Diary of the Trials and Tribulations of Suse 10 on a Toshiba M30

The Eval DVD I used to install Suse didn’t want to read properly in the Toshiba M30’s combo CD-RW/DVD drive. I would get to various stages of the install and be told that the installation media couldn’t be found or the installer would start but not allow me to select software packages (due to suddenly not being able to access the cd media.) I suspect that this was due to the flakiness of the drive with reading burnt DVD’s, I’ve found in the past reducing the dma/bus speed helps. I didn’t investigate in finding settings to change this since the CD would not always hit the installer anyway.

Given the MD5SUM checked out, and two DVD’s I burnt had no reported errors when error checking via Windows, I decided to install using a samba source on my desktop.

Setting up a windows share as described in the Suse reference manual with ntfs hard links pointing to the required folders on the DVD was relatively quick. Starting an install from the Toshiba with the 2nd DVD, I pressed F3 (Other Options), then F4 to change the installation media to Samba/CIFS. In the boot options I entered vnc=1 vncpassword=8characterminimum and then selected the regular install option.

The installer booted on the Toshiba, and gave me an error about not finding the installer and returned me to the linux-rc app I was now becoming very accustomed to. When starting the installation through here, you are able to choose Network as the installation source and configure the SMB settings. After a few attempts at getting this right (no useful error messages, just returning you to the select install source prompt if it couldn’t access the share) the installer began downloading via the Ethernet link. Its a matter of getting the share name and the folder name correct. Just use productname/CD1 as the directory and it should sort itself out.

The laptop then produced a prompt showing a URL for the desktop server to connect to. This launches a java based TightVNC client that allows you to control the install process from the desktop. The catch is the size (800 x 600) but otherwise I found it quite nifty way of installing an OS. You dont have to install TightVNC for Windows thanks to the Java client.

The installer went through the general motions of selecting base settings, partioning, software selection and post install settings. I had 4.2 GB (including swap) for linux on my drive and although I was toying with the idea of LVM, I realistically didn’t have enough space to make it totally worth my while. After some time of using Linux I’ll determine the folder sizes (root – usr, local, opt and friends) so I can set this up adequately. Its important to note that you cant have /boot in an LVM and they recommend you place root and swap on a non LVM partition also.

Once installed, the VNC client screen presented me with a login to my laptop (KDE). There was a shell based login prompt on the laptops LCD. I decided to disconnect the VNC session and reboot the laptop with the three finger salute.

On return, I was still presented with a shell based prompt. Attempts to start X would fail, saying that it couldn’t find a driver called ChangeMe. Looking into the xorg.conf showed a setup that resembled VNC modes and a range of mouse devices I didn’t expect. I assumed that the VNC service was still running and thus not configured to find my screen.

Using the desktop again, I managed to VNC back into the laptop and get a graphical interface. From there I launched SaX2 which had somehow picked up a display resolution of 1280 x 800. Using it to “re-configure” my preferred desktop resolution and test – the test screen displayed on the LCD display?! – I saved the settings and compared my newly generated xorg.conf with the old one.

This one was right on par (many other distros have trouble picking up the unique resolution) which I was very happy with. Attempts to launch X still referenced the old file though – kept getting (EE) messages about that ChangeMe device, no longer in the new xorg.conf file. I made sure the xorg.conf with the new settings was in the /etc/X11 directory and rebooted. The system restarted and I had a glistening new Suse Lizard backdrop and one of the coolest desktop login sounds greet my entry to the newest Suse distro.

First Impressions
The desktop felt a bit faster than Suse 9.2 on the same machine. It seemed more laptop friendly with icons for power management appearing in the tray. KPowerSave had a lot more accessible features and the Toshiba controls package was installed allowing the Fn+F6/F7 controls change the LCD brightness.

More Puzzles
There are still many things that puzzle me (as does every new distro install) about config. Mainly due to setting up the wireless config but also due to power management
Samba (Partially Solved)
The firewall was conflicting with my ability to browse windows shares. “Check your firewall” was one of the messages, but there is a Samba Server firewall rule, there is no Samba Client rule. Switching off the firewall allowed me to browse the share anyway.
I didn’t have the wireless (Intel 2100) switched on during install but the hardware was still picked up. I found the Kinternet tools wireless config a bit difficult to use as it would ask me to keep entering the key on connect to a network. KwiFiManager is included in the distro too which stores the WEP keys and other settings in Profiles. Using KwiFi to initialise the connection to the access point was slightly easier.

There are still a few issues to resolve though.

  1. The network connection only seems to work at boot, trying to assign an ip address with ifup-dhcp doesn’t seem to grap onesurfer
  2. The network connection works very intermittently. Perhaps there are firewall issues

So that said, I’ve been reading Chapter 38.5 of the Suse Linux Reference Documentation “Configuring a Network Connection Manually” which is a great resource on explaining all the configuartion files involved with setting up a connection. Most useful, has been identifying the following folders:

The device configurations are located in /etc/sysconfig/hardware/hwcfg-*. The interface configurations are located in /etc/sysconfig/network/ifcfg-*.

You can use chkcfg-interface <the pci bus name that follows hwcfg your interested in> to identify which hardware interface belongs to which network interface.

Basically I need to find a way to get an IPV4 address assigned via DHCP – this also affected me after I bought down my Ethernet and tried to bring it up again.

Waking Up

After a sleep, the display doesn’t want to wake up. No input would bring the display back

Fn F6/7 would sometimes resume if the sleep time had been short (around 5 mins)
At one stage Fn F5 took me to a login prompt
I then remember Ctrl + Alt + F(1-6) to go to various shells (text based)
And F7 would go to the notorious black screen. (which would go brighter and dimmer with Fn+F6/7 but nothing else appearing.
Ctrl Alt F1 bought me back to the X windows session and after a mouse movement and a short pause the screen returned.
Another time Ctrl Alt F7 bought me back there.
Maybe there are some logs for X that will show errors or maybe the powersaving apps that are restricting my ability to do this.

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