Mandriva 2006 upgrade on Inspiron 8000 laptop saga Part II

Well the saga continues. I suspect there will be a three as I get all software installed and mention tips and tweaks. III may not be named as such, I may just do a series of articles on little things that I’ve changed. At this hour I’ve got the KDE desktop for Mandriva 2006 up and running and am as I type letting more software install. I’ve had a few bumps along the way and let me tell you about them. First was the bad md5sum on the first disk image… my fault. I expected bittorrent to have checked it and made sure it was correct, but apparently that failed. Again, my fault.

There were a few things that happened that weren’t my fault. For starters, the second time around with the installer, the iso images were nested away in subdirectories /Mandriva2006/Mandriva-Linux-Powerpack-2006-CD-1_4.i586 (and then CD-5_7.i586) which was quite a bit to type when it asked me where on the sda1 hard drive the images were…. so, I had to type in Mandriva 2006, let it browse, then type in what I recalled of the rest, browse again to check the spelling(capitalization/etc.) A browse and click approach would be VERY nice here.

That much said installing from ISO images on a removable hard drive is NOT the primary installation method for users and one that’s just recently been added, so you could say I am pushing the bounds. Later in the install I discovered that one of the errors I was seeing in the logging console was because only the first disc image was detected. Again, I chalk this up to the “install from iso on hard drive” choice that I made, frustrating, a new user would have given up before getting to the true gui installer. (I might ought to check bug reports at the mandriva site to see if the multiple iso’s can now be read by the installer.)

So, anyway… I went through another attempt at an upgrade install which still left me with no X. The error message complained about the driver for the r128. There was some error about a missing export. I suspected that instead of being upgraded the old package had been left. At this point, I probably could have started doing urpme to remove the old and then start urpmi’ing my way to a good workable system. The amount of time to download everything (when I already had it in disc images) was very frustrating though… so I next did what I should have to begin with. Move everything from /root/ to a backup folder in the home partition, and backup a few files from /etc (XF86Config for one, fstab to remember my nfs mounts, etc.)

Note: If you’ve never tried linux before…. PLEASE make your life easier and have a seperate partition for your “home” folders. That way, you can wipe the / (root) partition and still keep the data in your home folders. It’s something that I started doing long ago… When I first started with linux, I originally started out with a “one big partition” approach a la windows…. that was a big mistake. seperate home is great. (having var seperated is good if you plan on doing database stuff/web serving/etc.)

Anyway… back to the adventure. Now the Dell Inspiron 8000 laptop is not the latest greatest. I probably got it ~4 years ago now. (Maybe longer now that I think about it… it came with Windows ME and was configured for that or 2000). (At this point you’re thinking – his laptop came with ME, no wonder he switched to linux…) The installer ran through really quickly. (Aided by the missing iso images… only image 1 was read.) It quickly got to setting the root password, which I did, presented me with an auto-detection of my wife’s username and asked for fullname/password. At this point (I always seem to do this with the Mandriva installer), I made the mistake of clicking next instead of adding another user (myself). So, it churned along at asking whether I wanted autologin (no) and then preparing the boot loader.

Here’s where I ran across something else that I don’t chalk up as my fault. On the bootloader config screen I noticed I had an option to move to the previous item in install. I thought, let me go back and add the other users that I had before. (Myself, a spanish-language profile, a mythfrontend profile and one or two others.) Unfortunately pressing previous skipped the bootloader install and took me to the summary page. So, seeing network was unconfigured I clicked to configure and chose a wireless card to configure, on clicking next the installer bombed out, leaving me at a “it’s no safe to reboot your computer” text prompt. (Another two bugs here that I should check the qa at Mandriva to see if they’ve run into it before. Previous at bootloader skips bootloader and configuring the wireless (orinoco_cs) card crashes – that could be card specific, or a peculiarity of some other sort with this hardware set.)

So, on the attempted reboot, I got

LI 90 90 90 90

repeating…. back to the installer. This time an upgrade of the good install (just needed to get the bootloader and configure networking.) This time I breezed through bootloader install and went to the networking. Instead of configuring the wireless, I decided to choose the wired LAN connection to configure, that went fine and finished out the installer. (I could have done a repair of the installation for the bootloader probably, but I wanted to see the installer succeed.)

So, I finally rebooted successfully…. nice boot splash and framebuffer images. I like the artwork. I get a nice log in with menu entries in the lower left hand corner of the screen. I log in as my wife (only working user profile at this point) and get to work on adding the other users. (And chown -R user.user /home/user for each of them)…

Now, it’s time to look at setting up the different media sources. I mounted the iso’s as loopback devices and added ALL of them to urpmi (the graphical urpmi doesn’t seem to dynamically deal with iso’s – that would be a nice feature… I guess it could be there, but I couldn’t find it.) With all of those configured, I fired up the gui for urpmi and started selecting most everything software wise. (Fairly lean install from just the 1st iso..) All sorts of options were available (given that this is powerpack), such as the acrobat reader, flash player, real player, etc. (The Mandriva free edition is distributed as ONLY open-source software, their box sets (or in this case a downloaded version of a box set for club members) provide commercial or other non-open source software as they can license and redistribute it for the convenience of paying customers.)

Other notes… the graphical frontend for URPMI is not as handy in sorting out dependencies as urpmi for some reason. For instance… in my quest to install MOST everything I had before I thought the gui was an easier way to select. I’ve gone through three batches of install failing because a certain dependency was needed, but typing urpmi package_that_needs_something_else got it (and 12-30 others) with no problem. Here’s the last one….

There was a problem during the installation: is needed by libkdeaddons1-noatun-3.4.2-10mdk.i586

I turn to the console, and type urpmi libkdeaddons1-noatun and it asks if it’s ok to install 12 packages and it zips away.

Now, while I was browsing through the gui, when I selected a package it would warn of dependencies that would then be checked (it appeared), but on browsing the gui I could never find out what would be in easily without losing my (LARGE) list of files to be installed. So, the gui urpmi could probably use some work (although I wonder if urpmi won’t become a backend for smart or another gui package manager?)

So, now I’m once again trying to install (through the gui) the last big list of packages I’m missing. Once that’s done, I’ll remove the local sources (removable drive) and add online sources for each media. is one possible source for this, but the gui for adding sources in Mandriva seems to be improved. (Pulls mirror lists from online.)

Like I said, all in all it was a rocky upgrade. I do like the new look and feel, the system does feel a bit quicker (which is a nice bonus). I’ve got quite a bit of looking around to tweak settings.

By the way, I went through the wireless config after booting with no problems, it must be something with the installer.

I think this is probably the roughest linux install/upgrade I’ve had. Some was likely my fault (md5sum, choosing upgrade instead of just going for a straight install)… but there are a few items that maybe could be improved on. I hope to have a chance to look through their QA site and when the next snapshots of cooker start coming out, maybe I’ll get a chance to test out and see how things are going.

Take heart though if you’re new to linux. Here are some tips to make your install as easy as possible. 1) buy a boxed set from a linux maker. If that’s not possible burn the iso images to cd (or dvd) and carefully verify their integrity. 2) If possible make your life simple and either plan to do a “clean install” *(full disk), or backup your data to prepare for using the extra space of a windows partition. Carefully read through each screen (I get a bit to quick sometimes, like adding users…) The Mandrake installer is easy, in fact as rough as this install today has been, I’ve had worse times installing Windows. 3) If you’re upgrading a system, consider backing up data and doing a fresh install if at all possible, from what I’ve seen all of my rough linux install experiences were upgrades, I don’t recall one full install in the last 7 or so years that’s been problematic. (8-10 years is another story….) Another tip if you’re new to linux and want to try it. Ask a friend or acquantance, or a local Linux Users Group for help. For the most part you’ll likely find someone who would love to help with the install and “getting acquanted” period…

Now on to the tweaking…

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