Saturday, March 1, 2008

Fedora 8 on Dell XPS m1330

Fedora 8 needs some essential tweaking to get it running the way I like it on my Dell XPS m1330. My laptop has the Intel 4965 AGN wifi card and the nVidia 8400M GS video card, both of which work right out of the box. I had originally gone cheap and got the Dell wifi card (a re-branded Brodcomm) and it required a hack to make it work (ndiswrapper) which I wasn't interested in:

Yum Repositories
Install the livna and Adobe repositories, the protect_base package etc...

$ sudo rpm -i
$ sudo rpm -ivh

$ sudo yum install yum-protectbase
$ sudo perl -pi -e "s/(\[.*\])/\1\nprotect=yes/" /etc/yum.repos.d/{fedora*,livna*}

$ sudo yum install yum-presto yumex k3b

For some strange reason, when ~/.kde is created (not sure if this is done during account creation or when k3b is installed), ownership on ~/.kde/shared is root:root. This prevents the k3b cd burner program from starting:
sudo chown -R flakrat:flakrat ~/.kde/shared

Nvidia Driver
Install the nVidia driver from the livna repository:

$ sudo yum install kmod-nvidia xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-libs-32bit

And add the following section (in bold) to /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Section "Files"
ModulePath "/usr/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/nvidia"
ModulePath "/usr/lib/xorg/modules"

Section "Module"
Load "glx"
Load "extmod"

Section "ServerFlags"
Option "AIGLX" "on"

Synaptics Touch Pad
The Synaptics touch pad default settings have the annoying horizontal and vertical scroll areas enabled. Firefox makes this extra painful because any time you touch that area, Firefox wants to browse forward or back in history. The touch pad also registers taps while typing.

Edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and modify the InputeDevice section as follows (more options are described via 'man synaptics':
Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Synaptics"
Driver "synaptics"
Option "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
Option "Protocol" "auto-dev"
Option "Emulate3Buttons" "yes"
Option "SHMConfig" "on"
Option "VertScrollDelta" "0"
Option "HorizScrollDelta" "0"


Now disable touchpad tapping while typing. This is done by adding a startup command.
  1. Open the sessions manager: System -> Preferences -> Personal -> Sessions
  2. With the Startup Programs tab open, click Add
  3. Type in the following:
  • Name: Disable Touchpad tapping while typing
  • Command: syndaemon -t -i 1 -d
  • Comment: Disables Touchpad tapping while typing
The -t only disables tapping and scrolling while typing, not mouse movements while the '-i 1' sets the idle time to 1 second and -d runs it as a daemon.

Fedora 8 doesn't start NetworkManager by default, so this needs to be set to automatically started. The gnome-keyring will ask for your keyring password each time you attempt to connect to a network, this can be changed by using pam_keyring.

Also, uncheck "Activate on Boot" for both eth0 and wlan0 in system-config-network to prevent eth0 and wlan0 looking for ip addresses on boot. After you login, NetworkManager will handle this (resulting in much quicker bootups).

$ sudo /sbin/chkconfig NetworkManager on
$ sudo /sbin/service NetworkManager start

Install pam_keyring

$ sudo yum install pam_keyring

And edit the pamt.d/gdm file to look like (bold lines are the 2 that were added)

$ sudo vim /etc/pam.d/gdm

auth [success=done ignore=ignore default=bad]
auth required
auth optional try_first_pass
auth include system-auth
auth optional
account required
account include system-auth
password include system-auth
session required close
session include system-auth
session required
session optional
session required open
session optional force revoke
session required
session optional auto_start
session optional

You might need to delete your keyring file and have it recreated (make sure to use the same password you use to login):
rm -rf ~/.gnome2/keyrings

Firefox Essential Addons
1. Tab Mix Plus (
2. Forecastfox Enhanced (
3. Download Statusbar (
4. Goggle Toolbar (
MSN Messenger
There's a great MSN Messenger clone for Linux called AMSN:

$ sudo yum install amsn

Open Office
Fedora 8 comes with Open Office 2, however I've found that at least one important Calc (Excel) feature is missing in the Fedora packaged version; the ability to select a sequence and then drag the sequence to other cells to have it continue. For example, say I want a column with compute-a, compute-b, compute-c ---> compute-z. In Excel you can create the first two entries and then drag the selection down and Excel will continue the sequence.

With Fedora 8's Open Office, this only appears to work for simple numeric sequences. Uninstalling this version and reinstalling from the official Open Office rpms enables this feature. Some on the Open Office message boards suggest that Red Hat may purposely disable certain features over fears of software patents. I'm not sure if this is true, but the feature certainly works with the official Open Office packages.

Download the OOo_2.4.0_LinuxIntel_install_wJRE_en-US.tar.gz file from and extract it. Run the setup script and you'll be Open Office'n in no time.
Occasionally, I run across an application that will not work with Wine or natively in Fedora. One example, the CSTV website requires Internet Explorer and other components of Windows. This calls for a virtual machine. I use VMware Virtual Server and ESX Server at work, but figured at home I'd try out VirtualBox (recently purchased by Sun):

1. Download and install the rpm
sudo rpm -i VirtualBox-1.6.0_30421_fedora8-1.i586.rpm
2. Add your userid to the vboxusers group
sudo /usr/sbin/usermod -a -G vboxusers flakrat
3. Start the app, Applications -> System Tools -> Sun xVM VirtualBox (this doesn't appear on the menu until you reboot or possibly logout login)

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