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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
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.

Mon, 28 Sep 2015

Working on my networking issue after suspend/resume in Fedora 22

Briefly, for no good reason, my networking on the HP Pavilion g6 2210-us is broken after suspend/resume in Fedora 22.

It's not broken on live Fedora 22 and Xubuntu 15.04 images. It wasn't broken a week ago in the Fedora 22 system I've been upgrading since I started it with F18 in 2012.

I should probably just reinstall. And I probably will. Xubuntu on a new drive. Soon.

But until then, I need networking to return after a suspend/resume.

I've tried lots of things. Nothing has really worked. Closest is Wake-On-Lan issue with Realtek r8169: immediate resume after suspend from the Ubuntu Forums.

That script doesn't work.

But it did give me the idea to just run the modprobe lines:

$ sudo modprobe -r r8169
$ sudo modprobe r8169

That works. The network comes back (both wired and wireless, even though this only addresses the wired Ethernet network).

The script in /etc/pm/sleep.d seems to do nothing.

But running this script, which I titled jump_start, does work:

#! /bin/bash

modprobe -r r8169
modprobe r8169

exit 0

As a workaround, I created a launcher in Xfce, hooked it up to this two-line Bash script, and made an exception for it with visudo so I could run it from the launcher.

Now I resume the laptop, click my "jumpstart the network" icon in the panel, and I'm ready to go.

It's less than automatic, but for now it works.

I have no idea why this happened, but since every new live system I try suspends and resumes with no problems at all, this hack will keep me going until I build my new Linux system on a new hard drive. (This is a "production" laptop, and I want to avoid the anxiety of having to rebuild and configure it under pressure, so I'm opting for a new hard drive that will be a single-boot Linux system.)

Update: I may be putting my scripts in the wrong place for automatic execution in a Systemd environment. Fedora users suggest /usr/lib/systemd/system-sleep/

This is the script I put in /usr/lib/systemd/system-sleep/:


case "$1" in
   systemctl stop NetworkManager.service
        modprobe -r r8169
        modprobe r8169
  systemctl start NetworkManager.service


I'm not convinced that any of this (other than running my jump_start script with the two modprobe lines) is working.

Further update: A day later, I've been using WiFi only, and the network has been available after suspend/resume with no trouble. Not sure why.

Further further update: It's spotty. I'm taking the script out of /usr/lib/systemd/system-sleep/ -- I don't think it's doing a damn thing. I still need my local script sometimes to jump-start the network.

Oct. 10 update: Things seem a lot better. I'm not 100 percent sure the problem has been solved. Maybe 80 percent.

Sat, 26 Sep 2015

Rebuilding GRUB 2 entries in Fedora 22 for UEFI systems after modifying /etc/default/grub

I'm surprised that the Fedora documentation for working with GRUB 2 doesn't address rebuilding GRUB 2 entries for EFI booting.

They do address it, but they get it wrong.

The grub2-mkconfig instructions for both BIOS and UEFI systems are the same. The problem is that this instruction will only build the BIOS entries. The UEFI entries won't be rebuilt.

Once you have your changes set in /etc/default/grub, here is how to rebuild the GRUB 2 entries for BIOS and UEFI systems?

BIOS systems

# grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

UEFI systems

# grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/efi/EFI/fedora/grub.cfg

It is perfectly OK to do both of these commands (using root, hence the # prompt, or with sudo), but you do need the one that matches your booting method (BIOS for older systems, optionally UEFI for newer systems).

The only reason I figured this out is because I poked around quite a bit when having dual-booting issues. Someone should fix the Fedora GRUB page. I'm a Fedora member and could probably make the fix myself, but I'm not 100 percent sure what I'm doing here is the absolute best method because my GRUB bootlines after doing this look different then they do when the system (either yum or dnf) does a kernel update.

Sun, 23 Aug 2015

Bash script that mounts drive, backs up with rsync

I already use Bash scripts to run my rsync backups automatically, more to avoid mistakes in the rsync syntax (copying the wrong directory) than anything else.

I've been wanting to improve the script both to enhance portability by setting the target and destination directories with variables and to auto-mount the destination drive if it is not mounted already.

I decided to start with a Google search, and this entry from Frustrated Tech does exactly what I need:

Sat, 25 Jul 2015

Still using Linux, just not talking/reading/obsessing about it

I'm probably using more Linux than ever. My laptop runs Fedora. I'm the admin on a server running CentOS.

I will keep doing those things.

But today I unsubscribed from most of the mailing lists that have been flowing through my Gmail account over the past few years.

The Debian, Fedora, Xubuntu and Lubuntu users list? All gone. So are the development lists for Debian, Fedora and Xubuntu, and most of the others. I'm keeping a few low-volume lists. For now anyway.

I was always more of a lurker than active participant on all of those mailing lists.

Lately, and probably before that, I didn't find much of value in most of that mail. Even though the quality of the Fedora lists is a bit higher than average, I wasn't getting a whole lot out of them. I'd scan the mail, maybe read one or two posts every few days, then delete the whole lot.

At this point, I see my operating system as a tool. To get things done.

I'm not interested in Linux evangelism. If you want to use it, that's great. I still do and will do.

If not, that's cool. Do what makes you happy.

I'm still a satisfied user of Linux. It's pretty much all I've run on my laptops since maybe 2009, and I messed around a whole lot with it before that, starting in late 2006 if I remember correctly.

There's more to life.

There's my family. I sure as hell want to do better where they're concerned.

Putting together coherent sentences? I'm still very much interested.

I've threatened to write about more than Linux for years. I'd like to write about things that aren't technology. It's been in the sidebar of this particular blog for as long as I've been writing it.

I see the "tech guy" on the morning news, and I wince. Is that me? Other than the fact that I'm very obviously not on TV, I worry that it is.

There's more to life than gadgets and apps.

That being said (there's always a that being said) ...

It sounds like I'm just on the other end of the same pool, but lately programming has dominated what little free time I have. I read a whole lot about it. And occasionally do it. Maybe I'll be able to tip the scales toward more doing in the near future.

I've been playing with Go, Perl, Python and Ruby. I need to focus.

Coding is what interests me at the moment.

What I'm not playing with are Linux distributions. I don't burn ISOs of anything, don't install just to see what something's like.

New releases of obscure distributions, or even not-so-obscure ones? I'm just not into it.

The ins, outs, politics and boiling pots of the Linux world? Not interested.

Give me my working Fedora system (or maybe Debian if the hardware is willing) and let me do my work, write my code, live my life.

If that sounds melodramatic, so be it.

I reserve the right to change my mind. But for now, I'm 50 other things first and a Linux user after that.

Tue, 26 May 2015

Trying to remove LXDE from Fedora 21 breaks Xfce, and why Fedora makes for a sturdy Citrix platform

I installed the LXDE desktop environment a while back. Part of me just wanted to check it out because it has been awhile. But I also was "auditioning" it as a potential working environment in Fedora because I'm now doing a lot more of my work via Citrix Receiver in Linux instead of Windows.

As a current Xfce user, moving to LXDE isn't quite the culture shock as it would be going from, say GNOME or KDE to the LXDE environment.

Things I liked in LXDE included that it picked up on the Adiwata Dark theme I'm using in GNOME and had a lot more "darkness" to it than Xfce picks up when I choose Adiwata on that side and Adiwata Dark in GNOME. Doing the latter makes GTK3 apps show up with a dark theme, though all GTK2 apps are as white as the Xfce Adiwata theme makes them.

Things I didn't like included a lack of screen animation when clicking an application button in a panel (I never knew if I really clicked it or not) and (more crucially) no way to manage touchpad tap-to-click in a GUI.

Yeah, it came down to touchpad management. Xfce is good at it. LXDE is not.

So I stopped using LXDE, barely used GNOME 3 (too many issues with Citrix and too hard to configure the way I want/need it to be) and focused on Xfce as my go-to desktop environment.

I recently removed the desktop pager from my upper panel to keep myself from accidentally clicking into a second desktop and causing my Citrix apps to lose their connection to the server. It's barbaric. But I can accept it.

And now LXDE has been hanging around unused on my Fedora system for more than a little time.

I figured, why not remove it?

So I went into my favorite Fedora package manager, searched for LXDE and removed everything that came up.

Bad move.

There were things in that mass package removal that Xfce needs.

After that ill-fated software removal, Xfce lost its wallpaper. And its ability to pretty much work at all. Applications would launch, but they would no longer refresh on the screen. And I couldn't do much of anything.

How did I set things right?

I went into Yumex again -- yes, it did work -- and added back all of the LXDE items.

Now Xfce works once again. And I still have LXDE.

Thu, 02 Apr 2015

Printing in Linux with the HP LaserJet 1020: The 2015 edition

Printing in Linux with the HP LaserJet 1020 has been a battle since forever. It used to be easier.

Back in Fedora 19, it really did just work. Same with older versions of Debian. (Can you tell I've had this printer a long, long time? It was cheap. It is small. It still works.)

But since Fedora 20 (and into Fedora 21, and other Linux distributions, as a trip around the web will confirm), it's been hell to get this printer to work.

That's because HP cheaped out with the LaserJet 1020 and didn't put the necessary firmware on board. You have to load that firmware with every print.

Linux should be able to handle this. Hell, HP's own HPLIP utility should be able to handle it.

No and no.

The printer shows up as a USB device, but neither CUPS nor HPLIP acknowledges its existence.

Every few months or so, I try again. I re-Google and look for clues. I go back and try things again.

Today I came upon Mark911's How to install printer drivers for HP Laserjet 1020 in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS 64-bit without needing access to openprinting.org website and without using buggy hplip drivers. (That title is even longer than my titles ...)

It basically says, "Get rid of HPLIP, don't use the foo2zjs driver with your distro, and instead go to the source, compile it yourself, add the firmware and go to town.

So I did just that. I went to http://foo2zjs.rkkda.com/. First I used my favorite Fedora package manager, Yumex, to get rid of HPLIP and foo2zjs (the latter from RPM Fusion, if I'm correct).

During the process, I also had to get rid of system-config-printer-udev to get hot-plugging set up.

I downloaded the foo2zjs source from http://foo2zjs.rkkda.com/, followed the instructions for compiling it, getting the HP LaserJet 1020 firmware, configuring hotplugging and restarting the CUPS spooler.

Then I started Fedora's system-config-printer GUI (which you can start from the menu as Administration - Print Settings or at the console with system-config-printer, sent out a test page, which worked (!!!), and the proceeded to print a document out of gedit, which also worked.

The question now is, will this loveliness survive a reboot?

Later: This configuration does survive a reboot. And a suspend/resume.

SELinux trouble?: If SELinux throws an error when you plug in your USB printer, follow the utility's instructions for allowing an exception for your printer.

Wed, 01 Apr 2015

Reddit: Why do developers choose OS X over Linux?

If you're wondering why real-life developers (and I suppose primarily web developers) who happen to hang out on Reddit often choose OS X over Linux for their laptop/desktop operating system, read this lengthy Reddit thread, which Jim Lynch brought to my attention.

Especially due to the large number of comments, it provides a very interesting snapshot of why a given developer chooses one platform or another.

Since you can now embed Reddit comments in your HTML, I'll provide a few samples:

There are 500+ more comments over at Reddit, and the thread is well worth reading.

My $.02

  • I neither need nor can afford the Adobe Creative Suite. I use GIMP, Inkscape, Gthumb, Irfanview under Wine, OpenShot (and I hope to pick up KDEnlive).
  • If I needed Microsoft Office, I could run it under Wine or in a VM. (Now I do most things in Google Docs/Spreadsheets or LibreOffice, if not in a local text editor)
  • I am a Linux hobbyist, and meeting the little challenges required to set up a computer with Linux is something that I enjoy. Yes, I'm probably a glutton for punishment. And things are never as smooth as billed in the "other" OSes (Windows and OS X).
  • There will always be Linux distributions that will work on my hardware and have timely security and bug-fix support. Windows is OK at this, but Apple sucks hard by orphaning hardware with no regrets (on their part, anyway).
  • I love coherent, systemwide package management and vast software repositories.


  • If my work required an Adobe-type proprietary application or three, I'd have to run them on OS X or Windows. I would do that if I had to.
  • Even though, as I mention above, I'm a self-proclaimed Linux hobbyist, going months and months on hardware without checking off all of my "it works" boxes can be disheartening.

That said, my laptop price point is ~ , and that's well below anything Apple offers.

Wed, 14 Jan 2015

Answers from a Fedora Xfce developer

Fedora developer (and Red Hat employee) Kevin Fenzi answers questions that users have about the project's Xfce spin in a new blog post.

As a longtime user of Fedora's Xfce spin, naturally I'm interested.

He covers:

  • The reasons why Xfce 4.11 is not in Fedora Rawhide (because there is no 4.12 release imminent, and 4.11 in "stable" Fedora would be bad, but there is a COPR repo for those who want it)

  • Rumors that Xfce, the project, is dead (It's not -- fixes and small changes continue to be committed; there's just no timetable for a 4.12 release)

  • The Xfce spin leaving its 700MB CD size behind and now aiming at 1 GB USB flash drive size in Fedora 22

  • Xfce continuing to be available for RHEL/CentOS users in EPEL

  • Ways of making Xfce work better on HIDPI displays (but don't expect miracles until Xfce adopts gtk3)

Read the original post. It's well worth it.

I've been running the Fedora Xfce Spin since F18, and I think it's one of the best-kept secrets in the Xfce-running distro world. It comes well-configured out of the box, looks great, is as cutting-edge as you'd want and really does just work most of the time.