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Major Updates for PCLinuxOS!

by Paul Arnote (parnote)

During the past month, two HUGE updates for PCLinuxOS were released. First, the kernel made a quantum leap from the 3.4.72 kernel, to the 3.12.16 and 3.12.17 kernels. The second major update was from Xorg Server 1.10.4 to Xorg Server 1.12.4. Both must be upgraded together in order to maintain an operable system. The new Xorg Server will not run with the older kernels. Also, the older Xorg Server will not function with the new kernels. Although it's not the newest version of the Xorg Server, it is the newest version that preserves the functionality of a rather large segment of older ATI video cards and chips.

To help insure as smooth of a transition as possible, first reload the package list in Synaptic (as you should do before performing any updates). Next, search for the new kernel (no, it isn't upgraded automatically), and select the new kernel (and all supporting dependencies) for installation. Then, click on "Mark All Updates" to mark any and all updates, including the Xorg Server updates.

The results of running infobash -v3 in a terminal on my Toshiba laptop, after the update.

Just in case you are having some difficulty reading the text in the screenshot, below is the output of infobash -v3 as text. Infobash is installable from Synaptic, and is not installed in a default installation of PCLinuxOS.

Host/Kernel/OS "localhost.localdomain" running Linux 3.12.16-pclos1 i386 [ PCLinuxOS release 2014 (PCLinuxOS) for i586 ]

CPU Info   Intel Celeron 900 @ 1024 KB cache flags( sse3 nx lm ) clocked at [ 2194.529 MHz ]

Videocard   Intel Mobile 4 Series Chipset Integrated Graphics Controller X.Org 1.12.4 [ 1280x800@60.0hz ]

Network cards   Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast Ethernet controller, at port: 2000

Processes 161 | Uptime 9days | Memory 1497.2/1894.7MB | HDD ATA TOSHIBA MK2555GS,Generic- Multi-Card Size 250GB (18%used) | Client Shell | Infobash v3.05

I've updated five of my eight computers with this method, and I have only run into problems on one computer. Those five computers are configured as follows:

Lenovo G530, Intel Duo Core, 3 GB RAM, Intel 810 and later video driver.

Toshiba Satellite L305, Intel Celeron, 2 GB RAM, Intel 810 and later video driver.

Sylvania Meso netbook, Intel Atom 1.6, 2 GB RAM, Intel 810 and later video driver.

Toshiba Tecra (wife's computer), Intel Core 2 Duo, 3 GB RAM, nVidia video driver.

IBM Thinkpad T42, Intel Pentium M, 2 GB RAM, ATI X1950 and earlier video driver.

My other three computers are going to require a full re-installation, for different reasons. Since all of them -- including my recent desktop build -- run the Xfce desktop, I had been waiting for Ika's updated remaster. His new remaster includes the 3.12.17 kernel and the 1.12.4 Xorg Server. Those are now available, but I have not had a chance to perform the re-installation by the time that I wrote this article.

I then talked the magazine's assistant editor, Meemaw, through the process on her two computers, and she also completed the updates with only one small problem, which was easily solved.

On that last computer listed -- the IBM Thinkpad T42 -- I ran into some difficulties. Initially, I thought it might be that the older hardware was no longer supported by the newer Xorg Server. Thankfully, that turned out to not be the case (although I'm sure that will happen, eventually). I can't really explain why I hang onto this older computer, other than the fact that it just simply has a charm and feel about it that I like. It has served me well.

Nope. The problem turned out to be a pinned package, and a key package at that. An older version of my "ATI X1950 and earlier" video driver was pinned, and that version of the driver did not work with the new Xorg Server. I don't recall where these pinned packages came from, nor do I recall when they were pinned. In fact, I don't recall having pinned any packages at all. If you aren't familiar with pinned packages, pinning a package prevents it from being updated. Most of the time, this doesn't cause a problem. Most of the time, though, you're not pinning key system files. Rather, you typically pin the packages of a particular application. The practice is typically frowned upon, and is usually used when a new version of an application doesn't run on really old hardware that the owner/user is trying to milk every last drop of life out of. At some point, pinned packages will come back to bite you in the back side.

As a result this time, I was unable to boot into a graphical environment. Take a look in /etc/apt. If you have a file there named "preferences," chances are good that you have some pinned packages. Delete or rename the file, then reload Synaptic. Pinned files that prevented the installation of newer versions of those packages will now be installable.

Don't forget ... the first time you boot into the new kernel, it will take longer to boot. It may take up to five minutes to boot. This is because various kernel modules are having to be built. Subsequent boots into the new kernel will go much faster.

If you don't want to mess with updating your current system, you can also download the new quarterly Live CDs from April 2014, all of which contain the latest kernel and Xorg Server. In some cases, it might be easier and faster to simply reinstall PCLinuxOS. On my three computers that I need to perform a reinstallation on, I've accumulated a lot of unneeded and no-longer-used programs. Some were installed just for writing articles, and haven't been used since. On these computers, it'll be easier to reinstall the entire operating system, followed by reinstallation of those programs that I do routinely use. It would take me much more time to filter through the list of installed programs and uninstall those that I no longer want on my system.

However, if you don't have a lot of programs installed that you don't want to keep around, and you want to keep them all installed, you might want to check out my article in the September 2012 issue, called "Use Synaptic To Clone Installed Software On Another Computer." While performing that task, you might want to add in one additional step. Since Synaptic is running as the root user, root is the owner of the generated file. You might want to change ownership to your normal, regular user. One easy way to do this is to open your terminal program, traverse to the directory where you saved it, su to the root user, then use chown to change ownership of the file. On my Toshiba laptop, that command looked like this: chown parnote-toshiba:parnote-toshiba synaptic-markings-041614.txt. Simply replace "parnote-toshiba" with your user name, and be sure you're pointing to the file that you've save the information into.

Overall, the new kernel and Xorg Server does seem to make my computers run faster, and the computers seem to be more responsive. So, if you've been holding off on performing the update, I urge you to bite the bullet and go ahead and perform the updates. Unless you have some seriously old hardware that you're trying to milk the last bit of life out of, I doubt that you'll have significant problems.

Notes applying to Intel wireless networking cards
by Patrick G Horneker (phorneker)

I recently purchased a Hewlett-Packard 8510p

This laptop replaced my Toshiba L305-S5944 (after I stepped on the LCD screen in the dark by accident). I have tested the 64-Bit KDE variant. This laptop was purchased at a local pawn shop for $150!

I swapped the 120GB drive (which had Windows 7) for a 250GB hard drive (which came from my now defunct Toshiba). The machine has 3GB of RAM. This machine has a ATi Mobility Radeon HD2600 for video with an amazing 1650 x 1200 resolution.

However, the built-in wi-fi is the subject of this section. This is an Intel 4965AG that is turned off by default (apparently to save energy, and a decision made by the kernel developers), but can be switched on using the rfkill unblock 0 command (after installing rfkill from Synaptic). This is also true of the Bluetooth adapter (a Broadcom BCM2045 chipset built into the motherboard). rfkill unblock 1 enables the Bluetooth adapter.

The rfkill commands must be placed in /etc/rc.d/rc.local so that wi-fi and Bluetooth will be available at boot time.

This may hold true for other laptops that feature Intel wireless chipsets.

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