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Posts Tagged ‘Gnome’

Graphical Woes and a Bricked System

September 2nd, 2009 1 comment

Today’s big task was to get rid of the Windows 3.1 look of the default GNOME theme by installing the Compiz Fusion window manager. First, however, I needed to add 3D hardware acceleration and OpenGL support to my existing graphics system. Unfortunately, after an evening of searching for how to accomplish these seemingly simple tasks in Google’s proverbial haystack of information, I found myself no wiser, and in the mood to chew through my power cable and just end it all.

Bleary-eyed and pissed off, I turned to the community in the #debian IRC channel for help, and found a room full of knowledgeable folks who were very willing to help me out. Sometime during the ensuing discussion, I followed this guy’s advice and installed a package called mesa-utils that added OpenGL support to my system, and was good to go. The only problem is that I don’t know if I could do it again, because I can’t recall the steps that got me to where I am. Damn.

In any case, with hardware acceleration now supported, I moved on to enabling the Compiz Fusion window manager with this tutorial on the Debian Wiki. Unfortunately, upon activating my newly installed eye candy, my entire system froze up. I restarted X, but the service refused to come back online, and was disabled by the system.

Now, whenever I attempt to boot my laptop, I get a big error message claiming that X failed to start, and can’t get into my desktop. It seems that the changes that I made to the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file while setting up Compiz have caused an error that occurs while parsing the file on startup.

So, I guess my install is bricked until I can remove my changes to that config file… Anybody got a live CD?

The Need for a Password Manager

September 2nd, 2009 1 comment

On my Windows machine, I use a free program called KeePass to manage all of my passwords. It creates an encrypted file that contains all of my passwords, and automatically pastes them into the correct dialog boxes when I hit ctrl-alt-a.

Since I’m attempting to emulate my normal work flow, one of my first goals with Debian was to get a password manager up and running, and to disable the password management tool that is present in Iceweasel (For those that don’t know, Iceweasel is Firefox, but it’s been re-branded and given a new set of icons so that it is a truly “free” program).

Luckily, with just a few minutes of looking around, I found the KeePassX project, a mature cross-platform clone of the KeePass project that even imports KeePass 1.x database files. Installation was simple, and once I exported a 1.x version of my KeePass database from my Windows machine, KeePassX opened it immediately.

It should be noted that GNOME ships with an application called Seahorse that provides a graphical front end to the underlying keyring management system. This application seems to have been designed primarily for remembering PGP keys and remote server passwords. It handles my wireless network passwords, but I can’t seem to figure out how to add website passwords to it, so KeePassX is my replacement solution.

Aside: To add another item to my to-do list, I’ve just noticed that GNOME has registered the Epiphany web browser as my default browser, so all system links launch in it instead of in Iceweasel. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s not that Ephiphany is a bad browser, but more that I’m used to how Iceweasel works. Further, Epiphany appears to just be another re-branding. According to it’s webpage, it runs all the same plugins that Firefox can… So I guess my first question is, why bother?

Coming close

August 23rd, 2009 No comments

The experiment is set to begin in less than 10 days and now is the time to settle on all of those little decisions that still need to be made.

Everything is a-O‘K’!

The very nature of this experiment is to be thrown into uncertain territory and see how things pan out. An example of this is in the desktop environment front. As such I have decided to use the K Desktop Environment, or KDE for you laymen :P, because unlike GNOME I have very little experience with it. Besides if I end up hating it I can always switch back!

Bigger is Better

As for my choice of download I am currently torrenting the Fedora x86_64 DVD release. This should not only provide me my KDE desktop, but also the biggest selection of initial installable packages. Very nice!

Am I Forgetting Anything Else?

I don’t think so. Well except that my laptop delivery is still a bit iffy. I’ll keep you posted on that as things go forward.

Categories: Fedora, GNOME, KDE, Tyler B Tags: , , ,

The Showdown: Fedora 11 vs Mandriva 2009.1

August 17th, 2009 12 comments

The Final Contenders

Well here we are. After a couple of weeks of research I have finally narrowed down my choice to either Fedora 11 or Mandriva 2009.1 to use during the course of this experiment. The two distros are both very mature and feature rich which makes this choice extraordinarily difficult. To help alleviate some of this I have decided to square them off head to head in a series of different areas. So without further ado let’s start this.

Community

Both distributions have significant communities behind them. A quick jump to their respective websites and you can easily see that they are very comparable. Each sports a community wiki that helps newbies and expert alike get up and running and tweak advanced features.

The Fedora Wiki

The Fedora Wiki

The Mandriva Wiki

The Mandriva Wiki

The Winner: TIE

Customization

Again both distributions seem to offer the same amount of customization. Most of the resources I was able to find regarding the manner had more to do with customizing GNOME or KDE then anything distro specific.

The Winner: TIE

Direction

Fedora is directed by a community elected board of directors. They then vote internally to make large decisions. Mandriva is directed by the Mandriva company which is a commercial entity.

The difference in setup is quite clear. Fedora’s management can be shaken up at any time if the community feels they are going off track. Mandriva on the other hand is a large company and is not going anywhere. I think this makes Fedora more flexible to take on future challenges and react more quickly.

The Winner: Fedora

Install Media Size

Fedora is offered in both ~690MB Live CD and ~4.5GB DVD configurations for all popular architectures and variations (GNOME, KDE, etc)

Mandriva is offered both ~690MB Live CD and ~4.4GB DVD configurations for all popular architectures and variations (GNOME, KDE, etc)

The major difference seems to be that Mandriva lets you really customize your experience during install, more so than Fedora. It allows you to select what you will be using the computer for and only install that software accordingly.

The Winner: Mandriva

System Requirements

A fast operating system is one that leaves most of the system resources alone so your programs can take full advantage of them.

Fedora

  • 400MHz Pentium II or better
  • Minimum RAM: 192MB for x86 or 384MB for x64
  • Recommended RAM: 256MB or 512MB for x64
  • Hard Disk Space: 90MB-9GB depending on what is installed

Mandriva

  • Any Intel or AMD processor
  • Minimum RAM: 256MB
  • Recommended RAM: 512MB
  • Hard Disk Space: 3GB-4GB

The Winner: Fedora

Multimedia

Both Fedora and Mandriva support a wide range of free codecs, but neither includes popular codecs like MP3 and DVD in their base installs. This is due to restrictions placed on the distribution of these technologies. Once installed, both of the distros can download support for these making them effectively equal.

The Winner: TIE

New Features

Fedora is known to sit comfortably on the edge of bleeding technology and often supports new code as it becomes stable. Mandriva, on the other hand, seems to adopt new technology in a slower, more methodical way, picking and choosing what will make the schedule.

The Winner: Fedora

Out-Of-Box Experience

A freshly installed distro should have a certain… fresh feel to it. Like you could take on the world with this new piece of software! While, by all accounts, Fedora is a solid distro, this category is where Mandriva really shines. It’s Mandriva One release specializes in giving the best “out-of-box” experience possible.

The Winner: Mandriva

Release Schedule

As the length of this experiment is rather short (4 months) it would be nice to see how these distributions perform during an upgrade. Fedora will be releasing its newest version, Fedora 12, in November of this year. Mandriva is also planning a release of it’s upgrade, Mandriva 2010.0, in October of this year.

Both distributions also follow a regular, roughly, 6 month schedule. This means that every 6 months or so they release an upgrade to the distro.

The Winner: TIE

Security

Fedora implements the very top of the line security features available to Linux, the Security-Enhanced Linux module. This takes specifications from the Department of Defense and implements them in the distro. While Mandriva may support some of these features, Fedora is known far better as the security-oriented distro.

Fedora's website even has a very detailed security response center

Fedora's website even has a very detailed security response center

The Winner: Fedora

Shipped Kernel

From what I can tell Mandriva ships with 2.6.29 of the Linux kernel while Fedora ships with version 2.6.29.4. I can’t tell if those extra 4 (2 stable?) updates are actually in the shipped Mandriva distro or not. Assuming it’s not this gives Fedora an ever so slight edge on Mandriva… at least before any updates are applied.

The Winner: Fedora

Gut Instinct

This one is tricky. I actually wasn’t going to include this category if the distros were close in count after all of the above showdowns. That being said I can now safely say, and the above comparisons thankfully agree, that my gut instinct is telling me to go with Fedora. More than anything else I get the feeling that Fedora offers a better overall foundation than Mandriva. From that foundation I just don’t think Mandriva offers me anything that I couldn’t simply add to Fedora as well.

The Winner: Fedora

The Winner By TKO: Fedora

Score Card

Fedora: | | | | |

Mandriva: | |

Tie: | | | |

Well it’s been a long week since I committed to choosing my distribution, but here we are finally. Come September 1st I am going to plop the Fedora 11 DVD in my computer’s optical drive and embark on a 4 month long journey of Linux discovery. Wish me the best!

Better than Indy’s own

August 7th, 2009 No comments

Hi, sports fans!  (That’s right, I’ve decided to start addressing you all with stupid and arbitrary tag lines… please deal with it.)  Since Jon has put Tyler and I (and ESPECIALLY) Jake completely to shame with his constant blog posts, I’ve decided to keep up my end of this and, after some research, made a decision…

*drum roll please*

My distribution of choice is, and really always has been (mostly) my main idea – Fedora 11. Why?  I’m glad you asked.  As a relative Linux noobie, Fedora 11 jumped out at me for these reasons:

  • As Jon pointed out in an earlier blog post, Fedora is the choice of Linux grandfather Linus Torvalds.  This guy obviously knows his stuff.  While Linus primarily supports KDE, the supposed ‘lack of maturity’ of the KDE 4.0 user interface caused him to switch to Gnome.
  • Gnome, the same default interface as Ubuntu, is an interface I’m used to.  At this point, I’m not looking to dive in completely to unknown waters; God only knows I’d just drown.
  • NASA also uses it.  NASA is badass (not for using Fedora… for that other stuff they do).
  • It has proven stability.  Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a derived distribution, and that’s a rock solid environment.

While I envy Jon’s trumpeting of KDE 4.3 for now (yes, it looks gorgeous) it’s not something I immediately want to play with.  Perhaps down the road, and believe you me – it’ll get documented here if I do.

Now, I just have to cross fingers that all of my devices work with this, the latest release of Fedora.  I have pretty high hopes for the laptop, but some of my peripherals – like my HTC Dream phone – might run into issues.  I’ll re-list my entire system profile here.  If you have any input (and I’m very interested in Fedora 11′s improved open driver support for nvidia graphics cards), I’d be happy to hear from you.

  • Motherboard: LG P300-U.APB3A9 with Intel GM965 Mobile Chipset
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.10 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, 3 MB L2 cache
  • RAM: 4096 MB
  • Video: nVidia GeForce 8600 M GS (256 MB)
  • Audio: Realtek ALC88x series HD audio codec
  • Hard drive: 320 GB Seagate 5400 RPM
  • Optical drive: LG USB 2.0 slim external DVD+/- RW
  • Networking: Intel 4965 A/G/N wireless networking card (I don’t use wired on this)

Looking forward to the adventure ahead, that’s for sure.  Also, my apologies in advance for intermittent blog posts; I just started a new job this week and the training is a good time.

Categories: Dana H, Linux Tags: , , , , ,