Tuesday, November 18. 2008
Grip is a graphical front-end for cd-ripping and encoding tools such as cdparanoia, cdda2wav, and oggenc. It can auto-detect disc insertions, do database lookup of CD title and track information, encode one track while reading another, rip partial tracks, and more.
Installing from the command line: yum install grip
Monday, November 17. 2008
Fedora uses a worldwide system of mirror servers to distribute packages. When a Fedora system needs package info, packages, or updates, it will by default request a mirror list from a Fedora server. This list is generated based on the repository and architecture requested as well as the IP address of the requesting system.
The yum-fastestmirror package provides a Yum plugin which measures the speed of available mirrors and sorts the list so that priority is given to the fastest mirrors; this can result in faster yum operations and reduced network congestion -- and with no additional manual effort beyond installing the plugin.
Installing from the command line: yum install yum-fastestmirror
Tuesday, May 27. 2008
In Fedora 9, the default package manager has changed from Yum to PackageKit. PackageKit is a system service that can queue package installation and removal requests. In Fedora 9 it works with a Yum-based backend (and can work with other backends on other systems).
To manage packages from the command line in Fedora 9, there are two options available: first, you could continue to use the yum command which is still present. The second option is to use the PackageKit command-line tool, pkcon, which works a lot like the yum command but which interfaces with the PackageKit service.
Like yum, pkcon accepts a subcommand and arguments. Here are some of the more common uses and the closest corresponding yum command:
Since pkcon queues requests with the PackageManager service, it does not ask for confirmation before proceeding with an installation or removal (which is the default behavior for yum). However, you do have the option of adding the -n option to the command line to enqueue a request without waiting for it to complete.
Monday, May 26. 2008
When installing Fedora 9 onto a system which already has a Fedora installation, it can be hard to decide whether to do an upgrade or a full reinstallation. Doing an update preserves virtually all of you data and settings, but doing a reinstallation gives a completely clean slate (at the expense of your data -- even if you use a separate /home filesystem, there are often system settings, web sites, and other data in /etc and /var).
Fortunately, when using logical volume management (the default storage scheme in Fedora), you can choose a middle ground: install the new version of Fedora onto a different logical volume without disturbing the existing LVs. The technique is simple:
1. Ensure that there is some space within your volume group which is not allocated to a logical volume. The easiest way to do this is by booting from the Fedora Live Disc image, and then using system-config-lvm.
2. Start the normal Fedora installer (from the install DVD) and select Instllation (not upgrade). When you reach the partitioning screen, select Create Custom Layout.
3. On the custom layout screen, double-click on your main volume group (named VolGroup00 if you used the default VG naming scheme during the previous Fedora instllation).
4. Select each of our previous filesystems and create a custom mountpoint for each (for example, if you had just one LV filesystem -- the root one, from Fedora 8 -- you may want to mount it as /f8root). Do not format these filesystems. If you have filesystems such as a home that you wish to use, specify the appropriate mountpoint for each (e.g., /home).
5. Create a new logical volume to hold the new root filesystem. Give it a descriptive name such as "f9root" and specify / as the mountpoint. 10 GB is a reasonable minimum size for this filesystem (you can go as small as 4 GB). If you don't already have a /home filesystem, consider creating one in a logical volume to make upgrading easier next time.
6. Click Ok in the Edit LVM Volume Group window to close it. Double-click on your old /boot partition and specify /boot as the mountpoint (consider formatting this partition).
7. Proceed with the installation as usual.
One the system has been fully installed, you can simply copy any needed file from your old system (/f8root) to your new system (/). Once you're certain that you don't need the old filesystem any more, you can remove it (and again, system-config-lvm provides a simple way to do this graphically).
Tuesday, May 13. 2008
If you're in the Greater Toronto Area, we'd love to have you at the Fedora 9 Release Party at LinuxCaffe tonight (don't forget a blank disc or USB key!). Andrew Overhold has posted the full details.
Tuesday, May 13. 2008
Hydrogen is an advanced drum machine. It has a Qt-based MDI-style interface, with mixer, song editor, pattern editor, drumkit manager, and instrument editor subwindows. Included drumkits (sample sets) include GeneralMIDI (emulating a Roland XV-5080) and Roland TR-808. Although I'm not a musician, the interface is straightforward enough that I was able to begin experimenting quickly, starting with the included demo files.
So whether your garage band drummer is on vacation, you've always wanted to express your rhythmic side (or you've just got to have have More Cowbell!), or you're looking for a serious drum machine, Hydrogen is worth a look.
Note: On my F8 system, I was unable to get Hydrogen to work with PulseAudio and had to stop the pulseaudio daemon (killall pulseaudio) before starting Hydrogen.
Installing from the command line: yum install hydrogen
Installing using the graphical installer: Not available in the Browse view; use the Search or List view to install hydrogen
Menu location after installation: Applications > Sound & Video > Hydrogen Drum Machine
Upstream website: http://www.hydrogen-music.org/
Monday, May 12. 2008
The top command shows which processes are currently taking the most CPU time and memory, and iotop displays current input/output usage. iftop is a little-known cousin which displays network usage by connection. The default display shows the connection endpoints (port numbers may be toggled using the p key), with data transfer volumes displayed in numeric format and as a horizontal bargraph using reverse video. Various keys provide control over the display; pressing ? displays a help page listing these keys. iftop also provide command-line options for traffic filtering and interface selection.
The information displayed by iftop is detailed and easily understood. When an application is hogging your network bandwidth, iftop can be an invaluable tool -- though you may need to also use netstat -p to determine which process is behind a particular connection.
Thanks to John Poelstra for suggesting iftop.
Installing from the command line: yum install iftop
Friday, May 9. 2008
The Battle for Wesnoth is a well-developed turn-based strategy battle game. It offers single-player, multi-player, and network modes and has a easy-to-use and engaging hextile user interface. It's a lot of fun to play -- but easily addictive.
What I find most impressive about this game is the size and activity of its community, which has developed extensive documentation, a built-in tutorial, nice artwork, a large number of maps, and a great soundtrack, and maintains very active forums and game servers. Open source at its best!
Note: The main package, wesnoth, appears in the Browse view of the Fedora 8 Pacakge Manager (Pirut), but don't miss the optional wesnoth-server and wesnoth-tools packages which do not appear in the Browse view -- these packages provide a network server and a game editor.
Thanks to Gayathri Swaminathan for suggesting this package!
Installing from the command line: yum install wesnoth
Installing using the graphical installer: Applications > Games and Entertainment > wesnoth
Menu location after installation: Applications > Games > Battle for Wesnoth
Upstream website: http://www.wesnoth.org/
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