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Fedora News Updates #1

by Colin Charles

For the week of: Wednesday, January 7th 2004

Available at: http://fedoranews.org/colin/fnu/week1.shtml

Welcome to the first issue of Fedora News Updates, the weekly (or bi-weekly) newsletter for the Fedora community. We aim to release this often and can do so with the help of the community. It should contain user information as well as some useful developer discussions that will shape the outcome of Fedora.

Fedora resources

With so much information available out there, keeping a list of all current resources would be very handy. Sites that contain useful information include:

  • Fedora Project - Sponsored by Red Hat, and the official site for all things Fedora.
  • Fedora.us - The Fedora Linux homepage with software archives.
  • The #fedora Unofficial FAQ - Created because the same questions kept popping up on the #fedora IRC channel, it has a forum as well as a static FAQ that are both very useful.
  • Fedora Legacy - The project to keep on supporting Red Hat 7.x-8.0 releases and others deemed end-of-life by Red Hat. Work is done by back-porting software to these older platforms.
  • FedoraNEWS - started to be a news site for the Fedora community, with tips and howto's.

Kernel 2.6 tips

Anderson Silva has some quick tips that will make using Dave Jones 2.6.0 kernel a breeze. It should be noted that VMWare, and the Cisco VPN client also work well. Read more at http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-list/2003-December/msg04465.html.

As for differences between what Dave Jones (davej) and Arjan V. (arjanv) have in their kernels, Jeremy Katz states the 4G/4G patch and some configuration related differences. The davej kernel is available via Rawhide, while arjanv's is available via his website.

Kernel parameters for Dell laptops

Several BIOSes and motherboards tend to behave differently when faced with Fedora Core 1. For instance, the Dell Latitude D800 works differently, and requires different boot parameters passed on to the kernel. Ben Stringer offers the use of the "allowcddma" option for his Inspiron, while Simon Bell mentions that the 'apm=off acpi=on' options work for the Dell 4100 laptops - it allows shutting down of the laptop automatically.

Fedora derivatives

Chris Ricker shows us Lorma Linux which is aimed at educational institutions and its students. It's Fedora under the hood, but with five scenario choices: office workstation, classroom workstation, personal desktop, personal laptop and customised installation. To make it more interesting, it includes the Flash plug-in, DivX 5 Codec, Real Player as well as Yahoo! Messenger, all by default. They've removed Java to make way for more programs, and they're also working on a server installation.

Dirk Westfal has been working on an un-official LiveCD based on Fedora Linux. It is in beta, and makes use of the KDE environment, just like Knoppix does. Go ahead and give the beta a download - you can also read the entire package list, and join their web forum.

Hard disk spin-downs

M. Hokcings noticed that while using Fedora, his hard disk never did spin down, in-spite of getting the BIOS set to spin the disk down after 10 minutes. Tom Mitchell attributed this to disks not being idle long enough, and shows how you can see that your disks aren't idle by way of the lsof and sar commands. Look at the examples at http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-list/2003-December/msg04941.html.

Kernel 2.6 and ECN

Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN, or INET_ECN in the kernel .config file) is turned on in 2.6 kernels, and it is known to break buggy routers with a buggy TCP/IP stack. The affected seem to be certain Cisco and Linksys routers - the problem being that you can't connect to them via their Web interface. Correction is via saying N to INET_ECN or via the sysctl. Andrew Chalmers tells us how to get it done via the kernel, or just simply echoing text into the sysctl configuration, while Pedro Morais show's us how to get it done during boot-up by editing the /etc/sysctl.conf file.


Warren Togami has proposed that rpm-4.2.2 should refuse to build as the root user, for it has security implications. There is also hope that upstream Makefiles get tidied up. He also proposed that there should be discouraged use for the rpmbuild --sign option, as this is not the proper way to build and sign packages, again, for safety reasons. To this, Alan Cox responded saying that the whole "root" issue will be irrelevant when Fedora Core 2 comes out, as SELinux comes into the picture.

Once-only boot loading

As Fedora has deprecated the use of LILO as a boot loader (in the shipping release), and taken on to using GRUB, command syntaxes have changed. In LILO, the -R option allowed it to use a new kernel once only, and then revert back to the older kernel upon the next reboot. This is greatly useful for testing on remote servers, in case of kernel panics and the like. GRUB also has the --once option, as pointed out by Sean Estabrooks at http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/2003-December/msg01703.html.

Booting off a USB key

Bill Nottingham show's us how we can get a base system booting off a USB key. It's as simple as copying the isolinux/* directory to the USB key, renaming isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg and running syslinux. So, if the BIOS supports booting off USB devices, this will definitely work.

The solution to RPM hangs

RPM tends to hang and locks up sometimes, and seemingly the best way to fix it at the moment is to remove some of the database files. More instructions are at http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-legacy-list/2004-January/msg00030.html. Michael also indicated that Jeff Johnson (jbj) said that --rebuilddb is normally no longer necessary in recovering from the Red Hat 8 and 9 RPM deadlock issue.

The most definitive answer however is that jbj confirms that --rebuilddb is almost never needed. He indicates here how to detect a deadlock situation and what to do about it.  That said, here's a little more about it in terms of using --rebuilddb, for reference.

Fedora Legacy

In using older releases of Red Hat Linux, it's probably a wise choice to keep up with the Fedora Legacy team's happenings. Of interest would be Yum for 7.x at http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-legacy-list/2004-January/msg00023.html. The Legacy RPM Upgrade Guide by Warren Togami is another useful resource.

Fedora on PowerPC architectures

That's those Macintosh machines, which generally only run Yellow Dog Linux (or Debian or Gentoo), but now can be made to run Fedora as well. Alex Kiernan has some really good instructions as to how he did it, with the help of a Yellow Dog CD. Getting Mozilla to work seems to be an issue, however it's solved via getting the Yellow Dog version (1.4.1), or applying a patch. And no, the SRPM for RHEL will not work either.

Forced FTP downloads from fedora.redhat.com

Ever wondered why there are forced FTP downloads invoked to us when we download ISO images from http;//download.fedora.redhat.com/? Light was shed, and its because of abuse by download accelerators.

Official DVD ISO image available

We now have an official DVD ISO image available for download. Get it from http://torrent.dulug.duke.edu/.



For folk using RPM2HTML, a utility which generates a HTML index from directories of RPMs, and wanted it to work with Fedora Core 1 and RPM 4.2, Hugo van der Kooij tells us that they're available at http://www.wesmo.com/rpm2html/x86/rpm2html-1.8.2-1.i386.html. Previously released by Daniel Veillard, Richard West has taken on this new release.

Mozilla 1.4

It has been mentioned that Mozilla 1.5 will be skipped, and if 1.6 final proves to be stable, an update to FC1 will exist at a later date. Meanwhile, Warren Togami has MozillaFirebird on the fedora.us stable tree, while MozillaThunderbird is requiring some QA. Read more at http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/2003-December/msg01681.html.

Software Phones

Lot's of IP phone software tends not to be written to natively work on Linux. However Jim Laverty shows us about four interesting projects. It might not be Cisco's IP phone software, but there are plenty of alternatives. Read more at http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-list/2003-December/msg04614.html.

Evolution 1.5

We won't be seeing Evolution 1.5 in Rawhide, but we may be seeing Evolution 1.5.1 when it does get released. Read more at http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/2004-January/msg00074.html.

Thank you for reading this issue of Fedora News Updates. Think there's some news snippet you'd like to contribute to Fedora News Updates? Send e-mail to colin@fedoranews.org.

This issue of Fedora News Updates brought to you by Colin Charles, with kind patches by Warren Togami, and great comments by Seth Vidal and Jef Spaleta.