Sunday, September 23, 2007

openSUSE 10.3 RC1 from DVD installed with very mixed results

As I noted in my last post I downloaded both Live CDs as well as the DVD installation image. The Live CDs were downloaded, while the DVD was grabbed via BitTorrent using Azureas (the why of this will become apparent later). Francis left a comment on the last post asking if I'd attempted to install RC1 from the DVD, because the Live CDs "are no way as well-tested as the installation CDs." OK. So later that evening (Orlando FL time), throwing caution to the wind, I installed RC1 on europa, the DIY box.

I've had a lot of good experiences over the years running SuSE and openSUSE on europa. Every experience from installation to working in the environment has been solid, with few issues or problems that couldn't be sorted out. Installing openSUSE 10.3 RC1 has been a lot rougher than any other installation of Suse to date, or any other installation I've touched, such as Ubuntu and Fedora.

Booting into the RC1 DVD went well, and I was able to configure how I wanted everything installed and set up. I noticed that during the hard drive setup that my drive designations went from hda# to sda#, hdb# to sdb#, and what was originally /dev/sda (the only real SATA drive in the box) was bumped down to /dev/sdc. No problem, just an observation. During installation I choose KDE only since this is a KDE box anyway.

I also noticed, for the first time, that the installation checks your network connection and adds external repositories before you do your initial software selection/installation. This change helped save my bacon during the installation process or I would have yanked the RC1 DVD out and re-installed openSUSE 10.2.

The problems with RC1 began when the installer started to install packages. I would get dialog boxes that one package after another failed an integrity check. I was given the options to retry, abort, or skip. Since I was already well past the point where I could abort (having reformatted the root partition), I first tried retry, then when that didn't work after several attempts, just skipped the entry. Here is a list of packages that failed integrity and were not installed in the first stage:
strace, portaudio, wireless-tools, xorg-x11-libXext, ppp, xli, sharutils, xorg-x11-libXprintUtil, setserial, xinetd, procmail, xdg-menu, xclockmore, apparmor-profiles, poppler-qt, spamassassin, xine-lib, xorg-x11, kpowersave, syslog-ng, openoffice_org-draw
That failure to install xorg-x11 was going to bite me in the ass later on. As a consequence of the failures, I had to sit in front of the computer and hit the damn dialogs all the way through until it was finished.

When the first stage finished it then rebooted to move on to the next stage. That's when the big shock hit. When the installation process came back up both a second and third times, it came back up into text mode. I haven't installed Suse in text mode since it was SuSE Professional, and that was version 7. It was 2am in the morning, and here I am trying to finish just so I can go get some sleep, and this damn installation has a borked X11 installation and can only finish in text mode. Hells bells. It's a shame that Francis, the poster mentioned, was not next to me while this was happening. I would have been quite keen to share my feelings about the situation and he would have been quite keen to be somewhere else.

As bad as it seemed to be at that particular moment, it actually got better. First off it seems that the system realized that packages were missing/broken and it looks like they were downloaded from the network repositories. You'll recall that the installation process connected to the network very early on. It seemed to find and install xorg-x11 and a number of other packages and install them. I thought that the final installation procedure would be under graphics, but instead it was text-based as well. In for a penny, in for a pound I suppose. The finally text-based installation was the setup of accounts and final hardware configuration, as well as some additional package installations. When it was finished, it exited, and openSUSE 10.3 restarted.

And came up in graphics mode.

It also came up in my standard login. I always keep my login as I move from version to version, desktop to desktop. So when I logged back in it was as if nothing had changed. Same wallpaper, fonts, settings. Changes were subtle. Except one. My screen resolution had dropped form 1600 x 1200 to 1280 x 1024. This is a limitation of the free ATI driver and can only be fixed by running the ATI native driver.

Post Installation

There is a new page on the openSUSE community wiki for setting up and installing the restricted multimedia formats. The openSUSE developer community has added the ability for 'one-click install'. A yum file is now associated with a YaST2 installation wizard, such that clicking on the link will download the file and launch the installation wizard, all from your browser. This makes post setup and installation of other packages a snap, and is a feature that will go a long way to making openSUSE extremely easy to manage. In this particular case the link installed all those extra repositories everyone always installs (VLC, packman, etc) and then has to scramble to install all the extra codecs. All those separate steps are now wrapped up into one.

I will note that Java was installed already, but it was downloaded yet again.

Your first warning about treading where no free software user should tread.

An interesting warning. It should actually be even bigger. This is an important security issue, and you are running as root when you install these packages.

Now I'm asked to kick off YaST2.

One of the interesting busy dialogs that is new to openSUSE.

One of two public key warning dialogs (the other was for packman). Again, this is indeed an important security issue. At least somebody is noting it.

One of many dialogs that pops up for each package. Nothing exciting as once finished the dialog is automatically removed from the desktop. However it would have been better to combine download status with the main window. While a nice feature, it comes across as unfinished and inferior to other YaST software management tools.

And the final finishing dialog.

Once installed I could indeed play DVDs and music CDs. Flash was already installed in the base installation for me so I could hit CNN and Yahoo and YouTube and watch streaming video.

Current State

First of all, there are no ATI drivers updated for 10.3. I downloaded the latest ATI drivers released mid-August, but there is no explicit support for openSUSE 10.3. So I am running with the free driver. The issues of the free driver, outside of the screen resolution, is the poor OpenGL support. Google Earth is broken again, as is any development I was doing at the moment with Jogl and Trolltech's Qt 4.3.1. Java installed by openSUSE is still locked one generation back at 1.5.0 update 12. I've been using Java 6 since it was released in December of 2006. Java 6 is now up to Update 2. Gcc has been upgraded to version 4.2.1 and python is at version 2.5.1, so that's all good news. All the other tools I depend on are either up-to-date, or else I have them off to the side and use them (for example, Java 6). I wouldn't exactly call europa a production box, but this is why you're warned not to install on a production system. Things break. But then europa is the point of the spear for moving forward.

OpenOffice doesn't work. Starting it form the command line give the cryptic error "no suitable windowing system found, exiting." I use OpenOffice Writer and Calc, and the fact they're missing in action is extremely annoying.

Current Conclusions

I don't know why all the packages listed above failed their integrity checks, but I have a theory, and it's based on BitTorrent. I have had nothing but issues using torrents to grab DVDs for this cycle of openSUSE development. Ktorrent is horribly slow, and Azureus, while much faster, now seems to have issues with downloading all the bits. Again, this isn't the first time I've had a torrent-based DVD ISO fail integrity check after a supposedly successful download. What I also find annoying is that the DVD check was removed for RC1. It should go back and remain permanently. I'm also waiting for the final release in the hope that a direct download for the DVD ISO is available. If it's still torrent-based I may just wait until I can buy a boxed set. I no longer trust openSUSE torrents.

The apparent ability to replace the corrupt packages further into the installation, while quite welcome, would have been even better if the corrupt packages had been replaced during the first stage installation. Remember that openSUSE 10.3 had already established a network connection before installing any packages. It would seem to me that if you can replace a corrupt package during the second stage of install then you should replace it during the first stage by going to the network-based repository. This could have avoided the text-mode throwback experience completely in later stages.

Management via one-click download is a welcome addition to openSUSE. I no longer have to go to the Jem Report. And this puts a nice professional polish on the whole process. As good as it is it could be improved even further with a special start page in the browser that points directly to these links. The only reason I know about the downloads was because it was a link in a comment on the RC1 announcement page.

Mostly everything is back to normal. This post was written from Firefox running on openSUSE 10.3 RC1. Europa's up for the most part and I'll be using her to further discover what else is new and working/broken. I did not install KDE 4. I'll probably do that when I get a few other issues fixed, like the ATI drivers and OpenOffice.


  1. Hi,

    Did you verify the md5sum before burning? You shouldn't be getting any failed integrity checks...

    The DVD check being removed is a known bug which will be fixed for final.

    The DVD iso will be available for direct http/ftp download for the final release, of course.

    Java 1.6 is available in the online repositories (and on the DVD IIRC), it just wasn't chosen as the default Java version.

    NVIDIA/Ati lack of drivers are known as well, and should be available for final AFAIK.

    It would be really great if you could file a bug report about the issue, I don't think I've seen that around...

    Of course there are legal problems with the things you get from that codecs ymp (one-click-install pack) so of course it couldn't feature on the start page I'm afraid :-)

    Thanks for the review 8)

  2. I'm experiencing a very similar issue. I downloaded the 10.3 official release (openSUSE-10.3-GM-KDE-x86_64.iso) from the site (http transfer).

    I did check the md5sums and they were correct. I don't have an ethernet link (wireless) so I couldn't set up the network before installing because it wouldn't recognize my wireless adapter.

    I got about 20 seconds into the installation of the packages before the first "...fails integrity check..." error popped up. It was not an important package so I skipped it.

    ...then they started popping up like mad. xorg packages were messed up, unzip, wget, all sorts of packages; a ridiculous number of them too.

    It's frickin annoying. I dont even want to continue the installation because I KNOW it won't work; there's just too many packages missing.

    Is the ISO botched? The only thing I didn't check was that the CD burned accurately, but there were no errors, no warnings, the buffer was at 100% the whole time, only burned at 16x...

  3. I just spent five hours on my Brighthouse Networks cable modem connection, downloading 2.5GB of updates to bring my RC1 system up to the GM level. I'm now in the process of downloading the ISO, and I'm going to try this again, but from the DVD this time.

    According to francis (the commenter above you) the DVD check should be in the final release. I'm going to burn the DVD, then run the check on it, then attempt to install from the DVD.

    If this GM release screws up like the RC1 release did, then that's it. I won't bother to purchase the boxed set, and I'll probably switch over to Ubuntu.

    I don't want to give up openSuse. I am impressed with the changes and improvements in YaST in 10.3. And right now, even without the ATI drivers, the screen is 1600 x 1200 resolution. But there are other issues that still exist. I have two notebooks with openSUSE 10.2 that I'd like to upgrade to the latest version because I need what's in the later kernels, and I need gcc 4.2.1 as the native compiler.

    We'll see. I need to hit the sack and get some sleep. Then it's another day in paradise tomorrow.

  4. I am not the geek of linux computing, but today i will bye a special clean harddrive for Open SUSE 10.3 Let's see then:)
    But I am frightened long before:(
    What can you tell about current version?


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