WordPress 2.3.1 Upgrade

16 Nov 2007

I finally got all of the blogs I manage updated to WordPress 2.3.1, today. Several friends who also use WordPress had experienced some difficulties upgrading to 2.3.0, so I had held off on the updates on some of the blogs until these past 3 days. There were two of them that I had some very small problems with, but they were solved very easily. One of those was this blog, the one you are reading right now.

First, when I was updating my wife’s blog, I got all in a hurry and forgot to make a backup of the database first. Then, when I connected to the wp-admin/upgrade.php script and clicked on the Upgrade WordPress button, all hell broke lose. I had DB errors left and sideways (thankfully, not quite right, though). At that moment, I realized that, “I could really use that DB backup right about now.” Well, I didn’t have it, so I tried the export function from the admin interface and that worked. At least I had her posts (there was a brand new one, too, which wasn’t in the most recent backup file that I did have).
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Livna: Please, Keep Drivers in the Repo

15 Nov 2007

In dealing with nVidia and ATI drivers for Linux (both a kernel and X driver are needed), I’ve been using the Livna YUM repositories for Fedora to easily install them as RPMs using YUM.

I’ve run into trouble here and there as the Livna folks keep pulling RPMs from their repos for older versions of the kernels. At the very least, they should leave the kmod-* packages in there for the original kernels that shipped with each release. Then, people can install a release and get a good driver. I had to wait for about 3 weeks after I first put F7 on my home workstation (dual AMD Opteron) before I could get the nVidia driver from Livna because they didn’t have one for the older kernel packages and the newer kernels weren’t booting (turned out to be malformed initrd files, which I later fixed).

Yes, I understand that they take up some disk space, but it’s not really that much perhaps 100M per release to keep all kmod-* packages and their dependencies around.

Livna, if you’re listening, please, give us all the driver packages and don’t remove them. You don’t know which kernels are working for people and which aren’t, so you could really be making things pretty difficult for people.

Easy Bluetooth Mouse Setup in KDE

14 Nov 2007

A few minutes ago, I installed the kdebluetooth package. I was already logged in, so I had to launch the kbluetooth applet myself. I then clicked K Menu -> System -> KInputWizard, pressed the “reset” button on the bottom of my mouse and clicked “Add” in the Input Devices dialog. My mouse was discovered and I connected to it. Simple as that.

I have a Logitech bluetooth mouse that travels with me. I use it with my notebook computer, as I’m very, very not fond of trackpads. My favorite is the “TrackPoint” or “Eraser-head” mouse built into the keyboard, but this notebook didn’t come with one. Supposedly, I can buy a replacement keyboard from HP that includes the eraser-head pointer, but I have not yet done so.

When I wrote about installing Fedora 7 on this notebook (and now installing Fedora 8), one thing which I never documented was how I got the bluetooth mouse working with Linux (under F7). Now that I installed F8 from scratch, I need to set it up again.

When I installed F7, I spent hours dog-paddling through Google searches and horrible documentation and still hadn’t figured it out. Then, my friend and co-worker, Clint Savage (a.k.a. Herlo) popped into the office. It was him! He’s the one who has the exact same mouse as I do; I knew I’d seen it somewhere before I had bought mine. So, I asked him. He smiled and laughed, saying, “Not finding much useful documentation out there, eh?” He’d been through the same thing as me. He was impressed with how far I’d gotten through that process and estimated that I was probably 1-3 hours away from finding it myself, if I continued to follow the pattern he had. Well, he shared the information with me.

The good news was that it was pretty easy to get my bluetooth mouse talking with my bluetooth equipped notebook, just not really documented anywhere that one could point to just one thing (boy, I wish I’d documented those commands in a blog post; I’ll see if I can do just that next week, when I’m back at the office). The bad news was that one of them had to be run every time he started his computer. So, I put that command into a /root/bin/connect-to-my-bluetooth-mouse (or something like that) script. Then, a week later, I forgot to run that when I booted up and logged in, once, but was using the mouse anyway. I had discovered that it wasn’t necessary to run that all the time.

One of the reasons that it had been so difficult to setup bluetooth on Fedora 7 was that I was using GNOME on that installation. I stuck with entirely GNOME apps (except for Kdevelop) the entire time I had F7 on this notebook. Now that I have F8, I’ve gone back to KDE, which makes life so much better for me. GNOME still doesn’t have much bluetooth support and what is there is still very early half-baked and non-usable, for the most part. KDE’s bluetooth tools, on the other hand, seem much more comprehensive and “just work” for me.

YUM Irritations in F7 and F8

13 Nov 2007

The fact that Fedora (and by extension, RHEL, CentOS, etc.), supports bi-arch platforms is a great thing. However, it does get to be very irritating when YUM decides that it should just pull in 32bit versions on a system with no other 32 bit packages. I’ve experienced this problem during installations, as anaconda now uses YUM to process package selections (since FC5).

It doesn’t stop with just anaconda installation and yum update commands, either. Almost every yum install command that I run decides to install both 64-bit and 32-bit packages. That is, unless I explicitly specify that I only want the 64-bit for each and every package. For example:

# yum install foo.x86_64 bar.x86_64

Why is yum doing this? It didn’t used to. I started experiencing this a little bit on FC6, but F7 and F8 both have horrific troubles with it. I need to do some more digging through Red Hat’s Bugzilla bug/issue tracking system, however, my first pass didn’t find anything to help explain the changes. After a little more research, I’ll file this as a bug.

In the meantime, here’s a quick-n-dirty hack I put together to run updates. The first step is to capture the output of yum update to a file (be patient, this command can take for-freakin-ever to run). Step two is to run the update itself. Here it is as a shell script:

# Get a temporary file to use.

# Populate the temporary file with the list of available updates.
yes n | yum update > ${TO_UPDATE}

# Composite an update command that does not include any 32-bit stuff.
yum update $(for i in $(sed '/i[3456]86/d' ${TO_UPDATE} |
         sed '/^Updating/d' |
         sed '/^Installing/d' |
         grep -v "^$" |
         grep -v replacing |
         cut -d" " -f2); do
      rpm -q --qf "%{name}.%{arch}\n" $i; done |
   grep -v "is not installed$")

# Optional cleanup.
if [ "${1}" = "-k" ]; then
   mv ${TO_UPDATE} /root/$(date --iso-8601)-$(basename ${TO_UPDATE})
   rm ${TO_UPDATE}

You will have to run a separate yum update command for any 32-bit stuff you really do have installed and want to update.

I know this could be streamlined (especially the part that constructs the yum update command), but as I’m not planing on making this a permanent fix, I’m just not going to bother with it right now. Still, feel free to comment or trackback with other solutions or optimizations of mine.

ATI Driver Trouble Under Fedora 8

12 Nov 2007

So, is anyone else experiencing troubles with the proprietary ATI driver on Fedora 8? How about on an updated F7 system?

My HP Compaq 6715b notebook comes with ATI Radeon X1270 video 128MB RAM dedicated plus 192MB RAM shared) and a 1680×1050 resolution 15.4 inch LCD (at 61Hz, it would seem). I’ve installed the proprietary ATI driver in order to get it working, as Fedora’s tools get really confused about widescreen setups, it would seem.

Here are the relevent package versions:

# rpm -qa | egrep '(fglrx|kernel)'

(As you can see, I haven’t removed the original kernel, yet. Maybe I’ll go do that now.)

However, I seem to be getting some fairly odd artifacts on-screen with this driver under F8, including some odd extra sprite garbage with the mouse cursor. I had experienced some oddities under F7, but they were confined to GNOME applications (no others exhibited any issues). It doesn’t matter if I enable or disable “Desktop Effects” either (they won’t successfully enable, anyway). A RAM test (memtest86+) shows that there’s nothing wrong with the system memory, but that doesn’t test the video card. There are ATI tools for testing the video card more fully, but I haven’t had time to try them out, yet.

Since FC6, Fedora systems rely on the X server detecting proper monitor and other configuration parameters every time it starts. This has been far less than reliable on a wide variety of machines that I’ve been running into over the past year. I’d like to get some more information about other people’s experiences with this, before I file a “bug” report about this. It’s really becoming an embarrassing problem as things worked much better when we would get a finished configuration file by default in FC5 and earlier.

Installing Fedora 8 on the HP Compaq 6715b Notebook

12 Nov 2007

Last night, while flying from Salt Lake (SLC) to Kansas City (MCI), I used a Fedora 8 x86_64 DVD I had burned earlier in the day to reinstall my notebook. Probably not the smartest way (that is, on an airplane without an Internet connection available) to do such an installation.

First, I tried to do an “Upgrade Install”, which didn’t surprise me by not working. Upgrading from 32-bit F7 to 64-bit F8 isn’t something that anaconda knows how to do, and I didn’t expect it would. Still, I tried it and know we know for sure. So, I did a fresh installation. I removed the root Logical Volume (I’ve been using LVM for my notebooks and workstations since long before Fedora started to default to it) and created new LVs for / and /usr/ LVs. Previously, under F7, /usr/ was on the root LV.

The install phase itself went just fine. 1478 packages were installed, including 389 32-bit (i.e. i386, i486, i586 and/or i686 RPMs). I ran a simple command to find and then remove all of them:

# rpm -qa --qf "%{name}-%{version}-%{release}.%{arch}\n" | grep "\.i[3456]86$" | xargs rpm -e

If I need any 32-bit stuff later, I’ll just reinstall as few such packages as are required.

My next issue was the same video problem as I had when I installed Fedora 7. The graphical installer couldn’t run and the resulting system had no working X server configuration. This was very easy to fix:

# wget http://rpm.livna.org/livna-release-8.rpm
# rpm -qp --qf "%{name}-%{version}-%{release}.%{arch}\n" livna-release-8.rpm
# mv livna-release-8.rpm livna-release-8-1.noarch.rpm
# rpm -Uvh livna-release-8-1.noarch.rpm

(NOTE: I renamed the package file back to what it should have been in the first place. Though rare, if they update it, I’d like to notice the difference and be sure I’m using the latest one on some other machine in the future.)

After setting up the Livna repository for Fedora 8, I was able to install and activate the ATI driver:

# yum install kmod-fglrx x11-xorg-drv-fglrx
. . . output omitted . . .
# fglrx-config-display enable

Notice that the command name changed from Fedora 7 to Fedora 8; it used to be ati-fglrx-config-display.

The next thing I need to fix is to re-associate my Logitech Bluetooth mouse with the notebook. I had a script in /root/bin/ that would have taken care of that very easily. Unfortunately, I forgot about that until after I had installed Fedora 8, thus obliterating that file. Oh, well. This time, I’ll also document it elsewhere (perhaps here?) once I get it figured out again. I hope that will be tonight.

One last thing; with Fedora 7, I did my very best to stick with an all GNOME system. It was very irritating using applications that just couldn’t handle lots of basic things that I take for granted using other apps (mostly KDE). For Fedora 8, I’m going back to KDE, where things work much better.

Eve Online for Linux and Mac

6 Nov 2007

I’ve been playing Eve Online, a space MMO for many months now. Today, they released their Linux and MacOS X clients as part of the version 2.3 update.

Though I haven’t had a chance to try it out, yet, this is exciting news. It’s wonderful to see a game like this take the step to providing Linux, and Mac clients. Given that Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Vista is such a horrible platform and provides terrible performance for games, it would be a very good for many game makers to put more effort into both Mac and Linux support. In case you hadn’t heard, Apple (AAPL) sold 2 million iMac systems in 2007Q3 alone. There is talk that they could top that number in Q4 with ease.

Blizzard, are you listening? How about providing a LInux version of World of WarCraft and StafCraft II (whenever it lands)? That would be awesome.