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Archive for the ‘GNU/Linux’ Category

Getting xinerama working with the closed source nVIDIA driver is easy. However, setting it up using the open source nv a bit tricker.

The solution, however, is quite easy once you know it 🙂 Figure out the total capacity of your screens:

$ xrandr -q

Add the horizontal and vertical max sizes of your screens and dive into your /etc/X11/xorg.conf and a Virtual directive to your Display sub section that accounts for the total virtual screen.

    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       24
        #  1440+1600  900+1200
        Virtual     3040 2100
    EndSubSection

The final step is then to set tell xrandr setup your xinerama. I kick off my X session with the .xinitrc file, so I’ve put these two lines there (if you don’t use this approach, you can just type these lines manually after logging in):

xrandr  --output VGA1 --off
xrandr  --output VGA1 --right-of LVDS --pos 1440x900 --auto

And that’s it! Xinerama without the need of a closed source binary driver 🙂

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Oracle nonsense

Was to install an Oracle DB on my Debian system the other day. Now, a big kudos to Oracle for providing Debian packages of their XE version. However, the non sense started once the thing was apt-get-ed.

It turned out that if you set the system user password to ‘admin’, you cannot log in! What kind of headless logic is that?!! And of course, there’s no way to re-set the admin password, so I had to re-install the DB to try a new password.

# apt-get --purge delete oracle-xe
# apt-get install oracle-xe

So, after setting the following in my .bashrc, I can enjoy (developer version of) Oracle 10.2.0.1.0 with less installation fuss than normal 🙂

######################################################################
# Oracle
######################################################################
export ORACLE_HOME=/usr/lib/oracle/xe/app/oracle/product/10.2.0/server
export ORACLE_OWNER=oracle
export ORACLE_SID=XE
export SQLPLUS=$ORACLE_HOME/bin/sqlplus
export LSNR=$ORACLE_HOME/bin/lsnrctl
export PATH=$ORACLE_HOME/bin:$PATH
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$ORACLE_HOME/lib:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH

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I’ve just installed the latest Debian “testing” on my new Thinkpad X300. I’m amazed. No, I’m speechless. Impressed. Wow!

I’ve gone from scratch (i.e. removing Windows and installing Debian) to a fully working system with wireless, all needed multimedia codecs, graphical desktop, office tools, skype, working webcam, 3D realtime rotating representation of the laptop (using the hardrive activity sensor inside the laptop) in 1-1.5 hours! Most of the time was spent copying the files from the CD and installing the packages on the net. I haven’t edited one configuration file, I haven’t tweaked a single kernel option. Nothing, nada.

Yes, I have been running Debian proper on all my computers the last eight years. And yes, I did get hints on the excellent http://thinkwiki.org/ on which extra packages to install and which modules to load. But still. Installing Debian proper (i.e. not Ubuntu, Xandros or any other derivative) on a laptop always used to involve tweaks to get things to work properly. It has gradually improved, I have noticed (for instance X configuration), but the experience today is still shockingly great.

Of course, a huge thanks should also go to everyone in the Linux eco system; the kernel team, GNU, GNOME, KDE, Mozilla and Sun (for releasing Java under a license so that I can apt-get it). Furthermore, although they’re closed source, I’ll give Adobe, Skype and Opera a big hand for creating Debian packages of their systems, the two latter ones even providing APT repositories for their programs I cannot live without.

Yeah!

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Vmware nonsense – again

In my last post I wondered how long it would take before vmware failed to compile again. A month it turned out. After today’s upgrade of my kernel etc, I got the following

  CC [M]  /tmp/vmware-config0/vmmon-only/linux/driver.o
/tmp/vmware-config0/vmmon-only/linux/driver.c:146: error: unknown field 'nopage' specified in initializer
/tmp/vmware-config0/vmmon-only/linux/driver.c:147: warning: initialization from incompatible pointer type
/tmp/vmware-config0/vmmon-only/linux/driver.c:150: error: unknown field 'nopage' specified in initializer
/tmp/vmware-config0/vmmon-only/linux/driver.c:151: warning: initialization from incompatible pointer type

sigh

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When upgrading one of the Debian stable server I administer with the latest security fixes to remedy the this bug in the ssl random number generator, I couldn’t get the newly generated server keys validated.

Amazing, I cannot believe this, having only stable package sources (with security), I upgraded all packages, but the newly generated server keys were always reported as compromised. Can it really be true that the openssl version in stable, 0.9.8c-4etch3 is not good enough to remedy the problem? I find this hard to believe.

In the end, I had to install the openssh-server package from the testing repository, after:

# rm /etc/ssh/ssh_host_*
# dpkg-reconfigure openssh-server

ssh-vuln was finally happy. Dead odd. I assume I’ve missed something, but cannot really tell what it could be.

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All of a sudden, after using Thunderbird happily for half a day, it all of a sudden stopped sending emails, complaining about my Temporary file/directory setting. However, I could not find any such setting in any of the configuration dialogues.

It turned out that my /tmp/ directory was not writable by my user, a quick chmod 777 on /tmp/ remedied it.

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Laptop Uptime

Today, my laptop has been up 178 days. This includes daily hibernation & weekly updates of the entire operating system. I’m impressed 🙂

For the curious, the details include Thinkpad X32 laptop, the Debian testing distribution with the Debian stable kernel (2.6.18).

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I was positively suprised to find a rather good RPM plugin for Maven2. It has a neat way of specify both mapping and package scripts. I haven’t looked at package dependencies yet, but it looks good!

Now, if only the DEB plugin for Maven2 would be usable, we would be in package heaven once again! For now, I’m experimenting with
alien --scripts file.rpm

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Interesting, this is the first time I’ve read someone favouring Debian over Ubuntu: MEPIS to Switch from Ubuntu to Debian.

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Because I can

There’re many reasons for why I compile the kernel myself. It’s to get some piece of hardware to work that the stock kernel doesn’t support (this is definitely the reason why started compiling the kernel years back), is to get it as fast and slim as possible, it’s to see where the kernel development is at, what new features are added, it’s to know exactly what and why it is working. But I think the biggest reason is because I can.

I’ve been running my work laptop quite happily on a 2.6.15.2 kernel for more than a year. Wireless works, so does sound, gigabit internet, bluetooth, ext3, NTFS, samba and so on. It was dead stable, I had daily hibernation for more than five months before some thoughtless windows colleague turned it off at a conference (he didn’t to it on purpose of course).

However, I switched to the open source radeon driver a while back becaues I was tired of the properiatary one from ATI kept crashing on me. And with this one, 3D acceleration didn’t work. So one day I got fed up with it (although it’s not important, I only use 3D for screensavers) and downloaded the latest kernel, 2.6.21.5, and compiled it with my old config.

After reboot, I got a kernel panic because it couldn’t find the harddisk (!) It turned out that the SATA drivers have moved in the kernel and hence my old config didn’t suffice. I.e. I needed to go through the kernel config and also add firewall support again (this had also moved, again). After my third recompile, everything worked.

Of course, the firmware for my wireless, ipw2200, didn’t work with the new kernel, so I also needed to fetch the latest firmware and replace the old one. No big deal some would say, but still a job that needs to be done.

You may ask why I went through all that hassle just to get the nice screensavers working? I could tell you becaues it’s nice to have 3D support just in case, I could tell you to get security fixes for any flaws that might have been discovered in the 2.6.15.2 and I could tell you that hibernation is now a lot faster. But the real reason I think is:

Because I can

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