Change of Direction

In certain scenarios I am a little skeptical of Linux and open source applications as worthwhile competitors for closed source or proprieraty alternatives. This is not to say I do not think that there is any lack in potential. In my opinion I do disagree with some choices made by open source projects or linux distributions. In any event the point of this post is not to argue any of that. I was reading a post claiming that Linux needs critics, and I do agree with this. The nice thing the author points out is there is a difference between a complaint (negative) and criticism (positive).

I don’t think I have ever really made any constructive criticism of Linux or Fedora. Unlike the author who wrote the above post, I am a software developer. I could try to help more instead of complaining. (I have complained a lot.) I have never submitted a patch or even filed a bug report. I have probably spent more time trying to get an older unsupported version of software working than I have trying to help with the shortcomings of the newer version. This, I will admit, is quite counterproductive.

For the things that I feel are important I plan to try a bit harder – slowly but surely.

Personally I still feel that Linux and open source will never be a complete solution for all my needs, but whenever possible I hope that with some effort it will be.

CentOS 5.3 Released

For those who might not be familiar with enterprise linux distributions, CentOS is a rebranded free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). For enterprise usage Red Hat supports each release for 7 years, while carefully updating packages for backwards compatibility. Each .1 “point release” is an Service Pack update. RHEL 5.3 was released at the end of January.

Typically it takes a few weeks for the CentOS team to repackage, build and distribute the source of RHEL into a CentOS release. Last night CentOS 5.3 release was announced. The seemingly long delay was due primarily to some personal issues within the CentOS team.

I have been running a personal server on CentOS for 1 year now and I could not be more pleased with the results. I plan to update my server tonight when I am at the console. The following are some tips I’ve read online for a smooth (and fast) upgrade:

# yum update glibc

The glibc update is due to a RHEL 5.3 known issue.

After that, I would generally do the following. This basically updates the YUM installation system first to take advantage of any improvements in a newer YUM release. :

# yum update yum rpm
# yum clean all
# yum -y update

Even though past updates have been flawless for me, please do make proper backups, and read the Release Notes for more information.

Fedora 11 Features

The availability of the Fedora 11 Beta release was announced earlier today. The beta will be the first real glimpse at the incredibly large number of major changes which will be shipped in Fedora 11. The Fedora Wiki hosts the official status page for F11 features.

Some of the inclusions are quite interesting:

  • 20 Second Startup – The idea is to make it to the login screen in 20 seconds and speedup logging in [to GNOME]. While I think increase in speed is nice, honestly this is probably the least important issue when gauging Linux performance. Even with the speed up, additional services and applications will undoubtedly increase start up after the installation is complete.
  • Automatic Font and MIME Installer – A MIME type basically allows applications to know what to do with certain types of files. So ideally a media player application can determine it needs a codec to play a specific type of audio or video. The idea is a little simpler but similar for font installation. While this already does exist in some applications, this deserves a great deal of attention since one of the major difficulties in Linux on the desktop is finding the right plugins or codecs for media. While I can see this in GNOME, I’m not sure if KDE will have the same support. … This reminds me of when MS Office 2000 introduced an installer that would only install certain components when “first used” or Windows Media Player downloading codecs from the internet.
  • EXT4 File System as Default – Linux has long used the EXT2 as the default FS and later EXT3 which added some features but was backwards compatible. The move to EXT4 is a bit more major as it really is a new FS and for the most part is not backwards compatible with EXT3. While I’m sure that this version will add some added benefits in several uses, there has been some internet debate as to the suitability of EXT4 on the desktop. Unfortunately this is something I will not be able to test until I know all the operating systems on my machine can properly read/write EXT4.
  • Nouveau Driver as Default for Nvidia Video Cards – There are multiple drivers for Nvidia depending on 2D vs. 3D, open source vs. proprietary and modern vs. legacy, etc. The Nouveau driver is an attempt to support full 3D acceleration in an open source driver. Currently Fedora ships with a 2D only driver for Nvidia known as just ‘nv‘ and most users just download the proprietary driver. My last attempt with Nouveau went terrible, I hope it will make some difference with 2D (the nv was very poor), but based on the status page 3D support is a long ways off.
  • DeltaRPM Support – When a Fedora package needed an update regardless of what changed, the whole package needed to be downloaded. Presto is a feature added to YUM that allows downloading only the “delta” (the change). This has been available for some time, but this would be the first time the infrastructure looks like it will be ready. I think this is a really important feature since not everyone has a 6Mbit connection and those who do don’t look forward to a gigabyte of updates. … Binary patching has been available in Windows for almost a decade, I think it really needs to be standard in Linux as well.

There are many other features which are planned to be included in Fedora 11. Most of all them are basic major software revision changes (GNOME, GCC, Python, XFCE, etc.). However if you plan on trying the Beta, I highly recommend looking over all the features and thoroughly testing the ones that you really care about. While new features typically come with many potential issues, there is always room for improvement with proper testing and usage.

NetworkManager and YUM Update Issue

As been noted, the NetworkManager update in Fedora 9 and Fedora 10 prevents YUM from performing a regular update. Apparently due to a bug in the Fedora Update system. The following error may be seen:

Public key for NetworkManager- is not installed

The solution is coming soon, but for a temporary workaround YUM supports an exclude option:

yum --exclude=NetworkManager\* update

This should ignore NetworkManager related packages and continue on in the update process.

For more tips on YUM usage, run: yum --help.

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:


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.