OpenSuSE 11.3 - less fun on a Samsung P35 - ATI woes continued

After the tremendously positive testing results of avocadohead with Tisiphone, I tried my luck some days ago with 11.3 on Thukydides, a Samsung P35 notebook, not the newest hardware and unfortunately with an ATI graphic card.


Why it's a bad time to buy a laptop right now

Tisiphone is getting old and slightly cracked around the edges, so I thought it might be time for a replacement. After all, two major reasons to move to the US are cheap clothes (girls) and hardware (guys).
I don't want to indulge in product placement but the Asus U30Jc looked quite sexy to me: a moderately fast i3 processor, 13 inch, not too heavy, widescreen, 8-10 hours battery life, at least a partial aluminium case, hybrid graphics and significantly cheaper than a comparable MacBook Pro (and before daWuzzzz starts a war in the comments section: the hardware-optimised OS on the Mac is no good if you intend to run Linux...)
Ay, there's the rub: hybrid graphics on Linux is still in early development, and apparently the Nvidia Optimus technology (check out this Nvidia whitepaper for specs) would need a major Xorg makeover to function.
I'd consider just getting the machine and waiting for Xorg/driver updates, if I could at least use the Nvidia chip all the time or manually switch with a server reboot, but apparently one is confined to the Intel-on-board chip right now. Nvidia blames Xorg and has better things to do than work towards a solution and the Linux hybrid graphics hackers concentrate more on getting the conventional switching setup to work.
I really don't like settling on an older model just for compatibility reasons and I have forsworn ATI forever (don't start me on driver issues), so I'll see what transpires and in any case wait for the USB3-capable chipsets to become standard.
I think I'll have to go on a major frustration shopping spree now - in this town, it should be easy to spend the equivalent of a quite high-end notebook on shoes and handbags.
Update (7/26): There seems to be slight progress on the vga_switcheroo front with the nouveau drivers on an Asus N61 with an Optimus card according to the hybrid-graphics mailing list - they didn't specify the exact model (hopefully the N61Jq, it's the only one with Optimus).


ntfsclone - a nice tool for dealing with ntfs partitions

Again another crashed harddrive... (maybe we should start a counter on this blog how many crashed harddrives we already got through?)

By chance, I fell over a tool called ntfsclone using gparted, because in the error analysis of the damaged harddrive showed up a tool tip to use ntfsclone to get an image of the partition before doing anything else.


Lilypond fails at ghostscript PDF conversion

openSuSE 11.3 came with the new ghostscript 8.70, which lilypond wasn't quite ready for yet. On my system, gs consistently threw a "failed (256)" error when called by lilypond - just copying and pasting the gs code from the lilypond log into a shell worked, btw.
Quoting Graham Percival on the Lilypond mailing list:
Ghostscript was bumped to something.70, and a bunch of extra patches we apply to ghostscript changed. We'll look into it.
He has already posted an apparently patched development version here, but I haven't seen a linux x86 version there. Anyway, for all x86 users and people who'd rather stick to the stable release, there is the simple solution of downgrading to ghostscript < 8.70 - I used openSuSE 11.2's ghostscript-library 8.64, which worked fine, at least with LaTeX and lilypond.


Really, openSuSE!

Touchpad control - great!
Improved wireless handling - impressive!
No desktop effects without kernel tweaking - priceless.

The 11.3 installation report:


HowTo edit lilypond with TeXworks

Apart from jEdit, which is awfully bloated, there is no decent Lilypond editor for Windows and it sucks to close the Acrobat Reader every time you recompile - which you do really often while typesetting music.
Edit (07/2012): As of now, there is a decent Windows editor for Lilypond, as Wilbert Berendsen has made his excellent Frescobaldi editor KDE independent. Find a full installer here.
It is, however, possible to tweak TeXworks (included in MikTeX), whose PDF viewer doesn't create a lock that keeps lilypond from compiling. You have to do two things: create a lilypond compiler profile in TeXworks and edit one of Lilypond's scheme files to prevent the PDF file from being deleted (else you get the "backend-library.scm Permission denied" error). I got the trick from this comp.tex.texworks thread (by Helge Kruse).

Compiler profile: Edit→Preferences→Typesetting: add <Windows program directory>/LilyPond/usr/bin to the list of paths on top and create a new processing tool "lilypond" with the app lilypond-windows.exe and the $fullname argument.

Lilypond tweak: Open the file <Windows program directory>/LilyPond/usr/share/lilypond/current/scm/backend-library.scm in an editor with admin permissions, search for these two lines:
(if (access? pdf-name W_OK)
   (delete-file pdf-name))))
and comment them out (keep two closing parentheses):
;;(if (access? pdf-name W_OK)
   ;;(delete-file pdf-name))
Remember to do this each time you update Lilypond.


Why I can hardly wait for 11.3

No irony here - I mean it.
First and foremost reason: KDE 4.4 is finally in the stable repos - just in time before the 4.5 final release (sigh…)