Fedora announced the first public preview of the new web-based Anaconda Installer, significantly simplifying the installation process.
Anaconda is a free and open-source system installer for Linux distributions mainly used by Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, CentOS, and RHEL-based derivatives such as AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux, Oracle Linux, and others.
It is a GTK-based graphics application that has reliably served for many years in ensuring a smooth OS installation. However, Red Hat engineers have been hard at work reworking the Anaconda Installer over the last year in search of modernization and a more user-friendly experience.
Fedora Linux, as we all know, is a distro that receives all new features first until they have been thoroughly tested and proven reliable enough to meet Red Hat’s standards for inclusion in their enterprise-oriented distribution.
So recently, Fedora Project announced the first public preview of the new installer, so let’s look at what it offers.
Anaconda Web Installer
The new Anaconda web-based UI uses existing Cockpit technology.
We are taking this approach because Cockpit is a mature solution with great support for the backend (Anaconda DBus).
Although the installer is far from a final stable version, it is functional enough to complete the entire installation process while demonstrating all major aspects of the new UI, such as:
- Choose installation language
- Select your disks
- Automatically partition the disks
- Basic review screen of your selections
- Installation progress screen
The first screen presented by the new Anaconda web-based installer is the widely used approach in all similar software, language selection for installation.
The following screen allows you to choose the storage device on which the installer will install the operating system. We should note here that, due to the software’s early development stage, the only option available is auto partitioning.
Of course, the final version will have the option to partition manually, choose a default filesystem, and other currently available features in the GTK version of the Anaconda installer.
This screen warns you that changes cannot be undone and existing data will be erased once confirmed.
Below is the screen that shows the progress of the current installation. We can’t help but notice that its logical and visual division into four separate phases provides a far more accurate representation of the current state of operations than in the currently used GTK-based installer.
The installation completion confirmation screen asks you to restart the system.
When Will the Final Version Be Ready?
As expected, one of the most exciting questions is when users will get the final stable version of the Anaconda Web UI installer. Unfortunately, this question has no clear answer, but we can still make some guesses.
Considering the announcement in January this year, the expectation was that Fedora 37 would feature the new installer. And despite the month delay with which Fedora 37 was released, we are just now getting a preview version of the installer.
In addition, considering the amount of work that still needs to be done, the best-case scenario is that the Anaconda Web UI installer will be included in the planned release of Fedora 38 at the end of April 2023. However, the more reasonable estimate is that it will be ready for production use in Fedora 39 in the late fall of next year.
Again, even Red Hat developers don’t commit to specific timelines, so it is more of a matter of “will be ready when it is ready” here.
Although this is pre-released software intended for development and testing, our Fedora 37 installation went smoothly and successfully.
Obviously, more work needs to be done until the installer reaches a final stable production-ready version, but the foundation has been laid, and much of the job is already done.
The Anaconda Web UI installer looks more modern and is easier to use than its predecessor. So, the Red Hat developers have successfully met the main goals set.
For those who want to give it a shot, the official announcement includes a link to a test installation Fedora 37 ISO image based on the new Anaconda Web UI installer.
It’s nice to have a web UI, but I always used VNC to continue Anaconda install from remote PC without issues, having full access to all the options. I hope the Web UI provides all the options and more, or at least leave Anaconda with VNC around for a long time.