Broadcom BCM4312 for Lenovo S12 in openSUSE 11.4

Broadcom is the finicky mistress of Linux. Sometimes she’ll greet you with a smile with little effort and work perfectly, and sometimes she’ll spurn your most tried and trusted approaches.

Users with 4313, 43224, and 43225 will be happy to note the inclusion of open Broadom wireless drivers with the 2.6.36 kernel; however, for those of us who have to woo our Broadcom wireless, there’s a little bit extra work that needs to happen.

This is one of those unfortunate cases where you have to be online to get online.

First, find out what flavor of the kernel you’re running by opening a terminal and and running the command:

uname -r

Add the Essential Packman repository (if not already added):

sudo zypper ar -n packman-essentials http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_11.4/Essentials packman-essentials

Then, install broadcom-wl, broadcom-wl-kmp-(uname -r), and rfkill*

Next, sudo into your favorite text editor. Kwrite is used in this example, but gedit, mousepad, or any text editor will do:

sudo kwrite /etc/modprobe.d/50-blacklist.conf

and add the following lines at the end of /etc/modprobe.d/50-blacklist.conf:

blacklist ssb

blacklist b43

blacklist acer-wmi

*Note: while not essential, I’ve found that including these allows automatic connection after boot and hibernation/standby on the S12–especially the acer-wmi kernel module.

You should be able to configure your wireless in YaST and connect after a reboot.

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MintMenu on openSUSE

While being mainly a fan of openSUSE, I’ve come to appreciate Linux Mint on my netbook. One of the shining gems of Mint being it’s well integrated mintMenu. Many thanks go to Unamanic (follow his blog here), who has been gracious enough to provide mintMenu for openSUSE on the build service.

After a quick log out and back in, you can add mintMenu by right-clicking on your panel and selecting “add to panel.” Scroll down or search for mintMenu. Now you can remove your standard slab menu with the minty-fresh version.

 

MintMenu 1-click install for openSUSE 11.4

openSUSE 11.4 Suggested Reading

openSUSE 11.4 was released March 10th, and I’ve already happily updated to the geeko’s latest release. There’s a lot to be excited about in this excellent release. Among the top features are Kde 4.6, Gnome 2.32, Gnome 3 preview, Xfce 4.8, LXDE, LibreOffice 3.3.1, and Firefox 4 beta 12. Also included are improvements to package management, and the 200-line usability patch included in version 2.6.36 of the kernel. The full product highlights are available on the wiki here.

Read Oldcpu’s excellent guide here, which includes information for new and  seasoned users alike. At the very least, it’s a good idea to review the most annoying bugs for 11.4 before installing/upgrading. Existing users should also beware of a nasty bug when using zypper to “dup” to 11.4.

Many thanks to Eye On Linux for an excellent review of openSUSE 11.4.

I’ll have some tips and tricks coming up soon, so be sure to check back.

How To: 64-bit Flash Player for Linux

Adobe has released a preview of their upcoming 64-bit version of Flash player for Linux. The software giant has shown much hesitancy towards porting Flash, without much explanation. This release is considered to be in alpha state, but I’ve found no more bugs than in their stable 9.x series for Linux. In fact, I’ve actually had better results overall.

Download the plug-in from the Flash Player Download Center.

Quit your browser and remove any previous installations of Flash as well as all versions of NSPlugin.

Extract libflashplayer.so and copy it to  /usr/lib64/browser-plugins.

Relaunch your browser and verify the installation by either visiting Adobe’s About Flash page or typing in Firefox’s address “bar about:plugins” (without the quotation marks).

If it all went well, you’ll be happily playing the wealth of Flash media online.

Please comment below whether or not it worked for you.

Update: Changed the link to Flash Player “Square.”

Nvidia drivers for openSUSE 11

Nvidia drivers are now available for openSUSE 11.0. Simply copy and paste the link to the Nvidia repo into YaST. ftp://download.nvidia.com/opensuse/11.0

Impatient to get your system up and running? Try one-click install:

Geforce 6 and newer

Nvidia Geforce 6 and newer

Nvidia Legacy Geforce FX (5xxx)

Nvidia Legacy Geforce FX (5xxx)

Nvidia Legacy (Geforce 4 and older, TNT)

Nvidia Legacy (Geforce 4 and older, TNT)

Update: Be sure to check back after each openSUSE release in the 11.x series for updated drivers.

Getting the most out of KDE 4: a quick guide

KDE logoI know it’s been quite a while since my last posting, but between being sick and being busy, I haven’t had much time or energy to continue posting. Before I fell ill, however, I had worked on a quick guide to getting the most from KDE 4.

KDE 4 was released on the 11th of January, ushering in a new era of desktop environments. I’ve followed the development of KDE 4 ever since it was mentioned shortly after the release of Xgl. Whew! That’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? It’s been in the works for roughly two years now.

One of the coolest features of KDE 4 is the inclusion of compositing natively via Kwin. This was originally intended to help enable Xgl, Beryl, or (the latest) Compiz-Fusion to take over the rendering responsibilities. This idea has since dropped a bit of momentum; however, I find the compositing effects on KDE 4 to be much smoother and require less system resources. Sure, you don’t get the wobbly windows or the nifty little cube effect (KDE devs, I’m looking at you!).

The upside of KDE 4’s compositing engine is that, unlike Xgl, etc., my Xvideo does not fragment into a million little pieces, breaking one of the main reasons I use Linux on a day to day basis. My particular video card is a little on the aging side now. I have an nVidia GeForce 4200 ti with 8x AGP. It was the first 8x card available, and is still quite a solid little graphics card. There’s just some bad mojo between my video card and Xgl, and I’m not planning on upgrading for quite some time still.

The KDE developer team have been working hard at banging out the remaining bugs left over from the 4.0 release. I’ve been running KDE 4 as my main desktop for a couple months now, and I’m pleased to say that there’s been significant improvements to overall performance in both speed and stability.

There were, however, some additional steps I had to accomplish before the desktop effects ran at a sufficient quality for my enjoyment. These additional steps are exactly what I intend to help you do, ladies and gentlemen.

Enabling Desktop Effects:

Presuming you’ve successful installed KDE 4 and successfully booted into your lovely new desktop environment, you must have Xephyr and Xvfb installed before you can enable those shiny new effects. In openSUSE, you can find the needed packages within the xorg-x11-server-extra rpm.

Next, you will need to do a bit of manual configuration within your Xorg.conf file, located /etc/X11/xorg.conf. You’ll need to open this using your root account. Perhaps the easiest way to do so is to open Konsole and type in “kdesu kwrite /etc/X11/xorg.conf” (but without the quotation marks) and enter your administrative password.

You’ll need to add a couple lines within your xorg.conf file. For users with nVidia cards:

Section “Screen”
Option “AddARGBGLXVisuals” “True”
EndSection

You will also need to enable the XComposite extension:

Section “Extensions”
Option “Composite” “Enable”
EndSection

Additional step for Nvidia users: A noticeable performance gain may be obtained by opening your ~/.profile (located either in /home/username/.profile, or /etc/.profile) using kwrite and adding:

export KWIN_NVIDIA_HACK=1

Make sure to save your changes before closing. KDE’s complete guide can be found here. KDE 4 release notes can be found here.

You’ll need to restart for the changes to take effect. Now, proceed to the K Menu. Notice its lovely new facad, thanks to openSUSE’s contribution of the Kickoff menu, resulting from usability studies. Within “Favorites,” there should already be “System Settings” (wasn’t that thoughtful of them? 😉 ). Once within settings, under “Look and Feel,” go to “Desktop.”

In “Desktop Effects,” there should now be an option to enable desktop effects. You’ll want to check that box if it hasn’t already been checked off for you.

Now, click the Advanced Options button, where you can tweak and fine tune several other various settings. It’s recommended to keep the compositing type to the default OpenGL, since XRender is currently known to cause issues. There are three items here that will maximize your speed: 1) deselect Keep thumbnails of hidden windows up to date, 2) set the Texture filter to Nearest (fastest) and, 3) deselect Direct rendering.

That should be all. Happy tweaking! 😉

Media Center Results: Elisa

Hello folks, and welcome to my third, and most likely, final installment of the continuing search for a suitable Multimedia Center for Linux. Today, I’m going to share with you my results from continued use and tinkering with Elisa Media Center. Here’s a quick peek at the welcome screen when you first start up Elisa.

I still stand by many of the statements made in my original post on Elisa. While the interface and configuration are the easiest and most pleasing that I’ve come across, I’m still a bit irritated at the limitations placed on Elisa by the Gstreamer framework’s constraints.

The most glaringly obvious limitation comes in the form of unsupported DVD playback. While Css and other proprietary constraints remain in effect, Fluendo is working on a DVD player plug-in for Gstreamer. On their home page, however, the player was supposed to be due out in the last half of 2006…It’s now the end of 2007, so…I’d say the roadmap of that development cycle needs just a wee little bit of updating. Out of curiosity, I wondered if I could find the developer version of this mysterious and well-hyped Fluendo-DVD Player. After a couple hours of scouring countless forum posts and search results, my quest ended in complete failure. I’m looking at you Fluendo developers!

The second drawback that I noticed were hideous green patches in files encoded with the x264 codec. I thought perhaps this was a quirk of the file, but these same files played flawlessly within Mplayer and Kaffeine, as well as on Zoom Player in Windows. I started to poke around in the configuration file once again, and found a setting for “Allow GPL plugins” and changed this from “0” to “1.” I’m not entirely sure what this changed, but this was the magic bullet for the weird green spaces.

I have, however, come across a new difficulty in using Elisa which may or may not effect the average user: Elisa does not recognize Matroska files (files with the .mkv extension). I wouldn’t have even noticed unless it was for another experiment of mine involving file containers (avi, ogm, and mkv). I looked for answers on Elisa’s website, including the FAQ, and had to delve into the user forums to find out that it had been excluded in the current build, but that recognition of Matroska files was planned to be included in the next build.

I realize that I’ve been focusing on the negatives of Elisa, when it really is the best interface that I’ve come across. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to view a slideshow in Freevo, whereas Elisa presents a slideshow button at the very beginning of each file hierarchy. I also really like the way that previews are shown in an arch, making it very easy to navigate and find the picture or movie you wanted to see. As you’ve seen below before.

Elisa also makes it easy to find and listen to your music by song, artist, or by album.

Album view even includes album art stored on your hard drive.

Although a bit rudimentary, Elisa’s movie player controls are straight forward, stylish, and manage to stay rather unobtrusive even when invoked.

Elisa is also set up to scan your configured locations for changes at a few different incremental times (i.e. every week, or every hour) and even allow a user to exclude particular locations (for whatever reason).

Many users may not be aware of the vast array of online media available free of charge. Elisa integrates online streaming music Shoutcast channels, as well as photos from Flickr, and online video from Stage6.

When the dust settles and all is said and done, I think I can recommend Elisa as nice simple, easily configurable, stylish, and sleek (mostly) all-in-one Media player.

Head on over to Elisa’s home page and check it out. Please let me know what you think of Elisa in the Comments section.