Vincent Zoonekynd's Blog

Sat, 24 Dec 2005: Suse 10.0

Following my problems with Mandriva 2006, I start looking around for other Linux distributions. First on my list is Suse.

Installation

Hard drive problems

The installation does not go as smoothly as it should.

First, it wants to reformat ALL the drives -- I have a 300GB external drive that only holds data (in particular backups...) and that should NOT be reformated. I found it safer to unplug this drive.

On the main hard drive it does not even suggest to reuse the existing partitions.

Second, It suggests to put everything in a single partition: if you want your data on a second partition, you have to go into expert mode. For someone who really wants to use the system, in the long term, this is a bad choice -- Mandrake used to do that as well, but they changed, some time ago.

Errors

There are errors during the installation -- I have been installing Linux at least twice a year and it is the first time it happens. Twice. It is an MD5 checksum problem for xorg-x11-fonts-75dpi and xerces-j2.

There are no details during the installation: it says "Remaining > 2:00:00", that is all. We just have to hope it is actually doing something and is not frozen.

Software

On the positive side, since this is not the OSS version, there should be more software, namely Java, some media players and Mono.

Hardware

The installer sees that I have a modem (it says "unconfigured", but it knows it is a modem) -- it had been insivible for more than three years.

Lack of feedback during the installation

When I try to download the patches, it hangs while retrieving OpenOffice.Org -- the progress bar remained at 1% for 5 minutes, then switched to 2%, then I lost patience.

Missing software

Multimedia

Since this is not the free version, since I even have Java, you guessed that I should have no problems with audio or video files.

Wrong guess.

Though there are no problems with (most) MP3 files -- I even found Amarok useable! --, but it cannot read AVI files.

I have to go into Yast, add a couple of repositories (mainly Packman, the equivalent of the PLF (Penguin Liberation Front), the repositary that contains software with potential patent concerns)

Even after that, the media player, Kaffeine, still cannot read the videos. But mplayer can (I also use mplayer as an alarm clock, with the crontab and mms://viptvr.yacast.fr/tvr_bfm).

Graphics card

The NVidia drivers are not there -- since this is not the free version, I was expecting to see them...

Various software

There is no "locate" command...

There is no "Emacs" or "XEmacs". Just Kate (and vim).

LaTeX is not there (this is normal -- I just have to install tetex).

The GET command that should be installed with perl-LWP is nowhere to be seen... Ah, it is in perl-libwww-perl. Oh, no, it is not.

C compiler

This is usually the main difference between a Linux and a Windows machine: on Linux, at the very least, you can expect to have a compiler -- especially if you ticked the "Developer's machine" option.

Not with Suse. There is no C compiler.

Installing R

wget http://cran.r-project.org/src/base/R-2/R-2.2.0.tar.gz
tar zxvf R-*gz
cd R*/
./configure
make
su -c make install

Among the error messages:

configure: error: no acceptable C compiler found in $PATH

Do not laugh. I DID ask for a developer's machine, with all the compilers, with Java and C#.

Be sure to install gcc, g77, readline-devel.

Then, it becomes more serious (another Fortran problem):

configure: WARNING: I could not determine FPICFLAGS.
configure: error: See the file INSTALL for more information.

The INSTALL file tells us to type "./configure && make", nothing more. I install gfortran (and scilab, that appeared on the same package search).

The next error message is:

configure: error: --with-x=yes (default) and X11 headers/libs are not available

I install xorg-x11-devel. I install libpng-devel.

linux:/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0 # make install
make[1]: Entering directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/m4'
make[1]: Nothing to be done for `install'.
make[1]: Leaving directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/m4'
make[1]: Entering directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/tools'
make[1]: Nothing to be done for `install'.
make[1]: Leaving directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/tools'
make[1]: Entering directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/doc'
installing doc ...
make[2]: Entering directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/doc/html'
make[3]: Entering directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/doc/manual'
creating doc/html/resources.html
make[3]: *** [../html/resources.html] Error 1
make[3]: Leaving directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/doc/manual'
installing doc/html ...
make[3]: Entering directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/doc/html/search'
installing doc/html/search ...
make[3]: Leaving directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/doc/html/search'
/usr/bin/install: cannot stat `resources.html': No such file or directory
make[2]: *** [install] Error 1
make[2]: Leaving directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/doc/html'
make[1]: *** [install] Error 1
make[1]: Leaving directory `/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0/doc'
make: *** [install] Error 1
linux:/media/ieee1394disk/tmp/R/R-2.2.0 # touch doc/html/resources.html

Then it works...

Now, the packages...

wget -r -l 1 -np -x -k -K -E -U Mozilla http://www.sourcekeg.co.uk/cran/src/contrib/
for i in www.sourcekeg.co.uk/cran/src/contrib/*.tar.gz
do
  R CMD INSTALL $i
done

Multimedia software

I should have a try at:

Muse: Midi music editor
ZynAddSubFX?
FluidSynth?
Festival: speech synthesis

Mounting external media

When I plug my external (IEEE1394) hard drive, it only mounts one of the two (ext3, while Suse prefers reiserfs) partitions. I have to mount the others by hand.

When I plug a USB device (say, a digital camera), it is not automatically mounted.

mkdir /media/camera
ls -l /dev/sd*
mount /dev/sdb1 /media/camera

The "df" command does NOT display all the drives that are actually mounted.

zoonek@linux:/media/ieee1394disk> df
Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda2             13638744   4238112   9400632  32% /
tmpfs                   387888        12    387876   1% /dev/shm
/dev/hda3             14610620   4333488  10277132  30% /home
/dev/sda5            101887344  30885896  65825848  32% /media/external1
zoonek@linux:/media/ieee1394disk> df .
Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda6            186569204 172145064   4946892  98% /media/ieee1394disk

Latency problems -- choppy music

When I switch screens or perform some disc operations (e.g., looking for a package in Yast) or even select "Configure Amarok" in the menus, the Amarok, the audio player, stops for half a second.

I have only rarely had that problem with mplayer, even though I systematically got a warning about some latency options in the kernel not being enabled or accessible to the user -- and I had to seriously overload the machine for the problems to become naticeable.

# This looks frightening but actually works fine...
mplayer http://64.236.34.67/stream/1006
...
Linux RTC init error in ioctl (rtc_irqp_set 1024): Permission denied
Try adding "echo 1024 > /proc/sys/dev/rtc/max-user-freq" to your system startup scripts.
...

This is not acceptable.

Multimedia

I also have a few MP3 files that Amarok cannot read -- but good old GUI-less mplayer has never had any problem with them!

When something goes wrong in Amarok, the software does not tell us what -- it does not even tell us that something is wrong!

Peer-to-peer

The BitTorrent client, ktorrent, is buggy: first, it does not seem to upload anything, the estimated times it gives are very unstable (it changes every second and can jump from 20 minutes to 40 hours -- but I guess reality will be beyond 2 or 3 days for this YAPC NA 2005 DVD iso image), second, after 5 to 10 minutes, it hangs and takes all the CPU. Apparently, this is a known bug, but it will not be corrected before next month. I end up running it as

while :
do
  killall ktorrent
  sleep 10
  ktorrent &
  sleep 600
done

Peer-to-peer: the solution

I try mldonkey, that knows about several P2P networks and is split into two part, a deamon and a GUI. The problem is tha Suse only provides the GUI part, kmldonkey (under the name "mldonkey") and not the server itself (mldonkey, more precisely, we are looking for an executable calles "mlnet"). I therefore install it by hand...

http://download.berlios.de/pub/mldonkey/spiralvoice/cores/Linux/mldonkey-2.7.1.static.i386-Linux.tar.bz2

Actually, we do NOT need the GUI: one can talk to ther server either via telnet

telnet localhost 4000

or HTTP

http://localhost:4080/

Incidentally, mldonkey is written in ocaml.

By default, it runs in ~/.lmdonkey -- I will have to put this on another drive...

cd /media/i3*
cp -a ~/.mldonkey ./mldonkey
rm -rf ~/.mldonkey/
ln -l `pwd`/mkdonkey ~/.mldonkey

I would prefer to install it from source, but:

zoonek@linux:/tmp/MLNET/mldonkey-2.7.1> ./configure
Arguments to configure:
checking build system type... Invalid configuration `i686-pc-linux-': machine `i686-pc-linux' not recognized
configure: error: /bin/sh ./config.sub i686-pc-linux- failed

I stay with the binary version of mldonkey.

Mldonkey is much better than the other P2P software I have used by the past: a typicaly GUI (BitTornado, Azureus) will take at least 5 to 10% of the CPU and (especially for Azureus, written in Java), hundreds of megabytes. On the other hand, I have never seen mlnet take more than 100MB and 2% of the CPU.

That kind of software was the main reason why my computer was slow -- I can now expect it to be much faster.

ACPI

There are also some acpi problems (the machine is sluggish and kacpid seems to be the only process): I should reboot and give the "noacpi" to the kernel.

Konqueror

The default Konqueror configuration asks about Cookies for almost every site: this is annoying and we do not really know what to do about it (you have to go in the configuration menu to learn that "accpet all cookies" actually means "accept all cookies provided they come from the same site").

The Konqueror menu tends to disappear. However, if I maximize and unmaximize the window, it reappears.

When entering password in a web page, konqueror invokes kwallet to store them. It stores them, again and again -- but there is apparently no way to retrieve them (yes, I was expecting the passwords to reappear, automatically, as with Mozilla).

CDs

CDRoms are not automatically mounted when they are inserted...

Shell

When I copy-paste a few shell commands in a shell window (bash), they do not appear in the history. Zsh does not have this problem.

When I maximize (full-screen) a shell window, I cannot un-maximize it. I have to explicitely resize it.

Fonts

The subtitles used by mplayer do not always have to right size: I end up with overly small subtitles... I guess it is a font installation problem...

It can be solved as follows.

mplayer -identify -aid 1 -sid 0 -font /usr/share/mplayer/fonts/font-arial-28-iso-8859-1/font.desc slayers.19.ogm

Conclusions

I am happy because my machine is much faster than before, but this has nothing to do with Suse -- just to the replacement of Bittornado and aMule by mlnet -- but mlnet was not available in Suse...

On the negative side, the latency problems and the unreliable mounting of removable devices are serious drawbacks. Furthermore, most of the applications seem to be unstable -- and remember, this is not even the "free" Suse, which is probably even worse...

Will I stay with Suse? (No, because of the latency problems.)

Will I try another distribution? (Yes.)

Which one will I try next? Ubuntu? Gentoo?

posted at: 20:07 | path: /Linux | permanent link to this entry