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Old 02-10-2005, 01:39 PM   #1
Registered: Nov 2003
Distribution: Ubuntu 7.04
Posts: 241

Rep: Reputation: 31
FC3, NVIDIA, Just messed Up

One of my computer's HDDs was making a loud noise, so the last time I ordered parts for a customer I ordered myself a couple 80gig drives with the intent of installing FC3 on them on two of my 3 machines which are running linux.

These machines work fine and have worked fine for the past year running linux. There is nothing wrong with the hardware.

I pulled the two lower capacity hard drives out of the machine (30 gig and 20 gig) to replace them with the 80gig. Prior to that I had copied the contents of my /usr/local/games to another computer. I figured I'd install all the software upgrades after I got the 80gig installed with linux.

I chose FC3 because it'd been out a while and I was unhappy with my Suse 9.1 Pro. The reason is that Novell never upgrades their video drivers and to resolve some problems with games I need the updated drivers from NVIDIA. I also have one box running games such as World of Warcraft, without problems yet with Suse 9.1 Pro and the lack of video driver updates, I couldn't resolve some of the problems I have with World of Warcraft. The one box that doesn't have *All* the problems I'm having with WoW is running FC1 with the latest NVIDIA video drivers. All my boxes are running the same video cards and the same motherboards. The end result is that the old FC1 with NVIDIA plays WoW with fewer problems and I need as few a problems as I can get in my shop for the gamers that come in.

I tried updating the SuSe 9.1 Pro video installation using yast and followed the NVIDIA instructions to the letter but the drivers are never updated leading me to believe that version 5536 is the latest driver version SuSe offers for this version of their distibution. Besides, don't have forever and a day to keep figuring out what is wrong with Linux, a specific distro, drivers, etc. My business is where my time needs to be spent for what it's worth, unless Linux can get alot of this messiness worked out they'll never capture a decent percentage of the market because developers don't want to write installers for each and every distro and deal with the massive amount of complexity involved in resolving issues, updating software, etc. You'd have to be a zealot or a crazy person to not see what I'm talking about by now.

Anyway Suse 9.1 Pro keeps falling flat on its face most specifically due to the lack of updates, driverwise, etc. Their whole mechanism for updating is weak and slow and very little attention is actually given to ensure I as a user can upgrade fast and trouble free. Yast just doesn't do it.

Anyway, I've known FC2 and FC3 have been out for a long time, so I decided to download the ISO files and make CDs. This went flawlessly. I then removed the older HDDs and put in the newer 80gig. This went without a hitch. BTW, every time I open my computers I do a thorough dusting and cleaning of the parts. This extends the life of the machine.

The machine I did this on is running an nforce2 based Shutttle board MN31N board. Very nice design. It has a gig of ram with a gforce FX 5200 and an AMD 2700+ processor.

After doing the drive replacement I booted with the FC3 CD1 and ran the installer. BTW, I hate the large number of choices. I want the software to install and not have to keep going down through the sections picking from lists of software for each category. FC3 does a very good job of minimizing this but there's still a large amount that I have to do to review it. It woudl behoove the distros to minimize my work farther if they want to catch more market share, especially since 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% of the users have no clue as to why and what they would be selecting.

After all the options were chosen I proceeded with the install. It went well. BTW, I unselected gnome and checked KDE as my desktop environment.

After the install completed and the computer rebooted and I logged in I found that the FC3 install, for some unknown unreasonable reason had put some extremely minimal interface instead of KDE as my desktop. That was my first indication that the boys and girls working on FC3 hadn't been doing their homework and had dropped the ball.

I remembered that there was a switchdesk utility from my time working with FC1. I ran that and passed KDE as the parameter (switchdesk kde). After rebooting I came to the KDE desktop, finally.

Then I remembered that the video drivers were almost always some cheap generic incomplete unsophisticated weak and problemmatic version that these distro's toss in just to give the semblance that they are supporting graphics in their distro. For goodness sakes boys and girls get with NVIDIA and ATI and work something friggen out for the sake of your customers.

At this time I went on line and downloaded the NVIDIA video and nforce drivers from NVIDIA's web site. I didn't attempt to install at this point because I remembered I needed to get be in non-graphical mode in order to install the drivers. Come on now NVIDIA you can write a graphical based install for your Windows product write friggen one for Linux and make it work, make it work for every distro, every revision, everything and don't give me any excuses.

I decided not to init 3 out instead opting to edit the /etc/inittab and changed the entry from 5 to 3. I saved and rebooted.

This brought me to the character based log in. I chose to log in to the root and then ran the NVIDIA video driver installer.

Early on in the install the video driver install warned me that I had rivafb driver installed as a loadable module. I'd seen this in FC1 with certain Kernels that I'd used and so I was quite upset that the FC team had done it again considering how many people had complained about it on line. They did it again and have offered nothing to assist in resolving the problem with their customer based. BTW, that seems to be a common thread with the linux distros. They don't recognize the user as a customer and do nothing to address them one on one unless you are willing to pay them cash. Listen, if they assisted me in getting past these bumps in the road I'd be more prone to pay them money for support. They are falling down on the job and that's another reason they'll never gather the marketshare to make them a force.

As a side note: from what I remember of mandrake you pay a subscription fee to download their software and then you continue to pay a subscription fee anually. What I see from this is that when you add up the costs of those annual subscription fees you can see that Mandrake, over it's potential life cycle can cost more to purchase than it does to flat out buy Windows XP Home. Anyway, that's just food for thought--why pay more for a product that is messy and inadequately suppported? I'm sure there are people that have their own justification for doing so.

Getting back to the install of the video drivers. Well, the installer warned me of the rivafb issue so I decided to, after it completed, make the appropriate changes to the xorg.conf file and give it a try.

Upon reboot I was at the character mode log in screen and I did log in. I then chose to startx to see if it would load. No luck. I got the X video test error messages. I choose No to all the questions and instead went and re-examined the xorg.conf file. Looked good to me and appropriate. I'd dealt with editing these files in FC1 and even reviewed it in various other distro's I'd tried. It was correct and perfect.

I then modified the xorg.conf changing the driver from "nvidia" back to "nv", rebooted, went into X went to the web, came here, searched for answeres and all I saw was that people were telling others to find the rivafb entry in the kernel, to remove it, and recompile the kernel.

I had been in charge of a large number of computers in the past as a WAN network administrator years ago (I managed systems and servers across the US for a company I worked for). I remember how it was a cardinal sin to modify individual installs (workstations) due to how hard it is to document and how hard it is to describe the problem and resolution for others that may be tasked with maintaining those modified servers/workstations. The bottom line is you do not modify the kernel, you don't modify the workstations away from the standard install for any reason, instead you choose the correct configuration that works for everyone. This is another reason why linux will not make it to the mass market--because every joe schmoe thinks it is appropriate to make custom changes on a workstation by workstation case and he completely denies the maintenance issues. Even forgetting one alteration on one machine can create hours upon hours of work trying to resolve these issues, let alone attempting to do this over hundreds of workstations.--I think you get what I mean.

I did a bit more reading and I found some other references to the rivafb issues, but the thought that kept going through my mind was "why didn't NVIDIA correct this themselves during the install or offer me the choice of having them resolve it?" They obviously had tested and discovered the problem yet they gave no hint of what they'd tested for, no way for me to validate that they'd actually tested for it correctly, and offered to manual nor automated way for me to resolve a problem they were obviously aware of. As well, it looks like they were not absolutely correct and their verbage in the error message was not on the mark. These are also reasons why linux won't catch on in the mainstream and will never find its way down to the mom and pop, brother and sister, school computer, homework machine that drivers the vast majority of the hardware sales.

Well, I then attempted to follow someone's suggestion that I add a "/sbin/modprobe nvidia" to the rc.local file (btw, he gave that suggestion without explaining what the rc.local file is (which is a big indication that the user to user support breaks down with all sorts of assumptions on the part of the guy offering the support). It is nice that this person offered his time for free but as your dad probably told you, it is best to do the task right the first time or not to attempt to do it at all.

I did make this change. I rebooted the computer and was presented again with the character based log in screen. I logged in. This time I chose to just type init 5 in order to start X. Bingo, it worked.

Now according to this guys instructions he'd stated that this entry in the rc.local file was actually only supposed to be used during the install of the nvidia drivers as a way of triggering the system to force it into failing to start X and thus give the user the character based mode where they could run the nvidia installer. It was sort of a weak way of doing it but the rc.local modification intrigued me, and I didn't believe the guy was all that bright, so I left it in the file (even though his instructions said to remove it after the nvidia installer complted). I left it there on purpose.

I let the system run this way for a few hours during the day while I checked other things out. One of the first things that I was looking at was the lack of sound. The other thing I wanted to get working was firefox, the add-ins (flash, real, java, etc). I also wanted to use the nvidia nforce drivers. I did manage to get firefox 1.0 installed and did download many of the add-ins but I did not get them installed. For some reason I wanted to see if FC3 install had setup the CDRW/DVDRom drive properly so I could play movies and burn CDs. Yeah, I know the limitation on playing movies under Linux.

What I did was insert one of the 4 FC3 CDs I had made because for some reason I had an itch to see what the directory structure was like on the CD. When I inserted it the drive spun up. I then remembered that by default Fedora wants me to manually mount the CDs. So I right clicked on the CDrom icon on the desktop and clicked on mount. At this point I received an error message that the CDrom entry was missing from /etc/fstab or the mtab file.

I looked at these two files and thought I'd noticed something odd. I didn't alter the file at this time, instead, since I was in the /etc directory I chose to change the inittab file to go into init 5 instead of init 3 since it seemed like the video drivers were now working.

After doing this I chose to reboot. I was watching the computer boot and thinking that even after all these years linux still booted so slow even on a very fast computer with a decent HDD and a significant amount of RAM. This opinion was independent of what was to happen next.

What happened was that the system during the boot seemed to sit at the "configuring kernel parameters". It would not move on. After letting it sit for 15minutes I chose to hit Ctrl+C.

I knew that there was amost nothing I could do during the start up to alter the start up sequence so I was miffed as to why this time it continued. Anway, after this I received several error messages about some things failing to load and something about "/touch/......."

I was a bit miffed as well because I had not rebooted for a few hours and I was unsure that my most recent change had caused the problem.

Anyway, what happened was that at various points in the start up sequence the "/touch/...." error message was presented and it took an inordinatly long period of time for the boot sequence to continue. It did continue finally but it failed to go into X, instead it errored out telling me that X couldn't start and X offered to diagnose the issues. I again said No to this.

I decided to log in at prompt and change back the inittab file putting it to 3 from the 5 I'd changed it to earlier. Unfortunately though the file system had been loaded in read-only mode so I couldn't make any changes to the file.

I was getting a bit frustrated at this point and my thoughts were to wipe and reinstall again. So, what I did was boot and choose to reinstall, but instead the FC3 installer gave me an option to repair. I chose this option. What irked me was that I was asked a bunch of questions that should not have been asked (country, keyboard, etc) just to do a repair. Oh, and that reminds me. When I was first doing the install for the first time on this HDD I noted that the system went into hardware detection mode and identified my video, something else, and my mouse. It stated my mouse was a generic 3 button PS/2 mouse when in actuality it is a cordless rechargeable usb mouse by logitech--not a PS/2 at all but a USB which are two completely different sets of hardware as far as the chipset in the computer is concerned. PS/2 was designed many years ago by IBM where USB is more modern and in no way related.

Well, the repair seemed to go fast as the installer scanned my computer and then prompted me with a reboot telling me that the repair was successful.

I rebooted and wound up with the exact same problems. The system stopped at the "configuring kernel parameters" and when I broke from that using Control + C I was stuck with the inordinately long delays on the "/touch/....." issue described earlier. In other words, no luck, the same problem.

This time I decided to reboot using the CD and to just wipe and reintall. I was a bit sad because I'd just spent all day trying to resolve these problems and I knew I'd be back at step one after having spent so much time reading and trying the suggestions, downloading the drivers, etc. It wasn't a pleasant thought.

When I booted from the FC3 CD 1 I noticed that there was an [F5} rescue option. I thought to myself, well, maybe I can boot from the rescule and that'll mount the file system so I can write to it and I can then alter the inittab file changing the init entry from 5 to 3 and try some more options.

I hit F5 and the screen changed to add a text description that I was to enter linux rescue at the prompt. This miffed me. Why on earth whould they put in that F5 option and not actually start the rescue, instead forcing me to type in the command they could have entered themselves? Ok, so I chose to do this. I typed "linux rescue". I was then asked a few questions and told about the syslinux image. I didn't understand what was meant by this but later as I worked through the issue I remembered the idea of mount points and chose to change to the linux image referring to it as a directory. This gave me the listing of the actual drive so I then changed into the ..../etc directory and edited the inittab file altering it by changing the 5 to a 3. I saved. Wow.

I then rebooted the computer found that the boot up sequence was back in shape and ready to go, albeit I was in character mode (not where I wanted to be).

I then typed "init 5" and saw the nvidia logo (as I had before) and went into X. I then copied from my XP pro box using samba my /usr/local/games folders. That took some time as it was 11gigs of games.

I then decided to test the games. The first one I tested was unreal tournament 2003. I knew these were pretty much self contained games so it was a good first choice. I got the game to start up and even spectated an on-line match for a while. But the problem I noticed was that there was no sound. Since I play Enemy-Territory I knew it was important that I have sound. I'm pretty darned good at enemy-territory so I use all the AV to help me stay on top and so sound was/is extremely important. In other games I don't care about sound much, but with enemy-territory it is important.

That didn't make me happy. I kept remembering back to the FC1 issues I'd had in the past with sound and how Suse 9.1 pro HAD NO PROBLEMS with sound. I just figured that FC3 was being managed by the same people that didn't care one iota about the users unless they paid them cash (just like Microsoft I might add), and sound was not their priority. The question that came to mind was "why does suse do sound so well while Red Hat is running around with their thumbs up their butts when it comes to sound?"

I went into the control panel and tried a few things. No luck. I then remembered that I'd downloaded the nforce chipset drivers for linux and thought maybe that'd solve my problem. In FC1 there was a "sound card detection" program so I chose to look for that first. Nope. These guys at Fedora keep changing the menu structure with every release and it isn't doing anyone any good. I also noticed that the menu structure had these tile type descriptive headers describing the sections of the menu and realized they were taking up more room than the utility the provided by actually describing each section. To me, this was pointless. Besides, 99.999999999999999999999999999999% of computer users know how to use a "start" type menu so there's very little value in taking up my screen real-estate with those silly descriptors.

Anyway, the sound card detection program wasn't there and that disappointed me. I then thought that maybe nvidia might provide something similar to it when I run the nforce installer. I then decided to init 3 out and log in and then run the nforce installer. This seemed to go well without any error messages. I remembered I needed to reboot so I typed reboot at the prompt and watched the system shut down all the services (what a time consuming task), and then the system rebooted.

Upon reboot I was was watching as it checked for new hardware. I knew it should prompt me at this point. Voila, it did. I was prompted for the audio change but not for any of the others. I was miffed. I should have been prompted about the network change, the usb changes, everything but no, it only prompted me for the audio. Since audio was the issue I was working I chose to just let it pass and I knew there'd be more time down the road to reboot to see if the kudzu would trigger a hardware change (as it seemed to do in the past--triggering an change in hardware sometimes 3-4 reboots after making the change).

Anyway, I also remembered back to FC1 when I'd tried to use the NVIDIA provided nforce drivers and found that the audio was often 1-2 seconds behind the actual event. As an example when I would play enemy-territory the sound of the gunshot would happen a second or two after I actually shot. This was throwing off my game so I chose to remove the nvidia nforce audio drivers (as you can install the network and audio, via the same installer, seperately). Back then I'd chose to uninstall the audio portion but kept the network portion.

Back when I used to use FC1 I had to add a seperate network adapter even though the motherboard had a nic built in. I was working trying to remove the need for the PCI NIC when I found the nvidia nforce linux drivers. It was only with the nvidia nforce linux drivers that was was able to rid myself of the add-in nic. Unfortunately I also found the audio driver could be installed at the same time (but back then I thought it was a god-send until I had the problem described in the paragraph above).

Continued in next post...........

Last edited by Jimbo99; 02-10-2005 at 01:41 PM.
Old 02-10-2005, 01:40 PM   #2
Registered: Nov 2003
Distribution: Ubuntu 7.04
Posts: 241

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 31
Second section

Anway, the nvidia nforce linux drivers for the NIC solved that problem but the audio drivers caused a different problem and I chose to remove them and go back to the generic sound drivers. The problem though was that I almost constantly had to use that "sound card detection" program (REPEATEDLY, and I mean test over and over till I did hear the sound) before I went into a game such as enemy-territory. Since I have customer's that use my computers to play these same games it was unacceptable to have to tell them to do this task over and over (it was costing me money because they chose to not come in due to having to struggle with issues XP doesn't have).

Anway, the NIC was working back then and I struggled with the sound. When I downloaded the nforce drivers for linux yesterday to try them I just let it install the audio along with the nic in hopes that a new release would have resolved the sound problems over the prior releases.

I've still not managed to get the sound to work, the cdrom still doesn't work (although k3b seems to detect the device), and the system won't start up properly unless I first boot into the character mode of the OS and then start it with inittab.

I decided at this time that the problem might be that the /sbin/modprobe nvidia entry in the rc.local file was the issue. Afterall the guy had instructed us to remove it after doing the nvidia graphics install. I left it in because something seemed funky about how the guy had described the installation process and I wasn't sure this guy knew what was going on other than he was just spewing forth relentless repetitive bile he'd found on sites like Unfortunately I find that there are alot of people that push out every idea they can think of without actually trying to reason as to whether that is a probable solution. What this causes is that users asking for the help wind up running in circles wasting alot of time. I also find, once in a great while, someone with the smarts to get to the direct cause and provides a solution. There are two problems with this: 1) these guys are overworked and can't possibly solve everyone's problems and 2) in an attempt to answer as many as they can they don't describe the core cause fo the problem, which puts everyone at a disadvantage down the road because they don't know the core cause and are instead just acting blindly upon the symptoms.

Anyway, back to the /sbin/modprobe. I chose to remove this line and reboot. After rebooting I then loggedin and then typed "init 5". X failed to start instead offering to go into diagnostics mode. I chose no.

I then put the /sbin/modprobe nvidia back into the rc.local file and have been living with it hoping to get some input into resolving this problem. I also, decided to check other games out to see if they would run about this time. I knew UT2003 worked ok but without sound so I then tried UT2004. This also worked but without sound. I also noticed that the screen resolutions were off within each of these two programs so I went into their options and corrected the screen resolutions. That cleared them up.

I then decided to try enemy-territory, since it is such a great game. This did load but instead it loaded into a window and I wanted it full screen. As well, because it was in a window I had problems with the mouse. I tried to get it to run full screen by going through the options, but no luck. Since I have gigabytes of map files for various maps deleting the install and reinstalling isn't an option. I then decided to see if quake3 arena worked and found that it too insisted on playing in a window and there was nothing I could do to force it into full screen. This was/is getting irritating.

All of this happened within one day of setting up FC3. Some of the experiences I have mentioned happened quite some time ago but are given as reference as to why I did certain things in a certain way and why certain considerations played into my decisions.

This is the reason why linux is too messy for the masses. It is why the linux distro's are not up to parr. It is also why too many cooks in a kitchen can spoil a meal. That's what's happening with linux. It is too difficult to work with (impossible unless you are a techie), and getting support either through forums such as these or from the distro are too costly with too little detail involved. There's so many releases to each distro and so many kernels so many different configurations that it makes it extremely hard for anyone to choose a distro. God forbid they choose to change.

These aren't even the difficult aspectsof Linux. The mass of mess surrounding kernel modications, loadable kernel modules, etc are destructive at best to the acceptance of linux on the desktop. Remember folks people don't just install an OS and their word processor and live with that (that's not even to mention the lack of functionality of most modern office apps (such as openoffice) where these packages file formats break down when transferring data from a linux box to a windows box running office).

So, the real question for me is "what's happening with the "/sbin/modprobe nvidia" that has wrought havoc on my system?" Why does changing a single character in the inittab file wreak so much havoc on my start up sequence? Why does any distro permit the start up sequence to be locked by one simple command in the rc.local file but only while being started with the inittab file loading X directly? Why has FC3 not resolved the sound issues? Why are the distro's not working with and gaining the permission of nvidia (and the like) to install real 3d accelerated graphics drivers at the initial OS install? Why do we, the customer here have to suffer through incessent breakdowns of drivers, file systems, sound, network functionality T E N Y E A R S after linux was introduced? Ten years!!

My appologies if I offended anyone and my appologies for showing my frustration and for voice such strong opinion. Damn, though, 10 years!! Something should have been done. That's a decade. Your kids might have been born and are well into school within those 10 years. Your 10 year old child back then is now in college or working on their own for a living. Why could 10 years have gone by and we still have such a mess in linux?

BTW, why on earth is the clock applet on the task bar always wrong? My computer's internal clock says the correct date and time yet for the life of me, even through I told it my time zone, it still displayed my time several hours off? Why doesn't the clock show AM/PM as normal civilian's are used to seeing it? Why when I change the colors of the system doesn't the clock show the correct back ground color? Why when I change the background color of the clock does the date's background color not chang with it? Why doesn't firfox save my text size increase? Basic functionality yet after 10 years in development does this basic stuff not work?
Old 02-10-2005, 02:47 PM   #3
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Spain
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 895

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Hey Jimbo99 nothing personal but your posts are HUGE! There is no way I have time to read all of that... and I guess lots of otherpeople are the same. So if you really need help with somthing IMHO I would try to make your posts smaller and easier to read!

Like I say just my Opinion so donīt take it the wrong way
Old 02-10-2005, 03:37 PM   #4
Registered: Nov 2003
Distribution: Ubuntu 7.04
Posts: 241

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 31
It's just a remark about how bad and how complicated things can get even just for a day's work. It should be an easy read tho.
Old 02-11-2005, 07:28 AM   #5
Napalm Llama
Registered: Nov 2004
Location: Bristol, UK
Distribution: Gentoo 2005.0
Posts: 224

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I have to agree with jimdaworm - I'm sure your intentions are good, but no-one who isn't *really* dedicated is going to read through all of that... based on the amount I read ( about a 1/3 - 1/2 ) it would take about half an hour...

Could you try to some up your point in a paragraph or two, just for reference?
Old 02-11-2005, 04:28 PM   #6
Registered: Nov 2003
Distribution: Ubuntu 7.04
Posts: 241

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 31
If you imagine it to be a long post then you should imagine the incredible frustration that anyone would have in trying to resolve it, NOT to mention the amount of time involved in trying to resolve it.

The point is that damn, there's a huge amount of information about how poorly a distro is put together and the burden it puts on the end-user, and it wouldn't do justice to the problems without putting all those words in.

Basically, something is wrong in Kansas and there's alot of reasons why and no one willing to get their thumbs out of their butts to correct it--at least that's how I feel.
Old 02-11-2005, 06:37 PM   #7
Registered: Feb 2005
Distribution: Fedora Core 3 (2.6.10_1.741)
Posts: 72

Rep: Reputation: 15
Originally posted by Jimbo99
If you imagine it to be a long post then you should imagine the incredible frustration that anyone would have in trying to resolve it, NOT to mention the amount of time involved in trying to resolve it.

The point is that damn, there's a huge amount of information about how poorly a distro is put together and the burden it puts on the end-user, and it wouldn't do justice to the problems without putting all those words in.

Basically, something is wrong in Kansas and there's alot of reasons why and no one willing to get their thumbs out of their butts to correct it--at least that's how I feel.
Next time provide cliffs then. You know...a bulleted list that people can read if they don't want to read the story itself.
Old 02-11-2005, 07:26 PM   #8
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Norway
Distribution: Ubuntu Hoary / Debian Sarge
Posts: 62

Rep: Reputation: 15
Damn, sorry to say so, I just started reading your post and the first three lines, stating you have a problem with something was enough to put me out of it.

Just for fun, I copy pasted this into an editor, and it is 8 full A4 pages :|

You must have had a lot of trouble writing this...


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