Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fedora 12, x86-64 first impressions

I recently installed Fedora 12, x86-64 on my Dell SC1430. I will say that the new ext4 filesystem is fast, fast. And the kernel loads in about 30 seconds for me:

However, Fedora's latest disappoints with a bunch of minor, yet completely annoying bugs. It's kind of like the Chinese "Death of One Thousand Cuts."

CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE no longer works
This convenient method of restarting X was disabled for the fat-fingering newbie. Maybe Fedora should have a multicolored penguin (a Mac-Linux hybrid) as its' logo from now on?

At least it was easily solved.

Virtual consoles don't work
You know..the CTRL-ALT-F[1-6] keys. Maybe this one is related to my NVidia card. Still, I'm using the nouveau driver, not the NVidia driver. Don't know why this should have broken.

Nautilus browser doesn't load
I found this error in xsession-errors:
LoadPlugin: failed to initialize shared library ./mozilla/plugins/ [./mozilla/plugins/ wrong ELF class: ELFCLASS32]

Turns out, the install of Adobe Reader (32-bit) caused this error, which in turn, stopped Nautilus from loading. Yanking out the Reader resolved the issue. Maybe this isn't the fault of Fedora, but the Adobe RPMs. Still burned about three hours tracking this one down.

Window positions in workspaces not saved
I guess we can blame GNOME here for this annoyance. Devilspie is an interesting workaround, but GNOME should just do the right thing the first time. Currently, it doesn't. Here's another link re:devilspie.

Wake on Lan is now broken
Perhaps this is related to my new 3ware 9650SE RAID card. It was working fine before. I've gone through the Broadcom diagnostics bootable CD (b57udiag.exe) which fixed it the last time. No go this time. And ethtool reports wake on lan should be good to go and the BIOS is enabled for WOL:
[sodo@ogre fedora12]$ sudo ethtool eth0
Settings for eth0:
Supported ports: [ TP ]
Supported link modes: 10baseT/Half 10baseT/Full
100baseT/Half 100baseT/Full
1000baseT/Half 1000baseT/Full
Supports auto-negotiation: Yes
Advertised link modes: 10baseT/Half 10baseT/Full
100baseT/Half 100baseT/Full
1000baseT/Half 1000baseT/Full
Advertised auto-negotiation: Yes
Speed: 1000Mb/s
Duplex: Full
Port: Twisted Pair
Transceiver: internal
Auto-negotiation: on
Supports Wake-on: g
Wake-on: g
Current message level: 0x000000ff (255)
Link detected: yes

So I don't know whussup here.

Update 2/24/2010
I spent about eight hours debugging why wake on lan wouldn't work on my newly built system. When through a million threads, learned something about sleep states in Linux..finally got it by putting a line in the Linux halt script (called by "shutdown -h now" to remove the kernel module for the ethernet driver. Self-evident, right? NOT! What the F?

full story here
*** end update ***

GRUB takes 3.5 minutes to boot!
Man, this one is a bugger. Grub loads and then the system hangs for 3.5 minutes until kernel starts up. Probably related to the new GPT partitioning that I'm using on the new 4.5TB RAID5 set. Drag having to wait that long for boot. I've got a few leads on the issue, nothing solved yet.

Update 2/28/2010
Looks like I was barking up the wrong tree with my assumption that it was Grub and GPT causing my long boot times. It seems to be an interaction with the two PCI Express cards that I have in the box: the NVidia 8800GT and the 3Ware 9650SE card. Once I removed the 8800GT, the box booted up in about 40 seconds. Of course, I can't put the 8800GT in the lower slow because it is does not fit with the 8x-16x PCIe adapter. Now I have to figure out what the heck is going on..
*** end update ***

Update 3/2/2010
So whaddya do when you have a sticky problem? YOU DREMEL THE F*CKER!

I must say I did a much nicer job dremeling the lower slot (the one on the right in the picture) this time.

Now the box boots in 40 seconds instead of 4 minutes..wahoo!
*** end update ***

Preferences -> Windows control has been removed by default
Another irritation. I like my Windows to come to the foreground by simply mousing over them. The Windows Preference control is not installed by default. So, you'll need to install control-center-extra to return the ability to tweak your window focus settings. Argh.

No Xorg.conf file
The Fedora 12 Deployment Guide makes no mention of the possibility of having no xorg.conf file after a new install:

But it is mentioned in the list of Fedora 12 bugs.

Disabling the nouveau video driver in favor of the NVidia proprietary driver is a pain
Related to #8. If you'd rather use NVidia's driver instead of the open source nouveau video driver, this can cause some pain too. Here's info on that process. The x86-64 NVidia install per those instructions may break with the following error in Xorg.0.log:
(II) Loading /usr/lib64/xorg/modules/extensions/nvidia/
dlopen: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
(EE) Failed to load /usr/lib64/xorg/modules/extensions/nvidia/
(II) UnloadModule: "glx"
(EE) Failed to load module "glx" (loader failed, 7)

This is due to the installer either installing the NVidia 32-bit libraries first, or just not working properly. So the fix is to install the 64-bit libraries first and then the 32-bit ones second, as per my post on

Related, here's info on video modes you can select upon boot using a kernel switch. More importantly, how the nouveau driver gets loaded in the kernel here and in the context of Mandriva, here (via initrd).

I was interested in disabling the nouveau driver altogether, just in case it fixed issue #2 above, so I:
1) added nouveau to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
2) rebuilt my mkinitrd file (had to "yum install mkinitrd" on F12)
mkinitrd -v -f /root/initrd-`uname -r`.img `uname -r`
3) added a new entry in my grub.conf pointing to that mkinitrd, no longer using an initial ram filesystem:
title Fedora (
root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz- ro root=/dev/mapper/vg_ogre-lv_root scsi_mod.scan=sync
initrd /initramfs-

but using old school initrd file:
title Fedora (
root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz- ro root=/dev/mapper/vg_ogre-lv_root scsi_mod.scan=sync
initrd /initrd-

Sankaran Raman provides an alternate method of disabling the nouveau driver by creating and editing an xorg.conf file.

CUT 10
Mplayer keeps resetting volume to maximum
This one is not good for my ears or my speakers. Thankfully, there is an easy fix:

CUT 11
AAC audio encoding not included in ffmpeg non-free distro
Now, this isn't a cut on Fedora. Rightly so, RPM Fusion doesn't package FAAC support as it is a proprietary codec. So you'll get errors in FFMPEG like "unsupported audio codec: libfaac" if you try to convert an audio or video file to AAC audio format. Ugh. Here is a solution to this problem:

CUT 12
lose control of left mouse button
The left mouse button stops functioning. This is an incredible pain in the a$$. From a link I found I Google (of course), under Keyboard Preferences -> Mouse Keys, I disabled "Pointer can be controlled using the keypad". This seems to have resolved the issue. Yarg!!

Pardon my evident frustration on these issues folks, but I'm spending too much time on install problems and not enough time creating. It's brutal just trying to get work done. I'm not leaving Fedora, but everytime I upgrade, this is what happens.

I'll keep you abreast of the various remaining situations..

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