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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Fri, 19 Dec 2014

I'm running Fedora 21 with Wayland, and so far (almost) everything is working just fine

After saying I wouldn't jump into a Fedora 21 upgrade, I rather quickly had a change of heart and mind, ran a Fedup upgrade and am now running Fedora 21 on my go-to HP Pavilion g6 laptop.

With Wayland.

Yep, one of the new features of the GNOME 3.14-running Fedora 21 is a preview of the next-generation, post-X Window Wayland display manager, and you can choose "GNOME with Wayland" in the login/session manager.

I'm running Wayland right now. I've heard the caveat many times: Not all applications will work in Wayland. But so far, every application I've tried (Firefox, Gedit, Transmission, FileZilla, VLC, Files/Nautilus, Liferea, Yumex, Google Chrome, Geany, even apps in Wine) has run in Wayland with no trouble.

I've been running Fedora 21 for a few days now, spending most of my time in the non-Wayland world of Xfce and GNOME with X, and the system is as solid as ever. And by that I mean pretty damn solid.

The only glitch I've had with Wayland has been in suspend/resume, which is pretty touchy anyway with my hardware. (I've probably written 50 posts about it since I got this laptop.) When running Wayland, the laptop will suspend and then resume, but I'm seemingly "detached" from my session and have to log in again. At this point I'm logged in twice. This doesn't happen in X. If this is the only thing I can find wrong with Wayland, I'll still consider it pretty remarkable.

Just from a "look and feel" perspective, GNOME 3.14 is working better and faster than version 3.10 did in Fedora 20. I'm not saying I'm going to throw Xfce over for it, but the environment is more usable than ever. I moved to the Adiwata Dark theme while still in F20, and everything looks that much better in F21.

As I've said since I began running Fedora 18 on this laptop and upgrading via Fedup to each subsequent release, a system as forward-looking as Fedora shouldn't be anywhere near as stable as it is. It's a tribute to the developers for Fedora and the many upstream projects that go into the distribution.

Today marks only nine days since Fedora 21 went stable, and my system is running like a well-maintained watch.

So if you think of yourself as the adventurous type, someone who likes everything to be pretty new all the time but doesn't really want to deal with a lot of breakage and is curious about Wayland in the real world, give Fedora 21 a try.

Later: You know what got fixed in Fedora 21 that was broken in F20? Mounting of Apple iOS 8 devices.

Fri, 12 Dec 2014

Fedora 20 confession: Now that F21 is out, I'm enjoying the quiet

So I haven't upgraded my daily-drive Fedora 20 system to Fedora 21, which was released two short days ago.

From what I can see, the RPM Fusion repositories are ready for F21. Google Chrome might break, but a quick removal and reinstall should fix that.

In F21, there will be many changes in the GNOME desktop environment and applications.

But for my go-to desktop environment, Xfce, it's going to be pretty much the same. (Yes, Xfce is moving glacially slow, and I've heard talk of people turning to the GNOME 2-inspired Mate desktop because it's under heavy development.)

My web browsers (Firefox and Chrome) won't fall behind. I get the latest versions from Fedora and Google, respectively.

I'm dabbling in Ruby, and F20 has version 2.0. F21 has 2.1, but at the level I'm at, it doesn't matter.

And now that all the heat is on F21, it's been relatively quiet, update-wise for F20. It's a bit closer to running Debian Stable. After awhile you get a few security patches here and there, but updates are quiet and quick.

Even an old (but still supported) Fedora release gets more updates than a current Debian Stable, but for the moment, I'm enjoying the ritual of staring Yumex and seeing either only a few or, better yet, no updates waiting to be installed.

Sure I'll move to F21. It could be tomorrow (probably not) or next month (you're getting warm). But what's the hurry?

Wed, 03 Dec 2014

So I did a Fedora 21 install, and the Anaconda installer was efficient and super quick

I needed to do a bare-metal install of Fedora 21 today, and I used the beta image for the live Xfce Spin.

I didn’t do anything special. The whole disk was devoted to Fedora. I encrypted everything.

It was probably the quickest Linux install I’ve ever done — even quicker than OpenBSD’s excellent text-based installer, where if you go with the defaults you have a working system within minutes.

Sure Ananconda isn’t “linear” like other installers, but once you get used to its “hub and spoke” logic, you can bring up a Fedora system very, very quickly.

As much as I love Debian, whenever I try to do anything complicated with disk partitioning, I run into trouble. Ubuntu’s Ubiquity installer is pretty good, too. But considering the bad press that Fedora/RHEL’s Anaconda installer has gotten over the past few years, once you get to know it, you can do installs very quickly and efficiently.

Tue, 14 Oct 2014

Dietrich T. Schmitz of Linux Advocates likes Fedora 21 Workstation

The reviews are starting to roll in for the now-alpha Fedora 21 Workstation, and Dietrich T. Schmitz of Linux Advocates likes what he sees so far:

It's a good sign when I find myself smiling, which is what happened after installing Fedora 21 Alpha Workstation. As I write, and after a week of poking around Fedora Workstation Alpha, I am thinking: "This is Alpha? It's more production-ready than other general releases I have seen". Seriously Folks, it's that stable. The most obvious change? Visual. Fedora Workstation gets the proverbial face lift with GNOME 3.14. And that is what keeps me smiling.

Go to Dietrich's review for more on F21 Workstation, including screenshots.

Wed, 24 Sep 2014

Hammering hard on Xfce 4.10 in Fedora 20

So I'm working from home today and doing the full breaking-news production routine (anything that nine websites throws at me plus other assorted sundries) in Fedora 20 with Xfce 4.10. When I'm at the office, I usually split the load between a monster ThinkCentre machine (8 GB RAM, AMD CPU with 4 cores) running Windows 7 and this less powerful laptop with Fedora/Xfce (3 GB RAM, AMD APU with 2 cores).

But today I only have the laptop.

First, my latest software change: It's been getting more and more difficult to run the AMD Catalyst driver in Fedora. For the past month and then some, running Google Chrome would crash X if I didn't start it with just the right command switch. Then Firefox started crashing X if I opened up certain web sites in a new tab. File that under "time to ditch Catalyst."

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