Friday, December 30, 2011

OpenSuSE 12.1 quirks

There are some issues that I want to track.
This post will keep an updated list.

  • When using VMware player 4.0.1 with a VM (XP) that is sitting on a NTFS filesystem, the system will be very unresponsive after a few minutes.
    Solution: When you move the VM to an EXT4 partition, everything works.
  • XBMC shows green dots or static during playback.
    Solution: Change render method from "auto" to "Basic Shaders" or "Software"
  • XBMC crashes at startup when using Gnome Shell.
    Solution: Start in windowed mode and switch to fullscreen.
  • When running from SSD the system freezes for a few seconds during heavy I/O (when copying files between SSD folders). When the I/O operation is finished, everything returns back to normal.
    Disabling Gnome Shell (and forcing fallback mode) seems to resolve this problem.
    Solution: set io scheduler to "noop" and not "cfq"
    also, add these options to your ext4 mount options for root volume in  /etc/fstab: 
  • The crypttab "timeout" option does not work.
    Solution: Put your options in the 4th column and thus replace the second "none" keyword.
    before: encr_dev_name encryp_dev_disk none none
    after:    encr_dev_name encryp_dev_disk none luks,timeout=5
    see... very easy
  • XFCE does not allow scanning when installing HP device using HPLIB
    solution: install the Xsane package!

Monday, December 26, 2011

TESTDISK: repair partition table

In the previous post I talked about my messed up partition table.
Just a few minutes later I restored everything by booting the SystemRescueCd and using testdisk.

Followed these steps...

GRUB: boot manually when messing up linux partition

I have a multiboot PC (XP+OpenSuSE) and messed up the linux partition by making a bad choice in the windows disk management.
So after restart, there was no grub menu, just a grub prompt...
To be able to boot windows (which is the first partition in my case) I followed these steps

Load another boot loader to boot unsupported operating systems

If you want to boot an unsupported operating system (e.g. Windows 95), chain-load a boot loader for the operating system. Normally, the boot loader is embedded in the boot sector of the partition on which the operating system is installed.
  1. Set GRUB's root device to the partition by the command @command{rootnoverify} (see section rootnoverify):
    grub> rootnoverify (hd0,0)
  2. Set the active flag in the partition by the command @command{makeactive}(5) (see section makeactive):
    grub> makeactive
  3. Load the boot loader by the command @command{chainloader} (see section chainloader):
    grub> chainloader +1
    `+1' indicates that GRUB should read one sector from the start of the partition. The complete description about this syntax can be found in section How to specify block lists.
  4. Run the command @command{boot} (see section boot).
However, DOS and Windows have some deficiencies, so you might have to use more complicated instructions. See section DOS/Windows, for more information.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

OpenSuSE 12.1 on a Dell D630

Everything just works!

No hardware troubles, all multimedia keys respond, hibernate OK, switching to external display, Bluetooth, audio, WI-FI,...

I used the DVD, 64-bit version and have an Intel Graphics Chipset and 2GB of RAM.
Gnome 3.2 is very nice, especially when you are a Google user.
The online accounts feature is very good! You should give it a try.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Easier SSD install

Great tip from David, a collegue at work.

To avoid the extra grub configuration when installing linux to an external SSD, USB-stick or HDD, just make sure it is the only disk during installation.
Just remove the internal HDD or disable it and start your install.

Easy but bullet-proof!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Enable extra HP elitebook 8560p keys with XFCE

The HP 8560p has some extra keys to enhance certain funtions, see image

Only the first key (Wireless switch) works OOTB.
To enable all the others, configure your XFCE keyboard shortcuts as indicated in the following screenshot. (First 3 lines)

Should do the trick!

Enable two-finger scrolling in XFCE (horiz + vert)

By default, two-finger scrolling is enabled on XFCE on OSS11.4 when you have a Synaptics touchpad that has this feature...
But only vertical scrolling is enabled, to also get horizontal two-finger scrolling you have to add 2 lines to the following file (as root!):


The lines in bold do the magic!

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier "touchpad catchall"
        Driver "synaptics"
        MatchIsTouchpad "on"
        MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
        Option  "HorizScrollDelta"      "0"
        Option     "VertTwoFingerScroll"      "1"     # multitouch
        Option     "HorizTwoFingerScroll"     "1"     # multitouch

Just log out and back in...

Installing OSS 11.4 on an ExpressCard SSD

Using an HP 8560p I finally managed to install (and boot) OSS 11.4 to an ExpressCard 34 SSD.
The biggest problem is not the actual installation itself but making sure that the computer wants to boot from the SSD.

I started by booting from x86-64 DVD and installing OSS to /dev/sdb as the SSD was recognized as a second hard drive. Following the standard installation options and indication Gnome as default desktop, the procedure was pretty normal. The only thing that was a bit annoying was that the HD 6470M is not recognized OOTB so the second part of the installation is text-based.

After the first real reboot, the problems began... The computer does not want to boot from the SSD, you don't even get the boot menu or even an error.
Several tries later I found one scenario that did work.
When installing, do not choose the Gnome or KDE option, but enable all options and choose the "Text based only" one.
Also, when configuring the boot loader (GRUB), make sure you install it to the root partition (and not to the MBR) and also set /dev/sdb as the first hard drive.

I don't know why but that was the only way I could boot from SSD.
Even setting the same GRUB options when choosing XFCE or LXDE did not work. Only text-based worked... (If somebody knows why, please let me know)

Anyway, it is not so difficult to switch from text-based to XFCE (or Gnome...)
  • Make sure you have a working internet connection (plug in the network cable because wireless will not work yet)
  • Install all updates (do this several times until no new updates are shown)
    zypper update
  • Reboot the machine because there must have been a kernel update
  • Install fglrx package to enable HD6470M recognition
  • zypper ar -f fglrx
    zypper in fglrx64_xpic_SUSE114
  • Install XFCE meta package
  • zypper in patterns-openSUSE-xfce
  • Set the display manager to gdm
    vi /etc/sysconfig/displaymanager
    change DISPLAYMANAGER="xdm" --> DISPLAYMANAGER="gdm"
  • Reboot
Power saving tip.. Spin down the normal hard disk after booting from SSD
 echo "/sbin/hdparm -B1 /dev/sda && /sbin/hdparm -S1 /dev/sda" >> /etc/init.d/boot.local

btw, the HP8560p works very well with OSS 11.4...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stop the pc speaker beep or buzzer on opensuse 11.4

This is a collection of tips to stop your machine from beeping when causing an error in console-mode or when rebooting in gnome or even when pressing ctrl-alt-backspace to kill X...
Some changes require a reboot so don't forget.
  1. Remove the pcspkr module and stop it from loading

    go to a root terminal

    rmmod pcspkr
    echo "blacklist pcspkr" >> /etc/modprobe.d/50-blacklist.conf

  2. Set the console bell off

    go to a root terminal

    echo "/usr/bin/setterm -blength 0" >> /etc/init.d/boot.local

  3. Set the zapwarning option to off
    go to a root terminal and add the following section to /etc/X11/xorg.conf

    Section "ServerFlags"
      Option       "ZapWarning" "off"
  4. Mute the beep channel using alsamixer

    You do not need to be root for this. Just open a terminal and type:


    You will see the mixer for pulseaudio, press F6 to change the soundcard.

Choose HDA Intel PCH and press Enter. Now you will see the BEEP channel

With the up/down arrows you can change the volume but setting it to 00 will not help. You have to MUTE the channel by pressing M, just like the following screenshot

I also fizzled with the /etc/init.d/halt script to remove some sound settings but this did not change anything, so I will not go into detail...

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Installing Oracle XE 11.2 (including APEX 4.0.2 ) on OpenSuSE 11.4

    Screenshot HOWTO to install the latest Oracle Database 11g Express Edition 11.2 (which is still in beta) on a clean OpenSuSE 11.4 x86-64.
    Oracle Application Express (APEX) 4.0.2 is included in this release.
    We will use a VMware virtual machine using VMware Player 3.1.4 so that afterwards you actually have a virtual appliance running XE.

    You will need the following components (All of them are FREE but you might need to create a free account before downloading)
    VMware Player 3.1.4:
    OpenSuSE 11.4 x86-64 DVD:
    Oracle XE 11.2:
    orarun package:

    Also important, the complete documentation:

    Oracle BETA documentation here...

    In this documentation you will find the following :

    Table 1 Oracle Database XE Requirements
    Operating system
    One of the following:
    • Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 Update 7
    • Oracle Enterprise Linux 5 Update 2
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 Update 7
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Update 2
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11

    Further down we get some more details...
    256 megabytes minimum, 512 megabytes recommended
    Disk space
    1.5 gigabyte minimum
    • glibc should be greater than or equal to 2.3.4-2.41
    • make should be greater than or equal to 3.80
    • binutils should be greater than or equal to
    • gcc should be greater than or equal to 4.1.2
    • libaio should be greater than or equal to 0.3.104
    2.1.2 Swap Space Requirements
    Minimum swap space required for Oracle Database XE is 2 GB or twice the size of RAM, whichever is lesser.

    Now we have enough information to go ahead...

    • Create a new virtual machine using VMware Player, just follow these first screenshots
    • Press the "Customize Hardware" button and change the memory configuration to 1024mb

    • Press "Finish" to create the machine and start it, when you see the boot screen, choose "Installation"
    • For Oracle, UTC time is very important, even more so in RAC setup. 

    • The default disk setup has to change because you need more swap space. Otherwise the installer will fail. So choose "Edit Partition Setup" 

    • We will only keep 2 partitions (swap and root)

    • So delete the last partition

    • Also delete the second partition (we will recreate it)

    • And now resize the first partition to 2GB and keep it as swap

    • Now create a new primary partition for the root (/) mountpoint

    • Ext4 will do. You will find many more information online regarding file systems and Oracle Databases but for this "simple" setup Ext4 is fine.

    • Your partition setup should look like this...

    • Create a new user and do not forget the password. Also use it for "system administrator" e.g. "root"

    • Press the "install" button.

    • Press the "install" button again.

    • Wait for it... 

    • Disregard the following message because VMware Player will take care of this for you.

    • Automatic configuration will handle all software and hardware configurations...

    • Logon using the created account.

    • Let us change the resolution to a little bit bigger.. The VMware tools are already installed during the OpenSuSE installation.

    • 1024x768 should be enough for everyone ;-)

    • Now go to "YaST" and start the software updates.

    • Choose the "Online Update"

    • Press "Apply"

    • And wait for it ..

    • Do not reboot yet but go to the "Firewall" module

    • And disable it to keep things a little more simple (but less secure, I know) and reboot the machine...

    • Edit: You will also need to install the "bc" package to enable trouble-free installation. (Do this using YaST) Thank you petr vanek

    • So... the basic installation is finished and we are now ready to install the other packages, beginning with Oracle XE.
      It is compressed so you will need to extract it first.

    • Double-click on the RPM file and choose "install"

    • Click "Continue" and wait for the installation to finish.

    • Now, double-click on the orarun RPM and choose "install"

    • The package management will show some additional dependencies. That is the main reason why I use orarun package so that all of the dependencies are installed in one shot.

    • Now reboot..

    • Keep using the same user, even though you will see an additional "oracle" user. This one is created during the orarun installation but you can ignore it for now. It is necessary when you are installing a full Oracle RDBMS Standard or Enterprise.

    • Now open a terminal and let's configure oracle-xe
    $> su -
    $> /etc/init.d/oracle-xe configure 
    • Just accept all the defaults by pressing enter and enter a password when requested...

    • Let's check if the Oracle database is started.
    $> ps -ef | grep pmon

    • Now we only need to setup the profile for our normal user. Oracle has created a settings script that you need to add to your bash profile so it get executed every time you login.
      Open a terminal (not root, just the normal apex user) and edit your .bashrc file. 
    $> vi $HOME/.bashrc

    • At the end of the file, add the following line: 
    . /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/xe/bin/

    • Save, and reboot the machine.

    • In the "Application Browser" you will see several new items that will help you getting started.
      Open the "Get Started" application 

    • It will open your browser and point you to the local Oracle web server. Just click on APEX and create a new user.

    • Now click on "Click here", just above "storage"

    • Login.

    • And change your password

    • Welcome to APEX....

    The installation itself is not very difficult and Oracle has done a good job to make it work on other Linux distributions than their own.
    By creating menu shortcuts to backup and restore your database, novice users can perform otherwise complicated tasks.
    They still need to cleanup some files in the installer that are leftovers from Standard or Enterprise installs but in the end you are better off with too much files then too little...

    Oracle is winning RAD races with APEX and many people think it can hold up against .NET and Ruby on Rails. Since I am not a full-time developer I cannot elaborate on this...

    What I do know is that the Oracle Database is very good, robust and expensive... This free XE edition will not have all the features of a "Standard" edition or a RAC option but it will do very well for small to medium sized deployments.

    Have fun!