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openSUSE 10.2 Alpha 3 Report

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Well, openSUSE 10.2 Alpha 3 is in our midst and Tuxmachines is here to keep you posted. This release we tested both an upgrade and a fresh install. We found this to be a very interesting release to say the least. It's an alpha to be sure to say the most.

Ok, let's expand on the most. My first interest was in the upgrade procedure - would it complete and provide an equal system to a fresh install? Then one has to decide to update from outside the system through the installer or from within the system with yast2 software manager (system update). Since I had had some questions from users concerning the update feature, I decided to test that method. So from my alpha2 install I defined my new alpha 3 repository and let the system update. The online update didn't show any updates until about 1/2 way through the update through the software manager. The software manager found over 300 packages to update and afterwards, the online update still found 13 more. After all the updates installed with no errors and a reboot, I discovered that didn't work out real well. X wouldn't start at all and yast2 at the commandline seg faulted. There had been some dependency issues and I was asked how to handle them. I used my best judgement, but perhaps this could have contributed to the failure. I decided not to waste much more time here and to test a fresh install.

There were some changes in the installer. I'd forgotten to check the most annoying bugs list before testing, but the graphical installer was working. You might recall my mentioning the new boot screen last report, and it is still that close-up photo of a lizard. The first new element spotted was at the license agreement screen. On the "you know this is beta and we aren't responsible yadda yadda" screen, the new naming convention is apparent. This release was officially tagged as openSUSE 10.1.1 Alpha 3.

There were the now familiar Validation Check Failure errors when the setup system began to start. It also complained about No Checksum Found for every setup file it loaded. Checking "don't show this screen again" checkbox didn't have the desire effect and I had to agree to each and file individually. Thank goodness it was only about a dozen or so of them. I hoped this wouldn't happen on each and every package we were going to install.

The software package selection section has changed this release. Instead of the previous selections categories, we now have "patterns." Similar in nature, but extremely slimmed down, this might make the install a faster process, but it results in a much smaller system. You can still go into the time-consuming Package Groups to choose all your favorites and must-haves such as the kernel-source, but by default we now see a scaled-down setup similar to the following:

  • Base Technologies

    • openSUSE Base System

    • Novell AppArmor
  • Graphical Environments
    • Gnome Desktop Environment

    • KDE Desktop Environment
    • X Window System
  • Primary Functions
    • Graphics (contains only gimp)

    • Gnome Graphics (ex.: eog and f-spot)
    • KDE Graphics (ex.: gimp, kdegraphics-kamera, and gwenview)
    • Print Server (ex.: cups and samba)
    • DHCP and DNS Server
  • Development
    • Basis Development (ex.: gcc, cvs, automake, and ncurses)

    • C/C++ Development (ex.: electricfence, boost, and ltrace)

This yielded a system size less than half of my past SUSE Linux installs. Looking on the good side, it does combat the accusation of being "bloated." This step finished par for the course and we were soon ready for the final configurations.

Hostname, root password, and network configurations are as we remember. Testing the network connection returned a success while the online update setup failed. Next came Users, clean-up, and Release Notes. The Release Notes contained no information.

Backing up to the bootloader configuration for a minute, I had someone ask about auto-detection of other Linux system by the installer. You can about surmize the Linux systems installed on my machine by taking a look at the original content list. I have 22 different various Linux and BSD-clone installs including SLED 10r3 and a couple of older SUSE installs on hdb. The openSUSE bootloader configuration detected four of them. It found Kate OS 3.0b1 which it identified as Debian, Kate OS 3.0 which it identified as Ubuntu, DreamLinux 2.0 which it called Ubuntu, and PCLOS .93a which it called Linux. I don't usually let new systems install a bootloader, and as such makes little difference to me. I just thought this was a bit interesting and worth mentioning. It's possible that the DreamLinux kernel could identify itself as Ubuntu, but I doubt very seriously that the Kate OS developers base anything on Debian or Ubuntu.

Next was the final hardware configuration. This step has either changed some or was having problems. I was used to a long list of hardware to adjust or accept including things such as graphics, tv card, and sound, but this time it only detected and offered my printer and sound. Finishing up the install it started the installed system and X.

Here's where things got real interesting. I have to draw the parallel between some of the "bugs" found in openSUSE as also found in Mandriva 2007 Beta 1. Many if not all of the same X bugs I complained about in my article on Mandriva were also found in openSUSE 10.2 alpha 3. The ugly fonts were present in both, sluggish performance under vesa, and excessive cpu usage wer found in both. openSUSE added limited screen resolution and no nv support. I say no nv support because although I edited my xorg.conf file by hand to make the change to nv, my changes were ignored. I couldn't try to configure X by yast as I was stuck in this "we need to install xorg-x11-server-glx" loop. I suspect this is all related to using Xorg 7.1.1 (7.1.99.2). I did a quick check for Xorg bugs relating to these issues, but all I found were nvidia proprietary driver listings. I might do a more thorough search later. As slow as Xorg moves, I fear continuing problems throughout the 10.2 lifespan for nvidia card users. Hopefully it's just one or two specific chipsets.

    

The next issue cropped up when I wanted to take screenshots of the new wallpaper. This release brings a lovely variation on the blue wispy wallpapers we've seen in (open)SUSE lately. Did I mention the new KDE starting splash? This too is new this release. It's a really nice royal blue background with the a new openSUSE logo.


There was no ksnapshot in the menu. Knowing I had a scaled-down install, my first instinct was to fire-up yast2 and look for missing KDE packages. But whoops, my root password wouldn't work - several times. I found I could sudo /sbin/yast2 and get the ascii version, but not until after sudo passwd and discovering my password rememberance wasn't the problem.

The graphical yast2 would start from the commandline as well. The software manager in Yast itself seems to be functioning pretty good this release. I couldn't find a scanner config under Hardware and discovered I had to install Yast-scanner. Come on, really. That should not be one of the "extras." However, after install of said package, scanner detection and operation was as desired.

        

In attempting to test Gnome, I found no option for it in the login manager. Using console login, it could be started from the command prompt. Upon start I got two errors. One was "There was an error starting the GNOME Settings Daemon" and "Power Manager did not start." But otherwise we find Gnome 2.12.2 with the signature customized SUSE Gnome menu system.

        

On the desktop we discover that the Firefox icon is inoperative. Trying to start Firefox at the commandline we find out that it's seg faulting.

Some RPM version highlights this release include:

  • OpenOffice_org-2.0.3-3

  • MozillaFirefox-1.5.0.6-2
  • xorg-x11-7.1-11
  • kdebase3-3.5.4-3
  • gnome-desktop-2.12.2-26
  • kernel-source-2.6.18_rc4-2
  • gcc-4.1.3-3
  • Full RPMList


Some Changelog highlights can include:

++++ bitstream-vera:

- install into /usr/share/fonts/truetype

++++ xorg-x11-Xvnc:

- created package

++++ coreutils:

- Move sux to %{_bindir}.

++++ dejavu:

- BuildRequires: xorg-x11-devel is necessary to detect Xorg X11R7.

++++ filesystem:

- Add /usr/share/fonts and remove /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts

++++ kernel-default:

- patches.fixes/kbuild-fix-external-module: kbuild fixes for
2.6.18.
- rpm/kernel-source.spec.in: don't remove include/config/*
for building external modules.
- Update kdb patches.

++++ xorg-x11-driver-video:

- updated i810/intel driver to release 1.6.3

++++ Crystalcursors:

- fix for Xorg 7.1 (move to /usr/share/icons)

++++ gimp:

- Changed branding to SuSE Linux 10.2.

++++ gnome2-SuSE:

- Updated to SuSE Linux 10.2 branding.

++++ kdebase3-SuSE:

- artwork update for openSUSE 10.2

++++ hal:

- disables following patches for STABLE/SL10.2Alpha3, they cause a
segmenatation fault in the STABLE tree:
- hal-performance-properties2.diff
- hal-performance-properties_fix_compiler_warnings.diff
- disabled SLE10 specific patch for DBUS

++++ Full Changelog since Alpha 2.

Well, it was time to check out the Most Annoying Bugs list to see if there was any mention of a workaround for the X issue among others. It came as no real surprize to find most of my issues listed. The most annoying bug list contains:

  • YaST does not allow X11 configuration since it asks for non-existant xorg-x11-server-glx Bug #198250. Note: I could run X11 nevertheless and logged into both KDE and GNOME
  • zen-updater always shows patterns to update Bug #198379
  • f-spot does not work Bug #198377
  • gnome-wm does not handle X11R7 Bug #197093
  • Firefox does not start Bug #197928
  • Registration fails with an internal server error Bug #198381
  • applications using python-gtk are broken, e.g. smart-gui Bug #198391
  • kde su does not accept correct password Bug #198408
  • Most kernel module packages are not build against the new 2.6.18rc4 kernel. If you need them, I advise to wait for their update. The Xen packages are not adjusted either.
  • The change of branding (from "SUSE Linux 10.1" to "openSUSE 10.2") is not complete.
  • X Server fails to start with error message "could not open default font 'fixed'", because SaX2 writes wrong font path entries into /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Replace /usr/lib/X11/fonts with /usr/share/fonts/ as workaround. Bug #198653


I didn't check f-spot, and I don't mess with zen. I didn't get the "X server fails due to fixed font" problem with the fresh install, but perhaps this was the issue with the upgrade. Everything else on the list was spot-on.

I think the biggest issue is with this Xorg version. If developers insist upon using it, there are going to be a lot of unhappy users. I've experienced issues to a smaller degree with a couple of other distros as well using later 7.1 versions. I'm all for bleeding edge and don't mind minor breakage here and there, but the X server is one thing that needs to function fairly properly. I'm afraid like with Mandriva, this issue just spoils the whole experience and labels this release as not download-worthy. I'm not sure what other graphic chipset will have a problem, but nvidia is definitely one of them.

10.2 Alpha 2 Report.


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In Memoriam: Robin "Roblimo" Miller, a Videographer and Free Software Champion

Videographer Robin Roblimo Miller

Robin "Roblimo" Miller was a clever, friendly, and very amicable individual who everyone I know has plenty of positive things to say about. I had the pleasure of speaking to him for several hours about anything from personal life and professional views. Miller was a very knowledgeable person whose trade as a journalist and video producer I often envied. I have seen him facing his critics in his capacity as a journalist over a decade ago when he arranged a debate about OOXML (on live radio). Miller, to me, will always be remembered as a strong-minded and investigative journalist who "did the right thing" as the cliché goes, irrespective of financial gain -- something which can sometimes be detrimental to one's longterm health. Miller sacrificed many of his later years to a cause worth fighting for. This is what we ought to remember him for. Miller was - and always will be - a FOSS hero.

May everything you fought for be fulfilled, Mr. Miller. I already miss you.

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