Fedora 18 : The winner is MATE (so far)…

I’m a few days into Fedora 18 and I think I’ve come the the conclusion that the desktop that best suits *me* is MATE. The journey to this point has been a rather long and meandering one. Let’s cut it short and start at GNOME2.

  • GNOME2 : I was happy and all things were good.
  • GNOME 3 (GNOME Shell) : When it became the default Fedora window manager I went with the flow and stuck with it for a few months. At the time I thought it was OK. I even wrote some posts saying I kinda liked it. After a while it started to get on my nerves and I switched.
  • LXDE : That lasted about 10 minutes. Nuff said!
  • XFCE : I stuck with this for quite a few months. It’s very simple and very quick. There are a few rough edges, but nothing that really made me squirm.

Once I installed Fedora 18 I felt like I needed a change. A quick return to GNOME3 convinced me that I now truly hate it.

  • Cinnamon : The first impression was very good. It’s not officially “supported” on Fedora, but is in the repo. The Fedora version seems a little buggy, which is where the problems began. I started trying to arrange my desktop and stuff just didn’t work. I have a feeling that Cinnamon may end up being my desktop of choice in the future, but for now I’ll have to pass for something that works properly on Fedora.
  • KDE : I’ve had brief dalliances with KDE over the years. The people who love it seem almost fanatical. Every time I’ve tried it, it has driven me nuts. I had made a decision that Fedora 18 was probably going to be the version where I become a KDE fan. Two days was all I could take. I don’t know what it is about KDE, but I can’t handle it. It is by far the prettiest window manager. I look at it and I feel like I want to use it. Trouble is, when I start I feel like it is getting in my way. I can’t really put my finger on it. It just isn’t for me.
  • MATE : So we come full circle. MATE is a fork of GNOME2. I read something recently that says it uses most of the plumbing of GNOME3, but has the “traditional” GNOME2 feel.  I installed it and it felt like coming home. After a few months of being out in the cold, MATE was a hot fire, a pair of warm slippers and plate of beans on toast with a bit of cheese on top. Fantastic! My desktop is very simple and functional. The interface does not get in my way. It’s not going to make Linux the desktop of choice, but I think a lot of long time Fedora users will try it and like it.

I understand that open source is all about choice, but it seems such a shame that we have so many talented people all working on different window managers, none of which quite hit the mark. It just makes you wonder what could happen if they all worked together. Of course, it would never happen, but you can dream…

If I’m honest, OS X is better than any of these interfaces. I think Windows 7 probably is too. The bonus with having your interface dictated to you is you just get on with things and make do. The Linux desktop is definitely a case of “Freedom is slavery“. Being the Linux fan I am, I will just have to continue being a slave…

I reserve the right to change my mind at any time, so when next week I’m telling you Windows 8 is awesome, so be it. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Fedora 18 : Upgrading from Fedora 17…

I’ve just got to the end of a real upgrade of a Fedora 17 server to Fedora 18. The basic process goes like this.

  • Download the Fedora 18 ISO.
  • Update your current Fedora 17 system by issuing the “yum update” command and restart once it is complete.
  • Install the “fedup” package. “yum –enablerepo=updates-testing install fedup”
  • Run the fedup command pointing it to the Fedora 18 ISO you downloaded. “fedup-cli –iso /home/user/fedora-18.iso –debuglog=fedupdebug.log”
  • Check for errors in the log and correct if found.
  • Reboot the machine and select the “System Upgrade” option from the Grub menu.
  • Wait!

The system came up OK after this, but there are some gotchas. The first thing I did on completion was to run a “yum update” and lots of things were broken. Why? Well, after a lot of messing around and manually updating individual packages I finally figured out:

  1. Google Chrome, Skype and VirtualBox were all holding on to F17 versions of packages so yum was not able to update them.
  2. I also had a bunch of packages from the RPM Fusion repository that seemed to confuse things. If you are using that repository I suggest you manually update it using these commands.

    wget http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-18.noarch.rpm
    rpm -Uvh rpmfusion-free-release-18.noarch.rpm

  3. The dropbox repository is failing, so add “enabled=0″ to the “/etc/yum.repos.d/dropbox.repo” file.

So IMHO, when you are going to do an upgrade, I would advise to remove any packages that didn’t come from the Fedora repository before starting, or be prepared to spend a few hours cleaning up afterwards. If I had stuck to just packages from the Fedora repository I think the upgrade would have been seamless. As it is, it was a bit of a pain, but now it’s all good.

I think I will have a little rest before trying another. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Update: I just did an upgrade to another machine. By taking my own advice and cleaning up first it was really easy. :)

Fedora 18 and Oracle 11gR2…

After several abortive attempts I finally got hold of Fedora 18 last night. Those mirrors are getting a real battering at the moment. :)

The first job was to do a basic installation.

I’d seen a few things written about the new installer, not all of which were positive. IMHO the installation was a really nice experience. It is very different to previous installers, which probably freaks some people out, but I think it works really well.

Once the installation is complete it’s pretty much business as usual. You’ve got newer versions of most of the packages, but to be honest I don’t really focus to much on that. I just keep doing “yum update” every few days and work with what I’ve got. :)

One thing that did take me by surprise is how much a hated GNOME Shell. I’ve written several times in that past that I thought it was OK. It was my default environment for quite a few months, but after spending an extended period on XFCE at home and Windows XP at work, I can safely say that I seriously don’t get GNOME Shell. Fortunately, Fedora 18 comes with a whole host of window managers including GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, Cinnamon and MATE, so I’m sure you’ll find something there that you can work with.

The next job was to see if Oracle would install on it.

Every time I do this I think to myself it’s going to be the last time. It’s far more sensible to use a VM and install the database on a supported distro. Oracle Linux is free and a supported platform, so messing around with installs on a non-supported distro, like Fedora, really doesn’t make sense. Maybe this will actually be the last time. :)

So what next? I’ve got some physical servers running Fedora 17 as the host OS which will have to be upgraded. I think I’m going to play around with Cinnamon and MATE before I do that. If they don’t work for me it’s back to plain and simple XFCE for my window manager. :)

Cheers

Tim…

RHCE Certification Articles…

Just before I started my current job I was planning on doing the RHCSA and RHCE exams for a bit of fun. In preparation for that I started to write the revision notes for each of the exam objectives. I got to the end of the RHCSA exam objectives, then my plan kind-of stalled, what with starting the new job etc.

Over the Christmas holiday I got some time to start the notes for the RHCE exam. If anything, the syllabus for this exam is a little simpler as many of the sections follow the same basic format. This full list of RHCE exam objectives includes the links to all the articles I’ve written to cover the objectives. There are still 5 to complete, but hopefully I’ll get those done soon.

The new articles I wrote include:

Some of the existing articles on the site got some changes to reflect other objectives, including:

Remember, these articles are targeted specifically at the exam objectives, rather than trying to provide everything you need to know about the subject. In my opinion, some of the exam objectives are rather too simple, missing out the more interesting and useful features of the software. In some cases I’ve added some extra information beyond the objectives, marking it as not part of the exam, or linked or other articles that give some ideas of other uses.

Once I finish the next batch of articles, I guess I should consider sitting the exams. I’m pretty confident I could get through them now if I had access to my notes, but in the exam you just have “man”  and “info” pages, so I would have to commit some of the stuff to memory to get through them. Although I’ve been using Linux for over a decade, the fact I don’t do system administration on a daily basis means some of the more obscure tasks aren’t committed to memory.

It would be nice to get the articles finished and exams done before Oracle 12c is released, or I will be distracted for a while learning all that stuff. :)

Cheers

Tim…

UltraEdit 3.3 for Mac/Linux…

I’m now rockin’ UltraEdit 3.3 on my MacBook Pro and Linux boxes at home. A previous announcement suggested by this version the Mac and Linux versions would have caught up with the Windows version from a functionality perspective. I’m not sure if that’s true, but they are close enough for me.

The latest Windows versions is 18.20, which I use at work, but home is where the real magic happens. :)

Cheers

Tim…

 

Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 on my Nexus 7…

I turned on my Nexus 7 last night and it asked if I wanted to upgrade to Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean). The install was pretty quick and went through with no dramas.

I’m not all that interested in the whole Android thing. To be honest, I can’t even be bothered to check the change log. It’s just an enabling technology for me, not something I’m passionate about. What I can say it that it has finally fixed the home page swivel issue. In case you hadn’t heard, the Nexus 7 automatically orientates the screen to whichever way you are holding it, except for the home page which always stays in portrait mode. Not any more. Finally it too can swivel.

I was never sure why this screen didn’t act like all the others, but it seems Google has responded to the criticism and sorted it.

Cheers

Tim…

Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 2 Installation…

I did an EM Cloud Control 12cR2 installation at work yesterday. The database repository was 11.2.0.3 on HP-UX and the middle tier was installed on RHEL 5.8. The installation was pretty much the same as the 12cR1 version. Over the next few days I’ll be testing out some of the features to decide if we can move across to it permanently.

Today I did two run throughs of single server installations on Oracle Linux 5.8 and 6.3. There are a couple of minor differences, but nothing to worry about. You can see what I did here:

The installations are a little small, so they are not too fast, but it’s good enough to test things out.

Cheers

Tim…

Update: It’s been a while since I used the 12c version, so I’ve had to relearn a few simple things. I thought I might as well write the down in case it helps others.

Adventures with Dropbox and KeePass…

Thanks to Eddie Awad, I’ve been using 2-step verification on my Google account for a while. Now Jake from The Appslab has scared me into using a password manager and revamping all my passwords…

We use KeePass (on Windows) at work to hold all our passwords, so I figured I’d go with that and see how I get on. Unlike work, I want to use a single store for all my devices, so I finally found a use for my Dropbox account.

Dropbox Installations

If you don’t already have it, you need to install Dropbox on your device(s). For mobiles, that means their respective app stores. For computers (Linux, Mac and Windows), you can get it from the Dropbox website.

Shared KeePass Installation

Rather than install KeePass on each Windows/Mac/Linux machine separately, I downloaded the Portable KeePass 2.19 (ZIP Package) version of KeePass and unziped it into a “KeePass” directory inside my “Dropbox” directory. That same installation can be used on all Dropbox-enabled desktops and laptops.

KeePass Installations on Linux

  • To run KeePass under Linux, you need to install Mono. On Fedora 17 you can do this with the following command.
    # yum install mono-core mono-tools
  • Once Mono is installed, you can run KeePass with the following command.
    $ mono ~/Dropbox/KeePass/KeePass.exe
  • I created a new KeePass database and saved the “.kdbx” file in my “~/Dropbox/KeePass” directory, so it was available on all my devices..

KeePass works really well on Fedora 17 using Mono.

KeePass Installations on Android

For Android devices, I used the KeePassDroid app.

  • Install the Dropbox app if you don’t already have it. Connect to your Dropbox account and check you can see the “.kdbx” file in the “KeePass” directory.
  • Install the KeePassDroid app.
  • Open Dropbox, locate the “.kdbx” file and tap it.
  • Once the KeePassDroid app opens, check the “Use this as my default database” option, enter the password and click the “OK” key.

The KeePassDroid app works fine on my Nexus 7 and my old HTC Wildfire.

Update: Swapped my phone for a Nexus 4. Not surprisingly, the app works fine on this too. :)

KeePass Installations on iPad/iPhone

For my iPad I used the MiniKeePass app.

  • Install the MiniKeePass app and open it.
  • Hit the “i” in the bottom-middle of the screen.
  • Click the “Dropbox Import/Export” option and follow the instructions.

It’s not a thrilling app, but it does the job.

KeePass Installations on OS X

The KeePass app does not work well (see update below) under the OS X version of Mono. It’s slow and the interface is quite jerky, but you can use it.

  • Download the Mono SDK for Mac. I used the “2.10.9” stable version. When I tried to use the Mono Runtime, KeePass failed to open the database file, so definitely use the SDK. Install the Mono SDK like any other Mac package.
  • Once Mono is installed, run KeePass with the following command.
    $ mono ~/Dropbox/KeePass/KeePass.exe

If you plan to use OS X as your main platform, I would probably use a different password store until Mono on OS X becomes a little more reliable (see update below).

Update: The latest version of KeePass and Mono work pretty well, so my previous warning is not really necessary now. Remember, if you are planning to use KeePass on Mac, make sure you have the latest version of X11 and Mono (3.2.3 or later).

So that’s it. I only have to remember my DropBox password and my KeePass password and I can now use ridiculous passwords for all my other logins…

Cheers

Tim…

Fedora 17, Xfce and Cairo-Doc…

Followers of the blog will know I’ve been using Fedora as my main desktop/server OS for quite some time. I tend to use the default settings as much as possible, so that meant I switched to GNOME3 (when graphics cards allowed) and was generally not too displeased with it. I know a lot of people hate GNOME3, but I found it OK…

I think using XP at work has made me appreciate the simplicity of the old-style menus, so in a little fit of “I need a change”, I switched my window manager to Xfce. It’s quick and kinda basic as far as the interface goes, but feels really comfortable and familiar. So as not to get withdrawal symptoms from all things spangly, I’ve installed Cairo-Doc to get a posh little OSX-like doc at the bottom of my screen.

I’m not sure how long this new look will last, but so far I dig it.

Cheers

Tim…