August 21, 2011
So, despite my earlier complaints, I thought I'd download CentOS 6.0 and give it a shot.
First, let me show you the boot screen:
Notice anything missing?
Well, if you've installed CentOS (or RHEL) prior to 6.x, you'll probably remember a "text mode" option. This mode always went through a curses-based installer that mirrored the graphical version. Ideally, you'd be using a kickstart file and automating installs, but I'm just doing the initial eval, so hey, not a big deal, right?
So I do what every red blooded Linux user would, and hit tab, which allows me to edit the command line.
The prompt is sitting at
> vmlinuz initrd=initrd.img
so I just append "text", and hit enter.
Sure enough, it boots into the text mode installer and install CentOS. At the end, I reboot, and as I'm rebooting, I have a nagging feeling that I'm missing something. You know that feeling? The "I really feel like there's something I didn't do" feeling.
Well, as soon as I booted up, I figured it out.
CentOS 6 introduced a new concept with which I was unfamiliar. I hadn't even heard of it until I researched and found Julian's blog post about the CentOS 6 Minimal Install. There are now installation modes, and one of them is the minimal install. After playing around on my system, this is clearly what had happened to me.
Julian downloaded the CD image that only has the minimal install. I checked, and I didn't. I have the full DVD iso...it just didn't install anything except the minimal packages. And the minimal packages ain't much, lemme tell you.
Obviously, in my excitement to install CentOS, I missed a selection dialog, or I just hit enter too fast. It happens. I don't read each and every box that pops up...I mean, if they wanted you to read it, they'd have put it on a blimp or something, right? Right.
So I reboot my VM, re-append text (because honestly, who wants graphical mode for a server?), and dive in, but this time, I pay attention. And the results aren't good, folks.
Not only does it never ask me which install mode (or packages) I want, it also doesn't ask me to configure my network cards. And apparently there's more. I found a forum post that pointed me to the CentOS 6.0 Release Notes. From section 4 (known issues):
The text installer has limited capabilities compared to the GUI installer. Most notably there is no support for configuring partition layout, storage methods or package selection.
Sure, you can use kickstart (and in a production environment, you'd better!), but things like this are just really disheartening.
Apparently, this is just a by-product of CentOS being downstream of RedHat Enterprise, which apparently also has the same issue. Also, Scientific Linux has the same warnings. Which is really just dumb, because this is obviously a problem.
I just wanted to share so that you wouldn't have to go through the same PITA debugging session I did to try to figure out what went wrong.