Two weeks have passed, so it’s time for a Mandriva Cooker update again. There were lots of interesting changes in Cooker during this period:
- Mandriva’s boot splash is now provided by Plymouth, the same technology used by Fedora. Together with kernel mode setting (currently enabled for Intel graphics chipsets in the standard Mandriva kernel), this will provide a high resolution boot splash and high resolution virtual consoles and seamless switching between virtual consoles and X. Plymouth also makes more complex boot splash themes possible, but for now the Mandriva boot splash theme is the same as the one used in 2009.1
- A new vastly improved version of netprofile is out. This tool makes it possible to define different network, firewall and proxy settings and urpmi media for different networks you connect to.
- GNOME 2.28 beta 1 (2.27.90) is now available. It contains lots of bug fixes. People doing a new installation, will now get Empathy as the default instant messaging application. Empathy is a simple messenger based on the Telepathy framework. Telepathy has native connection managers for XMPP (Jabber), MSN, IRC and it can also connect to the networks supported by Pidgin if you install telepathy-haze. There is support for file transfer, audio and video using XMPP, however for more popular IM networks, it’s still limited to basic text messaging support for now.
- Pidgin has released version 2.6, which is now available in Cooker. The most important change, is that it now has video and audio support for XMPP (Jabber). MSN video support is in the works too and will be included in a future version of Pidgin.
- Still on the subject of instant messaging, the GTK+ MSN client Emesene has released version 1.5 which also includes experimental webcam support. Of course, it’s available in Cooker already.
- Firefox 3.5 has moved from the main/testing repository to main/release, which means all Cooker users will be upgraded to this new version automatically.
- OpenOffice.org now has a new icon set which integrates nicely in the KDE 4 environment.
- libjpeg was updated to version 7. This required a rebuild of lots of packages in the distribution. Some rebuilds are still left to do during the coming days and weeks.
- The Vuze Bittorrent client has been updated to version 4.2 and many packaging fixes were made.
- KDE 3.5 is being removed completely from the distribution. All KDE 3 applications will be removed and replaced by a KDE 4 version if there is one available.
Also Mandriva Linux 2010.0 beta 1 was just released. If you want to help testing, now is the right moment to help testing all these new features. As always: don’t run it on mission critical systems yet, because there will be bugs. Report bugs you discover on Mandriva’s bugzilla.
There were a lots of package updates in Mandriva Cooker during the last two weeks, amongst others because of rebuilds of all Perl packages. Currently a complete rebuild of all packages in the Main repository is going on. Here’s a list of some more interesting changes:
- Pam was updated to stable release 1.1.0 and Hal version 0.5.1 is now in Cooker. Pam_console and Hal won’t take care anymore of setting the right permissions on hardware devices for console users. Instead, udev and consolekit will deal with this.
- GNOME 2.27.5 is now available. Totem’s YouTube plug-in is working again, and it’s now possible to not to be warned again when a file system is full.
- Python 3 is now available in contrib. For compatibility reasons, Python 2.6 will remain the default Python version now.
- F-Spot has been updated to version 0.6.0. One of the nice things is a folder bar which you can use to organize folders to your liking.
- VirtualBox 3 (more precisely version 3.0.4) entered Cooker. VirtualBox now supports SMP virtual machines and has improved 3D support and better performance.
- Emacs 23.1 includes many major improvements: UTF-8 support, font anti-aliasing, running text terminals and X displays in one Emacs session, Ruby support and more.
- urpmi and it’s back-end perl-URPM have seen many improvements which should help resolving complex dependencies, for example when upgrading from an old version of the distribution to a newer one.
- KDE 4.3.0 final is now available in Cooker. For a nice overview of all the new features since KDE 4.2 from Mandriva 2009.1, read the official KDE 4.3 announcement.
- The Firebird database pacakges have seen many improvements and should start working well soon.
An update of the noteworthy Cooker changes was long overdue. Here’s a short, incomplete summary:
My Mandriva 2009.1 system at home had become a bit slow lately, and so I decided to do some attempts to make it a bit faster again. This is not the most powerful system anymore (Asus A8N-SlI NForce4 motherboard, Athlon 64 3500+, 3 GB RAM, 250 GB SATA-1 disk, NVidia 6600 GT graphics card), but it sometimes felt very slow because of lots of disk activity, especially during start-up. I succeeded in improving the performance noticeably: the disk activity now stops much earlier after log-in and after starting Evolution.
I did some different changes at once and have not always measured what was the impact of each individual change. So your mileage may vary.
- I updated from Mandriva 2009.1 to Mandriva Cooker. Actually I don’t know if this has had any direct effect on the performance. However, it’s a pre-requisite or a recommendation for some of the later changes (GNote and ext4).
- I removed several of the GNOME panel applets, which probably helps in reducing GNOME start up time. I remove the system monitor applet, one of the weather applets, and Deskbar.
- I removed Tomboy (which was also active as an applet in my GNOME panel) and installed GNote. GNote looks exactly the same as Tomboy and transparently replaces it (it will immediately start showing your Tomboy notes), but it’s written in C++. The fact that now the Mono .NET runtime environment does not need to be started during GNOME start-up, might have improved the GNOME log-in performance.
- I cleaned up my mailboxes a bit by removing old mails I don’t need anymore. After that, I manually vacuumed the sqlite database used by Evolution. To do so, close Evolution, and run the following commands in the shell (you will need to have the package sqlite3-tools installed):
$ evolution --force-shutdown
$ for i in $(find ~/.evolution/mail -name folders.db); do echo "VACUUM;" | sqlite3 $i; done
This reduced the size of the folders.db for main IMAP account from more than 300 MB to about 150 MB! After this operation much less disk activity happened while starting up Evolution and the system remained much more responsive. It seems I’m not the only one who was suffering from this problem. This is a serious regression since Evolution switched from berkeleydb to sqlite. Apart from this problem, Evolution’s IMAP implementation is currently also very slow with IMAP if you have big folders and no work seems to be done on that… I have the feeling Mutt‘s motto is correct: all mail clients suck, this one just sucks less. Still, I prefer a GUI mail client.
- I removed Beagle from my system. All in all I don’t used it very often, and it looks like Tracker might become much more interesting in the future.
- I switched from Firefox 3.0 to Firefox 3.5, which is also a bit faster. Packages are available in cooker’s main/testing repository, or you can just download a build from mozilla.org. A long time ago I experienced slowdowns in Firefox, which I fixed at that time by disabling reporting of attack sites and web forgeries in Firefox’ preferences – Security. It’s better to not disable this if Firefox is working nicely for you.
- I switched from ext3 to ext4 for my / and /usr partition. You can just switch from ext3 to ext4 by replacing ext3 by ext4 in /etc/fstab. However, then you won’t take advantage of all new features. To do so, switch to runlevel 1 (init 1 in the console), umount the partition you want to migrate (if you want to migrate /, you can mount it as read-only by running mount -o remount,ro /. Then run these commands on the device:
# tune2fs -O extents,uninit_bg,dir_index /dev/device
# fsck -pDf /dev/device
Then reboot your system.
Don’t migrate your /boot partition or your / partition if you don’t have a separate /boot partition, because this might lead to an unbootable system because I’m not sure whether grub in Mandriva has complete ext4 support.
I would also recommend running an up to date Linux kernel, because ext4 has undergone many improvements lately. Cooker’s current kernel 126.96.36.199 is working nicely for me.
For more ext4 information, I recommend reading the Linux kernel newbies ext4 page.
- My /home partition is using XFS. If you are using XFS, you can run xfs_fsr to defragment files.
After all these changes, my system feels much snappier now than one month ago.
It’s a long time ago I posted something on my blog, so this is a good moment to break the silence with a Cooker update:
- GCC 4.4: better code generation and many improvements for developers, such as OpenMP 3 support and support for the upcoming C++0x ISO standard. This new version also improves code optimization thanks to the Graphite framework. Glibc was also updated to the latest version 2.10.
- Xen kernel 2.6.27: Mandriva now includes a kernel for running on a Xen Dom0 based on the 2.6.27 kernel instead of the outdated 2.6.18 kernel.
- The standard Mandriva kernel is now at the latest 2.6.30. This brings faster kernel booting, lots of ext3 bug fixes and performance improvements which also affect ext3 and of course it adds or improves the support for new hardware devices.
- GNOME is now at version 2.27.2: Tomboy now can sync your notes with the Snowy web service
- Pitivi video editor has been updated to version 0.13.1 which includes a complete core rewrite. Lots of interesting improvements for end users are in the pipeline for next versions.
- Elisa has now been renamed to Moovida. It includes a brand new graphical user interface.
- Many KDE updates: KDE itself is now at version 4.2.90 (aka KDE 4.3 beta 1), Koffice 2.0, k3b 2.0 alpha 2, kaffeine 1.0 pre 1, Digikam 1.0 beta 1
- qemu-kvm 0.10.4: the KVM virtualization tool had its first stable release under the name qemu-kvm. A test package is available in main/testing, under the package name “qemu”. This package merges the qemu and the kvm packages. The version in contrib/testing removes kqemu support, but it will probably return at some later point.
- Sagemath, a mathematics software system combining the power of mathematic tools like Maxima, R, GSL and many more, is now available in contrib/testing. Note that this package is still work in progress. Your comments and bug reports are very welcome on the Cooker mailing list.
- Cups 1.4 RC 1 is available in the main/testing repository. This new version has some performance improvements, supports zeroconf aka Bonjour for automatic discovery of printers and has a totally redesigned web interface.
- bcd, a new Mandriva tool to build installation ISOs was published
- The Intel X11 driver is now using pre-release version 188.8.131.521, which will hopefully improve performancet thanks to UXA.
- Transmission 1.70 now supports DHT (distributed hash table), also known as trackerless bittorrent. Transmission will now still be able to find peers when a public tracker goes down.
And of course much more I forget :-)
Here’s a short update of some interesting package updates in Mandriva Cooker since the last update:
- GNOME 2.27.1 entered cooker: Epiphany is now using Webkitgtk instead of Gecko as its back-end. In Totem support for libxine was dropped (only GStreamer is supported now) and Totem now includes a new BBC iPlayer plug-in and a faster Youtube plug-in (use Edit – Plug-ins to activate these) and it supports DVD navigation menus.
- KDE is now at version 4.3 beta 1, Amarok has been updated to version 2.1 beta 2 and there is now a snapshot of the KDE 4 port of Konverstation available.
- Speedcrunch, an advanced calculator, is now available in Mandriva’s software repositories.
- OpenOffice.org has been updated to 3.1.0 RC 1. Improvements include on screen anti-aliasing, various usability improvements in Calc and better support for importing MS Office 2007 (OpenXML-like) documents.
- Back In time, a simple GUI back-up application, has been added to the Mandriva repositories.
- PHP 5.3 RC 2: new features for PHP developers includes namespaces, lambda functions and closures, late static binding and performance improvements.
And of course there were many other changes, totalling to more than 900 package updates. To see the full list, consult the changelog mailing list archives.
Since Friday the cooker repositories, which will lead to Mandriva 2010.0 in 6 months, are open again. In only 3 days about 400 new package releases were made, mostly new upstream versions which came out during the last month while the cooker repository was frozen.
Some of the more important or interesting changes in Cooker include:
- KDE is being updated to a 4.3 development snapshot. Expect lots of new features but also many new bugs. Information about KDE 4.3 can be found in the feature plan. The KDE audio player Amarok was updated to version 2.1 beta 1.
- Firefox was updated from 3.0.8 to 3.0.10
- XFCE was updated from version 4.6.0 to 4.6.1
- WebkitGtk was updated to version 1.1.6 (read Gustavo Noronha’s blog for info on what they are working on) and the Midori web browser was updated to latest version 0.1.6, including download support. Midori is becoming a more and more complete browser for less powerful systems.
- nspluginwrapper 1.3.0: this should improve performance a bit with the Flash plug-in. Hopefully it might also fix some stability problems, but I’m afraid that’s rather unlikely.
- Nexuiz 2.5: many improvements in this first person shooter, including new weapons, a new game mode, more eyecandy,..
- Updates to the Telepathy stack: thanks to the new telepathy-gabble, Empathy now supports file transfer over XMPP/Jabber.
- GMime updated from 2.2 to 2.4, which has a modified API. Lots of applications will need to be modified.
- Mono 2.4: this includes many performance improvements
- Bash 4.0 includes many improvements for shell programmers, such as support of associative arrays
For all changes, you can read the Changelog mailing list archives.