My Fedora 11 Adventures: Part VI    Posted:


Folks, I cannot take this any longer. I've had Fedora 11 installed on my computer for 5 days now. That is close enough to a week for me. There simply is not enough about Fedora right now to keep me using it. Perhaps the next release will be better for me. I honestly hope so.

To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed most of the Fedora experience these past few days. I was thoroughly impressed with the speed and memory usage in Fedora compared to Jaunty. When I mentioned that on Twitter the other day, one fellow asked if the two systems were running the exact same software. His train of thought seemed to be that you can't really compare two different distros for speed or memory usage unless they run the exact same software at the time of the sample.

My response to that is that it doesn't matter to me in this particular case. I was comparing the general performance of both distros using their "stock" configuration. You can customize a distro however you'd like, and, in the end, that's where you'll probably find the most performance gains in any system.

But performance out of the box is important to me. I'll just leave it at that.

As I write this, I'm creating an ISO of slackware-current (as of midnight MST) so I can see what KDE 4 is like on a real distribution. Heh. This oughta be fun. Anyway, I truly hope that the next release of Fedora will hold my attention for a bit longer.

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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 II    Posted:


The Uneventful Installation

The installation for Fedora 11 went pretty smoothly. I began the installation around 11:10PM on June 10th, 2009. I did a fair amount of customization with my partitions and package selection, so the exact timing for installation is probably not a very fair figure to place here. But I'll share some numbers anyway, for my own benefit more than yours.

  • The "Starting installation. This may take several minutes..." took about 4 minutes
  • Installing 1,443 packages took 33 minutes

The timing seemed pretty typical of an RPM-based distribution to me.

First Boot

After the installation succeeded, it asked me to reboot. I noticed that the installer didn't eject the DVD when it was ready to actually reboot, so I just left it in there for kicks. When the DVD's boot menu came up, it showed a list of a few boot options, one of which was to boot from a local drive.

I selected the local drive option, but it failed--it apparently decided to look for a non-existant PXE server. Ejecting the DVD and rebooting again rendered the actual Fedora bootloader that was installed to my hard drive. It automatically launched Fedora after 5 seconds or so.

The boot screen is nice and pretty... none of the classical progress bar business, but rather the circular shape that makes up the Fedora logo. As the boot process proceeded, this shape was filled in a diagonal, bottom-left to top-right fashion. I like that.

Next, it presented me with a "Welcome" screen that said something about there being a few more steps before my system would be ready to use. These steps included a license information page, creating a regular, unpriviledged user, setting up the date and time, and an optional "send hardware profile" page. I opted to send my hardware profile just because I know what it's like to not have information like this when you're trying to figure out problems your users are having. You should be aware that opting in on the hardware profile submission enables a monthly submission, not just a one-time submission during setup.

First Login

After all that was done, I was presented with a login screen and a fairly ugly background. I will probably be changing that one. After logging in, the loading screen seems pretty slick... It has a fancy little progress dealy unlike no other I've seen before. Almost as impressive as the boot up screen, if not more so.

The sound levels after logging in were pretty obnoxious. If I were in a crowded workplace, I'm sure I would have been attacked with rotten lettuce and tomatoes because of that sound. That will also have to change...

The default Fedora 11 KDE 4 desktop

My default background was the same that was used on the login screen. It was the first thing I decided to try to change.

Changing The Background

System settings

Clicking the Fedora button in the bottom-left corner of the screen pulls up the new KDE menu (which is going to take some getting used to for me). The initial menu showed a "System Settings" option, which is what I used to change the background image. On the screen that loaded immediately after selecting "System Settings," I was presented with several icons that seemed like they would do the trick.

Appearance settings

Well, after a little poking around, I decided it might be easier to just right click the desktop to see if the context menu had any suspicious items for changing the background. Lo and behold, I found an "Appearance Settings" item. That was the ticket.

The desktop context menu

Disappointment. Utter disappointment. When I went to select a new background image, I discovered that there was only one to choose from--the nasty default one! I tried clicking the "Get New Wallpapers..." button, but all that did was tell me I had network problems.

Connecting To The Network

There was a nice little icon in my system tray that suggested it was a network manager, so I clicked on it. I suppose Fedora detected my Ethernet adapter just fine, as it was an option in the menu that popped up when I clicked the icon. My Broadcom wireless adapter apparently was not detected. Still, I find it curious that Fedora didn't connect to my Ethernet automatically (the cable was plugged in the entire time). Clicking the eth0 item in the menu was painless, though. It connected me directly to my network with no additional fuss.

The network manager menu

Back To Backgrounds

The "Get New Wallpapers..." button that I mentioned previously seemed to work a bit better after having connected to the network. When I clicked it, though, I was presented with a screen that apparently wanted me to do something before it would do anything for me. After waiting for a few seconds (because I was typing this), things started happening. New backgrounds started to appear, but there was no indication of any activity. I found that rather strange.

Getting new backgrounds

Selecting a few background images that looked appealing from their thumbnails was pretty straight-forward. The actual download, however, was less than impressive... either the server is overloaded with activity, or the images are very large, because my connection is quite idle right now.

It seems that all of the backgrounds that appeared are all of the classics from kde-look.org that were available in my trusty KDE 3.5. This is good.

Font Sizes

The next change I felt I must make before proceeding was reducing the size of the fonts. They are much too large for my preferences. Back to the System Settings I went. This time, the "Appearance" icon was the one that proved to be pertinent. Fedora's default font size was 10-point. I changed them all to 8-point. Things felt a lot better after doing that.

Things after changing the background and the fonts

Playing Sudoku

The new sudoku game

Now that it's close to bed time, I feel I must close this section with the requisite game of Sudoku :) The new KDE menu setup is really, really going to take some getting used to. I found Sudoku under Applications > Games > Logic Games > Sudoku Game.

I beat sudoku!

Tomorrow will be an interesting day, because I'm going to get my system setup for work! (By the way, Fedora 11 shuts down insanely fast!! It also blares another nasty sound when you begin the shutdown sequence... ugh)

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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.

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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

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

Another Notch for Free Software    Posted:


I tend to use Amarok, one of KDE's most popular audio players, to manage my music. Amarok can usually handle synchronizing music on an iPod just fine, but it turns out that it doesn't play very well with my 3-gen iPod nano. For one reason or another, any time I tried to copy music from my linux box using Amarok, the whole iPod became useless. The device recognized that space was being used, but it wasn't recognizing any music or movies or anything. Because of this, I have been using my wife's macbook for the past while to synchronize my iPod. It's been working fine, but it sure is inconvenient to interrupt her when she needs to be doing homework or something and I want to pop into iTunes for a few minutes.

Today I was listening to my iPod and doing some homework between classes when all of the sudden my music stopped playing. I thought the playlist might have ended, so I went to start the music up again only to find out that the little guy had locked up (it does this from time to time). I couldn't remember the reboot sequence off the top of my head, so I Googled it and stumbled across a short and sweet article with the goods.

This article also referenced the use of a program called Floola in place of iTunes. I decided to investigate it briefly because my homework was boring me. Come to find out that Floola is free, works on Windows, Linux, and MacOS, and it actually does support my 3-gen nano! It also has some cool features like being able to download music videos straight from YouTube and converting them to work on the iPod. I'm really enjoying the program! One less reason to keep Windows around!

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.

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