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This way, the free software desktop is never going to make it. - LIBV Intentionally Breaks Videodrivers [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Luc Verhaegen

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This way, the free software desktop is never going to make it. [Jan. 15th, 2011|04:52 pm]
Luc Verhaegen
[Tags|, , , , , ]
[Current Location |Couch]
[mood |pissed offpissed off]

In order to get easier access to Nokia things, and to boost security (as in, encrypt stuff, for a change), I've been reinstalling my trusted hp 6715b. Most nokians use ubuntu, so i went for 10.4LTS. I already severely disliked the way in which you have no installation options to chose from. You get the grandmother version every time, no "i have a clue, let me decide what i want to do, myself" button anywhere.

I was lucky, in 10.4 my now 3y old graphics card was still working out of the box. But, of course, i want to have my big virtual screen back. This, of course got dropped with randr 1.2 and the Virtual keyword was reused for something else. Matthias Hopf then re-added it in 1.3; mostly to appease me, and the handful of other weirdos out there. But, try finding this option in the xorg.conf manpage. Nothing! Try googling for it, and the first 50 hits either only explain the commandline version or the old style Virtual (which got broken). Apparently, you need to add 'Option "Panning" "${H}x${V}".

Easy, pico /etc/X11/xorg.. Damn. Nothing. head /var/log/Xorg.0.log says xorg.conf.d. Type man xorg.conf.d. Damn. Nothing: "No manual entry for xorg.conf.d" Suuuper. Apparently people are supposed to _know_ that this is part of the xorg.conf manpage.

So, create a new screen, device and monitor section in 01-screen in xorg.conf.d, and press ctrl-alt-backspace, like any experienced driver developer is used to. Damn. Nothing. Head into gnome preferences stuff, enable key combination. Try again. Drop into the console. Wait for the display manager to try again. And wait. And wait. Damn. Nothing again. Ok, the DM might have died, and i don't trust this new gnome stuff, so it might be better to reboot. So Ctrl-alt-del, which worked first time round. At least something one can depend on.

Next time i look back, ubuntu is showing its plymouth style loading, but the panel is gradually turning white. Something is not driving the panel and the driver died, for whatever reason. WTF? Try some key combinations to get a console. Damn, nothing! Pinging the box still worked, but of course, no sshd was installed. Attempting a reboot didn't bring anything either, it just runs into the exact same issue. Nothing is checking whether a previous boot got one to a working console or a working X.

So, insert the ubuntu installation cd, choose live system, mount the fs, chroot to it, apt-get install ssh, and less /var/log/Xorg.0.log to reveal:

> (==) Using config directory: "/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d"
> Parse error on line 3 of section Monitor in file /usr/lib/X11/xorg.conf.d/01-screen.conf
> The Option keyword requires 1 or 2 quoted strings to follow it.
> Parse error on line 3 of section Monitor in file /usr/lib/X11/xorg.conf.d/01-screen.conf
> "2560x1920" is not a valid keyword in this section.
> (EE) Problem parsing the config file
> (EE) Error parsing the config file
>
> Fatal server error:
> no screens found

I forgot to put apostrophes around "Panning", and i got greeted with a bleeding panel, with no option to easily get around it. What on earth are we thinking here?

This is Ubuntu LTS, with radeon, KMS, plymouth and xorg.conf.d. 5 nails in the free software desktops coffin.
linkReply

Comments:
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-15 04:11 pm (UTC)

Hmm....

Why is your anti FOSS troll posting about Ubuntu appearing on Planet SUSE?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: libv
2011-01-15 04:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Hmm....

Me? anti FOSS? hah. You didn't even read this post, now did you.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-15 05:10 pm (UTC)
Did you in the same post complain that Ubuntu doesn't have an "advanced user" option and then using Xorg.conf (an advanced user option) shoot yourself in the foot? I think you can see why less choice is better sometimes ;)

That aside, I would have thought a safe-mode like kernel boot option would have worked instead of the livecd... something like "nomodeset init=/bin/bash" to disable kms/plymouth/X to get into a single user console and look at the previous boot's logs.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-15 05:32 pm (UTC)
Not to mention: https://help.ubuntu.com/10.10/installation-guide/amd64/ch06s01.html. (Hint: grep for 'expert'.)
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From: jonsmirl
2011-01-15 05:23 pm (UTC)

Similar problem

I just went through a similar problem with X. It was a new install and X would just hang at startup. I finally figured out to reboot and add "single" in grub. Then I was able to get to the Xorg logs and see the error. It was easy to fix the error once I was able to see it. But no new user is ever going to figure out this procedure for seeing the error.
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[User Picture]From: libv
2011-01-15 05:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Similar problem

Yeah, and this is exactly the issue.

The whole installation is, from the start, highly patronizing and is geared towards a new user, and nobody else. Just to run into issues that no new, or relatively new, user would ever be able to solve on his own.

Like i said on sylvester, at a table full of SuSE developers, to conclude 2 discussions that started off completely different: "we're never going to make it, are we?"
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-15 05:46 pm (UTC)

blame plymouth

Frustrating, is it, when eyecandy gets in the way of troubleshooting? I had a similar experience six months ago, and I can assure you, you will find similar rants like yours here: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/plymouth

But you should have been able to solve this by booting single-user (or radeon.modeset=0 nosplash, if that still works). What made you need the cd?
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-16 09:13 am (UTC)

Re: blame plymouth

Presumably the grub menu was being completely hidden by default so he presumed there was no way to add such options. I believe if Ubuntu is the sole OS at install time it hides the menu and you have to hold shift while booting to make the grub menu appear ( https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Grub2 ). If this is the case it is unlikely you would know this without prior knowledge - it's not intuitive (although I think something different might happen if the system isn't shut down properly and you boot). Some people will mention pressing escape but that is only for installs before 10.04 (or upgrades of old installs).
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From: http://www.andreparames.com/blog/
2011-01-15 06:00 pm (UTC)

what

So let me get this straight: you've installed a free (in all senses) OS and it worked out of the box. Then you wanted to configure a feature that's unknown by 99% of computer users by editing system files, and the since you were enable to do that, you say that the Free Software Desktop is doomed.

Well, I agree. It's as doomed as Windows with its thousands of Registry keys with no documentation whatsoever. And we all know the lack of market share Microsoft has.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-16 01:25 am (UTC)

Re: what

My sentiments exactly.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-15 06:04 pm (UTC)

retep

ok and don't forget that whil e*buntu is used a lot, it doesn't exactly do the best in useability. OpenSUSE is much better in that regard, generally.
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[User Picture]From: Jeff Daniel Rollin
2011-01-15 08:56 pm (UTC)

This is not the problem

Sorry, but the lack of advanced options isn't the problem (though I'm not arguing they shouldn't be there). The problem is the lack of full support for graphics cards and other drivers. If you believe that closed-source drivers are acceptable or inevitable, then the solution is to convince hardware vendors to provide complete, fully-functional closed-source drivers. Or, you believe that the drivers should be open source - in which case the goal is to make vendors release open source drivers, and/or complete specs. The reason why MacOS users don't have these problems is because the system only has to work on a subset of all available PC hardware, whilst the reason Windows users don't have them is because everyone releases Windows drivers; in neither case is it because Apple Stores, PC vendors or end users have a magic wand which means it is easier to fix these kinds of problems with MacOS X or Windows than it would be with Linux. In both cases the (temporary) solution is to reboot and the permanent solution is to release updated drivers which fix the problem. We need to make hardware vendors see that hiding hardware specs is NOT in their best interests.

Of course, it would also be nice if, in the US, Canada, UK or anywhere else there were a well-known nationwide chain of stores (preferably more than one), conspicuously offering a variety of Linux distros from a variety of vendors, preinstalled on a variety of hardware; apparently, more and more software is being released for which the same binary will work on MacOS and Windows; if software companies can do that then there is no technical reason why they couldn't add Linux to the mix, provided they standardised on one package format.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-16 05:07 am (UTC)

Re: This is not the problem

Hardware manufacturer don't make linux driver because it is harder to do so. Maybe because of the lack of stable API/ABI, or because they need to close sourced it. In windows, they can give user a cd containing the driver. They could do that in linux too, if the user has a build environment including compiler and make, and they also have to make sure the user has the correct version of library. And for graphic driver, there are more than one 'library'.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-16 01:21 am (UTC)

You can also break Windows this way

The way you tried to install Ubuntu is likely to break other Operating Systems. Your very geeky installation procedure isn't a very good example of your claim about hammering nails on the free desktop coffin. How trying to break a straight GUI-based installation? If a grandmother can do it (break such an installation), then the free desktop is indeed deader than a nail in the coffin.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-16 01:57 am (UTC)
I disagree with the OP. I understand that you have quite a great history with Ubuntu and other FOSS so I don't mean to be patronizing in the slightest.

I agree that the install process of Ubuntu is very lacking in options. However, I believe this is _exactly_ what's needed for Linux to succeed in the desktop market. For example, if you think the Ubuntu installation process is tailored for grandmas, compare it to the Windows7 installation.

The _vast_ majority of computer users don't want (or need) more options or more choices. They just need a computer to work and let them get to their email and Facebook.

Now, there are some users who need more options, who want to fine-tune their PC's. Honestly, for these users Ubuntu probably won't cut the mustard. Luckily there are other distros out there.

One distro cannot be everything to everyone. For Linux to succeed on the desktop they need to court the average user, not the geek.
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[User Picture]From: libv
2011-01-16 10:30 am (UTC)
Not striving to be everything to everyone is already a mistake. The free software desktop needs to be good for both.

And besides, the intel and redhat and other graphics driver people have a long way to go before they even approach the state where the geek can easily get working graphics drivers. As long as that state of mind is not changed, forget everything else.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-16 04:42 am (UTC)

There are base things which should be fixed

There are some changes which would be nice to have no matter which user you are. For example, xorg needs more love on documentation, and also a better fall-back on mistakes/errors. These kind of things, even if they wouldn't be seen by new users, are still important, as they are the base of everything else, they should be more robust, not breaking with small changes, not making unexpected stuff,etc. Even if not everyone would directly see it, it should make things work better, and cleaner, as it orders and makes base things more robust, also it makes xorg more trust-able, as I can feel it will work no matter what.
About the expert installation stuff, it's ubuntu, it's for new users, and they don't need expert install that's totally ok. And again about ctrl+alt+backspace, If you want to be able to use all your linux tricks and knowledge, you might be better off with another distro, as ubuntu frequently changes stuff, this is not neccesarily bad in my opinion..
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-16 05:26 am (UTC)

not really their fault is it?

I once wrote a program in C++ and accidentally accessed out of scope array element. Well long story short, my computer crashed. This is exactly what you did, you can not complain that because you forgot to install ssh, or backup xorg.conf, or to anticipate problems and make sure that you can recover, that it is someone's else fault. An advanced Linux users knows that before you do something you have to prepare to handle any situation.
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[User Picture]From: Bertil Bck
2011-01-16 08:46 am (UTC)

Drop to console and give me the error message

The big problem as I see it. Is that all crashed due to a typo in a config file. If it's a parsing error why can't it just drop to console and give us a command prompt. And in the best of worlds, with a error message. Why we ended up with a console and not a fancy X window.

This is what my Linux do for a kernel panic. Ok I don't get a command prompt. I have also not figured out how to cut and paste my error message when my computer is frozen. But might be that it have saved the log to some location. If it have it could tell me that to.

it's good, let's make it better.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2011-02-23 04:35 pm (UTC)

Re: Drop to console and give me the error message

> why can't it just drop to console

Um, it DID drop to a console. That's exactly what happens when X fails to start, you get a console...
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-16 08:53 am (UTC)

Runlevels

You can boot into runlevel 3 by appending "3" to the boot command-line. That
works from lilo, I'm sure it'll work from grub too.

Now, I agree that this is far from good. I installed linux on a friend's
computer and made it default to runlevel 4 too quickly (yes, one distribution
that doesn't by default), without checking enough that everything was
working well, in particular some changes I had just made. BAM, broken.

I can't remember whether virtual terminals worked or not but it's not
going to be what an inexperienced user first does. Detecting that boot
failed and going back to a safe mode is a requirement here.

And, last, a manpage titled "xorg_conf_overview" would probably be a good
idea. I never remember where to put settings for my touchpad, keyboard
layout, where to change what. And since I might have to do it on computers
with different configuration "backends", that'd be even more useful.

And, last2: single-word strings shouldn't have to be quoted unless you
put a big red warning.

--

Adrien Nader
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: libv
2011-01-16 10:24 am (UTC)

Re: Runlevels

What boot command line would that be? I would've been happy if i had that :)

Xorg failed, and it was right to do so. It worked very much within operating parameters. The other programs were at fault.

As for the xorg.conf manpage, how about just creating a small manpage which, first, lets users dig through the xorg.conf manpage for layout and syntax, and then goes about explaining what makes xorg.conf.d different and how it should be used. People who have poked with xorg.conf files for the last decade or so then only need to read the latter, and immediately have their answer when they instinctively type man xorg.conf.d

I personally dislike a safe mode, that's even more of the same patronizing. But it would at least take out some of the short-sightedness of the patronizing witnessed here.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-16 09:05 am (UTC)

Documentation needs updating / Ubuntu miscellanea

It certainly sounds like the man page documentation needs updating to cover xorg.conf.d .

Obviously this doesn't help you now but so you know about them:
For options during install you need to use the alternate install CD ( https://help.ubuntu.com/community/GettingUbuntu ).

Did you try pressing escape at the grub prompt? One of the options there is to use safe mode - this would have let you boot to a command line prompt without running plymouth or X (and then you could have inspected the log from there)...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: libv
2011-01-16 10:28 am (UTC)

Re: Documentation needs updating / Ubuntu miscellanea

Alternate install CDs? What a completely broken concept? "Download here" -> "10.4 LTS" -> "CD Iso/x86", who in his right mind would look further? Answer: those who went through this Stazzi way of living once before.

What about doing what most useful distributions do, like for instance an opensuse: get the language and keyboard configured, then pop up a window which asks what sort of install is required. This is easy, trivial, and will give grandmothers everywhere the option to choose "Easy/Lazy", and people like me the option to do such an "expert" install.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: libv
2011-01-16 09:10 am (UTC)

I cannot believe the posts here.

Amazingly, very few seems to have grasped the key issue here.

* I am a very long term linux user, X developer and graphics driver developer and it so happens that I edited a config file (Oh! No!), which is one of the key reasons why one is a linux/free software users: one should be able to do _slightly_ out of the box things. Normal people wouldn't even call this out of the box at all, but i read all the above posts, and decided to tune the message to the... public?.
* X gave up, because i had made one minute error.
* My panel started bleeding, because plymouth, KMS and the radeon drm didn't work together, and none of them bothered to catch the fact that the Xserver gave up.

So: "Xserver gives up nicely before even trying to touch any hardware" translates to "panel starts bleeding".

That's grounds for firing people in my book: nobody tested what happens when X refuses to start. No driver issue, no hw issue, nothing: not a single bit on the hardware was touched by X.

Then, when the thing turns white, and only then, the whole patronizing thing comes back with a vengeance, and gives little to no option to to recover from this. Nothing present to try to catch a failed boot, no ssh, no grub menu.

Now what is it that most posters here fail to see?

And to the masses of anonymous posters who think that i got treated right, that it was fully correct for me to receive a bleeding panel and be given no way out. I hope that someone finds a novel way to quickly discharge your laptops LiIon batteries, to the extend that they explode. Then, when you click outside the area where the Designers believe you should click, your batteries will explodes in your laps, and the designer gets his/her way. Soon, they will have only users who click inside the pre-destined/designed area. How would that suit you?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: Bertil Bck
2011-01-16 09:30 am (UTC)

Re: I cannot believe the posts here.

agree :)
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