DiscountLinuxDVD.com

A couple of weeks ago my DVD burner decided to kick the bucket. I was wanting to download Fedora 8 and burn it to a DVD so I could install it onto my computer. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen. I decided that I would seek out a website that sold pressed copies of Linux distributions. I found DiscountLinuxDVD.com and am very pleased with their services.

I was only going to buy Fedora 8 but I wound up purchasing several others because they were a good price and I have been wanting to play with some of the updated distributions. I also prefer carrying around a pressed copy of some of the live Linux distributions that I use. People get weary sometimes of you putting in a home burned CD or DVD. I ordered the following: CentOS 5 DVD, CentOS 5 Live CD, Feespire 2.0, Slax 5.1.8 Live CD, openSUSE 10.3 DVD (i386 32-bit), openSUSE 10.3 (DVD x86_64 64-bit), openSUSE 10.3 (DVD PPC), Mandriva One 2008 Live/Install CD (KDE), Mandriva Free 2008 DVD, Ubuntu Studio 7.10, Fedora 8 (DVD PPC), Fedora 8 (DVD x86_64 64-bit), Fedora 8 (DVD i386 32-bit). All of that for $25.12. I thought that was a great deal to have pressed copies of all those distributions and different versions.

The other reason I enjoyed making my purchase at this site instead of the other sites out there was the fact that I did not have to order with a credit card. I simply ordered with my PayPal account and the funds were automatically deducted from my balance on PayPal. That’s how I like it and I greatly appreciate any company that allows me to do that.

If you’re looking for a easy way to play around with Linux and see what all the fuss is about I would highly recommend going over to DiscountLinuxDVD.com and purchasing a live CD. Slax, Puppy or Damm Small Linux (DSL) are great for older machines.

e-GeForce MX 4000 on Fedora 7

Last night I decided to go ahead and try to get the official Nvidia drivers installed for my GPU on Fedora 7. I was hesitant to do this because normally whenever I try to do this I break something and wind up having to re-install the entire operating system because I can’t figure out what I need to change in my x.org configuration file to make it work again. Fortunately, last night I had better luck.

I followed the instructions on this site first. When I’d reboot, the X-Server wouldn’t work probably. The text login screen would blink three times then a blue screen would come up saying that X was unable to be started. Eventually it would fix itself and I was able to login graphically. The driver was being installed but it was not directly rendering.

I then found this entry on another site that said SELinux causes the driver to not install correctly. I thought that might have been the issue so I disabled SELinux and the firewall, restarted, still got the same thing.

After about 30 minutes I finally found this entry on another site that made me realize that I was installing the wrong drivers for my video card. The GeForce2, 3 and 4 (including MX) cards are not supported by the 97xx drivers, you have to use the 96xx series.

I finally got the correct drivers installed and everything working properly, even the desktop effects work. I thought in case I have to do this again and in case someone else has the same card that I do I would make an entry about how I got the drivers installed:

  • Open up a terminal window, login as root by entering su – and pressing enter at the prompt. Enter your root password and press enter.
  • Enter the following command: rpm -ivh http://rpm.livna.org/livna-release-7.rpm and press enter.
  • Enter the following command: rpm –import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-livna and press enter.
  • Enter the following command: yum install kmod-nvidia-96xx xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-96xx and press enter. (Remember to put spaces between the two applications)
  • Once everything has been installed enter the following command service nvidia-96xx restart

At this point, I rebooted the machine just to make sure everything was installed correctly. Upon restart you should see a green Nvidia logo pop up, it may fade up depending on whether or not the desktop effects were enabled during the installation.

I went ahead and posted my own instructions for doing this because I wasn’t able to follow the instructions on the last link the way they had it wrote out. I did link to them so you can see where I got most of the information from.

I’d highly recommend removing the Livna repositories from your YUM sources. I had issues trying to install other software while Livna was still in my sources list. To remove Livna following these steps:

  • Open up a terminal window, login as root by entering su – and pressing enter at the prompt. Enter your root password and press enter.
  • Enter the following: cd /etc/yum.repos.d/ and press enter.
  • For me there were only 3 Livna repository files to remove, I used the following command to remove them: rm livna-devel.repo livna.repo livna-testing.repo. (Remember to put spaces between each file name). When you press Enter you will be asked if you are sure you want to remove the files, enter “Y” for each and press enter.

The only thing I’ve yet to figure out is how to get the TV-Out functionality to work. I know it’s possible, it’s just going to take some tweaking on my part. I got it to where I could see some text on the TV last night but it wasn’t readable, nor was the text on the default display so I had to kill the X server everytime (Ctrl + Alt + Backspace). Luckily it would reset itself back to the standard every time.

Hope someone finds this article useful. I know I will be appreciative of it in the future if I have to re-install Fedora.

Fedora 7 (Moonshine) Review

Finally after many months of it being available I am able to sit down and install the latest version of Fedora, not Fedora Core, simply Fedora. The Fedora group decided to ditch the “Core” and “Extras” versions of Fedora and focus their attention on one version. I think it’s a great idea because it’s a lot less confusing.

The other day I was able to run the LiveCD of Fedora 7 and I was extremely impressed with it’s speed. Earlier this year was the last time I had Fedora installed directly onto my computer. I later removed it because I was unable to get my video card to work. I hope that is something that I can get to work this time. Since then I’ve been using Fedora in a virtual environment. I have several projects coming that will require as much performance as I can get and I’d like to have Fedora installed directly onto the computer so I can get that performance. If the LiveCD is any indication of the performance of the latest version, I think I will be happy, at least I hope so.

Installation

The installation is a fairly standard affair. Not a whole lot has changed, just new graphics in the graphical installer. I had to reboot the installation wizard once when I was configuring my hard drive partitions. I hope that isn’t an indication that I’m going to have problems. Also, hard drives are no longer recognized as “hda1”, “hda2”, they are now recognized as SCSI drives and are labeled “sda1”, “sda2” and so on. The rest of the wizard is pretty much the same as it was in Fedora Core 5 & 6. There aren’t any new applications to report in the applications section of the installation wizard, none that I can tell other than the name change of “GAIM” to “Pidgin.”

The installation of Fedora 7 went pretty quickly, I didn’t have it install anything other than the standard packages. When you reboot and get to the “First Boot” configuration wizard there is a new section that allows you to send a profile of your hardware to the Fedora developers. I highly recommend doing this so they can make Fedora run on more hardware and better.

I am pleased with the installation of Fedora. I am very pleased that I did not have a headache to deal with as far as the video card goes. I am disappointed in that the drivers that were used do not allow me to enable the fancy desktop effects. Although I prefer Fedora, I think this is something that Ubuntu has done a really nice job of. The last time I had Ubuntu on my system it asked me if I wanted to install non-supported drivers for my graphics card, which I did, once I had installed them I was able to use Beryl. I am sure I could install the proper Nvidia drivers on Fedora and I might sometime, but I don’t want to break my system, just yet.

I was also pleased when I rebooted out of Linux and back into Windows and did not receive any error messages. This is usually the case but you never know what might happen with a new version.

Speed of Fedora 7

As I mentioned previously, I ran the Fedora 7 Live CD the other day and was extremely impressed by the speed of the Live CD. Normally Live CD’s are pretty slow. I am pleased to note that Fedora 7 is just as speedy when installed directly onto the computer. It definitely feels a lot faster than Fedora Core 5 & 6.

I also feel as though browsing the Internet is significantly faster. I’ve always felt as though browsing the Internet on Linux, any distribution, is faster than browsing the Internet on Windows or the Mac but it feels even faster on Fedora 7. My video blog seems to just pop right up, but on Windows it takes several seconds for everything to fully load.

Fast User Switching

A new feature in Fedora 7 is fast user switching. This is something that has been available in other distributions for a long time now and it’s nice to see in Fedora.

Package Manager

Once you get Fedora installed you can add more applications by clicking the “Add/Remove Software” menu item under “Applications.” There are a whole lot more applications available once you get Fedora installed. The reason they do this is that they can’t include everything on the DVD so once you get the system installed you can choose to install them then, but you’ll have to be connected to the Internet to do it. There are a lot of things to choose from, games, educational tools, engineering and scientific software. Some of the applications may look confusing, just read the description and it will usually explain what it is.

The “Add/Remove” software isn’t a new feature of Fedora, it’s been there for a long time. What is new are some of the applications that you can now get by using this tool, some of the more popular applications include: Democracy (now called Miro), Rosegarden, and aMSN. I’m sure there are more applications that are new but those are the more popular ones that I recognized. In the Servers section there is now an option for a Clustering server.

One thing to note is that everytime I would go to the Servers section some of the servers would be check marked even though I did not choose them anywhere else and none of the selections I made would require those to be installed.

Power Management

With both Ubuntu and Fedora I have been happy to see that when I have Linux installed directly on my hardware it recognizes my APC battery backup. All of the configuration options are comparable to that of what you get with the Windows software. The only thing that you don’t get is the software does not send information back to APC about the utility company in your area.

A cool feature of the power management software is the Power History charts. At the moment there isn’t anything on my chart due to the fact that I haven’t been running Fedora around the clock. I think it would be an interesting graph to look at though.

My Wishlist

The first thing I’d like to see in an upcoming update or the next version of Fedora is a way to very easily mount FAT & NTFS hard drives. Ubuntu can do it and I think the Fedora developers should be able to easily implement this. I know it’s simple to do it via command line but it would be even simpler to just double click an icon in the “Computer” window.

Secondly. Whenever you open an administration dialog in Fedora 7, you have to enter your password every single time you open one. In older versions of Fedora and RedHat you could enter your password once and the password would remain active for a few minutes so you could open several dialogs without having to enter your password every single time. After a few minutes had went by and you were finished with the admin dialogs and opened another one you had to enter your password again, which wasn’t as annoying as having to enter it every single time.

Conclusion

Fedora 7 is a great update and I feel as though it is a much needed update. Everything feels a lot fresher with the better looking graphics. Everything works “out of the box” so to speak. I didn’t have any issues getting a GUI on my screen as I did with Fedora Core 6, that I am very pleased with. I’m not pleased with the fact that the driver that was installed isn’t one that is compatible with the desktop effects. However, I do understand that the driver that was installed was an open source driver and not one from Nvidia. I’m sure the open source community will continue to make the open source driver even better.

I am also extremely pleased with the responsiveness of the system. It feels a lot faster, a lot more crisp. I don’t see jagged edges whenever a menu item drops down. I think the developers done an amazing job with this release and I hope that Fedora 8 will be even better.

Now, with that said I have to point out that I think Ubuntu has got Fedora beat in some aspects. I think when it comes to packages there are a ton more packages that are much more easily installed with Ubuntu. In Ubuntu you can use the package manager to install non-supported software and drivers which drastically improve the systems usefulness. Also, now that Dell has taken on Ubuntu as one of the operating systems they are offering on their computer lineup, more people are going to be using Ubuntu and there is going to be even more development going into it. That means: better drivers, better looks, more software.

Now, as a long time RedHat/Fedora user, with the above said I have to say that I’m still partial to Fedora. I primarily use Fedora as a server. I also prefer Fedora because of the RedHat underpinnings. I’m more familiar with that environment and prefer it. I think it’s a great operating system, especially for servers. On the desktop side of things, it has some catching up to do. However, don’t let what I’ve said in the past couple of paragraphs negate the fact that I think Fedora 7 is a great release.

The Fedora Project Homepage

OLPC Live CD Distribution

I was on the OLPC Wiki and realized that I could download a Live CD of the latest version of the OLPC operating system. The OLPC is based on the RedHat operating system (not Fedora). I downloaded it and ran it in a virtual machine. Here are my initial reactions.

When you first start up the system it starts up pretty quickly. I gave the virtual machine I put the Live CD into 256 MB of RAM. The PC I am using has a 1.5 GHz AMD processor. Live CD’s are usually always slower since everything has to load into the system’s memory to be able to run. However, it started up pretty quickly.

Once you get to the login screen. You type in your name and you choose a color. You have to click several times on the human icon to choose a color. Personally, I would have found a drop down menu or color wheel much more handy. Also, the cursor icon is huge. Once you login the color you chose is the color of the icon in the middle of your desktop.

Once you login and get to the desktop everything is pretty simple. There are a few icons on the bottom of the desktop. An interesting thing to note is that there is an option to use Classic Gnome. I decided to click on this and switch over to it. However, it appeared as though Gnome had been stripped down. There was no Application, Places or System menu. On the desktop you could access a file manager, developer information as well as a terminal.

After not being able to quickly get back to the Sugar interface I rebooted the LiveCD and started playing around with some of the other applications. The applications are designed for school children, none of the functionality you would expect is there. It’s also not very easy to figure out how to get back to your desktop once you have an application open. Now, this might be something they are going to correct with a button on the actual OLPC. I just found it extremely annoying to get back and forth between open applications or get out of applications. When you hover over an icon you don’t get a tooltip to explain what it means.

Whenever you open the web browser and open a website, you get a zoomed in view of the website. This, too, may be a feature they are going to allow you to control with hardware based controls.

Overall, I have to say that I am not very impressed with the OLPC operating system development. It really bothers me that the interface has been dumbed down. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that due to the limited resources of the OLPC they had to make some sacrifices somewhere. It still bothers me though. I feel as though the OLPC project is overly simplifying the operating system and not giving the children in the countries where the OLPC will go a chance to learn how to use a real operating system. Or at the very least, an operating system that resembles others.

Also, the fact may be that I am simply overly privileged to have a good computer and the children/families/people who are recipients of these machines will probably be more than happy with them.

With all the above said, I have to say that I think the project is a great idea. I think more people need to be able to gain access to computers for research and school projects. Personally, I wish they’d sell more to the United States. Some people in this country still cannot afford a decent computer.

Download the OLPC Live CD

Fedora Core 6 Test 3 Preview

Its that time of year again. Time for the next version of Fedora Core to be released. I thought I would install the latest version of the test releases (Test 3, currently) and see what is new and exciting in the upcoming version of Fedora Core 6 scheduled for release October 24 which is just next week (at the time of this writing).

Unfortunately I don't have a computer I can use to install this on so I'm doing it virtually. I will have to make some sacrifices in what I can install but if there is something interesting that is being installed by default I will be sure to let you know. I just created the virtual machine and popped the DVD into the drive so lets get started!

Installation

The first thing you will notice when you begin the installation is the new artwork. I'm not sure I understand the meaning of the new artwork, but I like it. It says to me “Connected” or maybe even a DNA look. In any case, I think it looks great.

During the installation you get a warning stating that this is a pre-release version of Fedora Core. So, remember what I say in this preview may change in the final version. I usually wait to review things until they come out, however, I'm anxious to see what is new! Just keep in mind that this is a pre-release! Ok, clicking “Install Anyway.”

Partitioning/Disk Selection

The partition/disk selection looks a little different in this version. It looks as though they are trying to make it a lot simpler for people to install Fedora onto their computers. They give you the standard “Remove all partitions and install”, “Remove linux partitions and install”, etc. They also give you an advanced storage configuration option.

Application Selection

There is a really neat feature available in the installer that I hope is carried over to the final version of FC6. If you have additional repositories that you would like to add you can add them during the installation. From my understanding this would allow you to get all of your applications installed during the installation so you didn't have to spend several hours trying to get all of your apps installed after you had installed the base operating system. I was not able to test this feature out. In fact, it crashed my virtual machine and I had to start the installation over.

An interesting thing to note is that when you are telling the installation what type of system you want to install, if you choose web server or development it will tell you that an ethernet card is required. However, if you don't choose those options and move forward you can still choose those options but it will not tell you that an ethernet card is required.

New Applications

The only new application that I see to the lineup is that you can choose to install the Xen virtual machine monitoring software. Xen is the open source alternative to VMware or Microsoft's VirtualPC software. I look forward to reading more about it and playing with Xen, I've heard a lot about it but have not done anything with it, yet!

As far as the other applications go, I don't see anything new. I do see newer versions, thankfully.

I know there is always something that everyone wants to include during the installation, however, I really wish they would keep XFCE in the desktop environments. It is simple enough to install after the installation but it would be nice if I didn't have to install it afterwards.

I added a couple of additional applications to the installation, it has checked for dependencies (which took forever. Granted, I am running in a virtual machine) and it is now installing. It will probably take a while since it is installing in a virtual machine so I will let that run for a while and get back with you!

About 45 minutes later I have successfully installed Fedora Core 6 Test 3. Let’s reboot and do the usual first boot configuration and see if any of that has changed.

First Boot Configuration

During the last part of the installation which is called “first boot” you set up a user for the system. I was not able to set up a user because when I would click into the field it would enter several q's. Not sure why but again, I'm not running on native hardware and this is a pre-release version. Luckily, I can login as root which is dangerous but I think for testing we can safely log in as root and have a look around.

First Login

I'm at the new login screen. It looks rather nice. It actually reminds me of some themes that I saw a while back for the Gnome login manager.

I just logged into the system and am now at the desktop. I have to say, the new wallpaper is REALLY nice. I was just starting to appreciate the one in 5 but this one is REALLY nice. WOW! It makes the desktop stand out a whole lot more. Use to, the wallpaper was the first thing I would change. I like this one a lot though.

The desktop icons are still the plain Bluecurve icons that have been used since RedHat version 8. They look decent but I think its time for an update. I've been looking through the menus and it appears as though there are a few new icons for some of the options so maybe they'll be some desktop icon changes in the final release. The new icons in the menus may also be a part of the latest GNOME which is in use in FC6.

Performance

I've opened up a couple of application since I have logged in and I am VERY impressed with the performance. I have Fedora Core 5 installed in another virtual machine. It isn't currently running, but FC6 T3 definitely out performs FC5 in my opinion. The GIMP opened nice and fast! I only gave the virtual machine 284 megs of RAM. I bet if I installed the VMware tools package that it would be even faster! I am VERY impressed! Unfortunately, OpenOffice.org Writer and Firefox took a little longer to open. It is still a lot faster than the time it takes to open them in my FC5 installation that is running XFCE as the desktop manager with un-needed services stopped! I'm anxious to see how fast this thing runs when I disable some services and install XFCE.

I know I said this in the last paragraph but I am very impressed. I thought I was going to have to make a lot of sacrifices since I was installing in a virtual machine environment. I am running Gnome, Firefox and OpenOffice.org without any problems. I've also not stopped any services that I don't need, like I usually do. I just can't get over the performance increase in version 6.

Final first look thoughts

From what I can tell so far I think this will be a great update to FC5. Of course, we'll have to see how many applications don't run on it yet! However, that is what you get when you want to run bleeding edge technology.

I look forward to downloading the non-beta version of Fedora next week.