Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fedora 18 installation

The first day of 2013. I switched to a new laptop, Lenovo W530, and Fedora 18. In this post I'll document what works and what doesn't work. Note that because of that this will be live post. Basically, this post originates from somewhere around Fedora 16 time and I never got it into the state I thought it was good enough to be published. But, then, I realized that it will never be finished, so I decided to turn it to published post. Note that I reworked this post to be exclusively about Fedora 18 on Lenovo W530. At the time this installation was performed Fedora 18 was still in beta stage, so, things might differ after Fedora 18 final is released. I decided to publish this post in unfinished state and to use it to document the progress I'm having with transition to a new laptop.

As usual, there are other resources on the Internet about Linux on W530, and here are some more interesting I managed to find:
Also, there are some pages with information (somewhat) relevant to this combination (Fedora 18 and W530):


I bought the W530 with 1T internal disk and 8GB RAM. And this was pretty good deal for this laptop. Additionally, on eBay I bought 512GB SSD disk and 32GB of RAM (4x8GB). The monitor has resolution of 1920x1600 and NVidia Card. The resolution was one of the things I wasn't particularly happy with the previous laptop, which has 1600x1080.

Installation and first boot

I decided to use PXEBOOT to boot the machine and then to install it over the network. It turned out that I had some problems with DHCP on my work network. Additionally, I had problems with Fedora's new installer which cause many errors during disk partitioning time. Everything boiled down to BTRFS selection being completely broken. LVM was much better, but it also had some quirks (like embedding host name in logical volume names). This host embedding was removed later. It should be noted that this was constantly worked on so if I tried the same thing some other day, it could work. But, I didn't want to wait for some other day and in the end, I decided to mirror Fedora 18 development repository on my previous laptop and then to install it from there. The setup was basically the following one: old and new laptops connected with crossover Ethernet cable, and the old laptop was connected to the Internet with wireless Ethernet. On old laptop I mirrored the whole Fedora 18 directory tree. I also configured DHCP/TFTP and Apache to be able to do installation. I won't go into details how to do that because there is a manual on Fedora pages which is quite good.

First boot

First boot is as usual except one tiny annoyance. Namely, for my UID and GID I use a specific values for a long time and first boot configuration screen doesn't allow me to proceed without defining new user while in the same time it


Customization consists of tweaks to the system and adding external repositories in order for me to be able to install mplayer and similar software not distributed within Fedora, at least not in a usable way.

System customizations

One thing I change is the following line in the /etc/nsswitch.conf file:
hosts:     files mdns4_minimal [NOTFOUND=return] dns
to be
hosts:     files dns
The reason is that in some local networks I'm using .local domain suffix and by default such names are resolved using mDNS (mdns4_minimal option). Since I'm using regular DNS for those names too, then they are unresolvable unless I make this change.

RPM Fusion

RPM Fusion has some packages that are not shipped with Fedora. For example, different audio and video codecs are not in Fedora due to the patent or some other issues. In that case you need RPM Fusion. RPMFusion supports different versions of Fedora, you can find a list here. You have to select one free and one non-free repository, copy link and paste it to the terminal as an argument to 'rpm -i' command, or 'yum localinstall' command. This will add necessary yum configuration files. Now, you can install, for example, mplayer and vlc:
yum install mplayer vlc
There are other interesting packages, but I'll let you explore those for yourself.

Adobe Flash and Acroread

YouTube works without Flash thanks to the HTML5 support in Firefox. But, not all videos on YouTube can work in HTML5 and also, there are sites on the Internet that can not live without Flash, so it has to be installed too.

On the download page there is an option to retrieve YUM configuration files. So, chose YUM and then you'll be offered to download file, about 4K in size. After you download it somewhere to your disk, install it using 'yum localinstall' command. Now, you can install flash using the following command:
yum install flash-plugin
As for Acrobat Reader, you have to download rpm file and install it "manually". But, I think that it isn't so necessary because Evince works very well. There are sporadic cases when Evince has problems, mainly due to the fonts, but otherwise it's very good replacement.

Google Chrome

To install Google Chrome you'll need first to install Google Chrome manually and then it'll add Google Chrome repositories. But, you can skip "manual" installation, i.e. add yum repository and install Chrome using yum. To do so create file /etc/yum.repos.d/google-chrome.repo and copy the following content into that file:
Additionally, you have to install Google's signing key (or set gpgcheck in yum configuration file to 0, which is not advisable). Anyway, use the following two commands to import Google's rpm signing key:
wget https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub
rpm --import linux_signing_key.pub
Now, just run yum install google-chrome-beta.x86_64, or google-chrome-stable.x86_64 or google-chrome-unstable.x86_64; depending on which version you want to run. Note that there are some other packages in the Google's Chrome repository. Use 'yum list google\*' command to get a list of those.


Fedora has a lot of virtualization options to choose from.

VirtualBox is part of RPMFusion free repository. So, you don't need to add anything extra to be able to install it, just run:
yum install VirtualBox
and that's it. Alternatively, you might want to install "official" Oracle's version. Oracle has yum repositories for Fedora (though not for Fedora 18 at the time this post was written) which you can find here, along with instructions on how to install those repositories.

In case you are using VMWare Workstation, you'll have to download it from the VMWare's Web pages. I downloaded 64-bit trial version of VMWare 9.0.1 and installed it. It works, even though during installation process it created a file named ~ (tilde). It had exactly 1K, but I don't know what it is. Could be some problem in the installation script. Apart from that, seems that VMWare works without any problems.

Note that on January 6th, kernel was updated to version 3.7.1 (to be precise 3.7.1-2). VMWare, as of 9.0.1, isn't compatible with that version of kernel and it doesn't work! But, the solution is simple and easy to find on a net, execute the following commands (as root) and everything should work again:
cd /usr/src/kernels/3.7.1-2.fc18.x86_64/include/linux
ln -sf /usr/src/kernels/3.7.1-2.fc18.x86_64/include/generated/uapi/linux/version.h .
That are two lines,but ln command is broken on a dash sign so when copying it join the two parts together without any spaces in between. Also, if the kernel version is different just change appropriate substrings.

In case you have version 3.7.1-5 then version.h is removed and when you start VMWare Workstation it says it needs to rebuild drivers and after you confirm that then it complains that there are no kernel headers. To fix this problem, execute the following two lines:
cd /usr/src/kernels/3.7.1-5.fc18.x86_64/include/linuxln -sf /usr/src/kernels/3.7.1-5.fc18.x86_64/include/generated/uapi/linux/version.h .

Removing unnecessary software

This is something I did very thoroughly before, but as the time passes I do it less and less. The disk space these days is very cheap and there is a plenty of it, also inter dependencies between packages are complex, so these days I do only few adjustments.

Removing Asian and Arabic fonts

I decided to remove those simply because it annoys me to have such a large number of options in dialogs where I need to select font to use, many of which I simply don't understand! So, I removed the packages that start with paktype and lohit using yum (i.e. issue yum remove paktype\*, lohit\*), wqy-zenhei-fonts, thai-scalable-waree-fonts, cjkuni-uming-fonts, jomolhari-fonts, vlgothic-fonts vlgothic-fonts-common un-core-dotum-fonts smc-meera-fonts sil-padauk-fonts sil-abyssinica-fonts paratype-pt-sans-fonts lklug-fonts khmeros-base-fonts.

UI Tweaks

I installed gnome-tweak-toolgcond-editor and dconf-editor packages to be able to tweak UI. Basically, a lot of things can be done from the Gnome's Tweak tool. But many can not. For example, modal windows by default are attached to a windows that opened them, like it is done on MacOS X. But, I prefer them to be detached so that I can move them and access content behind them. So, to change this behavior you should set /desktop/gnome/shell/windows/attach_modal_dialogs to true, e.g. like this (note that this should be a single line):
gconftool-2 --toggle /desktop/gnome/shell/windows/attach_modal_dialogs
This will toggle the value, if it was true it will become false and vice versa. To query current state use the following form:
gconftool-2 --get /desktop/gnome/shell/windows/attach_modal_dialogs
If you want to disable Fedora package search in Gnome, there is a boolean key that controls that: org.fedoraproject.fedorapackages.search. Also, when you install Fedora fedmsg is enabled by default. You can disable it by toggling its key org.fedoraproject.fedmsg.notify.enabled.
 For the last two keys you should use dconf, not gconf. Also note that I had some problems using command line client (probably my fault), so I suggest you use editor to inspect and change those values.

Successes and Problems

Failed login problem

For some unknown reason I'm unable to login in GNOME if SELinux is enabled. So, when I boot machine I have to first switch to some virtual console, login there as a root and issue 'setenforce 0'. I could do that accross boots (by modifying /etc/sysconfig/selinux file) but I want SELinux to be enabled so I'm waiting for this issue to be fixed.

 Audio problem

I had problems trying to play audio. Can't remember if that was the problem from the beginning or only after some update I did. Anyway, it turns out the problem is with permissions. Namely, I, as an ordinary user, don't have permission to access devices and so PulseAudio is using dummy device. I searched a bit, but couldn't find. Temporary fix is to switch to root user and change ownership of /dev/snd directory to my username (chown -R username /dev/snd). Basically, PulseAudio immediatelly notices this and activates sound.

Video problems

Because of permissions I also had problems with gnome-shell and video. Namely, gnome-shell was taking 400% CPU (well, 4 CPUs actually) but the problem was that it was doing software rendering. Running gnome-shell from the command line I got the following error:
libGL error: failed to load driver: i965
libGL error: Try again with LIBGL_DEBUG=verbose for more details.
Two things confused me here. First, is X11 using NVidia or Intel? And second, why it was failing? So, I rerun gnome-shell with LIBGL_DEBUG set to verbose (and exported) and it was a bit more informative:
libGL: OpenDriver: trying /usr/lib64/dri/i965_dri.so
libGL error: failed to open drm device: Permission denied
libGL error: failed to load driver: i965
libGL: OpenDriver: trying /usr/lib64/dri/swrast_dri.so
libGL: Can't open configuration file /home/sgros/.drirc: No such file or directory.
libGL: Can't open configuration file /home/sgros/.drirc: No such file or directory.
When I saw permission errors I immediately knew that this was the same bug as for audio. So, I did again chown -R username /dev/dri and restarted gnome-shell. Now, gnome-shell wasn't even on the process list.

As for the question Intel or NVidia, glxinfo shows that it is using Intel. When I rebooted and looked into BIOS settings it turned out that NVIDIA Optimus dispaly setting was selected. What that setting does is that it activates both cards, but Intel is used by default and NVidia only when requested. To be able to use such configuration you'll need to install Bumblebee program.


As of this writing, to have working GNOME and to be able to login, after boot finishes and GDM presents you with a login screen you should switch to second virtual console (Alt+F2), login as root and execute the following commands:
setenforce 0
chown username /dev/dri /dev/snd
This isn't necessary any more, at least not on fully patched Fedora 18 as of March 4th.

Other notes

After working on W510 for two years I have to say that I'll need for some things time to get used to. First, keyboard is a bit different. Esc key is much smaller, PgUp and PgDn are with arrow keys instead in top left part of the keyboard. Actually, I'll have to get used to the placement of all the other navigation keys as well.

Also interesting is that there is no Caps Lock keyboard indicator, also, there are no Num Lock and Scroll Lock keys. It is problematic when you turn on Caps Lock without knowing it and suddenly things don't work and you don't know why until you realize that the problem is in Caps Lock. I think there should be led indicator on the keyboard, but since there isn't I found gnome shell extension that adds indicator to the panel. Since I don't have Num Lock I turned out its indication.

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scientist, consultant, security specialist, networking guy, system administrator, philosopher ;)

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