Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mandriva Cooker is alive and shining !

We all know that Mandriva project,the Paris based Linux company, recently faced lot of troubles due to financial turmoil with rumours of the expected demise . But the things are not as bad as they were predicted and the project is actively working towards the expected new releases as announced on Mandriva mailing lists recently.

Mandriva has lived for years on my home computer but mostly with the stable release. With recent unfortunate events the upgrades I was getting on my Mandriva were quite slow so I decided to switch to "cooker". The decision was a bit risky because cooker is not meant for production machines but I took the risk and I am not regretting it.

I am running cooker on daily basis and as expected I am getting loads of updates daily with occasional glitches which are normal with cooker but which get fixed easily . All the packages are latest e.g Firefox 4.0b7 and I am enjoying every bit of using Mandriva with cooker.

I am expecting that next stable release will be good enough to make us forget the bad days we faced with Mandriva in past many months.

Friday, May 14, 2010

How to set Smart Package Manager on PCLinuxOS

Smart Package Manger Version 1.2 is available for download from repositories through synaptic on PCLinuxOS 2010 . Smart is not officially used as a package manager on PCLinuxOS. This may be the reason that smart does not work by default once you install it and needs manual tweaking before it works for you and also the version is not upgraded to current 1.3 . 

Synaptic works flawlessly on PCLinuxOS so you do not need smart as an alternate. But as a personal preference to use an alternate package manager I looked into smart and followed  these simple steps to set smart for my PCLinuxOS .

1 : Setting of Mirrors

 Click " Edit" on  smart GUI , locate " Mirrors" and click that to open a new window where you can set your primary and alternate mirrors according to your choice . 

2 : Setting Channels 

Once again click " Edit " on smart GUI , locate " Channels " which will open a new window for setting channels. Everything is set by default, you need to change few things. 

a ) Set the priority  from 0 to 10 both on " rpm-sys " and on the selected mirror " apt-rpm " . This can be achieved by clicking properties button of the above two.

b ) Keep both the above checked and un-check any others.

Now you are all set. Either click the green curved arrow button " update channels" on smart GUI to  synchronize your system with remote repositories or run this command in shell as root

" smart update " 

Smart GUI on version 1.2 apparently freeze but keeps on working in background . Smart needs to be upgraded for which I have put a request on PCLinuxOS forum. Smart GUI is as simple as Synaptic and with little exploration one can find his/her way around it to manage packages on PCLinuxOS . Simple smart commands can be found here .

Once again a clear warning :  PCLinuxOS team does not use smart as an official package manager . 

I like smart because of my personal reasons . If you want to have smart working on your PCLinuxOS the above steps will help you to fix it. But I am not sure there will be any support from PCLinuxOS team in case you run into any problem with smart.

There is an interesting article about smart on PCLinuxOS written by  pinoc 
which is worth reading.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My successful PCLinuxOS 2010 Remaster

PCLInuxOS 2010 has been released and is once again shinning at its best. Mylivecd is the new customized format of previous mklivecd and I wanted to give it a spin to make a remaster of my installed system. Though many report failure with remastering I managed to do it on my second attempt.

Here are the basic rules I followed.

1 : Installed all the needed packages and removed unwanted.

2 : Installed the latest Linux Kernel from synaptic.

3: Fully upgraded my system

4 : Removed the old Kernel.

5 : Installed Wallpapers & Icon themes of my choice.

6 : Ran Bleachbit both as a user and root to clean all unwanted files and junk

7 : Reboot time 

8 : Opened  /etc/fstab as root in leafpad through pcmanfm & commented this line as

 # tmpfs /dev/shm tmpfs defaults 0 0 

 and then rebooted so tempfs would not mount.

9 :  Removed --lzma from remasterme as root in leafpad

mylivecd --md5sum --nodir ^/tmp --lzma --bootloader iso pclinuxos-2010.iso

--lzma makes remastering process painfully slow on my system so I always take it out but Texstar recommends to have it so you can keep it .

10 : Executed command " umount -a " as root 

11 : Executed command " remasterme " as root and the remastering process started and made a new ISO for me.

12 : Burned the newly made ISO  to a blank DVD at 2 X speed and later confirmed the md5sum of the burned DVD with the original ISO, both were exact match .

13 : First attempt on booting the system as Live failed but on the safe boot it successfully got booted on my system.

14 : The screen resolution was not proper and by running the command 

[root@localhost saleem]# nvidia-xconfig   got it fixed for me. Previously it was fixed at 640x480 while the required one is 1024x786 for my monitor but the above command fixed everything. I logged out and upon re login it was proper resolution. 

15 : Headed for the installation process and that went smooth also with no major issues.

Mylivecd has some minor issues which are being fixed but it still works fine as it did for me. I am sure others might have also succeeded in making working remasters now. For further reading please refer to this thread  on PCLinuxOS Forum .

Friday, April 30, 2010

Leafpad made my Linux Life much easier !

I very clearly remember one incident in the early days of my linux based computing life when I wanted to have multimedia repository enabled for my Mepis Linux and one of my online friend asked me to open sources.list as root with Vim on shell and uncomment the line for debian multimedia. It took me a long time to understand what he wanted me to do and still at the end I messed up my sources list . I will not blame him for why he asked me to go through all those incomprehensible steps just to do something which was very minor and routine for him but not for me because I was a Windows rescuer who was exploring something totally different.

But I don`t remember when and how I discovered leafpad , but definitely things became very easy and simple once I got familiar with this simple text editor. Currently , no matter if its KDE , Gnome , LXDE or E17 the first thing I want to grab from repositories is leafpad . As I often stress upon , people like me , those who don`t want to face Windows related problems and still seek an easy and basic but linux based secure home and office computing will prefer easy to handle packages than technically smart and more complex ones.

I love leafpad and I will be more than happy if  a seasoned linux user at any IRC Help room  asks a newbie to uncomment his/her sources.list in leafpad than Vim :)

Thanks for reading my posts , I am off to bed now , good day to all of you ! 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why Should I use Unity Linux ?

There is a huge list of different types of linux distributions available today with choice to choose any one according to one`s need . Some distributions purely suit home users and others do not at all . Every linux distribution presents variety of problems times and again . To overcome these problems every linux distribution developers offer some sort of support offered through forums,documentations and IRC help/support rooms.Those projects which offer any kind of support to the end users get more loyal users and survive for longer times as compared to those who do not bother to offer any help.

The success of a support system offered by a linux project depends on how well  organized and systematically maintained it is and then delivered to the end users. It  also depends on how best targeted it is according to the users demands and knowledge level . Another key point is the easy access of users to such help system and the quick response of the support team to emerging issues with easy and adoptable solutions.

Communications skills of the support team is of the highest importance because home users are not linux experts and gurus and they easily get discouraged if the support team treats them unprofessionally or ridicule them for matters which may be of little value for the developers but of great importance for home users.

Saying all this I will leave aside the good and bad things of Unity Linux at this moment and talk about its help and support system briefly. Unity Linux is a relatively new project and still at RC level of its development . But it has established a growing number of users because of its solid, stable  & systematically maintained  help & support system . Unity team members and developers try to help users at their level of knowledge and understanding without posing as "I know everything" .

As I said above if a linux development team follows simple rule of caring for their products users and does it in a methodical way there is no doubt that such project grows and have a long life. Unity Linux team has realized this core concept and if they stick to it I see this project as a potential Best Desktop Linux Distribution (DLD ) for home users of all times.

Good and Bads of LXDE

KDE4 has given much to the computing world at the cost of its bloated composition. GNOME is fast & flexible but mostly liked by hardcore conventional Linux users. LXDE is a relatively new and highly adoptable free and open source desktop environment . Although designed to work on the older resource-constrained computers it works very well on new generation computers .

LXDE is fast , uncluttered  & easy to work on . As a home user I prefer one package per task distribution installation and LXDE works very efficiently fulfilling my this demand.

LXDE puts less strain on my computer`s physical memory making it much easier for me to perform my daily tasks without my mind being diverted to the response rate of my computer as it happens on KDE4.

The one bad thing about LXDE is the lack of ability to move and place icons on desktop which is really annoying . I like to place and group different icons sets on my desktop according to my needs so I don not need to think and locate icons of different packages at times of need. LXDE leaves icons glued to one place and I feel pissed off with this always. 

LXDE panel also has limitations and it takes some time to learn how to adjust to LXDE according to one`s needs. 

LXDE also lacks a well defined control center as is offered by KDE and GNOME and this is a real big short coming. Many distributions supply custom made tools for LXDE management because of lack of a native LXDE control center. Openbox is used along with LXDE and it helps to overcome many shortcomings of LXDE.

To become a fully adoptable and popular desktop environment for home computing LXDE development team has to concentrate on these shortcomings . Home users who want to escape the bugs of Windows would not want to fall prey to the complexities of how to set a desktop environment according to their requirements and the decades of windowing will relapse back if Linux stops racing for the "latest & greatest" things and seriously address the pitfalls which are constantly ignored. Home users can never be Linux gurus and the will not bother to learn new computing skills . They need a flexible, safe and easily adoptable working operating systems and desktop environments. LXDE is one such highly suitable desktop environment but needs serious combing out for things which will play a role in its popularity in home users.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Simply GNU/Linux 5.0 : An unsung son of ALT Linux

Russians are historically secretive and obscured . But they have always been  intelligent , unique in their work and highly scientific people. 

ALT Linux ( ALT implies ALT Linux Team ) is one of those undiscovered and non-famous Linux distribution from Russia which lacks the "Pomp, glamour and glory" like other mainstream distributions partly because the development team of ALT Linux love to work in shadows and do not consider it important to publically project and advertise their work and also because people outside Russia are not either aware of or interested in what this distribution is about.  But this does not undermine the work this team is doing , they are quitely and persistently working on a project which stands proudly on its work. This is a Russian spirit of all times !
Recently I started using Sisyphus from ALT Linux and computing life has changed completly for me. Bleeding edge with stability from an unstable pool of packages can only be expected from innovative people like these Russians. I am happy that I had the right courage to move to Sisyphus.

Simply GNU/Linux is an XFCE based distribution by  dkoryavov of ALT Linux Team . It is a single Install CD with no live option as compared to the main ALT Linux 5 Ark Desktop .

I have never been an XFCE fan , it never appealed me as a desktop environment . But when it is Simply GNU/Linux nothing can be as better as it . I will not go into how to install it, it is simple and straight forward . But if someone wants to read a review about its details there is a nicely written one on

The excitement comes when I shifted repositories from stable 5.0 to branch 5.1 and later to Sisysphus. This is not difficult to do.

Here are the repos I used stepwise.

# rpm i586 classic
# rpm noarch classic 

# rpm noarch classic
# rpm i586 classic

But before doing that I made sure to do full upgrade from Ark Desktop 5.0 to 5.1 branch , upgraded kernel to latest by running
# update-kernelas root . This upgraded my kernel to lthe atest and auto-magically downloaded and installed all the required modules along with the kernel.

Since I am using tripple boot system with ALT Simply GNU/Linux as third OS along with Windows 7 and Unity Linux so I wanted to have GRUB on Simply Linux than its default LILO. It is easy to get GRUB on ALT Linux. Just follow these steps.

Install grub

ALT Linux uses lilo as a default boot loader. You should replace lilo with grub.

Install grub package

# apt-get install grub
Edit /boot/grub/menu.lst (Use can use for sample /usr/share/doc/grub-0.97/menu.lst)

# Sample boot menu configuration file

# Boot automatically after 5 secs.
timeout 5

# By default, boot the first entry.
default 0

title ALT Linux
kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/sda2
initrd /boot/initrd.img
(replace /dev/sda2 with your root partition name)
  • Install loader to MBR
# grub-install /dev/sda
reboot system to check that bootloader works properly 

Once all these steps were complete it was time to move on to Sisyphus , so I changed the repositories to that as given above and once again did full upgrade.
It is wonderful to like XFCE !! I hated it previously . Things change with new looks everytime when I am using ALT Linux.

You will never feel the real flavour of ALT Linux untill you try Sisyphus . It is where things are too far ahead than most to our well known distributions and all this is achieved quietly and under shadows.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Living with ALT Linux Sisyphus

I have always liked to have something "commie" in my life around me , ALT Linux is one more example. I have been using this distribution from Russia for past many year on different occasions for different lengths of time.

Recently I installed the last stable release of ALT Linux Ark Desktop .There is a nicely written review about this version on Finid`s blog. The installation went smooth and my favourite GNOME was installed without any issue. Since this version was released in late 2009 so the gnome and installed packages running on it were quite old so I decided to move to "branch" repositories which are equivalent to debian testing.

With the help of my friends at IRC #altlinux I changed repositories to 5.1 branch and went for full upgrade. The installation went smooth again and I had a fully upgraded and stable system on branch. Using branch is what the ALT Linux team recommends to those who want to have a stable working system .

Then a time comes when you want to be a bit daring and you want to move to Sisyphus which is the unstable softwares bank for ALT Linux but where you get the lastest bleeding edge packages. This was the time I decided to move to Sisyphus. Once again with the help of my friends from ALT Linux team and with their aforehead warnings I changed my repositories to Sisyphus and went ahead for full upgrade. This time the upgrades mounted to more than 600mbs and with my fingers crossed the upgrade went literally smooth without any hiccup.

On reboot I had two minor glitches otherwise it is fully upgraded system with all the packages at the latest version including Gnome 2.28.2. I have already submitted those minor bugs to ALT Linux Team. If you plan to use ALT Linux sisyphus do not hesitate to report the bugs and issues at ALT Linux Bugzilla

Sisyphus is unstable but still more stable than can be debian sid/unstable. In past 24 hours I have not seen any major issue with my system. ALT Linux team constantly combs out the packages at Sisyphus and once packages are stable enough for daily use they are released to the branch section of repositories.

I will not recommend everyone to move to Sisyphus but those who want to use Mandriva cooker or debian sid can move to Sisyphus and I am sure they will find Sisyphus more stable than the former ones.

I will stay on Sisyphus and enjoy the best of this distributions from Russia.There is no harm in paying back to my former commies friends by staying on so called 'unstable" but still stable Sisyphus!