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Fedora Linux

The descendant of Red Hat Linux makes the Janovac go.

Why Fedora?

I have already expounded on the desire for a small server. But servers are boxes of metal and plastic without software to run them. And when I think of server operating systems, there is only one word that comes to mind: U◊◊◊. There are other operating systems with which I have had prolonged use. Of those, OS/370 and RSTS/E are extinct; VMS is almost so; and Windows NT is too unwieldy for the Janovac. (I used BSD 4 after my college graduation, but never thought of using it even though it is now available as FreeBSD.)

Linux is the descendant of U◊◊◊, rewritten for modern microcomputers by Linus Tolvards, starting in 1991 as a replacement for the teaching system Minix. There are many distributions of Linux, from the minimal to the bloated, each with its own unique features.

The Linux I use for the Janovac is called Fedora. It started life as Red Hat Linux. I had used other Linuxes in the past. At one time I even used Caldera before its distributor mutated into the nefarious SCO, which is why Linux's ancestor is spelt U◊◊◊. I settled on Red Hat Linux because I had become the most familiar with the operating system and its peculiarities. When Red Hat decided in 2003 to spin off its open-source projects from its commercial ones, Fedora Core was born. It developed rapidly over the years, even shedding the word Core from its name after its extras were merged into its base with version 7.

The current (November 2009) version of Fedora is 12. I could not use the previous version, 11, due to serious issues that culminated with an unrecoverable crash that made the Janovac unable to reboot. I had to stay with Fedora for the Janovac until version 12 was released.

This page will assume a stable version of Fedora. The installation has changed little between versions and 12, and I will assume that the installation will be standard across the next few versions.


Gather the following items to start installing Fedora on the Janovac.




Fedora insists on passwords as part of its security framework. Passwords should confirm to commonly accepted standards for strong passwords:

  1. Include numbers, symbols, upper and lowercase letters in passwords
  2. Password length should be around 12 to 14 characters
  3. Avoid any password based on repetition, dictionary words, letter or number sequences, usernames, relative or pet names, or biographical information (eg, dates, ID numbers, ancestors names or dates, …).

There will be at least two accounts on the Janovac: The root account, and the primary user account. Fedora works to discourage logging on the root account directly, so the primary user account is used instead. It is possible to log onto the root account from the primary user one if the need arises. For these two accounts:

  1. The password for the root account must NOT be the same as the primary user account.
  2. Both passwords must confirm to the password strength standards above.

Installing Fedora

Insert the Fedora installation DVD in the server's CD/DVD drive. Make sure first that the CD/DVD drive is set in the server's BIOS as the first boot drive.

When the blue welcome screen appears, select Install or upgrade existing system and press Enter.

At the Disk Found screen, select Skip and press Enter — unless you suspect damage to the DVD.

Next, the graphical install screens come up.

Introductory screen

Press Next.


English is the default; press Next.


U.S. English is the default; press Next.


Choose Install Fedora; press Next.


Enter janovac and press Next.

Time Zone

Choose New York. Ignore the Indiana items if you live in Indiana. Press Next.


See passwords above.

Hard Disk

Remove all partitions, and write partitioning changes to the disk.


Choose Software Development and Web Server. Also choose Customize Now.

Tasks are grouped into six categories, of which we deal with four:

Desktop Environment

Running a server with a visual interface is easier for those used to systems with visual interfaces such as Windows and Mac OS X. The downside is that visual interfaces consume more server resources and make you look like a wuss to other sysadmins. The default visual interface for Fedora is GNOME.


Turn off Text-based Internet and Sound and Video. Leave Editors alone; the only checked application is vim, which you will need when in Terminal. Of the Graphical Internet applications uncheck all but Firefox.


Check the following servers: Directory, Mail, MySQL Database, Server Configuration Tools, Windows File, and Web; leave their particulars alone.

Whether to uncheck or leave checked Printing Support depends on whether you intend to use the Janovac as a print server for more than one computer.

Also, in Mail Server, uncheck sendmail and check postfix. Sendmail is a perennial bugfest and cracker ballroom. Postfix is more secure.

Base System

Uncheck the following: Dial-up Networking Support (no modem, and unnecessary on a local network), Hardware Support (all wireless and Bluetooth drivers), Input Hardware (for foreign keyboards) and Java.

When the installation is complete, press Reboot. While the Janovac is in POST mode, remove the DVD from the drive; otherwise the blue welcome screen will reappear.

Post-Boot Installation

After your first boot, the Fedora installation continues.

Welcome screen

Press Forward.

License information

Fedora uses the GNU General Public License; press Forward.

Create user

The user is φ (full name is Φ). See passwords above for the password. Press Forward.


Use the Network Time Protocol. Press Forward.

Hardware Profile

I am not sure if it is any business of Fedora to know what I am using for hardware, but I press Yes anyway. Press Forward.

And you are done.


If you do not connect to your network (and the Internet), you will not be able to do updates. And network connectivity is turned off by default.

  1. Right-click on the network icon in the menu bar.
  2. Choose Edit Connections…
  3. Under the Wired tab, click on System eth0; press the Edit button.
  4. Check the box Connect Automatically; press the Apply button.
  5. Authenticate as root.
  6. Close all boxes.


Now we update the Fedora system and its software.

In the menu bar, go to System → Administration → Update System. When Update System asks for authentication, provide the root account password.

Updates will take a long time: The longer since the first release of Fedora, the longer the time. I am talking about at least an hour. So do something else while this is going on.


By default the firewall and SELinux are enabled. I, on the other hand, turn off SELinux, which is the open-source answer to Vista's user access control. The firewall, however, is necessary for security, so it will be tweaked rather than turned off.


Go to System → Administration → SELinux Management, providing the root account password when requested. Set the System Default Enforcing Mode to Disabled. Set the Current Enforcing Mode to Permissive. Checkmark Relabel on Next Reboot. Exit the service and restart the server. It may take awhile for this to run.


Go to System → Administration → Firewall, providing the root account password when requested. After clearing the admonishing popup, in the service list checkmark these ports as their associated services are brought online. Press Apply.


When Fedora is booted or restarted, it launches not just itself but also certain start-up services (the U◊◊◊/Linux term is daemons). The Services Configuration utility is used to enable (or disable) and launch start-up services in Fedora.

Go to System → Administration → Services. The list that appears displays the state and description of each service with the following icons.

Green light
Service is enabled.
Red light
Service is disabled. It is still there unless you remove it from the system.
Service is enabled on a given set of launch levels called runlevels. This is beyond the scope of this document; see Linux Runlevels for more information. If all runlevels are applicable, the icon will be a green light.
Service is running. If you have changed a service's configuration file, you can press Restart to relaunch the service with the new settings.
Service is not running, even if it is active. If the service has a green-light or console icon, you can press Start to launch it.

Most services are left alone. The following are turned off as the server does not use the appropriate hardware or services: bluetooth, irda, pcscd, rdisk. You might want to keep gpm if you do a lot of editing in Terminal. If you intend to use the Janovac as a print server, leave cups alone. Due to its reputation as a bugfest and cracker magnet, sendmail is also disabled (and should be removed); for mail transport, use Postfix instead.



Do you really need a screensaver on a server? I don't think so; it is an annoyance to have to sign back on when it kicks in. So in the menu bar I go to System → Preferences → Look & Feel → Screensaver, and uncheck the two items Activate screensaver when computer is idle and Lock screensaver when screensaver is active. As for its use, I am perfectly capable of turning off the monitor when I am not using it.

Desktop Background

The default desktop background of Fedora 10 was supposed to be a blue sun. I myself had mistaken it for the T-Virus out of Capcom's Resident Evil series of games and movies. However much I like the color blue, I do not like that particular item of blue. Fortunately, the Fedora Project uses a more tasteful blue background in version 12.

But in case you desire a different background, right-click on the background. In the resultant menu, choose Change Desktop Background. (Or, you can go the menu bar and do System → Preferences → Look & Feel → Appearances, then click on the Background tab.) Among the Wallpapers, the upper-leftmost item is the bare background color; choose that. In the Colors below, you can a solid color or a gradient of two colors.

Janovac Lives

At this point you have a functional Janovac server. Next we will set up the services that the Janovac was set up for: Apache Web service, MySQL database service, Samba Windows file/print service, Postfix mail service and CUPS.

Written by Andy West on 4 July 2009; updated on 25 November 2009.