zen.org Communal Weblog

November 18, 2004

SuSE 9.2: it's Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick

Filed under: — brendan @ 21:23 IST

When you select New Install from SuSE 9.2 Professional’s installation program, apparently you shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that it’s going to actually wipe your entire drive.

Turns out it saw that I had a root partition on /dev/hda1 before. My brief foray into trying out Mandrake 10.1 was on that original partition, but something—I forget what just now—made me reconsider and skip playing with Mandrake for now, instead going straight to enjoying SuSE 9.2. The installation process instead just gobble up the home partition on /dev/hda6 for its own new root-everything partition.

I’ll do it over again tomorrow and run through my ChangeLog (used to track every system change) just reiterating the steps I took this morning. I realized that I neglected to link what I did in my previous post, so I’ve uploaded my /etc/X11/XF86Config file (aka xorg.conf, I’m glad they’ve moved to X.org’s stuff) for an X-Windows that’s much faster and happier and the /etc/sysconfig/powermanagement file where I set ACPI_BUTTON_LID_CLOSE to be “hibernate”. Really, I didn’t have to tweak anything else. I did need to go back into YaST2’s installation interface and have it add tons of stuff that I want (fetchmail, firefox, emacs gasp it was missing, cvs, etc etc). But no other editing of random files.

The big pluses I’m seeing so far: I can hibernate the system via working ACPI support; it comes with KDE 3.3 already (and I’ve got 3.3.1 handy); much better wireless support (for the orinoco internal device and the prism2_cs-based Linksys card I sometimes elect to use); more polished YaST2 ways to configure things; and new “system profiles” so taking the laptop from one office to another is no longer a bullshit shell script.

The one loss: sound doesn’t work. Been that way before, and if I unload snd_ali5451 and instead load trident, it seems to work. I’m guessing ali5451 should work with a change of a variable somewhere. Ah, I’ll care after I reinstall.

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Blogging With AquaMinds NoteTaker

Filed under: — elana @ 16:21 IST

Blogging With AquaMinds NoteTaker

This is great. A great way of using OPML. And decent explainations on what it is. NoteTaker has a free 30 day trial, I just downloaded it. And after I find my mouse (cause my right arm feels like it’s going to drop off from too much trackpadding), I’m gonna play with it.

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SuSE 9.2 Professional — so close

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:40 IST

A friend hooked me up with a 5-CD copy of the SuSE 9.2 Professional distribution of Linux. Yay! It’s now been about a week since I got it. Our son decided that 4:30am was a wonderful time to wake up, and stay awake, so after about 45 minutes I gave in (gave up) and brought him downstairs so at least Elana could get some decent sleep. She’d let me sleep in til 10am yesterday since I stayed up til about 2 in the morning getting WordPress to behave properly for enclosures for our first podcast of The Accidental Cook. After a few repeated nights of fitful sleep, no reason not to let her get some extra rest.

Anyway, there we were, Patrick and I, down in the living room happy as can be. (Read that literally.) Well, he was wide awake and firing ideas of activities at me faster than your boss sensing your time management needs improvement. So we played with blocks, puzzles, drawing shapes, whatever. But first, I brought down my laptop and the CDs and started a crisp fresh install of SuSE 9.2 on it. The machine is a Fujitsu Lifebook P-2046, carrying a 10.4″ screen and very little weight. I got it nearly 3 years ago and absolutely adore it, even if it’s only 800MHz in the face of 3GHz and up appearing on the market.

In the last 9+ years I’ve moved around from RedHat to Mandrake to Debian to SuSE to NetBSD to FreeBSD to OpenBSD to Fedora and finally back to SuSE where I think I’ll stay for a while. That’s my choice for both my laptop and the box under my desk. To me, the be-all end-all qualifier has been YaST2 and the ability to use a GUI for as much system setup and maintenance as possible. I’ve done my time doing 32-hour marathon typing fests to get stuff done, and can’t withstand the painful side-effects of that much typing anymore. (Not carpal tunnel, but pretty harsh RSI when I’m not careful and don’t take typing breaks.)

When I first tried putting SuSE on it I was running into problems with the 2.4.x kernels and the driver for the laptop’s hard drive (the alim15x3 driver) which would freeze during the boot. I had to force the boot params ide0=ata66 ide1=ata66 to be able to use the system. The built-in 802.11b wifi support took some work but finally got going too.

Anyway, as SuSE and the kernel have matured, so has the usability of the system in general. With SuSE 9.1 I was finding very little work in making it all come together. I had to tweak its XF86Config-4 file to make X use the full 1280×768 screen, but that’s about it. The 2.6 kernel in SuSE 9.1 comes with the corrected code for the alim15x3 disk driver so I could finally go without directly hacking and recompiling it to make it work.

As I’m playing with Patrick, I’ve got the laptop on the table in the living room plugged in for both power and the network, only intermittently changing CDs as the install does its work. (Not much configuration at the beginning.) It all looked great! I didn’t get to really do much with it until P sat down with me to eat a bit of yogurt.

I found that SuSE 9.2’s choice of kernel now comes with ACPI support that actually functions for the Lifebook, so I don’t have to fall back to using APM anymore. I used the GUI to tell it to use “hibernate” for closing the lid, which worked like a charm. (For some reason, the ACPI sleep choice of S1, to just go to standby mode, isn’t available according to /proc/acpi/sleep.) In fact, everything was coming together just fine.

Well, just about. A quick df to see how much space is left shows that I’m down to about 1Gb out of the full disk’s 20Gb. But then I noticed that the size of the filesystem was claimed to only be about 12Gb in total. A run of ‘fdisk’ showed that there were in fact two partitions, one just over 12Gb (/dev/hda6) and the other just over 6Gb (/dev/hda1). I looked in /etc/fstab and discovered that hda1 was listed to mount to the /data1 directory. Gahh.

I mount it, look inside, and there’s a nice crisp 2Gb of everything that was initially installed, everything in the root filesystem and all of the apps under /usr and /opt. Sigh. But how could the system be working? For some reason, everything’s also in /dev/hda6. I know it formatted the partitions at the start, so I wasn’t looking at old stuff. Weird.

I tried just taking the existing directories (without /home or /data1) and dropping them on the root partition, then thru the Boot Loader Configuration part of YaST2 I added booting from /dev/hda1 as an alternate choice. Didn’t quite make it, but in retrospect I realize I probably needed to recreate its initrd RAM disk image.

Gahh. Probably won’t have any time to touch it again until tomorrow. Still the mystery remains as to why it cast the “real” root partition aside and put everything on the other 6Gb one that was undoubtedly intended for /home. I’ll look at the sources under /usr/share/YaST2 and see if I can figure it out before I bail and reinstall everything. I’d put in all of the software I wanted and had just finished using rsync to bring over my home directory when I realized that the numbers looked funny.

Hmm…did I unconsciously skip a step?

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