Background: My laptop (HP Pavilion dv6) has some special keys. These are probably useful in Windows, but my laptop came with FreeDOS and I have installed Linux on it. That still doesn’t take away the special keys.
Here is a graphic from the laptop user guide that explains the purpose of the various keys:
My intention was to use the key with the red highlighting. The manual says it opens the MediaSmart application. My purpose is better served, if it opens the File Manager. However, in openbox, it would need to be put in as a key binding. For this, I needed to know the signal that the particular key generates. As with most topics for configuration, I find ArchWiki to be very useful. Same case with extra keys.
So, on a virtual terminal, on running showkey, I see the following on the screen:
This means my system does know the signal coming from the keyboard, but it has not been assigned to do anything useful.
I need the key to open a File Manager. This would be useful only in my GUI login session. In other words, it would be related to the X-Windows server configuration. I need to be careful in that I must not assign the signal to a keycode already assigned to another operation/command. Once again, Archwiki tells us how to understand this.
Running the command xmodmap -pke, I get:
I chose keycode 120 seeing it was unused. But there was enough noise on the internet about how/when to set the keycode in the boot process. Looking around on the internet, I found this solution on Fedora Forum.
Adapting from the file shown in that post, I created my service file:
Description=Set my keycodes for special HP key
ExecStart=/bin/setkeycodes c2 120
After this, the service needs to be enabled:
On rebooting the system, on a virtual terminal, I saw that the showkey command no longer generated the “unknown key” message, but showed keycode 120 being understood.
Here’s where it got a bit weird (my lack of understanding is really apparent now). Running the xev program after graphical login, I see the following output:
Essentially, it sees a different keycode than the virtual terminal. Openbox runs as a client of the X-Windows server, so I must honour the keycode detected under X-Windows (my guess). Openbox needs a hexadecimal code equivalent of the decimal 128, in order for the binding to work. I used the in-built calculator (MATE Calculator) in Programming mode to do the conversion. So decimal 128 turns out to be hexadecimal 80. In the file ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml, add the following within the block.
Right-click on the openbox desktop, click on Reconfigure and the new shortcut should be working.
For those people that follow development in the Fedora Linux distribution, version 18 introduced some particularly drastic changes in the installer – anaconda. Some people have gone to the extent of calling it “the worst”. I, for one, don’t seem to share such an extreme view. But the installer is a bit confusing even for some people that have been comfortable with anaconda installer from before the “Enterprise” tag came along (including me).
Here is the set of things that could have been better, in my opinion. The opinions are in the context of a Fedora 19 install in a multi-boot set-up. The current set-up is as follows:
Virtual machine with 30 GB hard disk (/dev/vda) space and 1 GB RAM.
/dev/vda1 for /boot
Logical volumes for
/ of Fedora using ext3
/ of RHEL using ext3
/ of SUSE using ext3
/home common to all using ext3
/data common to all using ext3
swap common to all
Booting of all three distributions will be handled by GRUB2 installed by Fedora 19.
So, here are the screens of the installer that may have some comments/suggestions:
Most distributions and older versions of anaconda have or used to have a text box for testing the keyboard. While nothing on the screen suggests that, old-timers tend to mistake the text box and face a dilemma when the language list becomes empty.
The only post-install surprise (for me, at least) was the location of saving hostname (/etc/hostname). It should not have been a surprise, though. Both SUSE and Ubuntu have that as the file for setting the hostname.
I like the idea of an install summary. It reminds me of the SUSE installer; all of the installation options summarized neatly in one page. Fedora could do more to make the install summary more comprehensive.
4: Time zone and NTP
This screen is pretty standard, but the image mapping for India could do a little tweaking. You really have to know where Kolkata is, in order to select it with the mouse. Click anywhere else within India, it selects Colombo, Kathmandu and some place in Russia, but not Kolkata.
This screen has a much better option in Basic Desktop that I don’t recollect being there in Fedora 18. We can select multiple desktops that we prefer. Although, package-level selections is still not possible. I used to like that feature, but am okay with this too.
Compare this screen from the one in Fedora 18 installer
The initial options list screen does say Automatic Partitioning selected. The problem is I remember only that while I see this screen. I assume that automatic partitioning will be the one performed, if I click “Done”. See the one in the Fedora 18 installer? It says Continue on the bottom-right. This was a bit more re-assuring that there are more selection steps where I may get to see my pre-created mount points. I was tempted to abort the install at this point.
6a. Boot disk list
This screen came up on clicking the blue link at the bottom-left corner of the previous screen.
6b. Custom partitioning
It feels much better at this screen after seeing the custom partitioning button.
6c. Custom partitioning initial appearance
But where are my pre-created mount points? This screen was a bit confusing when I first saw it in Fedora 18 installer. I believe the old anaconda installer used to do this much better. Show the whole disk layout at one stroke. With correctly set and displayed labels, I could get the complete picture of the designated use of each partition or logical volume. Now, I am trying to read a treasure map.
6d. Custom partitioning initial appearance
One seeing this arrangement, I realize that anaconda is investigating /etc/fstab of each root filesystem it finds. But still, the old style was better. If it ain’t broke…
6e. Assigning mount points for existing filesystems and swap area
It is a bit confusing to figure out the sequence (numbered for reader’s benefit) to follow for re-assigning a mount point for a pre-created filesystem or swap area. Needless to say, the old anaconda installer did this job much better.
6f. Confirm filesystem formatting
This screen is pretty standard and good to have, just in case someone selects some filesystem to be re-formatted when it was not meant to be.
7. Installer final summary
Like I said in the initial install summary, I like this screen that summarizes the install options. It could use more information (in my opinion).
8. Install progress, root password, users
This looks inspired from Ubuntu, with some non-critical steps being performed during the install of packages. Nevertheless, it is a good idea and saves some time.
8a. Double-done dilemma
If you miss the screen bottom caution about a password that is too simple, you would be confused at this stage as well. I would much rather ask a direct question and get a confirmation from the user. If the button still says Done, I assume it may be showing the same screen while processing my input.
9. Time to reboot
Nothing to say, other than your prayers!
I think the installer is a lot better for those who have an empty hard disk. But I never seem to do that on my system. I guess I will have to try out the Fedora 20 installer to see if some things got fixed (or new things got broken!).
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For the last two releases, the Fedora installer (anakonda) has sported a drastically different, and somewhat challenging interface. Although, I must admit the experience in Fedora 19 has somewhat improved for package selection; it still needs the ability to customize package selection. Those saying custom package selection can be easily done with kickstart, are forgetting one simple fact – the purpose of kickstart. Kickstart is for automated deployment; the installer’s deficiency is not something a deployment tool should try to fulfil.
Nevertheless, this post is about adding a Windows printer to your Fedora system. First off, I selected Basic Desktop in the basic selection screen and then proceeded to add every desktop I could understand (except Sugar). Right now, I am composing this post from the Mate Desktop (thanks to whoever returned good old GNOME to us). But the tried-and-tested printer configuration utility (system-config-printer) was missing.
So, we need to add that utility. I used Yum Extender since the default in GNOME3 – gpk-application is woefully inadequate to do anything. I must say the KDE appilcation – apper also looked quite capable.
We are first prompted for authentication for elevated privileges. In my case, I had added my normal user account to be made an administrator. This means authentication to my account is enough to elevate privileges.
For installing the printer configuration utility, I searched for the term printer, selected the system-config-printer and clicked on apply. It asked for another confirmation, proceeded to download and install the package. So far so good.
Next step is to start the system-config-printer utility. This is an administration utility and will be under the System menu.
There is an easy way to add a new printer. Elevated privileges are required for multiple actions; be prepared to type the password a few times.
We need the samba-client package for this functionality (for some reason, older versions of Fedora used to install this by default). So, it is back to yumex to install this package. The steps are the same as above. On re-opening system-config-printer afterwards, we see the following screen:
While it does say that there is a missing package (pysmbc), strangely enough, the actual name of the package is python-smbc. Install this package in yumex and your system-config-printer should now be able to add a Windows printer.
Makes you wonder… we were able to do this without all these steps in the earlier versions!