Installer Formats and Adobe Reader

While open source PDF readers have significantly improved, many people still use Adobe Reader. While Adobe has had a mixed history of supporting their software in Linux/Unix, recently they have significantly improved.

There is a well written post about installer formats on the Acroread Unix blog. I recommend just reading over the post, even if you do not use Adobe software. They have a simple list of the most popular formats (BIN, RPM, DEB, PKG, TAR.GZ) as well as minor pros and cons of each. The information really is not specific to Adobe.

When software is not open source (specifically when users cannot repackage in whatever format they like), it is good to provide information like this to educate users (customers) who may not be admins.

My Early Linux History

There was another useless post on Slashdot asking what did you first do with Linux?. I thought it would be interesting to recollect that experience. Sorry for the detail, my memory produces lots of random tidbits.

I was fortunate enough to attend an engineering school with the latest technologies that were available in the market. Which basically means we had Sun Ultra Workstations, running Solaris Operating System using CDE. So for me “Unix = Sun”. That was 1997 and I was incredibly impressed. I never even knew of Linux till 1998, when one incredibly over achieving colleague mentioned he was going to use an old 386 to run Linux. I immediately thought he meant “unix”, so my first question was: “Don’t you need a more powerful computer?”. Keep in mind the Pentium MMX was the state of the art consumer desktop at the time. And that’s when I first heard it on a bus, in the winter, heading to the engineering campus: “Linux can run on anything! Even really old hardware!”. So began my interest.

Later in 1999 when my programming classes got more involved, I was finding that Borland C++ 5.0 on Windows NT 4.0 was not sufficient compared to GCC on Sun. A co-worker of my brother suggested Linux but warned me that I need to be very careful to make sure I check the video card support under the X-server (XFree86 at the time). Ironically that warning still holds true to this day! Luckily my Matrox Mystique 4MB was in the “supported list”!

In the late 1990’s you could find the most popular linux, RedHat, on shelves at your local Best Buy retailer. I had seen version 6.0 on sale, but by the time I got around to purchasing it, sure enough version 6.1 was there. As I recall it was only 1 CD and 1 CD full of source code (I think I still have those CD’s somewhere). By the time I figured out how to repartition my hard-drive and actually get linux to work (I think the 3rd installation I got it right), I was told version 6.2 was available! This (sometimes annoying) trend still persists today as well.

Due to my experience with CDE on Sun, I immediately thought KDE was the same thing. So I just started using Gnome. Everything was foreign, but since it was so much easier than Solaris, I liked it a lot. Not long after I became comfortable with Redhat, I heard that Pogo Linux was giving away free linux CD’s. This was great since finding someone to make me a copy was impossible and copying at school a big pain. I got copies of Caldera, TurboLinux, Mandrake, and maybe others? I don’t really remember all the versions I tried from them. The only one that stood out was Mandrake and I loved it for its cool selection of software and included niceties (especially “color gcc” – which made cryptic C errors fun again!). Unfortunately all those little additions came with their price. I found Mandrake incredibly unstable compared to RedHat (it could have been my inexperience) so I switched back. I stuck with RedHat till Fedora, but that’s another story altogether.

So that’s my brief exposure to Linux from 1999 to 2001. It was all caused by a requirement to use gcc for school work but ended with a lot of random discoveries. I never saw it in day-to-day activities – so instead I went and found it myself.

What was your first linux experience?

Various Linux and Fedora News

A great deal of the following is all old news.

Adobe has has Flash Plugin for x86_64 Linux architecture in Beta since Oct 2008. The only thing, is that since it is provided in a tarball (.tar.gz), you are better off builing an RPM (spec file). Note that the 32bit i386 version still works perfectly with nspluginwrapper.

Similarily Sun has released the Java JRE web plugin for x86_64 archictecture. Installation is the very identical to 32bit. Just make sure you are using Version 6 Update 12 or newer. It only took 5 yrs? Keep in mind openjdk works well for most scenarios in 64bit linux.

A few weeks ago, KDE 4.2 was released. I’m sure its better than the problematic 4.0 and marginally improved 4.1. For some information for KDE 4.2 on Fedora follow Rex.

I was pleased to see Knoppix 6.0 released. Once upon a time Knoppix was THE Live CD everyone used. Now with Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuSE and many other distro’s releasing Live CD’s anyone can really take their pick on what suits them best. Even so, I will download 6.0 and finally replace the Knoppix 5.0 CD that has been travelling with me for the past few years.

Unrelated to any software release, apparently many people have been having issues with the System Bell. For a quick tip on disabling the Fedora 10 system bell. Yeah, that beep is annoying.

Livna troubles: Most Fedora tutorials depend on the Livna repository for software installation. However due to DNS problems Livna has been unavailable. People should wait a few days. Of course it should be noted that Livna was only critical for libdvdcss rpm which is needed to watch DVD’s in Fedora.

Meanwhile on the Fedora mailing list, another whacky thread has errupted. This time: WHY I WANT TO STOP USING FEDORA!!! (yes, it is all in CAPS!). That obviously spawned a bunch of new related threads. While I do read a lot there, that mailing list is getting less useful each day (especially for newbies).

As for me, I’m still quite behind in my email (I apologize if you contacted me). I have not fixed my computer hardware. I know I need to get some updates on some of my Fedora Guides. (Thanks to all the people mailing me hints and tips – I really appreciate it).

Hardware Changes and Failures

I am currently in the process of installing a new hard drive on my laptop. The 100GB was not enough. I have not had time to install Fedora on it.

I found out I have some hardware failure on my desktop. This is where I did majority of my testing.

I have not had time to find a new UPS since my main one failed a few weeks ago. This is probably a priority since I run my server on it.

Other than the CentOS running on my server, I have not touched Linux or done any work on my Fedora setups for weeks now.

Xine Crashing in Fedora 10

If you are using Xine from RPMFusion and experiencing crashing immediately after loading in Fedora 10, it is probably due to this bug.

Quick work-around is to use Alsa instead of PulseAudio. Open a shell and launch Xine as follows:

[mirandam@phoebe ~]$ xine -A alsa

To make this setting stick, do the following:

Right-Click in the Xine window > Settings > Setup….

In the gui tab, change the Configuration experience level to Advanced, then hit Apply at the bottom of the window.

Next go to the audio tab, change the audio driver to use to alsa, hit Apply, then close the window.

Restart Xine and the problem should no longer occur.

Fedora 10 Released

Cambridge has been launched.

After another round of hacking and coding the Fedora project just announced the release of Fedora 10. The Fedora team has been working overtime to make sure this release arrived in spite of the security issues they had earlier this year.

The highlights from the Release Summary:

Desktop

  • GNOME 2.24 – Instant messaging, video, time tracking, and file management improvements
  • KDE 4.1.2 – many needed updates to KDE4
  • LXDE – Windows like lightweight desktop environment
  • Sugar Desktop (XO) – Desktop provided on the OLPC project
  • New ‘Plymouth’ graphical boot system
  • Language support improvements

Administration/Hardware/System

  • Printing improvements
  • PulseAudio sound improvements now “glitch-free”
  • Improved Webcam support
  • Improved wireless network sharing
  • Added/improved remote control (infrared) support
  • Faster startup
  • Bluetooth Improvements
  • Support for EXT4 and XFS in installer

SoftwareUpdates

  • New Empathy Instant Messenger
  • Eclipse 3.4
  • OpenOffice 3.0
  • Kernel 2.6.27

You can download Fedora 10 using the standard mirrors or using the Torrent (recommended).

Please user the Fedora-List mailing list or any of the forums for help. I have published my Personal Fedora 10 Installation Guide which is currently only a draft. Lots more to do!

Fedora 10 seems less like a radical update as some past versions have been. A great deal of “under the hood” improvements have been made to improve the distribution for the desktop and its many uses. Hopefully people will find it useful! A more thorough examination to follow.

Update to RPMFusion

The availability of RPMFusion for Fedora was previously announced a few days ago. However I never got a chance to actually perform the update.

For those who are not familiar with Fedora’s third-party software repositories (repo’s), the two most popular repo’s: Freshrpm and Livna were typically the place to find software not permitted in Fedora. While I used Freshrpms in FC3 and earlier, I did eventually write most of my newer guides using Livna. It was announced well over a year ago that these repo’s would be merging. Finally the wait is over.

Much like Fedora’s repo migration earlier this year, the entire process is entirely transparent to Livna and Freshrpms users who regularly use yum to update their systems. No instructions are necessary, basically, just run:

# yum -y update
# yum -y update

The first will pull the rpmfusion-free and rpmfusion-nonfree release repo setup files. The second will update all software from Livna (or Freshrpms) to pull updates from RPMFusion.

This is a huge improvement for anyone who has had to deal with explaining differences in repo’s and potential conflicts. As I have received emails already, I will be rewriting my Fedora 9 Installation Guide to reflect these changes soon.

Update: Nov 19: I updated my F9 Install Guide

Network Connections and Applications

A fairly common question is: How do I determine which applications are making network connections?

While there are different ways to do this, a quick solution is with netstat. To see which applications are connecting to which network addresses, run the following as root (if you are not root certain output is limited):

# netstat -tuap

This will produce several columns of output the last column is PID/Program name. If you do not recognize the application name, use the PID number and use the ps command to find more information. For example (replace PID with the actual number):

# ps -p PID -F

For more information on the many other functions of either of these commands use the man utility:

# man netstat
# man ps