Archive for May 2010

Mandriva 2008 to 2010 upgrade … er, install

21 May 2010

mandriva_logoI had another little used, but in this case rather more important, computer in a basement running the no longer supported Mandriva 2008. I had planned to get another hard drive and install Mandriva 2010 on it, then copy all my data from the old drive to the new and retire the old drive as backup. Time was not on my side though and I worried about the un-updated machine being connected to the internet. So I threw caution to the wind and started an update on the existing drive.


You shouldn’t do that.

Fortunately I didn’t have any disasters, however I did find that in-place upgrades may be still flakey. I had quit doing upgrades years ago and always went with new installs because I had found that upgrades tended to be troublesome in various annoying ways. This upgrade was no exception. There were a bunch of errors near the end of the upgrade with reference to conflicts between packages. On reboot I couldn’t start X.

Too impatient to track down the problem(s), I just put the DVD back in and rebooted to do a fresh install. The install proceeded as expected and I warned the process that if it formated my home partition I’d kill it (an empty threat really, but the installer may not know that). Apparently the threat worked because at the end of the install I had a working Mandriva 2010 and an intact home!

The install was dead simple. Too simple for my liking. I miss the good old days when I got to pick individual packages. This install just asked if I wanted KDE, Gnome or Other. If there was a way to be more specific I didn’t see it. Though I’ll admit I wasn’t paying close attention.

A couple of gotchas;
– A guest account was created even though I was sure I had said not to do one. Deleted the guest user after.
– Only one monitor worked at first. I have an Nvidia card with one monitor plugged into the VGA out and another into the DVI out. Only the VGA one came up after the install. If there was a graphical way to set up the dual monitors I could not find it, which lead to finding …
– Emacs was not installed! Fedora was the same. Good grief, shouldn’t Emacs be in ANY default install? Then for some reason letters where spaced w a y o u t in Emacs when I did install it. Setting the default font in Emacs cleared that up. Ah well, back to the dual monitors …
– Edited xorg.conf manually by comparing to a backup copy and soon (after a bit of fine-tuning with vi when X coughed up errors) had dual-head xinerama again. It was a little weird at first until I realized that on the left monitor I was looking at a full-screen Plasma folder view of /home/Desktop while on the right monitor I was looking at the actual desktop background.

Now I’m just waiting for 694 updates to be done and the rpm database to be unlocked so I can install sshd.
And 24 more updates…

OK, got sshd all set up. There’s a thing popping up telling me I can add another repository. When I click to do so it asks for my Mandriva login info, then fails. Found the answer on a Mandriva forum, as root do “mdkapplet-restricted-helper 2010.0”. Seems this is an old problem 😦

Still, I do like my Mandriva.

The return of Fedora

15 May 2010

Fedora LogoThe first Gnu/Linux distro I used for day to day was Red Hat, 7.3, 8.0 and 9.0. Then they seemed to drop the desktop user so I switched. An aversion to U.S. products of any kind during the Bush reign helped keep me away.

Some months ago I attended a Red Hat do downtown and was impressed with what I heard about where Red Hat is now and how they want to go forward. I came away feeling friendly toward Red Hat again.

I’ve had a little used computer in the basement running the no longer supported Mandriva 2008, that I’ve been meaning to backup and upgrade. Instead of an upgrade, why not install Fedora and see how it feels? So that’s what I did.

Fedora comes on live CDs these days. The default Fedora 12 comes with Gnome desktop environment. I don’t much care for Gnome so after a quick look I went back to the web and downloaded the KDE version. The install was dead simple. Really if you can poke the power button and move the mouse you can install Fedora.

There was one problem when an attempt to run updates resulted in a repository not found error. As usual with things Gnu/Linux a minute of Googling found the answer, which was to run as root yum clean all; yum update.

With that done, a bunch of things updated and I was able to yum install firefox, emacs, gnumeric and a few other things I like that were not in the default install.

I found that Fedora doesn’t ship with mp3 support. Again a minute with Google found a solution to that. In hindsight I should have just used mpg123 or mpg321 to convert mp3 to ogg. Will do that from now on.

The only other gotcha I ran into, one that most people encountering it would be Gnu/Linux savvy enough to fix, was that the authorized_keys2 file can’t have permissions 664. Took me a few minutes to figure out why I couldn’t ssh into the box with public keys in place. Changed authorized_keys2 to 644 and all was good.

With KDE and familiar apps, Fedora feels like home to me. With the gui apps polished to the degree they are these days, Fedora is likely a good choice of desktop OS for most any user.

UPDATE: I had a bit of trouble with a colour laser multifunction not printing. I thought it was due to an empty colour cartridge, but eventually realized it was SELinux preventing printing. SELinux is new to me and with the added complexity it brings I’d have to say that Fedora is a good choice of desktop OS for most any user who feels comfortable with either disabling it or learning to use it.