openSUSE 2011

openSUSE upgrade

- from 11.2 to 11.4

Post date: Sep 12, 2011 2:11:04 PM

We recently had another experience with upgrading a system form openSUSE 11.2, for which security patches are no longer availalbe, to openSUSE 11.4. At first an on-line upgrade was attempted. The system in question was LIFE computer with less than 1 GB of memory, a 75 GB harddrive, a NVidia GeForce FX 5200 graphics card, and an old IBM 10 GB SCSI drive plus a PRISM wireless network card.

The usual replacement of all software souces was done by first removing the 11.2 sources, and then adding and refreshing the equivalent 11.4 sources. Then the online upgrade was started, and it appeared to go fine. Except, that the screen was black during the upgrade, and the system hence unaccessible. At the of the upgrade it was necessary to force a power off of the system and a reboot, but the GRUB came up showing the old 11.2 kernels only. The default was selected and the new 11.4 kernel started in runlevel 3. From here is was possible to login and startx - appearantly only KDE - from the command line. Once running in full screen graphical desktop mode we were able to access the internet using the PRISM wireless card in the system. However, we could start YaST, but none of the YaST features we tried worked.

I was then decided to re-install 11.4 from a previously downloaded DVD using reformating of the root partition, but leaving the home particition untouched. This worked quite well using the automatic hardware configuration. However, we did not succeed in getting the network properly configured during the install, and hence the usual software update had to bypassed. After re-booting we were able to get wireless networking running using KNetworkManager.

Then all security and other patches were applied to the system. Finally some additional software was installed. Using YaST the opensource java was replaced with the Sun Java, Adobe Reader was installed, Scribus was installed, VirtualBox was installed, and UFRaw was installed. Sun Java is needed to use the Danish secure login system for all public services NemID. UFRaw is needed to manipulated raw pictures from Canon's 550D. Additionally we installed Googles chrome browser and picasa photoediting software from respectively www.google.com/chrome and www.google.com/picasa using the 1-click install. Finally we installed Cups-PDF from software.opensuse.org, FreeNX from en.opensuse.org/FreeNX, and VLC media player from www.videolan.org/vlc also using the 1-click install. With a similar 1-click install the proprietary driver for our NVidia graphics card was installed. In order to be able to test the remote desktop access the latest NoMachine client for linux was downloaded from www.nomachine.com and installed by clicking on the rpm-file. Finally the latest linux driver for our Xerox 7345 with professional finisher and hole punch was downloaded from www.support.xerox.com/support/dadk.html. However, with the PPD-file downloaded in this package we were unable to get color printing to work, so we replaced it with an older PPD-file we had, and then color printing was working. Finally we installed our online backup client from www.spideroak.com.

This upgrade was performed to create access to patches for the OS. The time involved - without considering the partially failed and aborted online upgrade - was approximate one working day. This could be reduced somewhat by downloading the additional applications, such as chrome, picasa, vlc, FreeNX to a USB drive and creating an install script for these applications. We are considering this when upgrading to a new 64-bit server later this fall. The system in question is used by a small church council in Denmark, and with the current usage a 1½ day unavailability is acceptable, since documents could still be accessed using our online backup service.

After installation the openSUSE system complained about an excessive number of problem areas - relocaed blocks -on our old (vintage 1999) IBM SCSI drive. So we will not used that drive for anything critical.

openSUSE 11.4 on IBM ThinkPad R40

- successful install

Post date: Jun 1, 2011 2:35:04 PM

Install of openSUSE 11.4 on R40 using a downloaded iso burned to a DVD went quite smoothely. However, installation of fixes during install was not possible, since network was not configured correctly, but both the network card and the wireless card were identified, and the proper drivers installed. The installer also correctly identified my NVidia graphics card, and installed the necessary software and configured combiz without any user intervention. That was cool!

Installation of the accumulated fixes since the release of version 11.4 took forever. More than four hours. It completed overnight while I slept.

Could have been easier to add additional applications

There are a few applications, which every family member use. They are Google's Chrome, Goolge's Picasa, and Google's talkplugin for GMail. It would be nice if there was a single repository, which one could add and then install these applications from, and not just repositories from which you can latter update the applications. Two other applications, which we like are VLC Player and Skype. Videolan actually tells you how to add there repository. Unfortunately Google and Skype, which is now owned by Microsoft, don't have the same easy instructions for adding their repositories to your system, as Vidoelan does.

During installation of Google Chrome, which I first attempted from the downloaded rpm package the library libpng12.so.0 was found missing. I had to install this separately using Software Manager.

Then I attempted to install Create Background Slideshow, but that application appears to be only available for openSUSE 11.3, but I nonetheless installed it in 11.4. I can run it, but I don't have an applicaton icon, and I cannot create a shortcut. These are, I think, indications something is broken. I have downloaded the source and may take a look at it.

Looks like that won't be necessary. The Create Background Slideshow installed itself in the Look and Feel section of the Control Centre, and it was easily added to favorites.

Why replace Windows XP with openSUSE on this computer?

This install of openSUSE wiped out the Windows XP Professional installation, which came with the computer 5-6 years ago. With the continues stream of opdates from Microsoft, Lenovo and other vendors over the years the system and application software had increased to more than 20 GB leaving only about 13.5 GB for user files. Of course with limited space for files there was a big fragmentation problem. Even programs such as Smartdefrag or O & O defrag could not do anything about it. The time from power on to a usable desktop with internet connection had grown to more than 10 minutes. Properly, as some Ph.D.-students at CAPEC pointed out years ago, windows should be freshly installed every 2 years. And a fresh install would properly have reduced the startup time. However, it would properly have done little to the space problems.

With the installation of openSUSE and the extra applications the systems and application software only take about 6 GB of the root partition. This obviously leave more space for user files. In addition the time from power on to a workable desktop with internet connection has been reduced to less than 2 minutes. So while the Windows XP installation had very limited space for both system and user files, the new openSUSE 11.4 installation has amble space for both systems files and user files - on exactly the same hardware.

Background for successful move to openSUSE

Prior usage of and familiarity with GMail, Google Chrome, Picasa, Skype and VLC from the windows environment will make the switch less painful for the user. Additionally will prior familiarity with OpenOffice.org make use of LibreOffice less problematic for the user. However, I do hear occasional complains, that turning a pictures is much easier in Microsoft Word than in OpenOffice.org Writer or LibreOffice Writer. Hopefully the future will change this. And I am sure the speedier startup will be appreciated - every day!

After initial usage it turned out the touchpad was too sensitive, and this interfered with the use of the trackpoint. This was fixed by lowering the touchpad sensitivity settings in the Control Center. The user also wanted Google Earth installed. Another easy fix.