadmins.

I responded that I love to run operating systems on "exotic" hardware. I've run OpenBSD on both a Sun IPC and SparcStation 20 (with a 150 MHz Hypersparc processor mind you!) and am currently running it on a Soekris Net4801. I'm also running Fedora on a Mac Mini.

At Terracotta we needed some extra machines for a project I'm working on (very hush, hush :) ), so I decided to drop Fedora 10 on 2 Mac Minis we have that are currently unused. It was not without it's tricks however, even though we have a pretty nice Kickstart setup which configures everything, including Puppet.

Here are the steps:

  1. Boot the Mac from an installer CD and open up the Disk Utility
  2. Partition the drive to have 1 partition and under Options, choose MBR (master boot record)
  3. Install Fedora 10 as normal
  4. Boot up and find out that your machine won't take a DHCP address (arrrgggh!)
  5. sudo yum -y erase NetworkManager
  6. sudo /sbin/chkconfig network on
  7. sudo reboot

For some reason I have yet to understand, the folks at Fedora and many other Linux distributions have this notion that everyone want to run Linux as a desktop. While I do like my Ubuntu desktop (running on a boring PC), I have much more need for servers in my day job. Why Fedora seems to default to a desktop configuration is beyond me. (NetworkManager is for managing a desktop's network configuration). After I turned on networking, everything behaved as normal.

Believe it or not, people actually do run Fedora on servers even though it's very frustrating to have to upgrade every 6 months. Maybe I'm used to it from the OpenBSD release cycle I've been following since OpenBSD 2.5. The reason we use it is at a "cutting edge startup" like Terracotta the developers like to have the latest everything (ruby, svn, etc.) and running on Fedora allows us to provide those things through the regular package management tools (in this case, yum) that come with the system. No need to search all over the Internet for RPMs or build our own, we have enough to do.

Posted by Dave Mangot in Hardware at 20090728


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