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Tearfully, I may be giving up Blag...

 
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Praxis
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:36 am    Post subject: Tearfully, I may be giving up Blag... Reply with quote

I've always been fond of the ethos & community of Blag and I really loved Blag 30k, but I am seriously considering abandoning the distro. I've used Redhat off and on since about 7.x and honestly, it always rubbed me the wrong way. I'm not a Gnome-fancier for pretty much the same reasons that Torvalds recommends that people just use KDE. And so many of the RH choices just seemed brain-dead to me (why have shortcuts for each separate Open Office app on the panel and none for a terminal?) Of course, I can install KDE and fix the desktop the way I like it. But the second problem is that RH just doesn't upgrade from one release to the next very well.

Now I know that Linux distros generally don't upgrade very well (except for rolling releases like Debian Testing, Arch, etc.), and frankly, every upgrade I've done this fall has been a big PITA. Ubuntu Feisty to Gutsy, Mandriva 2006 to 2008, openSUSE A64 10.2 to 10.3, each gave me major issues, but I was able to resolve them with a little CLI-fu and perseverance. And after I worked out the issues the distros perform reasonably well.

Fedora based systems seem to accumulate cruft like Windows, by comparison. My Fedora 5 multimedia box, for instance, got progressively funkier and funkier going from FC5 to FC6 to 7, so, for instance, now I have to run 'system-configure-sound' every boot (and sound still often is garbled or stops working after a while), and I can no longer use the Fedora Mozilla packages, they just freeze up (the standard ones work fine). And now when I try to upgrade FC7 to Fedora 8 it just stalls out resolving dependencies (after churning at 100% over night). I'll probably have to do a fresh install, though I may try an unsupported Yum only upgrade, just for slaps and tickles.

But I'm willing to do a fresh install with Fedora 8 because it is very cutting edge, I want to try PulseAudio and see if it works better with my SPDIF-out-through-the-stereo sound. (Right now I have to adjust the volume of most apps using my stereo remote, PulseAudio is supposed to fix this.)

Blag, on the other hand, is generally a half release or a release behind Fedora. I don't have to be on the cutting edge, but there are always new features I want. Hardware support of various peripherals, NTFS-3G, Compiz Fusion, faster booting, better power management, Wine that actually works, automated codec installation, I realize that a lot of this list is required because I am impure of heart and soul, still installing cheapo made-for-Windows hardware, still wanting to access proprietary content, but that is just the sort of a swine I am.

The loss of Fedora legacy was a real blow. I haven't gotten upgrades on my Blag 30K box for over a year now. If support for Fedora is only 18 months and Blag is 6 months behind Fedora, I only get to enjoy a new system for about a year before I have to endure a painful upgrade process or bite the bullet, do a fresh install, and add all my packages again.

I guess I can do something like:
Quote:
rpm -qa --queryformat "%{NAME} \n" > /home/schmuck/packagelist.txt

That should give me a list of installed packages which I can edit and then feed to apt-get after a fresh install so I don't have to hunt and peck for the programs I have installed. I'll certainly give that a try.

But I'm 0 for 2 trying to upgrade my Blag installs this season. I did an upgrade of my laptop from 30k to 70k, booted to X (KDE 3.4x), went to Gnome 2.18, did the recommended fixes:
Quote:
apt-get update
apt-get -f install
apt-get dist-upgrade

Actually, I had to do a number of 'rpm -e DUPLICATE.PackageFC3.rpm" maneuvers, as well, with an occasional "--nopostun" thrown in, to boot (and there was still one replicated package I couldn't seem to fix). But in the end, I didn't get a working system. After the updates I rebooted to a kernel panic. I had some weird kernel that Jebba had never seen when I consulted him on IRC, so he told me how to 'chroot' and install the proper kernel. But it still wouldn't boot. It tries to boot

kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.22.9.91.fc7 ro root=/dev/sda2 rhgh selinux=0

It is queuing on the right partition (root (hd0,1)), but in the end I get:
Quote:
VFS: Cannot open root device "sda2" or unknown-block(0,0)
Please append a correct "root=" boot option; here are the available partitions:
Kernel panic - not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(0,0)

Of course I googled it, tried substituting hd for sd in the boot line, made sure the /boot/grub/device.map was OK, tried replacing the label line in the FSTAB with the relative partition (/dev/sda2) and the UUID, even did a 'ls -l /dev/sda2' to plug the major and minor node numbers in to the grub boot line. Finally, I added a initrd line to menu.lst that was not in it originally (but there was a initrd file in /boot). Still kernel panics. And no working Linux on my laptop.

So I tried upgrading my Fedora 5 desktop, which is also no longer getting support from Fedora Legacy. I told it to do an upgrade and it looked for a previous Fedora edition and then selected a little Mint partition, for some reason. I pointed the installer at the proper root partition which it identified as Fedora Core 5, but then I got a dialog box that said "An error occurred mount device hda7 as /fat. You may continue installation but there may be problems. Reboot. Continue." Big deal, I continued, and immediately got
Quote:
Error mounting device: /dev/hda2 as /mnt/barpis. No such file or directory. Devices in /etc/fstab should be specified by label, not by device name. Press OK to reboot your system.
No appeal, game over. I tried another TTY to edit the /etc/fstab, but the installer doesn't appear to have a text editor that I could find. I booted Blag 50k and edited the /etc/fstab to remove all references to all partitions but root and /home, no dice, still didn't like it. I edited the FSTAB to specify the root and home partitions by label and by UUID, didn't fly. Seems like I hit a brick wall.

I spent many hours on two Blag upgrades and didn't get a working system. At least with Kubuntu, Mandriva & OpenSuse I got nice, functioning systems (well, Kubuntu freezes up tight when I try to use Wine with the Unichrome driver, but everything else is OK). I guess I'll try a fresh install of my desktop system and then feed it my old package list. If that doesn't work, its back to Distrowatch, I've been meaning to try Arch. I'll try that on my desktop and maybe Debian Testing or Sidux on my laptop.

I probably won't get back to the boxes until after Turkeytag, so if you have a suggestion or two, I'll give them a try. Thanks for listen to me whine.

stevo32
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First things first, upgrade installs are always a very messy venture. I would not recommend ever trying to upgrade a system that's more than 2 releases apart. So 50k -> 70k is the farthest I'd try, and I wouldn't recommend on that installation that you ever do an upgrade.

And don't try to install one release over top of another, that's just really messy. Please, if at all possible, back everything up, wipe the drive and retry.

Quote:
Blag, on the other hand, is generally a half release or a release behind Fedora. I don't have to be on the cutting edge, but there are always new features I want. Hardware support of various peripherals, NTFS-3G, Compiz Fusion, faster booting, better power management, Wine that actually works, automated codec installation, I realize that a lot of this list is required because I am impure of heart and soul, still installing cheapo made-for-Windows hardware, still wanting to access proprietary content, but that is just the sort of a swine I am.


Everything listed works in 70k, except for automated codec installation (but blag includes most codecs you'll need anyways).

Thanks,
Stephen Clement


_________________
E-mail me at s.clement@localhost (replace localhost with sympatico.ca) or stevo32@localhost (replace localhost with blagblagblag.org).
noldrin
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stevo32 wrote:
Everything listed works in 70k, except for automated codec installation (but blag includes most codecs you'll need anyways).


Yes I agree, I suprised with how little works out of the box on Ubuntu. I use BLAG because it requires the least post installation messing around. I still do a few things based on my preferences, but we are talking a couple hours or fun rather than banging my head for days.

His other option is to make a custom spin from Fedora. I also imagine that perhaps an enterprising individual could make a KDE community version of BLAG, but no one seems to have wanted to do that yet. Personally I'm more drawn to ratpoison than KDE, although I'm Gnome 90%.

saddletramp
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

noldrin wrote:
stevo32 wrote:
Everything listed works in 70k, except for automated codec installation (but blag includes most codecs you'll need anyways).


Yes I agree, I suprised with how little works out of the box on Ubuntu. I use BLAG because it requires the least post installation messing around. I still do a few things based on my preferences, but we are talking a couple hours or fun rather than banging my head for days.


almost couldn't agree more. ubuntu blows chunks and screws up more than any distro i've ever tired. no wonder their forums are so huge!

i found blag at distrowatch a week or so ago. was looking for anything that would actually install on this piece of junk hp computer i have. blag installed without a single glitch, including the "you entered an undefined paramter" due to crap intel i810 chip, message i've gotten from EVERY distro i've tried on it.

i prefer kde over gnome myself, but that's just preferences.

jebba
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hear you about the upgrades. I think the big change going to f7/70k was hda becomes sda, hdb becomes sdb, etc. due to changes in the default IDE driver. It's using the new ones, mostly by alan cox, which are "nicer". :)

I generally try to push out an alpha of fedora's release as soon as possible. There is a rough one for 80k already. Lots of times I have alphas out before fedora final is even out. So if you really want to be bleeding edge, you can use that. You also don't need to be too scared by "alpha" since that's meant to scare people that have no idea how to use rpm/apt/etc and you know what you're doing.

I'm not too surprised a 30k to 70k upgrade would go crazy but 50k should be reasonably upgradeable. I certainly did from 60k easily enough. If you actually keep track of which packages break in the upgrade, I can add that to the next release too...

-Jeff

john maclean
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fwiw here is a copy of the output of an upgrade from 60k to 70k on a live machine. It's still running http://jayeola.org/dump/japt-70k

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BLAG 'em up!
Praxis
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
First things first, upgrade installs are always a very messy venture. I would not recommend ever trying to upgrade a system that's more than 2 releases apart. So 50k -> 70k is the farthest I'd try, and I wouldn't recommend on that installation that you ever do an upgrade.

Words of wisdom. I've upgraded from 30003 to 50000 and it was pretty ugly, though it did work in the end. I'm thinking I've already upgraded everything on my 30k -> 70k effort and only the kernel is ferblunjit, so maybe I could just do a upgrade install over the top of my upgrade install, but it probably wouldn't work and I think the lappie is going to get Sidux, because I want to show off Compiz Fusion to full advantage when I'm on the road and FC7's version is buggy.

Quote:
Please, if at all possible, back everything up, wipe the drive and retry.

That's what I did on my desktop machine. The install itself didn't take long, but getting the thing back to where I wanted it was a huge PITA.

I tried to get the installer to set up stanzas to boot my little Mint install and Windows, but ended up having to rewrite them from my old menu.lst since neither one of the installer ones worked. Of course I had to rewrite my FSTAB from scratch, though I used my backed up one as a guide. Some things needed changing (ntfs-fuse to ntfs-3g, my Samba mount syntax). I had to install ntfsprogs, ntfs-3g and the samba packages because they aren't part of a default install (my local server runs samba, both because it has better security than NFS and also because Windows sometimes has to access it, especially when I fix other people's machines). And remember to start the services. I still haven't set up my local samba shares again. And I had to look up various little tweaks again, like how to switch from GDM to KDM, etc. Oh, and the default "nv" driver came up in the proper resolution (1680x1050), but the leftmost quarter of the screen was off the monitor and I had a big black stripe running over the right quarter of my LCD. Switching to 'vesa' wasn't an improvement, I could only get 1024x768 and it was noticeably slower. I had to install the proprietary drivers from Nvidia to get the proper resolution. I used these instructions from aptgetanarchy, a mostly Debian site. I'd tried to follow instructions from some of the sites that help folks set up desktop Fedora 7 installs (Personal Fedora 7 Installation Guide, Unofficial Fedora 7 FAQ, etc.), but they required setting up various repositories with RPMs, and they were either stale links or didn't mess with Blag 70000 for some reason. Next I tried to install all the missing packages that I'd had installed from my saved text file of the packages I'd had on Blag 50k like I mentioned I'd try in my first post.
Code:
apt-get install $(< BLAG5Packages.txt)

It didn't prove to be a time saver because the command failed more than 100 times on missing packages, incompatibilities, etc., and I had to keep editing the text file before it finally went through. Then I left it to download over a gig over night, but it wasn't done in the morning because of other incompatible packages, so I edited a bit more and it finally went through. WooHoo, KDE again. I doubtless got far too much cruft and would have been better served just installing the KDE bits myself.

I decided not to install all the proprietary bits I'd had on 50k that wouldn't work upgrading 70k, just install them on a case by case basis when I needed them. Seems like between kaffeine & Mplayer I can view FLV, MOV & WMV files, so maybe I don't need VLC, though I kind of like it. Noatun even played a VOB file half-way decently (that's about the only time I've ever seen that abortion of a media player do anything decently). The open source version of Java would kinda-sorta work with my main Java program but with serious issues in speed, functionality and appearance, so I had to go to Sun and install the 1.6 jre bin. Then I had to hunt and peck for other little programs that I use that don't appear to be in the repository (Sunbird calendar, Kompozer/NVU, BOINC, etc.)

On the other paw, the upgrade did give me a considerable upgrade in certain functionality. Wine works better, the TV programs work reliably and better. Amarok doesn't require me to install Realplayer to use its engine, it can play MP3s with XIne. XMMS doesn't seem to intermittently stall out any more. I can actually use Beryl now that the proprietary driver is installed (I tried but basically failed in 50k), though the program doesn't behave any better than it does on my multimedia FC7 box, the desktop zooming feature doesn't work, maybe I can fix that.


Quote:
His other option is to make a custom spin from Fedora. I also imagine that perhaps an enterprising individual could make a KDE community version of BLAG, but no one seems to have wanted to do that yet. Personally I'm more drawn to ratpoison than KDE, although I'm Gnome 90%.

I don't think there would be much energy for that, I recall a poll on the forum about what window manager folks used and I think the only ones who preferred KDE were me and a few Spambots. And I don't have the proficiency to contribute a spin. What would work almost as well, though, would be a meta-package like "kubuntu-desktop" or something that would drag in all the packages and dependencies and maybe do stuff like configure KDM to manage the windows. That might not be beyond my grasp if I worked on it, but I'm not sure there would be much interest. What would be neat would be to have two meta-packages, a minimal KDE install and a "kitchen-sink" KDE installation.

Quote:
I'm not too surprised a 30k to 70k upgrade would go crazy but 50k should be reasonably upgradeable. I certainly did from 60k easily enough. If you actually keep track of which packages break in the upgrade, I can add that to the next release too...
Nothing broke because the upgrade wouldn't proceed because of my partition layout, even after I edited the FSTAB to only include my root and home partitions and use SDx or UUID.

Quote:
fwiw here is a copy of the output of an upgrade from 60k to 70k on a live machine. It's still running http://jayeola.org/dump/japt-70k
I think if I want to keep this 70000 install in Blag I won't be skipping any more upgrades. Even with Ubuntu you are supposed to every intervening release when you upgrade from one to another. I have a friend who installed 6.06 recently and asked for help updating it, I told him it would be much easier to start from scratch and he should never use such an old release just because he had it laying around (not sure if that advice will stick, he's a 92 year old veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War).

Well, at least this box is working tolerably well after spending 6-8 hours on it, I guess you'll have me to kick around for at least a year yet. We'll see what happens the next time I try to upgrade. And thank you for your suggestions, folks.

jebba
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, one thing. I'm not sure if this is how you were doing it, but if you ran the CD installer and just /installed/ over the top of an existing installation instead of /upgrading/ over an existing installation, you will /definitely/ mess things up. You should never do an install over an existing install, just an upgrade.

Glad you'll be around for another year. :)

-Jeff

noldrin
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was able to upgrade 30K to 50K without much problem, nothing apt couldn't clean up. I'm debated rather to install 70K on my fresh new drive or to upgrade the 50K drive. I might try the upgrade for fun even though I'll spend more time cleaning stuff off of it before hand.
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