Windows based installation of Fedora Linux?

Ago agostino.russo at
Wed Sep 12 15:37:10 UTC 2007

> 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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