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User Journal

Journal: OpenSuSE 12.1 install - sound problem

Journal by adoll

I wiped my computer and installed OpenSuSE 12.1 from scratch, reformating the root directory (but not the home directory). Bad news - the sound didn't work.

What happened: I had a headset plugged into the front set of audio jacks and the speakers plugged into the rear set of audio jacks. When OpenSuSE installed the sound engine, it assumed the front jacks with the headphones were the master and it disabled the rear jacks. I unplugged the headset, then deleted the sound card configuration, re-detected the sound board hardware and did the automatic setup. And there was sound!

Very difficult thing to diagnose as I wouldn't expect the system to be smart enough to distinguish the front speaker jack from the rear one. Anyway, when doing a SuSE install, unplug your headset if the speakers are plugged into a different slot

User Journal

Journal: Enabling rsync on Iomega StorCenter 1

Journal by adoll

Recently bought an Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 for our small office. I've got three Linux machines that I want to synchronize to this device using rsync.

I set the machine up with security, passwords, and so on. Using the web control panel, enabled that "rsync" option (on "Settings|Network Services" page), but that actually didn't do anything -- I get the following:

ssh: connect to host 192.168.1.107 port 22: Connection refused
rsync: connection unexpectedly closed (0 bytes received so far) [sender]
rsync error: unexplained error (code 255) at io.c(601) [sender=3.0.7]

So the server is clearly not working. In reality, the SSH port is closed which blocks default rsync connections.

I found two blog posts that expose what's happening.

First, unfortunately, was offline when I tried to connect to it.
http://vuksan.com/blog/2010/04/28/customizing-iomega-storcenter-ix4-200d-with-ipkg/

Fortunately the google cache worked, and the meat of the vuksan.com post explains how to access the device. First, there is a secret support page on the machine that you access by your web browser. In this example, my device's IP address is 192.168.1.107; yours could be different so adjust as necessary. The support page is https://192.168.1.107/support.html . On this page there is a button for "Support Access". Click that, enable "Allow remote access for support (SSH and SFTP)" and click "Apply". Now you can ssh as root to the device like this from your computer:
ssh root@192.168.1.107
The password will be your admin password with the letters "soho" appended. So if your admin password was 'booger', then your root ssh password will be 'sohobooger'. That gets you into the device remotely.

You can stop at this point if you are happy with doing rsync as the root user. You would use something like:

rsync -auvz . root@192.168.1.107:/public/my_folder/ --dry-run

But I want to have non-root access for some user accounts. So on to the next blog post.

Second blog post is here: http://www.krausam.de/?p=33
This post explains how to modify the configuration files on the server to enable rsync by changing files in the /etc/init.d/ directory.

One note, this model of StorCenter has a slightly different naming scheme than the one in Krausam.de. The file you need to modify is /etc/init.d/sshd . But it is read-only by default, so you have to set it to read-write (root user only), then modify lines 37, 38, 43, and 44 by removing the "#" (as described in Krausam.de).

Reboot the machine and now user accounts should work. If they don't on the first try, perhaps try setting them to 'admin' accounts.

SuSE

Journal: Linux on Panasonic CF-Y7 laptop

Journal by adoll

--Update--
Changed to Ubuntu Ibex. Generally has better hardware detection and seems to run with less crashes than SuSE. And the Gnome support seems a bit more solid than SuSE. Still has trouble going to sleep (locks up solid) and having trouble locking sessions without logging out.

I miss how SuSE automatically sets up things like the directory encryption and rsync daemon, but so far, so good.
--Update--

Bought a Panasonic CFY7 "Toughbook" laptop to use as a Linux server in meetings. I've been using SuSE 10.3 on my tower server, so figured I'd give that a try on the laptop.

Short answer is SuSE 10.3 needs one change at the startup menu, but does install.

- Doing a default install results in the screen blanking when you attempt to load the Linux Kernel, and the computer dying shortly thereafter (it looks like things are going on in the background and the display isn't responding). Solution: choose "VESA" as the display type at the installation menu (F3 when you see the "Boot from hard drive / Installation / etc" menu).

I had a problem getting the first installation/formatting to work - turns out that when I turned the computer on it started to boot Windows. I shut it off before it booted as I don't want Vista to do anything to the computer. But that ended up setting the dirty flag on the NTFS partitions, so when the SuSE installer tried to probe/mount these drives, it died with an error that crashed the install. The fix for that was to boot Vista in safe mode and then shut it down properly. Fortunately Vista didn't Borgify the laptop from safe mode (in fact, it seemed quite annoyed to be in safe mode).

So I'm playing to see what works and what doesn't. Stay tuned.

Fingerprint reader - works.
Ethernet card - works
Graphics driver - works (you have to manually enable 3D, but that works too)
Sleep/hibernate mode - no
Wireless card - works
USB - works
CD/DVD - works (both read and write)
Extended function buttons (vol up/down) - no (well, not yet. Probably need to train X to see them)

SuSE

Journal: Linux on new computer- MSI P35

Journal by adoll

Spent the weekend getting a new computer broken in. And she is a beauty...

MSI P35 Neo-FR Intel P35 chipset motherboard, comes with
  10/100/1000 BT
  7.1 Surround Sound
CoolerMaster Centurion 534 ATX tower
4 Gb of RAM DDR2
Two video cards:
  nVidia GeForce 8600GT PCI-e w/ 256 Mb
  nVidia GeForce 7200GS PCI-e w/ 128 Mb
Seagate Barracuda 320 Gb SATA 7200 RPM hard drive
LG DVD-Rom
LG DVD+-RW
Media card reader (not sure of chipset)

The shop's website: http://www.gameaction.com
======

Ok, so what's interesting about this setup is that I have two video cards and I run three monitors. The system came bare, so I popped my OpenSuSE 10.3 DVD in the DVD+-RW drive at first power-on, and the system booted obediently from it. The install system appeared on the VGA head of the 7200GS. That was a surprise as I expected the newer, more powerful, 8600 card to grab control... but no matter.

Default install worked fine except I knew the default video driver can't handle multiple monitors - everything was on one monitor. So once the first boot was done and it booted to X11 (on the 7200 GS, again), I interrupted the next stage of the install and jumped to a root shell. At that shell, the command 'init 3' puts the GUI system to sleep and lets me do some surgery on it. Then using the command-line version of YAST (just type YAST at the shell), I added the nvidia software repository 'http://download.nvidia.com/opensuse/10.3' where I know the non-open source nvidia driver hangs out. Then, still in the command-line YAST, download the following two files: the nvidia driver for my CPU (32 bit, so I used the 100 series driver) and the 'nvidia-settings' program (might be in your driver package, but make sure you get it).

Once those two RPMs are installed, close YAST and type 'init 5' at the shell. That will restart the GUI and should continue the installation as normal.

When you get to the point where SAX2 is configuring monitors and such, likely it will still only find one of the adapters. Just continue with the install on the single monitor that is functioning.

When the regular installation is done, then it is time to mess with getting all three screens running. Logout from your user account and log in as Root into the GUI (I'm using KDE, Gnome should be much the same). At a shell, type 'nvidia-settings' - a window will pop up with info on your system. The second item "X Server Display Configuration" should show your three screens with two disabled. Activate the displays and "Save to X Configuration File". Logout and restart X.

If you don't see your three monitors (or the second video card), time to do some configuration file surgery. ('nvidia-xconfig' might also work for you, but I didn't go there.)

Still in the Root GUI, pull up the file '/etc/X11/xorg.conf' . Find a section that looks like this:

Section "Device"
        Identifier "Device[0]"
        Driver "nvidia"
        VendorName "NVIDIA"
        BoardName "GeForce 7300 SE/7200 GS"
        BusID "2:0:0"
        Screen 0
EndSection

See if there is a "Device" in there with the BusID "1:0:0". If there isn't, add it manually below the snippet above:

Section "Device"
        Identifier "Device[1]"
        Driver "nvidia"
        VendorName "NVIDIA"
        BoardName "GeForce 8600 GT"
        BusID "1:0:0"
        Screen 0
EndSection

Note the new one is "Device[1]" (to differentiate it from the other card) and is on a different bus position "1:0:0". Use the SuSE hardware sniffer if you need to figure out which bus is which.

Save the xorg.conf file and return to the 'nvidia-settings' step above. You should now see both cards and the attached monitors. Activate them. Don't use Xinerama, and set the TwinView on for the card where you are running both video heads. Logout and restart X. Woohoo, you should have three monitors working!

Don't attempt to use Xinerama with this configuration or you'll lose the 3-D capabilities of both cards. That means you have two desktops, one on the first card and other on the second card. Takes a little bit of getting use to, but I'm so happy with this system and not being able to drag windows between the two desktops isn't an issue.

The 3-d works great! My favourite game, http://www.wurmonline.com , runs between 30 and 60 fps with this new box (up from 10 on my old one).

Other than the video, everything else works fine. Sound is operating in full 2-channel stereo (I don't have a 7-1 speaker set so I can't test it that works. Does X even support 7-1 sound?). Networking is fine. SD cards are found just fine. Last task is moving mountains of files from the old SuSE box to the new one and getting MP3s to run.

==Edit==
Just an update that the LG-DVD reader didn't work and would hang any KDE program that tried to access it, like K3B or Konqueror. I unplugged the DVD reader (left the DVD writer plugged in) and worked fine.

Also a note that once you use the NVidia configuration program, you can NEVER use Sax2 or the "Graphic Card and Monitor" entry in YAST to update the Xorg configuration. You have to do all your updates through the NVidia configuration program 'nvidia-settings'.

SuSE

Journal: Linux OpenSuSE 10.2 on Toshiba Satellite M60 laptop

Journal by adoll

Spent some time this long weekend attempting to install Linux on my Toshiba Satellite M60 laptop. I had an old laptop hard drive kicking around, so I threw that in the laptop and then started installing off an OpenSuSE 10.2 DVD that I pulled off BitTorrent.

Let SuSE reformat the hard drive into its default partitions. The drive is very small, so I had to remove a bunch of the core applications to get the OS to fit. I also chose Gnome for the desktop.

The install went fine up until I started running out of disk space (duh). Managed to limp through that and get to the hardware setup part of the install. It correctly identified the video chipset and the display size (1400x900). Then we tried the first startup of the Xorg server and it got painful.

The default free 'nv' driver gave me a display full of garbage and the machine was locked up solid. Rebooted into Safe mode and logged into the shell as Root. Then launched yast from the prompt and installed the proprietary Nvidia drivers (see http://www.suse.de/~sndirsch/nvidia-installer-HOWTO.html#1). There were two options to choose from, and I chose the wrong one first. You actually need the 100.* series driver, not the 1.* series driver.

Once you have installed that driver through the yast software management page, select the 'hardware setup' tab in yast and click on graphic cards and monitors. Warning, don't have a CRT plugged in when you click this or yast will think it is your primary display.

Then from here on it is easy. Should get an Nvidia splash screen and a SaX default display that works fine. Accept it and continue.

For some reason the online update sources didn't quite work by default. I had to open yast and under Software->Installation Source add an entry to http://download.opensuse.org/distribution/10.2/repo/oss.

HARDWARE
-The wireless card works fine with default settings
-The ethernet card works fine with default settings
-The touch pad works fine with default settings
-USB mouse works fine with default settings
-The built-in SD card reader fails to hotplug by default
-A USB SD card reader hotplugs fine with default settings
-Sound works fine with default settings
-Power saving options (hibernation, suspect) fail with default settings

Communications

Journal: Palm Tungsten web connect Motorola V551 cell phone (Rogers)

Journal by adoll
I bought a new Motorola V551 cell phone to replace my aging Nokia 6310i. I needed a phone that would connect via Bluetooth to my Palm Tungsten. In order to get the web connection working, I:
  1. download the Palm Connection upgrade software and install on the Palm
  2. Run the "phone link" package on the Palm "main" menu. Select the "motorola" and "V551" models. Pair with the phone.
  3. Set the wireless data provider to "Rogers GPRS". The installation will try pair with the phone again, and it will fail. Return to the main Palm menu.
  4. Open the "Settings" in the palm "System" menu
  5. Under "Connection", find the new connection the Phone Link software made. Edit it to read: "Connect to=Phone", "Via=Bluetooth", "Device=[your phone]", "Model=Standard GSM"
  6. click "details"
  7. set the Init string to: +cgdcont=1,"IP","internet.com"
  8. click "ok" twice
  9. Create a new connection named "LAN v551"
  10. Edit it to read: "Connect to=Local Network", "Via=Bluetooth", "Device=[your phone]"
  11. click "ok" twice
  12. Under Network, click the "service" button and select "Rogers GPRS".
  13. set the Username="wapuser1" and Password="wap". Set the connection to "LAN v551" (that you created a few steps ago)
  14. click "Connect". The phone will beep asking to allow access. Grant access.

Updated, May 30, 2006

The data connection stopped working a few days ago and repeated attempts to get things to connect failed. Phoned tech support and was told to turn the phone off, then turn it back on and try again. Worked like a charm - I just needed to shut down the phone.

Who would have thought Windows 3.1 was living in my cell phone?

SuSE

Journal: Suse 10.1 install

Journal by adoll
I've been running SUSE Linux for some time now, mostly the 9.x series. I bought a new drive and thought I'd install a different version of Linux on all the virgin space. The distribution I decided to try was OpenSUSE 10.1 with Gnome desktop.

The result was very disappointing. First of all, OpenSuse 10.1 doesn't have any MP3 or MPEG support, likely due to patent problems. Trying to install mplayer failed due to the GCC compiler in SUSE 10.1 being too new; the mplayer ./configure complained about it and sure enough, it failed to compile. I finally managed to get basic MP3 support by using the XMMS rpm from my SuSE 9.1 system, but no MPEG. List this as a partial win and a complete loss.

Other apps I wanted to recycle included Falcon's Eye (nethack), Audacity (audio track editor), and OpenOffice 2.0. Well, OO 2.0 wasn't in the SuSE9.1 base install, but I got it to work anyways. OO 2.0 was included in the SuSE 10.1 distribution but listed as "unstable". Ok, fair enough, chalk up one win.

Both Audacity and Falcon's Eye complained about assorted dependency problems and refused to compile properly. GTK and Audacity seems to be a recurring problem that I've had many times. Both don't work.

One pleasant suprise was the integration of the proprietary NVidia driver works much better in 10.1 than 9.1. Worked with some fiddling getting the parameters right to do twinview.

Then another loss - the Java support appears to be inferior in 10.1 to the 9.1 version I was running. My favorite game Wurm is graphically intensive, and the 10.1 graphics look poorer than the 9.1 graphics (particularly the clouds). Call this a partial loss because it still worked, just looked poorer. Also some of the input dialogues didn't work in 10.1, yet work fine in 9.1.

Gnome was generally appealing, except that Nautilus was CONSTANTLY crashing. It seems that viewing a folder with hidden files in it kills that program dead (yes, I submitted several bug reports using the automated crash submitter). Many of the features of Gnome were appealing, though. Much simpler CD burning than k3b, for example. Much less eye candy, but generally works well.

I've blown away the SUSE 10.1 system and tried unsuccessfully to install Slackware instead. Guess I'll try another distribution for that new drive... more later.

update Feb 18, 2006

Also tried a Fedora distribution, but was appalled by the small number of applications that were available with the automated installer. SuSE spoiled me with YaST. Getting automated critical updates is a major selling point for YaST that doesn't happen if I'm installing stuff from source.

Final analysis: I'm back to running exclusively the SuSE 9.1 system on the old hard drive. I've moved my home directory to the new drive and gave up trying other systems. For now.

News

Journal: Money talks

Journal by adoll

Had to share this with the community. The 'open source' concept dawns on "Canada's National Newspaper". I look forward to their article on Plucker! :-)

Subject: RE: Cheque recieved.
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 16:50:20 -0400
From: "WebSupport"
To: "Alex Doll"

Hello, again AD.

Thank you for the suggestion. I will be happy to forward your thoughts on this software to our Technology editorial team as a possible review
topic for one of our writers.

Sincerely,

Ben

www.theglobeandmail.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Alex Doll
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2005 4:47 PM
To: WebSupport
Subject: Re: Cheque recieved.

Hi Ben

Only suggestion, be aware of this software:

    http://www.plkr.org/

-AD

WebSupport said the following on 4/13/2005 1:26 PM:
> Hello again Alex.
>
>
>
> After further discussion with our on-line management team, we are happy
> to accept the generous token of gratitude that you offer. Further, we
> are always happy to hear from the viewers who enjoy the on-line
> editorial content we produce and I hope you will continue to make the
> globeandmail.com Web sites your daily choice for news on-line. If you
> ever have any suggestions, comments, or questions about something you
> see on our sites do not hesitate to contact us again at
> xxx@globeandmail.ca and we
> will be happy to assist you further.
>
>
>
> Thank you again and have a great day!!!
>
>
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Ben
>
> www.theglobeandmail.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Alex Doll
> Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2005 4:40 PM
> To: WebSupport
> Subject: Re: Cheque recieved.
>
> Hi Ben
>
> Pls don't return the Cheque. I'm already downloading and using the
> Globe and Mail, and I have been for a couple of years. You don't need
> to do anything other than what already exists. Consider this a
> donation, if you like.
>
>
> Thanks
>
> -AD
>
> WebSupport said the following on 4/12/2005 1:08 PM:
>> Hello, Alex.
>>
>>
>> We recently received a cheque from you for the amount of $100.00 in the
>> mail. You mention in the memo that you wish to receive an on-line
>> subscription with The Globe and Mail and I would like to discuss this
>> matter further. Unfortunately, we do not offer any other form of payment
>> for an on-line subscription aside from credit card payments monthly. We
>> do appreciate your request to fulfill a subscription however we will
>> have to return the cheque to you.
>>
>>
>>
>> Did you speak with anyone in our organization that informed you of this
>> payment style? Please reply to this message or call our Insider Edition
>> Billing Inquiries line at 1-866-xxx-xxxx so we may discuss this matter
>> further. I would also like to verify that the following is the address
>> that we may return the cheque to:
>>
>> Alex Doll
>> xxxx Lynn Valley Road
>> North Vancouver, BC
>> Canada
>> VxJ xVx
>>
>> I look forward to your reply by e-mail or telephone.
>>
>> Sincerely,
>> Ben -

User Journal

Journal: Essay: Canada should look to Australia for Democratic Reform 3

Journal by adoll

Few people consider Australia when asked to name an "innovative democracy". But they should -- Australia has demonstrated it is immune from some of the traps democracies like Canada fall into.

Briefly summarizing Australia's system: it is a constitutional monarchy with a two-house federal government, six states, two major territories, and several small island protectorates. The federal government consists of a lower house elected by "preference ballots" and an upper house elected by a form of proportional representation. The Queen's representative in Australia is the Governor General who signs acts into law, calls elections (usually on the recommendation of the Prime Minister) and intervenes if parliament breaks down.

Canada, by contrast, has a two house federal government where the lower house is elected by "first-past-the-post" ballots and the upper house is not elected at all. The Governor General is the Queen's representative in Canada who signs acts into law and calls elections on the recommendation of the Prime Minster.

Lower House
--------------
Canadians elect candidates who, often, the majority of the electorate don't want. This is how first-past-the-post operates: the ballots are counted once and the candidate with the most of them wins. Australia gets around this by using "preference ballots" where citizens indicate their feelings towards ALL candidates by numbering them sequentially in order of preference. After an election, all the ballots are allocated by first preference. Then the candidate with the least votes is declared a loser, and his votes are reallocated based on the citizens' second preferences. For example, somebody who listed the Green Party as first preference and Labor Party second would see his vote counted towards the Labor Party when the Greens are declared to be losers. The allocation of preferences continues until one candidate garners in excess of 50% of the votes, including preferences.

The end result is the majority of voters in a district are at least somewhat happy with the candidate who is elected. In practice, the vote-splitting that exists in Canada where the NDP and Liberals fight over the left-wing vote would disappear. If an NDP candidate loses in a riding, then the second preference on those votes would likely flow to the Liberals. Thus if the majority of people in a riding don't want to see a Conservative MP, then either the NDP or Liberals will be elected and the majority of citizens will be somewhat happy. The conservative vote splitting that used to exist with the Reform Party and PCs would have similarly been eliminated.

Upper House
--------------
The difference between the Australian and Canadian upper house is even more remarkable. First, Australian senators are elected whereas Canadian senators are appointed by the Prime Minister. Second, the Australian states appoint replacement senators in the case of death or resignation. Thus the states can tip the balance of power in the federal senate by their choice of replacements. Contrast this with Canada where succession is the only option a provincial government has to influence federal politics.

In both systems, the upper house approves or rejects acts that originate from the lower house. Traditionally both upper houses give the sitting government in the lower house freedom to carry out their "mandate" from the electorate. Infrequently both senates have flexed their right to block acts stalling bills that Prime Ministers want to see passed. The Canada-US Free Trade Agreement was one such example. The Canadian Prime Minister responded by fabricating six new senate positions and then appointing friendly senators to these positions, thereby tipping the balance of power in the senate in his favour. Such an event can't happen in Australia because the number of senate seats is not set by the Prime Minister and because the senators are elected.

(more on GST senators
  http://www.4reference.net/encyclopedias/wikipedia/Canadian_Senate.html )

The Australian mechanism to deal with a deadlocked upper and lower house is a 'double-dissolution election'. If the PM feels that the senate is being unreasonable refusing to pass a bill, he may request the Governor General dissolve both the upper and lower house triggering elections for both. Then after the elections a joint sitting of combined upper and lower house representatives reconsiders the bill that triggered the election. If it passes a simple majority of the combined houses, then the bill is submitted to the Governor General for proclamation as law.

(more on double-dissolution elections:
http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rn/2002-03/03rn45.htm )

The activities of the Governor General in the two countries appears to be similar. Both centre around enacting laws and approving recommended dates for federal elections. On paper, at least, both Governors General have far more power to intervein in the workings of Parliament than actually happens. Canada has never, to my knowledge, had a Governor General remove an elected government for failing to do its duty. Australia has had one Prime Minister dismissed by the Governor General (Gough Whitlam, 1975).

(more on the Whitlam sacking: http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Australian_constitutional_crisis_of_1975 )

Which of the Australian practices would be the most valuable if implemented in Canada? The elected senate and giving the power over the senate to the provinces would go a long way to preventing the defacto dictator rule we have seen from recent Prime Ministers. This is the one reform Canada should adopt along with the associated double-dissolution mechanism and senate seats by provinces.

The preference ballots would prevent vote-splitting in ridings, but also tends to elect the people who are the "least objectionable" instead of the "most preferred". The merged Conservative party now makes this reform somewhat redundant in Canada. The NDP and Liberals do split some of the left-wing vote, but the two parties articulate quite different policies and so may not be interchangeable in preferences. Quebec federalists may benefit from preference ballots since a vote for a party other than the Liberals and BQ is now effectively a spoiled ballot. Under a preference system, a Quebec conservative would be able to list the Conservatives first, Liberals second and separatists last. But on the whole, the last election saw the allocation of seats roughly matching the popular vote totals, so it is doubtful that implementing preference ballots in Canada would change outcomes in the lower house.

(more on Canadian popular vote totals:
  http://enr.elections.ca/National_e.aspx )

The most valuable reform Canada could copy from Australia is the election of senators who are responsible to the provinces.

-AD

Music

Journal: Converting MP3 to Ogg Vorbis files

Journal by adoll
Just a note that using the Linux command line it is simple to convert MP3 files to Ogg Vorbis files. Why would you do this? To avoid the legal crap associated with MP3 and use a completely free OGG music library. Plus my Palm uses Aeroplayer to play OGG files, so the MP3 files I buy from SmoothJazz.com need to be converted before I can use them on the Palm.

Assuming you have both LAME and OGGENC installed, just pipe the output of lame to the input of oggenc.

lame --decode VinceMai-UnI.mp3 - | oggenc - --output=VinceMai-UnI.ogg

Note the hyphen '-' as the second (or output) filename in the lame command, and the hyphen as the first (or input) command in oggenc.

-AD

Handhelds

Journal: Plucker friendly newspaper links

Journal by adoll

Just a listing of some URLs to 'Plucker friendly' backdoors of the newspapers I read.

Toronto Globe and Mail
http://ago.mobile.globeandmail.com/PDA_Front.html

Melbourne Age
http://www.theage.com.au/handheld/index.html

The Onion (phony, funny news)
http://mobile.theonion.com

SuSE

Journal: Experience with SuSE setup (3 months on) 2

Journal by adoll
I have been an OS/2 user since version 2.0 and still run my primary mail and web server on OS/2 (Warp 4.5). But a few months ago I bit the bullet and decided to stick my toe into the pool of code known as Linux. Reason was simple, I am doing a lot of web programming for work and I need to be using the tools of the trade. Apps like mySQL and the GIMP were the original attraction.

My desired setup would be a primarily desktop installation with webserver and other goodies that I could enable when doing my coding. It would also have automated update capability because I just don't have enough background to go out hunting for patches. Oh, and it should be free.

Chose SuSE Linux, largely because I saw it advertised on Userfriendly and found it met all my criteria. (Red Hat didn't because it is IMHO more a server product and it doesn't include free updates)

My OS/2 experience said that each OS should be installed on its own small partition with all programs and data stored on a common partition accessible to both OS's. So my original install was to put SuSE 8.1 on a 2GB EXT2 partition and stick all the data and programs on the 80GB vFAT partition shared with the Win98 data. Downloaded the CD image into my Windows loaded machine and burned the install CD. Then booted that CD and set the install via network (ftp.suse.com). Little hickup is that I have a permanent IP address on my DSL modem and I had to disable DHCP and hardcode the address. Took me two tries to get this right.

Then left the computer to download and install the Linux system overnight. Came back next day to complete the final tuning. So far so good.

Well, almost. I use an nVidia card with two monitor connections (aka twinview or dual head). The default SuSE XFree86 drivers wouldn't work with both monitors so I did as the readme stated and downloaded the native drivers from nVidia's website. And then spent the next two days farting around with XF86Config files and guessing what refresh rates my monitors run.

Alright I got it working... but didn't save a spare copy of my XF86Config file. Sure enough, I was installing something else later on and YOU or YAST blew away my nVidia config and replaced it with the default again. Then I putz around for another day trying to remember what I did right the last time.

By a month on I realised that the notion of sharing data between Win98 and Linux wasn't working. When something wants to be stored in one of the Linux 'standard' directories like /usr or /etc... IT MEANS IT. Anytime I tried to do that, the program wouldn't work. Now older and wiser, I think it is a combination of permission problems and config files not set up to handle alternative locations for stuff.

Then there is the fun and joy of locating your recently installed program. I spent many, many (many) [many] hours trying to find where some recently installed program actually ended up. I couldn't read makefiles, so instead would go hunting the directory tree looking for something that looked like what would be the file (using Konqueror or failing that, a shell). What a hope! Most of the stuff ended up broken into bits stored in /etc (nope, no executable in there), /usr/lib (.so looks like an executable in KDE, but doesn't run), and sometimes /home/adoll (with or without a hidden directory). Hunt, hunt, hunt, finally clued in that most stuff that is executable ends up in /usr/share or /usr/local. If I want to run the program from a shell, then typically need to have a symbolic link of the executable in the /usr/bin directory too. Still haven't figured out the difference between running a shell program like this: ~> program versus this: ~> ./program

Openoffice was a huge disappointment at the outset. It would crash the moment I tried to do anything; I would respond by trying to apply a newer copy of the package and installing it over top. What a mess! I ended up with a rats nest of incompatible config files and generally impossible to resolve trouble.

So about 1.5 months after the original Linux install, I decided to take my accumulated experience and reformat and reinstall. Partition Magic helpfully resized my Linux partition to 30GB (leaving the 'common' partition at 50GB). This time downloaded the SuSE8.2 cd image and did the FTP overnight install.

Awesome. Now have a computer that works again -- and Openoffice works too. Well, sort of, the word processor looked like absolute crap. The 'portrait' oriented page actually looks like it is landscape. And to fonts are all squished too. WTF? Fortunately tripped over the answer trying to fix something in my nVidia driver... the XF86Config contains a line that I didn't mess with that dictates the dimensions of my monitors in millimetres (DisplaySize 320 240). Because I'm using nVidia's twinview on my system, the actuall resolution xFree86 is showing is twice as wide as what is given in the config file. I had to double the horizontal dimension in the XF86Config (DisplaySize 640 240) and restart X. Then the page looks right! Fonts aren't squished any more and the preview of portrait actually looks taller than wide!

A lot of program installation problems disappeared when I allocated more drive space to the Linux partition and let the programs install there. This is one thing radically different to OS/2; the new OS doesn't coexist nicely with the old one.

Another way to avoid problems with library mismatches is to use RPMs instead of running makefiles and tar.gz packages. Most problems I've had with library mismatches seem to disappear if I allow YAST to manage things without my text editor interferring with config files. The hardcore Linux people are horrified at the notion, but I need the machine to work (damn it!) and have been burned by stuff that won't MAKE or does and screws something else up.

Since the last install I've found another reason to do all my web coding in Linux... PHP. I'm migrating all my sites to it and have even joined the open source devel team for one PHP tool: yappa-ng (http://sourceforge.net/projects/yappa-ng/)

So, the next big step is to move Linux to my OS/2 server and dual boot it. I want to have the PMMail migrate, if possible, and keep the option of booting OS/2 to run some of my REXX scripts for updating certain legacy websites. I think the way to do this is to buy a new hard drive and install Linux on it. Then let something like grub allow me to switch at boot time between the systems.

-AD
Handhelds

Journal: Palm Tungsten 6

Journal by adoll
Got a Palm Tungsten handheld. Love the little critter, but not so much for addresses and time schedules. It is my newspaper and jukebox.

Each morning the desktop computer downloads my principal newpapers into using Plucker (http://www.plkr.org) . The I read the newspapers on the bus ride to work, at lunch, and whenever else. The best online newpaper for Plucker is The Age from Melbourne. I also pull down the National Post and Globe and Mail.

The Tungsten also has some impressive audio capabilities... I use the Aeroplayer player (http://www.aerodromesoftware.com/) to play OGG files (that is MP3s to you less worldly). The sound from the unit itself is tinny, but what do you expect with a low-power speaker. Listening through headphones is the best way to hear the music, and it saves battery life too.

I load the music onto a 128Mb memory card (SD type) using a USB SanDisk writer. The card then goes into the Tungsten where Aeroplayer plays the music. (note to users, get the patch and make sure you save the OGG,MP3 files into a directory named "/audio" on the SD card.)

And yes, I can use the Tungsten for business apps too. MobileDB is my preferred way of accessing data from my process engineering database. A complete set of the "material balance" consumes 86 pages if printed, but fits nicely into 2 databases on the Tungsten.

In order to dial out, it is necessary to broaden one's dimension.

Working...