Monday, October 22, 2012

OpenSUSE 12.2

I've bought myself an EVGA GT630 GPU. It was a close call between that and a 9800GT, but the GT630 won on two points: it has openGL 4.2, vs 3.1, and it only draws 20A on the 12V rail, vs 26A (my PSU provides 28A). So now I can try all those distros with current and perhaps even cutting-edge versions of Xorg. My first? OpenSUSE 12.2 32 bit edition.

I downloaded i686 Studio MATE edition from OpenSUSE's susestudio 12.2 gallery. Click the CD/USB icon to download. You'll have to log into one of six online social networks; I used Google.

The browser for the appliance is Chromium. Fonts are TERRIBLE. The installer is in System > Administration > Live installer ... one of 53 menu entries. It brought up YasT2 (which I am going to render yast2 from now on), which searched for license information and did not find it. I presumed GPLv2 or 3, and accepted blindly. It was so SLUGGISH!! It could not mount my HDs, which made me a little wary; I like to look at the partitions I am using before installing. I remembered that I like to do installs with my data disk unpowered, aborted, and decided to use the netinstall version, which I had previously downloaded and burned to disk, instead.

I considered Luna OS from susestudio but it's Greek language. I also considered Aurora, which could have been faster than the net install. I spent a while browsing the suseStudio gallery searching for those links, and just about anyone can post just about anything there. There's stuff there that looks like it was posted on facebook (one of the social networks that can be used to authenticate for downloads; others include Twitter, Yahoo!, OpenID, and Novell). The suse studio gallery looks interesting, but there's a lot of garbage remixes there, and I'm not willing to spend my time sifting through whatever errors get included in whatever remix I might get. Next time I install opensuse, I'm going for the DVD.

Before I found a new susestudio appliance I was interested in trying, NetInstall was already downloading installation components. The yast2 installer is fairly comprehensive, and allows you to be as granular as you need fairly granular. System Probing took absurdly long, at least 30 min. I had to leave for a few hours before the install could complete, but as I expected the install to need at least two more hours to finish, I saw no issues. My screen was shut down when I got back, and I could not bring it back up. I had to do a hard shutdown.

I got opensuse updates: first, ran install/remove software (yast2, no packagekit included, huzzah) & grabbed ONLY pre-marked yast2 zypper updates. When they finished, yast2 automatically restarted. Then I could download the larger updates. The most annoying thing: NO estimated time to complete either downloads or installs. I then grabbed nvidia drivers from this page. Bear in mind that openSUSE uses Xorg v. 1.12, which ATI does not support, and the 3.4.11 Linux kernel, configured for i586. Some of those appliances posted on the Suse studio use i686 kernels, but I am content.

Then I added Wine. This involves going to this page here, getting the URL, pasting it into yast2, refreshing the repos, and downloading & installing wine (the largest part of which was wine-mono, big surprise, followed by wine-gecko). Annoyingly, yast2 closed entirely after finishing. That's not the only annoying thing about SUSE's package management. When patching or installing, it usually does not tell you how much you will download, how much you have downloaded, how much remains to download, or how much time remains for the downloads to finish. It still downloads one package (or delta) at a time, installs it, and then moves on to download the next. That's one thing I dislike about openSUSE's package management, especially in comparison to APT, which connects to the repos, downloads everything, tells you how long downloads will take, and then installs everything.

Then I went to get other software I wanted: conky, chromium-browser (called chromium in openSUSE, and prone to overlaying graphical flash video content from one tab or window onto others, even on different desktops; see updates below), irssi, pidgin, kpat (had surprisingly few new kde dependencies), leafpad, xscreensaver-data-extra, midori. Ace of Penguins, nethack, and mousepad weren't in the repositories. Libreoffice, w3m, galculator, and abiword 2.8.6 were already installed. I couldn't think of anything else at the time.

I ran gnomesu nvidia-settings and put in my preferred resolution, 1280x1024, which worked. I tried to save my configuration to file, which did not. I created the file in my home directory, which was a poor solution. I finally remembered what the better one is, when there is no Xorg.conf file, which is to run nvidia-xconfig as root.

I discovered that PCmanFM was not configured to use the only included text editor -- beaver -- to open .txt files! Nano was not installed either; I used zypper to do so from the command line.

I got 46 fps in my normal test spot in Grizzly Hills. I then arranged my addons to suit, added a few, removed some unused addons, and got about 44-45 fps. By comparison, Madbox gives 38-39 FPS, but 25 fps when I alt-tab away from & back to WoW. I can't figure out why that happens. I think the newer kernel (i586 3.4 vs i386 3.2) and the newer Xorg (a consideration I didn't know about before) are the sources of improved framerates. And, of course, nobody runs Linux as heavy as Ubuntu.

My current addons:
  • Auctioneer Advanced suite, incl. BeanCounter, Enchantrix, and Informant
  • BagSync
  • Butsu
  • Cellular
  • ColorTools
  • Cutup - MoP (rogues only)
  • GnomishVendorShrinker
  • LagBar (which has replaced several LDB feeds; I need to try switching between the LDB feeds and LagBar, to see which provides better framerates)
  • LDB_PitchSpeed
  • LoadIT
  • LonnyCastingBar
  • NinjaPanel
  • OmniCC
  • OmniCC Config
  • Peddler
  • PeskyText
  • RepairGear
  • Status Bars 2 (I use the thick version)
  • Stubby
  • Swatter
  • TargetClassButton (something I find VITAL for PvP)
  • TasteTheNaimbow
  • teksLoot
  • TomTom
  • tullaRange
  • tullaRange Config
  • xanAutoMail
  • xanDurability (which has replaced another LDB feed)
  • alDamageMeter
I may reinstall focusframe, if I start playing DPS in instances. It's important to keep track of the tank.

My wife bought me a Dell N5110 laptop for about $500 last year. It has a 2 GHz Intel quad Core i3 Sandy Bridge CPU, 3GB of onboard RAM shared with the Intel onboard graphics, and Windows 7. Since use of Windows captive software is sometimes required to pass classes (and just about impossible to avoid in my chosen field), I've kept Win7 on the lappy, dual booting with Linux Mint 13 "Maya" 64 bit, with both Cinnamon and MATE desktops. The laptop also has 4 USB ports and a VGA port. This allowed my stepson to play World of Warcraft on it, using a real keyboard, monitor, and mouse when his desktop PSU died recently. I've taken to doing the same. WoW under Win7 with DirectX 11 on the laptop underperforms WoW in Wine with OpenGL under openSUSE on my desktop system (specs in the sidebar), giving 41FPS at my benchmark spot in Grizzly Hills. This is a loss of only 3-4 FPS, and WoW under DirectX11 in Win7 doesn't have some of the graphical issues that crop up for me using OpenGL under Wine.

Here's what they are: I don't get a pointer for my character on the world map; I have to guess where I am. There is not one ingame 3d model viewer that works under Wine: not those on quests, not the character UI, not the dressing room, not the mount journal, not some of the unitframes I've made the mistake of trying. Similar issues eventually cleared up for me as Wine 1.1.x got better and better through BC and WotLK. Will Wine 1.5.x (currently 1.5.15) get to that point? I don't know, but I hope so. In the meantime, I spent some time on the AppDB making sure I'm configuring correctly. According to comments on the WoW 5.x page on WineHQ's AppDB, it appears that these issues apply to the OpenGL implementation of WoW, which the WoW devs really only use for debugging (and the MacOSX client, because OS X doesn't have DirectX support). I had a complete lockup immediately after completing the 3d & final objective of a quest, so bad I couldn't even change caplock/numlock. I had to hold down the power button to shut down. With further testing, this happened 2 more times, on the same toon and on a different one, generally after a couple hours of questing. I edited /etc/sysctl.conf to add vm.swappiness = 0. Disabling swap in this manner has done my framerates good before, and I can believe that Wine's handling of swap could be problematic. At the same time, I changed my graphics API in ~/.wine/drive_c/Programs/World of Warcraft/WTF/ to SET gxapi "D3D9". This cleared up the graphics issues, and I haven't had a lockup since. In D3D9, the framerate at the test spot in Grizzly Hills is 36 FPS or so. This isn't as fast as my laptop, and quite a bit slower than OpenGL, but it's fast enough for me. Right now, openSUSE 12.2 is my desktop distro of choice for playing WoW or word processing, as it still have the stable and sane version of Abiword, 2.8.

Next distro? I've considered Kororaa 18 and Salix OS 14. One day I'll try an Arch derivative again. Upgrading Madbox to Quantal Quetzal (which is here, though Madbox 12.10 is not) went poorly; I have two instances of my networking interface in the panel, and while they both CLAIM eth0 is connected, nothing loads). Or I might go for stripped down Debian Wheezy, in the form of CrunchBang Waldorf. Right now, I have #! 11 Waldorf & Lubuntu 12.10 downloaded. I think the idea of a lean, clean Debian system appeals to me more. But I'll have to get caught up at school before I install any new distros. If anyone wants to suggest something else, I'd love to hear about it.


Some issues have cropped up. There's a flash bug I can't screenshoot. My best guess is that flash content is drawn to the root window, because it will show up inside any other window that's at the same spot on the screen, regardless of what desktop you are using, or what tab you have open in your browser. Maybe I should try installing Windows versions of FF &/or SRWare Iron, to see what happens.

Speaking of Firefox, my default sans serif font got ugly. I changed the default font to Liberation Sans, and the issue cleared up.

Update II

Not that Madbox (ie, Ubuntu 12.04 w/ an openbox DE) doesn't have its flash issues; the flashplayer (and in fact some PDF readers) reverse red and blue values. That at least doesn't happen in openSUSE. And, I've added a flashblock extension to Chromium, and I'm not having the issue with Flash any more.