Archive for November, 2011

Grub 2

As I noted in the previous post, Fedora 16 now uses Grub 2 on some architectures. Thanks to this, one of my long standing bug reports against grub2 in Fedora is finally fixed (all it needed was to add os-prober dependency to grub2 which, unfortunately, was unnoticed for a long time). The other bug, which is also very easy to fix, is unfortunately not solved yet… (sorry, but I’m really disappointed to see this bug is still open).
Grub 2 comes with a number of interesting features. One of them is auto-detecting other installed OSes using os-prober (as I have written here, you can do the same for Legacy Grub using my script). This means that now Fedora will detect other installed OSes when installed… well, not completely. Currently, Fedora doesn’t recognize OSes installed on LVM partitions during the installation (apparently because LVM volumes are not active when it is run). Therefore, you should run grub2-mkconfig again after Fedora 16 installation if you have any OSes installed on LVM partitions. Also, there is another problem with os-prober itself: it doesn’t recognize OSes installed on MD RAID partitions. The bug, with the possible fix, is reported upstream and I hope to see it fixed soon too.

Unfortunately, Grub 2 in Fedora doesn’t come with any artwork. You’ll see an ugly black and white grub menu (I never liked the look of Grub2 in Ubuntu and I hoped that it won’t happen in Fedora too). Hopefully, it’ll be fixed soon; but for the time being you can do it yourself. With the pointers given here (Hey! Ask Fedora is also officially launched!), I came up with the following:
First, you should create a font file for Grub 2 using any TTF fonts. I did the following:

grub2-mkfont --output=/boot/grub2/unicode.pf2 \
           /usr/share/fonts/dejavu/DejaVuSansMono.ttf

Then, you need appropriate settings in /etc/default/grub:

GRUB_GFXMODE=1024x768x32
GRUB_GFXPAYLOAD_LINUX=keep
GRUB_BACKGROUND=/usr/share/backgrounds/verne/default/normalish/verne.png

 

Yes, it sets the default Fedora 16 background for Grub and it automatically scales the image to the Grub’s resolution! Finally, don’t forget to regenerate your grub’s config file (remember that the following command completely overwrites the existing config. Therefore, if you have manually edited /boot/grub2/grub.cfg all of your changes will be overwritten by it):

grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

 

A part of the result is given below (for whatever reason (see Update 2 for the reason and the fix!), grub 2 selects a very high resolution in qemu, so I was forced to crop the image):

A sample image of Grub 2 with Fedora 16 background and BiDi (Persian) Text

Grub 2 with Fedora 16 background and BiDi (Persian) Text

And yes, Grub 2 supports UTF-8 BiDi (right-to-left) text automatically (It’d be great if it was also possible to right align the menu entries, but apparently it is not supported). And notice that you should use qxl or vmware vga driver for qemu if you are using Grub 2’s graphical menu.

This is just the begining, and I’m at the beginning too! Grub 2 supports themes, and I hope to see great themes for Fedora. A Fedora theme for grub 2, along with a new Plymouth theme (which has not been changed for a long time) could be very interesting for Fedora 17…

Update: I forgot to say that since Grub 2 can be installed on an LVM partition, you no longer need to have a separate /boot partition in LVM setups. While anaconda still suggests that, you are not forced to do so.

Update 2: Use lower case ‘x’ in GFXMODE variable. Initially I used upper case X so it was actually ignored!

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Fedora 16

Finally, I finished my M.Sc a few days ago and therefore I’m going to be more active after finishing some postponed tasks. But, all that didn’t prevent me from jumping to Fedora 16 early around Beta release and afterwards. And this is my mini-review now:

Fedora Robotics Spin
First of all, we at Fedora Robotics SIG are proud to announce the first official release of Fedora Robotics Spin. This is a LiveDVD spin providing many usable tools, libraries and frameworks usable in robotics such as Eclipse development environment, MRPT libraries, Player/Stage/Gazebo and RoboCup soccer simulator 2D and 3D. Fawkes was supposed to be included too but IIRC it is not included in this version due to some problems. There are still a lot to be done and we will provide more interesting stuff in future.

Gnome 3.2.1
Fedora 16 comes with Gnome 3.2.1. To summarize, it is better than Gnome 3.0 (surprisingly!;)). It felt a bit faster (if I’m not mistaken!), and more polished. It also comes with a number of bug fixes that annoyed me in Fedora 15: the renaming problem in nautilus in non-English locales is solved, and while the problem with tray icons of Java applications is not solved (and it fact it is a bit worse since you cannot get the icon back even by restarting gnome-shell), it doesn’t cause gnome shell to use 100% CPU anymore. So, you still cannot see Java icons but at least it won’t heat up your system. Good news is that a fix for Java is already applied to JDK 8 (thanks to Danesh Dadachanji) and hopefully it will be backported to JDK 6 & 7 soon. Apparently, it fixes another problem too: Java windows will be grouped in Gnome Shell as a single application (currently each window appears as a separate application).

Gnome 3.2.1 comes with some enhancements and new features too: Sushi, a quick previewer for Nautilus. Highlight a file (e.g. image or video) and press Space bar button. You should see a preview of the file.
Another enhancement is in NetworkManager, whch provides a “HotSpot” feature. In Gnome 3.0, there were no straight forward way to do wireless sharing in the new NetworkManager interface and you were forced to create it manually using Netowrk Connections dialog. But in Gnome 3.2 there is a HotSpot button in the Wireless section which creates an ad-hoc wireless connection and shares internet over it easier than ever (just press the button and a few seconds later others can connect you with the provided password). But NetworkManager still lacks some basic functionality, for example while you can enter network proxy information, there is no (clear) way to add authentication information (probably you can add your username and password in the URL box, but it is not a good solution specially as the password is visible to everyone). I hope that NetworkManager can have a kind of “Location” (or Connection) concept which makes it possible to assiosiate some network settings with network Locations (e.g. separate proxy information for different Locations/Connections).

Unfortunately, on my ThinkPad X61 the suspend button (Fn+F4) no longer works. I have not looked into this problem yet. Also, some of the gnome shell extensions in Fedora 16 repository are not compatible with Gnome Shell 3.2.x but they are installable (they should require gnome shell 3.0.x so that you cannot install them in Fedora 16).

Personal File Sharing
In Fedora 15 and 16, you might have noticed that there is no longer any “Personal File Sharing” in Gnome 3. I mostly wanted it to enable receiving files using bluetooth since my mobile didn’t see my laptop to send any files to it. Fortunately, it is not gone forever and you can easily get it back: just install gnome-user-share package and you’ll get it back. 🙂

Gnome Fallback + Compiz Session
And a final note about Gnome in Fedora 15/16: if you would like to use gnome fallback mode rather than Gnome Shell, you can install Compiz 0.9.5 and specially compiz-gnome package. It’ll add a new session (“Classic Gnome with Compiz”) in the login window which you can select to run Gnome Fallback mode with compiz. So, you can select the desired environment in the login window.

Grub 2
Another notable feature of Fedora 16 is replacing lagacy Grub with Grub 2 (not for all architectures currently). But I’ll talk more about it in a separate post since this one is long enough already. 😛
Fedora 16 comes with more interesting features like USB support in KVM. See other features in Fedora 16 feature page.

Parsidora 16

Since Fedora 16 is out, we are going to release our Parsidora 16 soon, specially that it seems that have less problems than Fedora 15. Fedora 16 is better than Fedora 15, so Parsidora 16 will be better too! 😉

Have fun!