Saturday, December 3, 2011

My openSUSE 12 Journal - 4: Minor Frustrations

This is my fourth journal entry for openSUSE 12.1 and it has been two weeks of operational use on both my Thinkpad and home PC.  Here are some additional minor frustrations and some workarounds... and yes, I have posted on the openSUSE forums (just in case you'd ask).

Boot 12.1 using the old System V init
In my first journal entry, I complained the lack of "chattiness" during boot since the adoption of Systemd.  You can easily switch to the old System V init on boot.  At the grub boot loader screen (usual 8 seconds delay) and before you hit Enter to boot, press the F5 button to switch from default to System V.  Now, press Enter to boot and press the Esc key during the splash screen to see the familiar System V init messages.

[Update on 6 Dec 2011]: Tired of pressing F5 every time on boot? Append the following to the end of the line:
For example, in /boot/grub/menu.lst, at the end of the line starting with "kernel /boot/vmlinuz-3.1.0-1.2-desktop...", append the line above and save the file.  On the next boot, you can verify the change in the Boot Options field.  Press Enter and you will boot up 12.1 under the old System V init.

Where is Sun Oracle Java?
We used to get both Sun Oracle Java and the OpenJDK runtime for our Java requirements (web browser plugin).  With 12.1, we are only offered the OpenJDK runtime installed by default.  This works well for me until I hit a website that will only work with Sun Oracle Java.

The good news is I was able to download and install Oracle Java 64-bit on 12.1 and it works.  However, this manual method implies that I will need to watch out for Oracle Java updates and apply them on my own.  The steps are very well documented HERE so there is no need for me to write more on this subject.

12.1 hangs/waits on boot till Ethernet cable is connected

This happened to my Thinkpad W520 after the first week.  On boot, 12.1 will hang indefinitely (okay, I waited for 10 minutes) until I physically connect a Ethernet/LAN cable... and in less than 5 seconds, KDE4 appears and all is well.  I can unplug the LAN cable thereafter and everything continued to work.  It just needed a LAN connection on boot.

I am using NetworkManager on my Thinkpad.

Worked around this challenge by switching to System V init on boot (see my first section in this entry).  I do not know much about the differences between Systemd and System V init but this did the trick... until I got tired of constantly pressing F5 on boot... I do not know how to make grub default to System V init.  See update above on how to make System V init the default.

Next, I disabled the network and network-remotefs services.  As root, execute yast2 runlevel.  In the Systems Services GUI, go into the Expert mode and locate network and network-remotefs.  Disable the two services from starting at boot by un-checking the boxes next to 3 and 5.

Now, I can boot up 12.1 with the default Systemd and NetworkManager takes care of connecting to different Wifi and LAN connection.  The drawback for me is my NFS targets do not get mounted automatically on boot.  A minor annoyance... yet, I am sure there will be more because I intend to use KVM and its bridged networking interface will not start without rcnetwork started.

vm-install wizard fail to mount ISO during VM installation on KVM

This is a really annoying one because you would least expect a silly error of being unable to mount an ISO.

KVM installed smoothly using YaST.  The natural next step is to create a virtual machine (ie a virtualized 12.1).  In openSUSE, we use the vm-install GUI.  You either invoke this GUI directly or it gets triggered from the virt-manager GUI.  Everything seems to work well until I hit the OK button to create the VM.  vm-install complains about being unable to mount the 12.1 DVD ISO and claims it does not have sufficient permission!  Is there a higher level than root?

To overcome this, I installed apache2 webserver and manually mounted the 12.1 DVD ISO into /srv/www/htdocs/software/openSUSE12.1/x86_64/.  This is described in my previous post in more detail HERE.

In vm-install, instead of mounting the ISO, I use the Network Installation option and pointed it to my local apache2 webserver serving up the binaries.  It worked of course but this feels like using my right index finger, reaching around the back of my neck, to scratch my left ear.  Hmmmmm.....

A cooler alternative, as suggested by James, was to use SUSE Studio to create a 12.1 KVM image, download it and run it locally.  :)

That's it for this entry.


  1. Dear sir, I notice you have 3 OSes on the screen,
    can you tell me how you back them up and what do you use and how
    Thank you.

  2. Hi Phillip, my laptop comes with Win7 preloaded. I created a triple-boot system with common swap and common partition (NTFS) for user data/files that is shared between Win7, openSUSE 11.4 & 12.1.

    For backup, I only need to be concerned about the common partition. I setup a script that rsync the contents to my NAS drive at home. That's it... not very sophisticated but it works for me. I don't bother with backing up software/OS binaries since I am constantly trying out new stuff. If something goes awry, I just re-install (but even that possibility is rather remote these days).

    Hope this helps. :)