Two Simple Tips To Speed Up Program Downloads / Upgrades in Fedora

I’ve been playing with the latest version of Fedora since the past few days. Much like how Ubuntu has a command-line based software installer called apt-get, Fedora comes with yum.

I was trying to update my Fedora install to the latest version of packages and noticed that all my downloads were incredibly slow.

Slow Downloads in Fedora

No doubt, this was a result of the mirrors selected being overloaded/ saturated or just too slow. Here’s 2 tips to improve your download speeds.

Yum Plugins – FastestMirror And Axelget

In addition to Yum’s support for delta RPMs(which is awesome) yum also supports plugins. Two incredibly helpful plugins that help improve download speeds are

  • FastestMirror
  • AxelGet

FastestMirror

FastestMirror connects to each mirror, times the connection and sorts the mirrors that yum can use thereby improving the download speeds. Installing fastest mirror is quite easy, type in

yum install yum-plugin-fastestmirror

To install the plugin. You’ll need to have root privileges, else this will fail. Once installed, confirm that it is enabled by checking for presence of below files in  /etc/yum/pluginconf.d/fastestmirror.conf


[main]
verbose = 0
socket_timeout = 3
enabled = 1
hostfilepath = /var/cache/yum/timedhosts.txt
maxhostfileage = 1

You can even explicitly set to exclude specific mirror by adding

exclude=slow-mirror1.com, slow-mirror2.com

to the above file, replacing slow-mirror1.com with your specific mirrors.

AxelGet

Axel is a pretty well-known command line download tool. Much like how IDM/FDM work, Axel uses the same concept of splitting the current file into multiple pieces and downloading them simultaneously, instead of one download at a time. Axel is the same tool which powers apt-fast, a tool to speed up program downloads / upgrades in Ubuntu. Setting up axelget is a bit more involved process.

sudo cp axelget.conf /etc/yum/pluginconf.d/

sudo cp axelget.py /usr/lib/yum-plugins/

To confirm that the plugins are working, do a yum update. Yum should list out all the plugins in use

[root@caldeum sathya]# yum install git
Loaded plugins: axelget, fastestmirror, langpacks, presto, refresh-packagekit

That’s about it. With these two plugins, your downloads should be much faster.

Note: This should work for all distros supporting yum, I’ve tested this only on the current version of Fedora though.

Wayland is Heading Towards its First Stable Release

If you have not heard of Wayland until today, it is because Wayland has not had any public release of their display protocol. Wayland has been available at its Git repository for anyone to try it out, though finally, it will get the public release of its first version 1.0, after four years of development.

Wayland has been of special interest for many Linux enthusiasts, as it is a perfect replacement for the X Window System. The Wikipedia article on Wayland explains it in simpler language.

Wayland provides a method for compositing window managers to communicate directly with applications and to communicate directly with video and input hardware. Applications render graphics to their own buffers, and the window manager becomes the display server, compositing those buffers to form the on-screen display of application windows. This is a simpler and more efficient approach than using a compositing window manager with the X Window System.

Wayland will provide an excellent alternative for those who loath the X Window System. Fedora and Ubuntu are the two major Linux distros, which have always been interested in Wayland, and they will replace X with Wayland at the first chance. The Tizen project is also looking forward to using Wayland.


Kristian Høgsberg is the founder of Wayland, which is released under the MIT license. You can read this interview of Kristian Høgsberg for this coming FOSDEM. Wayland will be announced and released at this FOSDEM 2012, to be held in a few days.

Fedora Goes Against the Linux Standard Base, Restructures the Filesystem

Since its early days, Linux has followed a stringent filesystem structure, one that is a tad obscure. Finally, the Fedora project has dared to step away from this arcane system and wants to get things right. The vital files in a Linux filesystem are arranged across various directories and sometimes, this gets redundant. Fedora project aims to consolidate all of this into a well-defined structure, even though this goes against the structure defined by the  Linux Standard Base.

fedora-logo

The Linux Standard base is an effort by Linux distributions to standardize the Linux system structure. It is  best explained as,

The Linux Standard Base was created to lower the overall costs of supporting the Linux platform. By reducing the differences between individual Linux distributions, the LSB greatly reduces the costs involved with porting applications to different distributions, as well as lowers the cost and effort involved in after-market support of those applications.

The Linux filesystem suffers from redundancy in naming of directories. There are four directions in Linux, /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, /usr/sbin, all with similar names. This is just for starters and there are many such directories.

A comment on Slashdot says,

Once upon a time discs were small, so that /usr would be mounted separately from the root partition. So /bin and /lib are small directories containing as much of the operating system as you need to get going before you mount /usr and get everything else.

The situation has changed today and most of the times, all these directories are put on the same partitions with the exception of the /boot directory. Perhaps, in wake of all the object-oriented concepts where systems are thought of in terms of data flow, the structuring of the Linux filesystem cannot be justified. However, it is intact and functional from a system-level.

This effort to polish the Linux filesystem will have to overcome many stumbling blocks. The filesystem has stayed for well over 30 years now. The proposal to restructure the filesystem appears on  this Fedora project page. If this change goes through, this will be the first such change in the history of Linux filesystem. It will make the  Linux Standard Base flexible and allow it to adapt to newer changes better.

Fedora 16 “Verne” Alpha Released – Includes GNOME 3.1, GRUB 2

After a one week delay from the scheduled release date, the Fedora Project has released the first alpha version of Fedora 16, codenamed “Verne”, earlier today. This alpha release is expected to be the only alpha release of Fedora 16. According to the release schedule, this release will be followed by a beta on September 27th and the final release on November 1st.

Fedora 16 Alpha brings a number of new features/updates. One of the main updates is the long overdue upgrade to GRUB 2. Although GRUB 2 is not officially considered stable yet, many other Linux distributions, like Ubuntu, Linux Mint etc., have been using it for some time, and it has been stable enough for normal use. With the transition to GRUB 2, users who dual boot Fedora with another distribution that uses GRUB 2 will not have to manually add the OS in the GRUB menu.

Fedora 16 Wallpaper

In Fedora 16 Alpha, two choices of desktop environments are available by default as always. For those who prefer GNOME, Fedora 16 Alpha comes with GNOME 3.1.5. This version of GNOME is not considered stable and it is expected that it will be updated to GNOME 3.2 before the final release. GNOME 3.2 will fix many of the quirks and annoyances from GNOME 3. For those of you who prefer KDE SC, Fedora 16 Alpha also has a KDE version that comes with KDE SC 4.7 alpha. Like the GNOME version, it is expected to be upgraded to KDE SC 4.7 before the final release.

Fedora 16 Alpha runs on the Linux kernel 3.0. With the release of Linux 3.1 expected in a month or two, the kernel is likely to be updated to Linux 3.1 before the final release.

One feature that did not make it is the switch to Btrfs. Btrfs is a new filesystem that is currently under development. Initially, there was plan to use Btrfs by default in Fedora 16. However the plan was scrapped because Btrfs is nowhere ready for such use. Btrfs will probably be used in Fedora 17 or Fedora 18.

You can view the feature list that is being planned for Fedora 16 and the progress here.

If you want to install Fedora 16 Alpha, you can download it from here. (This is not an unstable release and is meant for testing. Do not install it on production machines.)

FOSS Friday – Fedora 15 Released, Linux Mint 11 Released And More

This week, we saw a lot of releases ranging from the release of Fedora 15 “Lovelock” to Puppy Linux Wary 5.1.2. Here are the main events that took place this week in the world of Free and Open Source Software.

Fedora 15 “Lovelock”

Six months after the release of Fedora 14, Fedora 15 “Lovelock” was released earlier this week. This is a very significant release not only for Fedora but for GNOME as well because it is the first major Linux distribution with GNOME Shell as the default desktop. Although, GNOME Shell is the most obvious change in Fedora 15, there are also a number of improvements under the hood such as the adoption of systemd, consistent network naming scheme etc. Read our coverage of the release for more details.

MeeGo to get Wayland this year

This is big news for both MeeGo and Wayland. The chief developer and creator of Wayland has announced that MeeGo might switch over to Wayland by October this year. Wayland is a replacement for the X Display Server which is more efficient and does not have the baggage that comes with X’s legacy supports. Refer this article for more details.

KDE SC 4.7 Beta was released for testing

KDE continues to develop the KDE platform at a very rapid pace. This week, they have released the first beta of KDE SC 4.7. The release has three important new features – improved offline search in Marble, GRUB2 integration in KDM and OpenGL-ES 2.0 support for KWin. The final release of KDE SC 4.7 is expected in June this year. Read this article for more details.

Linux 2.6.x series to end

Linus Torvalds has expressed his desire to end the current Linux 2.6.x series. The Linux 2.6.x series has been in development for more than seven years and has seen 39 releases till date. Torvalds said that the number has become too big and he is considering changing it to either 2.8 or 3.0. The suggestion to bump the version number to 3.x has been gaining good support as it can also mean the third decade of Linux development. More here.

Linux Mint 11 “Katya” Released – No Unity or GNOME 3

Linux Mint 11, codenamed “Katya” was released earlier this week. One of the main talking points of the release was not a new feature – rather the lack of it. Although Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, Linux Mint 11 has been released with the classic GNOME desktop. Linux Mint 11 also comes with many improvements such as better software manager and update manager. Read more here.

Puppy Linux Wary 5.1.2 Released

Puppy Linux Wary is yet another Linux distribution that was released this week. Although it is not nearly as popular as Fedora or Linux Mint, Puppy Linux has its own dedicated followers. The release is based on Puppy Linux 5 and has better hardware detection and a new experimental non-root account. Read more here.

Real time strategy game, 0 A.D., reaches 5th Alpha

0 A.D. is a real-time cross-platform strategy game which has been in development for sometime. A fifth alpha of the game has been released and it has better lighting in the game, new map, new faction etc. You can read more about it here. You can also read our previous article on 0 A.D. here.

Fedora 15 “Lovelock” Has Been Released

Fedora-logo Today the final stable release of Fedora 15, codenamed Lovelockhas been released. Coming six months after the release of Fedora 14, Fedora 15 continues to bring the latest bleeding edge software to users.

Features

Fedora 15 is a very interesting release for both users and developers. Let us take a brief look at some of the new features of Fedora 15 Lovelock.

GNOME 3 with GNOME Shell as default desktop

With Fedora 15, the GNOME stack has been updated to GNOME 3 and GNOME Shell is now the default desktop. Fedora 15 is probably the first major Linux distribution to ship with GNOME 3.

The Ubuntu users did not like the introduction of Unity in Ubuntu 11.04. Let us see how the Fedora users respond to GNOME Shell.

In case you are not a GNOME user, Fedora has that covered as well with KDE SC 4.6 and Xfce 4.8.

New filesystem BTRFS

BTRFS is a new filesystem which is being actively developed. The installer in Fedora 15 now includes the option install Fedora 15 with BTRFS as the default filesystem. This option is not available on the live images though. It is recommended that users should not try BTRFS on production machines.

systemd finally included

systemd has been finally included in Fedora 15. systemd is a system and session manager for Linux which gives better performance using aggressive parallelization. Here too Fedora 15 is the first among the major Linux distributions to adopt systemd.

Dynamic firewall

Fedora 15 has a new dynamic firewall which makes it possible to change settings without restarting the firewall. An immediate effect of having a dynamic firewall is that it will make persistent network connections possible and make remote printer discovery easier.

LibreOffice replaces OpenOffice.org

Like many other Linux distributions, Fedora 15 has dropped OpenOffice.org and replaced it with LibreOffice. The user interface of LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org are almost identical. So, users will not have any trouble adapting to the new application.

For the complete feature list of Fedora 15, refer to this page.

Download Fedora 15

You can download Fedora 15 from here.

However, it is recommended that you download using torrent. As Fedora 15 has just been released, the direct download could be slow right now.

Sources: Fedora Mailing List, Digitizor, Phoronix

Fedora 15 “Lovelock” Beta Released

Today the first beta of Fedora 15, codenamed “Lovelock” has been released. This is a very important release for the Fedora 15 development cycle because it represents the final feature list that will make it to Fedora 15, which is expected to be released in late May. From now on only bug fix updates will be released until the final release.

Fedora 15 Beta is a very significant release for the Fedora 15 development cycle in more than one way. One of the most significant changes in this release is GNOME 3. GNOME 3 was recently released and includes a completely new user interface called the GNOME Shell. With GNOME 3, Fedora 15 Beta now has a completely different user experience from earlier releases. If GNOME is not your Desktop Environment of choice, the Fedora spins with Xfce and LXDE have also been updated.

As we have mentioned earlier, Fedora 15 Beta still has LibreOffice as the default office suite instead of OpenOffice. Another new application that has been included in this release is BoxGrinder. Like LibreOffice, BoxGrinder was first included in Fedora 15 Alpha. BoxGrinder allows users to easily create appliances (virtual images) for various platforms (KVM, Xen, VMware, EC2) from simple plaintext application files. Fedora 15 Beta also includes a dynamic firewall. The dynamic firewall makes it possible to change firewall settings without restarting the firewall. This feature is particularly useful for persistent connections.

For the coders out there, the development tools that comes in Fedora 15 Beta have also been updated. It comes with GCC 4.6, Maven 3, OCaml 3.12, Python 3.2 and Rails 3.0.3. In fact Fedora 15 Beta has been built using GCC 4.6.

The users from India will also be glad to know that the new Indian Rupee symbol has now been included in Fedora 15 Beta by default.

If you want to test Fedora 15, you can download the ISO from here. However, remember that this is not a final release and bugs are expected. If you find any bugs, you can report it to make Fedora 15 better.

You can see the feature list here.

TeamViewer – Best Desktop Sharing App for Linux

Have you ever had to help someone with their computer over the phone or using text chat? It’s not easy. You can’t be sure that they are in the right place, doing what you want them to do. That’s why remote desktop (screen) sharing applications are so great.

These applications are called by a variety of names such as, remote access, remote support, remote desktop, screen sharing, and desktop sharing. The main idea behind them is that they allow one computer to see another computer’s screen over a network or the internet.

My wife and I have many friends and relatives that come to us for PC help and advice. We’ve used a number of desktop sharing apps over the years and discovered that TeamViewer is one of the best, and it’s free!

Since I’ve been spending a lot of time using Linux lately, I was happy to find that TeamViewer is also available for Linux, as well as Windows, Mac and Smartphones. It’s almost as good as being there, because I can control the remote computer as if I were sitting directly in front of it. When I need to, I can change the direction to show my PC’s screen to the other person. It even makes it easy to share files with the person on the other end.

This image below shows how simple it is to set up. (click image to enlarge it)

What Is New Fedora 15 Alpha?

Yesterday the first alpha of Fedora 15 “Lovelock” was released. This release is a very important release both for Fedora as well as other free software communities for a number of reasons.

GNOME 3

The first thing you will notice in Fedora 15 is GNOME-Shell. GNOME Shell is the new user interface that the all new GNOME 3 brings. This is the first time that GNOME 3 has been included in any of the major Linux distributions. From what I have seen, it seems like GNOME 3 does not have a many supporters. So, having GNOME 3 as default in Fedora will help to judge how people react to the complete overhaul.

LibreOffice

Like Ubuntu, Fedora has also decided to drop OpenOffice.org in favor of LibreOffice in this release. As of now LibreOffice is pretty much similar to OpenOffice and users will not feel lost. However, it is good that Fedora is also putting its weight behind the community driven project.

systemd

An important change that has been implemented under the hood is that systemd has replaced Upstart in this release. systemd is a system and session manager for Linux. It is faster than Upstart and offers more features. It was originally planned for Fedora 14, but was delayed.

BoxGrinder

BoxGrinder is another new feature in Fedora 15 alpha that holds a lot of promise. BoxGrinder is an easy to use command line tool to create appliances (virtual images) for various platforms (KVM, Xen, VMware, EC2) from simple plaintext application files.  It is developed by Red Hat and is comparable to Novell’s SUSE Studio.

LessFS

Fedora 15 alpha includes a new feature called LessFS. LessFS reduces disk usage by storing identical blocks only once and using pointers to point to the location. This is not a very important feature for desktop users but very useful for Enterprise.

These are just some of the main things that have changed in Fedora 15 Alpha. If you want to read more, you can go through the release note.

If you want to test Fedora 15 Alpha, download it from here.

Ksplice Joins Fedora, now free on Fedora and Ubuntu

We have covered Ksplice earlier, when it debuted around a year back during this time. Ksplice is a breakthrough technology in Linux as it eliminates the need to reboot a Linux system. Most of the time, reboots are necessary as in case of kernel updates. However, Ksplice  eliminates the need for any reboot as it can apply all kernel patches in live.

Ksplice blog announces this by saying,

In response to many requests, Ksplice is proud to announce we’re now providing Uptrack free of charge for Fedora!

Fedora will join Ubuntu Desktop among our free platforms, and will give Fedora users reboot less updates as long as Fedora maintains each major kernel release.

However, of note: Fedora is the only Linux distribution that migrates to a new Linux kernel version family (e.g. 2.6.33 to 2.6.34) during the lifetime of the product. This kernel version family migration is such a major version change that Ksplice recommends a reboot for this version change. These migrations occur roughly twice per year and only in Fedora; all of the other important Fedora kernel updates can be applied bootlessly, as can the kernel updates for the rest of our supported Linux distributions.

Fedora has recently decided to provide Ksplice update to its users for free. This feature is already available on Ubuntu for free whereas Red Hat, Centos, Debian, Ubuntu Server and CloudLinux provide this feature on a nominal fee. Free or not, this is one service every Linux user should have and Fedora users are very excited to have this feature.

(Source)