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.

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

Firefox SSL Certificates

Using Firefox 3. Very simply, I know that Redhat’s main website (https://www.redhat.com) works perfectly fine. However when I exclude the “www”, and go to the same website: https://redhat.com, apparently something is wrong?

I see Secure Connection Failed. (Should I be concerned???)
So I click the “add exception link…”
… which turns into button …
So I click the “Add Exception…” Button
… which opens a dialog
So I click the “Get Certificate” Button
So I can enable the “Confirm Security Exception” Button, so I can click on that.

Who is the genius who came up with that work flow?

Is this misleading? Confusing? I wonder … but you decide for yourself.

I will simply say it is annoying as hell.

Firefox 3 Release

According to Spread Firefox the official release time for Firefox 3.0 will be at 10AM PST, so 1PM EST (for me). Are you excited? Really excited? Well if you are, I feel sorry for you ;-)

I took a note from Chris Blizzard and cheated by downloading already by typing out the full URL into a mirror (no, I didn’t use a link).

Unfortunately for Fedora 9 users I haven’t seen any notice of an update (Fedora 8 no clue). Perhaps it will be available in a day or so? Still bugs to deal with? There was a tip for Fedora/Linux users:

a) disable "Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected attack site/forgery"
in Preferences->Security
b) remove the urlclassifier* files in ~/.mozilla/firefox/profile
(while FF is not running)

Not sure if it works, I haven’t tested it – yet.

Otherwise as a last general tip for people who are upgrading/updating straight from Firefox 2.0.x to Firefox 3, I would recommend at least backing up your Mozilla/Firefox profile and settings (just in case):

# cp -a ~/.mozilla/ ~/moz_prof_pre_ff3

Windows users (yes, I still use it), back up:
C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Mozilla

Otherwise, I guess FF3 is very nice for the massive updates on the insides (security, rendering, support, speed, memory, etc.) although I find the some of the user interfaces changes annoying as all ‘heck’. I’m sure they’ll grow on me just like I’ve learned to tolerate many of the often bass-ackwards gui changes the Mozilla team has implemented over the years.

Happy Firefox-ing.

Fedora 9 Review

After spending a good deal of time configuring Fedora 9 I thought I would take this opportunity to provide my thoughts and feedback. The following is my Review of Fedora 9 (F9).

“Sulphur” smells only just a little.

Installation Media

The first thing I was happy to see was that the team finally decided to offer Fedora 9 in multi-CD installations in addition to the DVD installation. This has been missing since Fedora 7. I’m glad someone realized that Live image installation is NOT the same. I chose the DVD installation.

Installation

Note: For the first time I simultaneously installed Fedora on both a Laptop and Desktop. Additionally I used both 32-bit and 64-bit versions for installation.

As always the Fedora installer always seems to slowly lose features. Although in this case some very useful features got added. This release saw the addition of partition-resizing in the installer as well as encrypting your file system. While I do not think that majority of users require the encryption, the re-sizing ability is welcome as it accepts the possibility that many people wish to dual-boot or are not yet ready to abandon Windows. Unfortunately, I did not trust the Fedora installer to re-size my (pre-setup out) partitions.

For Package Selection I was fairly pleased with the default set of packages. I find that with each release there are less changes I need to do. Although I would still prefer if KDE, thunderbird, and k3b were installed by default. Oddly my install later added up to be a whopping 4.8GB! Almost 1GB bigger than I recall the similar installations for either F8 or F7! Not sure what was added!

The First Boot did see some minor changes. The security settings for both the Firewall and SE-Linux (Security Enhanced Linux) were removed. I would guess that many people possibly just disabled them upfront instead of actually learning to use them. I guess this is probably a smart move for Fedora.

Software: Fedora Desktop

After the First Boot configurations were set I made it to the login screen. This is where I will use the phrase: “Familiarity Be Damned!”. I follow the Fedora defaults of using Gnome but this release really had some major changes in software components.

The new verion of GDM (which manages logins) requires you to double-click your name and has this annoying animation after selection. There is an option at the bottom for selecting alternative desktops (e.g. KDE). Overall the login screen seemed incredibly clunky and unpolished. I felt it was a minor detraction, since technically I did not see any major functionality lost.

After logging into Gnome, my first reaction was that nothing major had changed. Which from the perspective of the GUI seemed to be true. I did notice 2 new applets on the top-right. The first was PackageKit and the second was NetworkManager.

PackageKit seemed to give a pretty simple interface for accepting new updates. I liked it for the most part, it reminded of a similar feature in Ubuntu. Although, if one saw over a 100 I doubt there would be much usefulness in “Reviewing” an update before install. Overall positive improvement.

NetworkManager which I was believe was available in FC5 is finally enabled by default in Fedora 9. The previous network service is disabled. This is a potentially problematic issue. Some setup’s (like my desktop) may find NetworkManager a nuisance. I ended up disabling NetworkManager in Fedora and concluded that this option was still too beta-quality. That is until I tested the same on my laptop. I enabled the WiFi and clicked on the applet which showed my WPA2-PSK access point. I entered my pass phrase and I was connected! No configuring, no tweaking, no firmware-ing, no ‘yum-ing’. My Intel Pro ABG3945 Wireless worked out of the box! So, I can only conclude that NetworkManager, while not perfect for all configurations, is definitely worthwhile for some.

Firefox 3 – While I did not go through all the new applications, I am not very impressed with Firefox 3 (not Fedora’s fault). The interface seems a little annoying and only 2 of my 10 extensions work, which makes surfing a little difficult in Fedora 9.

Otherwise the GNOME setup seemed satisfactory. The only other quirk I had was that point-and-click NTFS partition mounting did not work for me like it did in Fedora 8. As usual I just prefer to have all my NTFS partitions fixed and mounted at boot. Also occasionally after I login I find that my time is several hours off? I do have NTP running. This causes a nuisance for dual-booting.

Software: Java

Fedora 9 ships with OpenJDK instead of IcedTea that was shipped in Fedora 8. I want to believe that the development is moving closer to be functionally same as the popular Sun Java, but I am confused. OpenJDK is version 1.6 while IcedTea was 1.7? Okay, no biggie. What was the biggest disappointment was the OpenJDK web-browser plugin did NOT work on the popular Java Test Page. Why does this bother me? Because IcedTea in Fedora 8 worked like a charm.

Software: KDE 4

Although I was initially excited about trying KDE4, that excitement quickly faded after using KDE for a few minutes – “Familiarity Be Damned!” Simply put, it is missing too many features and there are enough changes to frustrate you. While again, I do not blame the Fedora developers for including this, it does add to the feeling that many software components in Fedora 9 may seem incredibly unfamiliar or just NOT ready.

System Issues

While there may be many software updates at the system level, I did not notice anything new that would significantly change the user experience. I would say on a very positive note that sound seemed quite issue-free. The PulseAudio (first included in Fedora 8 ) worked great for me. While not a big deal, the doc writers should have made sure to add libflashsupport in the Release Notes to get sound in Flash working.

Now to SELinux – the super security tool everybody loves to hate and nobody has the patience to learn. For the first time I found running Fedora with SELinux set to Enforcing has NOT caused a single problem. All plugins, drivers, 3rd party and proprietary apps ran without issue. This was 3 different hardware installs! First time ever! It only took 4 years!!! Well, I’ll wait till a SELinux policy update renders my system useless. But overall, I was quite pleased.

Fedora included Upstart which is Ubuntu’s new startup system. While I know that this opens the door to many optimizations during startup, I did not notice any major changes. I think this will be gradually improved over time.

Hardware Support – Laptop

While I do not have much new hardware on my desktop, I do have a Thinkpad Laptop. I was shocked that almost every single feature worked out of the box for my laptop: video resolution, sound, touchpad/pointer, SD card, wireless, battery, volume, brightness and hibernate. While my mute button still does not work correctly and the suspend is a little buggy, I have not really debugged them. Even so, the amount of time in the past I would have to configure all of the previously mentioned options was days of tweaking, researching and kernel compiling. I was really pleased with how well Fedora 9 – 64-bit worked on my laptop.

System Issues – Xorg X-server

Unfortunately the release of of Xorg 1.5/7.4 was not ready in time for the release of Fedora 9 so a development version 1.4.9999999999999 was shipped (not sure how many 9’s). While there is nothing technically wrong with this, the Nvidia binary driver (must have for 3-D and compiz effects) will not work correctly with this release. Since no one knows the Nvidia’s release schedule or the internal working of their hardware, basically you cannot do 3-D or effects in Fedora 9 if you are an Nvidia user (like myself). I wish the Xorg release was ready. I’m eagerly waiting to fix the last remaining quirk on my Fedora 9. Annoying, but people should have patience.

Conclusion

I’m not a big fan of shipping development versions of software, but in the open source world – everything is development software. Overall I am not super thrilled with Fedora 9 on the desktop but the drastic improvements on the laptop front are well worth it. Obviously I don’t plan on using Fedora as a server.

I don’t think I will ever agree with some of the default decisions (e.g. NetworkManager over network) but nothing seemed too difficult to resolve. I think this release was definitely moving in the right direction. Much better than Fedora 8. I feel Fedora is trying real hard to catch up to Ubuntu’s polished quality.

I personally would recommend that people wait for at least the update to Xorg. This seems to be a big road block for many. I do not think that there was a major lack in quality in the distribution as a whole (like in many past releases). I just think that many of the components shipped in Fedora 9 just need a little catch up time.

Glad I tried multiple different installs, it broadened my perspective. Maybe Fedora 9 “Sulphur” will do the same for you? Happy installing!

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:

  • http://dribble.org.uk/
  • http://freshrpms.net/
  • http://rpm.livna.org/

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.

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!

Conclusion

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.