Sunday, December 21, 2008

openSUSE 11.1 installed and running

I hadn't received my openSUSE 11.1 boxed set yet, in spite of pre-ordering it December 9th, and it looks like it won't ship until January 5th. No matter. The downloadable ISOs are available and I just grabbed the official release versions and re-installed.

Installation from the LiveCD was super simple. In fact it may have been too simple. I missed the part where I could specify the system name, and I never caught it. Instead the system name wound up being 'linux-0dg5' which I have no idea how it was derived. In the end I grepped for the system name in files located under /etc, and changed (with vi) it to 'europa' in just about every file where it seemed to matter (/etc/postfix/main.cf, /etc/hosts.YaST2save, /etc/HOSTNAME, and /etc/hosts). There are a set of files under /etc/ssh that still have the older system name, but I'll deal with them at a later time.


The screen shot above is the recently released NetBeans 6.5 running with the latest Java, version 1.6.0 update 11. I've opened up the now-musty WorldWind demo application just to make sure everything works, and to check that the ATI drivers (version 8.12) are properly installed and running. I also manually changed the look-and-feel to Nimbus by editing netbeans-6.5/etc/netbeans.conf and adding '--laf com.sun.java.swing.plaf.nimbus.NimbusLookAndFeel' to netbeans_default_options. Java 6 update 10 (and later) do a poor job of using the native look-and-feel under Linux, and won't even work with KDE. The old default Metal is certainly dated. Nimbus, while it might not win any awards, is in my not-so-humble opinion much better.

As I said in the first paragraph installation was very simple. Once installed from the KDE LiveCD, I was able to go to the Community Restricted Formats/11.1 page and apparently download all the other 'missing' codecs. I was then able, to play once, one of my ripped movies (Forbidden Planet). However, after exiting Kaffeine I was unable to play anything else because "All Audio Drivers failed to initialize!" That's a quote from the Kaffeine Player's pop-up dialog. So, rather than hassling with Kaffeine I did what I've learned to do in this situation, I installed VLC. Now everything plays. The only limitation left is my inability to play DVDs. I've been down this path before, and I'll get it fixed.

I had rather hopped that the fugly and non-cute dancing penguin splash screen was removed from the public downloadable version, but alas it isn't. So, digging into my old posts I found my rant against it with openSUSE 10.2, and this time followed the suggestion of one of the posters. I fired up YaST2, navigated to System, and fired up the /etc/sysconfig editor. I then found the bootsplash flag, set it to 'no', and saved everything.


It looks like I've suppressed the little dancing penguins.

Other items of interest:
  • Dolphin's column mode is excellent. The ability to navigate the file system using column mode is far superior to the older tree mode, and it's nice not having 'break crumbs' running across the top. It's one of the few features pioneered by Apple's Mac OS-X that have survived the transfer to a Linux desktop. The only problem is that you can't re-size the individual columns; they're locked to a specific width.
  • The default radeon driver is barely adequate for basic desktop rendering. The ATI native driver is required for anything of significance, especially OpenGL performance. Before I installed the ATI driver glxgears cranked out around 80 frames/second. After the drivers were installed glxgears cranked out over 5,000 frames/second. And that performance boost also translates into decent 2D performance on the desktop. If you've got an ATI card or built-in integrated chipset then install the ATI driver.
  • Compiz is still broken; specifically Window resizing is very broken.
  • I changed the window decorations from the new Ozone style back to the older Plastik style. With Ozone I could see compositing and rendering flicker on the window title bar. The older style renders, for all intents, instantly. And I prefer the larger size and control placement over the newer hotness.
  • Older versions of Java are installed; Java 5 seems to be the 'deep' default, while 1.6.0 update 7 is the latest Java 6 version the repositories seem to know about. I uninstalled both and installed the latest Java from the Sun site. The same holds true for Eclipse (3.4.1) and NetBeans (6.5); it's simpler to just go to either site and grab their tools, then use their respective installation capabilities to install the necessary plugins and features. This also included ant. I keep everything in /home/Java (C:/Java under Windows). It's just simpler that way.
  • I may install Mono before long. It seems C# has better concurrency support than Java. It's either that or dust off my old functional programming skills.
KDE 4.1 and openSUSE 11.1 have their quirks. But overall I like how it's working, and the fact that I can install what I consider core to get work done. DVD playback is a nice-to-have and I'll get it installed over the next couple of days (when I find the time). It is a comfortable development environment; I have my tools, my shells, and my languages of choice (Java, Ada, c/c++, objc/c++, Python) at the latest revisions running on an OS foundation I know and can work with.

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