openSuSE 10.3 64bit and Vodafone Easybox

installing the Vodafone Easybox on a IBM Lenovo T61 is actually very easy following the tutorial given here. But I found adding the online repositories is not possible because adding them yields an error saying "Empty Server Response". I personally guess, that this has something to do with the compression the APN "web.vodafone.de" uses (probably a somewhat transparent proxy). With a normal WLAN connection there was no problem using online repositories at all so there couldn't have been a problem with all the servers. At least, one can use Email-Services and access html pages without any trouble.


Winter for GUI - when your X-Server freezes (your machine)

Right after using Xgl & Compiz with openSuSE 10.3 on Thukydides, a Samsung P35 XVM 1600 II with an ATi Mobility Radeon 9700, I experienced a wonderful winter: every time I ended a session and wanted to log in again, my computer froze - without the ability to switch even to a console. I tried different things in the settings, reinstalled the fglrx driver and so on, but it didn't help. Finally, after some research on google I found the following tip working for me (got it from here if you're interested in the source):
Look for the file kdmrc on your machine - on mine it is localized in /opt/kde3/share/config/kdm/. As Superuser look for the entry TerminateServer=false, change it to TerminateServer=true and reboot your machine. Trying it after an update failed, because the entry was positioned wrongly - obviously it must be at the end of the section [xcore-*. ...].

At least I don't have any problems with logging out and logging in any more - happy summertime.


ATI driver meta howto

Kind of a howto review, installed 10.3 on Xanthippe yesterday (Asrock board, 64bit dual core Athlon, Radeon X1300 graphics card). Compared to the 10.2 install (ATI driver vs. X.org RC battle) it went relatively smooth. Although self-assembled, the hardware is by no means bleeding edge by now, and any good OS should be able to cope with it. Some peculiarities: no LAN connection during install, but no problems later on, kdm started only after a reboot.
Next challenge: ATI drivers and compiz/xgl. I found the following howtos: E@zyVG™, unofficial ATI wiki and openSuSE and decided to follow E@zyVG™.
Don't ever use the openSuSE/ATI repo! As of this moment, the newest driver version, 8.41, is the only one they supply, and it only works with the HD 2xxx cards. On the ATI page, you can select both OS architecture and graphics card in order to choose the right driver.
You need the kernel sources and development tools; most howtos also recommend a cleanup:
# cd /usr/src/linux
# make mrproper
# make cloneconfig
# make modules_prepare
# make clean

The above cleans up in your kernel sources and configures everything as it is with the installed kernel, which is not necessary in an all new system, but does no harm. To be sure, also remove any previously installed ATI drivers:
# rpm -e $(rpm -qa | grep fglrx)
The 8.40 driver has no 10.3 option yet, but 10.2 works perfectly:
# sh ./ati-driver-installer-x.xx.x-yy.run –-buildpkg SuSE/SUSE102-AMD64 - replace the AMD64 by IA32 for 32bit systems.
This generates the driver rpm, usually in the same directory as the shell script. Install with
# rpm -Uvh fglrx*.rpm - options Update, hash mark progress bars, verbose
# ldconfig
# cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.backup
# aticonfig --initial --input=/etc/X11/xorg.conf

This updates your library cache and your xorg.conf. Both seem to be optional, but not exactly harmful, but you'd better backup your xorg.conf before any modification.
Stop your graphical system with # init 3 (runlevel 3) or # rcxdm stop, log in as root and configure your X server:
# sax2 -r -m 0=fglrx
After a necessary reboot, I tested the install with fglrxinfo, glxinfo and glxgears. I tried out compiz/Xgl and all kinds of video playback, no problems there.

Postscript from a SuSE 11 point of view: Although the main overlay issues are still unsolved, the ATI driver performs OK installed from the openSuSE ATI repo and with the default config. THe bleeding edge drivers you still get only from ati.amd.com, of course.

Things to replace with Packman stuff

Some packages in the official repos are not fully functional (mainly for legal reasons, I believe), so some things you had better replace with packman packages.
  • video/mp3 playback - replace xine-lib with libxine, get w32codec-all and libdvdcss from the videolan repo
  • apparently Ktorrent is crippled also, DHT works only with the packman version.
  • recent GIMP (2.5 etc)
A recent observation by daWuzz: xine-lib in openSuSE 11.1 has been re-named libxine, but is still neutered and has to be replaced by the corresponding Packman package. It's not that stupid: this way you probably don't have to change the frontends.


Yes, Google Earth, I am running an X server...

I got Google Earth 4.2 beta to run on Tisiphone today (Compiz-fusion on X.org via nvidia drivers). The Panoramio and Wikipedia popups are fixed in size and location, which is a bit annoying, but everything else seems to run smoothly.

Install: download from earth.google.com (OS is auto-detected), run shell script in user session (not root). Here the script surprised me with the following:
You don't seem to be running an X server (no DISPLAY set).
Google Earth and its installer both require X11.

Solution found here: Check the DISPLAY variable with
If DISPLAY is empty, export your local screen:
export DISPLAY=":0.0"
This did the trick for me, the installer GUI popped up.

I was not so lucky with Xanthippe, though. Apparently, direct rendering is off with XGL, you can't run other 3d applications in parallel with compiz. Hopefully, ATI will release a driver version that runs AIGLX on slightly older cards like my Radeon x1300.

Note to self (April 2009): If newer Google Earth versions don't start up ("symbol lookup error: /usr/lib/libssl.so.0.9.8: undefined symbol: EVP_camellia_128_cbc"), disable (rename) libcrypto.so.0.9.8 in the directory containing the Google Earth executable. Found here.


Compiz-KDE problem: no window title bar

Just to let y'all know: if the kde-window-decorator ever crashes in your running compiz (which you probably will get to know by a "SIGHUP" warning of the kde management) don't panic. Also, if you ever get all windows without a title bar, which of course means that you cannot move or close windows that might be due to the crashed kde-window-decorator mentioned before. The stupid thing is, that this state is remembered, so even if you restart your X-Server you won't be able to recreate those damn useful window title bars. The trick is to run

kde-window-decorator &

from a console. This will instantly lead to windows having their title bars again, and also after a restart of the X-Server you can happily live ever after, or at least until the next crash of it (which actually happens on my system quite often... does anybody out there have a solution for that?) with move- and closeable windows.

Just a remark after some days: install fusion-icon and you'll get emerald as windows decorator, which is much more stable. It also lets you restart the windows manager just by a mouse-click if something weird happens with your windows.
You can run the emerald theme manager from it or you can run it using a console and executing


from your account (no superuser rights necessary)


Samsung P35, Xgl and Mobility Radeon 9700

Since I had a lot of trouble with these things, I'll post it here for others which may be as innocent as I was to those things.

Installing the drivers from the ATI repositories for 10.3 failed as posted before, so I installed version 8.40.4 with the Ati installer. Then I did an
aticonfig --initial
After that you need to reboot your machine.
in a console you can check that the ATI driver is running (if there's no error message)
Then I tried to switch to Xgl via YaST which yielded serious problems. If you need to switch back to Xorg you can do that by executing
vi /etc/sysconfig/displaymanager
in a root shell and changing the entry Xgl back to Xorg (case sensitive).
Only after adding the "openSuSE 10.3 build service X11:Xorg" channel and installing compiz, compiz-emerald, opensuse-xgl-settings and executing the latter one in the graphical interface to enable xgl, everything worked well. Just to let you know, Xgl with compiz is awesome!


openSuSE 10.3 on an IBM Lenovo T61 - first impressions

So, yesterday evening I tried to install openSuSE 10.3 64Bit on a Lenovo T61-6460-6WG.
T7300(2GHz), 2GB RAM, 160GB 5400rpm HD, 15.4in 1680x1050 LCD, 128MB nVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M, Intel 802.11agn (4965 AGN)
First remarks:
there is a website dealing with the T61 in principle, but not all hardware configurations are listed yet: the link is

WLAN Intel 4965 AGN

works in principle out of the box if you change the start mode to "start at startup" in YaST and configure it after a reboot of the system. Actually, it seems to be the same problem as posted before for the Intel 2200 BG.

nVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M

I tried to use the "one-click installer" offered at the openSuSE website, but this did not work for the 64-bit version. Since I know the 32-bit version works well, I think that's due to the somewhat experimental state of the 64-bit system. Then I tried the drivers from the nVIDIA repository, but they also failed to work. Finally I got the information on the nVIDIA homepage, that the driver NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-100.14.19-pkg2.run should work. After installing it from a text console as root, everything went smooth, so I changed the XServer to Xgl (which you can do e.g. via YaST over the entry System --> Edit /etc/sysconfig, there Display --> Display Manager). After restarting the Xserver everything seemed to be fine, but after a restart of the system there was only a white desktop with white windows - the upper right hotcorner oddly worked for some reason. This might be the "White Screen Problem" mentioned
here. Switching back to Xorg.conf after deinstalling compiz brought back the normal screen so that one could work at least.

works in principle out of the box, you just have to use ALSA in Amarok and you need to switch on the speaker and PCM in the Mixer Dialog. If you still don't hear anything, just press the "Volume Up"-Button (which btw also is the method to unmute the volume when you muted it via the buttons) and everything runs great.

How to blast holes in the SuSE firewall

I keep forgetting where I can configure open ports in the SuSE firewall. Actually, it's here:

Yast->Security & Users -> Firewall -> Allowed Services (list on left side of the window) -> Advanced -> set port numbers


Wiring a wireless card - case named Intel 2200 BG

Yesterday night I wanted to configure the Intel 2200 BG wireless card of my Samsung P35. Using YaST, this seemed to be a very easy task to do. The only problem was: it didn't work and it took me several configuration trials and restarts to find out why. Actually, being able to read helps a lot.

The thing is, openSUSE 10.3 associates the card with an eth kind of network and configures it to start when a cable connection is detected. Riiiiight... starting a wireless card when a cable is connected... Anyway, change that to "start at system startup" in YaST and restart your system (not only the X-Server) and it should work.

Another remark: KNetworkmanager can still not deal with WEP encryption keys when you need to set the key index different from 0. If you have such a network configuration, use the "conventional method with ifup" instead and configure the key in the expert options of YaST for your Wireless card.


Bash fun - sudo insults and locomotives

Don't you ever get the feeling that your computer is too nice? No? Never mind. Basically, this is just the howto for letting sudo use your user password instead of the root one.

If you haven't done that already, configure your user account for sudo in YaST:
1. Security and Users -> Group management: add your account to the "trusted" group
2. Security and Users -> Sudo: in the Add... dialogue, choose your account under "User" and the value ALL for all other input lines.

Regrettably, in the standard SuSE installation sudo still doesn't accept your password.
Edit the sudoers file:
sudo vi /etc/sudoers
Comment out the lines under "When configuring sudo, delete the two following lines:", should look like this:

# Defaults targetpw
avocadohead ALL = (ALL) ALL

Oh, and if you add the line Defaults insults somewhere in the file, the shell gets really bitchy when you type the wrong password.
Reset your sudo session with sudo -K to try them out.

HowTo customise the insults list in theory (do this at your own risk and make sure you know the root password): Unlike many other linux packages, the insults list is hard-coded into the sudo executable (to prevent wanton discrimination and trollities, I suppose). Get the sources; various types of insults are listed in the ins_*.h files. Write your own ins_custom.h file and adapt all # include, # define and # ifdef statements in the respective source files. Configure (--with-all-insults), make and install. If you broke a previously untainted sudo with this, at least you ought to have some really fine insults ready by now. Apply them fittingly and try re-installing in YaST from a proper root shell.

A propos typos: On our old Linux cluster we had a gimmick for people typing sl instead of ls - the Ascii steam locomotive.
Download the source tarball and extract.
tar -xf sl.tar
cd sl

Switch compiler lines in the Makefile (move the comment sign to the line referencing libtermcap) and change the lcurses flag to lncurses:
# $(CC) $(CFLAGS) -o sl sl.c -lcurses -ltermcap
$(CC) $(CFLAGS) -o sl sl.c -lncurses

Compile with make, and copy sl where Linux can find it:
sudo cp sl /usr/bin/

Try the options sl -l and sl -a ...

NTFS and the great thing of writing to it...

openSuSE 10.3 uses ntfs-3g and Fuse by default for mounting NTFS volumes, but doesn't allow writing access in the standard installation.

To enable writing access to NTFS partitions, execute

vi /etc/fstab

as superuser and replace in the entries for the appropriate partitions users,gid=users,fmask=133,dmask=022, by defaults but leave the comma and the entry locale=de_DE.UTF-8 right after the comma (without blank) unless you want all the files with umlauts in their names to be hidden from you :-p.

Actually, the only thing you would need to change is the umask, dmask and fmask option as stated in
here (thanks to my beloved Avocadohead).

openSUSE 10.3 and ATI Mobility Radeon 9700

(Samsung P35 XVM 1600 II) Don't use the ATI "One-Click"-Installer offered by SuSE, but use the driver provided by http://www.ati.com and execute the shell script. Don't try to build the distribution rpm, since 10.3 is not yet included, but just install it. With the build provided by SuSE my Konqueror didn't show the sysinfo any more and also didn't accept the driver.

openSUSE 10.3 does not like Windoze-XP hibernation

Ok. So I tried to install 10.3 on a Samsung P35 XVM 1600 II (1 GB RAM). Unfortunately, I simply forgot that I had shut down Windows only to hibernation. Starting the installation routine of SUSE everything went fine until... until the damn thing wanted to mount the system partition of windows. There an error occured and the setup failed. Well, no problem. But after a restart the "ntldr" is missing. After 3 hours of fiddling around (because to let you know: if windows is in hibernation mode, there is no chance of doing fixmbr or fixboot in the recovery console because nothing is written to the disk and Partition Magic does not show you anything as well but just bitches about the hibernated Windows) I could finally start Windows and shut it down regularly (btw: there is a very helpful cd downloadable at http://www.ntldrismissing.org - just use the safe mode option.
PLEASE SuSE, build in a check for such a case BEFORE altering anything - I guess more laptop users might get into trouble.

Now it works, I'll keep you posted what happens next.


Back in green - openSuSE 10.3 final

Since openSuSE released the final version of 10.3 last Thursday (no beta-OS for me...), I resolved to try it on at least one computer, a fairly new Samsung R55 Cavan laptop nicknamed Tisiphone with a dual-core Centrino processor, Intel WLAN and a Nvidia graphics chip.
Although the openSuSE people kept us waiting for most of Thursday, their server capacities were quite impressive: the 4 GB ISO image downloaded in less than half an hour on both Thursday evening and Friday morning.
My first attempt was just to update the installed 10.2 release. Do not try this at home! Seriously. The DVD YaST diagnosed package conflicts for about all of KDE3 and apparently resolved them by deleting KDE - and I didn't even fiddle with the KDE4 beta packages. I ended up with the good old console - but at least they have included fancy syntax highlighting in the standard vi. This seems to be a general problem - taaris had the same issues with Pandora.

Next try: clean install from scratch. The DVD partitioning setup seems to have a small bug: trying to mount my previous home partition without formatting, the partitioning summary first insisted on formatting it anyway, at the second attempt the system refused to mount an "unknown" file system. Re-reading the partitioning table (Expert settings) helped a lot there.

The choice of online repositories offered next would be extremely helpful if you had access to the non-standard reps like Packman or Nvidia. This might get handy when the packages on the ISO image get old, though.
The actual install was no different from the 10.2 procedure. The network setup worked fine, including WLAN and DHCP. No problems with importing previous user settings either.
Look & feel, first impressions: They changed the system colour from blue back to green. They seem to have reduced the booting time - I'd like to time it against a Vista boot one of these days ;-) Impressive YaST makeover, I'm going to tackle that in a separate post. No big software changes, and hopefully no beta releases of essential packages - I still remember the trouble with getting an ATI graphics card to run on SuSE 10.2 with an Xorg RC. Next challenge: 10.3 on Xanthippe, the bitch - self-assembled machine, 64-bit processor and ATI graphics drivers...