Saturday, January 26, 2013

My openSUSE 12 Journal - 10: Chinese text input (fcitx)

I need Simplified Chinese text input capability for my desktop.  Back in openSUSE 12.1 and prior versions, it was SCIM that provided that functionality.  In openSUSE 12.2, FCITX replaces SCIM.

How do you add secondary language input capabilities?

This section applies to all openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise versions.  Thanks to YaST, the way to enable this functionality has remained consistent over the years.

In YaST, find and select Language (under System).

In the Secondary Languages section, select and put a check mark next to Simplified Chinese... and any other language of your choice.
Click Ok button and YaST will install the proper software and language package to enable this functionality.

(Optional):  You might want to log out and log back in to your account, just to be sure there is a new language input icon in your System Tray.  In my experience, the icon shows up without a need to log out and back in again.

Frustration #1:  Where is the configuration panel?

Friday, January 25, 2013

My openSUSE 12 Journal - 9: Upgrading to Stable Kernel 3.7.4

I took every step and every precaution, with fear and trembling, but I finally took the plunge to upgraded my default kernel (3.4.11) in openSUSE 12.2 to the latest stable kernel (3.7.4).

You know what?  This is the best thing I could have ever done for my laptop!!!

Special Thanks to Mike Veltman, appreciate your guidance and encouragement.

What made me do it?
I have been using openSUSE 12.2 for over 3+ weeks and have noticed some performance issues from a desktop productivity perspective.  This was confirmed when speaking with Mike and also confirmed by a comment from Jack Bauer on my previous blog entry.

Scenario:  Try copying a large amount of files (total file size of say over 1Gb) from your hard disk to an external USB drive.  During the file transfer (doesn't matter if you initiate the transfer via commandline or GUI), the rest of the desktop (except the mouse pointer) is practically dead and unresponsive.  At best, a simple task of opening a new tab on Firefox to surf will take over 10 seconds.  If you want to open LibreOffice to read a doc/spreadsheet, you can forget-about-it.

This was initially tolerated because I would schedule large file backups in the evening after work.  However, it is starting to get to me because I don't recall earlier openSUSE 11.3, 11.4 and 12.1 ever giving me such issues.  The final straw came this week and its my Windows VM... it was running well but I have to put PGP whole disk encryption on the VM.  As expected the Windows VM slowed down but I also noticed its slowing my host as well.

How I did it?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My openSUSE 12 Journal - 8: IBM Notes 9.0 public beta

I was going to install Lotus Notes 8.5.3 on openSUSE 12.2... but a good friend of mine (Lotus geek) informed me that the next great version IBM Notes 9.0 is ready as an open beta.  He challenged me to live life on the edge again and, I accepted! L-)

Link to download IBM Notes/Domino 9.0 public beta
Link to the public beta forum.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that IBM has dropped the Lotus brand and name this new major version IBM Notes 9.0 Social Edition.  This is a great statement of intent and direction for this product/solution.


Pre-requisite:  You will need to uninstall previous versions of Lotus Notes (if any).  Note that installing both 8.5.x and 9.0b is not supported (officially).

After you have downloaded the tarball for Notes 9.0b, untar it.  You will notice a bunch of RPMs and a script.  Run/execute the script as root.  Its really that simple. :)

[Update on 23 Jan 2013]:  If running script did not work for you, don't fret.  In the same directory where all the ibm_* rpms reside.  Execute, as root, zypper in ibm_*.rpm and let zypper figure out all the dependencies for you.  All good. :)

The Notes 9.0b icon can be found via Application Launcher -> Applications -> Office -> More Programs -> IBM Notes.  You can right-click and select Add to Favourites so that you don't have to navigate that much just to start it later.

Note that in your very first startup, it will launch a text console for you to accept the license... just in case you miss it and wonder why you are stuck at the splash screen and nothing happens.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My openSUSE 12 Journal - 7: Printing to PDF

One more thing... that I forgot to mention in my previous entry is the topic of printing to PDF.

I'm quite surprised this capability is not included in the base openSUSE 12.2 install since we have OSS version of the Adobe PDF reader (Okular). :-/

Scenario/Use Case:
You need to print out a document directly into a PDF format file, instead of killing trees.  Some examples are:
  • Printing online receipts directly into a PDF for your electronic filing
  • Converting some page or document into PDF format using the Print function
Do note that if your document can be opened and edited in LibreOffice (comes with 12.2), and you want to convert that document into a PDF, you can do that by clicking the PDF button within LibreOffice.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My openSUSE 12 Journal - 6: Hello 12.2!

More than a year (12+ months) since my last entry... obviously lots have happened... BUT

Its a new year (2013), a new job, a new Laptop and a new openSUSE 12.2!  I'll stop right there before I go off on a tangent, seeing & proclaiming trends where none existed previously.:P

  • openSUSE 12.2 x86_64 (64-bit) - KDE desktop (default)
  • Toshiba Tecra R840 (Intel i5, 4Gb RAM, 320Gb Hdd, Intel HD integrated graphics)
  • Dual-boot with Windows 7 (/dev/sda1) and openSUSE (/dev/sda2)

Smooth as silk is all I can say and something that has come to be expected. :)

Given the dual-boot setup, I created my own disk partitioning scheme.  So this step deviated from the otherwise straight-forward install (ie click next till the end).

Disk partition scheme:
  • /dev/sda1 - 100Gb - original factory installed Windows 7 (size shrunk to 100Gb)
  • /dev/sda2 - 100Gb - root partition of openSUSE 12.2 ('/') formatted to ext4
  • /dev/sda3 - 98Gb - extended partition
  • /dev/sda5 - 6Gb - SWAP partition
  • /dev/sda6 - 92Gb - common data partition formatted to NTFS (read/write for both Win7 & openSUSE 12.2)
At install time, I did not format the common data partition.  Instead, I left it blank (unformatted) and used Windows 7 to format it much later.  Once formatted, this common data partition will be known as D:\ drive on Windows 7.

Reboot into openSUSE 12.2 and use YaST Partitioner to set a mount point.  I usually mount this under /mnt/common.  Now, openSUSE 12.2 will automatically mount the common data partition in /mnt/common on boot.

The only outstanding part is that /mnt/common is accessible by root (super-user) but normal users access is troublesome.  To make /mnt/common read-writeable by normal user, I edit the mount options of /mnt/common in the /etc/fstab file.  Example, changed the options in bold from original (first line below) to the second:

/dev/disk/by-id/ata-xxxxxx-part6 /mnt/common          ntfs-3g    user,users,gid=users,fmask=133,dmask=022,locale=en_US.UTF-8 0 0

/dev/disk/by-id/ata-xxxxxx-part6 /mnt/common          ntfs-3g    uid=han,gid=users,fmask=133,dmask=022,locale=en_US.UTF-8 0 0

where han in uid=han is my normal user account on openSUSE 12.2.

There might be a more user-friendly way to do this but I did not explore since I'm comfortable editing the /etc/fstab. Readers who knows how this can be done, please feel free to leave a comment.  Thanks.

Grub vs Grub2:
I chose to stick with Grub instead of the newer Grub2 boot loader.  The reason is simple, I could easily edit the boot options via /boot/grub/menu.lst because its a text file.  In Grub2, this is non-trivial and until they have an easier editing interface, I'll stick with Grub.

Additional Software