Smolt in Mandriva

Some time ago, I introduced a package for Smolt in Mandriva Cooker. Smolt is a tool developed for Fedora which collects information about all your hardware and submits it to a central database. On the website, people can view all hardware entries and indicate which one is working OK for them. The database is also coupled with a wiki, where extra instructions can be written to get the hardware working. Smolt is used by default already for some time in Fedora and also in OpenSUSE.

To install the Smolt package in Mandriva 2009.1, run urpmi smolt or use the graphical software installer to install the smolt package. There is also a smolt-gui package, but unfortunately this graphical front-end has not been updated recently anymore and because of that it’s missing some crucial features. You can use it to submit your hardware profile, but the GUI will fail to communicate you the password you need to indicate which hardware is working on To get this password, you need to use the command line tool smoltSendProfile. smoltSendProfile will show you all information that will be sent, and after your confirmation it will submit this hardware profile to and it will give you the URL and password needed to edit the information.

It’s also a good idea to update the information in the database now and then, for example when you change some piece of hardware in your system, update your OS and/or start using a new kernel. The smolt package adds a cron script in /etc/cron.d/smolt which will update your hardware profile once a month. However, it is not activated by default. To activate it, edit the file /etc/sysconfig/smolt and set ENABLE_MONTHLY_UPDATE=1.

Updating to Mandriva 2009.1 (Cooker)

Today, the server running this website was update from Mandriva 2009.0 to 2009.1 Cooker by running urpmi –auto-select –allow-suggests with the Cooker mandriva-release package installed. All in all, the update went very smoothly. There was one file conflict in some KDE 4 related packages and I had to restart Apache 2 by hand because a httpd reload done when the awstats package was installed, failed because of the changed glibc. After the update I also removed KDE 4 because I don’t use it. Actually, it’s only extremely exceptional that I use X on this system (it’s mostly running headless), but it’s good to still have GNOME in case I have a problem with my laptop. I did not yet reboot the system; actually it is still running a 2.6.24 RC kernel with an uptime of more than one year. In the not too distant future, it’s possible this system will be migrated to a KVM virtual machine, so then it will definitely get a new kernel.

Last week-end, I also updated my parent’s system to 2009.1 Cooker. Actually, this system was still running Mandriva 2008.1 with KDE 3.5. Here I removed KDE too, and I installed GNOME. I consider KDE to be less stable than GNOME in general and I’ve heard all too often “feature X will only be done in next KDE 4.x release”, that it’s becoming annoying (e.g. just today I read that root support for System Settings was once again delayed to a later KDE release). So far, I haven’t received any complaint worth mentioning, so it seems the migration from KDE 3.5 to GNOME went very smoothly.

So if you are thinking of switching to Cooker, now is a great moment to do it. The OS is very stable, and the last little bugs are being ironed out. Personally I am not suffering from any showstopper bug anymore at this moment. The most annoying thing I’m seeing here, is that the second display is not switched off automatically if it’s disconnected while the machine is suspended and I have my serious doubts this will be fixed soon because Xorg’s bugzilla seems like a blackhole to me… Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to switch it off by hand by using GNOME’s screen resolution applet. All in all Mandriva 2009.1 will definitely be a much better release than 2009.0.

Updated system to 2009.1 beta/Cooker

Yesterday, I updated my system at home from Mandriva 2009.0 (with lots of personal backports, such as GNOME 2.24.3) to Mandriva Cooker, which rougly corresponds to beta 1 now.

I used urpmi to do the update. There were a few problems. Luma and anjuta2 still needed a rebuild (for new python 2.6 resp. binutils), so I submitted new releases of these packages to the repositories. Then the python 2.6 update would cause removal of some python packages, because the update of the python-devel packages was not done smoothly by urpmi. I submitted a a bug for that problem.

All in all, it’s a nice improvement over 2009.0. My system feels much more responsive now. I could remove the work-around I needed before to get snappy 2D X performance with my NVidia graphics card, and also Firefox and other applications seem to work more smoothly.

Evolution was still slow when using my slow IMAP server, but I could improve things a lot by cleaning up my IMAP mail folders a bit. Liferea, in the past my favourite RSS reader, still remains unusably slow in the 1.5 branch, which is probably caused by sqlite and which is a known problem. GNOME’s screensavers are broken and the invisible CPU frequency applet problem is back. The volume mixer is not working anymore if you don’t use PulseAudio, which is a rather notorious problem. GNOME’s Desktop icons are a bit smaller now. You also should not trust GNOME’s calculator, because it seems to give erroneous results. Compiz currently is also rather broken for me: Emerald is very unstable and gtk-window-decorator only displays a grey area instead of a the GNOME window decoration.

When enabling speedboot, I had the problem that X was started before dkms had rebuilt my NVidia drivers and it seems the powernow-k8 module (which I configured in /etc/modprobe.preload), was not loaded. I’ll need to verify the latter problem, and report those two problems.

KDE 4.2 seems to have improved over the previous versions. The fact that a folder view can be used as the desktop, finally brings back the feature we are used too from all other desktops, including previous KDE series. I also noted that kscd is still as ugly as before. However, I’ll probably remove KDE completely from my system soon. I don’t use it anyway, except for taking a quick look at it like now, and I have the feeling my bug reports (mostly about missing features and usability problems), don’t lead to much fixes anyway.

Apart from those mosly smaller problems, the OS is already very usable for me, even with the 2.6.29-rc5 TMB kernel which I’m using.