Wednesday, 22 April 2009

VMware Workstation 6.5.1 on 9.04

As described in several places VMware Workstation 6.5.1 does not work on Ubuntu 9.04 64bit edition.

This is due to the fact that autocreation of the modules breaks.

I found a script that is supposed to work in Fedora (which I doubt as the script has some flaws).

Here is a script that works on Ubuntu 9.04 (64bit and 32bit edition alike):

cd ~
rm -rf vmware-modules
mkdir vmware-modules
cd vmware-modules
find /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source -name "*.tar" -exec tar xf '{}' \;
mkdir -p /lib/modules/`uname -r`/misc
rm -f /lib/modules/`uname -r`/misc{vmblock.ko,vmci.ko,vmmon.ko,vmnet.ko,vsock.ko}
rm -f /lib/modules/`uname -r`/misc{vmblock.o,vmci.o,vmmon.o,vmnet.o,vsock.o}
cd vmblock-only; make; cd ..
cd vmci-only; make; cd ..
cd vmmon-only; make; cd ..
cd vmnet-only; make; cd ..
#cd vmppuser-only; make; cd ..
cd vsock-only; make; cd ..

cp *.o /lib/modules/`uname -r`/misc/.
cd /lib/modules/`uname -r`/misc/

ln -s vmblock.o vmblock.ko
ln -s vmci.o vmci.ko
ln -s vmnet.o vmnet.ko
ln -s vmmon.o vmmon.ko
#ln -s vmppuser.o vmppuser.ko
ln -s vsock.o vsock.ko

depmod -a
service vmware restart

cd ~
rm -rf vmware-modules
Copy it to a text file "vmware-build-module", set permissions to execute:
chmod u+x vmware-build-module
and execute it:
sudo ./vmware-build-module
The script creates a directory, extracts the module sources, makes them, copies the kernel modules to the right directory in the /lib tree, sets symbolic links (which the original script laked and it did not work without). It then rebuilds the module dependencies, restarts the vmware service and deletes the directory with the compiled modules.

Once done, you should be able to start VMware Workstation 6.5.1 without problems. If you have, let me know.

Note: There is no error checking whatsoever. At least, the script does not remove any other files in the misc directory if there are any.
Note: Sorry there is no download. I wish there was something like the image upload here.

Ubuntu 9.04 RC disappointment

I got a bit disappointed using 9.04. I installed RC on my production machine (yes, I took a full backup, used Clonezilla btw.).

Things worked smoothly. The install went through, it just asked me to replace some files and 30 minutes later, I was up and running again.

VMware Workstation does not work any more

My notebook is a HP 8510w which runs Ubuntu 64bit. Unfortunately, VMware Workstation 6.5.1 did not run any more. The network modules could not be found.

OK, there is a new version out 6.5.2. But: Downloading the RPM works fine, the plain vanilla bundle is corrupt. Does VMware not know or recognize this?

So: No VMware Workstation (and thus) no way to test other things (like ext4). This happened in April 2009 let me add. We do have 64bit machines out there.

On a note by, VMware Workstation 6.5.2 works fine on a 32bit OS.

Gnome freezes

I used a mobile internet connection from Vodaphone today. After use, I tried to disconnect from my provider. The machine froze on disconnect. Not one, not twice, 4 times reproducably.

Most ot the time I put the machine in suspend mode. Every 5 times, Gnome does not react to wakeup calls. I get the background of the password entry dialog, but no entry field, no way to get into the machine.

Up till 8.10 I had the chance to restart Gnome using the well known Ctrl-Alt-Back key combination. Someone had a brilliant idea and disabled this last resort handler. So, now if Gnome freezes, I have to reboot the machine.

Another issue that happens regularly is my bluetooth mouse does not get recognized after boot. I have to turn it off and on to get it recognized (which itself takes several seconds).

Buggy Network Manager

I connect to my infrastructure using a wireless LAN. I like to sit on my balcony on a warm April evening and like ... ok, you are not here to read about my leasure activities.

I use WPA2 private to connect to a Netgear router. There are about 30+ wireless routers in the neighborhood so I turned my SSID broadcast of.

Network manager disconnects regularly when there are more than 10+ SSIDs seen. Most of the time it does not even attempt to reconnect. I like this to happen during downloads especially.

Disconnects happen every 8 hours or so.

Sometimes the machine tries to reconnect. It does not succeed and brings up a dialog to log on to the network.

Lukily one can observe the password that is there as the default.

Unfortunately its not the password, but the password hash. This is retrieved from the keyring manager.

So, I filed a bug, that the logon dialog in the network manager applet takes the wrong credentials.

I'm the only person having this?

I get an answer telling me, I am wrong. I'm puzzled. I can see the wrong password, I can enter the correct one (and get connected again) and this guy says that the correct password is used?

So besides my observations that the password hash instead of the password is used, I download the sources.

I'm no C guru any more (I used to program in C some 20 years ago). But I found some suspicously looking files (wpa2.. wireless... .c and .h). I open them in Geany and low and behold, I find two routines that get called.

One gets called after a first connect and it uses the password, runs it through a hashing function and sends it to the connecting routine.

The other is called whenever the is the need to reconnect. It retrieves the password hash, hashes it and forwards it to the connection routing.

I send the two files to the guy telling me, I'm wrong.

That happened 2 weeks ago. I update daily but there was no update on network manager applet so far.

How long do I have to wait for a working connection (that, btw. was perfectly working in 7.10)?

Never ending scanning story...

I do not want to go into details about scanning. I use a Canon FB630U. It's old but it works. It is supposed to be supported. But since 7.04 scanning with this scanner is not possible any more.

I file a bug every release and it gets piled up, but there seem to be no one that works on these issues.

SD cards

I have a camera that uses SD cards and I have an SD card reader on my notebook. One would think that getting pictures from my camera into my notebook is easy. Well: it's not.

The card reader recognises the inserting of SD cards. But Gnome does not mount them always. I have not figured out why it does not mount the card. At first I beleived that certain cards were formated malformed. But the same card gets recognised on monday and ignored on tuesday.

Should you use 9.04?

I cannot recommend 9.04. Im sorry to say.

Basic error correction by Canonical is minuscule to non existent.
The software is not ready for prime use. Experimental yes, but not stable.

If you have the chance to test, do so. If you want to upgrade: DO A BACKUP. If you never did and relied on Ubuntu quality, DON'T DO IT THIS TIME.

Stay with 8.10 if you can (and want). 9.10 is out soon.

Stay tuned, as I am not giving up on trying to help improve Ubuntu.

If you think that this is normal: Download Fedora 11 beta and test all of the above mentioned issues. You will be surprised. Nothing fails in Fedora (thats why I know, my scanner works actually).

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Testing 9.04 Beta

As of March 23 Ubuntu 9.04 beta was out. It's a fine piece of work. However there are some regression errors and some promises that Ubuntu does not live up to. Here is what is improved over 8.10:
  • OpenOffice 3.0.1 does work with samba shares at last. The workaround mentioned in this blog is not required any more
  • System menu and User menu have been reorganised and unified. It requires learning but it's clear at last.
Here is my list of things that do not work:
  • Scanning with Canon FB363U still does not work. It's a shame that this is not addressed.
  • Network manager looses connection to wireless access points regularly. This was an issue in 8.10, got better eventually but is back with full force. Hope they fix this one before release date.
  • There is an error in network manager related to how they fetch the password from the key ring. I posted this as a bug previously but the developers in charge deny to acknowledge it. Do they not read their own source?
  • Bootup is supposed to work faster. Well maybe if you upgraded from an old 486 to a modern machine. On my machines this is definitely not the case (HP nx8220 1GB RAM, 2.0 GHz: 8.10 -> 1m25s, 9.04 -> 1m23s)
Some issues I have to sort out yet:
  • With every upgrade my test machine became louder. The fan works 100% yet the motherboard and harddisk still run hot. I would suspect the machine to slowly die but launching 8.10 from CD provides a clean, cool machine that does not show the symptoms. I don't know what that is.
  • Deluge every now and then stops operating for no obvious reason. It declines to continue downloading torrents. Using Transmission on the same file works fine. Strange
Some of these issues are reported on launchpad, some are still under investigation.