Sunday, 27 November 2011

Firefox 8 and Thunderbird 8 on CentOS 6 / EPEL 6 / Scientific Linux 6

If there is one thing I do not like about CentOS 6, it is the lack of up to date versions of Firefox and Thunderbird. Well not anymore, thanks to this person you can now easily update Firefox and Thunderbird using YUM to version 8.

Who is Remi?

I'm, for a few years, a fedora project contributor, indeed, I maintain various RPM for Fedora and EPEL repository and also some for RPMFusion

An exhaustive list on Fedora Package Database

I'm also a member of the PHP and EPEL SIGs (Special Interest Groups).

You can visit his site at

Installation Instructions



rpm -ivh remi-release-6*.rpm epel-release-6*.rpm

yum --enablerepo=remi update thunderbird firefox

The remi reopository is not enabled by default, if you wish to change this edit the remi.repo file in your /etc/yum.repos.d folder.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Enabling Samsung Laptop Backlight Support in Ubuntu 11.10

Is your Samsung Laptop brightness buttons not working? Yep, mine isn't too. The Kernel in Ubuntu 11.10 includes support for a number of Samsung Laptops thanks to the efforts of Greg Kroah and if you are interested in improving this I suggest filing bug reports to your distribution vendor or upstream.

What to do in the meantime...

Follow these steps to make your Samsung Laptop's brightness buttons work / or to test if the samsung-laptop.ko works with your Samsung Laptop.

Open a terminal,

mkdir samsung
cd samsung
sudo dmidecode -s system-product-name

Make a note of the product name / model, mine is identified as R510/P510

gedit samsung-laptop.c

Add your Samsung model to the dmi table or modify one of the existing entries, scroll down to line 504, you will see the table starts with the N128.
.ident = "N128",
.matches = {
.callback = dmi_check_cb,

I am going to modify the N128 entry and replace the "N128" with my Laptop model, the R510/P510.

.ident = "R510/P510",
.matches = {
.callback = dmi_check_cb,

Once you have edited the samsung-laptop.c file, save and exit. Now build the samsung-laptop.ko module.


Your modified samsung-laptop.ko module should have compiled successfully. The next step is to replace the existing module.

sudo cp samsung-laptop.ko /lib/modules/$(uname -r)/kernel/drivers/platform/x86/
sudo depmod -a

The final step, add acpi_backlight=vendor to grub

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Modify the line,



GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash acpi_backlight=vendor"

Save and exit, then update grub.

sudo update-grub

Now reboot and test your Fn Brightness buttons.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Super Easy KDE Users Guide for Fedora 16

The Super Easy KDE Users Guide 
Latest Edition Fedora 16


Follow these super easy steps to turn your Fedora KDE installation into a fully functional multimedia rich and enjoyable desktop.

Add the RPM Fusion repository

su -c 'yum -y localinstall --nogpgcheck && yum -y update'

Install the additional Gstreamer and K3b plugins

su -c 'yum -y install gstreamer-ffmpeg gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer-plugins-bad-nonfree transcode k3b-extras-freeworld sox vcdimager normalize'

Install Flash Player

su -c 'yum -y install$(arch)/adobe-release-$(arch)-1.0-1.noarch.rpm && yum -y install flash-plugin'

If you want to watch encrypted DVDs

su -c 'yum -y install$(arch)/libdvdcss-1.2.10-1.$(arch).rpm'

Install Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice

su -c 'yum -y install firefox thunderbird @office'

Fix the font rendering and install Microsoft fonts

su -c 'yum -y install freetype-freeworld'

Now you can enjoy using Fedora and KDE!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

How to Recompile your Kubuntu 11.10 Kernel

This quick and simple guide will help you to recompile your Kubuntu 11.10 Kernel. Modify where appropriate, eg amd64 / i386.

1. Install these packages

sudo apt-get install fakeroot dpkg-dev libncurses5-dev kernel-package

2. Create your source directory

mkdir ~/src

cd ~/src

3. Download the Kernel source

apt-get source linux-image-$(uname -r)

4. Configure your Kernel

cd linux-3.0.0

make menuconfig

5. Speed up the build


General rule, concurrency level = number of processor cores + 1

6. Clean up temp files from a previous compile attempt (skip if necessary)

make-kpkg clean

7 Compile your Kernel

time fakeroot make-kpkg --initrd --append-to-version=-tweak kernel-image kernel-headers

You can change -tweak to anything you wish

8. Install your Kernel

cd ~/src

sudo dpkg -i linux-image-3.0.6-tweak_3.0.6-tweak-10.00.Custom_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-headers-3.0.6-tweak_3.0.6-tweak-10.00.Custom_amd64.deb

9. Reboot

Your recompiled Kernel should automatically load.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

How I enable restricted multimedia in openSUSE 12.1 KDE

Given that openSUSE 12.1 KDE uses the Gstreamer phonon backend by default, for better multimedia support it makes sense to install just the additional gstreamer plugins as oppose to installing every other multimedia framework known to man kind such as Xine and VLC on top of Gstreamer.

Of course you are free to do as you please but I prefer to keep things to a minimal.

To make openSUSE 12.1 more enjoyable I install a few gstreamer plugins from the Packman repository and some additional packages for K3b.

However, my plan for world domination is ruined by the decision to include Kaffeine as the default media player in openSUSE 12.1 KDE. Unfortunately Kaffeine requires Xine things to function properly :(

So over to plan B, remove Kaffeine and replace it with Dragon Player which is happy to work with any phonon backend such as Gstreamer or VLC.

Enough of the rambling...

Enable the Packman repository

Head over to and you will see a nice list of mirrors. When using YaST to add the community repository it adds a mirror from Germany. But my precious bandwidth is important so picking a mirror closer to home improves efficiency.

After picking a mirror closer to home, its time for the terminal.

su -c 'zypper addrepo --refresh Packman'

With the Packman repository up and running, I now install the good stuff.

su -c 'zypper remove k3b kaffeine && zypper install gstreamer-0_10-ffmpeg gstreamer-0_10-fluendo-mp3 gstreamer-0_10-plugins-bad gstreamer-0_10-plugins-good-extra gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ugly transcode k3b-codecs normalize dragonplayer gstreamer-0_10-plugins-bad-orig-addon gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ugly-orig-addon'

If you analyse the above, you will see that K3b is removed. I do this to avoid zypper complaining about a vendor conflict. With the openSUSE version out of the way the k3b-codecs package will pull in the Packman version of K3b without zypper complaining.

And that's what I do.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

How to install the Nvidia drivers manually in openSUSE 12.1

The steps to install the Nvidia driver in openSUSE 12.1 is identical to the previous release, openSUSE 11.4. See this link for 11.4

This guide uses the terminal and wget command to download the Nvidia driver to your /home/username/Downloads folder. You may use your web browser although I suggest keeping the Nvidia driver in your Downloads folder as it may be useful at a later date.

Please note the current latest driver 285.05.09 does not support GeForce 5 Series or older. Such users will need to use the legacy drivers instead.

For a list of supported devices see here -

1. Start

Open a terminal

2. Install required packages

su -c 'zypper install gcc make kernel-devel'

3. Prevent the nouveau driver from loading

su -c 'echo "blacklist nouveau" > /etc/modprobe.d/nvidia.conf'

Please copy and paste the below as one line, you may have to press enter

su -c '# recreate initrd without KMS, if the use of KMS is enabled in initrd
if grep -q NO_KMS_IN_INITRD=\"no\" /etc/sysconfig/kernel; then
   sed -i 's/NO_KMS_IN_INITRD.*/NO_KMS_IN_INITRD="yes"/g' /etc/sysconfig/kernel

4. Download the Nvidia driver 

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads


(32-bit users)

cd Downloads


5. Reboot your system into run level 3

At the openSUSE boot screen make sure your Kernel entry is selected, type the number 3 as illustrated in the screenshot and press enter.

This will cause openSUSE to boot to a console terminal, login using your normal user details.

6. Install the Nvidia driver

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads
su -c 'sh -a -q'

(32-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c ' -a -q'

7. Once the installer has completed, reboot your system

su -c 'reboot'

Remember that every time your Kernel is updated you will need to rebuild the Nvidia Kernel module.

8. Rebuilding the Nvidia module after a Kernel update

Boot into run level 3 as described above, login using your normal user details,

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c 'sh -K'

(32-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c 'sh -K'

Then reboot your system.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

openSUSE 12.1 - Just released and seems to be working?

I am sure you have seen the default openSUSE 12.1 KDE Desktop, so here is a different one.

I remember when openSUSE 11.4 was released and that was probably the most broken release in their history. So broken that I decided there and then that I would be dumping openSUSE for good.

To date I have stuck to my words but for the past few months there have been significant developments in the world of Linux desktop environments. Yes, Gnome (S)hell and Unity.

Those developments have left me with a big problem, long term wise what Linux distribution should I use?

The first step in addressing this problem is to identify what Desktop Environment is available to suit my needs and right now KDE looks promising. I was impressed with Fedora's implementation of KDE in F15, even with Kubuntu 11.04 but both suffer from the occasional quirk. With Fedora being what it is, I can understand the odd quirk but Kubuntu needs to try harder.

Fast forward to Fedora 16 KDE and Kubuntu 11.10, I am finding F16 just too unreliable. You know when a distribution is unreliable when you have to hit the reset button on your PC.

Kubuntu 11.10, feels a little sluggish and rough in a few places but is at least usable.

At some point before F16 and Kubuntu 11.10 I came across Mandriva 2011, I like what they have done with KDE but usability wise they need to make it more reliable. Perhaps when they release their LTS version by the end of the year things will be better.

Hold on, who are you trying to kid, it's French. But the Russians now have their hands on it. (Perhaps not then)

There are of course many more KDE distributions out there but I cant be bothered to try everything. At the end of the day I want something that works, is easy to setup and has good support.

So the quest continues or do I eat my own words and give openSUSE another chance?

I am currently running it from a Live USB, inital observations are that it is quite nippy, probably due to their desktop kernel tweaks. The Live CD / USB also comes with useful software such as Firefox, LibreOffice and GIMP which makes it a better option over Fedora and Kubuntu.

I think for now I will just continue to monitor the forums and internet as I need my system for some important work. On that note if you are wondering what operating system I am using for this important work, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.