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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Fri, 22 Jul 2016

I'm doing the Fedora 23 to 24 upgrade

I'm finally getting to the Fedora 23-to-24 upgrade on my laptop, which has been running Fedora on the same installation since the F18 release. (That means the upgrade has never failed.)

The upgrade process is getting smoother and smoother. This time the upgrade uses dnf instead of fedup.

I think that there will be a graphical upgrade for Fedora Workstation (i.e. GNOME) systems in this current release. But since I'm in Xfce right now, it's still a command-line process.

I used this guide from the Fedora Magazine site, and all is going great so far. Dnf has 4,033 items to download and 7,870 tasks to perform in the course of the upgrade, so it'll take a while to finish.

Update: As expected, the upgrade is taking a long time. That's normal. I managed to start early, and I have a whole day ahead of me. Plus I have use of another computer, so I'm able to continue working while the laptop is unavailable.

No 'n': When I finally resolve the issue, I'll recount my tale of the broken 'n' key on the HP Pavilion g6-2210us. With a barely working 'n' key, it's a great time to do an upgrade since typing words with the letter 'n' is not my favorite activity (though at home I have an external keyboard to get around the problem).

After the upgrade: I don't use GNOME very often, but I can confirm that the default Catarell font does display better (as promised). A better-looking display definitely makes me want to use GNOME more.

GNOME Shell itself seems more responsive. But again, I don't use it enough to know for sure.

I just found out that I'll soon be able to leave Citrix Receiver behind, and that will mean that I can use just about any desktop environment. For the past year and then some, only Xfce has played well with the Citrix apps that I use, which stretch across multiple screens and pose problems when it comes to switching from one screen to another.

Thu, 07 Jul 2016

Fix for Ubuntu 16.04 with Qualcomm Atheros AR9485 WiFi adapter and Time Warner modem

Update: This issue went away in a normal install. I presume that the added firmware during installation took care of the WiFi issues.

Original entry begins here:

I was just saying how compatible my now-3-year-old HP Pavilion g6-2210us laptop is with Linux at its advanced age. Everything in Fedora works with no tweaking, no modifications.

So I wanted to try Ubuntu 16.04 (with Unity even). First I used Unetbootin to put the ISO on a USB key. That didn't seem to work, though I had enough trouble getting the display to work that the problem could very well lie elsewhere.

So I used dd to put the ISO on the USB:

sudo dd if=/path/to/ISO of=/dev/sdb bs=8M

That worked. I booted into Ubuntu 16.04. Then I still had a blank screen. I tried to switch to a virtual terminal with ctrl-alt-F2, and eventually hit all the ctrl-alt-number combinations, after which ctrl-alt-F7 got me the graphical desktop.

That very well could have worked with my Unetbootin-created bootable USB stick.

Meanwhile, once I had Ubuntu running, I could connect to my older Netgear router running WEP but not to my newer Time Warner modem/router (I can't remember the brand or model) with WPA.

My laptop uses the Qualcomm Atheros AR9485 WiFi module, and that was where I looked first for ideas.

I found something pretty quickly.

In a terminal, enter this line:

 echo "options asus_nb_wmi wapf=1" | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/asus.conf

After that, I was able to connect to my WPA-enabled router, and all was well.

I didn't think I needed to resort to this kind of filthy hack in 2016 and on a laptop that has been in the wild for three full years.

But I did.

I'm not sure what I think of Ubuntu 16.04 just yet. I'll need to do a Citrix test. Running the big Citrix-enabled application that I use for my day job is pretty good in Xfce but horrible in GNOME Shell in Fedora. If it is in any way better in Unity, that will carry a lot of weight.

Thu, 28 Jan 2016

Linux advice: How to get started with Debian (or any Linux) web server

I answered this question on Quora and figured that I might as well put the answer here, too:

The question: Are there any good resources (Books) to get started on a Linux (Debian) web server?

Here is my answer:

You should definitely get The Debian Administrator's Handbook.

Then there is everything on the Debian documentation page.

And the good thing about Debian is that most posts and other references that explain how to do something in Ubuntu will also work for Debian.

With that in mind, just about any book or site that helps you run any kind of Linux web server will help you with Debian.

O'Reilly is releasing a new version of The Apache Cookbook in two months. I highly recommend it.

I also recommend two No Starch Press books: How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know and The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction

This part is not on Quora:

I've been thinking for years that the technical publishing industry has thought of Linux as "done," and would continue to wind down their previously robust book schedules.

That pretty much happened, but seeing a new "Apache Cookbook," plus these two excellent titles from No Starch as well as a third, The Linux Programming Interface: A Linux and Unix System Programming Handbook, I see four very compelling Linux books that aren't woefully out of date.

They may not be focused on individual distros, but that is a strength, not a weakness.

Thu, 31 Dec 2015

Things Fedora 23 fixes: Yumex DNF display with dark theme

Like any software upgrade, going from Fedora 22 to 23 has its wins and losses, however temporary in both cases.

In the "wins" category: Yumex-DNF, the graphical package manager that isn't GNOME Software now displays normally with the Adiwata dark theme that I've been using.

Hopefully there is improvement across the board in GTK3 application rendering with dark themes.

Tue, 29 Dec 2015

Great Fedora Magazine interview with Kevin Fenzi

Fedora Magazine did a "How Do You Fedora" interview with Kevin Fenzi, longtime Fedora contributor and Red Hat employee who does so much for Xfce in the distribution.

Fri, 18 Dec 2015

Fedora 22 with Xfce deep into the cycle -- most 'stable' Fedora release ever for my laptop

Fedora 23 has been out for awhile and I haven't yet upgraded the HP Pavilion g2-2210us laptop I've been running and upgrading since I first installed F18 on it in mid-2013.

One reason I'm not upgrading, though under examination illogically, is that Fedora 22 is the best-running, most "stable" release I've ever run on this now-2 1/2-year-old hardware.

Read the rest of this post

Fri, 04 Dec 2015

'Learn Linux in a Month of Lunches' by Steven Ovadia

Librarian and Linux user and advocate Steven Ovadia of the excellent My Linux Setup blog is writing a book, "Learn Linux in a Month of Lunches," available now in "early-access" form from Manning and as a full book sometime in summer 2016.

Steven's blog is an excellent resource, and he's a pragmatic advocate for free software who does a lot of good.

And in contrast with the early 2000s, when there seemed to be new Linux/Unix books every month, we are in a persistent drought when it comes to how-to books about Linux and related technologies.

So I think "Learn Linux in a Month of Lunches" is just the thing new and prospective Linux uses need to help them make the move from Windows and OS X to the freedom and flexibility offered by Linux and its many distributions.

You can get the first six chapters of the book today in electronic form, with additional chapters delivered as they are ready. It sounds positively Dickensian (in the novels-delivered-as-monthly-parts way, not in the children-working-in-a-bootblacking-factory way, to be clear about it).

Wed, 04 Nov 2015

The Fedora Developer Portal

I stumbled upon the Fedora Developer Portal via a link from Reddit that actually first took me to the Deploy and Distribute page, which offers overviews on how to create RPM packages and create/use a COPR repository. Then there's the Tools page on DevAssistant, Vagrant and Docker, and the Languages & Databases page to help you get your development environment together.

And this only scratches the surface of what you can do in Fedora (and other Linux operating systems such as Debian and Ubuntu).

I guess I'm a developer in that I write code sometimes, and Fedora is a great way to get a whole lot of fairly up-to-date tools without having to chase down updates from individual projects.

Fedora is developer-centric. That's what people use it for. So if that "bias" works for you (and it does for me), Fedora is a great way to go.

Note on Fedora Workstation: While I do have all of the Fedora Workstation packages on my system and can run its GNOME 3 desktop environment whenever I get the urge, I find that the Xfce desktop environment fits better for what I do both professionally and otherwise with this computer. You can get Xfce on any Fedora system via the package manager, or install it directly with the Xfce Spin.

Like anybody who uses Linux (or any other system) for a length of time, I have applications and configurations that I prefer, though the Fedora Xfce Spin is a great place to start.

Fri, 16 Oct 2015

Fedora 22 PulseAudio HDMI issue solves itself

I had a problem in Fedora 22 where switching the audio between the laptop's own audio and HDMI audio using the PulseAudio Volume Control (aka pavucontrol) mutes the audio out of HDMI until logging out and back in.

Now that problem has been solved. I don't know how. I don't know which package is responsible. But what was once an annoying bug is a problem no longer. Audio switching via the pavucontrol is perfect.

That's what happens with Fedora 22. Sometimes you have a regression, or something never worked at all. Eventually there are improvements and bug fixes in any number of upstream packages, from the kernel on down, that stand a good chance of making those bugs go away and bringing needed (and wanted) improvements.

Tue, 06 Oct 2015

Solution for update fatigue in Fedora Linux

I'm getting tired of the constancy of keeping a Fedora Linux system up to date.

I've got plenty of bandwidth, and I often do appreciate all the newness that Fedora constantly brings to the table, even within releases.

But while there isn't much breakage, there is breakage. It usually gets fixed within two weeks to a month. And I know that "stable" distros can suffer with breakage for the entire period of the release.

But I'm weary of the sheer number of update in Fedora.

There is a way to make it ... less:

Just update less often. I tend to update daily. I could definitely get away with doing it weekly. And in the absence of major security issues I might even be able do it monthly.

Just not daily.