Update on the NTP problem

Monday, 29 January 2007

I found the file “/etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/ntp” and it should re-run the “/etc/init.d/ntp” script when NetworkManager configures the network. Only it doesn’t seem to be working. Since I have verified that the ntp init script works, I must conclude that either the ntp script in …/dispatcher.d/ is not being called, or the condition it tests for evaluates to false. Very strange. Unless I’m mistaken about the way this script works, my problem shouldn’t really exist. And yet it does. Curious, indeed.
I’ll change it a bit, just to see what happens.


Yay: fuse loads on boot!

Monday, 29 January 2007

It was my last option, and I still think it’s an illogical kludge, but it works. I once again ran the /etc/sysconfig editor, and went to System >> kernel. There I was able to get through openSUSE’s thick skull and convince it that loading the “fuse” module is actually a Good Idea ™. Doubly so when people like myself install programs such as ntfs-3g and fusesmb, that cannot possibly run without the fuse module.

So how about a dialog next time I install fuse? Just a warning that fuse may not be good for the system, perhaps include a like to a website with more details, and then present these three options:

  1. Abort the installation of fuse
  2. Install fuse, but do not load it on boot
  3. Install fuse, and load it on boot

Or something like that. Whatever. I’m going to watch Seinfeld now.

openSUSE and NTP problem solved?

Sunday, 28 January 2007

This refers to the problem with openSUSE and NTP I wrote about yesterday. Finally found a solution. Started the /etc/sysconfig editor by selecting the following: YaST >> System >> /etc/sysconfig Editor
Then expanded the network section, and then the NTP section, which revealed a list of options. I gave the variable NTPD_ADJUST_CMOS_CLOCK a value of “yes”, which is required when the hardware clock is off by more than 15 minutes. Wow, that’s just sooooo obvious, isn’t it? Why didn’t I just think of that right away? I must really be stupid or something.

Still need to find out a way to load the fuse module on boot. And adding “fuse” to /etc/modprobe.conf.local is *not* working, by the by. So much trouble, for something that can easily be automated. Why in heaven’s name would I install fuse, if I did not intend to use it? It just makes no sense.

And so the test continues, while I fear the inevitable arrival of the next stupid little problem, which will consume a further few hours of my already too short life.

As usual, I am mistaken. It appears the change in /etc/sysconfig has not helped solve the NTP problem, and my original assessment remains the more likely path to a possible solution: the point in the boot sequence when the ntp daemon is started is *wrong*, and must be corrected so that it’s initialization is deferred until NetworkManager has negotiated a connection. And if started before that time, that it at least keep trying, post init, to see if a connection is available.
I’ll do some more searching for a solution, and maybe post a question about this on LinuxQuestions.org

But I can’t believe it: years of development, years of evolution, a hypermodern operating system. And here I am, actually spending hours thinking about how to make openSUSE tell me the correct time. I must be out of my mind!

OpenSUSE 10.2: how to keep the time with NTP?

Sunday, 28 January 2007

I must say, OpenSUSE 10.2 is proving to be quite a veritable fountain of small annoying problems. Looking down at the clock on my computer screen, I read the time to be five past nine p.m. Yet looking outside, I can see a bright new day, with birds singing and trees basking in the warm light of the sun. Clearly, it is not displaying the correct time. Which means the damned NTP daemon is not doing it’s job. But how can this be? This is what I think is happening:

I have configured the clock to synchronize with time servers using the NTP protocol, and the NTP daemon is initialized during boot. But ntpd requires a network connection, which is at that time non-existent. That is because any and all network connections are managed by the NetworkManager, which does not become active untill KDE has loaded and I select one of the available networks to connect to. No connection means no synchronization, and no synchronization means the ntp daemon fails. And I wake up with this machine telling me it’s still yesterday evening.

I am still testing OpenSUSE 10.2, but this kind of problem is just a bad sign. I cannot believe I am the only one to notice this problem. The clock is so completely fundamental! Even the most minimal window managers such as blackbox come pre-configured with nothing, except a clock. Start a bare WM session, and next to the shell you’ll find the xclock. I guess I’ll just have to add this to my growing “todo” list. First I’ll try disabling “local clock” as a synchronization source in the NTP configuration menu. Will post back if that helps, or when I find a better solution.

Howto: using fusesmb in OpenSuSE 10.2 to access Windows shares

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Fusesmb seems to be the answer to my little problem, which I posted about earlier. Check out the features! Using fusesmb, it is possible to access your shared directories on Windows and stream video and mp3’s! It only takes very little configuring and a single command will enable access to all your shared directories, just as if you would if you where using “My Network Neighbourhood” in Windows.
Al I needed to do was use YaST to install the packages “fuse” and “fusesmb”. Then I did the following:

mkdir ~/.smb
touch ~/.smb/fusesmb.cache

After that, you change directory into ~/.smb and create the file fusesmb.conf. See also man fusesmb and man fusesmb.conf. It is really quite simple, and an example is included in the manual just in case you are unsure how to proceed with this. Finally, you need to create a directory in your home directory, which will serve as mount point for your shares. For example, you could execute mkdir ~/"Windows Shared Files", or whatever you prefer.
After that, reboot and load the fuse module. Then change directory into ~/.smb and execute fusesmb ~/Windows\ Shared\ Files/

And that’s it! You should now be able to open Konqueror, open your homedir and peruse the shares at your leisure. Then pick a nice movie and just play it with mplayer, just like you would on Windows!
I only wonder why fusesmb is not used by default. Maybe they know something I don’t? Perhaps there have been problems with fuse? I don’t know, but it works for me. A million times better than smbmount or smbfs, or whatever the hell they’re shipping OpenSuSE 10.2 with.

Since there appears to be no support for fusesmb at this time, I will have to figure out a clever way to initiate it on demand. Running it on boot just isn’t good enough. My network configuration varies between wired and wireless networks, since I use network manager. Therefore it has to happen when I need it, or fusesmb will simply timeout and die.

I think I’ll be able to figure it out.

OpenSuSE 10.2 and the problem with Samba

Friday, 26 January 2007

I am currently testing OpenSuSE 10.2 again, after having eliminated Fedora Core 6 as an option to replace my Windows XP installation. Wireless support in OpenSuSE is excellent, although Gnome keeps asking for the stupid password every time I boot. As KDE is not afflicted by this condition, I have determinded that I will be using KDE as my desktop. Besides, I like the new menu structure of KDE. Very intuitive. Also, the transparency of the menubar seems to have been better implemented in KDE, so it just looks nicer. I have just one problem at this time: Samba

I installed and configured Samba with a few clicks of the mouse, which surprised me. I did have to change the security option from “security = user” to “security = share”. Otherwise, you have to waste your immensely valuable time with adding users and logging in every time, and using passwords. I use passwords enough already, thank you very much. Frankly, if anyone can gain access to my local area network to begin with, then read-access to my shared directories is the *last* thing I am going to worry about. But so far everything went according to plan, and I was able to read a text file I had shared on OpenSuSE, from Windows. Unfortunately, the next test failed …

Because next I tried it the other way round: share an AVI file on Windows and then play it over the network in Linux. I tried Totem, I tried Mplayer, I tried VLC. Totem crashed with Sig11 error. Mplayer and VLC started downloading the whole file (~700MB) to a cache directory, thus defeating the whole purpose of using Samba to begin with. Very odd. So I googled a little, and soon discovered that this is a known problem. There are a couple of possible solutions, but the methods they employ are an inconvenience to me (i.e. involve typing).

Nonetheless, I think I may go ahead with the installation in the near future. The most important test will be to find out if my Xbox is able to access the Samba shares just as easily. If that works as planned, then my main reason for favoring Windows over Linux in my home entertainment configuration will be no more.
We’ll see.

Switching to FuzzyType ™

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

I have formulated a very cunning plan that cannot possibly fail. You see, every time I install another GNU/Linux distro, I whine interminably complain a little about the fuzzy fonts. So what I’ve done is the following: I’ve made the fonts in Windows XP fuzzy too! Thanks to Microsoft’s ClearType ™ technology, the fonts look like crap right now (though it is said that making them fuzzy like this helps improve readability). The reason I am putting up with this, is that a lot of people who do not have high DPI LCD’s, still seem to prefer fuzzier fonts for some reason.

So I thought about this a little, and then came up with the idea of suffering cleartype fuzzieness for a whole month! During that time I intend to see if I can get used to this type of font rendering. And if it works, there will be no more need for very extensive and tedious editing of XML files, etc, to make the Linux fonts look like the non-antialiased Windows fonts. Yay!
I only hope this works.