openSUSE fan

I have these linux habits which are hard to control and recently I discovered a new one while working on my windows box at work.

You know you’re a

  • linux fan when you type ‘ls’ every time you mean ‘dir’
  • KDE/KWin fan when you try moving/resizing windows with the alt+mouse buttons
  • and now, here it comes.. 😉

  • openSUSE fan when you type ‘net suse’ instead of ‘net use’

I needed 3 tries before I got it right! 🙂

openSUSE forum

first thing one does, when getting stuck on a problem with openSUSE is google it up. If nothing turns up, check the bugtracker. No luck? Check the fora. Yes, this is where the pain starts. Until recently, there were, like, 3 fora or something where you had to look up and create an account if you wanted to add a remark, ask a question. They finally combined forces and merged them all and made them even official! That’s great news I believe. Having a single point of access for support questions is really important, even more for early adopters. With openSUSE 11 right around the corner, the timing couldn’t have been any better!

of course, you can always join the #suse IRC channel on freenode if you’re a more chattive type of person 😉

why openSUSE 11

As you might have guessed by the countdown on the right, I’m anxiously awaiting the opensuse 11 release. IMO, the revamped package management system will be THE killer feature. Not only will it have the fastest dependency solver on the planet, by using lzma compression (cfr. 7zip) it will have smaller file sizes yielding even faster installs!

Even though this release will be a .0 release, I will be eagerly upgrading as every time I install new software / patches, I am reminded how fed up I am with 10.3’s package system. This is my only complaint about openSUSE 10.3! They claim it should not be a problem for average users with not much repositories. So now I know: even on linux I’m not a ‘normal’ user. 😉 (which was confirmed by a suse guy @ fosdem looking at my repository list ;))

9 days to go, mmmmm 🙂

Fosdem impression

So, Saturday I went to Fosdem, it was my first open source conference attendance. 🙂 In general, it was quite an experience… To walk around a campus and see geeks and hear programmer’s slang everywhere and that all open source related is really.. unreal. 🙂 It was also fun to recognize quite some people, just because I read all their blogs. 🙂

I kinda got up late, so I missed the talk about linux in Hollywood. Google maps told me that I would get there in 30min so I naively set off to Brussels to get just in time for the next one. Of course I didn’t think of all the traffic lights and lack of parking space there. 😉 I saw a parking on the campus on the satellite, just to realize once there, that it was for VUB personnel only, d’oh. 🙂

First I ‘discovered’ the area, what is where, you get a nice map though, and all rooms were very clearly indicated. Then I went to get a sandwich and was ready for the first talk. 🙂

This was a KDE talk on the upcoming Amarok 2.0. It was interesting but my modest music needs are already amply fullfilled by the current Amarok. 🙂 Then I quickly sneaked into the opensuse room to get the second half of the opensuse 11.0 intro by coolo. It looks promising, as always, but especially the “damn fast” package management system I can’t wait for. 🙂 There wasn’t much detail about that though as there was going to be a talk on that on Sunday. One questionable decision they made for 11.0 is to have the root password be the same as the user password, by default. At first, it doesn’t make sense at all, but if you think about all the sudo’ing and apparently a lot of users choosing the same anyway, you can’t really blame them, although I’m not sure they make it clear enough that this will happen automatically (i.e. is the default), if the user does not choose otherwise in the installer (it is a checkbox which you have to tick off). They made a huge effort to make the installer _even_ simpler (apparently it was still not simple enough), which this password thing was also an attempt at.

Then I went to the second half of the Crystal Space presentation, mainly to see my colleague in action and gaming stuff is always fun. 🙂 It seems he ran a bit out of time which is a pity since I was interested to see more about the Blender / CS project which was touched only briefly.

After that I quickly went off to the KDE room again to get the last bits of the Nepomuk presentation by Sebastian Trueg (he’s also the K3B guy!). I really wanted to see his face as I always mix up the 2 KDE Sebastians 🙂 Nepomuk seems to have a lot potential, but it seems it still needs a lot of time..

At the opensuse stand I tried to explain my font problem to Francis Giannaros (apokryphos) and he tried to solve it by convincing me that the default font size should be 9 instead of 10. 🙂 not sure about that but the next install will tell me. 😉 He also helped out configuring aiglx for kde4, but that didn’t seem to increase performance much after all.

After that I tried to catch the last bits of the build service workshop. It was kind of difficult for Adrian Schroeter to give a nice demo since he had a lot of network trouble on that laptop (or the build service, but that seemed to go quite fine on mine). Btw, I managed to ‘convince’ Adrian to give me an opensuse baseball cap, thanks again! 😉 He’s a really nice guy.

I then went for the last bit of KDE on windows (skipping the suse base presentation as it is recorded anyways 😉 ), no big news there as I am already quite familiar with the project anyway. The room was fully packed btw. After that everyone went off and a few stayed with me for the GGZ presentation. I stayed there mainly because of lack of other interesting presentations. 🙂

I was a bit disappointed to miss the second day as it seemed twice as crammed with interesting presentations although it was already very interesting. 🙂

To finish up, I took a picture of a part of the stands with my cellphone. As you can see, it was quite crowded but still doable. 🙂
Fosdem stands

Finding your way in openSUSE packages

First place to look for packages for your favorite suse 10 is the buildservice. There are several search front-ends for it: here or here. If you’re a console freak or don’t like the html overhead , use the cli version of webpin.

A few months ago I used it to find kalarm. I was very surprised to find only KDE4 packages and no help on the irc channel. So I compiled it myself and all went well. Except, you easily get tired of compiling yourself if you have to do that every time there is some new version of some related component.. So I tried once more today to find a package as I couldn’t believe it wouldn’t exist. I even had the impression it would be part of the kde packages, I just couldn’t find which one. 🙂

That’s how I got talking to benJIman, the guy behind webpin, the search engine on top of the buildservice. He pointed out to me that you can find the right package and that it _is_ present in the buildservice, by specifying “bin/kalarm” as a search string instead of just “kalarm”.

The explanation is quite simple: when searching using webpin, it looks for package names that match. If there are no matches, it tries an rpm file contents based search (so, more fine-grained). If you specify a partial filename path, it immediately does the file content based search. He said this approach was chosen in an attempt to reduce the load on the server, although due to recent upgrades (both soft and hardware?) it should be able to handle all “full” searches by now.

another mystery solved! 🙂
oh btw, the package name was “kdepim3-time-management : This package contains tools for address and date organisation.” ! bad points for suse on the package description 😉

openSUSE 10.3 Amarok update problem

So you keep getting this recommended update for Amarok through the suse updater (This patch includes fixes to increase the stability of Amarok when playing music and improves the collaboration with the GStreamer/Yauap engine.)? And when you try to install it, nothing seems to really happen and it won’t go away? 🙂 Then, read on 😉

I currently have 2 suse installs, one early on after release (desktop) and one just recently (few weeks ago, on laptop). I already noticed there is a difference between, I guess something to do with coalesced patches? In any case, this is how yast looks on desktop (left) and on laptop (right).
Yast on desktop (early install)Yast on laptop (recent install)

You notice the recent install is messier, which is actually the opposite of what I expected. 😉 (also notice my fontsize on laptop is automatically adapted to a higher resolution on smaller display) Normally, you get your updates through suse updater. I already read some people solved the problem by manually updating through yast software install. However, when trying that, I ran into dependency conflicts which didn’t surprise me as it was switching from the suse repo to packman (though it should be able to handle that of course. oh well, heard there is yet another package management system planned for suse 11.0). Another weird thing I never got this problem on my early adopter install! Thanks to Lighty, I rerealized the difference between the 2 systems and tried out the “Online update” action in Yast. And guess what, it worked 🙂 it should be doing the same, but apparently, it is not… Anyway, another mystery solved 😉

Lirc on openSUSE 10.3

I somehow always procrastinated the installation of my Hauppauge WinTV PVR 150 IR remote because it somehow didn’t work out of the box, but today I took another shot at it and was surprised how easy it all turned out to be!

The first thing you need to realize, is that you need to install a kernel module: lirc_i2c. Unfortunately, due to a string length being shortened in recent kernel, the suse provided kernel module does not work! Instead, grab a freshly compiled one from here. After having this installed, you should already have a working remote! (you might want to tweak your /etc/sysconfig/lirc : choose the hauppauge driver and the lirc_i2c module, but the defaults seemed to work too). You can test your remote by doing a cat /dev/lirc and pressing some remote buttons.

Easy, no? 🙂 The rest is application specific configuration 😉 Be sure to have a look at KDE’s infra-red app, IRKick, which does a great job at binding through DCOP!

One thing to note though, is that the default lirc config is supposed to create a device /dev/lircd from /dev/lirc when starting lircd, but in my case, it wouldn’t do that until I specifically told it to create that one through the –output param (only had to do this once).

I was greatly helped by the following sources: mythtv 1, 2

smartd temperature error messages

I have 2 western digital 2500KS hard disks and noticed already some time ago that the smart implementation is not correct when it comes to temperatures. Afaik, it was something like reporting the temp in °F while they claim to report it in °C. This wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t also define the thresholds in °C. On an operating system like windows, the user never is bothered by this shortcoming as windows simply has no clue about SMART. On linux however, the user is typically notified by mail or desktop popup when a hard drive exceeds its maximum temp. Which is quite annoying if it is a false alarm. 😉

A lot of 3rd party tools exist for windows, and that is how I originally encountered the problem. So it is really a firmware bug.

So I started looking for a way to either

  • add some offset to the limits
  • disable only temp monitoring on only those disks

Continue reading smartd temperature error messages