Mandriva Linux 2009.0 is Available

The Mandriva Linux 2009.0 release is available today. If one has not tried Mandriva Linux lately then now would be a good time. In this author’s opinion Mandriva’s distribution of Linux is at least as good as, if not better than, any other desktop Linux distribution.

The torrent files have been up on Mandriva’s torrent site for a few hours now. If one prefers direct FTP or HTTP downloads, rather than assisting on a distributed network with torrents, then go to Download the latest Mandriva Linux release and choose a country from the drop down list to find a mirror. Be aware that only torrents will be available for a while. So, one will have to wait for the direct download ISO files to be available.

Edit Fri Oct 10 13:52:24 UTC 2008: The drop down list at “Download the latest Mandriva Linux release” now has some mirror sites with direct download access to the ISO files.

One should get an install of Mandriva’s Linux distribution, take it for a test drive, kick the tires. If one needs assistance with installation or on where to find things in Mandriva’s Linux distribution the #mandriva channel on the IRC network irc://chat.freenode.net is a good place to start. Or go to the Mandriva Community page and join the forums there.

Linux Myth: Installing RPM Updates is a Pain

Once again we are back to pop the balloon of another Linux myth. This one is that Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) is not good to use. For newbies to Linux, packages are software. In other words, the programs one uses like Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird and OpenOffice.org office suite placed in a package for one’s chosen Linux distribution. I have seen several folks mention on various online forums, USENET and web logs that RPM “sucks” or is a pain to use. If one searches the web one can find references to “rpm dependency hell“. In the early days of RPM there were problems with resolving dependencies between packages. This is not necessarily true these days, depending on the GNU/Linux distribution one chooses. But as everyone knows, people get a bad impression and tend to go with that impression from then on. This is what happened with RPM.

My SOHO business uses Mandriva Linux 2008.1, Mandriva is about to have its’ 2009.0 release available, and FreeBSD for our desktops and file/data server respectively. Mandriva is a RPM based distribution. This means the software installation and removal is handled by various RPM tools. Mandriva has created excellent package repositories and front-end tools to handle RPM package installation and removal. These tools are the ‘urpm*’ tools run from a command line interface (CLI) and ‘rpmdrake’ run from a graphical user interface (GUI). In the Mandriva menus ‘rpmdrake’ is called “Install & Remove Software”. That should be user-friendly enough for any honest critic.

One of the main complaints I see goes something like, “I want insert-software version 6.2.982-b-3.543 but my distribution only has insert-software version 6.2.982-s-3.542 available.” Then this person goes into a rant on how they found what they want on some alien RPM distribution of Linux, then tried to install it and it would not install. Or did get it installed by some convoluted means and now the system is FUBAR.

Well, duh. One should stick to using software packages designed for one’s own distribution and release or use a third-party repository that caters to one’s distribution. If back-ports are available then one can use them to get new versions of software. If one truly needs that new version of insert-software and it is not available for one’s distribution in any of these places then one should ask a third party repository, like Penguin Liberation Front (PLF) or Seer of Souls (SoS) for Mandriva, to offer it. The other option is to learn how to package new versions of software for one’s preferred distribution. But, honestly, that is not a typical user activity most people want to learn.

In this myth destroying episode I have created a video of my personal / SOHO business desktop while installing updates with ‘rpmdrake’. I have back-ports and PLF enabled. I have not used SoS lately but would if I needed a new software package they offer. In my opinion the update could not have been smoother with any other package manager. Watch the video and draw your own conclusion. As always your comments are welcome.

OGG Video – Myth, Installing RPM Updates is a Pain
1280×1024 resolution, 110,936,915 bytes, 00:25:28 in length.
Download this video and use a video player capable of OGG Theora format to view it. Microsoft users can get one called KMPlayer also available from www.soft82.com.

Edit Sat Apr 17 10:02:05 CDT 2010: One can view OGV files with VLC Media Player from VideoLAN. The player is available for Linux, Apple and Microsoft operating systems. Mandriva users: instructions for installing VLC are on the VLC media player for Mandriva Linux x86 page. If you got your Mandriva system from us at ERACC then you already have the sources needed and just need to run the ‘urpmi’ command shown or use “Install & Remove Software”.

MP4 Video – Myth, Installing RPM Updates is a Pain
800×600 resolution, 38,925,611 bytes, 00:25:28 in length.
Download this video and use a video player capable of MP4 format to view it.

I chose MP4 over FLV for the alternative 800×600 conversion this time. I hoped the quality would be better converting to MP4, but it is not. I apologize for the poor quality of the MP4. One is likely to have best results by saving these videos locally and running them on one’s local system rather than trying to stream them.

Linux Myth: Installing “Third Party” Software is “Hard”

Not if the “third party” software is designed to install on Linux easily.

For this rebuttal we will forget the fact that almost all software in a Linux distribution is “third party”. I believe what those who claim to detest Linux really mean by “third party” are non-free applications from closed source developers and some few FOSS projects not included with major Linux distributions. Surely they do not mean installing on Mandriva some helper application designed on and for Ubuntu. Or certainly they do not mean installing applications that would typically be done by a company’s technical support personnel, like maybe LedgerSMB for business accounting. That would be silly.

Assuredly the Loathers of Linux do not intend to suggest software designed for the Microsoft platforms here. I for one am a firm believer that if you, the user, must have a software application designed for Microsoft platforms that is not also available natively on Linux then stick with Microsoft for that application. Do not try to shoe-horn “Windows” applications onto Linux using WINE unless you really do have a desire to learn, time and patience. Also, be willing to admit it just will not work in some cases. If one truly wants to use Linux and wants an application designed on and for Microsoft platforms then use both operating systems, maybe with a virtual machine for running a Microsoft operating system on your Linux system. Then contact those proprietary software developers letting them know you are looking for a Linux version of their application.

Edit Thu Aug 14 18:21:26 UTC 2008: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has an article about using Crossover Office to run Windows applications. Crossover Office is not free but for those who want Linux and want to run some Windows applications it is less expensive than the average, off the shelf Microsoft license. This will offer a better experience for the non-technical user if he wants to attempt to run Windows applications under WINE instead of using a virtual machine or multi-booting. Windows apps on Linux the CrossOver way.

The problem with “third party” software is not Linux, it is the offerings from some software developers that do not take into account the fact there are non-technical users that want to install their stuff on Linux. The vast majority of non-geeks will freeze up and balk at the idea of downloading a *.tar.gz, uncompressing it, making sure all the development libraries are in place, then running ./configure + make + make install. After that having to perhaps figure out how to place the resulting application in a menu can be overwhelming to a new user. Happily, the vast majority of Linux software on major Linux distributions is just a point and click away for installation.

I am aware that one is unlikely to get the source for proprietary software to build in this manner. However, there are FOSS projects that are not included in major Linux distributions and do not offer an easy way to install their software for the non-technical user. Is this a problem with Linux? No. Is this a problem with these particular projects? Yes. This is where developers that Do It Right should be an example to emulate for the Linux developer community. Many of these Do It Right developers are working within the various Linux distributions, like Mandriva and Ubuntu, to make installing software painless. But “third party” proprietary developers are less likely to be working this way. Even in those cases, some “get it”.

One “third party” proprietary developer that Does It Right is Adobe. I do not believe anyone can claim that Adobe is primarily a FOSS developer, thus Adobe is most definitely “third party”. This video shows how one can easily install the “third party” application Adobe Reader on Mandriva Linux. Again, I am using the fluxbox window manager which does not auto-magically update its’ menus like KDE and Gnome can. Again, I use a command to update the menus which is non-typical for most KDE and Gnome users. Since I have the “kdebase-common” packages installed on Mandriva an entry is already included for adding Adobe’s Reader to the menus if one runs a command to update the menus. Watch the video and see how “hard” this is:

OGG Video – Myth, Third Party Software is Hard to Install
1280×1024 resolution, 22,495,989 bytes, 00:04:28 in length.
Download this and use a video player capable of OGG Theora format to view this.

Flash Video – Myth, Third Party Software is Hard to Install
800×600 resolution, 9,992,556 bytes, 00:04:28 in length.
Download this and use a video player capable of Flash format to view this.

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Linux Myth: Installing Software on Linux is Hard

As many a Linux user that follows posts on USENET and other online forums can attest there are Linux Haters out there. Typically these Linux Haters are folk that, for some reason or another, decide “I Hate Linux and You Should Too!”. Most of the time they advocate for Microsoft and its’ products, but not always. In any case, these folk tend to promulgate specific myths about Linux. One of these myths is that software is hard to install on Linux.

While installing software on Linux might have been challenging in the early days of Linux this is no longer true. To refute this myth and others I intend to create videos of my desktop while doing these operations purported to be “hard”. Today, my video is about the difficulty of installing software on Linux. I use Mandriva 2008.1 as of now and am using its’ software manager with online software repositories to install AbiWord, a word processor. Since I use the fluxbox window manager that does not run a bunch of cruft in the background to keep menus updated and such I update the menus by running a command line command to do so after the install. If I logged out and logged back in the menus would be updated for me. Supposedly if I ran KDE or Gnome as a desktop I understand the menus would auto-magically update for me (corrections welcomed).

Watch the video and decide for yourself how “hard” it is to install software on Linux. This video is at 1280×1024 resolution, 15,765,584 bytes, 3 minutes and 42 seconds (00:03:42) in OGG Theora Video format. If you do not have an OGG Theora Video player on your favorite operating system then shame on you. Go get one.

Video: OGG Video – Myth, Software Hard to Install (Note: this works best to download the file to your hard drive and then open it with a video player that supports OGG Theora Video format.)

Edit Sun Aug 10 00:54:08 UTC 2008: I decided to have mercy on those with lower bandwidth and created a “Flash” version of this video that is smaller (640×480 resolution, 6,020,416 bytes): Flash Video – Myth, Software Hard to Install (Again, download this and open with a video player.)

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More About Mandriva Linux Upgrades

The previous article here was about upgrading Mandriva Linux on a Compaq Armada M700 laptop used for business. Since that laptop has a minimal amount of software installed, mainly just business related applications, I thought I would document upgrading from Mandriva 2007.1 to Mandriva 2008.1 on my tower PC. This PC is for business and personal use. As a result it has much more software on it than the laptop. Further, with this upgrade I intend to attempt to keep using the system while it is upgrading. I wanted to test this to see if one could actually do an upgrade in the background while continuing to be productive on the PC. I suspect I may have to restart applications, like Firefox, as they are upgraded. Since I am using Firefox to write this article I am saving after every sentence.

I have started this article on the PC while it is upgrading. I have X running and am using the applications I normally use every day in my business on this PC. Those are: xterm (eight instances for various CLI uses including one that runs ‘mc’), Kontact (includes Kmail, Kaddressbook, Korganizer, etc.), Firefox web browser, Kopete (Jabber, AIM and MSNIM instant messenger), XChat for IRC.

For the beginning of this upgrade I start by choosing some Mandriva 2008.0 repositories at easyurpmi.zarb.org. There are 1700+ packages that will have to download and install over our SOHO shared internet connection. We have a FTTH connection that is 4Mb/512Mb so I started the upgrade at the console ([Ctrl] [Alt] [F1]) after changing out my package sources. I used this command: ‘urpmi –auto-update –limit-rate 300k -v‘ to keep the downloads from taking all the available bandwidth. One thing I noticed, I just attempted to read the manual page for urpmi while the upgrade is going and man returned “garbage”:

$man urpmi
?R??k ???o??K..f…….??4?]'”(AR [?AR#?????”????/?Sk&i?u???N??z???j/??=IB?5?q??cc?u0?2?

So, apparently that will not work for a while as this upgrade proceeds. One of the first things upgraded is urpmi and its’ support programs and libraries. I am a little surprised that I cannot yet read its’ man page as I thought man pages should be standard across releases. Obviously my thinking is flawed about that. I expect that man page problem to clear up as the upgrade proceeds.

At this point the upgrade has been going for about an hour. The only thing upgraded so far is urpmi and its’ support applications. The packages for the upgrade are still downloading at the console. This PC has a 1.8G /var partition and I suspect that urpmi is downloading as many packages as it can before installing them. The reason I think this is that the laptop upgrade using this method would download a few files, install, remove the downloaded files, etc. This was likely due to the smaller size of the available disk space on the laptop. Currently the /var/cache/urpmi directory shows it has 849M in it with the /var partition showing 86% full using ‘df -k‘.

Wow, /var is 100% full and urpmi is still downloading, to where I am not sure. I am wondering if this is going to work at this point. After waiting a few more minutes I see many “retrieving failed” messages, then urpmi begins trying to install the packages it did download. Unfortunately there is no space left in which it can work. Looks like it is time for some creative symbolic linking to give urpmi more space. I had to ‘kill -9‘ urpmi (yeah I know, bad bad bad) to get it to stop. I then mv the /var/cache/urpmi directory to /mnt/data/urpmi then symbolically link /mnt/data/urpmi back into /var/cache. The /mnt/data mount is a ~70GB SCSI disk for business and personal data that has about 10GB free. It includes old data that has been backed up that I can purge if more than 10GB is needed. I doubt much more space is actually needed though. I then restart ‘urpmi –auto-update –limit-rate 300k -v‘ and watch to see if this works. The urpmi program starts downloading from the point of failure. So, this problem is solved with a workaround.

At 1.5G of data in the /mnt/data/urpmi directory the packages finish downloading and urpmi begins processing files for installing the upgrade. The installation fails due to two RPM packages I have installed from oddball sources with unresolvable dependencies, one a game the other a gutenprint update, neither were from Mandriva. I remove them and restart the install. This results in the 1700+ packages actually beginning to be installed. After this install finishes I will reboot and see how the system has fared.

Old packages are being removed, so I decide to shutdown X at this point to avoid a possible X crash.

… time passes …

About 19 hours have passed since that last sentence was typed. I’m reinstalling the applications I use on a fresh install of Mandriva 2008.1 at this point. The upgrade from repositories path on this PC did not complete correctly for the 2007.1 to 2008.0 upgrade. After all the 1700+ files finished downloading when I tried to ‘shutdown -r now‘ the init program just returned to me a message about nothing to do for the runlevel (I forgot to write the exact message down.). After staring at that for a moment with an unusable system I decided to press reset.

The system came back up and asked me for the runlevel after going through the grub boot loader. I thought this was not looking good but typed in ‘5’ for runlevel 5. Again init returned to me a message about nothing to do for the runlevel (Again I forgot to write this down.). Time for some forensics. I have an ISO for a Mandriva One Live CD, boot and run from CD disc. Unfortunately I had not burned the CD yet and the ISO was languishing on my now hosed PC. Luckily I had just recently gotten and burned a Knoppix 5.3 Live DVD image. I booted the Knoppix 5.3 DVD, mounted the root partition on my PC and began looking around. My first place to look was in /etc/rc.d since that is where init finds its’ “stuff”. As soon as I saw the subdirectories I thought to myself “Well, there’s your problem.”. For some reason there were no scripts in /etc/rc.d/init.d/ and thus no symbolic links to those scripts in /etc/rc.d/rc0.d/, /etc/rc.d/rc1.d/, /etc/rc.d/rc2.d/, /etc/rc.d/rc3.d/, /etc/rc.d/rc4.d/, /etc/rc.d/rc5.d/, /etc/rc.d/rc6.d/. At this point I just wanted to get on with my 4th of July, Independece Day (USA) holiday. I did have the Mandriva 2008.1 install DVD burned just in case something like this happened. I rebooted with that and started a fresh install. About an hour later I had a basic install of Mandriva 2008.1 running on my SOHO tower PC.

The results of my experiment with upgrading Mandriva releases using repositories now has a 50% success rate. The upgrade of my business laptop could not have been smoother using this method. The upgrade of my business / personal use tower PC could have definitely been smoother. Although I did prove I was able to continue to keep using the PC while the upgrade was running. Everything kept working up to the point where I shutdown X. The bottom line here is Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) using this method so be certain to have a fall-back CD or DVD from which to do a fresh install.

Hmmm, my wife’s PC running Mandriva 2007.1 needs upgrading … I wonder if …

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Mandriva Linux Upgrades from Repositories Using urpmi

Mandriva Linux is a Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) distribution. One uses RPM to install, remove and manage software packages on such a distribution. In the past RPM got a reputation for causing “dependency hell” and many folks still think this about RPM based distributions today. However, Mandriva has tools called ‘urpm*‘ created by very smart developers that along with the information stored in ‘hdlist.cz‘ files keeps all the dependencies straight. So, arguments against RPM are now moot if one uses Mandriva and the ‘urpm*‘ tools for package management. Here is a list of these from a Mandriva 2007.1 Linux system:

  • /usr/bin/urpmf
  • /usr/bin/urpmi.update
  • /usr/bin/urpmi_rpm-find-leaves
  • /usr/bin/urpmq
  • /usr/sbin/urpme
  • /usr/sbin/urpmi
  • /usr/sbin/urpmi.addmedia
  • /usr/sbin/urpmi.removemedia
  • /usr/sbin/urpmi.update

My rather old Compaq Armada M700 business laptop was still running Mandriva 2007.1 and I wanted to upgrade it to 2008.1 to keep getting desktop and security updates. I had heard that one could just change the distribution media repositories and use ‘urpmi –auto-update‘ to get this done. After asking a few questions in #mandriva on irc.freenode.net I decided I would try this and document my experience here.

This takes some time to complete so make certain there is time available before starting this process. Obviously one wants to have a “high speed” internet connection or an on-site repository mirror for this. If using an on-site repository mirror then the easyurpmi.zarb.org step is not needed.

The first order of business was to change my package repositories on the internet from 2007.1 to 2008.0 and remove the old 2007.1 repositories. I went to easyurpmi.zarb.org to get the list of new 2008.0 repositores. I ran ‘urpmi.removemedia -a‘ to get rid of the 2007.1 repositories and then copied and pasted the list created at easyurpmi.zarb.org from my selections there. This created the new repository data and got the dependency files from the repositories I had chosen. Once this was done I logged out of X, switched to a console command line shell, logged in as root and shutdown X using ‘init 3‘. This may not be necessary but I wanted to make sure things went smoothly. Then I issued the command ‘urpmi –auto-update‘ and sat by the system for a while as it got the 1000+ packages needed to upgrade from 2007.1 to 2008.0. Since I started this at night I went to bed and left it running at about 700 packages completed or so. It was at the command prompt waiting for me when I got back in my home office the next morning.

I rebooted the laptop to make sure it still worked with these updates installed using this method. It did. I then went back to easyurpmi.zarb.org and got a new list of repository URLs for the Mandriva 2008.1 packages. I repeated the steps above to remove the previous mirrors and add these new ones. Once again running in runlevel 3 (init 3 as root at the console CLI.) and starting the upgrade with ‘urpmi –auto-update‘. This time there were over 1100 packages to download and install. I accepted the list of packages and left the laptop downloading and processing them as I went about my business day. I checked periodically to make sure the upgrade was running smoothly. After installing packages for several hours, the root prompt returned and I checked to see if the latest kernel was installed. It was.

I rebooted the laptop once more and watched while it went through the startup routine. I noticed a message “ACPI: Transitioning device [C1B2] to D0” followed by “ACPI: Unable to turn cooling device [cb0c9a50] ‘on'”. A little web searching shows these are common messages with some Linux 2.6.* kernels and there are several suggestions on how to “fix” it. The first reboot loading the upgraded system took quite a bit longer than previous bootups. So long in fact that I walked away from the laptop and did some other work while it booted (The next bootup did not take any longer than previous bootups.). Once the bootup completed I logged into my fluxbox window manager and looked at the menus. Once again Mandriva has changed the menu structure. Come on Mandriva, leave it alone across releases for once. While this is a minor, personal irritation of mine it is not a show stopper for me. In any case everything I tried was working and was upgraded to the latest version available with Mandriva 2008.1 Linux.

Frankly, I think this is an excellent way to upgrade a system rather than doing a fresh install every time. Plus, if it fails one can always go ahead and do that fresh install by wiping out all the partitions except /home and installing from CD or DVD media or by doing a network install. Here is pseudo-code for the logic of doing these ‘urpmi‘ upgrades:

Release Upgrade Steps Using urpmi on Mandriva
     Do NOT skip over a release, do them in sequence.
     Example: 2007.0 > 2007.1 > 2008.0 ...
-- --------------------------------------------------------------
Remove old repositories with 'urpmi.removemedia -a'
Add new repositories (use easyurpmi.zarb.org to get these)
Upgrade with 'urpmi --auto-update'
     While another version is needed
          Reboot
          Remove and add new repositories
          Upgrade with 'urpmi --auto-update'
If new kernel is not installed
     Upgrade kernel with 'urpmi kernel-latest'
If new kernel source is not installed and is needed
     Upgrade kernel source with 'urpmi kernel-source-latest'
Final reboot

Here are things that were a bit wonky following the upgrade.

When I first started OpenOffice.org Writer it gave me an error message:

Error loading BASIC of document file:///usr/lib/openoffice/share/basic/WebWizard/script.xlib/:
General Error.
General input/output error.

This error is caused by having older OpenOffice.org configuration directories in one’s home directory (~/.ooo-2.0 and/or ~/.openoffice). Deleting these directories loses previous settings but eliminates that error.

I have a 10GB hard drive on this laptop with a 5G /, 49M /boot, 3.6G /home and 269M /tmp. Under 2007.1 the root partition was roughly 50% full. After running this urpmi upgrade process it was 76% full. It seems there is some cruft left over from the previous versions that would be cleaned up with a fresh install. Removing old kernels and kernel sources with ‘urpme‘ frees up a bit of space (now / is only 62% full.). It is possible there is a lot of junk in /var that I could clean up but after removing old kernels and kernel sources I have about 1.8G free on the root partition so /var is not a critical problem yet.

The default login manager theme for X shows a Microsoft-ish list of users. For a laptop I prefer no user list to show. So, I went into the configuration menu for the login manager and changed to a theme that does not show a user list. I personally believe it is better to not show a user list by default and let the end-user choose to change that.

That is all I noticed for now. If there are other bits of wonkiness due to this upgrade process I will add them as updates to this article.

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Compiz Fusion, Mandriva 2008.1 on AMD Phenom Quad-core PC with Demo

We have a client that needs a new server for their primary Point of Sale site (SCO OpenServer 5.0.5 + Advantage accounting. I know “SCO! hiss! boo!” but this is what they have used “forever”, meaning about 20 years. We tried to move them to LedgerSMB on Mandriva Linux but it does not fill their needs at this time. While migration from older Unix Point of Sale might be problematic we still recommend Linux + LedgerSMB for sites needing a startup Point of Sale solution.). The old server hardware is getting flaky after running every day since the year 2000. I think the new server is rather “sexy” (I would like one myself):

  • THERMALTAKE Wing RS 100 VG1000BNS Mid Tower Case (x1)
  • Enermax EG565P-VE FMA 535W Power Supply (x1)
  • MSI K9A2 Platinum AMD 790FX Phenom Socket AM2+ ATX Motherboard (x1)
  • AMD Phenom X4 9750 Quad Core Socket AM2 2.4GHZ 4MB Cache 125W Processor (x1)
  • KINGSTON KVR800D2N5K2/4G 4GB PC2-6400 (DDR2-800) SDRAM Memory (x1)
  • ADAPTEC RAID 3405 SGL/128 w/o Cables 2251900-R SAS/RAID Controller Card (x1)
  • WD1500ADFD 150GB Serial ATA 10,000RPM Hard Drive w/16MB Buffer (x3)
  • SAMSUNG SH-S203B/BEBN 20X DVD?RW Black (x1)
  • 1.44MB 3.5in Floppy Disk Drive (x1)
  • ACER AL1716FB 17in 800:1 5ms LCD Monitor Black (x1)
  • Keyboard and Mouse Combo (x1)
  • ATI Radeon X1650 Pro 512MB PCI Express x16 Video Card (x1)

This is going to be running as a three drive SATA RAID system using the Adaptec controller. There will be an 8-port multi-port serial board moved from the old system to this one to run the WYSE 60 Point of Sale terminals and one serial printer. We are waiting for the “special” cable to come in for the RAID controller (I forgot to order the darn thing) and for the new SCO OpenServer 6 license and media to arrive.

While waiting I decided to install Mandriva 2008.1 Linux on the system this weekend as my “test suite” software to test the hardware. I hooked the WD Raptor drives up to the on-board SATA connectors for this. The Mandriva install was uneventful except for a problem with the graphics display not installing properly for the ATI based card. I eventually got it working with a VESA mode and then installed the dkms-fglrx module from Mandriva after the first reboot (this module gives 3D video capability using the ATI based video controllers). After doing this I decided I would install and play with Compiz Fusion (a 3D desktop enhancement for Linux) to give the video hardware a workout. The Compiz Fusion install went well but when I logged out to reset the GUI subsystem I lost all video output on all console screens (F1 through F7)! This was disconcerting but I was able to reboot the system with the three fingered salute (Ctrl + Alt + Del). When the system came back up Compiz Fusion was running and I logged into a KDE desktop session to play with it. Logging out still loses the video output if running in runlevel 5 so at this point I boot to runlevel 3, login to my user account from a console prompt and run startx. This seems to work better than using the ‘*dm’ program in runlevel 5. Regardless of these minor annoyances (which may just be related to the specific graphics adapter used here) Compiz Fusion is quite fun, I recommend trying it.

I have seen several demo videos of Linux 3D desktops and have always considered doing one myself. After playing with Compiz Fusion for a while I decided to do one myself. I tried several different packages and none of them gave me a smooth video. I ended up using Istanbul to create the video in OGG Theora format then used ffmpeg to convert it to MPEG4. I wanted to show people the 3D desktop but I also wanted folks to see how easy one can do things from the GUI on a Mandriva 2008.1 system now. Mainly installing software and updates is as simple as it gets. See the demo to see what I mean: Mandriva 2008.1 Session Demo (MPEG4) 34,656,275 bytes

Here is the same demo compressed into a .zip file for those of you who would prefer to download it and view it offline: Mandriva 2008.1 Session Demo (zipped MPEG4) 25,080,970 bytes

This demo runs at 1024×768 and is a bit “jerky” even though I was recording on a Quad-core system with 4GB of RAM and a decent graphics adapter. If anyone has a clue for me on getting a smooth X desktop video demo I would love to see it. Please post a comment or contact me using our contact form.

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Managing Mandriva’s /etc/resolv.conf from the CLI

There appears to be confusion in the Mandriva community about how to manage a PC using a static IP address (no DHCP client) with static nameserver entries in /etc/resolv.conf from the Linux command line interface (CLI). With newer versions of Mandriva the /etc/resolv.conf file is managed by the /sbin/resolvconf executable. There is a comment in /etc/resolv.conf to not edit the file directly as it will be overwritten.

The proper files to edit under Mandriva for /etc/resolv.conf at this point are in /var/run/resolvconf/interface/ and/or /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/. If one wants the individual interfaces, say on a laptop, to use different nameservers then edit the files in /var/run/resolvconf/interface/. Most folks use a laptop with DHCP only and thus the nameserver entries are managed automatically. There are situations where that may not be practical so this information is provided for those situations. However, for a desktop or tower PC with a static IP address one will most likely be using a single interface. Therefore one will edit the /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/base file to include up to three nameserver entries. Note that the base file is only parsed if it has only lines starting with nameserver in it. Here is an example /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/base file:

nameserver 10.0.0.1
nameserver 10.0.1.2
nameserver 10.1.2.3

The /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/base, /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/head and /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/tail files are explained in the resolvconf man page:

/etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/base

     File  containing  basic resolver information.
     The lines in this file are included in the
     resolver configuration file  even  when no
     interfaces are configured.

/etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/head

     File  to be prepended to the dynamically
     generated resolver configuration file.
     Normally this is just a comment line.

/etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/tail

     File to be appended to the dynamically
     generated  resolver  configuration file.
     To append nothing, make this an empty
     file.

If one discovers that resolvconf is being used based on the comment in the /etc/resolv.conf file then reading the man page for resolvconf can be enlightening,