Thursday, December 17, 2009

We are using MySQL, help save it

As Oracle are progressing to acquire Sun, the future of MySQL is at stake. Read Monty's article about this at http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/12/help-saving-mysql.html to understand this issue better.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How to change KDE 4 startup sound

It may not obvious for beginner. These are the steps on how to change startup sound in KDE 4.

1. Open KDE System Setting


2. Double click on the notifications to open it.


3. For Event source, select KDE System Notifications as below.


4. From the list, select Login and click browse button to change the sound file.


From here, there are lots of options for you to try. Have fun!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Google Chrome 64-bit for Linux



After searching for hours for Google Chrome 64-bit for Mandriva 2010, I found this one works great. Please expect some bugs. At least flash plugin works with the help of Mozilla's. This package may work for other distro too. You have to try it yourself.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mandriva Linux 2010 released



Announced on Nov 4th 2009, the release of Mandriva 2010. It is available in three editions : One, Powerpack and Free, for architectures i586 and x86-64. One and Free can be downloaded for free from official Mandriva mirrors and via BitTorrent.

To know what this edition has to offer, read here.

What really attracts me is this:

Mandriva Linux 2010 includes Go-OO branch of the popular OpenOffice.org. That means more features, like SVG support, 3D transitions, VBA support, KDE 4 integration and Includes useful extensions.

So for those who *really* need these features of Go-OO, should consider use this edition of Mandriva Linux.

Have fun!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

how to solve urpmi or rpm database locked error?

I'm sure for those using package manager for rpm-based distro had encountered "rpm database locked". For Mandriva users, they will encounter similar error such as "urpmi database locked". Those errors are produced when other application is using rpm or urpmi database and to prevent simultaneous access to those databases. In many cases though, there is no application accessing rpm/urpmi database simultaneously but the stale locks are still there. This could happen when the application accessing the database terminated abnormally.

To overcome this problem, you have to remove the lock files manually. For rpm lock file it is in /var/lib/rpm/.RPMLOCK and urpmi lock file is in /var/lib/urpmi/.LOCK. Depends on what error produced, you need to remove either one. Obviously, for error "urpmi database locked", you need to remove file in /var/lib/urpmi/.LOCK and afterthat if you receive error "rpm database locked", you need to remove the other one. Usually if you receive error "urpmi database locked", you need to remove both stale lock files. This is from my experience.

Have fun!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Slackware 13 is ready



Slackware, the first distribution I have been using since 1995 , one of the oldest distributions, has released version 13. One of the most important to note is that this is the first version that comes with 64-bit port. Slackware Linux known as a stable and rock-solid distribution has its unique fans even there are many modern distributions suitable for beginners and experts.

More details about the release can be found in the release notes and in the changes and hints and packages text files.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

KDE 4.3 released

KDE 4.3 (Caizen) was released on 4th August 2009. KDE 4.3 is the latest major release in the KDE 4 series, delivering a more polished user experience. The KDE community has fixed over 10,000 bugs and implemented almost 2,000 feature requests in the last 6 months. Close to 63,000 changes were checked in by a little under 700 contributors. Read on for an overview of the changes in the KDE 4.3 Desktop Workspace, Application Suites and the KDE 4.3 Development Platform.



More info can be read on kde.org

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Maatkit: A great MySQL toolbox

What is Maatkit? (copied verbatim from its website)
Maatkit makes MySQL easier and safer to manage. It provides simple, predictable ways to do things you cannot otherwise do. It would be nice if these features were included with MySQL, but they are not. That's why Maatkit is now shipping by default with many GNU/Linux distributions such as Debian and CentOS. Unfortunately, it isn't included in Mandriva repo. In that case, we can download it here or read here for more ways to download it.

You can use Maatkit to prove replication is working correctly, fix corrupted data, automate repetitive tasks, speed up your servers, and much, much more.

Maatkit is sponsored by Percona, who releases it under the GPL and offers paid support and sponsorship of new features. Maatkit is hosted on Google Code and free support is available in the Maatkit Discuss Google Group.

What can Maatkit do and more can be read on the website.

Jeremy Zawodny highlights a few of his favorite utilities here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mozilla Firefox 3.5 released

Yeah. You've heard it. The latest firefox has been released. It supports the new HTML elements such as audio and video tags. It also supports Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora natively and speed improvements. I haven't experience it myself though because I'm waiting for it to be in Mandriva Cooker's repositories and it will be there soon. You guys can download it from Mozilla's mirror if you don't want to wait.

Release notes can be read here.
Download latest firefox here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting IP address from computer name using samba

If you know the name of a computer from your network and want to know the IP address of it using samba (if you're using Linux or UNIX-based OS), issue this command:

nmblookup -I computername

Have fun!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Permanently redirect your client to https using apache webserver

If your webserver has no problem with https service, this is a working solution that I found to permanently redirect your visitors (clients) to https port of your webserver. I found many solutions but this one worked for me as I tested it. Why permanent secure connection? This is really important for applications that need higher security to protect your data. For more info on this topic please google. :)

These 3 lines are needed to put in /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf :

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} !^443$
RewriteRule ^.*$ https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R]

Where to put them? Search Directory directive in httpd.conf. Below is sample from httpd.conf
on Mandriva.


# Possible values for the Options directive are "None", "All",
# or any combination of:
# Indexes Includes FollowSymLinks SymLinksifOwnerMatch ExecCGI MultiViews
# Note that "MultiViews" must be named *explicitly* --- "Options All"
# doesn't give it to you.
# The Options directive is both complicated and important. Please see
# http://httpd.apache.org/docs-2.0/mod/core.html#options
# for more information.

Options -Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews

#
# AllowOverride controls what directives may be placed in .htaccess files.
# It can be "All", "None", or any combination of the keywords:
# Options FileInfo AuthConfig Limit Indexes

AllowOverride None

# Controls who can get stuff from this server.
Order allow,deny
Allow from all



After putting those 3 lines:


RewriteEngine On
# Possible values for the Options directive are "None", "All",
# or any combination of:
# Indexes Includes FollowSymLinks SymLinksifOwnerMatch ExecCGI MultiViews
# Note that "MultiViews" must be named *explicitly* --- "Options All"
# doesn't give it to you.
# The Options directive is both complicated and important. Please see
# http://httpd.apache.org/docs-2.0/mod/core.html#options
# for more information.

Options -Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews

#
# AllowOverride controls what directives may be placed in .htaccess files.
# It can be "All", "None", or any combination of the keywords:
# Options FileInfo AuthConfig Limit Indexes

AllowOverride None

# Controls who can get stuff from this server.
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} !^443$
RewriteRule ^.*$ https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R]



So now test it. Should be ok. If not, check the log and troubleshoot.

That's the whole ball of wax.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Handling tif image produced by MS Office Document Scanning

I scanned a paper using MS Office Document Scanning (on Windows XP) and the output was a tiff image file. Using file command, I could see the file type as below:

image.tif: TIFF image data, little-endian

As usual, I wanted to open it with a image editing software like gimp or imagemagick or krita or even with document viewer like okular but to no avail. The error produced by GIMP was: unsupported layout, No RGBA loader. The error produced by Krita was: Cannot create storage. I tried convert a utility packaged with imagemagick to convert the image to jpg :

[zamri@triniton KINGSTON]# convert image.tif -quality 90 kpd.jpg

I got this error:
convert: image.tif: unknown field with tag 512 (0x200) encountered. `TIFFReadDirectory' @ tiff.c/TIFFWarnings/525.
convert: image.tif: unknown field with tag 513 (0x201) encountered. `TIFFReadDirectory' @ tiff.c/TIFFWarnings/525.
convert: image: unknown field with tag 514 (0x202) encountered. `TIFFReadDirectory' @ tiff.c/TIFFWarnings/525.
convert: image.tif: unknown field with tag 37677 (0x932d) encountered. `TIFFReadDirectory' @ tiff.c/TIFFWarnings/525.
convert: image.tif: unknown field with tag 37678 (0x932e) encountered. `TIFFReadDirectory' @ tiff.c/TIFFWarnings/525.
convert: image.tif: unknown field with tag 37680 (0x9330) encountered. `TIFFReadDirectory' @ tiff.c/TIFFWarnings/525.
convert: compression not supported `image.tif' @ tiff.c/ReadTIFFImage/811.
convert: missing an image filename `kpd.jpg' @ convert.c/ConvertImageCommand/2776.

So I searched the internet and I found the solution on this website. I installed foremost by issuing this command: urpmi foremost. Luckily Mandriva has this utility in its repositories. Then I issued this command:

foremost -i image.tif -o image

The first argument -i is the input file and second arg -o is for the dir where we want to extract the content of the image. It appeared that the tif file was compressed and contained many files including the jpg file that of interest to me. The output of above command was a directory (folder) named image. In the directory,I got:

audit.txt jpg/ ole/

In directory jpg, I got :

00000000.jpg 00000703.jpg

The file named 00000000.jpg was the image file type jpeg that can be opened with any image viewer. The other one was the thumbnail.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mounting Mac OS X partition from Linux

My friend asked me to save his data on a Mac OS X partition since his machine couldn't boot properly into Mac OS X GUI mode. So I booted the machine with Ubuntu 5.04 Live CD. I know it was an old version but who cares as long as it supports hfsplus filesystem used by Mac OS X.

So I mounted one of the partitions where he saved his work with this:

sudo mount -t hfsplus /dev/hda5 /mnt (for Ubuntu)

(If you are using other distro and logged in as root, just omit the sudo from above command.)

where /dev/hda5 is the partition and /mnt is the mount point.

From now, insert usb drive and copy file to it. After this, he can wipe out all partitions and/or reinstall Mac OS X.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

KDE 4.3 Beta 1 released for testing

KDE.org announced the release of KDE 4.3 Beta 1 for testing. This is the first review of the 3rd iteration of KDE 4 desktop.

Some highlights of this beta release are:
1.Integration of PolicyKit and Geolocation services
2.More usable Run command pop-up (press alt+F2 to activate)
3. Many new and improved add-ons for plasma
4. Many bugfixes and improvements across all applications and more integration of features coming with the KDE 4 platform
5. New tree mode in System Settings

and many more. For a complete list of changes, you can browse subversion log.

Reference
http://kde.org/announcements/announce-4.3-beta1.php

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring released

Mandriva has announced the launch of the final version of Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring (codename Pauillac). This new version comes with a host of improvements and changes, as always. Fun fact: this is the first release reported to us by Anne Nicolas instead of Adam Williamson. For those that keep score.

The Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring comes in the flavour of your choice, KDE, GNOME or LXDE, in more than 70 languages. There's the Free edition (100% open source software) in 2 DVDs for 32 and 64 architecture and the One edition (installable live CD, available in KDE and GNOME versions). Major updates includes KDE 4.2.2, GNOME 2.26, Xorg server 1.6, Linux kernel 2.6.29, Xfce 4.6, Qt Creator 1, Tcl/Tk 8.6, syslinux 3.75, and much more.

Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring comes with an improvement in boot time. The tools of Mandriva Control Center have also been optimised. Network center now supports advanced network configuration together with additional pre-configured Internet providers, integration with new network devices and support for different wireless regulatory domains. msev, the Mandriva security framework, has been also redesigned.

The ext4 file system is now supported in the stable version and proposed during installation. Last update of syslinux comes with the HDT module (Hardware Detection Tool), which brings you a way to detect all your hardware before booting your system.

You can take the 2009 Spring tour, read the Release notes and Errata, and of course, download.

Source

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Firefox 3.0.10 fixes critical vulnerability


The Mozilla developers have announced the release of version 3.0.10 of their open source Firefox web browser. The security and stability release addresses a critical security vulnerability introduced in Firefox 3.0.9.

The vulnerability is a regression which in some cases caused frequent crashes. Users running the HTML Validator add-on were particularly affected, although other users also experienced the crashes. The problem was due to memory corruption, similar to problems identified as security vulnerabilities in the past.

More details about the release can be found in the release notes. Firefox 3.0.10 is available to download, or Firefox users can use the Firefox update service by selecting Help, then Check For Updates.

Source

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Testing Red Alert 2 with wine

I had unsuccessful attempt to run (old) Red Alert 2 game with sound using wine 1.x.x. After ignoring to test it for a few months due to my busy work, yesterday I decided to try it again. It worked. My wine version is 1.1.17. My Red Alert 2 is Yuri's Revenge with no-cd patch. Below is how I set wine to make sound works. The graphics setting is just an additional setting to set virtual destop to make the game runs in a window (and not in full screen as default).

Audio Setting
Run winecfg to change audio setting for wine.


Click on the Audio tab. Make sure PulseAudio (recent wine support PulseAudio driver) and OSS driver checked and in DirectSound section make sure Hardware Acceleration is set to Emulation. And then click OK button to save the settings.

Graphics Settings
Click on Graphics tab and check Emulate a virtual desktop setting and set Desktop size to 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768.

Now it's ready to be run. See screenshots below.




Monday, April 13, 2009

postfix can't connect to MySQL

I got this error in syslog when postfix was trying to connect to MySQL:

Apr 13 17:34:53 webmail postfix/smtpd[6726]: warning: connect to mysql server localhost: Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/lib/mysql/mysql.sock' (2)
Apr 13 17:34:53 webmail postfix/smtpd[6726]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from rv-out-0506.google.com[209.85.198.233]: 451 4.3.0 : Temporary lookup failure; from= to= proto=ESMTP helo=

I got a reference to MySQL database in my main.cf which triggered the error:

local_recipient_maps = mysql:/etc/postfix/sql-recipients.cf

From the error it was obvious postfix couldn't connect to MySQL. Email from outside wouldn't be received properly by dbmail. I checked MySQL service and it was running and I could log into MySQL manually. I found a solution after googling a bit. The cause was in file /etc/postfix/master.cf. I got smtp service of postfix to run chroot'ed (see y below).

#service type private unpriv chroot wakeup maxproc command + args
smtp inet n - y - - smtpd

So I changed the line to:

#service type private unpriv chroot wakeup maxproc command + args
smtp inet n - n - - smtpd


Voila!. It worked. See log below:

Apr 13 18:03:02 webmail postfix/smtpd[7039]: connect from rv-out-0506.google.com[209.85.198.239]
Apr 13 18:03:03 webmail sqlgrey: grey: domain awl match: updating 209.85.198(209.85.198.239), gmail.com
Apr 13 18:03:03 webmail postfix/smtpd[7039]: B3246A3075: client=rv-out-0506.google.com[209.85.198.239]
Apr 13 18:03:04 webmail postfix/cleanup[7042]: B3246A3075: message-id=<23c8d5620904130314j7f4c619di57c7d8c0d217ed62@mail.gmail.com>
Apr 13 18:03:04 webmail postfix/qmgr[7033]: B3246A3075: from=, size=2277, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Apr 13 18:03:05 webmail postfix/smtpd[7046]: connect from webmail.myfakedomain.net[127.0.0.1]
Apr 13 18:03:05 webmail postfix/smtpd[7046]: 26BBFA3076: client=rv-out-0506.google.com[209.85.198.239]
Apr 13 18:03:05 webmail postfix/cleanup[7042]: 26BBFA3076: message-id=<23c8d5620904130314j7f4c619di57c7d8c0d217ed62@mail.gmail.com>
Apr 13 18:03:05 webmail postfix/qmgr[7033]: 26BBFA3076: from=, size=2751, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Apr 13 18:03:05 webmail postfix/smtpd[7046]: disconnect from webmail.myfakedomain.net[127.0.0.1]
Apr 13 18:03:05 webmail dbmail/lmtpd[20480]: Message:[serverchild] serverchild.c,PerformChildTask(+349): incoming connection from [127.0.0.1] by pid [20480]
Apr 13 18:03:05 webmail postfix/lmtp[7043]: B3246A3075: to=, relay=127.0.0.1[127.0.0.1]:10025, delay=2, delays=0.96/0.01/0/1, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (250 2.0.0 Ok, id=01032-05, from MTA([127.0.0.1]:10026): 250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as 26BBFA3076)
Apr 13 18:03:05 webmail postfix/qmgr[7033]: B3246A3075: removed

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CUPS: Unable to open device and permission denied

I use CUPS for my printer system and I got this error:

Unable
to open device "
hal:///org/freedesktop/Hal/devices/usb_device_3f0_217_00SGKGB09615_if0_printer_noserial": Permission denied

How to solve this problem? The settings of the printer was correct and was just a permission problem. Googling a bit, I found this site.

These steps what I did to solve it:
1. cd /usr/lib/cups/backend
2. chmod 700 hal (previously 755)
3. chmod 700 usb (previously 755)

For step 2 and 3, I found out that you have to change the mod to 700 although the file hal and usb has 'rwx' on them on the 'user' part. The culprit was the 'group' and the 'other' part of the permission. They should be chmod'ed to 0. On my system, the 'group' and 'other' part of both files was 5 (r-x) previously.

I hope this saves some people's time of head scratching.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

clamav detects conficker

Taken from http://www.clamav.net/2009/01/29/conficker-aka-downadup/

Some of you may have heard of a current major outbreak of a virus known as Downadup that has been reported at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7842013.stm and http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7832652.stm. It has been estimated that move than 9 million PCs are infected across the world.

ClamAV detects Downadup, also known as Conficker, as Worm.Downadup. Once on a system it downloads components that ClamAV detects as members of the Trojan.Downloader- family of signatures.

The virus primarily exploits MS08-067; it can also spread through USB sticks. Since the virus is not spread by email we don’t expect to see much activity in our core user-base, which tends to use ClamAV to scan emails. We are, nevertheless, keeping an eye out for it through freshclam’s statistics gathering system – we are yet to see any obvious spike of activity from it. If we hear anything we’ll let you know.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saving date and time to hardware clock manually

If you change date and time in console, the hardware clock may not be updated instantly. There's a script usually find in many distros that save the date and time to hardware clock before the computer off or restart. Some GUI apps changed the hardware clock if you change the software clock. If you want to change the hardware clock manually, here's the command:

hwclock --systohc

and obviously, you have to run it as root.

dbmail and database default character set

I migrated my mailserver to another server recently. I installed dbmail from scratch and restored my database into new mysql server. When I started dbmail to connect to the database server, I found out in syslog (see below) that the dbmail-imapd couldn't connect to the server because of the different character set. It's a FATAL error!. I found out that my old database used latin1 as the default character set and dbmail used utf8 as I defaulted in /etc/dbmail.conf. So I just change the default character set of my dbmail database in MySQL to utf8 (see below). This solved the problem.

In syslog before changing the character set:
Mar 14 13:01:54 webmail.fakedomain.com.my dbmail-imapd[13986]: Error:[sql] dbmysql.c,db_mysql_check_collations(+138): collation mismatch, your MySQL configuration specifies a different charset than the data currently in your DBMail database.
Mar 14 13:01:54 webmail.fakedomain.com.my dbmail-imapd[13986]: FATAL:[server] server.c,StartServer(+129): Unable to connect to database.

To change default character set of a dbmail database:
ALTER DATABASE dbmail DEFAULT CHARACTER SET utf8;

In syslog after changing database default character set:
Mar 15 13:20:29 webmail dbmail/imap4d[14107]: Message:[server] pool.c,child_register(+299): register child [14107]
Mar 15 13:20:29 webmail dbmail/imap4d[14109]: Message:[server] pool.c,child_register(+299): register child [14109]
Mar 15 13:20:29 webmail dbmail/imap4d[14111]: Message:[server] pool.c,child_register(+299): register child [14111]
Mar 15 13:20:29 webmail dbmail/imap4d[14113]: Message:[server] pool.c,child_register(+299): register child [14113]
Mar 15 13:20:29 webmail dbmail/imap4d[14101]: Message:[server] pool.c,scoreboard_state(+590): Scoreboard state:children [4/10], spares [4 (2 - 4)]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

packagekit and Mandriva Cooker

I use Mandriva Cooker. A bleeding edge distro. packagekit is the latest offering from Mandriva for package management. Coupled with KDE's kpackagekit, it integrates nicely with KDE 4. It's still not recommended for general though. The interface is confusing for first time user. Every button can be clicked while the other process running and it crashes often. Please use Mandriva Control Center for it.

Let's see some screenshots of it.







Thursday, February 5, 2009

Login with admin privilege can make matters worse

Many windows users don't know that they login with administrator privileges. When viruses or worms attack, they use the user's privileges and they can make a catastrophe.

A new analysis claims that over 90% of the Windows security vulnerabilities reported last year were made worse by users logged in with administrative privileges -- an issue Microsoft has been hotly debating recently.

BeyondTrust Corp. (BTC), a software development company specializing in enterprise rights management, has indicated that the act of giving users administrative rights may leave systems more open to risk.

The report issued by BTC was prepared by assessing security vulnerability bulletins released by Microsoft in 2008, and identifying specific "mitigating factors" (those that could reduce or negate the risk of an attack) within the bulletin. If Microsoft reported that having fewer security privileges would negate or eliminate risk, BTC concluded that the vulnerability was admin-privilege related.

The result of the analysis of the 154 critical Microsoft vulnerabilities indicated that a full 92% could have been prevented if users were not logged into their systems with administrator status. BTC believes that restricting the number of users who can log in with these privileges will "close the window of opportunity" for attackers. This is particularly true for users of Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office. (Source: computerworld.com)

Microsoft has been relatively transparent in their revelation of security vulnerabilities, and has worked with organizations such as Cert.org to identify and address security concerns to the online community. (Source: cert.org)

While Microsoft is not denying the vulnerabilities present in its various Windows operating systems, they have not been exactly forthright about how internal programming "holes" (such as increased vulnerability for users with admin privileges) may make users susceptible to threats or attacks.

I think Microsoft users should be told that using admin privilege accounts is a potential security risk. I found out that many of them don't want to use normal/limited account for their daily account.

Linux users always use ordinary account (non-root acount) to do tasks that do not require admin/root privileges. Ubuntu users for example used to sudo command to do admin tasks like installing packages, upgrade packages etc. Other Linux users are very familiar with su command to do the same tasks. Certain apps will warn you if you run them as admin (ie root). This way Linux users reduce the risks of being infected or attacked by viruses, worms and other types of malwares.

Source

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How to setup a https server with apache

Setting up an https server in Apache is easier by watching video. Don't you agree? :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Linux 2.6.28's five best features

Created Jan 9 2009 - 3:29pm

While you were likely to be opening up Christmas presents, Linus Torvalds was giving Linux users around the world a special present: the release of the next major Linux kernel: Linux 2.6.28 [1].

We had some time to tinker with this latest and greatest Linux, and it's my kind of Christmas present: solid improvements to my favorite operating system. Here are the five features that I think most of us will appreciate the most as we move into the New Year.


1) Ext4

The next step up in Linux file systems, has finally arrived. Ext4 [2] improves, well, everything about hard drive storage. It gives you larger file-system and file sizes, faster I/O, better journaling, and it can defragment your drive on the fly.

In particular, its delayed allocation functionality greatly improves hard disk write performance. This won't help your PC hard drive that much, but if you're running a database server, you'll see significant improvements. How fast is 'significant?' In my informal tests with MySQL 5.0, I saw write-speed boosts of approximately 30% on a 400GB database. Try it yourself on your servers, you'll be impressed. In addition, since Ext4 can handle up to 1024 petabytes per volume. I expect Ext4 and Sun's ZFS are going to be fighting it out for top server file-system for the next ten-years.


2) GEM Memory Manager for Graphics

Linux is finally getting decent support from the major graphic vendors, like ATI [3] and NVIDIA [4]. That's great, if you have a high-end graphics card with its own memory and processor. But, say you're like the rest of us without much money and you're using the graphics that are built into your motherboard? Linux will run fine on your PC, but your graphics won't be that fast. Until now.

With Linux 2.6.28, GEM (Graphics Execution Manager [5]) Linux finally includes a graphics memory manager. This will matter your graphics memory whether it's on a dedicated card or part of your main memory. By providing a central, common memory manager, GEM enables even ordinary graphics, like the popular and cheap Intel 915 chipset, to run 50% faster [6]. That's a performance boost that anyone can see.

GEM is still very much a work in progress. At this time, only the 915 is fully supported. Other graphic chip developers though are already hard at work getting their drivers to work with GEM. This graphics memory manager will not only make their lives easier, it will also deliver much faster performance for both low-end and top-of-the-line desktop users. In short, GEM may not be much now, but it's going to be a win-win for everyone by this summer.


3) Disk Shock Protection

Ever drop a laptop? I have. So far, I've been lucky and I have smacked a hard drive silly. Laptop vendors know they can't count on everyone being lucky so they've been incorporating drop protection into their notebooks and netbooks.

This works by moving the hard drive read/write heads away from the disk if the laptop detects that it's moving quickly and is likely to be slamming on the floor in a few milliseconds. Until now, though, Linux didn't know a thing about this kind of protection. So, you could end up with Linux trying to get the drive heads to write while the drive firmware was trying to move the out of the way before laptop and concrete had a sudden, violent meeting. Now, Linux will work with most of these fumble-finger proof hard drives. Speaking for klutzes everywhere, I'd like to say thank-you.


4) Staging Drivers

Did you ever want to use a device for Linux where there was 'some' support for it, but it wasn't good enough to be in the main kernel? If you use a lot of new hardware, you've probably been there. As Jake Edge reports [7], "There has been an ongoing struggle between those who want to see drivers get included as quickly as possible versus those who want to see them approach or attain normal kernel quality levels first." He's got that right.

Greg Kroah-Hartman, who has been leading Linux hackers' efforts to create drivers [8], created the -staging tree for these, not quite ready for prime-time drivers. You don't have to use them, but they're available there if you need them. For example, I wanted access to USB/IP. This driver enables you to USB devices over a TCP/IP network. I'm using it to access printers that are attached to a Belkin Network USB Hub [9]. Is it perfect? No. But it does let me get to those printers so that's a win in my book.


5) Network improvements

The 2.6.28 kernel includes new support for UWB (Ultra Wide Band), Wireless USB, UWB-IP, and Nokia's mobile phone Phonet Network Protocol. That's all well and good, but unless you're one of the few who work with UWB or Phonet, I'm not sure how important that will be. I do think Wireless USB will end up being a big deal. That said, what I think is easily the neatest improvement in 2.6.28's improved networking is that it now supports the minstrel Wi-Fi rate control [10].

Chances are you haven't heard about minstrel. Once you have it on your Wi-Fi equipped computer though you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. Minstrel keeps a constant watch on which Wi-Fi AP (access points) in your area are delivering the fastest possible performance and automatically hook you up with it. With minstrel, you're pretty much guaranteed to always get the best Wi-Fi connection that's available. I like this. I like this a lot. Frankly, based on what I've been seeing while using it with my Linux-powered ThinkPad R61, I'd upgrade to 2.6.28 for this feature alone.

So, my advice to you, is that it any of this sounds good, you can either upgrade your PC to Linux 2.6.28 manually, which is what I did, or you can start encouraging your favorite Linux distribution group to move to 2.6.28 sooner rather than later. You'll be pleased you did.



Source URL:
http://blogs.computerworld.com/linux_2_6_28s_five_best_features

Links:
[1] http://lkml.org/lkml/2008/12/24/105
[2] http://ext4.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/Main_Page
[3] http://practical-tech.com/infrastructure/amd-partners-with-novell-to-open-source-ati-graphic-drivers
[4] http://www.nvidia.com/object/unix.html
[5] http://lwn.net/Articles/283793
[6] http://lwn.net/Articles/283798
[7] http://lwn.net/Articles/301192
[8] http://practical-tech.com/infrastructure/linux-hackers-offer-to-create-device-drivers-for-free
[9] http://www.belkin.com/networkusbhub
[10] http://wireless.kernel.org/en/developers/Documentation/mac80211/RateControl/minstrel