Sunday, October 28, 2007

Compiz bug workaround

Couple of days ago I mentioned a bug in Compiz that made kscreensaver not cover the whole screen as it should. I accidentally discovered the solution to this problem by way of a botched upgrade to Compiz 0.6.2.

Here's the story, I read on a adamw's blog that the backports for the new Compiz and Compiz Fusion releases have hit the 2008 repositories. Of course I immediately jumped in to upgrade. Well, things didn't go too well. After upgrading I found compiz-fusion refused to start. It complained that ccp was still on the old version, I couldn't figure out what happened, so I gave up, uninstalled the new stuff & installed the original back but not before I had a quick look around ccsm to see what's new. This is where I found an entry I didn't notice before, this is where I found my workaround.

OK enough history, this is it; Window Decoration -> Decoration windows: any & !name=kdesktop_lock

Basically, this completely solved the kscreensaver issue. I'm not too upset with the bad upgrade, the only reason I wanted to upgrade was to get rid of bugs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tips for running Mandriva 2008 on a Toshiba Satellite M200

If you have a Intel Graphics card like mine, you can't miss out trying KRandRTray. You'll have access to all the functions of the video card, like clone / extended desktop and even rotate. It's excellent for working with projectors.

Toshiba Fn Hotkeys
As to be expected, not all the hotkeys would work. Luckily all the important ones did. Already working were the LCD/VGA display switcher, brightness up/down and suspend to ram key. The keys that will not work are the media player, lock pc, backlight off, suspend to disk, wifi scan & touchpad toggle keys. To enable the other hotkeys on this Toshiba, you will need to change the keyboard type, the standard installation set the keyboard to a "Generic 105 key (Intl) PC" keyboard. You will need to change this in Mandriva Control Center (MCC), under Hardware->Set up keyboard layout->Keyboard type-> Select Toshiba Satellite S3000. This will enable the remaining hotkeys, namely Wifi killswitch, Volume dial, browser, play/pause, stop, prev & next keys.

LCD Brightness
In Mandriva 2007.1, the LCD is brightness can't be changed by either the hotkeys or kpowersave. I had to resort to a hack using /proc/acpi and laptop-mode. This time round the LCD brightness worked with the hotkeys & kpowersave but reacted strangely to the brightness slider in kpowersave, as you slid down the bar the brightness would go up & down erratically. Eventually I discovered again through /proc/acpi that only the following percentages worked 10 25 35 50 60 75 100. Using these values in the kpowersave profiles worked very well. Any other value would set the brightness to the lowest.

Chicony 1.3MP Webcam
This webcam works very well in aMSN. It's a little iffy in Kopete with intermittent color. Completely useless in Pidgin.

Some compiz-fusion bugs
There only 3 bugs with compiz-fusion that I've encountered. First is an issue with the kscreensaver whereby the screensaver will come out but not cover the whole screen as it should. This can be solved by using the workaround in CompizConfig Settings Manager (ccsm) called 'Fullscreen Legacy Support'. However locking the screen using the lock button still causes the issue. The second bug is an intermittent issue when I login in & out of a session, sometimes the hot corners / screen edges stop working until I open ccsm & make some changes. The final bug is a intermittent crash of compiz-window-decorator whenever I switch the K Menu button to another style, such as Kickoff or Default KDE. The issue only occurs during the change, once done it does work fine.

That's all I can write about this topic, Mandriva has been working great so far on this laptop & is actually giving me very decent (better than Windows Vista) battery life. I'm lovin' it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Some screenshots of my Mandriva 2008 box

Some nice new screenshots of my newly upgraded Satellite M200 to Mandriva 2008.

My new Desktop:

The new Compiz-Fusion Cube: (with a nice reflective base)

The new Compiz-Fusion Expo plugin (shows all 4 desktops at once for managing windows)

Lovely isn't it.

Now here's a picture of the Toshiba Satellite M200 that I'm running this on.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mandriva 2008 Finally Arrives

After an irritatingly long wait, Mandriva 2008 finally gets released. I quickly tested out the Mandriva One LiveCD to check how it'll run on my Toshiba notebook, happy to say it runs much better than before.

All the following things are now working without any tweaking:
1. Wireless kill switch works for both Wifi & Bluetooth
2. Hotkeys are now detected without the omnibook module
3. LCD brightness can now be adjusted by both the Fn hotkeys and kpowersave
4. Headphone & mic jacks now work as intended

New features added include:
1. Battery life greatly improved thanks to the new tickless kernel
2. A single, consolidated tool named draknetcenter for network configuration
3. Windows documents and settings migration tool
4. Significant Improvements to rpmdrake
5. NTFS write support built into diskdrake
6. Compiz Fusion replaces Beryl & Compiz

The list goes on, with a long list of improvements in hardware support.

I'm been running it for 3 days on my Toshiba Satallite M200 & it's been working very well. Much of the hardware in this notebook was considered 'too new' for Linux just 4 months ago when I tried, Suse, Ubuntu & Mandriva & they all fell down. It's amazing to see the speed that Linux software has been progressing lately.

I'll post a screenshot once I've got the system setup just the way I want it. Till then I'll be busy trying everything until something breaks... ;)

Friday, October 5, 2007

CentOS 4.5 A Better EL than RHEL

Recently I've been having the time of my life fooling about with RHEL4, I wanted to discover how one would go about running a RHEL4 server in a small office with mixed Windows & Linux clients.

Although the company gives me access to the RHEL CDs and full documentation, I hit a roadblock very quickly, I couldn't have access to the internet so I can only do my tinkering in an isolated LAN. The lack of yum in RHEL4 also meant installing software would be a pain. After suffering through several rounds of dependency hell, I decided to look for an alternative & I discovered CentOS.

CentOS is a enterprise linux based on RHEL, it is fully code & binary compatible with RHEL. I tried out CentOS 4.5 (clone of RHEL4 U5) & immediately took a liking to it. It's looks & works just like RHEL but came with some important extras, notably yum. Having DVD ISOs really made carrying it around a lot easier than 5 CDs.

If you work with RHEL & find it frustrating to deal with swapping CDs, dependency hell & using RHN. I would highly recommend that you give CentOS a chance.