VirtualBox Slowing Down Mah Linux (gasp!)    Posted:


As I booted up my laptop tonight, I noticed that things were extremely sluggish. It didn't take long at all to realize just how painfully slow things were. The problem didn't appear to be during boot, as the boot sequence was about as fast as it usually is. No, the speed was attacked as X was being loaded.

It has been a few days since I had time to use my laptop, and I thought I might have had to do a hard shutdown the last time I used it (for whatever reason). This lead me to wonder if it could have been something with the filesystem being corrupted. Usually a reboot solves these sort of problems for me, so that's what I chose to do. Unfortunately, it didn't do the trick. Upon rebooting, the laptop started up fine during boot, but as soon as X started up everything was slow again.

Some time when I was trying to see why my computer was running so slow, I pulled up the system monitor to see if any processes were obviously hoarding the CPU power. There were a few processes that stood out, and they all started with VBox. The next thing I thought of was the last system update I did. It involved a new kernel, and that last system update was done the last time I used my laptop.

It dawned on me that I hadn't recompiled my VirtualBox drivers since I did my system update. I kicked off the usual /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup command. As soon as it was done, my computer was all the sudden very responsive--the way it usually is.

Comments

Giving OpenSUSE 11.1 An Honest Chance    Posted:


I've decided that if I ever want to really understand Linux, I'll have to give as many distributions as possible a chance. In the past, I've tried to use OpenSUSE on my HP Pavilion dv8000 laptop, but it never seemed quite as robust or useful as many other distributions that I've tried on the same machine.

With the recent release of OpenSUSE 11.1, I downloaded the final 32-bit DVD ISO as I normally do for newly released distributions (even if I don't plan on using them--it's an addiction). I proceeded to install the GNOME version of it in a virtual machine to see what all the hubbub was about. Evaluating an operating system within a virtual machine is not the most effective way to do things, but everything seemed fairly solid. As such, and since I have always had difficulties keeping any RPM-based distro around for any length of time, I plan on using OpenSUSE 11.1 through March 2008 (perhaps longer if it grows on me). If it hoses my system, I will go back to something better. If it works, I will learn to use and appreciate it better.

The Installation

The first step when the installation program starts is to choose what language to use, after which you choose the type of installation you're going to be doing. Your choices are:

  • New Installation
  • Update
  • Repair Installed System

You also have the option of installing "Add-On Products" from another media. At this step, I chose to do a new installation.

Next, you get to choose your time zone. The interface is very intuitive. You get a map of the world, and you click on the region you want to zoom in on. Once you're zoomed in, you can select a city that is near you to specify your time zone. Alternatively, you can choose your region and time zone from a couple of drop down lists.

After setting your time zone, you get to choose which desktop environment you want to install. Your choices are:

  • GNOME 2.24.1
  • KDE 4.1.3
  • KDE 3.5.10
  • XFCE 4.4
  • Minimal X Window
  • Minimal Server Selection (Text Mode)

I will choose to install GNOME because it seems to be the desktop of the future, especially with the hideous beast that KDE has become in the 4.x series...

Now you get to play with the partitioning. Usually the installer's first guess is pretty good, but I've got a different arrangement for my partitions, so I'm going to customize things a bit.

The next step is to create a regular, unprivileged user account for your day-to-day computing needs. This screen is pretty self-explanatory if you've ever registered for an e-mail address or installed any other operating system.

One thing that seems to have been added to OpenSUSE 11.1 is the option to use your regular user password as the root password. This is probably a nice addition for a lot of people, but I'd rather feel like my computer is a little more secure by having a different password for administrative tasks.

You're also give a few other options, such as being able to receive system mail, logging in automatically, and modifying your authentication settings. Other than the administrative password option, I left everything the same. If you're like me, and choose to have a different administrative password, you will be prompted to enter the new password at the next step.

Finally, you're shown a summary of the installation tasks that will take place. I'm going to customize my software selection just a bit so I don't have to do it manually after the installation is complete. For example, while I do like GNOME to a degree, I prefer to use KDE 3.5.x, so I will choose to install that environment as well just in case I need the comfort of KDE programs. Also, since I like to use the command line interface for a lot of things, I will choose to install the "Console Tools" package, just because it sounds useful. Lastly, I will choose to install a few development packages, such as C/C++, Java, Python, and Tcl/Tk. These changes bumped up my installation size from about 2.8GB to just over 4GB.

After reviewing the remaining tasks, all you need to do is hit the "Install" button. You will be prompted to verify your desire to install OpenSUSE, after which the package installation will begin. While the installation is taking place, you have the option of watching a brain-washing slideshow, viewing the installation details as it progresses, or reading the release notes.

The actual installation took nearly 40 minutes on my laptop. While this isn't necessarily a great improvement over past releases, I'm sure the story would have been much different had I not customized the software I wanted to have installed. The introduction of installation images a few releases ago drastically improved installation times. If you don't customize your package selection, you'll probably notice the speed difference.

When all of the packages have been installed, the installation program begins to configure your newly installed OpenSUSE for your computer, with a "reboot" in between. This is when all of your hardware, such as your network adapters, graphics adapter, sound card, printers, etc are probed and configured. Strangely enough, this step seems to take a lot longer than it does in Windows, which is usually not the case with Linux. What is OpenSUSE up to I wonder?

When all is said and done, the installation program finishes on its own and loads up your desktop.

Annoyances

There are a couple things that really annoyed me right off the bat about OpenSUSE 11.1. The first was that the loading screen and installation program didn't use my laptop's native resolution. My screen is capable of 1680x1050. The installation program chopped off about 1.25 inches of screen real estate on either side of the program. I don't know if this was an intentional occurrence or not. It seems like the artwork in the installation may have been limited to a non-widescreen resolution. If so, that's completely retarded. I'd like to think that more computer users these days have a widescreen monitor than not, at least the ones who would be playing with Linux.

The second annoyance was that the installation program wouldn't use my external USB DVD drive, which I like to think more reliable than my internal DVD drive. I mean, everything would start up fine--I got the boot menu, the installation program loaded fine, and things seemed like they would work. That's up until the package repositories (the DVD) were being built. Then the USB drive just kept spinning and spinning. Once I popped the disc into my internal drive the program proceeded as expected.

Your Desktop

I thought it was interesting that I chose to install GNOME, but since I chose to install KDE 3.5.10 alongside it that's what it booted me into after the installation was completed. No real complaints, though, since I prefer KDE anyway. Nonetheless, I switched back to GNOME to stretch my limits all the more. At least the desktop took up the full resolution that my screen can handle, unlike the installation program and boot screen.

Things seem fairly responsive... nothing like Slackware though. I just received a little popup notification with an excuse for the lag I might be experiencing: the daily indexing has commenced and should be finished soon. Whatever it's up to, it's taking up a consistent 100% of my CPU. How nice. I hope whatever it's indexing ends up being useful.

Sound worked right from the get-go, which is nice. Hardware acceleration for my Radeon Xpress 200M doesn't work, nor does my Broadcom wireless card. These will be fixed soon.

The Wireless

It looks like the most important step in getting my wireless to work was executing these commands as root:

/usr/sbin/install_bcm43xx_firmware
modprobe b43

I did a lot of stuff to try to get my wireless to work before I executed those commands, but nothing did the trick until I tried them. Also, to make the wireless available each time you reboot without requiring the modprobe b43 command, you need to edit your sysconfig.

To do that, open up YaST and find the "/etc/sysconfig Editor" option. Expand the "System" node, and navigate to Kernel > MODULES_LOADED_ON_BOOT. Then put b43 in the value box. Apply the changes. The next time you reboot your computer, the wireless should be available from the get-go.

The Video Card

This section only really applies to folks with ATI graphics adapters.

I found a tutorial on ubuntuforums.org, strangely enough, which described the process for getting ATI drivers to work on OpenSUSE 11.1. The first step is to download the official ATI drivers for Linux. Each of these commands should be executed as root:

wget https://a248.e.akamai.net/f/674/9206/0/www2.ati.com/drivers/\
linux/ati-driver-installer-8-12-x86.x86_64.run

Next, you need to download the kernel source and ensure that you have a few other utilities required for compiling a kernel module:

zypper in kernel-source gcc make patch

Now you should be able to run through the ATI driver installation utility, accepting all of the defaults:

sh ati-driver-installer-8-12-x86.x86_64.run

If you're on 64-bit OpenSUSE, you need to take an extra step to make the driver available:

rm /usr/lib/dri/fglrx_dri.so && ln -s /usr/lib64/dri/fglrx_dri.so \
/usr/lib/dri/fglrx_dri.so

Backup your existing xorg.conf configuration file and configure Xorg to use the new driver:

cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.orig
aticonfig --initial -f

Finally, configure Sax2 with the ATI driver:

sax2 -r -m 0=fglrx

Upon rebooting your computer, you should be able to use the hardware-accelerated 3D capabilities of your ATI card. To verify that things are up and running, execute fglrxinfo as a normal user. This command renders the following output on my system:

display: :0.0  screen: 0
OpenGL vendor string: ATI Technologies Inc.
OpenGL renderer string: ATI Radeon Xpress Series
OpenGL version string: 2.1.8304 Release

Other Thoughts

After having played with OpenSUSE 11.1 for a couple hours, I think I might be able to keep it around for a little while. Despite the lack of speed exhibited by other Linux distributions, the "stability" that OpenSUSE seems to offer is attractive to me. It will likely take some time to get used to RPMs over DEBs for package management.

How bad can it be? I mean, it comes with OpenOffice 3.0.0, which is nice. It can handle dual-head mode on my laptop thanks to Xinerama, which no other distro to date has been able to do. This gives me a little more screen real estate to work with, which helps out a lot when I'm developing a Web site or working in an IDE. The package managers are slow, but how often do you really install software anyway?

Again, we'll just have to see how things pan out. Let's hope it turns out to be a positive experience.

Comments

Installing Slackware 12.2 On Your EeePC (701 4G, in my case)    Posted:


Welcome to my second article about installing Slackware on an Asus EeePC. This is a follow-up article to the one I posted in May 2008 soon after Slackware 12.1 was released. In this article, I will assume that you're doing a fresh installation of Slackware 12.2 and that you have access to an external USB CD/DVD ROM drive.

In all honesty, the installation process is extremely similar to what I did with 12.1. However, looking back at my previous article, I realize that my steps may not have been the most useful in the world. This time around I will try to be more helpful.

Getting Slackware

The first, and most obvious step, is to get a copy of Slackware. Simply head on over to http://www.slackware.com/getslack/ and retrieve the appropriate ISO(s) using whichever method you prefer. I downloaded the DVD version of Slackware. If you download the CD ISOs, you really only need the first 3 ISOs. The remaining 3 are source packages for the binary packages you install from the first three discs. Rarely do you need the source code for these packages.

After retrieving the Slackware ISO(s), you must burn them to a disc of some sort: ISOs that are ~650MB should be burned to CDs and anything larger should (obviously) be burned to a DVD. Be sure you burn each ISO using the "burn disc image" functionality in your disc writing software--simply burning the ISO file onto the disc in a regular data session will not do what we need.

Booting The Install Disc

After you have a good copy of the installation disc (the DVD or the first of the CDs), put the disc into your CD/DVD ROM drive and reboot your computer. To ensure that your computer boots from the disc rather than the hard drive, hit F2 when you see the initial boot screen. Then go to the "Boot" tab and verify that your external CD/DVD drive takes precedence over the internal SSD. While we're in the BIOS, let's hop over to the "Advanced" tab and set "OS Installation" to "Start". This will increase the chances that your external drive will be recognized or something.... mine didn't work until I made that change. When you're all done with that, exit your BIOS, saving your changes.

The computer will reboot, and it should access your installation disc immediately after the initial boot screen disappears. Once you boot from the installation disc, you should be presented with a screen which allows you to pass some settings to the installation kernel.

The installation boot screen

To make the installation go faster, use the following boot string:

hugesmp.s hdc=noprobe

This makes it so the installation will see the internal SSD as /dev/sda instead of /dev/hdc, which also boosts the read/write times by about 13 times.

During the boot process you will be asked to specify your keyboard map. Unless you want something special here, just hit the enter key to proceed.

Partition Your SSD

Next you will need to login as root and partition your SSD. You can do this using one of the following two commands:

fdisk /dev/sda
cfdisk /dev/sda

Here are some steps in case you're not familiar with these utilities:

  1. Remove all partitions (unless you know what you're doing)
    1. fdisk: d to delete (you may have to select multiple partitions to delete if you have more than one for some reason)
    2. cfdisk: Select all partitions individually with up/down arrow keys and use the left/right arrow keys to select delete from the menu at the bottom. Hit enter to run the delete command when it's highlighted.
  2. Create one partition that takes the whole SSD (again, unless you know what you're doing)
    1. fdisk: n (for new); enter; p (for primary); enter; 1 (for the first primary partition); enter; enter (to start at the beginning of the drive); enter (to select the end of the drive)
    2. cfdisk: Select the new command with the left/right arrow keys and hit enter when it's selected. Make it a primary partition, and have it take the whole SSD (3997.49MB in my case).
  3. Set the type of the new partition to be Linux
    1. fdisk: t (for type); enter; 83 (for Linux); enter
    2. cfdisk: Use the left/right arrow keys to select the type command at the bottom and hit enter when it's selected. Choose 83.
  4. Set the new partition (or the first, if you decided to make more than one) to be bootable
    1. fdisk: a (for bootable); enter; 1 (for primary partition 1); enter
    2. cfdisk: Select the bootable command from the bottom using the left/right arrow keys. Hit enter when it's selected.
  5. Write the changes to the partition table and quit
    1. fdisk: w
    2. cfdisk: Use the left/right arrow keys to select the write command from the bottom. Hit enter when it's selected. Type 'yes' to verify your intent, acknowledging that your previous data will be "gone". Then select the quit command.

Installing Slackware

As soon as your partitioning has finished, go ahead and run setup to begin the actual installation program.

The first screen of the installation program

Since we don't have a swap partition, can jump straight to the TARGET option. Use the arrow keys to highlight this option and hit enter. Select /dev/sda1 from the list, and format it with ext2. On the EeePC, most people prefer this format since it is a non-journaling filesystem. That means fewer writes to the SSD, which supposedly translates to a longer lifetime.

After the SSD is formatted, you will be asked to select the installation source. Again, I'm assuming that you want to use your fresh Slackware 12.2 disc, but you are free to choose what you want if you know what you're doing.

Selecting the installation source

I went with the default "Install from a Slackware CD or DVD" and told it to auto scan for my disc drive. It was found at /dev/sr0.

Choosing Your Packages

Next, you are given the opportunity to tweak the package series which will be installed on your EeePC. I chose the following series: A, AP, K, L, N, TCL, X, and XAP. I planned on using XFCE instead of KDE on my EeePC simply because it is much more light-weight and still capable of what I need. If you want KDE, be sure to check the appropriate series.

Selecting the packages to install

Once you mark each of the package series you wish to install, hit the "OK" button. You'll then have to choose which prompting mode to use. I chose menu, simply to be a little more picky about which packages I wanted installed. Installation took approximately 28 minutes with my package selection and setup.

Configuring Your System

When all of the packages are done being installed, you will be presented with some other screens to finish up the installation process.

  1. Choose whether or not you want to make a bootable USB... I skipped it.
  2. Choose how you wish to install LILO. I chose simple.
  3. Choose your frame buffer mode for the console. I chose 640x480x256.
  4. Specify any optional kernel parameters. Ensure that the hdc=noprobe from earlier is here to speed up your system considerably.
  5. Specify whether you wish to use UTF-8 on the console. I chose no.
  6. Specify where to install LILO. I chose MBR.
  7. Specify your mouse type. I chose imps2.
  8. Specify whether or not you wish to have gpm run at boot, which allows you to use your mouse in the console. I chose yes.
  9. Configure your network.
  10. Give your EeePC a hostname. This can be whatever you'd like.
  11. Specify the domain for your network. This can be whatever you'd like as well.
  12. Configure your IP address information. I just chose DHCP.
  13. Set the DHCP hostname. I left this blank.
  14. Review and confirm your network settings.
  15. Choose which services you wish to have running immediately after booting.
  16. See if you want to try custom screen fonts. I usually don't bother.
  17. Specify whether your hardware clock is set to local time or UTC.
  18. Choose your timezone.
  19. Select your preferred window manager. I chose XFCE.
  20. Set the root password.

At this point Slackware has been installed on your EeePC and you can exit the setup menu and hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete to reboot your computer.

First Boot

You should now go back into your BIOS and set "OS Installation" back to "Finished", exit and save changes, and reboot again.

Slackware's default LILO boot screen

You should then see the Slackware boot screen. By default, it has a 2-minute timeout, which seems absolutely absurd to me, so we'll change that later. Just hit enter for now and watch your new Slackware boot. The first boot will usually take a bit longer than subsequent reboots because all sorts of things need to generate their first configuration file.

When your system is ready, you'll be presented with a login prompt. Just login as root, using the password you specified in the last step of the installation process.

Tweaking Your Slackware

Here are some of the first things I do when I install a new copy of Slackware:

Add An Unprivileged User

This step is very important, because one thing that sets Linux apart from other operating systems is security ;). If you run your Linux system as root all the time, you're begging for problems.

To create a new unprivileged user, I use the adduser command. It walks you through the process of creating a user. This is the user you should use to do your day-to-day computing. Only use the root user when performing system administration tasks. Trust me :)

Tell X Windows to Start Automatically

I have no problem with the command line interface in Linux. I actually enjoy it quite a bit. However, on a device such as the EeePC, not having a GUI just doesn't seem all that practical. It's also not very impressive to your potential converts when they look over your shoulder and see that your tiny gadget just displays a black and white screen when you turn it on...

So, to help ourselves be a little more productive and to impress our followers, let's tell X Windows to start up automatically when we turn on the computer. To do that, we want to edit /etc/inittab and change the following line:

id:3:initdefault:

to be:

id:4:initdefault:

You can use whatever program you feel comfortable with, such as vi or nano. The next time you reboot your computer, you should see a GUI as soon as all of the services are fully loaded.

Along with this step, I suppose we can mention the configuration of X Windows. I usually run xorgsetup as root to get things up and running. Usually there is also a bit of tweaking to get things like the scroll wheel on the mouse to function. This part in particular took quite some time for me to figure out.

Enable The Scroll Wheel on the Trackpad

Some of you might be able to live without being able to scroll a page or whatever without using the scroll feature on most mouse devices these days, but I'm not one of them. Here is my entire /etc/X11/xorg.conf file:

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier     "X.org Configured"
    Screen      0  "Screen0" 0 0
    InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
    InputDevice    "SynapticMouse" "AlwaysCore"
    InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
EndSection

Section "Files"
    RgbPath      "/usr/share/X11/rgb"
    ModulePath   "/usr/lib/xorg/modules"
    FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/TTF"
    FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/OTF"
    FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/Type1"
    FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/misc"
    FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/75dpi/:unscaled"
EndSection

Section "Module"
    Load  "xtrap"
    Load  "GLcore"
    Load  "record"
    Load  "dri"
    Load  "dbe"
    Load  "extmod"
    Load  "glx"
    Load  "freetype"
    Load  "type1"
    Load  "synaptics"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier  "Keyboard0"
    Driver      "kbd"
    Option       "XkbModel"  "pc104"
    Option       "XkbLayout"  "us"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier  "Mouse0"
    Driver "mouse"
    Option "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
    Option "Protocol" "IMPS/2"
    Option "Buttons" "5"
    Option "zAxisMapping" "4 5"
    Option "SHMConfig" "on"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier "SynapticMouse"
    Driver "synaptics"
    Option "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
    Option "Protocol" "auto-dev"
    Option "SHMConfig" "on"
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier   "Monitor0"
    VendorName   "Monitor Vendor"
    ModelName    "Monitor Model"
EndSection

Section "Device"
        ### Available Driver options are:-
        ### Values: <i>: integer, <f>: float, <bool>: "True"/"False",
        ### <string>: "String", <freq>: "<f> Hz/kHz/MHz"
        ### [arg]: arg optional
        #Option     "NoAccel"               # [<bool>]
        #Option     "SWcursor"              # [<bool>]
        #Option     "ColorKey"              # <i>
        #Option     "CacheLines"            # <i>
        #Option     "Dac6Bit"               # [<bool>]
        #Option     "DRI"                   # [<bool>]
        #Option     "NoDDC"                 # [<bool>]
        #Option     "ShowCache"             # [<bool>]
        #Option     "XvMCSurfaces"          # <i>
        #Option     "PageFlip"              # [<bool>]
    Identifier  "Card0"
    Driver      "intel"
    VendorName  "Intel Corporation"
    BoardName   "Mobile 915GM/GMS/910GML Express Graphics Controller"
    BusID       "PCI:0:2:0"
EndSection

Section "Screen"
    Identifier "Screen0"
    Device     "Card0"
    Monitor    "Monitor0"
    DefaultDepth 24
    SubSection "Display"
        Viewport   0 0
        Depth     1
    EndSubSection
    SubSection "Display"
        Viewport   0 0
        Depth     4
    EndSubSection
    SubSection "Display"
        Viewport   0 0
        Depth     8
    EndSubSection
    SubSection "Display"
        Viewport   0 0
        Depth     15
    EndSubSection
    SubSection "Display"
        Viewport   0 0
        Depth     16
    EndSubSection
    SubSection "Display"
        Viewport   0 0
        Depth     24
    EndSubSection
EndSection

A lot of that stuff might not be necessary, but it's what works for me. Normally the process for enabling the scroll wheel is pretty easy, but something seems to have changed in this respect with the release of Slackware 12.2. I had to edit the /etc/modprobe.d/psmouse script to make this line:

options psmouse proto=imps

look like:

options psmouse proto=any

After making that change, things seemed to work a lot better.

Make LILO to Boot Faster

There are a couple tricks we can use to make LILO boot our EeePC slightly faster. The first is to add the compact option somewhere, and the second is to decrease the menu timeout.

Open up /etc/lilo.conf with a text editor of your choosing as root. Add a single line with the word compact somewhere. I put it under the line that says boot = /dev/sda so the top of lilo.conf looks like this:

# LILO configuration file
# generated by 'liloconfig'
#
# Start LILO global section
# Append any additional kernel parameters:
append="hdc=noprobe vt.default_utf8=8"
boot = /dev/sda
compact

I also changed the line that said timeout = 1200 to be timeout = 50 to make LILO only hang around for 5 seconds instead of 2 minutes.

After making these changes, we must reinstall LILO to the MBR with the new settings:

lilo -v

Here's my /etc/lilo.conf with most of the commented lines removed:

# LILO configuration file
# generated by 'liloconfig'
#
# Start LILO global section
# Append any additional kernel parameters:
append="hdc=noprobe vt.default_utf8=0"
boot = /dev/sda
compact

# Boot BMP Image.
# Bitmap in BMP format: 640x480x8
bitmap = /boot/slack.bmp
bmp-colors = 255,0,255,0,255,0
bmp-table = 60,6,1,16
bmp-timer = 65,27,0,255

prompt
timeout = 50
change-rules
reset
vga = normal
# End LILO global section
# Linux bootable partition config begins
image = /boot/vmlinuz
root = /dev/sda1
label = Linux
read-only
# Linux bootable partition config ends

Network Tweaking

While the wireless adapter seemed to work great for me out of the box this time, the ethernet adapter is still not functional. I compiled and installed the atl2 driver to solve the problem. You can get it from http://people.redhat.com/csnook/atl2/atl2-2.0.4.tar.bz2. Here are the steps I took to install it:

wget http://people.redhat.com/csnook/atl2/atl2-2.0.4.tar.bz2
tar jxf atl2-2.0.4.tar.bz2
cd atl2-2.0.4
make
cp atl2.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/net/
depmod -a
modprobe atl2
ifconfig

The next tweak I added for networking was to boost boot times... The DHCP address request hangs the entire boot process out of the box if you don't have an ethernet cable plugged in while booting. To remedy this problem, add the following line to the first section of your /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1.conf:

DHCP_TIMEOUT[0]="5"

This will tell your computer to continue booting if an IP address hasn't been assigned after 5 seconds of waiting.

Enable Frequency Scaling

We all like out battery to last a long time, right? Well, the EeePC 701 doesn't have the greatest battery in the world, but we can help increase the battery life by enabling the CPU frequency modules. I put this stuff in my /etc/rc.d/rc.local script:

 1 #!/bin/sh
 2 #
 3 # /etc/rc.d/rc.local:  Local system initialization script.
 4 #
 5 # Put any local startup commands in here.  Also, if you have
 6 # anything that needs to be run at shutdown time you can
 7 # make an /etc/rc.d/rc.local_shutdown script and put those
 8 # commands in there.
 9 
10 modprobe p4-clockmod
11 modprobe cpufreq_ondemand
12 modprobe cpufreq_conservative
13 modprobe cpufreq_powersave
14 modprobe cpufreq_performance
15 
16 cpufreq-set -g ondemand -d 450Mhz -u 900Mhz

Add Your SD Card to /etc/fstab

I have an SD card that I leave in my EeePC all the time, and it's formatted with ext2 just like the internal SSD. Without this tweak, I have to mount the SD card each time I turn on the computer, which gets bothersome. My fix is to add the SD card to /etc/fstab, which takes care of mounting the device at boot.

First, you should make a directory that will be used to mount the device. I made one as such:

mkdir /mnt/sd

Now you need to determine your SD card's UUID. I started out by unmounting my SD card and taking it out of the slot. Then I executed this command:

ls /dev/disk/by-uuid

Next, I popped the SD card back in and executed that command again. The UUID that appears the second time but not the first time is your SD card's UUID.

It's time to add the magic line to your /etc/fstab. Add a line such as:

UUID=[your SD card's UUID] /mnt/sd ext2 defaults,noatime 1 1

somewhere in the file. While we're digging around in /etc/fstab, we might as well add the noatime option to the internal SSD to help reduce disk writes. Save the file and exit the editor. Then mount everything (using mount -a) or just the SD card (using mount /mnt/sd).

For posterity's sake, here's my entire /etc/fstab file:

/dev/sda1        /                ext2        defaults,noatime         1   1
UUID=30293ff4-5bee-457a-8528-ec296f099e9a /mnt/sd ext2 defaults,noatime 1 1
#/dev/cdrom      /mnt/cdrom       auto        noauto,owner,ro  0   0
/dev/fd0         /mnt/floppy      auto        noauto,owner     0   0
devpts           /dev/pts         devpts      gid=5,mode=620   0   0
proc             /proc            proc        defaults         0   0
tmpfs            /dev/shm         tmpfs       defaults         0   0

Preventing Shutdown Hangs

Sometimes the sound card seems to make Slackware hang when you're shutting down. Everything seems to turn off fine, but the little green power LED still shines bright. The solution to this problem appears to be adding the following line:

modprobe -r snd_hda_intel

to /etc/rc.d/rc.6 right before the "Unmounting local file systems." line (around line 195).

Enable Volume Hotkeys and Sleeping

Slackware 12.2 is already listening for ACPI events by default, so we just need to insert our custom stuff into /etc/acpi/acpi_handler.sh:

 1 #!/bin/sh
 2 
 3 IFS=${IFS}/
 4 set $@
 5 
 6 #logger "ACPI Event $1, $2, $3, $4, $5"
 7 
 8 case "$1" in
 9     button)
10         case "$2" in
11             power) /sbin/init 0;;
12             sleep) /etc/acpi/actions/lid.sh;;
13             lid)
14                 if grep -q closed /proc/acpi/button/lid/LID/state
15                 then
16                     /etc/acpi/actions/lid.sh
17                 fi
18                 ;;
19             *) logger "ACPI action $2 is not defined";;
20         esac
21         ;;
22     hotkey)
23         case "$3" in
24             # Fn+F2 Wireless/Bluetooth button
25             # Fn+F7 Mute button
26             00000013) amixer set Master toggle;;
27             # Fn+F8 Volume down
28             00000014) amixer set Master 10%-;;
29             # Fn+F9 Volume up
30             00000015) amixer set Master 10%+;;
31         esac
32         ;;
33     *) logger "ACPI group $1 / action $2 is not defined";;
34 esac

And to handle the closing of the lid or pressing the sleep button, we need to create a new script in /etc/acpi/actions/ called lid.sh:

 1 #!/bin/sh
 2 # script by Fluxx from linuxquestions slackware forum
 3 # discover video card's ID
 4 ID=`/sbin/lspci | grep VGA | awk '{ print $1 }' | sed -e 's@:@/@'`
 5 
 6 # securely create a temporary file
 7 TMP_FILE=`mktemp /tmp/video_state.XXXXXX`
 8 trap 'rm -f $TMP_FILE' 0 1 15
 9 
10 # switch to virtual terminal 1 to avoid graphics
11 # corruption in X
12 chvt 1
13 
14 /sbin/hwclock --systohc
15 
16 # remove the webcam module
17 rmmod uvcvideo
18 
19 # write all unwritten data (just in case)
20 sync
21 
22 # dump current data from the video card to the
23 # temporary file
24 cat /proc/bus/pci/$ID > $TMP_FILE
25 
26 # suspend-to-ram
27 # (samwise) not using this it stuffs up the screen brightness
28 echo -n mem > /sys/power/state
29 
30 # suspend-to-disk
31 #echo -n disk > /sys/power/state
32 
33 # standby
34 #echo -n standby > /sys/power/state
35 
36 # force on for now...
37 xset dpms force on
38 
39 /sbin/hwclock --hctosys
40 
41 # restore the webcam module
42 modprobe uvcvideo
43 
44 # restore video card data from the temporary file
45 # on resume
46 cat $TMP_FILE > /proc/bus/pci/$ID
47 
48 # switch back to virtual terminal 2 (running X)
49 chvt 6; sleep 2
50 chvt 2
51 
52 # remove temporary file
53 rm -f $TMP_FILE

And we need to make sure the script is executable:

chmod +x /etc/acpi/actions/lid.sh

These scripts should enable us to use the mute key, the increase/decrease volume keys, and the sleep key. They should also allow us to close the lid of the EeePC to put it to sleep. Occasionally, when you wake up the computer, you will just see a blank black screen. To get around this, switch back to VT2 by using the keystroke Ctrl+Alt+F2.

Install Special Packages

Slackware comes with a lot of awesome stuff right out of the box, but it is missing some very important utilities at the same time. Included in this list, for me, is a program called wicd, or a network connectivity manager. This is similar to the "Network Manager" utility found in other mainstream distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSuSE. Slackware has yet to include such a utility by default.

Anyway, wicd can be found in the extra directory on the Slackware DVD or the 3rd (?) CD. To install it, find the package on the disc (or download it from the Internet) and execute the following command:

installpkg wicd-1.5.6-noarch-2.tgz

Be sure to check out the extra directory on the Slackware install disc. There are some neat tools in there. Some excellent resources for Slackware packages include:

There are some utilities out there to help you in your quest to resolve package dependencies. Two of the major ones that I've used in the past are swaret and slapt-get.

Using Slackware 12.2

My Slackware 12.2-powered EeePC 701 4G

I have to give the Linux kernel hackers props--the 2.6.27.7 kernel is amazingly fast! I'm sure the fact that I'm running a fairly stock Slackware installation (as opposed to something like Ubuntu) helps the speed quite a bit too. This past semester I had Linux Mint 5 (XFCE edition) installed on my EeePC, and that seemed fairly responsive. Slackware blew me away though, and I can still do everything I want to do!

The webcam and sound card work out of the box, just like the wireless. I rarely use the webcam, but it's fun to play with, and my mom appreciates seeing me on Skype occasionally. The wireless connection quality exceeds what it was with the madwifi driver I was using with Slackware 12.1 and other distros like Linux Mint. Programs are ultra speedy and responsive, even with the processor clocked at 450Mhz. I love it!!!

Boot times could be better, but I'm not too concerned with it. My setup takes approximately 50 seconds from boot to a useable desktop interface. Not horrible by any means, but perhaps not the best for a netbook when all you want to do is check your e-mail.

I would like to see the Network Manager that so many other distributions offer in Slackware some day. The wicd application is nice, but it's not nearly as intuitive as Network Manager, and it seems to be relatively limited in its capabilities in comparison. I know I'm not alone in my desire to see Network Manager included, or at least available, for Slackware. It would be tremendously beneficial in a world where wireless networking and laptops are more and more pervasive. Using the command line to adjust your wireless connection settings each time you have to hop to a new access point is just annoying.

In the end, I'm excited to have Slackware on my EeePC once again. I think it will be around for quite a while this time.

Please comment with any advice or problems that you have in regards to installing Slackware 12.2 on an EeePC.

Comments

Installing Django on Shared Hosting (Site5)    Posted:


This article is a related to my previously posted article about installing Django, an advanced Web framework for perfectionists, on your own computer. Now we will learn how to install Django on a shared hosting account, using Site5 and fastcgi as an example. Depending on your host, you may or may not have to request additional privileges from the support team in order to execute some of these commands.

Note: Django requires at least Python 2.3. Newer versions of Python are preferred.

Note: This HOWTO assumes familiarity with the UNIX/Linux command line.

Note: If the wget command doesn't work for you (as in you don't have permission to run it), you might try curl [url] -O instead. That's a -O as in upper-case o.

Install Python

Site5 (and many other shared hosting providers that offer SSH access) already has Python installed, but you will want to have your own copy so you can install various tools without affecting other users. So go ahead and download virtual python:

mkdir ~/downloads
cd ~/downloads
wget http://peak.telecommunity.com/dist/virtual-python.py

Virtual Python will make a local copy of the installed Python in your home directory. Now you want to make sure you execute this next command with the newest version of Python available on your host. For example, Site5 offers both Python 2.3.4 and Python 2.4.3. We want to use Python 2.4.3. To verify the version of your Python, execute the following command:

python -V

If that displays Python 2.3.x or anything earlier, try using python2.4 -V or python2.5 -V instead. Whichever command renders the most recent version of Python is the one you should use in place of python in the next command. Since python -V currently displays Python 2.4.3 on my Site5 sandbox, I will execute the following command:

python ~/downloads/virtual-python.py

Again, this is just making a local copy of the Python installation that you used to run the virtual-python.py script. Your local installation is likely in ~/lib/python2.4/ (version could vary).

Make Your Local Python Be Default

To reduce confusion and hassle, let's give our new local installation of Python precedence over the system-wide Python. To do that, open up your ~/.bashrc and make sure it contains a line similar to this:

export PATH=$HOME/bin:$PATH

If you're unfamiliar with UNIX-based text editors such as vi, here is what you would type to use vi to make the appropriate changes:

  • vi ~/.bashrc to edit the file
  • go to the end of the file by using the down arrow key or the j key
  • hit o (the letter) to tell vi you want to start typing stuff on the next line
  • type export PATH=$HOME/bin:$PATH
  • hit the escape key
  • type :x to save the changes and quit. Don't forget the : at the beginning. Alternatively, you can type :wq, which works exactly the same as :x.

Once you've made the appropriate changes to ~/.bashrc, you need to make those changes take effect in your current SSH session:

source ~/.bashrc

Now we should verify that our changes actually took place. Type the following command:

which python

If they output of that command is not something like ~/bin/python or /home/[your username]/bin/python, something probably didn't work. If that's the case, you can try again, or simply remember to use ~/bin/python instead of python throughout the rest of this HOWTO.

Install Python's setuptools

Now we should install Python's setuptools to make our lives easier down the road.

cd ~/downloads
wget http://peak.telecommunity.com/dist/ez_setup.py
python ez_setup.py

This gives us access to a script called easy_install, which makes it easy to install many useful Python tools. We will use this a bit later.

Download Django

Let's now download the most recent development version of Django. SSH into your account and execute the following commands (all commands shall be executed on your host).

svn co http://code.djangoproject.com/svn/django/trunk ~/downloads/django-trunk

Now we should make a symlink (or shortcut) to Django and put it somewhere on the Python Path. A sure-fire place is your ~/lib/python2.4/site-packages/ directory (again, that location could vary from host to host):

ln -s ~/downloads/django-trunk/django ~/lib/python2.4/site-packages
ln -s ~/downloads/django-trunk/django/bin/django-admin.py ~/bin

Now verify that Django is installed and working by executing the following command:

python -c "import django; print django.get_version()"

That command should return something like 1.0-final-SVN-8964. If you got something like that, you're good to move onto the next section. If, however, you get something more along the lines of...

Traceback (most recent call last):
    File "<string>", line 1, in ?
ImportError: No module named django

...then your Django installation didn't work. If this is the case, make sure that you have a ~/downloads/django-trunk/django directory, and also verify that ~/lib/python2.4/site-packages actually exists.

Installing Dependencies

In order for your Django projects to become useful, we need to install some other packages: PIL (Python Imaging Library, required if you want to use Django's ImageField), MySQL-python (a MySQL database driver for Python), and flup (a utility for fastcgi-powered sites).

easy_install -f http://www.pythonware.com/products/pil/ Imaging
easy_install mysql-python
easy_install flup

Sometimes, using easy_install to install PIL doesn't go over too well because of your (lack of) permissions. To circumvent this situation, you can always download the actual PIL source code and install it manually.

cd ~/downloads
wget http://effbot.org/downloads/Imaging-1.1.6.tar.gz
tar zxf Imaging-1.1.6.tar.gz
cd Imaging-1.1.6
ln -s ~/downloads/Imaging-1.1.6/PIL ~/lib/python2.4/site-packages

And to verify, you can try this command:

python -c "import PIL"

If that doesn't return anything, you're good to go. If it says something about "ImportError: No module named PIL", it didn't work. In that case, you have to come up with some other way of installing PIL.

Setting Up A Django Project

Let's attempt to setup a sample Django project.

mkdir -p ~/projects/django
cd ~/projects/django
django-admin.py startproject mysite
cd mysite
mkdir media templates

If that works, then you should be good to do the rest of your Django development on your server. If not, make sure that ~/downloads/django-trunk/django/bin/django-admin.py exists and that it has a functioning symlink (shortcut) in ~/bin. If not, you'll have to make adjustments according to your setup. Your directory structure should look something like:

  • projects
    • django
      • mysite
        • media
        • templates
        • __init__.py
        • manage.py
        • settings.py
        • urls.py

Making A Django Project Live

Now we need to make your Django project accessible from the Web. On Site5, I generally use either a subdomain or a brand new domain when setting up a Django project. If you plan on having other projects accessible on the same hosting account, I recommend you do the same. Let's assume you setup a subdomain such as mysite.mydomain.com. On Site5, you would go to ~/public_html/mysite for the next few commands. This could differ from host to host, so I won't go into much more detail than that.

Once you're in the proper place, you need to setup a few things: two symlinks, a django.fcgi, and a custom .htaccess file. Let's begin with the symlinks.

ln -s ~/projects/django/mysite/media ~/public_html/mysite/static
ln -s ~/lib/python2.4/site-packages/django/contrib/admin/media ~/public_html/mysite/media

This just makes it so you can have your media files (CSS, images, javascripts, etc) in a different location than in your public_html.

Now for the django.fcgi. This file is what tells the webserver to execute your Django project.

 1 #!/home/[your username]/bin/python
 2 import sys, os
 3 
 4 # Add a custom Python path.
 5 sys.path.insert(0, "/home/[your username]/projects/django")
 6 
 7 # Switch to the directory of your project. (Optional.)
 8 os.chdir("/home/[your username]/projects/django/mysite")
 9 
10 # Set the DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable.
11 os.environ['DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE'] = "mysite.settings"
12 
13 from django.core.servers.fastcgi import runfastcgi
14 runfastcgi(method="threaded", daemonize="false")

And finally, the .htaccess file:

1 RewriteEngine On
2 RewriteBase /
3 RewriteRule ^(media/.*)$ - [L]
4 RewriteRule ^(static/.*)$ - [L]
5 RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !(django.fcgi)
6 RewriteRule ^(.*)$ django.fcgi/$1 [L]

The .htaccess file makes it so that requests to http://mysite.mydomain.com/ are properly directed to your Django project. So, now you should have a directory structure that something that looks like this:

  • public_html
    • mysite
      • media
      • static
      • .htaccess
      • django.fcgi

If that looks good, go ahead and make the django.fcgi executable and non-writable by others:

chmod 755 ~/public_html/mysite/django.fcgi

After that, head over to http://mysite.mydomain.com/ (obviously, replace the mydomain accordingly). If you see a page that says you've successfully setup your Django site, you're good to go!

Afterthoughts

I've noticed that I need to "restart" my Django sites on Site5 any time I change the .py files. There are a couple methods of doing this. One includes killing off all of your python processes (killall ~/bin/python) and the other simply updates the timestamp on your django.fcgi (touch ~/public_html/mysite/django.fcgi). I find the former to be more destructive and unreliable than the latter. So, my advice is to use the touch method unless it doesn't work, in which case you can try the killall method.

Good luck!

Comments

openSUSE 11.0: Round 2    Posted:


Ok, ok... I decided to give openSUSE 11.0 another shot. Since my last blog post, I have read some reviews posted by some other people who encountered similar problems when attempting to actually use KDE4. Some of these people opted to install the KDE 3.5.9 remix after that and had more promising result. So, instead of letting my bias get the best of me, I am going to try openSUSE 11.0 one more time using KDE3. The following are the steps I took while going through this process:

  1. Booted from DVD (openSUSE 11.0 x86_64)

  2. Chose "Installation" from the boot menu

  3. After the installer is completely loaded, I selected "English (US)" for both the language and the keyboard layout, read the license agreement, checked the "I Agree to the License Terms" box, and clicked Next.

  4. I waited for a few seconds while the installer probed my hardware and updated some package lists, then I chose "New Installation" and clicked Next.

  5. The next step was to choose my timezone. They have a very simple interface for this--much less frustrating than the counterpart in the most recent release of Ubuntu (8.04 LTS). My system clock is set to Mountain time, so I left that stuff alone and clicked Next.

  6. This step is probably where I screwed up the most last time. It's where you choose which desktop environment you want. You can choose from GNOME 2.22, KDE 4.0, KDE 3.5, and XFCE Deskop. Last time I chose KDE 4.0. This time I chose KDE 3.5 and clicked Next.

  7. After choosing the desktop environment, the installer took me to the disk partition section of the installation. This should be pretty easy for most people, but I changed a few things. Namely, I put the root and home partitions together, and I deleted one of my Windows partitions because Windows is stupid and bloated. Once I verified the disk partition settings, I clicked Next.

  8. This part is where you get to enter the primary system user's information. You can specify the user's name, login, and password. You may also specify a few options including whether or not the root user will have the same password, whether that user will receive system mail, and whether or not that user will be logged in automatically. If you need to, you may change the authentication settings here too. I just entered the information and got on with it. (If you uncheck the box for the root user having the same password, you're prompted for the root password after this screen)

  9. Finally, we get to the step where you get to verify all of the installation settings. I think I'll just go with the configuration for now. When you click Install, you're prompted to verify that you really want to install. Use your head on this one.

  10. After all of that, it began to format my partitions. One neat thing that I noticed while it was installing was the fact that they rolled commonly-installed packages into what they call "images." This seems to increase installation speed considerably. In the past, I've had most RPM-based distribution installations take as long as (or longer than) Windows takes to install. Granted, the difference there is that you actually get useful stuff once Linux is installed, whereas with Windows, you're stuck with something barely usable and you still have to install drivers for every piece of hardware except your monitor.

    Anyway... the openSUSE folks seem to have addressed that problem recently (maybe just in this release). This went a LOT faster than I've ever seen (on any computer). Despite the use of those images, though, there were still nearly 500 packages that needed to be installed. It seems to be quite evident that the packages are working faster than ever before. It's refreshing (though it did still take quite a bit longer to install than most Debian-based distributions I've tried).

  11. After all of the packages are installed, the system does some configuration and then reboots itself. When it comes back up, the installer will appear, do some more hardware detection and configuration, and then go straight into your desktop.

openSUSE actually didn't detect my 1680x1050 resolution (I didn't know any modern distribution wouldn't anymore), so I just went into YaST and set the resolution to what it should be. And then it locked up, and I had to do a hard reboot. Let's hope I can stop that from happening again. I suppose so long as I can still see things other than my mouse, I should be good.

Upon rebooting into my desktop, the resolution was still crappy. When I went to change it this time, though, I noticed that dual-head mode was enabled. That's stupid. I never plug a second monitor into my laptop. I disabled that, then tried to change the resolution. After logging out and back in, it seems to have changed the resolution properly. While I realize that I do have an extremely crappy video card, Ubuntu and others have been able to offer me 3D acceleration. This option is currently unavailable with openSUSE. Perhaps a little research will solve that problem.

After a few minutes of configuration and preference setting, my system locked up yet again. And another hard reset did the trick of getting it operational again. One more and it's outta here!! I do have to say... Minus the quirks with the resolution and drivers, the distribution does not seem bad at all. It might be worth trying out on a different computer--maybe I'd have better luck.

Alright, now I'm going to check the software management tool for a real driver for my video card. Looks like I may have found some. I hope they work. I'm using a "1-click installer" that I found from a Google search. The installation went fine, but after logging out and back in (to have the drivers take effect), it locked up again.

So, round two folks. Again, it might just be user error. It might just be my computer. Or openSUSE really might just suck. I don't think I'll be trying it on my computer again for a while. I might try on a different system altogether, but not on my main laptop.

Comments

Slackware 12.1 on an Asus EeePC 701    Posted:


Attention!

This article has a follow-up for Slackware 12.2.

The following are the steps I took to install Slackware 12.1 on my EeePC this past weekend. I hope you find them complete and helpful!

Installing Slackware 12.1 on an Asus EeePC 701

  1. Burn DVD .iso to disc
  2. Turn on EeePC
  3. Hit F2 to run setup
  4. Go to the Advanced tab, and set "OS Installation" to "Start"
  5. Go to the Boot tab, and ensure that the external DVD drive will be used for booting before the internal SSD
  6. Exit and save changes
  7. Just hit enter after rebooting from BIOS configuration when the Slackware boot screen shows up
  8. Unless you want to use a different keymap for whatever reason, hit enter when asked to select a keyboard map
  9. Login as root
  10. Run fdisk or cfdisk on /dev/hdc
  11. Remove all partitions (unless you know what you're doing)
    1. fdisk: d to delete (you may have to select multiple partitions to delete if you have more than one for some reason)
    2. cfdisk: Select all partitions individually with up/down arrow keys and use the left/right arrow keys to select delete from the menu at the bottom. Hit enter to run the delete command when it's highlighted.
  12. Create one partition that takes the whole SSD (again, unless you know what you're doing)
    1. fdisk: n (for new); enter; p (for primary); enter; 1 (for the first primary partition); enter; enter (to start at the beginning of the drive); enter (to select the end of the drive)
    2. cfdisk: Select the new command with the left/right arrow keys and hit enter when it's selected. Make it a primary parition, and have it take the whole SSD (3997.49MB in my case).
  13. Set the type of the new partition to be Linux
    1. fdisk: t (for type); enter; 83 (for Linux); enter
    2. cfdisk: Use the left/right arrow keys to select the type command at the bottom and hit enter when it's selected. Choose 83.
  14. Set the new partition (or the first, if you decided to make more than one) to be bootable
    1. fdisk: a (for bootable); enter; 1 (for primary partition 1); enter
    2. cfdisk: Select the bootable command from the bottom using the left/right arrow keys. Hit enter when it's selected.
  15. Write the changes to the partition table and quit
    1. fdisk: w
    2. cfdisk: Use the left/right arrow keys to select the write command from the bottom. Hit enter when it's selected. Type 'yes' to verify your intent, acknowledging that your previous data will be "gone". Then select the quit command.
  16. Run setup
  17. Select TARGET to specify where you will be installing
  18. Select /dev/hdc1
  19. Format the partition
  20. To reduce write cycles, many people suggest formatting with ext2, which is a non-journaling filesystem. However, many people claim that the limited number write cycles of SSD is not something to worry about. Use your best judgement on this one. Hit OK after the format is complete.
  21. Select where you plan to install Slackware from. In my case, it's the DVD. I usually tell it to find the media automatically. Select manual if you know which device your DVD drive is. Mine was /dev/sr0.
  22. Select the packages you wish to install. This is where your installation will likely differ greatly from mine because of personal preferences. I do a lot of development, so I will keep a lot of things for that. Here's what I selected to install:
    1. Base Linux System
    2. Various Applications that do not need X
    3. Program Development (C, C++, Lisp, Perl, etc.)
    4. Linux kernel source
    5. Qt and the K Desktop Environment for X
    6. System Libraries (needed by KDE, GNOME, X, and more)
    7. Networking (TCP/IP, UUCP, Mail, News)
    8. Tcl/Tk script languages
    9. X Window System
    10. X Applications
    11. Games
  23. Choose whether or not you want to be picky about your software. To save a little extra disk space, I'm going to manually choose what I don't want. This includes:
    1. A: cpio, cryptsetup, cups, floppy, genpower, jfsutils, mdadm, mt-st, mtx, quota, reiserfsprogs, rpm2tgz, tcsh, xfsprogs
    2. AP: amp, cdparanoia, hplip, gutenprint, jed, joe, jove, ksh93, mysql, rpm, xfsdump, zsh
    3. D: gcc-gfortran, gcc-gnat, gcc-java, mercurial, p2c
    4. N: elm, epic4, httpd, mailx, mutt, netatalk, pine, popa3d, proftpd, rp-pppoe, samba, slrn, tin, trn, vsftpd
    5. TCL: hfsutils
    6. X: anthy, bdftopcf, beforelight, libhangul, sazanami-fonts-ttf, sinhala_lklug-font-ttf, tibmachuni-font-ttf, wqy-zenhei-font-ttf
    7. XAP: audacious, audacious-plugins, gftp, mozilla-thunderbird, pan, seamonkey
  24. Wait for the installation to complete. It took almost a full hour with my package selection, leaving me with 485.4MB free on my 4GB SSD.
  25. Choose whether or not you want to make a bootable USB... I skipped it.
  26. Choose how you wish to install LILO. I chose simple.
  27. Choose your frame buffer mode for the console. I chose 640x480x256.
  28. Specify any optional kernal parameters. I left this blank, originally, but later learned that having 'hdc=noprobe' increased my disk access speed by about 13 times.
  29. Specify whether you wish to use UTF-8 on the console. I chose no.
  30. Specify where to install LILO. I chose MBR.
  31. Specify your mouse type. I chose imps2.
  32. Specify whether or not you wish to have gpm run at boot, which allows you to use your mouse in the console. I chose yes.
  33. Configure your network.
  34. Give your eeepc a hostname. This can be whatever you'd like.
  35. Specify the domain for your network. This can be whatever you'd like as well.
  36. Configure your IP address information. I just chose DHCP.
  37. Set the DHCP hostname. I left this blank.
  38. Review and confirm your network settings.
  39. Choose which services you wish to have running immediately after booting.
  40. See if you want to try custom screen fonts. I usually don't bother.
  41. Specify whether your hardware clock is set to local time or UTC.
  42. Choose your timezone.
  43. Select your preferred window manager. I chose KDE.
  44. Set the root password.
  45. Slackware has been installed! Exit the setup program and reboot.
  46. Hit F2 to enter the BIOS again.
  47. Set OS Installation to "Finished" and exit the BIOS, saving changes.
  48. Reboot into Slackware! The first boot takes a while because of all the initial setup. It is faster on subsequent reboots, assuming you don't add new services (like apache and mysql) at boot.

Change a few settings around.

  1. vi /etc/inittab
  2. (set default runlevel to 4)
  3. vi /etc/lilo.conf
  4. add 'compact' somewhere to make it boot faster
  5. change the boot delay so it's not 120 seconds

Now for installing various drivers.

  1. Install the ethernet driver: http://people.redhat.com/csnook/atl2/atl2-2.0.4.tar.bz2
    1. wget http://people.redhat.com/csnook/atl2/atl2-2.0.4.tar.bz2
    2. tar jxf atl2-2.0.4.tar.bz2
    3. cd atl2-2.0.4
    4. make
    5. cp atl2.ko /lib/modules/2.6.24.5-smp/kernel/drivers/net/
    6. depmod -a
    7. modprobe atl2
    8. ifconfig
  2. Install the drivers for the wireless: http://snapshots.madwifi.org/special/madwifi-nr-r3366+ar5007.tar.gz
    1. wget http://snapshots.madwifi.org/special/madwifi-nr-r3366+ar5007.tar.gz
    2. tar zxvf madwifi-nr-r3366+ar5007.tar.gz
    3. cd madwifi-nr-r3366+ar5007.tar.gz
    4. scripts/madwifi-unload
    5. scripts/find-madwifi-modules.sh uname -r
    6. make && make install
    7. modprobe ath_pci

I kind of stopped taking notes after I realized how much fun it was to have Slackware on my EeePC. If you have questions, just add a comment below.

Comments

Wireless Networking With SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10    Posted:


Note: This tutorial is a continuation of yesterday's tutorial about installing SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 on my HP Pavilion dv8000. I may or may not refer to steps that I took during installation, so if you are confused, you might want to check out the previous article.

The process of installing and enabling a wireless adapter will vary greatly from machine to machine. Some lucky folks have wireless adapters that come with official Linux drivers. For the rest of us, we usually have a Broadcom-compatible adapter. In order to use a Broadcom device, I use a program called ndiswrapper, which basically takes the drivers for the devices to function with Windows and wraps them in such a manner that Linux can use. Since I have the 64-bit version of SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) 10, I need to get a 64-bit driver in order for my wireless to function properly. These 64-bit drivers took me a while to get ahold of the first time I got my wireless working (on SuSE Linux 10.1), but I still have them in my archives, so I should be fully prepared to get my wireless working. In this article I assume that you are going to use ndiswrapper to install drivers for a Broadcom device. So let's get started.

Install Ndiswrapper

First, make sure that you have ndiswrapper installed on your system. You can install it by entering YaST. In KDE, click the K menu (the little green chameleon in the bottom left), go to System > YaST (Administrator Settings). You will be asked to enter the root password, which you set during installation. Once you've done that, you will see the YaST Control Center, which is a very powerful set of tools and utilities that greatly ease the configuration and management of SLED. Click on the Software category on the left to show a list of software management options (if it's not already displayed). Click on the Software Management module.

Once loaded, you will see an interface which is very similar to what you would see during the expert package selection while installing SLED. Make sure your Filter (in the top left) is set to Search, and enter ndiswrapper in the search box. The search will return a few different results for ndiswrapper. The first result, ndiswrapper by itself, should be sufficient for most of us. When you check the box by ndiswrapper, you will see a warning informing you that ndiswrapper-based network are not officially supported by Novell. Just click OK to dismiss this warning.

Now you should be ready to install ndiswrapper. Click the Accept button in the bottom right. You will be asked to confirm the installation of ndiswrapper; click Continue. If your installation media is not still inserted, YaST will request the disc which contains the ndiswrapper packages. Insert the disc and click OK. In my case, two packages were installed. It may or may not differ for you.

As soon as the packages are done installing, your configuration settings are saved once again, and you will be asked if you want to install or remove more packages. Click No. At this point, ndiswrapper should be installed on your system, and you may dismiss the YaST Control Center.

Determine Your Wireless Adapter Make/Model

This step is absolutely necessary because if you install the wrong drivers, there is a chance (small as it may be) that your wireless adapter will be damaged. So let's ask Linux how our wireless adapter identifies itself. To do this, log into your SLED and open a Terminal or Konsole. On KDE, you can use the third button (a monitor with a black screen and > on it) on the menu panel at the bottom of the screen, or you can also click the "K" menu (same place as a regular start menu in Windows), go to System > Terminal > Konsole (Terminal Program). I am not exactly sure where this item is located with GNOME, but it might be under the System menu.

Once you have opened a terminal window of some sort, you must switch to a root user environment:

$ su -

You will then be asked for the root password, which you set during installation. Enter that password and type

# lspci

This command lists all of your PCI devices, according to the man pages, but you will see most if not all of your devices, PCI or otherwise, listed here. You'll notice that there is probably quite a list of devices. You may be interested in what your computer has in it, but since you're looking specifically for your wireless adapter, try one of the following commands

lspci | grep Broadcom
lspci | grep Wireless

The | after lspci will pipe the output of lspci to a useful and powerful program called grep. In this case, grep just looks for any lines that contain either the word Broadcom or Wireless. If you don't get any results from either of the two commands above, try to think of other keywords that might be used to identify a wireless adapter. My laptop returns the following:

# lspci | grep Broadcom
06:02.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation Dell Wireless 1470 DualBand WLAN (rev 02)

When you find the wireless adapter, pay attention to the numbers in front of it (06:02.0 on my laptop). With those numbers, you can get the information you need to find the right drivers for your particular wireless adapter. Enter the following command, substituting my device numbers with yours:

# lspci -n | grep 06:02.0
06:02.0 Class 0280: 14e4:4319 (rev 02)

This command gives you the wireless adapter's numeric ID; mine is 14e4:4319.

Download Your Device Drivers

Now that you know your device's numeric ID, you can go to the ndiswrapper wiki, which has a list of numeric IDs and the drivers that are known to work with that device. Look for your wireless adapter on the list of devices. I would recommend using your browser's search or find on page function to locate your device by the numeric ID that you just found.

I'll leave the retrieval of your device drivers up to you.

Install The Wireless Drivers

Most device drivers will come in an archive of some sort. Mine came in a RAR file. Extract your drivers to the directory of your choice--maybe something like ~/wireless. You can use the archive utility provided by SLED to extract your files. It functions very similar to WinZip, WinRAR, and other popular archive clients. By the way, the ~ in a directory listing refers to the current user's home directory (/home/user, for example).

Now, go back to the root terminal that you used to determine what kind of adapter you have. Navigate to the directory where you extracted your drivers and list the contents of the directory, looking for any *.inf files:

# cd ~/wireless
# ls

Ndiswrapper will use an INF file to know how it is supposed to install the driver. My INF file is called bcmwl5.inf. Now for the actual installation of the drivers:

# ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5.inf
Installing bcmwl5
Forcing parameter IBSSGMode|0 to IBSSGMode|2

Now check to make sure that the driver is there and that it recognizes your hardware:

# ndiswrapper -l
Installed drivers:
nbcmwl5          driver installed

Ooops!!! It doesn't recognize that my hardware is actually there. If you see 'driver installed, hardware present' then you should be good to go. You may proceed to the next step. However, if you have the same problem as me, you either have the wrong drivers or ndiswrapper installed the drivers improperly. This problem took forever to track down when I was first trying to get my wireless to work. Remember the numeric ID that you found earlier? Check this out:

# cd /etc/ndiswrapper/bcmwl5
# ls
14E4:4318.5.conf  bcmwl5.inf  bcmwl564.sys

Wait a second! Remember how my numeric ID was 14E4:4319? Why is there a listing for 14E4:4318.5? To solve this problem, I am just going to make a symlink (a shortcut) to 14E4:4318.5.conf and call it 14E4:4319.5.conf:

# ln -s 14E4:4318.5.conf 14E4:4319.5.conf

Now when I run the command to see if my hardware is recognized, I get this:

# ndiswrapper -l
Installed drivers:
bcmwl5          driver installed, hardware present

Hurray!! It says 'hardware present' in there!!! That means that the drivers are working and that my device can be used!

Enable Your Wireless Device

With ndiswrapper recognizing your wireless adapter, you can now enable it and start wirelessing your life away:

# modprobe ndiswrapper

There have been times when this particular step will lock up my machine and I have to do a hard reset, but most times it will work fine.

Connect to a Wireless Network

This part also gave me issues for a long time when I first installed my wireless drivers on SuSE Linux 10.1. I was able to connect to the wireless access points provided by my apartment complex, but I could not for the life of me connect to my own wireless router. Hopefully you don't encounter the same problem.

To see what access points you have available to you, check out the KNetworkManager applet in your system tray (next to the clock). I have 7 possible access points listed in the menu, including my encrypted router. When I clicked on my network, it asked me for my passphrase and connected immediately. Nice! That's definitely one plus for SLED over SuSE Linux 10.1!!

I am actually amazed at how easy it was to get my wireless working the second time around. Hopefully your wireless adapter installation was as painless as mine with the help of this guide.

Comments

Super Computer    Posted:


Ported From Blogger

The following post was ported from my old blogger account.

One of my good friends recently purchased a super nice computer system which should last him quite some time. He and I go back a couple years, and we devised a plan as to how I would set up his supercomputer when he got it a year and a half or so ago. This past weekend we carried out our plans. Saturday morning I woke up early and took my road trip up to Montana to take care of business.

I arrived at my friend's house around 10AM and work immediately commenced. Before I get too far into the details of the weekend, let me share a few of the vital specs of his computer:

  • Processor: AMD Athlon64 x2 4200+ (2.2Ghz) with liquid cooling
  • System Memory: 2GB DDR
  • Video: nVidia GeForce 7600 GS (512MB RAM)
  • Hard Drive: 2x 160GB SATA-II (320GB total)
  • Optical Media: 2x DVD+/-RW drives
  • Network: Wireless RaLink 2500 series
  • Monitor: 2x 19" Viewsonic LCD
  • Speakers: 5.1 Creative Surround Sound

Yeah, it's pretty sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to work on it. I'll have to post some pictures of my friend's computer sometime. Ok, now on to the details of setting up his system.

My friend wanted to have both Windows and Linux on his system. We spent quite a bit of time around each other. Being the Linux nut that I am, he heard so much about Linux and wanted to get his fix. But he also wanted Windows for games and whatnot. Understandable. So we began the day trying to install Windows XP SP2 on his box. That was thoroughly painful, as usual. Installing a single driver, rebooting, installing another driver, rebooting, installing yet another driver, and once again rebooting. You'd think that the actual installation of Windows XP on a system such as his would be quite speedy. No, no... Microsoft never ceases to amaze me with the speed of Windows--or the lack thereof. It took at least an hour to get through all of the initial booting, setting up the partitions in a fashion that Windows could handle, installing drivers, and finally minimal essential software. Very rediculous. One of the best parts was that Windows somehow installed itself on the second hard drive...because of this (or some other unknown cause) Windows could not boot itself up. We had to use another bootCD in order to boot Windows. I assumed that GRUB (a Linux bootloader) would be able to circumvent this problem.

Once the first installation of Windows was complete and we had a backup of the installation, we proceeded to install SuSE 10.1 x86_64. This installation was painless. Everything worked extremely well. The hardest part about getting Linux to function properly was figuring out why his wireless adapter wouldn't connect to his router. It took a bit of time, but eventually we found the solution online (this solution also applied to my laptop, so I have great wireless in Linux now). As I was getting certain multimedia applications installed on Linux (since they're not included with SuSE for copyright reasons), we watched Hitch on the second monitor. It was great. Eventually Linux appeared to be set up and running perfectly. That was about the time we reboot Linux for the second time (once during installation, if I remember correctly).

Come to find out that not even GRUB could boot Windows. We were greatly frustrated, and my friend began to understand slightly more why I like Linux more than Windows. We decided to swap the hard drives around so that the drive with Windows already on it would be the primary master. I warned him that it would mean reinstalling Windows because it wouldn't know where to find itself after swapping the drives around. He was down with that, so that's what we did. We ran through the whole bloody process again. At least this time we knew what to expect when Windows complained about drivers--we'd already experienced it only hours before.

This installation of Windows went a bit more smoothly, but it also meant that we'd have to do something to get Linux back to an operational stage (firstly, get the GRUB boot menu back). I believe it was the first time I rebooted the computer after the second Windows installation that we got a "NTLDR is missing" error. Blasted Windows. I solved that problem, but then it started complaining about an invalid boot.ini file. Rubbish.

All we needed to do for Linux was pop the first install CD back in and run a rescue utility. It examined the existing installation and modified configuration files according to the drive swap. Linux was back up and running within 5 or 10 minutes. Windows, on the other hand, continues to complain at boot about the invalid boot.ini file.

And once again, my contempt for Windows has been reaffirmed. The only reasons I keep Windows around is for Adobe Creative Suite 2 and a game here or there. Even Google Earth runs natively on Linux (as of yesterday).

Comments