Monday, December 28, 2009

The Wiki!

The openSUSE wiki is on the way to be renewed.

There was a lot of work done, but the pile that is waiting is much bigger.
The list of articles that have to be checked is huge and that is one of tasks that has to be accomplished before we actually can start with transition.

There is few new tools that we selected to help us sorting information and keep new wiki instance in a good shape and also a new MediaWiki software version 1.15.1 that has a lot more to offer then old 1.5. That means, we will have a lot of fun in next months testing what we can achieve with all new options.

Do we need help?
Sure we do.

We can be found on mail list, or any other communication medium mentioned on a team page . Note that you have to be subscribed in order to post to mail list, so please read instructions first.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

ATI for n-th time

ATI graphics and Linux on some computers is real problem. I tried fglrx driver , but it doesn't compile in openSUSE 11.2 .

The most recent development is that even radeon driver is no more good for Radeon Xpress 200 built in my laptop. Not that it doesn't work at all, but you have to use strange methods to boot the laptop to the GUI. To be honest, not strange to me, I used startx very often long time ago, but I can imagine what would happen if openSUSE was just installed to try it out. It would be removed from the box faster then it was installed. With so many options out there it would take time to see that visitor coming back.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

ATI fglrx driver

I got to go tough installation routine again.
It is Radeon Xpress 200 graphic adapter that is making trouble.

The open source radeon driver is OK for almost anything, specially after removing strange sized "Virtual 3840x1200" when frame rates jumped to values comparable to proprietary fglrx, but the "Almost" is a keyword here.

Despite glxgears giving nice number of the frames per second, Google Earth was like molasses, and fan would start turning in high speed almost from start, YouTube videos refused to take full screen, with Flash actually going on strike.
So, to cover those cases I attempted to install fglrx again.

First attempt was to compile driver, but that didn't work well. The ati installer didn't do the job well.

Using /usr/share/ati/ I removed remnants of "Hard Way" installation and used procedure described in

When all was done, Google Earth was running as it should, YouTube didn't complain to run in full screen mode.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Switching distros

Reading Planet SUSE I found link to article
Switching from Ubuntu to OpenSuse .

How many people annoyed with bugs in distro that they used for a while finally give up and go elsewhere ?

I know that is not many, as it involves some time to learn new one, but I know one that moved in opposite direction and few more that have some sort of plan B that include some other distro as an option.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Smolt got changes that makes it more user friendly, ie. GUI is improved and it's on a way to be enhanced with more very useful features. Carlos, openSUSE member, rewrote the Smolt GUI in Qt, and removed serious usability bug - not reporting user password that allows user to access his report web page on Password was available only trough command line client.

More in his blog .

Monday, April 20, 2009

For those that want bleeding edge without blood

Discussions about KDE are source of endless fun.

Answering a question about openSUSE support for KDE3 to guy claiming that it will end soon, if it is not already stopped, I caught myself thinking that support will last for a quite long period.
KDE4 will be probably at version 4.4 when support for openSUSE 11.1 stops, and right now at version 4.2 it is already in a good shape for Joe the Plumber.

The whole pile of rants on mail list is actually written by people that would like to run bleeding edge system that is stable. Wash me, but don't make me wet.

They complain because openSUSE 11.2 will not have KDE3, and claim time and again that is catastrophe, like support will end when 11.2 is released. Well, the KDE3 support in openSUSE will last till December 2010, just the same as for openSUSE 11.1. It is standard openSUSE practice to support each release for 2 years.

You know, we are serious distro.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

openSUSE wiki as knowledge base: Initial

One of problems with wiki, as knowledge base, is that someone has to hang on it and categorize submissions, old and new, but it is not one man, nor a layman show.

What is wiki

The Mediawiki articles and file submissions are just linear list of titles.
It is up to the people that use wiki to sort their knowledge there.

The tools that Mediawiki provides are search, few listings found in special pages, name spaces, categories, and of course ability to create articles that will link other articles and serve as indexes.

Sorting openSUSE wiki

I tried few times to sort the knowledge on openSUSE wiki and failed, it is just much more work and skills than any single wiki editor can provide. Attempt to create framework for future expansions without defining properties of objects stored in a wiki database was waste of time.
So this time I'll start drafting a plan from prerequisites to define object properties.

I can see few basic objects:
  1. articles (html documents)
  2. uploaded files (images, pdf and some open document formats)
  3. generated reports (special pages)

Let me take images as example. They can be sorted by:
  1. function: Wallpaper, Icon, Splash, Emoticon, ...
  2. application: Evolution Art, Thunderbird Art, Firefox Art, ...
  3. desktop: KDE Art, GNOME Art, Xfce Art, ...
  4. source by creator: openSUSE Art, User Art, Upstream Art, ...
  5. creation tehnique: photography, scan of hand drawing, image creation program
  6. quality: excellent, good, bad
  7. completeness: mockup, draft, sketch, release candidate, final
  8. color format: RGB, CMY, indexed, gray
  9. color depth:32, 24, 16, 8, 2
  10. color name: red, blue, green, ...
  11. size: large, medium, small, ...
and of course in many more ways.

Each of ways to sort image is one of its properties and would require category, so that reader can browse trough categories to the particular image, or better to say description article. When you add other objects and their properties then list is huge.

The other problem is that list of image properties is not complete, there is many more that only professionals in the field know, and just the same is valid for any other wiki object. Without participation of people that are professionals in the field there will be no successful organization of openSUSE wiki as knowledge base.

Monday, April 6, 2009

People of openSUSE

First interview is published.
It was with a bit of squeaking, but for the apprentice editor it was good. I can't be strict to myself, it wouldn't be fair, who's going to defend me. There is still missing 'a' in some places, missed 'an' that should be 'a', but in general it was good.

There are more in preparation, so following weeks wont be boring.

The thin point is preparation that needs more work on organization, but from the first one I learned few things that are useful to have before start, like HTML editor that has ability to show page layout, but it is not smarter then human in front of the screen, ie. doesn't change HTML code to bring it in "compliance". I have to check again Quanta+ and Bluefish, or something else if some kind soul has advice for an apprentice.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

KDE4 and graphics drivers - problems solved

It is not recent news that Nvidia published new drivers for my legacy cards and ever since I'm happy camper spending more and more time in KDE4.

It is really interesting how fast KDE guys developed such monster software suit. It was January 2008 when I installed preview version with single way to start application, using Alt-F2 to start "Run As" window and type in command name. Now is March 2009 and, with current version 4.2.1, I have almost all that I need. I'm long time KDE user and I need many little things that you can't find elsewhere.

The only problem is that transfer of settings between KDE3 and KDE4 is not always easy. In some parts difference is irrelevant, you can just copy files with settings and it works, in other it is better to create new setup from scratch.

Since my $HOME is old, it will take some time and good truck to move all that to KDE4. Young guys that have first touch with Linux trough KDE4 are happy, they will never learn why old geezers have Konsole at the top of most used applications.

People of openSUSE

I said only Portal and then the other day Carlos asked again for volunteer. Now I have People of openSUSE too.

It shouldn't be much work, except for initial setup and permanent search for candidates. Considering involved work, Carlos kept good tempo of one interview a week. On the other hand, weekly one would need few years to interview only people that are recognized as openSUSE members right now.

Hopefully there will be more people interested for this part of community life.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

How much of anonymity is left?

For those that want anonymity is better to turn off computer and do something else.
See information displayed in Google gadget GeoIP on the right side.

That much reveals your IP address, but, beside cookies that everyone knows about, there is actually more information that leaves computer. For instance, HTTP headers that bowser exchange on every contact with any web server. It is not much, but a lot more than people suspect.

Digest answer on question what are the http headers you can see on List of HTTP headers. To see what information comes from server you can use, for instance, DJ Delorie web site HTTP Header Viewer , or to see what your browser is telling to server you can use another HTTP Header Viewer created by Eric Giguere, and finally, if you want to know both at once, try Rex Swain's HTTP Viewer.

You can see all that and much more using program Wireshark. It is serious network analyzer, not only HTTP header viewer. It has it's own training program. Although, if your only need is to see what your computer is talking to Internet reading frequently asked questions should suffice.

It is standard part of Linux, in other words, it is either on installation DVD, or it can be downloaded and installed using distribution specific installation program . For my favorite distribution openSUSE that is Software Management module that can be found in YaST (Yet another Setup Tool) .

There is much more about privacy and anonymity on the web.

Nice texts and tests on privacy and security you can find on Steve Gibson's .

There is also SecurityMetrics portscan that can tell you few more bits.

Friday, February 6, 2009

KDE4 and graphics drivers problems

There is a lot of bugs reported about KDE4, which is natural for system in heavy development. The problem is that many of them are graphic adapter related.

The previous version of KDE was designed few years ago and it used graphic capabilities that were available at that time. That means large part of KDE3 stability on wide variety of hardware platforms can be attributed to well tested hardware drivers.

The desktop, like KDE, GNOME or any other lesser known, is third layer of software, sitting at the top of X server, which is at the top of kernel. The hardware drivers are kernel business, so if they fail all other layers will fail as well. The effects can range from failure to display some element on the screen, that is using missing or buggy feature, to system lockup where only power button can help, with all kinds of weird behavior in between those two.

KDE4 is attempting to use newer features, which has as a consequence that now we can see bugs that are mix of genuine Qt, KDE and X server bugs, and hardware driver bugs that before went unnoticed. That is the worst possible mix for debugging, specially for guys that are not familiar with heavy duty debugging tools and procedures, like me, but there is some help.

People that can use distribution configuration tools, and tell Xorg (X server) what driver to use can use open source driver and eliminate at least that from equation.

I'm using Nvidia legacy graphics, FX 5200 and even older MX 4000.
Consequence is that I have to wait until Nvidia developers find time to fix, or backport fixes, to those drivers, or use the opensource nv driver. The legacy drivers are not top priority at Nvidia, as they want to fix current (recently sold) drivers first.

The other option, nv driver, is halfway help.
It will help to see is it proprietary (commercial) driver at fault, or some other component above in the stack, but you and KDE will miss 3D capabilities of your graphic card.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Smolt caught my interest on the spot, although still in development and with rough edges, it looks promising.

It is project aimed to collect anonymously and completely voluntarily hardware data from computers running Linux. There is many advantages of such collection. It is originally a Fedora project, but they posted open invitation to everyone on . Smolt is now included in openSUSE distribution, and if it is not installed then:

# zypper install smolt
$ sudo zypper install smolt

will do the job.
Note that # is prompt for superuser, and $ is for ordinary user.
OpenSUSE is using > as a normal user prompt.

For now there is usability bug in GUI.
GUI version doesn't give option to give comment how hardware device works, instead user has to go to Smolt web page enter password and edit profile there. but GUI doesn't give that password.

Workaround is to use command line version.

$ smoltSendProfile
$ smoltSendProfile -d

Second one should be more verbose.

Getting tired

After 3 years being very active with openSUSE, my activity went down. Comparing with previous time, activity is almost zero.

After few attempts to sort wiki articles, to make it accessible for new users, I'm tired and not willing for another undertake. It is just too much for a single person even with 8 hours a day just for that. Maybe one day when some of programs that should handle indexing will work better, but manually, no thanks.

I'll take only Portal page and see how it will develop.
That would be reasonable amount of work. A bit of graphic, links with digest, one special article given with larger excerpt as a article of the month, some that look like a portal, as portal of the month.

It would be manually selected articles that is worth reading.