Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lenovo S10-3 with 2.6.36

Yesterday, I updated the Arch Linux on the Lenovo S10-3 to the 2.5.36 kernel. As expected, ideapad-laptop driver is included with it and more of the hot keys worked.

The broadcom-wl package from AUR needed to be reinstalled and wifi worked fine.

There is one unfortunate surprise. The system malfunctions after sleep. On resumption, the display remains off. I can't seem to turn it on. Just to confirm that it was a kernel issue, I downgraded the kernel to 2.6.35 and sleep and resumption from sleep worked fine.

I may stick to 2.6.35 till I find a solution or a workaround.

Printer Issue after upgrade to Fedora14

I had not realised that I had not used the printer after upgrading to Fedora 14, hence, I suspected the printer. The printer was recognised. Cups would say - printing over. But there was not printout. There appeared to be no interaction with the computer at all.

The printer worked on the netbook, so the problem had to be with Fedora 14 on my desktop. Since everything seemed fine, I removed all referenced to the HP Deskjet, in particular /etc/cups/printers.conf, and that identified the issue.

Now, cups complained. It needed some more packages - foomatic and hpijs. As the upgrade had failed, these two packages were among the ones not installed and had not caused any issues till I decided to use the printer!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Great Excuse

Here a lovely quote from Indian Express: "the CM claimed that he was a victim of disinformation campaign and that he had continued practices set in motion by previous governments in the state"

It seems as if each passing year, amorality is stretched a little further. I wonder if it can ever be stretched so far that it will break.

Lenovo Wifi resolved

I decided to test the ideapad-laptop driver from 

I had thought that I would just need to compile and install just the driver. I, instead, needed to rebuild the kernel. The version was 2.6.36rc8. I also downloaded and installed the Broadcom wl driver, which, however, does not seem to be recognized - so far.

The nice aspect was that bluetooth was recognized and indicated that it was disabled. I enabled it and the wifi led worked!

I rebooted in the normal kernel and the wifi worked without needing to suspend the system and resume it.

It feels good to be able to resolve this problem without having to install windows - thanks to Ike Panhc and David Woodhouse. 

For more details about the driver:


Friday, November 12, 2010

On Slowness

Yesterday, I was restless. I stared reading Slowness by Milan Kundera and the following paragraph resonated with my restlessness:

"There is a Czech proverb that describes their easy indolence by a metaphor: 'They are gazing at God's windows.' A person gazing at God's windows is not bored; he is happy. In our world, indolence has turned into having nothing to do, which is a completely different thing: a person with nothing to do is frustrated, bored, is constantly searching for the activity he lacks."

Firefox 4 - Finally A Noticeable Change

I tried the new Firefox 4 pre8 beta on Fedora 14. I often use a ssh -X connection to another computer on the lan.

This time I could notice that browsing javascript rich sites was significantly better on the remote desktops using firefox 4. Scrolling was visibly smoother. It was virtually as smooth as on the desktop itself.

I had not found Google Chrome to be much better on the remote machine. So, although I use both Chrome and Firefox, latter continues to be my preferred browser.

The tabs are now above the toolbar but I did not really notice that at first.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Unity – Great to be Different

Buying a computer – whether a pc or a notebook is really very boring. It is depressing that while we are overwhelmed by the variety of soft drinks or flavours of potato chips, there is very little choice in the marketplace in the way we interact with a computer. Of course, we can take the computer home and customise its interface to our heart's delight, but its not the same thing. It would be nice to have each vendor's computers show some distinctive character and give the salesperson a chance to talk about the differentiation. One can spend hours in the store or debating with friends as I find people doing about their smart phones. That is why I was very happy to hear the news that Ubuntu will have a non-standard interface for Gnome.
Some credit should go to Xandros for the custom interface layer they developed for EEPC701. It was just a thin layer on top of the icewm window manager but it made it very easy to use the, predominantly, KDE applications bundled with the netbook.
Developing a complete window manager is expensive but a layer to give it a unique character is well worth the branding effort.
As I implied, it does not matter whether Ubuntu's Unity interface is better. The fact that it is different makes it special. If we examine the way the major desktop managers, Gnome and KDE, are evolving, we can see that they are making it easy to support the desktops on different types of machines, including netbooks, tablets and mobile devices. In the process, they have to make it easy to create very different look and feel for a common underlying framework, widgets and applets.
KDE4.5 offers the workspace option. We can see the possibilities by comparing the desktop workspace with the netbook workspace. Soon, there will be a mobile workspace as well.
Gnome 3 is headed in the same direction. MeeGo 1.0 and Ubuntu Unity netbook 10.10 are both based on gnome. Both use the mutter window manager. It would be hard tell that by looking at them. The difference lies in a plugin for mutter and a few configuration files.
Sooner or later, some manufacturers will start to offer a custom OS. I can imagine manufacturers and desktop designers sitting and debating the character of their product, the audience they are targeting, the values they wish to promote. Introduction of the new designs can be regular events. We can have our own favourite designers. We may not have a 24x7 ftv but a couple of hours a week on the latest in UI designs seems inevitable!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Upgrade to Fedora14

This time also, I updated Fedora using yum. On this occasion, the update was more challenging. The update failed in the middle and I had to recover the system from an inconsistent state.

I started the upgrade with the usual  first step.
$sudo rpm -Uv fedora-release-14-1.noarch.rpm

Next step was to empty the /var/cache/yum directory and started
$sudo yum update

It needed to download 2.6GB. The downloads succeeded and the update started. I was updating the system from a diskless system, in retrospect an unnecessary risk. My wife was working on the main system. The GUI sessions got stuck after a few hours. It seemed that the update had finished. I rebooted and the system seemed fine except that evolution failed to start.

A little investigation indicated that yum update had failed. I started
$sudo yum-complete-transaction
But after a considerable time, it indicated that the package database was not in a proper state and it could not continue. The rpmdb had both fc13 and fc14 packages installed for quite a few packages.

I used
$sudo package-clean --cleandupes

It took several hours but completed successfully. I now reran
$sudo yum update

This succeeded; however, package-clean seemed to have removed the desktop environments I was using - gnome, kde and LXDE. I had to reinstall these desktop environments. Since the packages had already been downloaded, it did not take time.

I am now working with Fedora 14 and install any missing packages as I need them. The time taken - a day. Not too bad given the problems encountered and the upgrade was certainly not boring this time.