Tag Archives: fedora

Fedora 15, initial impressions

I have moved back to Fedora on my primary laptop. And not the stable. I am using the Alpha of Fedora 15. I expect bugs, so I am not going to complain about stability in an Alpha release.

I decided to dump Ubuntu as my primary desktop for a couple of reasons. I think Ubuntu is a more polished desktop, and provides a better user experience over-all, especially for a regular user, and I like its Debian heritage and package system. But I do not like Unity. I am not going to debate it’s pros/cons here it has been done all over the interwebs. I simply don’t like it, and do not think it should be built the way it is. Unity should be built upstream, as an alternative shell to Gnome, not inside Ubuntu’s closed walls, and then customized for Ubuntu later on. Canonical could learn from red-hats previous mistakes and successes in this regard.

I was also very disappointed with the way Ubuntu handled the inclusion of Banshee and with the outcomes from that debacle.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Fedora and I like the community built around it, but I was also skeptical of the Fedora choice to ship Gnome-Shell. So I gave the Alpha a spin.

And I like it. It took a little getting used to, but I moved back to the old gnome-panel interface and I missed the changes now present in gnome-shell. So much that I decided months out from release to stick with Fedora 15 as my primary installation.

I am using this as a desktop, so my comments are really only relevant in that space, but a couple of thoughts.


SE Linux.

Technically SELinux is brilliant. But on a desktop it gets in the way, and the alerts will make no sense to a regular user. After an update I had to set my policy to permissive to simply be able to login again (Not a real complaint, it is Alpha). But until work is done to make the whole thing a lot clearer to non-technical users every howto is still going to start with, “Turn off selinux”. If I build a live respin, I will probably disable selinux on install.


The preferences are sparse, and this is by design, but I think most users, after getting used to the interface, are going to won’t more customization option. For the technically minded people install “dconf-editor”. If you want things a little simpler check out “gnome-tweak-tool“.

But personally, after getting comfortable with the shell, I think it is a better way to work. I like managing my work-flow with dynamic workspaces. A few extra keyboard shortcuts would come in handy.

I also have a usability problem with the notification tray. When there are multiple icons, you hover over the icon, which then moves to display the name of the application. If you need to click on an icon for options it has moved some arbitrary number of pixels away. It is only a little thing, but it annoys me no end. I think rather than shuffling icons, the title could simply be displayed as a pop-op, hint style.

Adding things and customization

Getting things to work with Fedora is just a little bit tricky. 32 bit flash on 64 bit system requires a visit to the wiki. Yum doesn’t process architecture dependencies properly, so whenever an app was only available 32 bit, like Skype, it would take a bit of a forum search to find a solution for installation. And I think that has always hindered Fedora adoption. The learning curve is just a bit steeper than Ubuntu. Sure a visit to a  Fedora FAQ will normally fix you up. but it takes a bit of investigation.

But all that said. I am back on very familiar Fedora soil, and I couldn’t be happier. I will try when writing blog posts to include instructions for Fedora/RHEL/CentOS and Ubuntu/Debian. I work with all of them. But I am a little lazy, so instead there will probably be a mash of howto’s each one on whatever distro the problem I was fixing was based.

Google Chrome theme for Adwaita (gnome-shell)

Update: A much better looking and more official theme is now available in the chrome webstore http://goo.gl/CmRUk

I have been running Fedora 15. It is kinda buggy, (expected it’s alpha,) but I am actually finding gnome-shell growing on me.

Firefox 4 in included, but I still find I prefer Google Chrome, trouble is, it looks out of place on the desktop. I used this site and threw together a quick theme. It’s not perfect, but feel free to download it.

Backup/Restore remote disk images.

There are occasion when backing up data is not enough. You may want a snapshot of your whole system. There are some great tools out there like Clonezilla, which in turn uses partdisk, or Ghost if you don’t mind closed source. But you can do this using tools almost certainly available even in the most minimal of linux installs.
  • The image is easily restorable to the hardware it was created on. If you restore to another computer it will create unexpected issues. Usually fixable by creating a new initrd
  • The partition sizes are fixed and must be restored to a harddrive of equal or larger size.
  • dd creates a byte level copy of your harddrive, empty space is included in the backup. Without gzip a 160GB disk will create a 160GB disk image. With Gzip the image will still be very large.

Backup image to another Linux machine

If you have a Linux workstation with a large enough hard-drive you can simply backup and restore across the network. You will need root access to both boxes. Netcat is also available for Windows and Mac.

1. On the Destination Where you are storing the backup

In this example /dev/sda is the harddrive you want to backup/restore. Make sure you choose the correct harddrive.

 # nc -l 1010 > harddrive.img.gz

2. On the source computer The machine being backed-up

# dd if=/dev/sda | gzip -cf | nc -q 10 xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx 1010

Restore image form another Linux machine

1. On the Targe The machine you are restoring to

  • You will need to boot into a live image, I suggest Ubuntu, from USB or a CD.
  • From the now booted, live operating system:
    # nc -l 1010 | gzip -dcf | dd of=/dev/sda

2. On the Source machine The machine with the image saved

# nc -q 10 xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx 1010 < harddrive.img.gz

Re-installing with yum

I recently had a problem where a yum update broke things because of my umask setting, I needed to reinstall the packages.

Yum doesn’t have a reinstall feature, and I didn’t want to do a remove first, the packages were currently in use. So how to do a reinstall?

Remove the package from the RPM database without actually removing it:
# rpm -e --justdb --nodeps "package name"

The package is still installed but when yum queries the RPM DB it will find it missing and allow you to install it:
# yum install "package name"

Fedora 11 and the Nvidia Drivers

Tried several times to get drivers from nvidia to work on a laptop and all I got was a black screen.

Did a bit more of a look and I discovered that F11 uses the new nouveau drivers as default. Which is great, but there is no support yet for this card in the nouveau project. So I need the nvidia drivers for decent GL. The nouveau drivers conflict with the ones from nvidia.

Once you have the nvidia drivers compiled and installed, either direct from nvidia or the rpmfusion project you need to recreate the initrd boot image.

# mv /boot/initrd-$(uname -r).img /boot/initrd-($uname -r)-nouveau.img
# mkinitrd /boot/initrd-$(uname -r).img $(uname -r)
# reboot

X should now start with the nvidia driver.

RPM rollbacks?

I really should read man pages. I had no idea that rpm could do rollbacks with just a couple of config changes, and that it was supported in yum.

This would have come in really handy last week. I upgraded an out of date file server and the latest samba broke Directory authentication, which was not cool and file shares cold not be authenticated until the problem was solved. CentOS do not keep old packages in their repos. I had to compile a FC6 version of samba to rollback to a working state until I investigated and found a patch.

The bug is dated May, the patch has been out for months, and the fix is still not in official repos.

Anyway back to rollbacks, 2 steps:

  1. In /etc/yum.conf add the line: 
  2. In /etc/rpm/macos (create it if it does not exist), add the line:
    %_repackage_all_erasures 1

Now if the update or install clobbers something, you can roll back packages to their former state just with a simple rpm command.


rpm -Uhv –rollback ‘9:00 am’,
rpm -Uhv –rollback ‘4 hours ago’,
rpm -Uhv –rollback ‘december 25′.

Fedora 10 awesome but with awesomely (too) large fonts

Fedora 10 is out. This won’t be a review, dozens have already popped up across the interweb.

Seriously it is an awesome release, I have been running it since the beta release. Fedora has often been seen by many as a not a lot more than a preview release for redhat and a test bed for bleeding edge. But F10 is a solid and polished OS and a worthy install on any machine.

One bug I have encountered so far was on a VM install, the fonts were massive, fonts set to 6 seemed a little big. Turns out the display detection can’t correctly work out the DPI of my screen. If you have this problem simply create an ~/.Xdefaults, or edit the file if you already have one, and add this line:

Xft.dpi: 100

Restart X and the problem should go away, you may need to restart the font server as well. Then you can turn your fonts up to 11!

Trash support with NFS4

Wow déjà vu. So gnome-vfs is still brain dead. Of course NFS4 is going to be used at some point for home directories and need trash support. Why is the list of supported filesystems still hard-coded in a c file?

Follow the instructions from the previous post, modify them to say nfs4 instead of fuse.

Update: 13/11/2008

Patch file you can apply to the SRPM of gnome-vfs: gnome-vfs-2162-nfs4-trash.patch

Building pam_mount on CentOS 5 (RHEL)

huh? I can’t seem to find pam_mount for CentOS 5. RPMForge seems to have the build logs for it, but yum can’t see the rpm to install and neither can I.

Pretty simple to fix, a bit lazy, but it will only take you 5 minutes.

Grab the rpm sources for libHX and pam_mount from your local Fedora 9 mirror. I got mine from here:


Build the libHX source:

# rpmbuild --rebuild libHX-1.18-1.fc9.src.rpm

Install the libHX rpm and the libHX-devel rpm. Now build pam_mount the same way:

# rpmbuild --rebuild pam_mount-0.41-2.fc9.src.rpm

Use “yum localinstall” to install pam_mount as it probably needs to grab a perl XML module as well.