Fedora 25

This evening I arrived home from work and began to update my machines to the latest version of Fedora. I am pleased to say the update has gone smoothly. This has been the easiest update I think I have had in recent years.

Now the bad. Wayland has become the default display server replacing X11. It works, by which I mean I have a usable display. The bad is that it has broken my workflow. I have a few simple scripts that tweak my environment. These have always loaded when the display server starts. Ok, how do I do this with Wayland? I did some reading. The issue has been known about for 2 years, Bug 736660. The workaround for the moment is to logout and then log in with an X11 session. Logging into the X11 session everything works again and I can continue. Hopefully issues like this will get resolved quickly.

Planning Ahead

I probably look at the front page of this site more than most. I am starting to wonder if it needs a good refresh. Earlier in the year I began writing up some notes on my experiments with ARM development. During this process I ran into a few formatting issues that I worked around. It is still my plan to write up some more of my notes in the future but rather than fight against the current system I might try something new. The next version of WordPress is due out in December, this is probably the best place to start from. Years ago I used a heavily customised site but as WordPress moved on I began to rely more on the templates generated by others. They are good building blocks as they handle the responsive design aspects. I think some more customisation from me might on the cards this time.

Fedora 24

This week I have been updating my machines to run Fedora 24. Two out of 3 updated without any issues and continue to run normally. One machine however has decided to cause me some issues.

My old Toshiba X200 laptop had followed the upgrade instructions to the point where it needed to reboot. So I rebooted the machine and left it to do its work. Returning some time later expecting it to have completed I was disappointed to see it stuck doing nothing. After some investigation it appeared I was getting an error to do with an Invalid PCI ROM Header, the value didn't match what was expected. I couldn't boot the machine without this occurring and left me scratching my head for a bit. There doesn't appear to be an obvious solution online. Others have reported similar issues but apart from seeing the error their machines have fully booted.

I decided to try adding a few flags to my kernel boot parameters. Finally I go one to work. Adding "pci=norom" seems to have done the trick and allowed the machine to continue to update. I won't know until the upgrade is complete if I will need to add this option back in permanently. But hopefully it won't be anything more than that.

The Rodent Battle – It’s not over yet

In my previous post at the end of July I had resorted to calling in the Rat Man to assist me in my struggle. When that failed to show results I detailed my nuclear option of removing all of my loft insulation and denying the rodents access.

The button was pushed. I have spent many hours removing all the insulation. It's not an easy or pleasant task but there is no place left to hide. The entry points were filled with steel wool held in place by more expanding foam. You do get some funny looks bulk buying expanding foam but it all got used.

All has been quiet in the loft for the past few weeks. All that is left to do is have a proper clean up of rodent droppings, repair of eaten network cable and re-insulating before winter.
Everything has been going to plan.

Until today. I was sat at the computer catching up on a few podcasts when I heard the noise. The noise that has kept me awake at night, the noise that caused the pressing of the nuclear button. The sound of the rodent scratching about. The precise location I am uncertain about. I suspect that it is not from the loft, unless it has been enjoying its diet of steel and foam. By my estimation the noise is from the cavity wall above the window. I am guessing that little Ratty not being able to ascend to loft level has decided to compromise by setting up home atop the lintel over the window.

How I proceed at this point is uncertain. I need to insulate the loft for winter provided it is still secure. But it appears that a peaceful nights sleeps is not going to be an option in the short term. A new plan of attack is required.

The Rodent Battle

This month I finally called in the Rat Man to rid me of the menace in the loft. He managed to attend 2 out of the 3 scheduled visits. Having time off work and his no show did not go down well. In any case the traps are being avoided but they do like the additional bait they are being provided with. So after 2 visits and not hearing any movement above me I was a little happier. This evening however, following yesterdays no show, I hear scurrying once again. So in summary I have had 3 afternoons off work for no improvement in the situation whatsoever.

I am getting very close to the nuclear option of stripping out all the loft insulation and permanently denying them access by any means necessary (even if it means taking the roof off). It nibbled though my network cable and I have a zero tolerance approach to network intrusion.

6/7

RatBag
A six pack of rats.

To battle the rodent menace I have 7 traps in my loft. Yesterday I went up to check them; 6 were full. Of the 6, 5 suffered a quick demise through a direct head strike. One unfortunate victim was caught by the tail and eventually passed away from probable starvation/dehydration after a struggle with its surroundings.

In an additional observation one of the head strike victims appeared to have had its hind leg eaten off.

Poodle SSLv3

Well another week another security issue. This time it is a weakness in SSLv3. This is an older protocol (replaced by TLS) but can still be used in some circumstances. The Mozilla Security Blog article contains details. A quick fix for Firefox users is to install SSL Version Control plugin to disable use of SSLv3. SSLv3 will be disabled by default in Firefox 34 when it is released towards the end of November.

Cooling Things Down

Summer is approaching and the weather is getting slowly warmer. This brings with it the annual problem of having a computer in the bedroom kicking out heat and making it too warm. Another issue that had been causing me some bother for a few years is the power settings on my graphics card, a Radeon HD6850, when running Linux. I use the open source radeon driver as keeps improving overtime and has enough of the performance of the closed source official driver for my needs. The one thing that has been lacking in my particular case has been the dynamic adjustment (radeon.dpm) of the card to keep it running cool. I have been forced to manually set the card to a low power state each time I reboot the machine. Failing to do this means the card boots up running full speed and quite happy to warm the place up. The downside is that I am always in the low power state and any tasks that might make use of a bit of extra power never get it unless its specifically enabled.

Today was time for a bit of research and a test. I had a Radeon 7850 in my other machine and decided to swap them over. It means that I have a weaker card for gaming on Windows but I don't play that many games and out of the two machines it is the one next due an upgrade. So has it made a difference? The simple answer is yes. I found that after rebooting the Linux machine with the HD7850 that it had automatically switched to using the dynamic adjustments and all was working well, one problem solved.

The heat output was the thing I really wanted to improve and I am pleased to also report a successful change (results below). I am happy with a slight decrease in temperatures along side the enabling dynamic adjustment. I continued to experiment and discovered that it can get even better. I have 2 24" Dell monitors and these can both kick out a bit of heat. Whilst I like a dual screen setup I often switch to just one (mainly to boot the Windows machine on the other). Driving just a single monitor I have noticed a further drop in temperatures (results below). This apparent temperature drop with a single monitor was not noticed when using the HD6850.

Test Conditions:
- Ambient Temperature: 22C
- System settled on normal desktop, no user activity.
- 2 connected displays @ 1920x1200

Before (HD6850 in Low Power Mode):
- GPU Temp: 65.0C
- CPU Temp: 41.4C

After (HD7850 radeon.dpm=1 balanced profile dual display):
- GPU Temp: 47.0C
- CPU Temp: 37.1C

After (HD7850 radeon.dpm=1 balanced profile single display):
- GPU Temp: 39.0C
- CPU Temp: 36.0C

An upgrade to some slightly newer, better driver supported hardware can result in a gpu temperature drop of around 18-26C (depending on setup). It might not make a huge improvement in room temperature alone, but it is a step in the right direction.

Fedora 19 – Initial Impressions

I have just upgraded both my laptop and desktop machines to Fedora 19. Having had a few issues with the past couple of releases this upgrade has been almost flawless. The only issue I have noticed so far is some missing fonts/images for the grub 2 bootloader but everything works otherwise.

The biggest improvement from my point of view is in graphics performance. I have an ATI card running the opensource radeon driver. I had noticed stuttering during video playback on Fedora 17 & 18. This release however it has vanished and smooth video has returned. So far so good.

Update:

/boot/grub2/themes/system/DejeVuSans-10.pf2 not found
/boot/grub2/themes/system/DejeVuSans-12.pf2 not found
/boot/grub2/themes/system/DejeVuSans-Bold-14pf2 not found

/boot/grub2/themes/system/theme.txt not found

The boot message about grub not finding the fonts or theme is due to the starfield theme nolonger being the default. Install grub2-starfield-theme and then it works as before. The default for new installs appears to be a plain console theme.

Git Hub – Codecolorer

I have been using Git for version control on my own machine for a little while now. I've barely scratched the surface of what it can do but it is still useful to me. I have had an account on Git Hub for a while and have been meaning to either start or contribute to a project. I noticed that one of the syntax highlighting projects I use had not been updated in a while. So I forked the Codecolorer code and applied some updates. My intent is that these changes get pulled back into the main project. In the mean time my version of the codecolorer wordpress plugin is available here or by clicking on the link in the Git Hub widget (under Octocat).