We all know Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is the basis for both CentOS and Scientific Linux (SL). The differences are largely cosmetic from the user’s point of view, in which the clones are legally required to change only the artwork and remove the Red Hat logos. There are differences in how each clone project goes about building the product from common sources, but I doubt you’ll find any difference in how they behave. Everything I’ve written about RHEL and SL applies to CentOS. All I’m doing here is summing up the combined notes of how we get from putting in that install DVD to a usable system.
This is what I did installing CentOS 6.2 on a Dell Inspiron 1525.
1. Install options: I chose the minimal graphics driver, because this system has Intel graphics. The Linux kernel used by Red Hat has a bug with some Intel graphics framebuffer hardware (intelfb). It’s easy to work around and fix it later. Most of the other options should be obvious. When in doubt, I typically take the defaults offered.
2. However, I don’t like dual booting two or more OSes, so I chose to “Use all space” for the disk options. When it came up, I chose the standard “Desktop” profile without trying to adjust the package selection.
3. When the installation is finished, it will kick out the DVD and wait for you to press “Reboot.” In the post-install configuration, you should simply pay attention to the options and choose what fits your needs. For example, I chose to use NTP for the system clock, and made sure to un-check the UTC box in the lower left corner.
4. After logging in, I immediately click on the Networking icon on the upper right toolbar and set up the option to connect automatically. Then I open the Terminal under Applications > System Tools, and “su” to root. This is the time to fix the Intel driver issue. I also run:
yum groupinstall "Development tools"
Almost every time I update post-install, I receive a kernel update, so this is where I reboot.
5. Upon logging in again, I add a few select packages. You can do this through the System > Administration > Add/Remove Software application or from the commandline as root:
yum install xterm bitmap-fixed-fonts aspell alacarte gnome-games gnome-games-extra gimp units vim-X11 elinks dos2unix unix2dos
The first two items after “install” go together. In particular, you might want
alacarte, which allows the user to edit the GNOME menu system. GNOME Games comes in two packages. I use GIMP from time to time, and whomever packages Elinks has recently begun tracking the original project itself; good text browser but requires a bit of work getting the options as you might like them. Units is a CLI conversion calculator between various types of measures, with a long list of metric, English, etc., units. Remember to hit CTRL-C when you are done to kill it. The rest you can figure out for yourself if you need them. Also, be aware you’ll need to chase down Aspell’s English language package on your own. I have no idea why it’s not in RHEL’s package repositories, but I built it from SRPM, pulled from Fedora 13′s repositories.
6. This is the time to do the first half of font fixing. After adding my favorite TTFs to my
~/.fonts folder (you’ll likely have to create it), then as root, fix the fonts by changing the settings for the whole system. Finally, I rebuild the Freetype libraries. That means chasing down the SRPM, and both SL and CentOS simply point you to the upstream RHEL ones. However, I’ve changed a few details from my previous tutorial: I use Yum –
yum localinstall nogpgcheck freetype-2.3.11-6.el6.8.i686 freetype-devel-2.3.11-6.el6.8.i686
Logout, hit CTRL-BKSP and restart the X server with the new Freetype libs. Fonts will look much, much better. Now’s the time to adjust the appearance of your desktop and set your preferred default fonts. I’ve always imported the Dirty-Ice GTK2 look in the process. You can probably find a copy using your favorite search engine.
7. Next comes the JDK replacement with Oracle’s latest 1.6 series (1.7 fails with OpenOffice and LibreOffice), because it’s much faster than the bundled OpenJDK package. I also grab the latest
fuse-ntfs-3g from RepoForge. That would be the one for “el6″ in this case.
8. After testing one more time to be sure, I cannot recommend Dag Wieers’ RepoForge because too many of the packages are way out of date, and they still exclude Mikmod, which I use. So if you want full multimedia and other advanced third party goodies, the best remains ATrpms. However, compared to my original tutorial, I typically leave off the Mplayer and extra codecs until I run into something which simply won’t work after adding all the extra goodies for Gstreamer. However, nothing in Linux land compares to using FFmpeg for converting audio and video files.
9. However, for Broadcom wifi, I don’t trust ATrpms to keep up when the kernel gets upgraded. It’s best to simply grab the zipped driver package direct from Broadcom. The instructions bundled in the driver are pretty good, but the point is whenever the kernel is upgraded, you simply rebuild at your convenience and re-install the module. Check the link periodically to see if they have updated to a later version; the latest is from October last year.
10. I prefer the latest versions of Joe’s editor and Lynx web browser. You can chase them down from the latest Fedora SRPMs; they’ve always built fine with RPMbuild. As of this writing, they can be found here. As time goes on, you can go there, jump up the “Parent Directory” links a couple of layers and back down into later releases of Fedora SRPMs. I also do the same with Alpine because I really prefer doing email from the commandline. You can learn how to configure Alpine here.
10. The last two items is adding Bleachbit and whatever browsers you might like. I seldom use Firefox for anything these days, but prefer Chrome and Opera. You can find them if you like them.
11. I also fix Vim. For some strange reason, on CentOS Vim also does not honor my
textwidth setting unless I put that on its own
set line in my
12. The last thing I do is turn off a few services I know I won’t use on my laptop:
You’ll find this in the menu under System > Administration > Services. Make sure the items you don’t need have a red dot to the left of them. Be very careful! You could easily cripple your system by accident by turning off something basic and essential, such as the keyboard driver.
At some point you may be requested to put in some password for GNOME Keyring. It’s just your login password, so don’t panic.
Update: Recent issue with updating ffmpeg from ATrpms. When you try to update via Yum, or via the Update Manager (that bright orange icon in the notification area), you’ll get an error something like this:
Error: Package: libavcodec53-0.10-54.el6.i686 (atrpms)
You could try using --skip-broken to work around the problem
You could try running: rpm -Va --nofiles --nodigest
Here is the simplest and quickest solution; just copy and paste as a single line into any terminal window:
yum update libvpx - --enablerepo=atrpms-testing --disableplugin=*
Yes, this will change one of the core libraries from the upstream provider (RHEL). It shouldn’t break anything, but it could. You be the judge; it’s part of the risk of using any external Yum repo.
For most of that week, Thad poked and prodded Bread OS. There was in the documentation a notice more popular applications would be ported eventually, but the basic set of workstation programs was almost complete. The desktop display was not really that different from old Windows 98, quite plain and simple. There were no toys, just tools most people used for office type work, plus a terminal emulator with many of the same tools you would expect for Unix. In other words, perfect.
He was a little angry with himself for not saving the links from the Electronic Runestones blog, but was glad to find a link to the author. It turned out the title was a play on the her name: Jennifer Runston. The name sounded familiar. He compose an email describing the nature of his project and what he discovered. He was hoping for a few more details so he could write a review. A few minutes after he sent it, the associations for her name finally surfaced in his mind.
Jennifer Runston was the belle of the ball for the older generation, a rare glamorous geek girl. It didn’t matter whom or what she represented at the various technology trade shows, with Jennifer on your PR team you never needed to hire booth babes. Best of all, she could write elegant code herself, so she could chatter with anyone. He never had a chance to make those shows while he was in the Air Force, and when he got out, things had changed. She got married, had a couple of kids and faded into the background. Thad remembered she was a few years older than he, so that meant she had to be over 60 now.
Later that day he got a reply. She thanked him for identifying another clean up task for her retirement. Retirement? She no longer worked for Brandon Breeze — another name he seemed to recall — and had been succeeded by a Peter Jimmerson. She had no comment on Bread OS, but would try to put him in touch with someone on the project. She warned him they had no interest in typical promotions, but were planning to market this in the corporate back channels. She didn’t say, but he assumed this had to do with avoiding public fights with some of the established corporate software companies.
After thinking it over, he decided it would be worth it simply to beg for a chance to keep using it himself. But regardless of their plans to slip in the backdoor of small business and local government agencies, he knew at least one old friend would really want to hear about this — Mantis Akibe.
Mantis was an old buddy from Air Force Basic Training. Thad was already in his mid-twenties, and Manny was just a kid out of high school. He came from a middle class black family, the fifth son who decided not to be a doctor or lawyer. They made fast friends during the training cycle, both having an interest in computers. After tech school, the natural course of things separated them, but they had remained in touch. Mantis completed his first term of service and switched to the Army on his next enlistment. When Thad decided he’d had enough after fifteen years, Mantis had just been promoted to Warrant Officer and was working in information management. He had picked up his degree while in uniform.
Thad knew Mantis was also working with the NSA. He was hardly permitted to discuss things, but had more than once offered Thad what amounted to a warning their communications would always be monitored. Thad was counting on that when he sent off an email describing Bread OS and how it seemed to address their shared frustrations with years of chasing Open Source.
From the Bread Project, Thad received permission to keep the system updated and to read, but not participate in, the email discussion lists. That was more than he had been hoping, so he gladly accepted their requirement he not promote the project in the typical advocacy-fanboy fashion. He did warn them he would be sharing with military technicians, to which they seemed indifferent. Over the next year, Thad became one of a handful of outsiders who actually qualified as a serious power user of Bread OS. He even played with Toast a good bit, and shared notes with his friend, Mantis, who seemed genuinely interested.