It’s not straightforward to install, but VMWare Player for Linux works very well on RHEL 6 and clones (I’m using Scientific Linux 6). However, XP does not work properly as a client, and you may not get it running at all. I had no trouble with Win2K once I got SP4 and the final rollup installed. Without those, you can’t install the VMWare drivers to make Windows run right. With the drivers installed, it’s fully integrated with the host system desktop and allows me to run a lot of software that WINE cannot handle. For security reasons, I don’t allow the VM to connect to the Internet, but it’s easy to share folders between the host and VM once you set it up. Now, under Windows 7, VMWare took quite a bit of power and was pretty slow. Under SL6, it takes some power to load, but then runs about as quietly as if I were running Win2K itself. I haven’t tried the built-in KVM because kernel level stuff is simply not necessary for this and way too complicated. The other desktop VMs seem more difficult in the descriptions so I went with what I knew.
Capitalism is bad. It’s a cruel and heartless economic system. Socialism and Communism are also very bad, and Fascism is worst of all. All of them are very bad because all of them are inherently materialistic. Each of them treats material goods and creature comfort as god. Humans become no more than a resource, rather than the whole point of things. God said we are designed to live under a tribal government with a family economic system. The modern secular state is one of Satan’s major accomplishments on earth.
In this real world, the American political system and culture are so horrifically evil from the very start, no economic system will work. Places like Europe are socially more boring, but the politics avoid the extremes of what people can tolerate, for the most part. Their governments and economic policies have a human face, where ours is all fangs and hatred. But socialism works out tolerably well there, compared to the idiocy of our welfare-warfare state system. Honestly, if I had the means, I’d rather live in Europe somewhere, but not the UK. I’m sure that leaks out in my writings.
My current fiction series will end with chapter 11. I already have a part 2 ready and I’m working on part 3. Same characters, similar geography, etc., but the core mission becomes steadily more obvious. I’ll keep posting it here, so if this fiction bores you, you’ll probably lose interest in this blog. Right now, this is something really important to me.
The mission comes first in all things.
I still use Linux. There is only one real reason anyone would choose Linux over Windows: control. MS will never yield the level of control we users would like. The nifty little secrets are out there on the Net, but it often requires arcane knowledge to work through some of the truly Orwellian obfuscations for items many Linux users do routinely. The reason is simple: MS makes money by delivering you, the user, to their business partners. They retain this power to make money because they allow some governments complete and open access through back doors to the system. That criminals also find and use those back doors is simply the cost of doing business. Unfortunately, the cost is usually born by you, the user.
The only reason to keep using Windows is the wealth of tools for which Linux and Open Source do not offer a replacement. So you like LibreOffice? Fine, but they do not have a valid grammar checker and the interface will always have serious glitches not present in any other office suite. That’s because people who really love Open Source will tolerate those glitches and the developers ignore everyone else. Sometimes it’s just a careless UI design and layout. You have to run through an extra three or four actions to get the same results as you would with, say MS Office (any version).
So here’s the deal: Which new features added to MS Office since Office 97 do you use? I don’t use any of them, either. Some of the defaults have actually gotten annoying. Did you know you can run some of those older versions on Linux using Wine? That’s a sort of emulator, allowing you to get a sometimes workable replication of Windows for some software. At various times using different versions of Wine, I’ve run Office 97, 2000 and 2003. I’m willing to bet one of those will serve most of your needs. Later versions do sometimes work, as well, but really grab a lot of system resources in the process. You can get copies of the older versions cheap or free, if you know who to ask.
So the real issue comes down to which system offers the least painful options. I’ve been playing with Linux Mint because they offer releases with long term support. It’s a step in the right direction, in part because they understand the real need for keeping the older style UIs. So you can use MATE, which is the current version of GNOME 2, so to speak. Or you can use Cinnamon, which is GNOME 3 made somewhat sane. I prefer the former. At any rate, I’ve got Word 2000 working on it and that’s good enough for my grammar checking needs.
However, I still can’t recommend Mint to Windows users unless you have the time to do some serious homework. It still is too much like Ubuntu where far too many defaults are not aimed at the most common user needs. Too often those defaults are really hard to change. Mint folks aren’t nearly so forthcoming on offering simple fixes as I have seen with Ubuntu. There are some Mint users posting their fixes on blogs and such, but too often they are aimed at elitist ends. That is, it’s one elitist Linux user helping another elitist, while nobody bothers to help those of us with more common user needs. Far too many things which should rightly be almost automated are made intentionally obscure and difficult. You have to manually update FlashPlayer, for example. That’s not simple and I’ve yet to find simple directions for it; I can do it the hard way, but I don’t recommend it.
Unless you really need the latest and greatest, I still recommend Scientific Linux/CentOS 6 for most users as the shortest and least painful path to migration. I’ve already written that up (see the links on this page regarding RHEL). You can get Wine and it will run at least one version of MS Office. There is a provision for most of the arcane hardware drivers somewhere in the system which supports the users of RHEL and clones. There is often a way to get some of the latest and greatest when you really must have it. Best of all, it is exceptionally secure, more so than most types of Linux, because the security stuff is turned on by default and quite sane. I will probably keep it on my laptop.
Feel free to ask my advice.
If you imagine your divine calling requires having control over the activities and behavior of others, you are lying to yourself and listening to Satan.
I run Scientific Linux 6 on my computer, and I am an advocate for Open Source software in general. However, there is a moral horror which seems ineradicable among the fanboys of Open Source software: They are determined to reprogram users just as they do computers. This is the single greatest evil, and they are spitefully arrogant about this demand. If there is anything keeping the masses of computer users from adopting Open Source, this is it. If there is anything which makes Open Source commercially viable, it’s business people who understand and tame this awful beast. Scientific Linux is a clone of the very successful Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It is as close as anyone comes to making something competitive with the monopoly OS, but is more for business use, and not consumer home use. Ubuntu used to come close to the consumer market, but has been hijacked by wild-eyed fanboys and their touch-input obsession, so there is really no consumer Linux that gets any kind of press except Android. If you run a simple workstation, you’ll have to learn quite a bit to duplicate what you already have with Windows.
That Microsoft is now doing utterly foolish things is another story. The point is there are billions of desktop systems still in use, and almost nobody is reaching out the owners, especially from the Open Source community. Real people, the masses, don’t take well to reprogramming; you have to meet them where they are.
But it’s just as bad with religion.
I’ve worked the mainstream church angle professionally. I’ve analyzed it professionally, and it’s broken. Very badly broken. As I’ve often noted, it’s completely out of touch with its roots in the First Century churches. Their claims of fidelity are manifestly false, but like the Open Source fanboys, blind to anything which doesn’t make them happy and excited. Fanboys don’t actually use computers the way ordinary computer owners do, and have no valid concept for their use patterns. So it is with virtually everyone really involved in religion. The serious fanboys and fangirls of religion aren’t getting people connected with God. There are a thousand reasons why this is so, but the one thing I point out here is that old issue of remaking believers from the outside. Lots of good talk about giving the Holy Spirit control, but only when He operates in narrowly defined parameters.
If you call my computer ministry number, I’ll do what I can to assess your needs within the limits of your wishes. I’ll try to help you grapple with what is actually possible and choose whatever options make you happy. I won’t tell you where to find your porn sites, but I’ll tell you how to avoid having your system hijacked when you visit the ones you find. What you end up doing with your system is your business. I don’t pretend to know what an average computer user does or ought to be doing; just tell me what you want to do and we’ll work on it. When enough people tell me what they want to do, I get a feel for general needs and can prepare those things in advance. At the same time, I am sure I don’t know it all, but I have a good idea how to research the things you ask when I don’t already know.
If you call me for religious guidance, you’ll get the same deal. I know what most people need, but I won’t pretend to tell you what you need. I’ll tell you what I know about and you can work out your own salvation. If you want to work with me on a regular basis, I’ll tell you what I can and cannot do. Overlap as much as makes you feel comfortable with God, and the rest is really between you and Him. This is how I stay out of court, out of jail for most of the things we read about crazy pastors in the news, and how I avoid a lot of other embarrassing heartaches. I don’t have satellites to launch so you don’t need to watch your purse. I’ll never be famous, thank God. I have no intention of remaking you to suit my tastes, or cloning myself in you. For all of this, I have a burning sense of divine approval.
What I will be is faithful to the calling, and realistic about what you and I can share.
Because of my pastoral heart, I want to save others the sorrow of having to repeat my labors needlessly.
In this case, we are running Scientific Linux 6 on a recent Dell desktop with an Intel graphics chipset, and no fancy video outputs. For a monitor, I got my hands on a JVC LT-2EM21 LED TV. If you’ve never messed with
xorg.conf you’ll have no idea what this is all about. Please watch out for the line wrapping forced by how this blog displays.
Issue number one: Monitor Specs This 22-inch JVC does not offer a realistic EDID via the VGA cable, and the specs offered online are insufficient for the task.
This means guessing and testing. In this case, standard values are available from the Myth TV folks. You have to understand about what section of the database most closely matches your chosen display device. I chose mine from the “ATSC Standard Modes” section of the list. I chose the line which matched the basic specs of 1080p:
ModeLine "ATSC-1080-60p" 148.5 1920 1960 2016 2200 1080 1082 1088 1125
This was tested using
xrandr on the commandline. Open a terminal emulator and start hacking. Read up a bit on how to use
xrandr; this one from ArchLinux is good. The proper invocation for my case was these three lines:
xrandr --newmode "ATSC-1080-60p" 148.5 1920 1960 2016 2200 1080 1082 1088 1125
xrandr --addmode VGA1 "ATSC-1080-60p"
xrandr --output VGA1 --mode "ATSC-1080-60p" && sleep 10 && xrandr --output VGA1 --mode 1024x768
That complicated last line told
xrandr to test my new mode for ten seconds, and if it didn’t work, fall back to what the RHEL insisted was correct and worked, albeit poorly. What I got was close, but shifted a bit off screen to the right.
The next step is extracted from here: Modeline Calculator. Excellent, detailed and way too long for most folks to read. The point is to understand what Modelines mean, and how to make minute adjustments when something you try gets close. I kept getting closer by shifting the display to the left bit by bit. That meant, according to the calculator page, I needed to add increments of 8 each to the numbers 1960 and 2016 in that line. I kept track of this in an open text editor application. I renamed each mode by adding a digit to the end of the identifier ATSC-1080-60p1, ATSC-1080-60p2, ATSC-1080-60p3, etc. That way
xrandr knew it was different. Then I went through the grind of the three commands in sequence, changing the information in each as needed. Once I liked what I saw, I went back and compared with the lines offered in the database paged linked above, and found this:
ModeLine "1920x1080" 148.35 1920 2008 2052 2200 1080 1084 1089 1125 +HSync +VSync
It was under the “HDTV EDID ModePool” which was pretty important, because it revealed the actual “HorizSync” rate used: 67.4318 kHz. I tested it and it worked as good as it gets. You see, JVC doesn’t see fit to offer in their documentation a genuine range for HorizSyng and VertRefresh. Without them, it’s pretty hard to make RHEL behave properly.
Issue number two: Using the info RHEL and friends make it exceptionally difficult to bypass X.org’s defaults if the EDID is bogus. Mine is bogus, and JVC won’t help. So I saw on the database page that this particular line offers a distinct value for the HorizSync, which gave me a clue how to construct my
xorg.conf. You see, you can’t tell RHEL not to use the EDID with Intel chips. It ignores everything you try. So you have to construct enough of an
xorg.conf to force the issue. If you provide the values there, X.org won’t look for them elsewhere. Here’s what I consider a minimum:
Section "Device" Identifier "IntelCard0" Driver "intel" EndSection Section "Monitor" Identifier "JVC LT-22EM21 LED TV" Vendorname "JVC" Modelname "JVC LT-22EM21 LED TV Panel 1920x1080" Option "IgnoreEDID" HorizSync 30.0 - 75.0 VertRefresh 60.0 - 75.0 ModeLine "ATSC-1080-60p" 148.35 1920 2008 2052 2200 1080 1084 1089 1125 +HSync +VSync Option "PreferredMode" "ATSC-1080-60p" EndSection Section "Screen" Identifier "Screen0" Device "IntelCard0" Monitor "JVC LT-22EM21 LED TV" DefaultDepth 24 SubSection "Display" Viewport 0 0 Depth 24 Modes "1920×1080" EndSubSection EndSection
Without a range on the “HorizSync” wide enough to accommodate the actual sync used in the display, X.org would refuse to accept the Modeline. The ranges for both that and “VertRefresh” simply have to cover what the display actually does. I have no idea how to extract the sync rate itself, but the database offered a value I could use.
On CentOS 6, the GNOME Dictionary is broken.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who has noticed this. Unfortunately, I’ve not seen where anyone posted a proper fix. It worked fine in both RHEL 6 and SL 6 on this same machine.
On the other hand, I never did like it that well. The good news is the best fix is to ignore GNOME Dictionary and replace it. That replacement would be Artha. You can get the SRPM here. Just scan down for it in alphabetical order, or use the “Find” function in your browser.
When building the RPM, you’ll need to add a couple of tools not likely already installed on your system, but they are all available from the standard Yum repositories for CentOS.
Once built, on the initial start, you’ll be informed of the default keyboard shortcut. Then it will simply load and run in your notification area. Double-click any word in any application, hit the shortcut (defaults to CTRL-ALT-W) and the dictionary window opens with the appropriate information. It takes very little of your computer resources, so I recommend leaving it running.
This is a great tool, and is what GNOME Dictionary should have been.
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.
That is, if I can get this inherited machine working.
Traded for a Dell Latitude D620. A decent system, but the power jack appears to be disconnected inside. Works okay if the battery is charged up, but none of my Dell bricks are recognized, so the thing won’t charge itself.
I’ve only found instructions on the Net for fixing generic power jacks, but I believe Dell has some added wires. I also some limited instructions for dismantling this particular laptop. What I need is some fairly detailed guidance fixing this particular problem, or at least how to diagnose it better. There’s no way I can afford to send it to a shop, and I’m not real handy on taking laptops apart. About the only other option would be find a docking station cheaply.
Anyone out there willing and able to help me with this?
Update: I got someone competent to agree to look at it for free.
Update 2: Aborted. The Latitude will be unavailable. Making a substitution.
I couldn’t find a current build for any of the RHEL 6 clones of Chromium, so I did it myself.
Get your SRPMs here. Take one of each SRPM listed there. Aside from the basic development libraries, and whatever extra dependencies pop up during the RPMbuild process, you should probably start with:
yum install subversion pkgconfig python perl gcc-c++ bison flex gperf nss-devel nspr-devel gtk2-devel glib2-devel freetype-devel atk-devel pango-devel cairo-devel fontconfig-devel GConf2-devel dbus-devel alsa-lib-devel libX11-devel expat-devel bzip2-devel dbus-glib-devel elfutils-libelf-devel libjpeg-devel mesa-libGLU-devel libXScrnSaver-devel gnome-keyring-devel cups-devel libXtst-devel libXt-devel pam-devel
That’s according to this page. Finally, you’ll need the latest
libvpx-devel from ATrpms — make sure you select the ones for your architecture (i686 vs. x86_64). The slightly older version available from SL repositories won’t work, leaving you an unfix-able error on building one of the SRPMs.
I’m not sure what the canonical build order is, but I went in this order and it worked fine:
Naturally, you’ll need both the base and “devel” package from each build except the last, the browser itself. I note this build (12.0.742.91) does not offer the silly nonsense about trying to execute “text relocations” which aren’t allowed under SELinux. However, not a bit of your Chrome configurations will be picked up, and Chromium completely failed to import any bookmarks from anywhere. I had to manually move them and reinstall all the extensions I use (Flashblock, Adblock Plus, and Ghostery).
You can probably ignore this whiny-gram unless you need a chuckle.
I run Scientific Linux 6, a clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It includes by default a very nice system security package called SELinux. It was designed with the help of alphabet soup federal agencies to enhance the security of Linux systems, probably one of the only honest things we ever got from the government. It’s primary objective is to prevent execution of binaries and scripts which could cause harm to the operating system. It used to be a messy tangle, always getting in the way. When RHEL 6 Beta came out, it had been vastly improved. I no longer recommend turning it off, because it seems to serve the intended purpose without getting in the way.
The problem is people who develop software for Linux tend to ignore it. From one release to the next, I’m never sure when Google Chrome, for example, will fail to work against SELinux. Last night was an update, and once again, it fails completely.
I won’t bother pasting the errors here. Alright, here it is:
/opt/google/chrome/google-chrome: /lib/libz.so.1: no version information available (required by /opt/google/chrome/google-chrome)
/opt/google/chrome/chrome: error while loading shared libraries: cannot restore segment prot after reloc: Permission denied
I’ve done some extensive searching, and even the developers at Google seem pretty confused about it. It doesn’t help they insist on building everything on Ubuntu, and can’t be bothered to use a free Red Hat clone for the RPM packages. So the executables keep asking for some response peculiar to Debian-based system calls. Most of the time, it doesn’t prevent Chrome from running, but it does too often. This time, though, it seems to be an error bouncing off SELinux. All the advice I could find was “disable SELinux” or to grant Chrome some unreasonable level of permissive freedom with any normal restrictions.
This is insane. I’ve already shown in previous posts Google developers will lie about how Chrome works. If it’s not lying, it’s an abysmal lack of knowledge. They aren’t worthy of any such high level of trust. Further, the one greatest attack vector on the Net seems to be browser vulnerabilities, and they think I should turn off the one best layer of security I can have against browser exploits? For all the advantages there may be from using Chrome, it’s not worth the trouble any more. I used to think GNOME and KDE developers were arrogant, but I’ve not seen anything like the hostility to user accountability one sees coming from Google and Webkit developers.
Right now, only the console-based browsers and Opera work well enough to bother.
Update: I think I understand now why Chrome fights with SELinux: It wants permission to do something no browser should. This is the debut of the so-called Native Client technology, in which applications can run from the browser directly on the hardware, with all the same privileges and power of native applications built for the OS. After all the horrific threats we’ve seen over the years from Web attacks taking advantage of unrecognized security holes in browsers, attacking the OS itself, now Google wants to implement it on purpose. The arrogance and ignorance is stunning.
The only hope is learning how to turn off this feature when you build the Open Source version of Chrome called Chromium.
Addenda: I didn’t find out how to turn off the Native Client business, but I did learn how to build Chromium from SRPMs and it does work better.
I’ve come to really love Scientific Linux, and their version of RHEL 6 is really good for desktop use. This may well be the last great desktop Linux, since we have lost GNOME and KDE both to the eye-candy fanboys who love change for the mere sake of change. Nothing appears set to replace the business-like mainstream desktops we had with GNOME 2 and KDE 3. I note the Trinity Project is keeping KDE 3 alive for Debian-based distros, but the only GNOME 2 forks I know about are either too weak or died aborning. That the upstream RHEL 6 will be viable for quite some time is about the only reason I still use Linux. I will cannot tolerate rolling release nor mandatory punctuated release. I prefer the business-oriented long term support of five years minimum so I can get work done. I don’t use Linux as a hobby or a mere toy. Red Hat and clones are Linux for grownups.
But there are still a few things where SL comes up short of my personal needs. It requires a little research and willingness to get your hands dirty hacking a bit to get everything you might need. Aside from my series of articles still getting heavy traffic here on this blog, I wanted to address some of these more obscure concerns.
When you fetch from outside your repos, or build an RPM yourself, it works best if you keep Yum in the loop. Instead of RPM from the command line, use variations of:
yum localinstall –nogpgcheck some.rpm
SL does not include support for mounting NTFS. If your machine has multiple drives or partitions, or you use recent external hard drives, you’ll need to get that support working. For now the simplest measure is grabbing the package from RepoForge. What you’re looking for is the latest version of their
fuse-ntfs-3g for your architecture (i686 or x86_64). It should install without any issues:
yum localinstall –nogpgcheck fuse-ntfs-3g-2010.10.2-1.el6.rf.i686.rpm
The reason I don’t include RepoForge as a regular Yum repository is they dropped
libmikmod, among other things I consider a mistake. I need it for things like getting PySol to play background music. For this reason, I prefer ATrpms. You can install their Yum repository directly from the SL repository for Yum packages. I tend to avoid ELRepo because they have an admitted lack of interest in keeping upstream compatibility, and seem almost hostile to the notion of working with any other repositories to minimize conflicts. If you use ELRepo, you really cannot use any other repo. You may be able to pull specific packages and make them work, but most of my use for them is their source RPMs.
Be aware, though, you can often get later versions of most things by scouring the Fedora Core repositories. While RHEL 6 and clones were built mostly from a combination of FC12 and FC13, you can often get SRPMs from later releases to build without hacking the SPEC files too much.
I really do like the way ATrpms includes support for Nvidia drivers. Just run:
yum install nvidia-graphics
It saves a lot of time and hassle compiling the driver yourself, but the RPMs will not fix your Grub menu. You have to manually change the kernel line in your
/boot/grub/grub.conf by adding these two items at the end:
I noticed Elinks was added to the SL repository, and it’s apparently better than the one I used to build myself. I use it quite a bit, along with Lynx.
I always build the latest Lynx browser from a source RPM. Then I change some of the default colors in the
/etc/lynx.lss because magenta is hard to read in great quantity. So I change the
li to yellow. But since the current active link is also yellow on black, I change the background to red, thus yellow on red is cursor. I also put another line in my
.bashrc to prevent strange formatting some pages, which see Lynx centering whole sections:
alias lynx=”lynx -center”
This is a toggle to turn off centering.
I don’t know why Xterm is not included, but I can’t stand using GNOME-Terminal. You’ll need the bitmapped fonts to make it work properly:
yum install xterm bitmap-fixed-fonts
I usually create a launcher on my upper panel (“toolbar”) using this incantation:
xterm -fn 9×15 -bg black -fg lightgray -cr skyblue -sl 2000
That parses out to a 9×15 font for anything larger than a tiny 800×640 display resolution, black background, lightgray default text, a sky blue cursor, and up to 2000 lines of display I can scroll back. I also don’t like plain Bash prompts, so I set this line in my
export PS1=”\[33[0;36m\]\u@\h\[33[0m\]\w\[33[1;33m\]>\[33[0m\] “
This gives me my username at the abbreviated machine name, and the current working directory path, with all that in aqua text with a bright yellow right angle bracket (>). For root, I change the text color to red:
export PS1=”\[33[0;31m\]\u@\h\[33[0m\]\w\[33[1;33m\]>\[33[0m\] “
More variations can be found in the Bash Prompt HOWTO.
The standard GNOME games are not included by default. Worse, they are split into two groups. You’ll need to install
If you want the official Flashplayer, you’ll have to get it direct from Adobe. You’ll get an RPM labeled
adobe-release. Make sure you select from the dropdown the YUM version. Install as noted above. This adds Adobe as a repo, and allows updates.
Red Hat has moved away from Aspell and Ispell, in favor of Hunspell. But if you install Opera, for example, you’ll need Aspell. You can have all three spell checkers if you like.
If you want to edit the GNOME menus, you’ll have to install
alacarte. It won’t show up in the context menu if you right click on the menu buttons, but it will show up as an item in your System Preferences as “Main Menu”.
For multimedia support, there are two basic routes, and I use both. At a minimum, you’ll need the following:
yum install libdvdcss2 libdvdnav libdvdread lsdvd
The first path is bolstering the bundled Totem player. If you select the following packages, it should pull in all the dependencies necessary to make it play almost anything:
yum install ffmpeg gstreamer-ffmpeg gstreamer-plugins-bad-free-extras gstreamer-plugins-ugly
The second path is using MPlayer and friends:
yum install mplayer
Then you’ll need to get the latest set of codecs from MPlayer HQ. Look for the “all” package with the latest date; the format it YYYYMMDD. For 64-bit, just grab the “essential-amd64″ package because it’s all you should need. Unzip and untar, them move the entire collection into
I could go on at length, but I’m sure any serious user is likely to find their own customizations. What are yours?