Mayhaps this should be better called “getting rid of the blue and white bar loading screen in Fedora 11”, because that was the goal I had in mind when I set out on this mission. I’d like to officially say that [this guy] is just totally incorrect. He reviews Fedora 11 booting as, and I quote here,

“First, the loading screen is a simple blue loading bar. Second, the boot process is extremely quick. Does the first have anything to do with the second? It sure does. The Fedora 11 development team has decided to go with speed instead of looks during the boot process and I think Fedora 11 users will be thrilled with this small change to speed up the LiveCD boot time.”

HE’S CORRECT, I’M SO THRILLED!!! One main reason I find this funny — he assumes he knows exactly what the Fedora development team had in mind when designing this blue bar loading screen, yet he’s not a developer on the team. Nor is he correct. Nor did he even read the release notes or improvements list. Nope, not a single piece of knowledge, data, or documentation to back up this claim.

The truth? The dev team did work very hard on the boot process, and the fruit of their labors is the plymouth codebase. The blue/light-blue/white loading bar? Yeah, that’s actually a fallback when the graphical plymouth booting mechanism fails. Great job doing your homework! So we’ve established two things here, that there’s at least one page on the internet with incorrect information, and that, if you are experiencing the fedora 11 blue bar boot (say THAT one three times fast), you can actually attain a prettier boot process.

This how-to is written both from memory, and specifically for my laptop, which I was attempting to spruce up with a nice graphical boot. If it’s inaccurate, sorry about that, but you can certainly use the base I’m giving you here as a launching point for further research.

First, my laptop has an NVidia GPU in it, so it was necessary to download the proprietary NVidia drivers and install them. I did not install the 32-bit compatibility libraries, since if I do, the NVidia installer says something to the effect of, “Could not check random component #9662, assuming successful installation”. Well NVidia, you know what happens when you assume things… Anyway, once you’ve gotten the nvidia kernel module installed, edit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf and blacklist the modules “nv” and “nouveau” to prevent them from being loaded. We only want the proprietary driver to be loaded here. Make sure you update /etc/X11/xorg.conf as well and tell it to use the nvidia module.

Next, we need to make the framebuffer have the optimal settings, that way plymouth won’t die and fall back to the blue bar loading screen. Append to the end of the kernel line in /boot/grub/grub.conf the text “vga=ask” and reboot. The kernel will prompt you for a video mode. I recommend typing “scan” here and striking return abruptly, as we want to make sure all available modes are listed. And yes, the abrupt manner with which the enter key is pressed is important. So yeah, pick which mode fits your screen the best, for me it was 1920x1200x32, which had a hex code of like 37D or something. Like I said, this is all from memory. Now, write down this hex code somewhere, because you’ll need it again shortly. After the machine boots, find a calculator and convert the hex code you just entered into the kernel into decimal, then place the decimal value in the /boot/grub/grub.conf file, replacing the “ask” with your number. Mine resolved to decimal “893”, so I ended up with “vga=893” on the kernel line. Congrats, you have now made a hospitable environment with which plymouth can bedazzle you.

Okay, now it’s time to configure the workhorse. We’ll need the appropriate utilities, so run this:

# yum install plymouth plymouth-gdm-hooks plymouth-libs plymouth-plugin-label plymouth-plugin-two-step plymouth-scripts plymouth-system-theme plymouth-theme-charge plymouth-utils

Honestly, most of these were probably already installed, but it never hurts to make absolutely sure. Now, recall before where we compiled the NVidia driver? We’ll need that to be loaded during the boot process so that plymouth can come up. This means that we’ll need a new initrd containing the NVidia module. This is also the purpose of blacklisting the nv and nouveau modules, as they now won’t get included into the initrd. I’ve become Canadian lazy lately, so you can run this command to see how to build a new initrd:

# rpm -aq –scripts kernel | grep initrd

A list of 2 or 4 commands will show up from that. Now find the appropriate one and run it. For me, that was:

# /sbin/new-kernel-pkg –package kernel –mkinitrd –depmod –install

Voila, one new shiny initrd. But the initrd isn’t quite done yet. We need to update plymouth’s hooks into it. First, we’ll want to select a theme for initrd to use. I’ve made sure, at the very least, you’ve installed the “charge” theme in the yum command above. There’s plenty more in the repos, feel free to search for more, install them, and play around. Some are very neat. Anyway, to see which themes are available, do something like this:

# ls -1 /usr/share/plymouth/themes/

As you can see, I have a couple of themes installed, but let’s focus on the charge theme. Set it as the default theme, and then update it’s initrd hooks by running, in order:

# plymouth-set-default-theme charge
# /usr/libexec/plymouth/plymouth-update-initrd

Note: This entire abovesaid process needs to be redone for each NVidia driver or kernel update, otherwise it’ll be broken and fall back to the blue bars again.

Now, reboot and enjoy the pretty loading screen. Now there’s only one issue you’ll need to figure out from here on out that I can’t seem to work out, and that’s when to reboot in order to enjoy the loading screen anyway. I mean, if you followed this tutorial, you’re clearly running Linux, which means you’ll probably not need to reboot any time soon. Effectively, you may have just wasted a good 15 minutes setting up a boot screen you’ll never really enjoy too much. Thanks for reading my blog, though, I do appreciate it. I promise next time I’ll include a spoiler warning at the top of the article. Have a nice day! 🙂