Monday, December 1, 2008

Fedora 10 - A Switch and First Impressions

Well its been long... a tad too long since my last post. Much has changed, lets just say, the whole OS! Yes I have changed to Fedora now with the shiny new release of Fedora 10 and I would like to say, I am impressed! Last time I used Fedora was FC6(Fedora Core 6), and had shifted to Ubuntu halfway, but F10 has brought me back.

A Little History:
I started using Linux from FC4. Kept using till FC6 and halfway switched to Ubuntu. I believe starting with Fedora was a nice choice because it gave me a lot of experience with Linux systems as Fedora is more technically oriented than Ubuntu, although I would still advise new users to start Ubuntu. I continued using Ubuntu till 8.10 with no problems except one. I continuously had a desire on staying bleeding edge but Ubuntu was more of stability than bleeding edge so with the release of F10 I decided to return.

First Impressions:
Well I have to say that the Fedora team has done a wonderful job with this release. Everything worked out of the box with the exception of wireless and that too was easy to setup. The new boot loading system, Plymouth, seemed to be an awesome startup system as compared to the original RHGB(RedHat Graphical Boot) and Ubuntu USplash. Though not enabled by default, it was also very easy to setup.

The new theme, Solar, was a perfect match of beauty and elegance. I also found the Icon theme, Echo, to be the most beautiful Icon set I have ever used. It was simple and sleek.

Many things seemed updated as compared to Ubuntu, Pulseaudio had a wonderful volume manager with volume meters per stream. XServer was at 1.5.3 which also had many improvements.

Package Mangement also seemed faster through RPM4.6. 'Yum' also was much faster.

Ok enough of that, now I would like to list out some of the tips and howto's for people switching to Fedora to get them started.

1. RPM Fusion: Remember to add RPM Fusion to your repositores to get all packages, go here.

2. Plymouth: I noticed the famous graphical boot I had seen at Youtube was not enabled by default and enabling it was also not very difficult. Just required editing your 'grub.conf' file. Open a terminal and enter the following commands..
gedit /boot/grub/grub.conf
Add "vga=ask" to the 'kernel' line. Reboot your system and choose a resolution you like and note down its 3 digit identifier. Go back to your grub.conf file and change the "vga=ask" to "vga=0xyyy" where 'yyy' is the identifier. In my case it was '318', so it would be "vga=0x318" for me.

3. Facebrowser Pic: One small annoyance was that after adding a profile picture, it wasn't showing up in the login facebrowser. A Simple fix is basically allowing GDM permissions, to access your home folder. Again, open a terminal and...
setfacl -m g:gdm:x ~
To revert to original, do:

setfacl -b ~
4. Root Login: Root Login through GDM is disabled by default and enabling it is known to be a security risk although I feel, sometimes it may be necessary. Open a terminal...
gedit /etc/pam.d/gdm
Change the "auth required user != root quiet " to "auth required user quiet".

Remember to do this temporarily as root login is a security risk!

5. Compiz Fusion & Screenlets: The compiz fusion in the repositories is .7.6 when the latest is .7.9. To get the latest and instructions, go here.

6. DELL 1390 Wireless cards: It is as easy as running a command:
su -c 'yum -y install broadcom-wl'
A Few Helpful Links:
1. MJM Wired getting started guide - A perfect guide to get started and install the basic required software.
2. Fedora Forums - A Hub of all the Information and help ever required by a Fedora User.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Ubuntu Guide

One of the first things a new user in Ubuntu feels uncomfortable about is the overall unfamiliar system and interface, especially if he is coming from a Windows environment. This is not a problem of Linux because "Linux is not Windows" thus nobody should expect the same interface.

One of the early guides that kept me clinging to the Linux desktop environment is the Ubuntu Guide. It is a wonderful resource for a newbie user. It can be reached here:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

System Info via Sysinfo

A very handy tool I always installed in Ubuntu is the Sysinfo tool. Sysinfo is a GUI tool like CPUZ that gives relevant and correct info about your system. Installing it is very easy.

Via GUI:
  • Run Synaptic Package Manager (System > Administration).
  • Search for "Sysinfo".
  • Select and Install.
Via Terminal:
  • sudo aptitude install sysinfo
Either way, it will become available here: Applications > System Tools

July Desktop

Information about the theme, wallpaper, GTK etc is here.

Download Day Certificate.

Well, it seems the guys at Mozilla are offering PDF certificates for participation during download day. I went ahead and got mine. Gonna stack this with the other digital collections I have. Get them here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Intrepid Ibex Alpha 1

Alpha 1 of Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex is out. The first thing I noticed during the upgrade(I did a distro upgrade instead of a fresh install) is that there has been a massive jump in the included packages. Applications such as Compiz Fusion have gone from .74 to .77 and the new kernel version ending with 26. Amid all the new changes was the inclusion of a new dark theme. This was a drastic change from the soft brown colors to a more darker palette. Overall things looked good but one thing made me revert back to Hardy and that being my graphics card not getting detected, forcing me to stay in 800x600 resolution.

I really liked the strides the Ubuntu team is taking and seeing that this is only a Alpha 1 release, the bugs are understandable.

And of course, a screenshot!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FBO, Stencil and the 'Blur Plugin' in Compiz Fusion.

For the past 1 year I have been endlessly trying to get the blur plugin to work in my laptop. I'm among the many people who suffer with this problem. Here's what I have understood till now after considerable amount of research.

I have an Intel GMA 950 card which comes as a default on the i945 chipset. In previous versions of CF i.e. <.7 builds, the plugin never worked due to a bug in the Mesa driver namely in the fragment_environment_variables section. Now in the new build (post .7), a new plugin with the name of 'Workarounds' attempted to provide a fix with the name 'AIGLX fragment program fix'. This helped in many ways by enabling effects like Water, Reflections to work properly on IGMA cards but the 'blur' system still had a problem.

Enabling the plugin caused the Mesa driver to kick compiz in software mode and effects fell to less than 1 FPS. Also, only the 4xBilinear filter(among the Gaussian & Mipmap filters) worked because a lack of FBOs (Frame Buffer Objects). Another small thing I noticed that while running compiz via terminal, is that a message 'Warn: No stencil buffer. Region based blur disabled', shows a faulty implementation of Mesa thus creating the problem in blur. Blur requires the stencil buffer system to work.

Many attempts are underway to port implementations such as 'Fake Blur' and 'BlurFx' into CF from the old Beryl system. Also, users are still sitting patient for the fixes in Mesa to come. Till then, no blur for IGMA users.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

100 posts

Well after some long time spent at Ubuntu Forums, I have finally reached 100 posts. Well it took its time but now I feel very comfortable in the forums and feel its not only a place for geeks but for all kinds of people who want to help a community and at the same time, be a part of it. Long live the Ubuntu Community!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Release of the fox!

Firefox 3 has been released. After a long development time and 3 consecutive release candidates, the Mozilla team has released it today. Calling it the "World download day", they are trying for a maximum downloads for today to get June 17 into the Guinness Book of Records. Get it here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Experiencing Banshee

Just tried Banshee and have to say, what a player! I used to use Amarok but moved to Exaile. Exaile was good but lacked 'that' touch. After trying Banshee yesterday, I feel I have found the player which fills all my needs. Its got everything... a media browser, cover art support, device compatibility, an awesome media browser etc. Seriously, it auto downloaded the cover art for my albums as it was importing my media.

This player combines all of the best features of all media players in a simple, elegant and beautiful package.Well done Banshee Team!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

June 2008 Desktop

Just feel like sharing my current desktop design for June. I have always liked to keep things simple. Following extra themes and icons have been added:

GTK: Nodoka Link
Metacity: Nodoka Metacity Link
Icon Set: gTango Link
Wallpaper: Linux Glass Link

Friday, June 13, 2008

Firefox 3 - Around the corner

Firefox 3 is just around the corner with a release date of June 17. People already have been trying out the Release candidates and RC3 just got released. I personally was very pleased with its all round performance especially in being Acid 2 compliant. Also some of the notable features being "native skins" for respective OSes. It seems the guys at Mozilla have gotten the 'bling bling' in this feature quite nicely laid out.

I also liked the very nice and informative search bar. It provides a feature not yet available in browsers I have used till now.

On a last note, I came across some nice "easter eggs" in FF3. Try these by entering them in the address bar. You will like em'

  • about:mozzila
  • about:config
  • about:robots

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Banshee 1.0 out!

First informative post, well this to mark the release of one of the leading media players in GNOME. Banshee 1.0 is out with a lot of improvements and feature. The developers have really out done themselves. Well done guys! Get the most of it here:

As of course, a screenie from their website:

Welcome to mmaptonull

A strange name but one goal, to provide a view into open source/security or anything interesting. Long story short, welcome to mmaptonull.