My Fedora 11 Adventures: Part IV    Posted:


Well, here I am in 64-bit Fedora 11. Only this time I'm using GNOME. I followed pretty much the same steps as before to make my computer conform to my preferences (background image, font sizes, etc). Things seem to be rolling much more smoothly with GNOME than they did with KDE 4. To top it all off, I haven't had to do a hard reset of my machine since I noticed that Firefox was the culprit that always seemed to be loading when my GUI became unresponsive.

Wireless Networking

I found a pretty good, straight-forward tutorial for getting my wireless adapter running in Fedora 11. You can find it here. I used b43-fwcutter to get hooked up. Very easy, but not quite as easy as recent versions of Ubuntu and several other distros (which detected and used my wireless adapter automatically).

Installing Software

I have learned that the Software Management tool I was trying to use before simply is not the way to install software in Fedora. It doesn't work worth beans for me. Instead, I've been dropping to a root terminal whenever I need to install something. The yum utility has been treating me pretty well. It's found every package I look for.

That is, until I tried to install vlc. When I went to the VLC website to grab a Fedora package, I learned about something that I've never heard of before: RPM Fusion.

I guess it is just another software repository with all of the goods that aren't in the stock Fedora repositories. VLC was easily installed after following this guide.

I really need to get some work done, so I will have to wait a little while longer before I post any further information about my adventures.

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My Fedora 11 Adventures: Part III    Posted:


Alrighty folks. Good night's rest? Check. Need to get work done? Check. Today's adventure will be about getting my computer set up for the regular development tasks that I need to do every day for my work and hobbies.

Getting Work Done

The first thing I noticed this morning when I turned on my computer was that it took exactly 1 minute from the time I hit the power button to the time I hit the enter key to log into my computer. Logging in took an additional 15-20 seconds. That was quite nice.

The next thing I noticed was that I was not connected to my network as I should be. Clicking the system tray menu item as I did last night did the trick, but I'm going to have to investigate how to make it connect automatically at boot.

Automatic Network Connectivity

It looks like I can have my Ethernet be activated automatically by right clicking on the network manager icon in my system tray, selecting "Edit Connections," selecting "System eth0," clicking the "Edit" button, and finally checking the "Connect automatically" option in the subsequent window. We'll see if this truly activates my connection next time I boot.

In an effort to get my wireless working, I poked around a little more in the "Edit Connections" screen, but I didn't see anything that seemed useful. I did find something that seemed a bit more interesting by selecting Applications > Administration > Network Configuration from the KDE menu. This utility suggested that my wireless adapter was actually wlan1 instead of the wlan0 that the tray icon seemed to think it was.

I tweaked a few settings about my wireless adapter, such as marking the "Activate device when computer starts" and "Allow all users to enable and disable the device." In the Hardware Device tab, I selected my actual Broadcom wireless adapter instead of the non-existant wlan0. I also hit the probe button next to the "Bind to MAC address" box.

My network manager tray icon still shows no wireless networks (of which there is no shortage around here), and running iwlist scan as root says "Network is down" next to wlan1. I think I will just mess with it later. Maybe it will "just work" when I reboot next time.

Installing/Configuring The Tools

As I previously mentioned, I prefer to use things that work well without getting in my way. When talking about text editors, VIM is just fine for me, and VIM 7.2.148 is already installed on my Fedora 11. One less thing to install.

Next up comes the installation of all of the goods for Firefox. It turns out that Fedora comes with Firefox 3.5 Beta 4--a bold move. I hope my extensions all work! The extensions I will be installing right now include:

  • AdBlock Plus: get rid of pesky ads that slow down my computer
  • Firebug: an amazing tool when debugging Web pages
  • Web Developer: has some niceties that Firebug doesn't come with
  • Screengrab: fantastic for taking screenshots of full Web pages
  • 2Zeus: my own little extension that allows me to quickly get short URLs a la tinyurl.com and is.gd

When I plugged in my external 1TB Seagate hard drive, I got a delicious Fatal Error message:

/images/fedora/p3/fatal_error.png

All appears to be in order, however, as I have access to all of the partitions on the external drive.

Next I want to install Opera. It appears that the place to look is Applications > System > Software Management in the KDE menu. Let's see what we have. Searching for Opera in the only obvious search box sent my computer into a crazy "let me do something without telling you" cycle. I have no idea what's really going on, but my processor has been maxed out for the past 3 minutes and my network has been working a little here and there. Can it really be that difficult to find a simple package? Oh! It finished! It took 6 minutes and 54 seconds to find nothing. Excellent. Let me look somewhere else.

Awesome. My computer is non-responsive. The hard drive is still working, but my GUI is doing nothing. I love it. Attempts to drop back to a trusty console using Control, Alt, and F1-F6 rendered no results. I wonder if I can SSH in from here... I sure can! Fantastic. Let's see what's happening.

It appears that X is taking up 90% of my processing power, but my computer is still not responding to any of my input. Dang it! Now my SSH session isn't working. Looks like the only option I have now is to do a hard reset. Joy of joys. Thank you for this opportunity, Fedora. Last time I did a hard reset, I was in Windows and it trashed my 1TB external.

So far rebooting seems to be going well. I wonder if my network will be setup properly still... Fantastic! It works! Wireless is still not available though. I can live without that for the time being.

Back in the Software Management utility, searching for Opera again proved to work much more quickly, but I didn't get any results. I suppose I'll just go download it from their site. The download for Opera 10 beta 1 is a mere 7.2MB, and it looks like it will open in the same Software Management utility that I've been dinking around in.

When I downloaded the Opera package, I asked it to open directly in the default program, KPackageKit. That doesn't seem to be working in the least, so I am going to try to just save it to my home directory and install it some other way. Sorry guys and gals, I ended up just dropping back to a terminal to run rpm -Uvh opera-10.00-b1.gcc4-shared-qt3.x86_64.rpm and that seemed to work fine. Opera appeared in my KDE menu, and it runs well now.

Next up is Pidgin. Pidgin 2.5.5 is installed by default, and getting it up and running was as trivial as ever.

Now to test Flash... YouTube, here I come!! Beh, Flash is not installed by default, and it's also not in the Software Management tool. What use is that thing?! Maybe if I apply all of the updates in the "Software Updates" section it will feel more useful... Here it goes.

Cool. System is unresponsive again. Let's see if I can reboot from here. Nope! Thank you, Fedora, for making me hard reset my system more in 2 hours than I have had to in YEARS. Yeah, thanks buddy.

10:50 AM So the software updates continue to not work. It appears that a ypbind package is the culprit which is causing everything to hang... I disabled it and tried to install the software updates again.

10:53 AM GUI is non-responsive again. Yay.

10:56 AM Third hard reset in 3 hours. Maybe I will have to modify my original parameters and try GNOME to see if that makes the computer usable for more than an hour at a time.

11:00 AM That's it! I'm getting rid of KDE 4... sorry folks, GNOME is my only hope of getting work done. Second clean shutdown out of 5 since the installation completed last night.

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My Fedora 11 Adventures: Part I    Posted:


Today I decided that I would deliberately put myself outside of my comfort zone. No, not by intentionally putting myself on a telephone for more than 5 minutes this month... I will need a lot more preparation before I can attempt that one. No no, today's experiment has to do with Linux. If you're new around here, I am a very big fan of Linux. It has been my primary operating system for over 8 years (but I still use Windows and Mac occasionally, when I need to test my programs and the cross-platform behavior).

A Little Background On Yours Truly

There was a time when I was what you would call a distro-hopper. I would download any and every Linux distribution I could get my hands on. Most of them would hang around on my computer for a few days at best, but a select few actually impressed me enough to have them stick around for longer. Among those few are Slackware and Sidux. Many other distros are nice and pretty, but when it comes to me being productive on them, there always seems to be something lacking.

I am addicted to speed and reliability--two things that originally urged me to tinker with Linux all those years ago. I am more than willing to sacrifice looks and features for being able to just get something done quickly and efficiently. As a matter of fact, I'm writing this article in VIM, one of the most "light-weight" editors around these days. It allows me to do exactly what I want to do without getting in my way. That's how I like things.

That's probably the main reason I love Slackware. It won't do anything I don't tell it to do. No crazy background processes updating some package repository, slowing down my system. No pestering me about security updates that I will install in my own due time. Slackware only does what I want it to, and I have learned a ton about Linux because of it. If I decide I want something automated in the background, I have to tell the computer to do it. If one of my programs has been updated on the Internet, I download and install the package manually instead of using a "package manager." If one of my programs doesn't work because of a missing dependency, I am the one who finds and downloads the dependency. It's a lot of work initially, but I'm of the persuasion that this work is well worth it for my situation.

In today's day and age, that sort of setup seems to scare a lot of people off. People like to have things "just work." People like to not have to worry about keeping up to speed with what security threats are out there. People like having things to keep them entertained instead of getting things done. People like to see their desktop turn into a cube and spin around. People like to see things glow and wiggle on their computer. It's aesthetically pleasing. There's nothing wrong with that. Unless you want to get things done instead of just stare at your computer.

The Challenge

With that background in mind, you should be equipped to better understand the information and articles that follow. My challenge to myself is this: install Fedora 11 and use it for at least a week. To add to the the challenge, I'm installing the 64-bit version. In my past experience with 64-bit operating systems, there has been no real motivation or necessity for 64-bit computing. It just means more compatibility problems, which reduces productivity. This will be the first 64-bit operating system I actually plan to keep around beyond the exploratory period.

There are a few things about this that will bring me waaaay out of my comfort zone. They are (in no particular order):

  • Fedora
  • RPMs
  • KDE 4

I have a strong disregard for each of these items. There was a time when I considered Fedora to be a respectable platform--back when it was Fedora Core 2 or 3. Ever since then, I feel that it has gone down the tubes. RPMs have always seemed grossly lacking in the speed department to me, and it only got worse after I found out about Debian and Slackware. Finally, KDE 4 seems like one of the absolute worst window managers I have yet to encounter. I love KDE 3.5.x. I wish I could use it everywhere I go. But KDE 4 has yet to appeal to my desire for efficient productivity--it gets in my way almost as much as GNOME does.

Starting today, I plan to look all of these opinions (as biased as they may be) straight in the eye and take 'em head-on. I am going to work on learning to enjoy using Fedora. I'm going to work on learning how to appreciate RPMs. I am going to learn to be productive in the window manager "of the future."

And I will keep you all apprised of my progress.

Comments

Checking In    Posted:


I suppose I should update everyone out there about what I've been up to lately. It seems strange to me that I post article much less frequently now than I did when I was a full-time university student. You'd think I'd have a whole lot more time to blog about whatever I've been working on. I suppose I do indeed have that time, it's just that I usually like to wait until my projects are "ready" for the public before I write about them.

The biggest reason I haven't posted much of anything lately is a small Twitter client I've been working on. Its purpose is to be a simple, out-of-the-way Twitter client that works equally well on Windows, Linux, and OSX. The application is written in Python and wxPython, and it has been coming along quite well. It works great in Linux (in GNOME and KDE at least), but Windows and OSX have issues with windows stealing focus when I don't want them to. I'm still trying to figure it out--any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Chirpy currently does nothing more than check your Twitter accounts for updates periodically. It notifies you of new updates using blinking buttons (which can be configured to not blink). I think the interface is pretty nice and easy to use, but I am its developer so it's only proper that I think that way.

Anyway, that project has been sucking up a lot of my free time. It's been frustrating as I build it in Linux only to find that Windows and OSX both act stupidly when I go to test it. That frustration inspired me to tinker with a different approach to a Twitter client. I began fooling around with it last night, and I think the idea has turned out to be more useful than Chripy is after a month of development!

I'm calling this new project "Tim", which is short for "Twitter IM". This one also periodically checks your Twitter account(s) for updates (of course). However, Tim will send any Twitter updates to any Jabber-enabled instant messenger client that you are signed into. If you're like me, you have Google Talk open most of the day, so you can just have Twitter updates go straight there! You can also post updates to Twitter using your Jabber instant messenger when Tim is running by simply sending a message back!!

The really neat stuff comes in when you start to consider the commands that I've added to Tim tonight. I've made it possible for you to filter out certain hashtags, follow/unfollow users, and specify from which Twitter account to post updates (when you have multiple accounts enabled). I hate all of those #FollowFriday tweets... they drive me crazy. So all I have to do is type ./filter followfriday and no tweet that contains #FollowFriday will be sent to my Jabber client. I love it.

More commands are on the way. Also on the way is a friendly interface for configuring Tim. Getting it up and running the first time is... a little less than pleasant :) Once you have it configured it seems to work pretty well though.

If you're interested in trying it out, just head on over to the project's page (http://bitbucket.org/codekoala/twitter-im/). Windows users can download an installer from the Downloads tab. I plan on putting up a DMG a little later tonight for OSX users. Linux users can download the .tar.gz file and install the normal Python way :) Enjoy!

Update: The DMG for OSX is a little bigger than I thought it would be, so I won't be hosting it on bitbucket. Instead, you can download it from my server.

Don't forget to read the README !!!

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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

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

Installing SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10    Posted:


This will be the second time for me putting SLED 10 on my laptop, but I've also put SLES 10, SuSE Linux 10.1, and various others on this laptop several times before. It _has_ been a few months since I last installed Linux on this laptop, so we'll see how well I remember how to do it. I will be installing the 64-bit DVD version, so as to take better advantage of the 64-bit capabilities of my processor. This shouldn't have a drastic effect on the overall procedure, compared to that of installing the 32-bit CD/DVD version.

Here are some specs of my laptop:

  • Make/Model: HP Pavilion dv8000
  • CPU: AMD Turion 64 ML-40 (2.2Ghz)
  • RAM: 1.25GB PC2700 DDR333 SODIMM
  • HDD: 5400RPM 80GB
  • Video: ATI Radeon Xpress 200M (128MB dedicated RAM, up to an additional 128MB shared RAM)

Note: I make a few assumptions in the writing of this article. One is that you are on a machine running Windows XP. If your computer can't handle Windows XP, you probably don't want to be running SLED 10. Another assumption is that you don't yet have your hard drive partitioned into more than one partition. I also assume that you already have the installation media in good working condition. For those of you in the BYU-I Linux Users Group (LUG), I am willing to make copies of the discs if you provide the media or discuss some sort of compensation if you want me to provide the media.

BACKUP ALL IMPORTANT DATA BEFORE PROCEEDING

We all hate losing the projects that we've slaved over for weeks and months. Take the proper precautions to backup anything you wouldn't like to lose before installing any flavor of Linux. That's not to say that you will lose everything, but it's not unheard of to wipe out all data from your drive while attempting to install Linux. With that warning out of the way, let's get started!!!

Defragment Your Hard Drive

If you have a secondary drive which you plan to dedicate to Linux, this step is not necessary. However, if you plan to install Linux on the same drive as your Windows installation, I would suggest defragmenting your drive prior to repartitioning your drive. In order to defragment your hard drive in Windows XP, open your Start menu and open the Control Panel. Once here, descend into Administrative Tools and run Computer Management. This utility is quite handy. On the left side of the Computer Management window, you should see a tree of options. Under Storage you will see the Disk Defragmenter. Simply click the Defragment button, and the program will begin optimizing your files. Defragmenting your hard drive basically puts each of your files into one piece instead of scattered across the drive (as they tend to be written). Defragmentation is a good process to run on a regular basis. Once again, this step is not necessary to the installation of Linux, but it is a good practice.

Begin The Installation

Once you're done backing up your files and defragmenting your hard drive, insert the first SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 CD/DVD into your CD/DVD drive and reboot your computer. You should be presented with a fancy blue welcome screen, but if you see the Windows boot screen, you'll have to change the settings in your BIOS to enable you to boot from your CD/DVD drive. That process will vary from machine to machine, so I won't even try to explain how to do it. Once you see the welcome screen, you are presented with several boot options:

  • Boot from Hard Disk
  • Installation
  • Installation--ACPI Disabled
  • Installation--Local APIC Disabled
  • Installation--Safe Settings
  • Rescue System
  • Memory Test

We're going to go with the first Installation option. In my experience, starting with SuSE Linux 10.1, I haven't had any issues at all getting Linux installed. Most people shouldn't have problems booting into the installation program, but if you do, try the other Installation options. Once we begin the installation process, the bootloader will load the Linux kernel into memory and begin booting the SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop installation utility. It will probe several devices to make the installation usable, after which you are presented with a language selection menu. Choose the language of your preference. Next you will be asked to accept the License Agreement, which I would recommend reading (with any product, not just SLED). If you accept, check the "Yes, I Agree to the License Agreement" option box and hit "Next." If you don't accept the agreement, this is the end of the road--your installation process will end.

Once we accept the License Agreement, a few more devices are probed and we're asked what kind of installation we'll be doing. With the assumptions I've made for this tutorial, we will proceed with a New Installation. If you have the "extras" CD, you can check the "Include Add-On Products from Separate Media" checkbox. You'll then be asked to insert the disc so that a catalog of available applications can be made. However, I'll assume that we all just have the required media. Click "Next" to create a catalog of the software available.

Now we're presented with a Clock and Time Zone screen. Choose the appropriate options for your situation and click next.

Installation Settings

Once we have set our clock and time zone, we are shown an overview of the current installation settings. I personally prefer to see all of the details, so I am going to click on the Expert tab. I don't like the predefined partitioning scheme, so I am going to change that.

Partition Your Drive

Partitioning a hard drive basically allows you to split up that brand new 500GB SATA-II drive you bought into smaller "virtual hard drives." I like to partition my hard drive because it allows me to manage my files easier, and I don't have to worry about losing ALL of my data if one of the partitions needs to be reformatted. Each partition can have a different file system on it, which allows us to run a Windows file system (NTFS) and a linux file system (ext2/3 and reiserfs are the two main ones, at least for workstations) on the same physical hard drive.

This is the first time I will entrust all of the data on my hard drive to a Linux installation partitioning utility in a very long time. We're talking about 7 years... However, for the sake of others, I am willing to put it to the test to see if SuSE will not wipe my drive when I try to resize the Windows partition. I usually use a utility such as Partition Magic to resize and create new partitions.

To change my partitioning scheme, I click on the "Partitioning" subtitle on the Expert tab in the Installation Settings section. I want to base my partition setup on the default proposal, so I select the second option "Base Partition Setup on This Proposal" and hit next. This part could be a bit hairy if you've never partitioned a drive before. I want to be able to share files between Windows and Linux, so I am going to create a small ~20GB partition which I will format to be FAT32, a format readable and writable in both Windows and Linux.

First, I must resize my Linux partitions. I don't need my home partition to be 22GB, so I'm going to resize that one to be 5GB. To do that, I select the partition with /home listed as it's Mount point and click the "Resize" button at the bottom of the screen. The window that appears shows a graphical representation of the changes we make. All I need do is enter "5" into the "Space Free (GB)" box or move the slider to the right spot and click "OK". Now I'm left with 17GB to share between Windows and Linux. To create this new partition, I click on the "Create" button at the bottom.

The new partition window asks me what type of format I wish to have on the new partition--I want to select FAT. I want to have this partition listed in a place that makes sense to me, so I'm going to change the "Mount Point" field to /windows/share and click OK. I think I'm now satisfied with the partitioning scheme, so I click "Finish" to return back to the Installation Settings screen.

Partitioning Pointers

Let me share some pointers for partitioning schemes. Traditional Linux installations would ask for a partition twice as big as the amount of RAM you have in your machine. This is for the swap, which is synonymous with virtual memory in Windows lingo. That means that if you have 512MB of RAM, your swap partition should be at least 1024MB (1GB). Likewise, if you have 1GB of RAM, your swap partition should be at least 2048MB (2GB). In my opinion, the average Linux desktop does not require more than 512MB for a swap partition. I may be mistaken, but I think the "double your RAM" rule became somewhat obsolete for desktop workstations with the advent of 2Ghz+ processors with 1GB+ of RAM. It could just be me, but I've never even filled 256MB of swap. Just something to consider while partitioning your drive.

If you plan on experimenting with several distros of Linux without wiping other installations of Linux, I would recommend a partition dedicated to your /home folder. This way, you are able to keep your personal settings across most if not all distros. I've found it useful on countless occasions.

Software Selection

One thing I really like about SLED is the ease of package selection. Their default package selection will suit most people just fine. However, I have developed my own tastes for how I like my Linux, so I am going to customize the package selection a bit. To do that, I click on the "Software" heading in the Expert tab of Installation Settings.

I personally prefer KDE to GNOME as my window manager. So I am going to deselect GNOME from the Desktops category, but not so the "Do Not Enter" symbol shows up where there once was a check. I want to click the checkbox until I see a white box (no checkmark). I'm not sure if this is required, but usually different environments will require libraries from other environments in order for certain programs to run. I suspect that the Do Not Enter sign means that nothing for GNOME will be installed, but this is not fact--it's simply a notion of mine. Now I want to put a check in the checkbox next to KDE. Being a nerd, I want to have my compilers around, so I will also select that option.

According to the disk usage graphs in the bottom right of the screen, I'm only going to be installing about 1.9GB of software. That's interesting because I downloaded a whole DVD... If anyone wants to see what other software is available, you can click the Details button below the software category list. This might scare a few off, but it's all quite simple. If you want to see more categories to choose from, select "Package Groups" from the Filter list in the top left. This is where you can explore all of your software options available on your installation media. I am going to leave that sort of customization until after I'm all installed and running.

Once you're done selecting the packages you wish to have installed, click Accept from the bottom right. You will probably encounter a few more license agreements at this point. These are for non-open-source applications (Adobe Acrobat Reader, Macromedia Flash plug-in, etc) included with SLED. I recommend reading and accepting each license agreement. Now I am presented with the same Expert tab in the Installation Settings stage. Now we're ready to proceed, so click Accept in the bottom right again. We're asked to confirm that we want to install Linux, with a warning that certain parts of your hard drive will be formatted, thus erasing any data that were there before. If you're ready, click Install, sit back, and enjoy.

Installing Everything

At this point your partitions will be resized/formatted and the appropriate files will be installed. This process can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours or more, depending on the packages you selected and the speed of your system. You might be interested in seeing what exactly is being installed on your system at this point. If so, you can click the Details tab and see each package being installed. Apparently I chose some other packages along the way or something, because now it says that I'm installing about 2.5GB of software and that this segment should take about 30 minutes.

Once all of the files are copied, the installation settings will be saved to the hard drive and your system will reboot for the first time in your brand new SLED. At this point, you shouldn't remove your installation media, as it is required in the following steps.

The Initial Boot And Final Settings

When we boot up our SLED for the first time after installation, we are asked to provide a hostname to identify our machine on the network. When you have set the hostname and domain name as you want them, click next. Now we're asked to set the root password. Make sure this password is one that you'll not forget, but at the same time make sure that it's not easy to guess. If someone gets root access to your machine, there's no end to what they can do.

Network Configuration

This is another section that is mostly correct, but a few settings are not the way I would like them to be. For example, my ssh port is listed as disabled under the Firewall heading. To enable it, just click the word "blocked"--it will change to "open". The rest of the settings look fine for now. If you have any customizations to be made, go ahead and make them. I'll wait.

When we're ready to move on, click next. At this point, our network configuration is saved. Next we're asked if we wish to try out our Internet connection. Do as you please. I usually skip this step, but for your sake, I will try out my connection. When we test, it tries to download the latest changelogs. If your connection works, you will see "Success" in the Result field. Click next.

User Authentication Method

Most home users won't have their own LDAP server or Windows Domain setup, so I won't go into how these are to be set up. Let's just go with Local authentication for now, the default option. Click next.

New Local User

This is when we create our very own user account. This set is essential. DO NOT EVER RUN EVERYDAY APPLICATIONS AS ROOT. There are serious security implications involved if you choose to login and perform your daily tasks as the root, or all-powerful administrator, user in Linux. It's much easier to just create an "unprivileged" user and do your regular business with that account. Only login as root when you need to perform system maintenance or install something. When you're done with those tasks, logout of the root environment immediately. Trust me.

Anyway, back to our installation. Go ahead and create your user. You may or may not want to check the checkbox to receive system mail. System mail includes certain security breaches on most distributions. If you don't wish to have to enter your password in order to use your computer, click the automatic login checkbox. If you wish to add more than one user at this time, you can click on the User Management button. The process is pretty much the same as it is to add the first unprivileged user. Click next when you're ready to proceed.

Now our system configuration is saved again (this seems to happen all the time in SuSE... it gets rather annoying in my opinion). After our settings are saved, we are presented with the release notes (which may have been more useful had they been displayed during the file copy process, but whatever). Read them if you wish. Click next when you're ready to proceed.

Hardware Configuration

Now this is one of the selling points for me with SuSE. I have a 17" widescreen (1680x1050 max resolution) for my laptop. There weren't many distros for a while that could handle the resolution out of the box. Fedora Core 5 was the first that I tried that handled it without any manual configuration, and SuSE was the second. I'm pretty happy with the configuration listed here, so click next when you are too. Once again, the settings will be saved (seems like saving settings in SuSE is as bad as rebooting in Windows...).

If you have several similar machines, you can save your installation configuration by checking the "Clone This System for Autoyast" checkbox. If you choose this, the system will determine what settings exactly were used for installation and create a file somewhere that you can use in later installations. When this is done, or when you click finish if you don't want to clone, a login screen will appear.

First Login

When you see this login screen, enter the username and password that you created for the unprivileged user. You'll see a fancy loading screen while your profile is being created for the first time.

Now, you may or may not have noticed, but I wrote this article as I installed SLED. I want to watch a movie now, so subsequent configuration (wireless, 3D acceleration, etc) will take place later. I hope this is good enough for the time being.

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Enabling Mouse Scroll in Linux    Posted:


Ok, just so everyone knows, I will not go into much depth about how to get your scroll button working, but I will cover the basics:

  • Open your xorg.conf file (it's likely to be hanging around /etc/X11/xorg.conf)
  • Find the section related to your mouse (search for the text "mouse" or "pointer")
  • Set your protocol to IMPS/2
  • Add the line below the protocol: Option "Buttons" "5"
  • Add the line below the buttons option: Option "zAxisMapping" "4 5"
  • Save the xorg.conf
  • Restart the X windowing system. If you did you editing from within X (using KDE, GNOME, or other environment) you should be able to hit CTRL-ALT-Backspace to restart X.

These instructions will likely vary depending on your distribution. Some distributions (like Fedora, SuSE, Ubuntu, etc) don't seem to play well with manually-edited files and prefer that you use their graphical interfaces to change settings like this. But you should also not have issues using the scroll button on your mouse with the distributions listed above.

Good luck!

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