Thursday 31 May 2012

Fedora 17 on Raspberry Pi

I received my Raspberry Pi this week and set about installing Fedora, my operating system of choice, on it.  Unfortunately, Fedora 14 is regarded as unstable on the Raspberry Pi and Fedora 17 isn't quite ready for it yet.

However, there are some very good nightly snapshots of Fedora 17 ( for Raspberry Pi available.  I thought I would put together a short guide on using these.

This guide assumes:
  • You are logged in as root on a Linux computer
  • Your SD card is /dev/mmcblk0 when inserted into your SD card reader.  If your SD card is on a different device file then make sure you work out what it is and use the right file-name in the instructions below - getting this wrong could permanently lose data.

The first thing to do is to select the image you want to install.  The nightly builds come in three flavours:
  1. Console only (this is the one I use and referred to in the rest of the instructions)
  2. Minimal X Windows
  3. XFCE

Once you have chosen your image the process is:
  1. Download the software (replace the URL here with the one for the image you have selected):
    # wget
  2. Insert your SD card (unmount it if your computer automounts it for you) and write the image to the card:
    # xzcat f17arm-latest-arm-rpi-mmcblk0.img.xz > /dev/mmcblk0
  3. When your Raspberry Pi boots this image for the first time it will resize the root file-system to use up the whole card.  Waiting for this is tedious and it gets in the way of using your Raspberry Pi right away.  Fortunately, on a Linux PC, you can do this manually (and quickly):
    # fdisk /dev/mmcblk0 (commands I entered and comments in bold below)

    Command (m for help): p

    Disk /dev/mmcblk0: 7822 MB, 7822376960 bytes
    4 heads, 16 sectors/track, 238720 cylinders, total 15278080 sectors
    Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    Disk identifier: 0x00000000

            Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
    /dev/mmcblk0p1   *          63     1044224      522081    c  W9...
    /dev/mmcblk0p2         1044225     7784447     3370111+  83  Linux

    Command (m for help): d
    Partition number (1-4): 2

    Command (m for help): n
    Partition type:
       p   primary (1 primary, 0 extended, 3 free)
       e   extended
    Select (default p): p
    Partition number (1-4, default 2): 2
    The first sector must be the start sector of /dev/mmcblk0p2 (above).  This number may be different on your SD card.  It should be the default value here - but check it carefully anyway.

    First sector (1044225-15278079, default 1044225): 1044225
    The last sector should be the default if you want to use all available space on the SD card.  If the default is what you want just press return.

    Last sector, +sectors or +size{K,M,G} (1044225-15278079, default 15278079):

    Using default value 15278079

    Command (m for help): w

    The partition table has been altered!

    Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.

    Syncing disks.
    # e2fsck -f /dev/mmcblk0p2
    # resize2fs /dev/mmcblk0p2
    # mkdir /tmp/rootfs_pi
    # mount /dev/mmcblk0p2 /tmp/rootfs_pi
    # rm -f /tmp/rootfs_pi/etc/systemd/system/
    # umount /tmp/rootfs_pi
    # rmdir /tmp/rootfs_pi
  4. Now eject the SD card from your reader, put it in your Raspberry Pi and power up.  Once it has booted log in as "root" using the password "fedoraarm".  (Assuming that you are connected over a wired LAN with a DHCP server) the Raspberry Pi will automatically obtain an IP address and LAN settings (I am going to assume this is the case - if not the process for configuring networking is exactly the same as it is on any other Fedora 17 machine).
  5. Update your packages:
    # yum update

    Don't worry about the fact that a new kernel is installed - even though this new kernel is not Raspberry Pi compatible.  When a new kernel is installed using "yum update" the old one (and it's modules) are not removed.  Also, because of the way the UBOOT partition in the images works, installing a new kernel does not change the default kernel used when you boot.
Job done.  You now have a perfectly usable and up-to-date Fedora 17 Raspberry Pi SD card.


  1. Any chance you could try and run air video server on it and report if it is capable of transcoding at a decent bitrate?
    I have a pi myself but with squeeze image, might try and have a go sometime as I want to run it as my media server.

  2. I don't believe it will work. Some of the dependencies for AirVideoServer (for example, ffmpeg) contain x86 assembler.

    That's not going to compile for RPi without a significant porting effort.