Archive for the ‘Fedora’ Category

Adios Gnome

June 27, 2009

I went ahead and committed to some changes on my Fedora 10 installation on my AA1 this evening. Gone are a lot of Gnome things — thirty-three packages so far including metacity, cheese (POS), istanbul (I’ll figure out something else, maybe), and a whole lot of stuff that I can live without. That includes rhythmbox. I can live with the mtp-tools since either way I have much less control over the device’s (Samsung S3) directory hierarchy than in Windows.

Since gdm was among the cruft deleted, I now boot into runlevel 3; I’m still at about 100 MB of RAM at boot but I think I can get that down a bit more. As I suspected, booting into gdm really slows things down. I’m not running any legit benchmarks but the time to a login prompt is faster.

I also edited my networking to start at boot rather than in X so now I won’t lose a connection just because I’m not running X or switching window managers. That annoyed the hell out of me — start something like music streams or downloads in screen, detach to switch window managers, lose wifi, lose everything related to networking. Not that wifi has exactly proven stable under Fedora.

Speaking of window managers, ratpoison is my new default window manager. Surprised? I also added terminus fonts and other cool stuff.

I also know I have more crap to get rid of because I wasn’t too aggressive; I see a lot that can go now that I’m looking at my installed list. I really don’t think I’ll need compiz for ratpoison. I also still have lxpanel installed even though I’m very sure I’ll never set it up with ratpoison again. I also saw apps like evolution and pidgin I’m unlikely to ever use  on this.

More tomorrow if I get time.

Update 20090627

June 27, 2009

I’m still unable to run yet (lingering fatigue from the flu combined with a heat wave) so my early morning hours are filled with catching up with work. Screwing around with Fedora has been an anti-priorirty until this morning (at 4:30 no less).

I think I booted into Linux three times all week (checked last: four times – twice on Monday, once Tuesday, once this morning). Spent most of the week working within Windows playing catch-up. I never installed Firefox under XP on my AA1; I’ve been using IE8 and Opera instead. I finally installed xulrunner and conkeror, though, yesterday. May install conkeror under Fedora, too.

Here’s GNU screen running mplayer (streaming, emacs opened with probably two dozen more buffers than I’m using or paying attention to (mostly dired — need to see if I can reuse  the same buffer), w3m opened to my blog, and some chatting. This is all within ratpoison, of course. I got rid of that lxpanel thing.


I installed GraphicsMagick instead of imagemagick so my file names are automatically set and everything’s handled with simple keystrokes. I saw that GraphicsMagick did the same things as imagemagick only faster and better with fewer libraries. Not sure how true the claims are but I decided it was worth a try. Only difference I had to adjust to was invoking “gm” before imagemagick command names in my scripts and configuration files (e. g., the aliases and commands I have set up in .ratpoisonrc).

Likely to remove some Gnome bloat sooner than later, but still have some apprehension. I wanted to see where pekwm would fit in comparison to ratpoison and fluxbox. It was much closer to fluxbox so I’ll remove it.

window manager resource use
doesn't include additional/related processes
taken at fresh start
ps aux | grep [window manager name]

lucky13      0.1  0.4  10264  4172 ?        S    04:43   0:00 pekwm
lucky13      1.6  0.4  10808  5068 ?        S    04:46   0:00 fluxbox
lucky13      0.2  0.1   5476  1556 ?        S    04:47   0:00 ratpoison

pekwm with default theme
fluxbox theme "green tea" and very small menu
ratpoison with custom .ratpoisonrc

Not doing anything drastic today beyond tweaking .emacs and moving old scripts to the AA1. I’ve considered upgrading the AA1 to Windows 7 when it’s released (October 22). I’d like to see that everything’s working better under Linux than it has thus far, which is why I still have XP installed and why I’m still leaning towards Windows 7. Right now there are too many things keeping me from considering running Linux-only on this: having to boot with an SD card inserted to use the reader, crazy wireless shit that’s happened on multiple occasions now (changing SSIDs and even disabling the wireless card), etc.

One final note about the DSL hard drive PDF I’ve not been able to finish yet. I don’t know if or when I’ll get around to it between catching up from being sick to vacation to the simple fact that DSL is dead and I think there are too many better options for those who want a traditional hard drive install. I thought interest would wane since DSL’s development has come to a screeching halt (last time I checked, John Andrews had posted no updates, roadmaps, polls for what direction users wanted DSL to go, etc.), but every day I’m getting hits from DSL forum links and from Google searches related to DSL hard drive installs. So maybe I’ll finish it anyway. Even though it’s about half finished (I want to add new screenshots and other images to make it as easy as possible) I’d rather spend that time writing a guide for something under active development. Maybe I’ll post my own poll about all that and see if there’s any interest either way.

AA1 Wireless Problem Strikes Again

June 22, 2009

I’d written a few weeks ago that I was having wireless issues. This started under Fedora and I eventually narrowed it down from bug reports and other blogs to problems with the ath5k driver following resume from suspend (which I’d been doing repeatedly over the course of a week).

The issue wasn’t confined to Linux. When rebooting into XP, I’d continue having problems finding any SSID at all. In fact, the Windows wireless dialog hinted that I might need to enable my wireless card even though I hadn’t disabled it at all. I couldn’t find my SSID or any of the others around me.

Well, it happened again while ago. I logged out of ratpoison to test something (which resulted in losing my connection because of the BS I mentioned in the previous two entries about services being child processes of X rather than starting independently), logged back in and saw from iwconfig that my SSID had changed. I tried to correct it to no avail. In my normal user account it showed I was connected to an unencrypted SSID; as root it showed the right SSID. Then I totally lost all connections and had no wireless. Nada.

So I reset my router to see if that was the problem. Rebooted to start XP to see if that was messed up as well. It was.

What’s really weird is how I’ve been able to get wireless working again both times this has happened. Both times the problems started in Linux (never any issue in XP) and persisted when I rebooted into XP. Because my security suite tries to update, the loss of wireless really bogs everything down. Each time I’ve closed the lid, which eventually suspends to RAM. Both times when I’ve resumed, that wireless LED has been glowing.

Not sure what the problem is. Or why this “solves” it. It’s disconcerting, though, that this has happened again while using Fedora — and without suspending to RAM this time around.

I’ll search to see if I can find out more later to see if it’s something that can be resolved or if possibly there’s something wrong with my wireless card beyond the operating systems.

Fedora 10 on AA1 Update: ratpoison and screen

June 22, 2009

Been setting up ratpoison and screen in Fedora 10 this morning since I can’t run yet. Now all my apps will open full screen when I open them in other window managers. Cool!

Here are some screenshots. First up, I ran into a bit of an issue using aterm for the first time ever. Maybe need to recompile? (UPDATE: Doh! No, it’s all good. I just checked my .Xresources and commented out the geometry line. Works now.)


Another app I’ve found to be messed up is zile. I installed it yesterday and the replace-string mode isn’t there (neither are others like list-commands); M-x re[tab to complete] resulted in only one (recenter) match. No problem, I’m probably installing emacs (no X) anyway.

The terminal in these shots is xterm. The blue shit on the bottom of these shots is from the gdm theme. Yet another reason to skip that and use a proper console login.

Here’s a shot of “free -mt” (aliased) at fresh boot.  I don’t have resources trimmed yet nearly as much as I want. I can only imagine how bloated that default gdm theme is. One thing I keep noticing about default backgrounds and themes is that they’re not designed for the lowest common denominator — which really is a disservice to users of older, slower, less-able hardware whom Linux advocates have always targeted.


Hard to believe I had Gnome trimmed down to a similar level. Need to start with fewer services running! Also need to quit using Gnome apps to do little things like an Ubuntu user would; I love that message, though. Haven’t installed imagemagick yet.

Finally, here’s GNU screen in xterm in ratpoison after starting and running a bunch of other stuff.


As you can see, I’m using mksh as my shell. I was going to install pdksh again but I saw the size of the binaries. Less bloated and more functional than bash either way. Guess I’m also kind of biased because of the BSD thing. Maybe I’ll try MirOS one of these days; not sure it would run on an AA1 (MirOS uses a no SMP kernel, Atom is multi-thread) or how much hardware support it would lack (does it have ath yet?).

Have a bit of mucking around with my wrapper and other scripts since aterm’s not working in ratpoison — using mplayer in terminal to playback audio and video since that’s a bit easier on the system than totem and everything else dressed up in GTK+. Not going to start compiling stuff yet even though I want either ratmen or dmenu; I haven’t even looked to see how headers are packaged in Fedora. I’ll probably set up a text-based menu (see Oct ’08 post “More GNU screen Tweaks”) instead before I do anything else.

UPDATE 06:16 US/Central – Installed emacs (nox) and removed zile. Already changed my scripts to use xterm so I’m probably removing aterm and libafterstep and whatever else was installed with it.


Had to manually link emacs-22.3-nox to emacs. My mplayer wrapper also now opens PLS streams in screen.

Another AA1 Update – 21 June 2009

June 21, 2009

A few post-install and mid-configure notes before I turn in. I hate Pulse Audio. I have playback working reasonably well (albeit kind of low compared to everything else); recording/capturing from microphone is a different story. I’ll mess with it tomorrow and see if I can get it working the way it was before.

I decided to see what other small window managers are available in the repositories. No jwm. I saw icewm and lxde and openbox. None of those is really my cuppa. They do have ratpoison. I didn’t install it yet. Instead, the alternative “light” window manager I installed is fluxbox.

I don’t dislike fluxbox, it just seems a bit clumsy to find an open space to click to get a menu. That’s especially true on a small display like the AA1. I may end up compiling jwm or just installing ratpoison.

One thing I dislike about some desktop-centric distros is that “important” processes are tied to X, which means restarting or losing them if you switch sessions. In Fedora, that includes the network manager applet. I had to run nm-applet in fluxbox to get my wireless connection back. I’ll see if find a way to free it from the shackles of any particular X session so my connection persists independently.

More tomorrow. Hopefully.

Re-Installed Fedora 10 on my AA1

June 21, 2009

I quickly realized that the bleeding edge isn’t the place for me, so I’m taking a step back of sorts. I’ve resintalled Fedora 10 (Gnome). I think I had more stuff working faster or without manual reconfiguration using that — most of the reconfiguration I did was to reduce services running and change apps around to reduce initial resource use and to improve performance.

I’m currently updating the system. I’ll still have to change software around as I had it before trying Debian. Fortunately it hasn’t been that long ago and I remember just about everything I did before (so I think).

Let me say this: it’s nothing against Debian. I’ve run Debian on many computers and it’s wonderful on conventional (and “classic”) hardware. The stable release just isn’t ideal for certain newer hardware; if that weren’t an issue, I’d probably be running RHEL, SLED, or CentOS on this thing (maybe some day…). I knew the risks of switching to Sid included having more things that might crash (they did: rhythmbox wasn’t the only fly in the ointment) and possibly wouldn’t work (e. g., upgrading xorg broke tapping and scrolling on the Synaptics pad). I acccepted those risks and flaws with the hope of having better support of my AA1 than Lenny provided. Maybe Squeeze would’ve been a happy middle ground. Maybe I’ll try that at some point when I have more time to play.

Not surprisingly, I’d also face many of the same issues with Fedora 11. I already had noticed my Synaptics pad didn’t tap or scroll when trying the different (Gnome, KDE, Xfce) Leonidas Live CDs. I think I could still move to Fedora 11 when more bugs like Synaptics are fixed. I’d also like to be able to install without being forced to use a particular filesystem, especially ext4 which I’m not ready to try.

I’m open to further experimentation with other distros as I have time. I considered going Ubuntu LTS but I’d rather not. I was prepared to do something more drastic (Gentoo, Lunar, etc.) just to get things set up “just so” for my funky tastes. I don’t think this is so bad. Things worked and I was draining ~200 MB at boot using Gnome in Fedora 10, which isn’t much more (20-25%) than I was using in Debian with jwm — the difference being full desktop and file system integration under Gnome.

Nothing’s really lost beyond time (which I’ve had since installing Debian thanks to the flu; I’m just about back to normal). The biggest drawback to regressing to an earlier version of Fedora like this (10) is that it has only a thirteen-month support cycle and we’re already half-way through it. I’m just tired of stuff not working correctly and/or easily, or even crashing.

I deliberated about installing Fedora 10 as a lone distro on my hard drive after realizing Fedora 11 wasn’t going to work for me (yet). Turns out I’m right back where I thought I should’ve stayed. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I installed Debian for two reasons: I wanted a stable distro with long-term support and I wanted to integrate or streamline all my disparate Linux partitions (multiple distros and a large amount of free space) after being so displeased by the questionable way PCLOS automatically set things up. Speaking of which, I let Fedora set up a /boot partition and / (LVM) this time around. I think it’s also important to note that Fedora 10 from USB correctly installed GRUB to  the correct drive (sda rather than sdb), even setting up an entry for Windows (as “unknown”) — hooray, Fedora!

I don’t have the latest version numbers of everything but I’m content that everything works well and is reasonably stable. That’s all I really wanted.

Debian-AA1 Update: Upgraded to Sid

June 18, 2009

13:24 – 18 Jun 2009

I did a few boots of other distros from USB yesterday between naps (got flu). Some of these were very bleeding edge. I decided I was going to have to bite the bullet and run a system more on the bleeding edge than I really want to get this working the way I want. Wish I could find a happy compromise but too much of my stuff’s not working (the way I think it should) yet.

Does it matter which distros I tried? The one that impressed me most was opensuse-kde. Alas, it uses so much RAM from USB that I’d never install it on a hard drive. I also liked the Xfce (more RAM than Xubuntu from stick!) and LXDE versions of Fedora 11. Maybe I could trim Fedora-Xfce down to usable size. Hmmm.

Among the things I was able to get working better than under Debian-Lenny were the webcam (no surprise) and libmtp (for my Samsung S3). In fact, Amarok in opensuse recognized my Samsung S3 as soon as I plugged it in.

Rather than going through the hassle of backing up and starting from scratch with yet another distro, I looked over the list of updates in Sid and decided I’d give it a try. Against my better judgment. I don’t know — I just don’t care to be a guinea pig. There’s a reason it’s called “testing” and “unstable.” I want tested, stable.

I’m writing this part as I’m about a third of the way through downloading updates and, just like the install the other day, it’s going to take a while. Doesn’t help I’m doing this in middle of the day (still fighting flu so I’m about to nap again) and the mirror is fucking slow anyway.

Maybe I should’ve removed gnome first.

I forgot to add a few days ago that I removed zile and installed mg instead. Both are small emacs-like editors. They’re about the same size and work very similarly, so the most substantive difference is licenses: zile is GNU, mg is BSD (and maintained by OpenBSD). I need to edit my .jwmrc to unclobber the alt key (IIRC, the setting for nextstacked is fucked up).

More later when this thing is upgraded.

16:25 – 18 Jun 2009

Now through downloading 902 of 980 files. Progress! Should be able to boot in the next hour. Or two. Depends when I wake up from my next nap. Or if I take one. Getting sick in the summer really sucks.

17:32 – 18 Jun 2009

Rebooted because I went ahead and installed the Sid kernel so I can stay tied to the regular repositories. I’d already verified beforehand that I was now at “squeeze/sid” on my AA1.

First app test: FAIL. Started rhythmbox, plugged in S3. WTF happened to rhythmbox? It just disappeared. Let’s leave S3 plugged in and run from terminal and see.

% rhythmbox                                                                    

(rhythmbox:xxxx): Rhythmbox-WARNING **: Unable to grab media player keys: Could not get owner of name 'org.gnome.SettingsDaemon': no such name
Segmentation fault

Whoops. See why lucky hates being on the bleeding edge just to have a big-version-number? Fuck. At least mtp-tools seem to be working. Now I won’t feel so bad about removing Gnome (should’ve done it before upgrading). I’ll have to mess with this later to see if it’s fixable or if I need to file a bug report.

FWIW, here’s the “after” shot to show initial hit after starting X (see previous entries for “before” shots):


This is my 17kb wallpaper (bloated 1024×600 netbook size). Might tweak .jwmrc to match it. That’ll have to wait and I’ll also test more of these shiny new bigger-version-number apps tomorrow to see what else won’t work. My fever’s back up and I’m wiped out now.

Minor Updates on Site Content and Debian Lenny on AA1

June 16, 2009

Site news

A few minor site updates to note. I fixed the links to Secunia’s Linux 2.6 vulnerabilities page. Removed RSS feeds for Secunia’s vulnerabilities updates and content. Might have time this afternoon to work on the DSL Hard Drive guide again, will post it as soon as I finish.

I checked stats and see I’m getting lots of hits for Fedora 11 content. Many of the search phrases indicate people are frustrated with F11, with everything from “Fedora 11 is shit” and “Fedora 11 sucks” to variations of terms related to booting the live CD and from USB. As I wrote in the update with my “first look” last week, I installed the image to USB using netbootin within Fedora 10. If you’re using another distro, look for the libraries required to use netbootin and then use it to install the image to USB. I removed netbootin from Windows because none of the images I tried ever booted. But it worked pretty well with everything from within Linux (I’ll probably use it again if I decide to replace Debian).

Debian Lenny on AA1

No big news since last night. I’ve been playing with MTP this morning while on and off the phone. Not working with rhythmbox. I’m able to get information from the S3 via mtp-detect and other mtp-utils and I can mount via mtpfs; none of that will let me transfer files, though. I also edited udev rules but the only thing I can do for now is read from the device; I can live with it if I can get the utils to work — I don’t need (or want) rhythmbox just to move files around and delete old podcasts. I looked at Debian bugs and may need to update libmtp with a more recent package.

I used <Group> tags in jwmrc to set certain apps to open as I want them. This is Iceweasel, which is now set to open on my second virtual desktop maximized, without title bar, and without window borders.


Will hopefully get around to installing Skype today or tomorrow since that (getting cam to work in it) will likely be a deal maker/breaker for whether I stick with Debian or move along to another distro or move the whole system to unstable or testing. I’d like to get the cam working beyond Skype if possible. I was thinking of adding more content to youtube at some point — I’d like to be known for a bit more than my two crappy videos.

Finally, I wondered what all would get removed if I were to run “aptitude remove gnome gnome-desktop” and I found out while ago when I looked:

Reading package lists...
Building dependency tree...
Reading state information...
Reading extended state information...
Initializing package states...
Reading task descriptions...
Note: selecting the task "gnome-desktop: GNOME desktop environment" for installation
Note: selecting the task "gnome-desktop: GNOME desktop environment" for installation
The following packages will be REMOVED:
 alacarte{u} app-install-data{u} arj{u} aspell{u} bluez-gnome{u}
 capplets-data{u} cdrdao{u} cheese deskbar-applet{u} desktop-file-utils{u}
 dmz-cursor-theme{u} dvd+rw-tools{u} ekiga{u} eog{u} epiphany-browser
 evince{u} evolution{u} evolution-common{u} evolution-data-server{u}
 evolution-data-server-common{u} evolution-exchange{u}
 evolution-plugins{u} evolution-webcal{u} fast-user-switch-applet{u}
 file-roller{u} gcalctool{u} gconf-editor{u} gdm{u} gdm-themes{u} gedit{u}
 gedit-common{u} genisoimage{u} gksu gnome gnome-about{u}
 gnome-app-install{u} gnome-applets{u} gnome-applets-data{u}
 gnome-backgrounds{u} gnome-cards-data{u} gnome-control-center{u}
 gnome-core{u} gnome-desktop-data{u} gnome-desktop-environment
 gnome-games{u} gnome-games-data{u} gnome-media{u} gnome-media-common{u}
 gnome-menus{u} gnome-netstatus-applet{u} gnome-nettool{u}
 gnome-network-admin{u} gnome-panel{u} gnome-panel-data{u}
 gnome-power-manager{u} gnome-screensaver{u} gnome-session{u}
 gnome-settings-daemon{u} gnome-spell{u} gnome-system-monitor{u}
 gnome-system-tools{u} gnome-terminal gnome-themes{u}
 gnome-themes-extras{u} gnome-user-guide{u} gnome-utils{u}
 gnome-vfs-obexftp{u} gnome-volume-manager{u} gnuchess{u} gparted
 gstreamer0.10-alsa{u} gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg gstreamer0.10-gnomevfs{u}
 gstreamer0.10-plugins-good{u} gstreamer0.10-tools{u} gstreamer0.10-x{u}
 gthumb gthumb-data{u} gtk2-engines{u} gtk2-engines-pixbuf{u}
 gtkhtml3.14{u} gucharmap{u} guile-1.8-libs{u} hal-cups-utils hardinfo
 iceweasel-gnome-support libao2{u} libavahi-ui0{u} libcairo-perl{u}
 libcairomm-1.0-1{u} libcamel1.2-11{u} libcdio7{u} libcupsys2{u}
 libdmx1{u} libdv4{u} libebook1.2-9{u} libecal1.2-7{u}
 libedata-book1.2-2{u} libedata-cal1.2-6{u} libedataserver1.2-9{u}
 libedataserverui1.2-8{u} libegroupwise1.2-13{u} libepc-1.0-1{u}
 libepc-ui-1.0-1{u} libexchange-storage1.2-3{u} libexempi3{u} libgadu3{u}
 libgalago3{u} libgda3-3{u} libgda3-common{u} libgdata-google1.2-1{u}
 libgdata1.2-1{u} libgdl-1-0{u} libgdl-1-common{u} libggz2{u}
 libggzcore9{u} libggzmod4{u} libgksu1.2-0{u} libgksu2-0{u}
 libgksuui1.0-1{u} libglib-perl{u} libglibmm-2.4-1c2a{u} libgmyth0{u}
 libgnome-media0{u} libgnome-pilot2{u} libgnome-window-settings1{u}
 libgnome2-canvas-perl{u} libgnome2-perl{u} libgnome2-vfs-perl{u}
 libgnomecups1.0-1{u} libgnomekbd-common{u} libgnomekbd2{u}
 libgnomekbdui2{u} libgnomeprint2.2-0{u} libgnomeprint2.2-data{u}
 libgnomeprintui2.2-0{u} libgnomeprintui2.2-common{u} libgnomevfs2-bin{u}
 libgpgme11{u} libgpod3{u} libgtk-vnc-1.0-0{u} libgtk2-perl{u}
 libgtkhtml3.14-19{u} libgtkmm-2.4-1c2a{u} libgtksourceview-common{u}
 libgtksourceview1.0-0{u} libgtksourceview2.0-0{u}
 libgtksourceview2.0-common{u} libgtkspell0{u} libgtop2-7{u}
 libgtop2-common{u} libgucharmap6{u} libgweather-common{u} libgweather1{u}
 libhesiod0{u} libhtml-parser-perl{u} libhtml-tagset-perl{u}
 libhtml-tree-perl{u} libiptcdata0{u} libkpathsea4{u} liblua5.1-0{u}
 libmeanwhile1{u} libmetacity0{u} libmusicbrainz4c2a{u}
 libmysqlclient15off{u} libnautilus-burn4{u} libnet-dbus-perl{u}
 libnm-glib0{u} liboobs-1-4{u} libopal-2.2{u} libopenobex1{u}
 libpanel-applet2-0{u} libparted1.8-10{u} libpisock9{u} libpisync1{u}
 libpt-1.10.10{u} libpt-1.10.10-plugins-alsa{u}
 libpt-1.10.10-plugins-v4l{u} libpth20{u} libpurple0{u} libshout3{u}
 libsilc-1.1-2{u} libslab0{u} libsoup2.2-8{u} libspectre1{u}
 libspeexdsp1{u} libtotem-plparser10{u} libtrackerclient0{u}
 liburi-perl{u} libwww-perl{u} libxklavier12{u} libxml-parser-perl{u}
 libxml-twig-perl{u} libxss1{u} libzephyr3{u} liferea lsb-release{u}
 menu-xdg metacity{u} metacity-common{u} mysql-common{u} nautilus{u}
 nautilus-cd-burner{u} nautilus-data{u}{u} p7zip{u} pidgin pidgin-data{u}
 pkg-config{u} python-4suite-xml{u} python-apt{u} python-cups{u}
 python-cupsutils{u} python-eggtrayicon{u} python-gdata{u} python-gdbm{u}
 python-gmenu{u} python-gnome2-desktop{u} python-gnome2-extras{u}
 python-gnupginterface{u} python-gst0.10{u} python-gtkhtml2{u}
 python-gtkmozembed{u} python-gtksourceview2{u} python-notify{u}
 python-sexy{u} python-software-properties{u} python-vte{u} python-xdg{u}
 rarian-compat rhythmbox{u} seahorse{u} serpentine{u}
 software-properties-gtk{u} sound-juicer{u} sudo{u} swfdec-gnome{u}
 synaptic{u} system-config-printer{u} system-tools-backends{u}
 totem-common{u} totem-gstreamer{u} totem-mozilla{u} totem-plugins{u}
 transmission-common{u} transmission-gtk{u} unattended-upgrades{u}
 unzip{u} update-manager{u} update-manager-core{u} update-notifier
 update-notifier-common{u} vinagre{u} vino{u} wodim{u} xbase-clients{u}
 xsane xsane-common{u} zenity{u} zip{u}
0 packages upgraded, 0 newly installed, 262 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 0B of archives. After unpacking 720MB will be freed.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n/?]

Not just yet. This gets back to some of my old complaints (search a year or two back under my Debian category) about using distros where everything is dependent on everything else so that you either have to live with bloat or recompile everything you want without every possible dependency. Guess that’s the price of convenience of having so many things precompiled and (usually) preconfigured. Just seems like too high a price sometimes.

Definitely Not Installing Xubuntu 9.04 on AA1

June 11, 2009

Just booted Xubuntu 9.04 (Jizzy Jackass or something) from USB on my AA1 to see if it’s possibly something I’d consider installing even though I think Ubuntu is really Swahili for “fucktard.” Or worse.

First thing I did when I got a desktop was open a terminal and use free -mt to see how much RAM it was using: 522 MB. Fuck, that’s about 200 (208, to be precise) more than my installation of Fedora 10 using Gnome. Then again, I have a lot of services off in Fedora, a smaller shell (mksh), no fancy wallpaper, etc. Maybe I could pare down Xubuntu to a more usable degree. But why? I’ve done that already with PCLOS and Fedora 10.

I already knew from a comparison of Xubuntu and Debian with Xfce at Distrowatch a few weeks ago that Xubuntu is a bloated pig. Now I have my own comparison after running Debian Live (Xfce) the other evening.

Would I possibly install Xubuntu on my AA1? Umm, hell no.

But I could be getting closer to installing something soon.

UPDATE – 11 Jun 2009 @ 20:05 US/Central: I booted into my PCLOS installation while ago to get an idea of resource use. I boot into runlevel 3 so I don’t do a splashy graphical login. Once I login and have a shell, I’m using 69 MB of RAM (per free -mt). Out of curiosity, I started xfce, opened a terminal, and looked at free again:


That, too, is with a few tweaks to turn off some services — but I’m still running bluetooth and cups and other stuff that I chose to keep running out of convenience. I expect some difference between running off CD/USB compared to hard drive. Over twice as much? Please. (I’m using pdksh in PCLOS rather than mksh. I saw a shitload of bash instances in Xubuntu when I ran ps aux.)

If I could get better hardware support under PCLOS, I would stick with it exclusively. Maybe a new kernel is in order? Last time I tried, I got an error that the kernel wouldn’t compile with the version of gcc in the base. Might screw around with it some more soon. Or maybe not. Right now I’ve narrowed down what I want to Xfce at most (I’d be just as happy with ratpoison or jwm or some other small window manager) rather than Gnome or KDE, OpenOffice 3.x (or Lotus Symphony), a handful of apps and utilities I like, and mplayer.

Update: First Look Fedora 11 Live CD/USB, Misc Thoughts, cheese Sucks

June 10, 2009

Just a quick update before I get on a conference call. I’ve now booted both the Gnome and KDE versions of Fedora 11 Live from USB thanks to this unetbootin recommendation from scottro. That (old) thread at FedoraForum includes other helpful suggestions netbook users can try if they get bogged down with Fedora images. (Edit: I used unetbootin to successfully get a bootable USB stick with Fedora 11 from within Fedora 10; haven’t tried in Windows.)

Impressions? Well, the KDE version seems more stable than I recall from the prerelease image I ran a couple months back. I didn’t do much with it except look to see which apps it comes with — KOffice and other K-apps instead of OpenOffice. I then booted the Gnome version and it’s not too different from the Fedora 10 selections: AbiWord, evolution, cheese, totem, rhtythmbox, etc. That’s good because I don’t like radical changes. There’s still no hotplug support for the SD card reader (the one on the left side of the AA1 — haven’t tested the multi-card reader yet) unless you boot with a card inserted; I did see that the jmb* module loaded when I later inserted a card after (cardless) boot, it just doesn’t work yet. Beyond that, things seem to be working fairly well.

I was more inclined last night to run a KDE-based system over Gnome, but both are a bit more cumbersome and bloated than I really desire. It’s not so bad with a GB of RAM but I think people delude themselves that Linux is inherently better than Windows on low resource hardware — I think XP’s performance is still a lot better on this AA1 than Linux 2.6, especially with the chronic polling and shit that Gnome does (and KDE, too). That’s why I may go ahead and do a minimal install of something whether it’s Fedora or Debian or Slackware and then install more or less only what I want.

That last point, as it relates to default selections of software, reminds me of how many things I switched around in Fedora 10 on my AA1. I installed to replace AbiWord (because I use it at work and I needed Calc and Base as well), mplayer from rpmfusion in place of totem and cheese (see below), mksh (left bash installed in case any important scripts are full of bash-isms or call directly to /bin/bash), emelfm2 in place of whatever retarded file browser was the default, and a variety of small-ish apps I like to use. And bigger apps like Skype, which works very well now that the microphone is working.

This “cheese” webcam studio or booth thing fucking sucks. I read the FAQ and whatever else I could find to try and get it to record video without stuttering — or even minimal stuttering — but it was still so fucked up even with the smallest possible resolution I could set that I abandoned all hope for it. It basically freezes for a few seconds at the start of a capture and never really gets its shit completely together after that. Looks like the developers were more interested in useless shit like the nifty count down timer and “flash” thing that goes off (not to mention all the “effects”) than getting legitimate core features — like smooth video with properly synced audio — to work correctly. In a way, it’s typical of GNU/Gnome projects where people “major in minors” and the more important things never get finished or it’s a half-assed unfinished project that never fulfills its stated objective (see guile, which was supposed to take on TCL/TK but has languished in near obscurity behind other newer and more relevant languages).

Fortunately, there are things that work a lot better even at the higher resolutions the cam is capable of using. Here’s my alias for recording from the webcam using mplayer/mencoder.

alias record_stream='mencoder tv:// -tv \
driver=v4l2:width=320:height=240:device=/dev/video0:forceaudio:adevice=/dev/dsp \
-ovc lavc -oac twolame -lameopts cbr:br=64:mode=3 -o '

Change the encoders to suit what you have on your system. Type/tab complete the alias in a terminal and add a filename with format type (e. g., record_stream ~/Videos/today01.ogv) after record_stream and use ctrl-c to stop recording. Is it as fancy as something with buttons and can you see yourself? Nope (though it’s possible to run mencoder/mplayer so you can see what you’re recording). The captured video (and synced audio) is of much better quality than I was ever able to get from cheese.

(If you must see yourself before recording you can add an alias like “stream_test=’mplayer -tv driver=v4l2:fps=15 -vo xv tv://'” — you can also add whatever you need to listen to yourself if you need to test the sound, too, but that’s a system setting that you should set to work without constantly screwing around with it.)

I realize people drawn to Puppy and Ubuntu will throw up their hands and yell “WTF” at that, but script it through zenity or something if you think you need a fucking button to click just to do a simple task like capture video from your webcam. It’s easier my way. Really. And you can use whatever codecs you have installed — mpg, mp4, avi, mov, wmv, ogg, whatever.

Anyway, still not committing to Fedora 11 yet because there’s nothing in it that I don’t have working in 10 — just newer version numbers of the same stuff. The only reason I may install it sooner than later is because I want to reclaim space used in various other Linux partitions for one unified install, which kind of mitigates against installing from the live CD anyway because of the quirky requirement that / be ext4 and /boot be ext3, etc. Now that I’ve slept on it, I’m more convinced I want something a bit more conservative with a longer support cycle than Fedora offers. May have more time later to do something.

Still on my to-do list and coming soon: Updated DSL hard drive guide in PDF, even though DSL is pretty much dead. Could have it posted by the end of this weekend.