A way to get Rigo working again in Sabayon

After having Sabayon running on a PC until it came to pieces after an attempted version upgrade, I went away from the Linux distro for a while and Linux Mint now runs on the aforementioned machine. It only was a certain curiosity that got me installing it into a virtual machine on VirtualBox to see if my command line method of keeping the system up to date was the cause or whether rolling or partially-rolling distros have a certain fragility that is not seen in their discrete release counterparts.

Recently that ran into a hitch, the Sabayon package manager Rigo failed to start up for me. After waiting to see if it sorted itself on its own, I looked into returning to those command line ways and that line of enquiry led me to a method of restoring Rigo’s functionality from Sabayon’s wiki page on the underlying Entropy. The first step was to issue a command to become root:

su

That needed the appropriate password and the next command issued updated Sabayon’s repositories:

equo update

Once that had done its thing, it was time to install new versions of Entropy and Rigo:

equo install entropy rigo

With that complete, it was time to exit the root session with the exit command. Then, it was time to try running Rigo and it worked as expected. Any thoughts of adding in the superseded Sulfur (Rigo’s predecessor) were banished on seeing that success.

A need to update graphics hardware

Not being a gaming enthusiast, having to upgrade graphics cards in PC’s is not something that I do very often or even rate as a priority. However, two PC’s in my possession have had that very piece of hardware upgraded on them and it’s not because anything was broken either. My backup machine has seen quite a few Linux distros on there since I built it nearly four years ago. The motherboard is an ASRock K10N78 that sourced from MicroDirect and it has onboard an NVIDIA graphics chip that has performed well if not spectacularly. One glitch that always existed was a less than optimal text rendering in web browsers but that never was enough to get me to add a graphics card to the machine.

More recently, I ran into trouble with Sabayon 13.04 with only the 2D variant of the Cinnamon desktop environment working on it and things getting totally non-functional when a full re-installation of the GNOME edition was attempted. Everything went fine until I added the latest updates to the system when a reboot revealed that it was impossible to boot into a desktop environment. Some will relish this as a challenge but I need to admit that I am not one of those. In fact, I tried out two Arch-based distros on the same PC and got the same results following a system update on each. So, my explorations of Antergos and Manjaro have to continue in virtual machines instead.

To get a working system, I gave Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon a go and that worked a treat. However, I couldn’t ignore that the cutting edge distros that I tried before it all took exception to the onboard NVIDIA graphics. systemd has been implemented in all of these and it seems reasonable to think that it is coming to Linux Mint at some stage in the future so I went about getting a graphics card to add into the machine. Having had good experiences with ATi’s Radeon in the past, I stuck with it even though it now is in the hands of AMD. Not being that fussed so long there was Linux driver support, I picked up a Radeon HD 6450 card from PC World. Adding it into the PC was a simpler of switching off the machine, slotting in the card, closing it up and powering it on again. Only later on did I set the BIOS to look for PCI Express graphics before anything else and I could have got away without doing that. Then, I made use of the Linux Mint Additional Driver applet in its setting panel to add in the proprietary driver before restarting the machine to see if there were any visual benefits. To sort out the web browser font rendering, I used the Fonts applet in the same settings panel and selected full RGBA hinting. The improvement was unmissable if not still like the appearance of fonts on my main machine. Overall, there had been an improvement and a spot of future proofing too.

That tinkering with the standby machine got me wondering about what I had on my main PC. As well as onboard Radeon graphics, it also gained a Radeon 4650 card for which 3D support wasn’t being made available by Ubuntu GNOME 12.10 or 13.04 to VMware Player and it wasn’t happy about this when a virtual machine was set to have 3D support. Adding the latest fglrx driver only ensured that I got a command line instead of a graphical interface. Issuing one of the following commands and rebooting was the only remedy:

sudo apt-get remove fglrx

sudo apt-get remove fglrx-updates

Looking at the AMD website revealed that they no longer support 2000, 3000 or 4000 series Radeon cards with their latest Catalyst driver the last version that did not install on my machine since it was built for version 3.4.x of the Linux kernel. A new graphics card then was in order if I wanted 3D graphics in VWware VM’s and both GNOME and Cinnamon appear to need this capability. Another ASUS card, a Radeon HD 6670, duly was acquired and installed in a manner similar to the Radeon HD 6450 on the standby PC. Apart from not needing to alter the font rendering (there is a Font tab on Gnome Tweak Tool where this can be set), the only real exception was to add the Jockey software to my main PC for installation of the proprietary Radeon driver. The following command does this:

sudo apt-get install jockey-kde

When that was done I issue the jockey-kde command and selected the first entry on the list. The machine worked as it should on restarting apart from an AMD message at the bottom right hand corner bemoaning unrecognised hardware. There had been two entries on that Jockey list with exactly the same name so it was time to select the second of these and see how it went. On restarting, the incompatibility message had gone and all was well. VMware even started virtual machines with 3D support without any messages so the upgrade did the needful there.

Hearing of someone doing two PC graphics card upgrades in a weekend may make you see them as an enthusiast but my disinterest in computer gaming belies this. Maybe it highlights that Linux operating systems need 3D more than might be expected. The Cinnamon desktop environment now issues messages if it is operating in 2D mode with software 3D rendering and GNOME always had the tendency to fall back to classic mode, as it had been doing when Sabayon was installed on my standby PC. However, there remain cases where Linux can rejuvenate older hardware and I installed Lubuntu onto a machine with 10 year old technology on there (an 1100 MHz Athlon CPU, 1GB of RAM and 60GB of hard drive space in case dating from 1998) and it works surprisingly well too.

It seems that having fancier desktop environments like GNOME Shell and Cinnamon means having the hardware on which it could run. For a while, I have been tempted by the possibility of a new PC since even my main machine is not far from four years old either. However, I also spied a CPU, motherboard and RAM bundle featuring an Intel Core i5-4670 CPU, 8GB of Corsair Vengence Pro Blue memory and a Gigabyte Z87-HD3 ATX motherboard included as part of a pre-built bundle (with a heatsink and fan for the CPU) for around £420. Even for someone who has used AMD CPU’s since 1998, that does look tempting but I’ll hold off before making any such upgrade decisions. Apart from exercising sensible spending restraint, waiting for Linux UEFI support to mature a little more may be no bad idea either.

Update 2013-06-23: The new graphics card in my main machine is working as it should and has reduced the number of system error report messages turning up too; maybe Ubuntu GNOME 13.04 didn’t fancy the old graphics card all that much. A rogue .fonts.conf file was found in my home area on the standby machine and removing it has improved how fonts are displayed on there immeasurably. If you find one on your system, it’s worth doing the same or renaming it to see if it helps. Otherwise, tinkering with the font rendering settings is another beneficial act and it even helps on Debian 6 too and that uses GNOME 2! Seeing what happens on Debian 7.1 could be something that I go testing sometime.

Setting up MySQL on Sabayon Linux

For quite a while now, I have offline web servers for doing a spot of tweaking and tinkering away from the gaze of web users that visit what I have on there. Therefore, one of the tests that I apply to any prospective main Linux distro is the ability to set up a web server on there. This is more straightforward for some than for others. For Ubuntu and Linux Mint, it is a matter of installing the required software and doing a small bit of configuration. My experience with Sabayon is that it needs a little more effort than this and I am sharing it here for the installation of MySQL.

The first step is too install the software using the commands that you find below. The first pops the software onto the system while second completes the set up. The --basedir option is need with the latter because it won’t find things without it. It specifies the base location on the system and it’s /usr in my case.

sudo equo install dev-db/mysql
sudo /usr/bin/mysql_install_db --basedir=/usr

With the above complete, it’s time to start the database server and set the password for the root user. That’s what the two following commands achieve. Once your root password is set, you can go about creating databases and adding other users using the MySQL command line

sudo /etc/init.d/mysql start
mysqladmin -u root password ‘password’

The last step is to set the database server to start every time you start your Sabayon system. The first command adds an entry for MySQL to the default run level so that this happens. The purpose of the second command is check that this happened before restarting your computer to discover if it really happens. This procedure also is needed for having an Apache web server behave in the same way so the commands are worth having and even may have a use for other services on your system. ProFTP is another that comes to mind, for instance.

sudo rc-update add mysql default
sudo rc-update show | grep mysql

Getting rid of a Dropbox error message on a Linux-powered PC

One of my PC’s has ended up becoming a testing ground for a number of Linux distributions. The list has included openSUSE, Fedora, Arch and LMDE with Sabayon being the latest incumbent. From Arch onwards in that list though, a message has appeared on loading the desktop with every one of these when I have Dropbox’s client set up on there:

Unable to monitor entire Dropbox folder hierarchy. Please run “echo 100000 | sudo tee /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches” and restart Dropbox to correct the problem.

Even applying the remedy that the message suggests won’t permanently fix the problem. For that, you need to edit /etc/sysctl.conf with superuser access and add the following line to it:

fs.inotify.max_user_watches = 100000

With that in place, you can issue the following command to fix the problem in the current session (assuming your user account is listed in /etc/sudoers):

sudo sysctl -p & dropbox stop & dropbox start

A reboot should demonstrate that the messages no longer appear again. For a good while, I had ignored it but curiosity eventually got me to find out how it could be stopped and led to what you find above.