Taking the plunge with RHEL7 Beta

I decided to switch to the RHEL 7 Beta on my work laptop. As a result, I thought I would outline my experience here.

First and foremost, my drive is pretty well partitioned with /home and root (“/”) separated. I also keep most of my “work” in a separate mount under /mnt/nbu (“nbu” stands for “not backed up” which is not strictly true, it just doesn’t use the corporate backup 🙂 and the name stuck). However, I don’t want to carry all my configs over to RHEL 7 so I decided to backup /home to a separate disk and will actually wipe it during the install.

Previously, I registered for a beta entitlement and downloaded (both of those links require an account and a subscription to the Red Hat Customer Portal) the software and ripped a DVD. I have had mixed success with USB boots/installs, never understood why (and I am pretty sure it is me).

OK, now I have booted the DVD and started the installation. I went through and chose the disk(s) and mounted everything as I said above. A mount for root, a mount for home, both reformatted as xfs (both part of an encrypted lvm partition). I also reattached my nbu disk and my disk for vms also part of the same lvm partition. I have a separate partition for /boot which I reformatted and marked as boot.

On to software selection. I choose GNOME Desktop and checked off Gnome Applications, Office Suite & Productivity, Additional Development (for ease of building applications), Emacs (because I can never quite decide if I am an emacs or vi guy), Internet Browser, and the 3 virtualization ones. I think there is some overlap there but, better safe than sorry. I did not choose any of the development tools because I usually like to install them by hand or in virtual machines. Many/all of the sub-package groups are unchecked because of 1035783 and 822509).

For the rest, the defaults seemed to be correct. During the install, I created a user and assigned them as an administrator. I generally prefer sudo (as I have mentioned in the past) than su’ing on the computers I use every day.

After a bit, I had everything installed and rebooted my machine (after popping the CD). Once the machine rebooted, I logged in. I checked out Gnome Classic, but decided that I would prefer to use Gnome (regular? normal? current?) despite my opinions on coca-cola. So logged out, clicked the little gear thingie, and logged in after choosing Gnome.

Once I was happy with that, I had to fix sudo because of 1042668. Actually pretty painless, just su, then visudo, and uncomment the %wheel line (that doesn’t have “NOPASSWD”) because your user is already added to the wheel group (apparently the wheel name is BSD legacy).

OK, next, I prefer Thunderbird to Evolution (although, I am running it on a separate machine and its compliance with the *DAV protocols is really awesome), so I went out and downloaded the Beta of Thunderbird and reinstalled all my plugins. I usually have /opt/thunderbird-versions with the various betas under there, including a copy of all the xpis I am using, then I symlink from /opt/thunderbird to the version I am using. I then symlink from /usr/bin or ~/bin to the /opt/thunderbird so I don’t get confused. I also leverage a symlink’d profiles.ini from some other mount point so I don’t have to re-get all my mail. No warranty intended or implied :). To get Thunderbird running I had to install a bunch of 32-bit libraries which I think are all deps of xulrunner.i686 (but I went the long way and installed glibc.i686, libstdc++.i686, libXrender.i686 as well). I then monkeyed around with symlinks and desktop files to get an icon and have it show up in the dash. Oh, I also usually have multiple profiles in tbird for various mail accounts hence the “-P” and “–no-remote”. Which leads me to recommend that you turn on the “Launch new instance” extension in gnome-tweak-tool, which, you may not have yet, so yum install gnome-tweak-tool. 🙂

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Thunderbird Mail
Comment=Send and receive mail with Thunderbird
GenericName=Mail Client
Exec=/opt/thunderbird %u -P --no-remote

OK, moving on. Now, I wanted to tweak some of the UI bits. So, back to gnome-tweak-tool. Recommendation? Click all the tabs (are they still called that in the left nav?), and try the various things. Personally, I need the date in the clock and all buttons (min, max, kill) in the title. I don’t change much else in the default set of stuff you get. However, I do like some of the options in a number of the extensions. Some of them are distributed in the repos, do a yum search gnome-shell-extension and see what you get. If you want more detail on them, check out extensions.gnome.org and look at their “home pages” (you can also yum info each one but screenshots help, I think). However, before you go there, be sure to install gnome-shell-browser-plugin. I have used this with Firefox but I think it works with chrome as well. Basically, you need the plugin to allow for the website to interact with the desktop (read: install extensions). You cannot find this plugin on the addon sites for the browsers, it is shipped as part of a distro (speaking of plugins, I particularly liked this set for Firefox on Gnome). Some Gnome Extensions I have are: Native window placement, Status area horizontal spacing, Weather, Drop down terminal, and Recent items.

That is about it. I think it seems to be working pretty well. Listening to music now, my battery seems better, and, in general I like the new look & feel of Gnome. My muscle memory on many of the keyboard commands still needs work (ctrl-alt-left and right do not switch workspaces!). Let me know how it is working for you in the comments. Also, if you are a Red Hat ISV partner, be sure to check out the PEAP and get your app working on RHEL 7.

Join the Red Hat Developer Program (it’s free) and get access to related cheat sheets, books, and product downloads.


Take advantage of your Red Hat Developers membership and download RHEL today at no cost.


Leave a Reply