Samstag, 13. Dezember 2008

Fedora and support for new hardware

As some people will know: At work I have to deal with brand new hardware (especially CPUs, graphic cards, motherboards, printers, scanners) a lot. One of the two(¹) main reasons why I (and some of my colleagues) use Fedora when it comes to test new hardware for compatibility with linux: Stable Fedora releases regularly get new versions of kernel, sane, xorg-drv-*, and some other hardware-related software as regular update during their lifetime; that improves support for hardware (and especially new hardware) a whole lot over time, as those updates to new versions also bring lots of new and updated drivers. OpenSuse or Ubuntu don't do things like that -- you are either forced to run the devel tree to get new drivers or you have to wait six to eight months till the next release comes out.

But when I took a closer look at Fedora 10 I really was disappointed when I noticed that both gutenprint and hplip (likely the two most important packages with printer drivers) were far from up2date -- especially for gutenprint that sucked, as gutenprint 5.2.1 had brought support for a whole variety of new printers one month before Fedora 10 came out.

But that won't matter much anymore soon: Tim Waugh(²), prepared updates for Fedora 10 that bring gutenprint and hplip up to the latest upstream version. Many thanks for your work twaught!

Ohh, and while at it also many thx to davej, cebbert, kylem, ajax, nphilipp and all the other package maintainers that update packages like kernel, xorg-drv-*, sane, and others to the latest upstream versions now and then in stable releases. I (and I guess lot of people that buy new hardware now and then) really appreciate your work!

(¹) the other: Fedora most of the time doesn't contain drivers or patches that are not yet upstream or on the way upstream. So if it works in Fedora then it most of the time should work on other dists that have the same or a higher version of software like kernel, xorg-drv*, ...

(²) he seems to be a bit more cautiously than some of the Fedora packagers (not sure if that's good or bad) -- the maintainers of packages like kernel or for example had incorporated beta released of their software before the feature freeze and updated that to the final later. Hence that software was up2date when F10 came out; but that is likely a whole lot of work (which otoh helps both Fedora and upstream to get the software in better shape)

Dienstag, 2. Dezember 2008

New toy

We not only got a new cat -- we (or, to be precise: my girlfriend) also got a netbook. A Samsung NC10 in white:
The Fedora 10 installed just fine -- no problems at all. Dmesg, lspci:
00:00.0 Host bridge [0600]: Intel Corporation Mobile 945GME Express Memory Controller Hub [8086:27ac] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: agpgart-intel
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: Intel Corporation Mobile 945GME Express Integrated Graphics Controller [8086:27ae] (rev 03)
00:02.1 Display controller [0380]: Intel Corporation Mobile 945GM/GMS/GME, 943/940GML Express Integrated Graphics Controller [8086:27a6] (rev 03)
00:1b.0 Audio device [0403]: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller [8086:27d8] (rev 02)
Kernel driver in use: HDA Intel
Kernel modules: snd-hda-intel
00:1c.0 PCI bridge [0604]: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 1 [8086:27d0] (rev 02)
Kernel driver in use: pcieport-driver
00:1c.2 PCI bridge [0604]: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 3 [8086:27d4] (rev 02)
Kernel driver in use: pcieport-driver
00:1d.0 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1 [8086:27c8] (rev 02)
Kernel driver in use: uhci_hcd
00:1d.1 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI Controller #2 [8086:27c9] (rev 02)
Kernel driver in use: uhci_hcd
00:1d.2 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI Controller #3 [8086:27ca] (rev 02)
Kernel driver in use: uhci_hcd
00:1d.3 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI Controller #4 [8086:27cb] (rev 02)
Kernel driver in use: uhci_hcd
00:1d.7 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller [8086:27cc] (rev 02)
Kernel driver in use: ehci_hcd
00:1e.0 PCI bridge [0604]: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge [8086:2448] (rev e2)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge [0601]: Intel Corporation 82801GBM (ICH7-M) LPC Interface Bridge [8086:27b9] (rev 02)
Kernel modules: iTCO_wdt, intel-rng
00:1f.2 IDE interface [0101]: Intel Corporation 82801GBM/GHM (ICH7 Family) SATA IDE Controller [8086:27c4] (rev 02)
Kernel driver in use: ata_piix
00:1f.3 SMBus [0c05]: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) SMBus Controller [8086:27da] (rev 02)
Kernel driver in use: i801_smbus
Kernel modules: i2c-i801
02:00.0 Ethernet controller [0200]: Atheros Communications Inc. AR242x 802.11abg Wireless PCI Express Adapter [168c:001c] (rev 01)
Kernel driver in use: ath5k_pci
Kernel modules: ath5k
03:00.0 Ethernet controller [0200]: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88E8040 PCI-E Fast Ethernet Controller [11ab:4354] (rev 13)
Kernel driver in use: sky2
Kernel modules: sky2
I didn't test everything yet, but suspend, hibernate and wifi worked out of the the box. Regulating the display brightness does not work using the function keys -- but it works using the gnome-applet.

Seems the wifi-LED does not work; and when I once disabled wifi using the hotkeys I could only get it to work again by restarting the system -- not sure, maybe it was just a hickup or something like that. I'll investigate further over the next few days.

Montag, 1. Dezember 2008

Read the same paragraphs every half year?

I really wanted to read the Fedora 10 Release Notes, but when I did I quickly got distracted. Later I asked myself why and gave it a second try with the goal: watch closely why you got distracted.

I first noticed that I had missed the brief overview at the bottom of the first page. I simply had hit "Next" on the top of the first page, as I expected it to be just the index, like it's iirc is in so many multiple-page howtos -- abs is just a random example here.

I further noticed that the text it a bit hard to read, as all the links are written in plain text within the text -- so you have to skip them with the eyes when you try to read continuously. To stress this a bit more compare yourself, which to you think is quicker and easier to read:
I then got to section 2.1 and read: "Anaconda is the name of the Fedora installer. This section outlines issues related to Anaconda and installing Fedora 10." I don't like the bold writing -- I find is distracting. But I know, some people like that. The real problem is something else and gets even more obvious in the whole section 2.1.1: Most if not all existing Fedora users know all of that already.

And that IMHO is the big problem of the whole release notes. Sure, these information are important for new Fedora users and hence they need to be written somewhere. But these information are just boring for all the existing Fedora users out there. The new information between all the old and well know stuff on the other hand is very important to existing Fedora users -- we want them to read it (which most do not afaics). Thus I'm really wondering if we should provide a second version of the release notes that only provides information that are really new -- then users that come from the previous release only have to read that document, which like is a lot shorter.

I'm not even sure how hard it would be to create that section release note set -- maybe running a diff over the old and new version, cut'n'past the relevant paragraphs where something important changed and put them into one document.

P.S.: Another thing that I dislike in the Fedora 10 Release Notes: Why isn't there a single-page version online that would make searching something a whole lot easier. Example: I knew there was a paragraph in the release notes regarding the flash-plugin. Hence i browsed to the Fedora 10 Release Notes Index, typed "/flash" in Firefox to find it, but failed. I tried some other keywords like "plugin" and failed as well. After a while I gave up and asked Google with the search term "flash-plugin site:" -- then I quickly found what I was looking for. Works, but only is you know how to use Google properly :-/