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Fedora Core 3 Walkthrough Part 2: First Boot, Updates and Security

So I finally got my shit together and assembled all the screenshots for Part 2 of the series.

If you recall from Part 1 I installed Fedora Core 3 on a fresh, clean hard drive, showing each step of the process. Now if you did the same, and actually waited all this time to see what happens next, it’s time to boot up your new Fedora Core system!

In this part of the series, I show what happens the first time you boot Fedora Core, along the way answering some readers’ comments and concerns from Part 1. I also show you the first thing you need to do once the system is booted, which is to download and install any available updates. Finally, I show you how to verify your security settings (firewall and SELinux) are still in place.


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The first thing to do is turn on your computer! First your system’s setup will run, and then Linux will start.

This the GNU GRUB boot loader. It will automatically start the latest kernel installed on your system. If you want to interrupt the boot process, for instance to boot to the last known good kernel or to customize the boot options, press a key here. Otherwise, just wait five seconds.


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Immediately afterward, the Linux kernel starts up, and messages will scroll by on screen, showing the status of starting various hardware and services on your computer.


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On most systems the computer will switch to a graphical boot process instead of the text-based process shown here. With certain video cards, you will see the text-based process until the first-time setup completes (below), and upon later reboots you will see the graphical process. The graphical boot process will be shown in Part 3.


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The boot process continues. All services needed for your system to run are started up here. This includes such things as your Ethernet interface, if any, PCMCIA services for laptop computers, mouse services, hardware monitoring, etc. On my system the smartd service has failed, because SMART is a technology for IDE hard drives, and the system being used does not have any IDE hard drives. If any services require an initial setup, they set themselves up when being started for the first time here, such as the SSH server shown.


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Welcome to the Fedora Core Setup Agent! This first-time setup asks you a few questions, finalizes the setup of your new Fedora Core system, and best of all, doesn’t ask you to register with Microsoft or type in any obnoxious serial numbers.

To get started, click Next.


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You do, however, need to be aware of the License Agreement. Most packages included with Fedora Core are licensed under various open source licenses permitting you to use the software freely, and to modify and distribute the software under certain conditions. If you are unfamiliar with open source software, see this article.

I completely agree to using open source software, so I click on I Agree, and then Next.


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The system will now ask you to set the date and time.

If your computer will not be connected to the Internet, then set the date and time and click Next.

However, if you will be connected to the Internet, do not set the date and time here; instead, click Network Time Protocol. I am connected to the Internet, so I click Network Time Protocol.


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The Network Time Protocol configuration appears. To enable NTP, place a checkmark in Enable Network Time Protocol, and remove the checkmark from Use Local Time Source. Several NTP servers have already been configured for you, but if you wish to add another NTP server, you can do so here. Once you are finished, click Next.


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Your computer will then synchronize its clock with the time servers shown. Time servers on the Internet are synchronized against the United States Naval Observatory Master Clock. In short, your clock will always be correct.


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If Fedora Core was able to determine your video card and monitor, they will be displayed here. If you see “Unknown Monitor,’ however, click the Configure button and select your monitor from the list.

If you are not satisfied with the screen resolution automatically selected by Fedora Core, you can change it here. I do not want to use 800×600 on a laptop LCD display capable of 1024×768, so here I have changed it to 1024×768.

You can also change the color depth to provide more available colors on screen. Generally, when you have more available colors, your graphics will look better, but the available colors may be constrained by the video RAM provided by your video card. Though it is not visible here, I have chosen Millions of colors, the best available setting. I then click Next.


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And now it is time to introduce yourself to your computer. This screen allows you to create a user account for yourself. Fill in a short username, starting with a letter and containing no spaces or special symbols, your full name as you would like it to appear, and select a password.

If you need to create more users, e.g. more than one person will use your computer, you will have the opportunity to do so after the system has finished booting.


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If your computer has a sound card, Fedora Core will confirm its installation and will allow you to test it. Click Play test sound, and the system will play a short sample of music. If you are unable to hear anything, ensure that your speakers are connected to the correct port on the sound card, that they are powered on, and that the volume is turned up. When you are ready, click Next.


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Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is based on Fedora Core, includes additional CDs containing optional software, usually not open source, which you can install. Fedora Core itself has no such CDs, so we will skip this section. I click Next here.


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That was it! Your system is all set up and ready to use. Click Next, and setup is complete. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?


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After setup completes, Fedora Core will switch to the screen resolution and color depth you selected, and present the login screen. Type the username you selected earlier, and press Enter. Fedora will then ask for your password, so type it in and press Enter again. If you got everything right, you will be logged in!


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Fedora Core is logging me in, starting all of my desktop services, such as removable media controls, printing, update notification (below), the desktop and window manager, and more. Later, as you use your computer more, Fedora can also save any programs you were using the last time you logged out, and restart those programs, usually with the same documents opened, when you log back in.


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This is the default Fedora Core desktop. In the top left is the main menu, followed by quick start icons for commonly used applications. Take a moment and look through the Applications and Actions menu to get a sense of what has been installed with your system. We’ll cover the installed programs in Part 3, but for now, there is something very important we must do first.

Do you see the flashing red ! icon in the upper right? This means that there are updates available for your system. We should install those now, before going much further, so that your system is fully up-to-date and secure with the latest software. Right-click on the icon, and choose “Launch up2date…’ from the menu.


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At this point the system asks you for the root (administrative) password. Updating system software is an administrative process requiring root privilege, so type in the root password you chose during installation. After you do this, an icon of a keyring will appear in the top right, indicating that you have administrative access for any new programs you start. If you start another program requiring root privileges while the keyring icon is shown, you will not be asked for the root password again. This authorization expires after a few minutes, so after the keyring icon disappears, you will again be asked for the root password when needed. (The icon is shown in the next screenshot.)


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The Red Hat update service has its own first-time setup, and there is one thing we should change in the setup to ensure that you receive all critical updates. Click on the Package Exceptions tab at the top.


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The Package Exceptions tab appears. Notice that kernel-* is listed under Package Names To Skip. We definitely do not want to skip kernel updates, as most of these provide critical security updates. Click on it so that it is highlighted as shown, and then click Remove to the right. After it disappears from the list, there should be no exceptions. Then click OK.

The kernel is the absolute core of any Linux system. It provides the most basic services and access to hardware to every program you run on your computer. More information is available.

The kernel is treated specially by Fedora Core; unlike most packages which are replaced with their updates, new kernels are installed alongside the previous ones, so that if for some reason a new kernel fails to start your system, you can interrupt the boot process (see the very first screenshot above) and boot the previous kernel.


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By default, Fedora Core uses digital signatures to verify that packages you download are correct. In order to do this, we need to install the Fedora Core public key, so that the digital signatures can be verified properly. Click Yes to install the key.


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Now Red Hat Update Agent, also known as up2date, starts. Up2date searches for and installs any available updates for programs installed on your system. In addition to updating programs which came with Fedora Core, up2date is also capable of updating programs you download from the Internet; however, this requires some setup beforehand. I will cover how to set this up in a future article.


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Up2date shows the channels from which it will download updates. By default, only the Fedora Core 3 and Updates to Fedora Core 3 channels are shown. As I alluded to above, it is possible to add other channels (or repositories) to your system and install third-party software, or replacements for software included with Fedora Core, from those repositories. I will cover this setup, and why you might want to replace software included with Fedora Core, in a future article.


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Up2date then downloads a list of available updates for each channel. This may take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the speed of your Internet connection, and Internet traffic in general.


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Now up2date presents a complete list of each component which has an available update, as well as the channel from which it will be installed. Usually you will want to update everything. Here I click “Select all packages’ and then click Next.

Don’t worry if there seem to be a large number of components listed, compared to update services for other operating systems. The other operating systems bundle updates for multiple components into single packages, making it appear that there are fewer updates. In Linux, each component can be seen for the separate package it actually is.

You will not be able to view security advisory information or package sizes; these features are intended for Red Hat Enterprise Linux users with support contracts and do not currently work with Fedora Core.


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At this time up2date will check the set of packages selected and ensure that any other packages which are needed by these packages are installed. If any additional packages are required to install the selected packages, up2date will advise you. This step can take a few minutes if you have selected a large number of packages or have a slow Internet connection.


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Up2date begins downloading the packages you have selected for installation. Depending on how many packages you selected, and the speed of your Internet connection, this may take a while. It’s probably time to go get dinner.


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Hey, I told you it was going to take a while! How was dinner? Did you save me any leftovers? It’s still going, so if you’re a hot geek-girl, why don’t we go out and have a few drinks while we wait. If you’re a guy, find your own geek-girl!


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Up2date has finished downloading all of your packages. Click Forward, and the installation will begin.

This is probably my least favorite part of up2date. I would much rather the process simply continue on, rather than waiting for me to acknowledge that all the files were downloaded. Oh well. I find worse things to gripe about in Windows Update every time I’m subjected to it.


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The installation has begun! This also could take a while, depending on the speed of your computer and how many packages you have selected.


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It’s almost done installing your updates!


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Finally, the update process has finished. Every package you selected has been installed. Click Forward to continue.


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Up2date then shows a list of each package and version number of each package that it installed during this session. You can scroll up and down in the list. When you’re done gawking at it, click Finish.

If your updates included an update to the kernel, you will need to restart your computer. Otherwise, you do not need to restart your computer. The first time you run up2date, a kernel update is included, so click Actions, Log Out, and then Restart computer.


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I have returned to the Fedora Core desktop. Notice how the red ! has changed to a blue check mark. This means your system is fully up to date with the latest available software. If you installed all the latest software, but the icon remains a red ! then click once on it, and it will tell you what is wrong. Usually this happens because a kernel update was installed but you haven’t yet restarted the computer. Restart at the soonest available opportunity to ensure you are running the latest kernel.


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And finally, we are going to double-check the security settings on the system before going online or doing anything else. Click Applications, System Settings, then Security Level. The screen shown will appear. Ensure that Enable firewall is selected. If you want users on the Internet to be able to pass through the firewall to access services on your machine, put a check mark in next to the service you wish to pass through the firewall. Do not check any of the Trusted devices or type anything in Other ports unless you know what you’re doing.


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Finally, click the SELinux tab. The screen shown here will appear. Ensure that SELinux is enabled and enforcing, and that the policy type is “targeted.’ The other settings here do not need to be changed. When you are done, click OK.

That’s it! We have successfully set up and brought up to date a Fedora Core 3 system. In the next part of this series, I will cover e-mail, Web browsing, other applications included with Fedora Core, as well as how to install new repositories to gain access to additional software on the Internet. If you want to get a headstart on me, the Web browser and E-mail icons are the first two icons directly next to the Actions menu at the top left. At this point the system is sufficiently updated and secured to begin using. Enjoy your new Linux system!

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Home Linux Fedora Core 3 Walkthrough Part 2: First Boot, Updates and Security