Should I Migrate to PHP5?

I noted some sites started pushing to PHP5 with the announcement last year that PHP4 would be EOL (end-of-life) in 2007. In truth I understand that there is no longer a compelling reason to remain with PHP4. The biggest obstacle was older software that did not support PHP5 (since version 5 is incompatible with version 4 in some respects). However there is no reason why most of that software cannot be updated, and if so I am pretty sure that some alternate version 5 compatible software exists. I also read some claims that in simpler configurations PHP4 could be faster/less memory than PHP5. I don’t know if that’s true or not. Finally the biggest problem: most web hosting providers are content with PHP4 meeting all their needs and have no reason to upgrade. I do agree to this in some ways.

My biggest problems with PHP in general are its very poor track record for security, its flaws in design/configuration and finally it’s tendency to break software on updates. In some ways: its just a nuisance to maintain!!! PHP4 will be supported for critical security issues till 2008-08-08 by the PHP developers. However being open source there is no reason why someone else could not support it after that. Redhat Enterprise Linux still supports a PHP 4.3.9 package. I was supporting a 4.3.11 package for Fedora which I updated last in 2007 for Fedora 7. However I only installed it on my personal web server on a development box. I guess it would be really easy to finally abandon supporting old packages and just move to version 5, however I don’t know the effect it may have on my public server with a dozen or so websites.

For now I will set a deadline for myself to migrate to PHP5 by the August deadline. However for the time being, if people would find it useful I am considering repackaging the RHEL PHP 4.3.9 for Fedora 8. My 4.3.11 package is greatly out of date. On my development server, I’ll just go ahead and install the PHP5.2 included in Fedora 8. That will be my testing ground for my server updates coming soon.

Realistically in the long run I should just slowly stop using PHP altogether, given that PHP6 will be another mess very soon. Perhaps I will look into Python or J2EE options, not sure yet.

Fedora 8 Released

Do you fear the “Werewolf” * ?

The Fedora project just released Fedora 8 with a great deal of enthusiasm. Fedora had been slipping behind in the past few releases and there have always been quality issues, but the team hopes this release will put them back on track.

The highlights from the Release Summary:


  • PulseAudio – A revamped sound system addressing many of the limitations and problems with older Linux sound systems.
  • CodecBuddy – A tool to help install codecs and multimedia formats that Fedora cannot legally or ethically distribute directly.
  • Compiz / Compiz-Fusion – Improvements on the Linux hardware accelerated user interface including cool effects.


  • Network Manager – significant improvements for wireless network management.
  • Firewall Administration is much more user friendly.
  • Package Manager – You can install software using your media (DVD). Finally! We lost this in Fedora Core 5!
  • PolicyKit – When accessing restricted tasks or hardware you now have a much more user-friendly password prompt
  • Improved Laptop support
  • Improved Bluetooth support
  • Improved power management support


  • Gnome 2.20, KDE 3.5.8, Xfce 4.4.1 (unfortunately KDE4 was delayed by the KDE team)
  • GNOME Online Desktop – An application on the desktop to interface with online applications like GMail, Photobucket, Facebook, EBay, Wikipedia, and countless others
  • New desktop theme


  • IcedTea – This is a Fedora packaged version of the Java that Sun open sourced in the OpenJDK project. Now a working Java plus browser plugin comes included in Fedora.


  • Eclipse 3.3
  • OpenOffice 2.3.0
  • Kernel 2.6.23

You can download Fedora 8 using the standard mirrors or using the Torrent (recommended).

Please user the Fedora-List mailing list or any of the forums for help. There are some basic tips provided in my Personal Fedora 8 Installation Guide which should be updated within the week with the installation.

The release so far looks much more polished than the past few. I hope it is well received!

* – The Werewolf would have been much cooler if the release somehow made it on October 31! Oh well.

UPDATE – NOTE please DO NOT COMMENT here if you have problems with my Install Guide, use the CONTACT form with a proper email address. THANK YOU.

MPlayer RC2 Released

The MPlayer team released RC2 of the multimedia package. The last release RC1 was almost 12 months ago. The changes are typical: newer support of less significant codecs, major optimizations and improvements on more popular codecs. This release has a great deal of work done on streaming (Live555).

I don’t know if we will ever see an official 1.0 release, however it seems unimportant as everyone probably should just be updating their “snapshots” of MPlayer ever 3-4 months so they don’t have to wait 14 or 12 months.

I took this as an opportunity to update my MPlayer compile guide for Fedora. I do not recommend compiling from source, but I myself prefer doing it. For the more practical users, most repositories should be coming online soon with updates for yum. Simply run:

# su -c ‘yum update mplayer’

I’ve checked Livna, FreshRPMs and ATrpms, none seem to have the update yet. So yum users will have to wait.

Announcing RPM Fusion

Hans de Goede announced on the Fedora-devel the creation of RPM Fusion.

RPM Fusion aims to bring together many packagers from various 3rd party repos and build a single add-on repository for Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

We don’t have a repository ready for end users yet, but we are actively working on merging the following ones:


We will have two distinct repositories: free and non-free. Free will contain Open Source Software (as defined by the Fedora Packaging Guidelines) which can’t be included in Fedora — for example because it might be patent encumbered in the US. Non-free will contain everything else which is not free software (as defined by the Fedora Licensing Guidelines), like software with public available source-code that has “no commercial use” restrictions or the graphics drivers from AMD and Nvidia.

From an end user view point this is great news. For a long time Freshrpms and Livna had many overlapping packages and using one meant avoiding the other. While many Fedora developers and users (including myself) recommended using Livna, all knew neither choice was perfect. Hopefully with better coordinated effort all new Fedora users will find their needs met by a single additional software repository.

The work on Fedora 8 is progressing, with a Test2 release in a few days. While I doubt the repo merge will be ready for F8, it seems perfectly possible as a lot is external and all the previously wasted duplicate work can now be put to good use for infrastructure.

Good news.

Resuming USB after F7 ACPI Suspend

As mentioned in my Fedora 7 Review, there were some ACPI regressions in functionality. The basic problem is as such: Before I hit ‘Suspend’ my mouse is working fine, however the mouse fails to activate after the computer is resumed.

To get the mouse to work again, I must run the following, after which the mouse works perfectly.

[mirandam@charon ~]$ sudo su -
[root@charon ~]# modprobe -r ehci_hcd
[root@charon ~]# modprobe ehci_hcd

How do I know which module to pick? Trial and error. There are only 3 USB modules that I considered:

[mirandam@charon ~]$ /sbin/lsmod | grep hcd
ehci_hcd               35405  0 
ohci_hcd               23749  0 
uhci_hcd               26833  0

I went through each and loaded and re-loaded it at the terminal line until I found the correct one.
(How did I get to the terminal with no mouse? Quick Tip: Create a shortcut key combination in Gnome: System > Preferences > Personal > Keyboard Shortcuts).

The Fedora FAQ says to use the “Quirks Page” to try to diagnose the problems. The site is a little “dumbed” down but it might be helpful to newbies.

The information I required was how to unload modules prior to suspending. This is mentioned in the site. The proper method is to add a file unload_modules in the /etc/pm/config.d/ directory. The file should have 1 line listing the modules you want to unload (separated by spaces) in a specific format. In my case this would be:

Hence I ran:

[mirandam@charon ~]$ sudo gedit /etc/pm/config.d/unload_modules

Added the above line, and presto!, my USB mouse propely resumes after an ACPI suspend (S3, Suspend to RAM).

The above quirks page may not be entirely comprehensive but should provide many common tips. Unfortunately power management (including suspend and hibernate) are ever changing in Linux. The current structure does seem like progress (even if it does create regressions as in my case).

For reference I have an ASUS A8V, Athlon 64 running 32 bit, kernel 2.6.21-1.3228.fc7, with a Logitech MX 400 Laser Mouse.

Fedora 7 Review

I have been using Fedora 7 for 2 weeks now and feel I’ve setup and configured almost all of the software and hardware as I would like. The following are my observations and assessments of this release.

Installation: Media

Many people have complained that the methods for installing Fedora 7 (F7) were poorly thought out. There are 2 types of ISO’s available for download: Live Images and basic DVD Installs. The Live Images boot to a useable instance of Fedora in memory and provide a method to install the contents of the disk onto the drive. Similar to Knoppix and Ubuntu, but new for Fedora. The DVD install contains the basic set of software and is identical to previous releases.

There is however one major caveat: If you wish to install by CD-ROM you must use a LiveCD. Previously releases provided a multi-CD set which was identical to the contents of the DVD. This has been discontinued. Hence if you have installed via CD you will have to download a great deal more independently and a further limitation is that you cannot upgrade via Live Image.

To make matters worse the forums and mailing lists are flooded with people complaining about the inability to boot or improper detection of CD or DVD drives. I destroyed 1 DVD-RW and 2 DVD-R before I got K3b (in F7-Test release) to burn correctly. Even worse, the DVD kept “disappearing” during the initial steps of the install. However eventually it did finally make it all the way to installing.

Installation: Package Selection

Anaconda (Fedora’s installer) has not significantly changed since Fedora Core 6. The most significant change in F7 is that is merges the 2 main repositories: Core and Extras into one. That being said, one might expect significantly more software available on the DVD media. Quite the opposite, the DVD contained significantly less than previous releases (more later). I followed my common package selections and performed the install.

I was thrilled to find NTFS-3g included in the package selection. It is great to see NTFS read and write support out of the box – considering countless users dual-boot with Windows.

While I personally do not need an “Install Everything” option, I am greatly disappointed with the lack of any form of Disk Space Usage indication. The installer does count the number of packages (~1100) but that does not help much. In the end I installed about 4.0GB of from the 2.8GB DVD.

First Boot Startup: Smolt

Like previous releases, F7 does several setup steps upon the first boot. The most notable addition is the ability to use Smolt to provide Fedora developer a snapshot of the hardware details of your machine. While this may appear to be a privacy issue, I have seen many users on forums provide their smolt-id to help diagnose problems. This is incredibily better then having to ask for lspci output and similar redundant questions. The first boot has this disabled but does strongly encourage users to submit the information. While I have no personal problem with this, I wish more people with low-end systems would use Smolt!

Software Setup: Desktop

I logged into Gnome (default in Fedora) and went first to the terminal to begin my software customizations. I find it very annoying that the terminal has yet again been moved! This time again from “Accessories” to “System Tools”.

Other than the new background the only major attention grabbers were the login animated logo screen has been removed and the “Fast User Switching” shows up in Gnome. I should mention that this functionality has been in KDE for quite some time. The silly thing about it is that I only have 1 main user. Why would I want this enabled? It only shows my name. I added some other users but depending on how you add them it may have problems. For example: I manually added “User” who cannot login (set shell to /sbin/nologin), I do not think that account should show, but it did. Is this a “lets copy someone else without thinking things through”-feature? I don’t find much use for it.

One new feature included is the automatic creation of some commonly used directories: ‘Documents’, ‘Download’, ‘Mail’, ‘Music’, ‘Pictures’, ‘Public’, ‘Templates’ and ‘Videos’. By design if you delete them they come back – a feature by the name of xdg. The irony is not they come back but that no applications use them! Firefox downloads by default to the Desktop and not Downloads! Similar behavior can be seen in Multimedia applications and Mail applications.

Firefox 2 – while it really is not that new, Fedora Core 6 only had version 1.5 with no support for FF2. The disappointment I have with FF2 in F7 is that it kills my CPU. My Athlon-64 throttles the CPU from 1Ghz to 2.4Ghz (I use the CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor in Gnome). The problem is that EVERY SINGLE PAGE LOAD spikes the CPU to max 2.4Ghz – JUST to load the page. This happens for simple sites as well and also when I’m scrolling in FF2. I never saw this behavior in FF1.5 (or for that matter with FF2 in Windows). The browser seems to get worse with more tabs. I do not know if I should blame Mozilla, Fedora or GTK/Cairo/something-or-other-widget – either way I am very disappointed in the performance.

Included Software

Considering the 2 main Fedora repositories Core and Extras were merged, there was not a considerable amount of new software included on the DVD. The inclusion of NTFS was nice, and KDE users would be happy to see Amarok included. But for the most part a great deal of default software was removed. Many of the compatibility libraries and related software were removed. I manually had to install: Vim X11, Thunderbird, GFtp, X-Chat and K3b. These were all previously included in Fedora. Why the change? While some exclusions are minor, I was surprised to see K3b removed from the installation media. This is a highly polished CD/DVD writer application.

Of all the exclusions on the default install, the one that will NOT be missed was Beagle. This is the (clumsy and quirky) desktop search application which consumes unnecessary CPU and Disk, but yet fails to work really well.

System Changes

SELinux: Security Enhanced Linux
While not a major change some new utilities were added to better support SELinux – namely the SE Troubleshooter Applet. At first I found it helpful and used some of its reports to “fix” issues with files or options in SELinux. However the problem with it is that after a short time of using it, I became overwhelmed with the amount of warnings it provided. Many for things I did not realize I was running and many for very minor things that should not be restricted. An annoyance was that many times when I followed the “recommendation” to resolve the issue, it had no effect. Even though I always end up disabling SELinux, I was hoping this would help me leave it enabled. However it only re-enforced my opinion that I’m wasting my time with it.

YUM: Software Installation with Automatic Handling of Dependencies
A significant improvement was made to YUM. The time it takes to perform software installations (# yum install package) was reduced. It made the “yum experience” much more pleasant. However I was greatly disappointed to read that this comes with the price of higher system resources. Luckily I use YUM sparingly and keep track of every package I install.

Memory Consumption – I cannot be sure if this is the result of Fedora 7 or whether or not I had a memory hog running in Fedora Core 6 – BUT my memory consumption is incredibly lower in F7 than FC6. A few hours with F7 leaves about 1GB used and 1GB free (that’s free NOT cached), whereas the same time period in FC6 would leave about 1.9GB used and 100MB free. I don’t know the culprit, but with the exception of VMWare installation I have everything I had in FC6 installed in F7. Odd, but I’m not complaining.

Hardware Support

The news surrounding the release mentioned notable improvements in wireless. However I am not able to test this. The biggest change I found was in the handling of drives. I do not know if it is related to the new libata features in the kernel, but countless people have problems with their CD-ROM’s or DVD-ROM’s – many during the installation (considering that FC5 and FC6 worked correctly on the same hardware). There are some reported issues with partitions and RAID system, etc – however I did not run into these either. While I had problems with the DVD-ROM I was able to resolve it. … As an opinion/comment – I am curious why so many more hardware quirks showed up with this release? Kernel? Library? Well, something new seems to be causing regressions – one of my greatest frustrations with Fedora in general.

ACPI – Power Management
Some improvements and changes were made to power management that would affect how Fedora handled Suspending and Resuming. While the changes are supposed to improve the experience for more people, some previously working suspend/resume functionality maybe quirky. At first I thought I was immune to this. I tested S3 – Suspend to RAM and it worked (with Nvidia) and S4 – Suspend to Disk failed (as expected with Nvidia). However after only a few days with suspend my USB system stopped resuming correctly at random times! I was forced to manually remove USB modules/drives using and reload them using modprobe. I thought I had seen the end to this in Fedora Core 4!


I think overall the installation was the worst part of Fedora 7, everything else seemed simple enough to work around. While I do feel a marginal speed improvement in the general feel of the operating system, I do not feel like there was a notable improvement over Fedora Core 6. The improvements to some applications such as YUM are welcome, but they really cannot excuse the new quirks (i.e. ACPI).

My basic view of improvement when it comes to a new release is that it should take less time to setup everything and that setup should be done with more ease. In this case that did NOT happen.

Unless there is some immediate need for something new in Fedora 7 (which does not apply to many people), I think people should either wait to upgrade from FC6 or just hold off for Fedora 8. In the meanwhile Ubuntu or OpenSuse look nicer everyday. I do not mean to dismiss the great deal of hardware put into the infrastructure for Fedora, but frankly this release just lacked some much needed quality.

Fedora 7 Released

Time for some “Moonshine”!

Even before the official announcement, Max Spevack, leader of the Fedora Project, issued several words with his enthusiasm for all the work put into this release.

If you did not notice the release is called Fedora 7 and not Fedora Core 7 and this represents the most significant change. The previous devision of software in Fedora’s 2 main repositories: Core and Extras has been merged. While this may not be seen directly to the end user it has been a massive amount of work behind the scenes. Many steps have been taken to push Fedora to be a completely free distribution with all the necessary tools for any person or group to create their own custom distribution of Fedora.

With that in mind the changes and new features in Fedora 7 may seem less than has been seen in previous releases.

Fedora now supports multiple different “Spins”:

  • LiveCD spins are available in both Gnome (default) and KDE. LiveCD’s, while providing less software, are fully installable.
  • The regular DVD install will provide a standard installation method that is similar to previous Fedora releases.
  • A set of DVD images will provide a snapshot of all the software in the repositories helpful for people without broadband access.
  • Standard CD install images have been discontinued. Users who wish to install by CD unfortunately can only do so by LiveCD. (Unless someone creates their own custom CD ISO’s).

Desktop Updates

  • Gnome 2.18 and KDE 3.5.6
  • Fast User Switching – Allows for multiple users on the same machine without having to logging out.
  • Xorg Server 1.3 – Allows for hot plugged display adapters. Additionally included is the experimental Nouveau driver for free open source driver for Nvidia cards.
  • Improvements in wireless performance and enhancements to NetworkManager.
  • New “Flying High” theme
  • Firefox 2

System Changes

  • SELinux enhancements – Included is the setroubleshoot service and applet which provides easier to understand information on denials and issues with SELinux.
  • Disk device name changes. Previous /dev/hdX names are now /dev/sdX.
  • Out of the box support for the Sony Playstation 3.
  • Smolt, an tool that sends anonymous hardware profile information to the Fedora Project, is included. While completely optional it can provide the needed information for improving end user hardware experience, and to prioritize development and quality assurance on commonly used hardware.
  • Significant yum improvements.

While these changes seem minimal they represent a great deal of work. The development process went through 4 Test releases, 1 RC release and plenty of discussion.

You can download Fedora 7 using the standard mirrors or using the Torrent (recommended). Remember the differences between the “Spins” when deciding which image to download!

Please user the Fedora-List mailing list or any of the forums for help. There are some basic tips provided in my Personal Fedora 7 Installation Guide which should be updated within the week with the installation.

Happy downloading and installing!

Fedora Core 6 – 64 bit

After hearing many complaints about trouble using Fedora Core 6 with a 64 bit processor, I decided to test it myself. For the most part almost everything is identical however there were some issues I found. I decided to write a mini-guide with some notes and tips for 64 bit.

Personal Fedora Core 6 64 bit Notes

The only seriously confusing problems I had was with the co-existing of both i386 and x86_64 libraries and packages, commonly referred to as multilib. The rpm command is improved when adding:

%_query_all_fmt         %%{name}-%%{version}-%%{release}.%%{arch}

to the file: /etc/rpm/macros

I noted that having duplicate libraries and applications did make the installation a bit larger, apx. 0.5GB. While this isn’t very large, I could not figure out what was the reason that some 32 bit apps are included while others aren’t.

The 64 bit Firefox did not load the 32 bit browser plugins, so I removed Firefox.x86_64 and installed Firefox.i386 this allowed the browser plugins to work correctly.

Additionally the Nvidia driver installation had some yum problem due to some 32 bit dependencies. I removed those and that problem was resolved.

I currently have a power management problem with kernel 2.6.20-1.2933.fc6 x86_64 as my desktop won’t properly suspend (mode S3).

In conclusion I found the multilib to be such a nuisance. I would consider switching entirely to 64 bit if there was perfect 64 bit support for everything. In that I mean if there was absolutely no need for any 32 bit parts. I didn’t notice a significant speed increase and I am not aware of any major benefits I’m losing by staying with 32 bit Linux.