Tag Archive: amd

Final thoughts on Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15

For some time now I’ve been wrestling with the idea of writing my final thoughts on Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15, the reason for me taking so long to figure out if I wanted to write this post in the first place will become clearer after you read this post.

It’s no secret by reading my previous first look review, that I was not a fan of GNOME-Shell, or Unity. While was hoping that the experience would become much more fluid in the final releases, I was still left disappointed.

However, I gave both a fair shot using both for roughly 2 to 3 weeks to try and determine if after using it for a prolonged period of time, my views would change. In addition to my own experience I also turned to the Linux community and looked at both positive and negative reviews centering on both interfaces. Surprisingly, what I found was a mixed set of opinions; however most of them had only a handful of nice things to say about the interface and a bucket full of negative. The main reason for me viewing these reviews was to ensure that I was using them correctly, I did not want to base my opinion solely on the fact that I was struggling to figure certain aspects of it.

While all of the reviews I looked at nitpicked about small things some of which had no relevance to stability or even usability, others touched on small problems that could easily have been fixed prior to release. While I haven’t touched either one of these distributions and about a weeks’ time, last time I did some of these mistakes were still present. To give you an example of how silly some things are in terms of mistakes, I will point out one in Fedora 15 specifically.

Fedora decided to take a different approach and separate the software repository lists tool from the actual updates tool, this in itself is fine in my opinion. Were the silly mistake part comes in is that loading GNOME-Shell, and looking for the update tool to get the current updates for your system. You are presented with two tools with exactly the same icon in virtually identical names; one is called update and the other updates. Through trial and error I discovered that the one with the S at the end of it actually pulls up a repository configuration dialog you can select which repositories are used for installing packages and receiving updates. I know this sounds like nitpicking however it is very confusing and something that is easily corrected, and something that should’ve never ended up in the final version.

Update: as of right now the icons have changed. But they’re both still named exactly the same with the exception of an S

If your computer is not powerful enough to run GNOME-Shell or you just don’t have the proprietary graphics drivers installed, you will go into a fallback session of GNOME 3. This is not to be confused with GNOME 2, I have read a lot of misconceptions that the fallback mode is in fact a stripped down version of GNOME 2. This is in fact false; GNOME-Shell is merely a GUI interface on top of the GNOME 3 libraries. You can tell this by looking at the version of GTK that the fallback session uses, its version 3. Below is a screenshot that might explain why a lot of people confuse the two.

Fallback session

GNOME 3 Fallback Session Warning Dialog

I’m not sure why exactly, but the icon on the dialogue reminds me of the old sad Macintosh, icon that you use to get when your Mac would have a fatal error.

Next to that screenshot you can see one of the desktop that’s loaded in a fallback session.

Fallback Session Desktop

GNOME 3 Fallback Session Desktop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updates Dialog Panel 1

Updates Dialog Panel 1

Updates Dialog Panel 2

Updates Dialog Panel 2

 

Virtual Box can run GNOME-Shell or unity just fine after you install the guest additions, below is a screenshot of the update, updates, issue I was talking about.

Most other distributions used their repository configuration dialogue with a different name that distinguishes it from the update program, such as sources.

 

Update, Updates issue

Screenshot showing how both tools are named Similarly

I put a circle around the two specific programs to draw attention so that it would be easier to pinpoint them.

To further illustrate how this could be confusing, below are two screenshots that show the two tabs on the updates dialogue, below that is a screenshot from the update dialog.

Update Dialog

Update Dialog

This is not an incredibly huge error; it’s not even one that will affect stability of your system. No this is more a cosmetic and user experience related issue. Some might argue that they’ve been labeled this way for several releases now, however when using GNOME-Shell they show up right next to each other under the applications section, which is the cause for the confusion. In a fallback session, or on previous versions of GNOME, these two tools showed up in completely separate menus, which made it less confusing because you are less likely to see both of them side-by-side.

Again, I know this is a long that of a rant to go on about such a small problem, but I just wanted to make it clear what the confusion was and say that if I’m confused, having used previous versions of Fedora that the average user coming from another distribution might be even more confused.

 

That aside, once you get past GNOME-Shell Fedora 15 is a fairly solid release despite the multiple reviews; I’ve read that point to the contrary. On my last review Fedora 15 was in the alpha stages, and I talked about a lot of the new features that the average user would recognize most of these have not changed (other than getting more stable).

I did notice one quirk they kind of bugged me, while this is not a bug, and it is in fact an intentional change, I don’t understand the methodology behind the change. I’m talking about the fact that if you ever create your own RPMs and Fedora things have become slightly more confusing. It used to be that all you needed to do in order to sign and build RPM packages was to install the development tools group from Yum. It seems for whatever reason they’ve taken the GPG signing integration out of RPM by default. This functionality can of course be added back, but it requires installing a separate package. There’s absolutely no documentation that I’ve been able to find that explains the reasoning behind this change, or even that the change took place. I literally spent three hours trying to sign a package through RPM only to find that some person on a forum somewhere discovered that this RPM signing functionality was moved into a separate package called rpm-sign.

I’m not a developer and certainly not in a position to question Fedora’s policies on what to include and what not to include in a default installation. However, if they insist on breaking this functionality of RPM out into a separate package, then the least they could do is added to the development tools group, this way and somebody does a group install of the development tools this packages pulled down alongside other packages necessary to build and sign rpm’s. As I said, this is not a bug; it’s an intentional step, though the reasoning behind it at least to me is not known.

I did have one other bad experience out of my entire Fedora 15 experience. I’m not sure if this was specific to my machine, or if this happens with everybody. What happened was this, I installed Fedora 15 with the default package set, then once Fedora 15 was loaded I updated it decided I didn’t like GNOME-Shell and didn’t want to use the fallback session. I then began looking at other desktop environments that I could install; naturally, my first replacement was KDE which installed perfectly with no issues. However, upon having installed KDE and booting into it at least once GNOME stopped working altogether, in fact when you try to log into GNOME you we get an error message similar to the one in the screenshot above. The differences this error message would tell you that GNOME had a fatal error, and was not able to start. No amount of logging out and logging back in would make this message go away. Ironically, however, installing Fedora 15 with KDE and GNOME from the installer seems to bypass this issue, at least for me.

I know you guys are pricing report it, file a bug report! The problem is I’m not exactly sure what caused the error so submitting a bug report with the small amount of information I have would not be useful to anybody, especially the person that would help me try to solve the problem. Again, this issue may not be present for everybody; it may have just been some quirk on my specific machine.

Ubuntu – Alternatives

Party did a review of Ubuntu 11.04 stable, some not to repeat the same information. I will however link to that blog entry below. What I will do however is tell you a few alternatives to Ubuntu that I found that are based off of Ubuntu, but don’t have that pesky unity.

This is going to be a very quick section. Basically I’m getting give you a list of two or three distributions that have tried that are derivatives of Ubuntu and give you a brief synopsis of my experience followed by a link to the website to get more information.

Zorin – this distribution is extremely cool looking, and I’m not just saying that because I love the color blue (which this distribution has a lot of). There are a lot of custom tools included that let you change the look of this distribution to match other operating systems, including Mac OS X. This distribution is every bit as user-friendly as Ubuntu is and as I mentioned even includes several tools that are unique to this distribution to make the experience that much easier.

Linux Mint – most of you reading this who have had any experience with Ubuntu it all have probably heard of mint, some like to go into too much detail here. I will however say that the newer version of mint is the best version I have seen to date. I’m not exactly sure which version of Ubuntu. This was based off of, what I do know is that it uses GNOME 2. This is good news for everybody out there who hates unity is much as I did.

Ubuntu with XFCE – yes I understand there is a officials then of Ubuntu that includes this as the default desktop, but in order to get an experience that you’re used to as Ubuntu user, I recommend installing Ubuntu and then going to synaptic and installing XFCE. This will allow you to use XFCE while main containing a lot of the GNOME libraries and utilities that you’re used to.

Well, that wraps up this blog post. Sorry for being so long-winded, but I had a lot to say. As always, comments are welcome, one thing I prefer not to see in the comments are remarks like “unity rocks you’re insane for not liking it”, or “GNOME-Shell makes Fedora faster, it’s the future” those kinds of comments to me serve no constructive purpose as they are opinions usually ones that a majority of the people may not agree with or could agree with. Bottom line if you want to tell me why you think unity or GNOME-Shell is worth keeping around try to do in a constructive way. Don’t just say it rocks.

Ubuntu Unity Review

My Life at a Glance–New CPU, Gaming, Windows troubles, Linux Troubles, android tablets and more!

Well it has been a while since I posted anything to my blog, and I thought I would rectify that by making one huge post updating everyone on most aspects of my life currently.

New Computer Hardware

Recently I upgraded my old AMD Athlon II x4 620 to a new AMD Phenom II x6 1090T Black Edition.

The upgrade was relatively painless (typical CPU upgrade) and I did not notice a huge improvement at first in performance, however once the computer ran for a while I noticed some changes in both speed and the Heat the CPU generated.

With my older Quad Core CPU idle CPU temps were somewhere around 38c which is relatively hot I have been told for an idle temp. With the newer six-core the idle temps dropped to around 28c that is a 10 degree difference!

While I primarily upgraded to solve an issue Windows was having with the CPU (mine in particular not necessarily the same for others with it ) where it would frequently spike the CPU usage up and then not fully release capacity as processes slowed. I had tried numerous times to re-install windows in numerous different storage configurations (RAID 0, Use a separate drive for all Data and one specifically for OS and Important programs, Installing a tweaked version where certain features were turned off mainly indexing and what not), while most of these worked one in particular kept causing me to scratch my head as tried to get Windows running on it (RAID 0). With out boring you by going into detail on what I tried I will just say it did not work and ended up causing a new fresh install of Windows 7 using the default installation (which ironically ended up having better throughput). The CPU proved to be a good trade off as it increased windows boot time as well as offered a 6mb L3 Cache where the Quad had no such L3 Cache.

I ran the windows performance scoring tool (just for the hell of it not a big believer in what it says other then to pinpoint what hardware is the current bottleneck) finding that now all areas rated 7.5 where the HDD was the remaining bottleneck coming in at a miserable 5.9. Now I know Windows may not be the best OS when it comes to efficient write commands, but that was a good indicator it was time for a faster drive or to make the plunge into a reasonable SSD.

The issue here is that even though I could move about 95% of all my data to a external HDD and use the SSD as the boot drive, programs would continue to load slowly unless they were installed on the SSD. All that and not to mention the sheer amount that SSD cost per GB, it just was not worth the price at present.

Gaming

This all lead me into my next issue which was stuttering (video wise not audio) in the game Dragon Age 2, I examined this further and found that DA2 seems to see the processor correctly but only sees one core as being available. I then spent about 2 hours talking to EA support via chat to try and correct this, even tried reducing the available Cores it had access to in the affinity setting for the game.

Long story short we were unable to pinpoint the exact issue, but narrowed it down to something to do with the CPU upgrade (seeing as it worked fine on the Quad). The tech was so down that he could not solve my issue that he proceeded to go into the back end for my EA account and enable a whole swarm of free content (not DLC, promotional items mostly) for Dragon Age: Origins and one or two for DA2!. I literally now have so much stuff that when I log into the Bioware User Entitlements area to see what I have access to I have to scroll 3 times, and that is on a 27” monitor at 1920×1080 resolution with the browser full screen!

Did I also mention that earlier this month I had an issue with the DLC authorizing for Dragon Age: Origins? Well EA gave me a $20 voucher for the EA store and so I used that on Dead space 2 which was already on sale for $31 (Digital download version) so I ended up after tax getting a $50 game for $12 dollars!

Linux

Now all of you reading this from the Fedora Planet are by now wondering “what does this have to do with Linux?”

The answer is that had nothing to do with it but the headache did make me want to leave windows and try to install Fedora again on one of my free HDD’s

This brings me to where I had the issue with Fedora, to be fair here I was using the latest build of Fedora 15 alpha so the issues are not at all the fault of Fedora just my own lapse in judgment.

Here is what happened, I tried at first to do a custom install (like I always do when installing multiple OS) but that just caused me a headache because apparently my boot order for my HDD was set differently in the Bios then the physical location they are in (where they are connected on the mother board). That being said I managed to axe the small system partition Windows 7 makes for some reason. I panicked and though If I could install Fedora I could at least boot from Grub into Windows right? Wrong!

Second time installing is where I made the big mistake of choosing use all space when I meant to hit remove all Linux partitions, well as you can imagine this went bad as it wiped now my entire windows drive. While I chalk this up to my own lack of focus, my friend claims it was a sign from the Fedora Gods that Linux did not want Windows anywhere on the system.

I ended up just wiping that re-installing windows (to many good games that do not work in Wine plus school work that requires Windows programs) and just throw Fedora in a VM. So far this has worked well though I miss my dual boot setup and being able to run Fedora natively. I might try it again but making sure to backup my windows install prior to doing so.

Android 3.0

While I myself have not had any hands on experience with Android, I want an Android 3 tablet badly!

I began looking into the options out there and found out that not only do a handful exist but they are all super expensive!!!

I did find one that would have a 399 model but the specs on it were less then acceptable to me. While I generally am not a power user when it comes to mobile devices I found that a 512mb 8gb nand ram drive device to be a little underwhelming! How much could you fit on 8gb now days even if on Android!?

The next model the one I am seriously considering is 499 and has 1gb of ram and a 16gb nand ram drive. This to me seems sufficient and would work nicely, provided I decide to get it. ASUS the manufacture of this tablet apparently has released everything but the device itself in the US as of the time I am writing this. Will  I have the funds to spare when they do release it is yet to be seen but lets hope it gets released soon.

Well that about covers it, that should get most people who care caught up with what has been going on with me (not a lot of people care I get it but a few readers I know who read this do Winking smile ).

Feel free to leave comments below

Computers – Ram Compatibility, Motherboard, Graphics

Motherboard

I finally got confirmation that my replacement Motherboard has in-fact been shipped from ASUS. The fact that they sent a replacement instead of the repaired board shows me one of two things, Ethier they were not able to fix the board due to the issue being to great, or they broke the board trying to fix it and just decided to pawn it off as unfixable.

Ether way I would have been happy, some people get leery when they hear a refurbished part is being sent in place of what was a brand new part being fixed. I on the other hand feel if the factory is the one doing the Refurb which in this case it is then the board is as good as new. If not it would be free to get replaced.

Ram Compatibility

I got to thinking the other day how alot of companies seem to be terminating support for previous generations of products. I tend to agree with something like XP which has had a predecessor previous to Windows 7. However RAM it seems is never backwards compatible, why is this? I know they use different voltages and what not right?

Well I think that reason is crap, If we can make a freaking car that runs on 4 different types of Gas and Electricity should gas not be present, then why in the name of all that is can we not make a RAM slot that will detect and adjust voltages for the appropriate RAM.

Here is a case scenario where this would be beneficial:

You currently have a Motherboard with 16gb of DDR2 RAM, you want to upgrade the Motherboard to support newer technologies such as SATA 6gb/s, and USB 3.0 support. It however does not support DDR2 RAM that means you would need to purchase all new ram leaving your old RAM useless.

If you were able to use the DDR2 until you acquired enough cash to upgrade to the over priced DDR3 then you would have a much smoother computer upgrade.

Graphics Card

The graphics cards that I got to use with the computer at the time seemed very good but I am finding it to be less then adequate for the current demand by programs.

Sadly the cheapest upgrade I saw was $84 and that is a lower but more acceptable model. This is out of my price range but I am watching it and will most likely get it one day in the far off future

ATI/AMD – Catalyst Driver with Fedora 13

I recently decided to test the new ATI drivers with Fedora 13 and for the most part them seem to work fairly well, however there are a few things that seem to be a bit of an annoyance.

For starters it seems that using this driver causes Firefox to have frequent black spots when scrolling down the page. This also seems to be in connection with how Metacity interacts with Catalyst, changing the window manager to Compiz for example reduces but not eliminates this issue.

This coupled with the fact that my monitor was acting up in an unrelated way was not a good mix. I think for now using the default drivers is probably best until Catalyst 10.8 is released to see if this fixes the issue.

In addition it seems that the 10.7 version of the driver slows my computer down significantly and with my computers specs this should not happen less i have a whole lot of stuff running. Out of fairness I am using Fedora 64bit so not sure if this issue is present or not on the 32bit version.

It should come as no surprise however ATI lately seems to be favoring Debian based Distributions over RPM based ones in terms of quality. Ubuntu always seems to get drivers from ATI that are sleek and work very well while Fedora and other RPM distributions that might utilize newer X.org versions tend to get left behind even when the drivers “work” for the Distro.

Now to clarify I am not bashing Ubuntu as I use that distribution as well, nor am I trashing AMD, I am merely stating that it seems AMD does not really actively work with other distros to make things as flawless.

Aside from the issue i mentioned above I have not really seen much in the way of disadvantages. The metacity issue however could be due to a numerous amount of factors so pinning the blame completely on ATI/AMD would not be fair.

The views here are expressed solely by myself and do not represent any other view point weather it be company or individual. If you do not agree with these opinions note they are solely expressive of my views.

ATI Justice Served for Fedora 12 users

Well it is by now no secret I am sure that Fedora 12 has support for ATI cards now via the catalyst driver. It seems the Catalyst 10.4 driver added support for the Xorg in Fedora 12!

As mentioned earlier it would appear they are basing their added support for a new X with each Ubuntu that uses the new version. Of course Fedora 13 will most likely break this support again due to the nature of Fedora and their policy to use the latest and greatest packages.

As much as the ATI issue effects me and as much as it bothers me i still think it will be a long time before I can upgrade to an Nvidia card due to finacial restrictionsl. Saddly this oversight on my part at the build of the computer may haunt me for several months to come till I can afford to get a decent Nvidia card.

Fedora 12 – No love from ATI/AMD

Fedora 12 has been out for some time now and we are on the verge of Fedora 13 just around the corner. Yet ATI/AMD fails once again to provide support for the latest Xorg release.

From what I have read around the web it appears that AMD does not think they will support xorg 1.7 until Ubuntu 10.4 is released. When i looked further into this it would appear their logic behind this is due to Ubuntu being a distribution widely accepted by users. Due to the large base of both first time and experienced users they feel Ubuntu 10.4 will be a point in which a huge majority of users will be using xorg 1.7

I say what about Fedora? Fedora has millions of users and the number grows daily, why then do we always get the short end of the stick people tend to look at our distribution as nothing more then a testing ground for Red Hat. This could not be farther from the truth in fact several companies use Fedora in their infrastructure and some even contribute back. The fact that Red Hat periodically takes a Fedora release and makes the necessary modifications to it so it suits a Enterprise environment does not mean that we are a “Red Hat” testing ground.

I might be impartial here and that is ok as a majority of the users reading this feel the same way but I ask you this now, Why is it that ATI fails to keep up with the current stable release cycle of Xorg when Nvidia does this just fine.

Now before the sticks and stones go flying here keep in mind that Nvidia has just as many graphics cards and releases a new card on about the same frequency as ATI yet they manage to always have a working Linux driver with the latest xorg. I know I could just use a Nvidia card with my computer and stop complaining but I ask you why should I? I have a perfectly good graphics card working now it happens to be ATI and I ask merely to have it work with Fedora 12 (not to mention Fedora 13 which is around the corner). I have no attachment to ATI over nvidia mind you I just do not want to replace a set of good graphics cards for the sole purpose of not dealing with the ATI Linux issue.

All that aside i realize this is just my opinion and that it means nothing and will accomplish nothing however I felt it prudent to share my thoughts.

I am in no way affiliated with Red Hat, Nvidia, ATI or AMD any views expressed here are solely that of myself and in no way represent any of the the above mentioned parties in any official manner.

FGLRX/Catalyst Woes! ATI Get with the big picture allready!

Well now I have been told and told and even experienced first hand why NVidia is better to its linux user base then ATI however I did not heed the warnings and now I have reached a perdicament.

ATI offers their drivers for video cards for linux however what seems to be the case lately is that X.org and ATI do not seem to be on the same page. ATI releases an update for their drivers to support a new Xorg version and then xorg goes and releases a new stable version which then takes ATI 6 months to make a driver for. Well this is all and good except that by the time ATI releases that driver update to support it the development cycle continues and bam another xorg stable version is rolled out. leaving ATI once again in the wake of its success.

Now Nvidia does not seem to have nearly as long of a delay in their support for new xorg versions why then does ATI insist on falling behind in this.

The simple answer is that they are pre-concerned with adding support for newer cards instead of enabling their existing current products to function properly. This leave people like myself with the decision do use an older xorg and continue using the drivers which in my case means an older Fedora version or use the open source drivers.

I often get told “Try the new mesa experimental drivers they support 3d perfectly” To which I have to say no they do not at least not in the way that someone installing the fglrx driver would expect. When i say that I want the same support that fglrx has I mean that i want to run 3d games like World of Warcraft in WINE something that to me is not possible with the experimental drivers.

Now before i get people saying “Install the mesa-dri-experimental package” I am going to say I have done this and see  no change at all. I have even downloaded and compiles the radeonHD driver with no luck as well.

Bottom line here is that why does ATI not take their linux users seriously? Why do they take 6 months to add support for a new xorg version?