Wednesday, May 30, 2007

From Linux 2.6.18 to 2.6.20

I finally took the time to switch from linux kernel 2.6.18 to 2.6.20 on all my computers (two desktops and a laptop).

Unfortunately, on the laptop I experienced some problems, quite grave ones actually, since the kernel stopped on booting since it was unable to mount the main partition. Thus the problem was with the hard disk driver.

The laptop I'm talking about is a Sony Vaio,, and the problem seemed to be with the SATA hard disk controller.

Actually, when I recompile a new kernel, I usually copy the .config file from the previous version of the kernel, and run a make oldconfig, which lets you specify only the new options w.r.t. the previous kernel (and which, by the way, I find the most useful feature added with version 2.6 series). When running this command with a .config taken from version 2.6.18 I got these warnings:

.config:759:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA
.config:760:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_AHCI
.config:761:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_SVW
.config:762:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_ATA_PIIX
.config:763:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_MV
.config:764:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_NV
.config:765:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_PDC_ADMA
.config:767:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_QSTOR
.config:768:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_PROMISE
.config:769:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_SX4
.config:770:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_SIL
.config:771:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_SIL24
.config:772:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_SIS
.config:773:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_ULI
.config:774:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_VIA
.config:775:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_VITESSE
.config:776:warning: trying to assign nonexistent symbol SCSI_SATA_INTEL_COMBINED
then on some mailing lists I read that the SCSI related modules had changed names... In particular, the crucial option for my laptop is the last one SCSI_SATA_INTEL_COMBINED, which now has changed into CONFIG_SATA_INTEL_COMBINED.

Thus, I had to choose this driver under the new menu choice, Serial ATA (prod) and Parallel ATA (experimental) drivers.

Now everything seems to work out fine again :-)

Monday, May 14, 2007

My experience with Kubuntu

I've been experienced for some weeks a crash problems with Eclipse on my Debian installation on my Desktop... I use Debian (and Gentoo) on all my computers (3 desktops and 1 laptop), and this was the only computer showing this problem... unfortunately I haven't been able to solve the problem and so I resorted to reinstall the distribution.

I had tried kubuntu a year ago, and I didn't like it... but I thought I could give it another try, and so, instead of re-installing Debian (I'm using Debian on the other computers after all so I won't miss it), and installed a kubuntu edgy 6.10. Since I definitely don't like Gnome (I never did, and probably never will ;-) while I've always loved the pleasant environment provided by KDE, kubuntu was the only choice, instead of ubuntu.

My first impressions were definitely good: the installation consists of only few steps (although grub by default wants to install itself on the mbr, while I didn't want to touch the mbr, since I'm using Gentoo's installation grub, and it wasn't clear in the beginning how to avoid this) and it's quite smooth.

After the installation I was surprised by the desktop and menus that are quite clean, with only the essential programs; actually I was a little bit disappointed by the lacking of programs I'm used to, such as, e.g., the program for resizing the screen (although there's a similar program in System Settings). Concerning the System Settings program, this seems to replace the standard KDE Control Center, but it lacks some voices such as "themes". You can still call the good ol' KDE Control Center by the terminal, though.

I soon installed the good ol' Synaptic package manager, since I wasn't comfortable with Adept package manager, since it provides too few functionalities and packages (but probably it's more usable for the first time users, so praise for it!). Adept is however very good for update checking and installation. It checks for updates in background and then notifies you if some updates are ready. Installing the updates is also very easy.

What I never liked about (k)ubuntu, and I don't think I ever will, is the fact that you're forced to use sudo, since root shell is disabled... I don't think this enhances security and it's less error prone, but that's just my opinion... In fact, I always use sudo -s that opens a root shell ;-)

Another really great surprise is that, few weeks ago, the adept manager not only notified me about available updates, but also about the update of the whole kubuntu distribution itself!

It offered me to install the update (the new Kubuntu 7.04, codenamed Feisty Fawn), and I didn't refuse :-)

This update takes some time but goes on smoothly

and after the downloading, the installation of the update starts and when it's finished you can simply reboot into your new system!

I then enjoyed my new kubuntu system! I think I'll keep on using kubuntu (of course, together with debian and gentoo :-) since it really looks like a very good distribution (standing on the shoulders of the giants... but it stands very well!)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Clone a partition with cp

Today I had to move a linux root partition to another disk (in the same computer) because I needed more space. Instead of relying on programs such as partimage, I simply tried to use the command cp with option -a:

cp -a /mnt/source/* /mnt/dest/

where of course, /mnt/source is the mount point of the source partition and /mnt/dest/ is the (possibly empty) target partition.

Of course, I'm copying the root partition (/mnt/source) of another linux distribution, not the one where I'm executing this command. For instance, you can execute this command using a live distribution.

I then updated my /etc/fstabs (especially the version in the target partition) to use the new /dev device, and rebooted.

Everything worked fine :-)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Thunderbird 2 (crash problem)

Thunderbird 2 made it into Gentoo!

I was really excited to try it! Unfortunately, at the beginning, I got a very bad surprise: thunderbird crashes as soon as a message gets into the Inbox :-(

And it looked like I was not the only one:

Fortunately, the problem was only due to the theme I was using (Azerty), which seems to be responsible for the crash problem! Switching to the default theme solved all the crash problems.

So now I'm enjoying the new thunderbird with some new nice features :-)