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Re: Windows based installation of Fedora Linux?

Well, I have actually used Wubi a few days ago on a recently purchased family Vista (blech) laptop, and I really haven't experienced any issues with it. Actually those FS issues in NTFS have nothing to do with Wubi in particular, but rather with the way fragmentation in NTFS is and how it affects disk images and vice versa (at least from a user PoV I can explain it, i know no technical details about it). Whenever you have an NTFS partition with files that are large compressed filesystems (any form of compressed tree, e.g. tarballs, disk images, ISO, zip), fragmentation occurs more rapidly and FS degeneration seems to become more likely. This issue is less likely on ext3 in my experience, but it is still possible. This issue is probably why FAT32 has the filesize limitation it does. NTFS probably was supposed to fix that, but obviously didn't. Though those are merely speculations (regarding the whys about design). Anyways, that is my educated uneducated opinion :)

And anaconda does support completely automated installation (kickstart files!), for the others, someone else needs to answer....

On 9/12/07, Ago <agostino russo gmail com> wrote:
> Since I've advocated a win32 installer for Fedora in the past,
> I'll at least say - cool.  Unfortunately I also don't forsee myself
> having time to dedicate to this in the near future(nor the desire, as I
> am and hope to stay winblowz free ;).  But I hope someone else finds the
> time :)

Good questions. There are in fact 2 separate issues.

1) Hosting filesystem corruption (ntfs). We had a few reports where people were
not able to boot into Windows after an hardreboot in Wubi. Filesystem
corruption does happen when you hardreboot, whether you use Wubi or not.
Sometimes you get lucky (also with Wubi) sometimes you do not. The real
question is whether Wubi (ntfs-3g in this case) makes things any worse. On
average, we have 1 such report every 10K downloads. Add that Wubi users tend to
reboot more often than usual, since they are in a new environment and often
they do not know how to get out of a real or apparent deadlock. So are the
numbers we see physiological? Honest answer is that I have no clue. I discussed
that with Szaka (ntfs-3g author) and according to him, ntfs-3g does not make
things any worse and there is little to be done on his side. If you have a
different opinion on this I would like to hear from you.

2) Hosted filesystem corruption (ext3). When Ext3 writes the journal, the data
does not end up on the HD but gets handled by ntfs, which in turns may or may
not write the data to the HD. So if you hard reboot, data loss in the hosting
filesystem may cause journal corruption of the hosted filesystem, which makes
recovery quite challenging. This is not an ntfs/ext3 specific issue, you would
have that in any nested filesystem configuration (or at least this is my
understanding). What we have done was to tweak sysctl dirty settings, so that
dirty pages are flushed to disk as often as possible. That seems to have done
the trick. Since we did that, I cannot recall any complaint due to ext3 data
loss, but of course that does not eliminate the issue.

On top of that we cannot hibernate/suspend. Suspend-to-ram is a problem because
of the ordering in which userspace processes are terminated/resumed which
becomes an issue if you use a userspace filesystem (if the loopfile is hosted
on vfat, suspend works fine). With hibernation you also have to handle the
issue of having swap on a file.

My take on all this is that Wubi is a "short term" installation. It's good
enough for a few days and far more captivating than a live CD or a VM. But it's
not ok for data-sensitive situations or for long term use. I would use the
word "demo" if it did not have a try-then-pay connotation. And yes, because of
the above, some users will be left with a bitter taste in their mouth, and the
reputation for reliability will be negatively affected. On the other hand you
will be able to reach many users that would not dare to try Linux otherwise,
you will provide Joe Average (read 90% of the users out there) with a one-click
installer and that helps a lot when you have to bear the stigmata of being seen
as a "difficult OS".

It's a trade-off.



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