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Fedora Core 5 Tips and Tricks (v1.0)

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From: http://www.gagme.com/greg/linux/fc5-tips.php
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Last modified: Tuesday June 5, 2007

This is based on my Fedora Core 4 Tips and Tricks page. This page is now pretty much complete. There is also a Fedora Core 6 Tips and Tricks page. Recent changes are highlighted in yellow.


 

Add support for other repositories

Fedora comes with a ton of software but there are still plenty of packages of interest to most users that are not included for a variety of reasons. This is where you find the MP3 plug-in and a ton of other packages. Yum is now the preferred update format, however the handy RHN icon on the GNOME task bar that I like (but nobody else does) still seems to be tied to the old RHN method using up2date.

Before you add repositories it's probably a good idea to make sure your system is fully updated first. It's still early but right now the Livna and freshrpms repositories seems to be the most useful. The easiest way to get started is to install the freshrpms-release packages:

# rpm -ihv http://rpm.livna.org/fedora/5/i386/livna-release-5-8.noarch.rpm
# rpm -ihv http://ayo.freshrpms.net/fedora/linux/5/i386/RPMS.freshrpms/freshrpms-release-1.1-1.fc.noarch.rpm
You can browse the packages available there at http://rpm.livna.org/fedora/5/i386/ and http://bordeaux.freshrpms.net/. To automatically install/update the Macromedia Flash plug-in copy This File to your /etc/yum.repos.d directory.


Install MP3 Plug-in

Since you've been following along this next step is about as easy as it gets. Just use yum  to automatically install the MP3 plug-ins for xmms and Rhythmbox like this:
# yum -y install xmms-mp3 xmms-faad2 gstreamer-plugins-ugly libmad libid3tag
While you're here you might as well install my personal favorite (this week at least) music player Banshee:
# yum -y install banshee
The -y  flag is to automatically answer yes to any question. If you want to be able to say no you can ignore that flag.

While you're there I highly recommend the grip CD ripper which supports both MP3 and Ogg formats. Once again installation is quite simple:

# yum -y install grip

Install Macromedia Flash/Shockwave plug-in

If you set up the repositories correctly above you should just need to do this:
# yum -y install flash-plugin
You can get more information about this plug-in at http://macromedia.mplug.org/. Before the plug-in gets installed you'll need to agree to the terms of the license.

There is a problem with fonts not being handled correctly in the current version of the flash plug-in and until Macromedia gets around to fixing the plug-in you'll need to do the following workaround.

# mkdir -p /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fs/
# ln -s /etc/X11/fs/config /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fs/config

Install DVD player

Currently I find the DVD player that works best is the Xine Multimedia Player which is found in the Livna repository so installing it is just this simple:
# yum -y install xine xine-lib xine-skins
This will install the xine DVD/VCD/CD player. Now to get xine to automatically play a DVD upon insertion instead of the Totem player which can't actually play DVDs, go to the System -> Preferences -> Removable Drives and Media. Once that comes up select Multimedia Make sure Video DVD Discs is turned on and put in the following for the command:
xine --auto-play --auto-scan dvd
Does anytone know how to automate changes to the Gnome configuration files?

Install MPlayer Media Player

At some point you're probably going to want to play a QuickTime, AVI or ASF file so you'll want the MPlayer media player. Fortunately with the FreshRpms repositories it's also very easy to download and install. Once again there are conflicts between the Livna and FreshRpms repositories and you'll have to disable one of them.

# yum -y --disablerepo=livna install mplayer mplayer-skins mplayer-fonts
# yum -y install mplayerplug-in

To prevent potential problems of updates in the Livna repository from messing up the mplayer  and mencoder  packages add the following line highligted in bold to the file /etc/yum.repos.d/livna.repo :

gpgcheck=1
gpgkey=file:///etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-livna
exclude=mplayer* mencoder*

[livna-debuginfo]

This command line will download the whole kit and kaboodle. that if you want to play content from a command line that you use the gmplayer  version which will include a skin-able control panel. This will install the plug-in to play a wide variety of media within your browser window. Restart your web browser after that whole mess is done installing and you'll also have a plug-in for Mozilla so you can play embedded content. While you're at it be sure to configure mplayer to use the ALSA sound system rather than the default. It just works better. Edit the file ~/.mplayer/config and add the following line:

ao=alsa

And finally you'll probably also want some additional codecs to play all that proprietary video that seems to have infected the Internet. Go to the MPlayer Download page and download the essential codes package. You'll need to install those files in /usr/local/lib/win32. Here are the steps. Remember the exact file names may change at some point.

# gtar xjvf essential-20050412.tar.bz2
# mkdir /usr/local/lib/win32
# mv essential-20050412/* /usr/local/lib/win32

Install VLC (VideoLAN Client)

Multimedia can be the achilles heel of Linux, but with just a little work you should be able to play just about anything your friends can. Besides Mplayer the other great video player is called VLC. It too is trivially easy to install once you have your repositories set up:
# yum -y install videolan-client
Once the client and a zillion dependencies get installed you can play a huge variety of video formats easy with the command vlc 

Install RealPlayer 10 Media Player

If you have a better way of installing a Real Medial player please let me know if in the comments section below.

Before you install the play you'll need to make sure the compat-libstdc++-33 module is installed. Download the RealPlayer10 package from the following location:

RealPlayer10GOLD.rpm
Before you start you'll probably want to get rid of the mostly useless HelixPlayer so they don't get in each other's way. Then install the RPM from the command line:
# rpm -ev HelixPlayer
# yum -y install compat-libstdc++-33
# rpm -ihv RealPlayer10GOLD.rpm
The other thing you'll need to do is prevent the mplayerplug-in  you installed above from trying to handle Real Media. I don't know why it's included because it almost never works correctly. The easiest way to disable it is to remove the appropriate plugin files:
# cd /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins
# rm mplayerplug-in-rm.so
Then whenever you want to view something just use /usr/bin/realplay . Here is a link to a cute test video to make sure it's working for you.

If audio is working but you have a black screen then it's possible your video card doesn't support XVideo. You can turn it off by clicking on Tools  -> Preferences then choose the Hardware tab and disable Use XVideo .

If the video doesn't play properly the first thing to check is to make sure you're not running SElinux, it seems to prevent the RealPlayer from getting access to the drivers. I currently run with SElinux disabled but I recommend you run it in the Targeted mode rather than the most secure mode.

After you've run it the first time and gone through the configuration screens edit the ~/.realplayerrc  file and add the following line in the [helix]  section of the configuration:

[helix]
SoundDriver=2
.
.
For some reason on my system RealPlayer uses the the old and virtually obsolete OSS sound driver. The line above tells it to use the newer ALSA sound driver instead.

Install Java J2RE and Mozilla Plug-in

It's also very handy to have the Java run-time environment available and most importantly a Mozilla plug-in so you can view dynamic content. It's unfortunate that Mozilla will actually crash if you go to a site containing Java and you don't have the plug-in installed.

For now there is no easy way to do this but I found the following instructions on FedoraForums.org. Basically, start by downloading the JRE 5.0 Update 6 (at the time I wrote this) from Sun.com. You'll want to grab the Linux RPM in self-extracting file. Then you want to install it with:

# chmod +x jre-1_5_0_06-linux-i586-rpm.bin
# ./jre-1_5_0_06-linux-i586-rpm.bin

Then you'll probably want to enable Java Plug-ins and here once again there is no easy way:

# ln -s /usr/java/jre1.5.0_06/plugin/i386/ns7/libjavaplugin_oji.so /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins
And finally you'll need to tell Fedora that you wish to use this version of Java as the preferred interpreter rather than the Open Source version that's installed by default. You'll of course need to adjust the full pathname if you install a newer version of the jre than the one in this example:
# /usr/sbin/alternatives --install /usr/bin/java java /usr/java/jre1.5.0_06/bin/java 1506
# java -version
java version "1.5.0_06"
Java(TM) 2 Runtime Environment, Standard Edition (build 1.5.0_06-b05)
Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (build 1.5.0_06-b05, mixed mode, sharing)
If you know of an easier way please post it to the Comments section below.

Install NTFS driver

With repositories like Livna it's now very easy to add NTFS support to Fedora:
# yum -y install kmod-ntfs
Then you can simply mount NTFS file systems. You can find more detailed information about this driver at http://www.linux-ntfs.org/content/view/187/

Install Internet Explorer

I know what you're saying, why would I ever want Internet Explorer installed on my perfectly good Linux system? If you don't have your own answer to that question, feel free to just skip this section. For everyone else, it's actually quite easy thanks to some very handy scripts from IEs4Linux. Before you start you'll need to make sure you have wine  and cabextract  installed:
# yum -y install wine cabextract
Then just download the latest script, extract and run it. The example below is based on version 2.0.3, just adjust the version number as necessary. Please note that you will want to install and run this as your own user, NOT as root. I used the defaults except that I installed all the versions of IE. I do some web development and I always find myself needing to resolve some goofy incompatibilites with older versions of IE.
$ gtar xzvf ies4linux-2.0.3.tar.gz
$ cd ies4linux-2.0.3
$ ./ies4linux
Welcome, greg! I'm IEs4Linux.
I can install IE 6, 5.5 and 5.0 for you easily and quickly.
You are just four 'enter's away from your IEs.

I'll ask you some questions now. Just answer y or n (default answer is the bold one)

IE 6 will be installed automatically.
Do you want to install IE 5.5 SP2 too? [ y / n ] y
.
.
.
IEs 4 Linux installations finished!

To run your IEs, type:
ie6
ie55
ie5

You can read more about this feature on my Internet Explorer with ActiveX on Linux page. It goes into a little more detail about using IE on Linux.


Install Other Odds and Ends

MS TrueType Fonts

Many people will find it handy to have MS TrueType fonts available to make sure many websites render correctly. You can download the latest RPM from http://www.mjmwired.net/resources/mjm-fedora-fc5.html#ttf and install it as follows:
#  wget --referer=http://www.mjmwired.net/resources/mjm-fedora-fc5.html /
http://www.mjmwired.net/resources/files/msttcorefonts-1.3-4.noarch.rpm
# rpm -ihv msttcorefonts-1.3-4.noarch.rpm
# service xfs restart

Turn off the ANNOYING Spatial Nautilus Behavior

I don't know if it's the worst feature of Fedora but it's definitely in the top 5. You can get the old more sane behavior by bringing up nautilus then choose Edit -> Preferences then select the Behavior tab. Near the top find the option for Always open in browser windows and make sure it is checked.

Other Handy Utilities

Here are a few other tools that aren't installed by default but a lot of people find handy:
# yum -y install bittorrent-gui gnomebaker testdisk
bittorrent-gui - Simple Gnome based BitTorrent client
gnomebaker - GTK based CD/DVD burning utility
testdisk - Two command line utilities to recover lost partitions and undelete files on FAT filesystems. VERY handy for undeleting files on flash memory cards.

Other Useful Resources

I've tried to not just copy other people's tips so I've included a list of other people's tips and tricks I've found to be useful. There should be little or no overlap. Mauriat Miranda's FC5 Installation Guide - Great guide that goes into more depth of selecting options during the installation process. This is also the source of the MS fonts RPM.

Fedora Core 5 Linux Installation Notes - Another great Fedora installation guide. This guide goes into some server related features rather than just desktop features.

Using Linux and Bluetooth DUN on the Treo 650 - A very nice guide to using a Treo 650 phone as a modem with your Linux based PC. It works great for me with one change. Do NOT uncomment the line encrypt enable;  as it just won't work for me with encryption enabled with a D-Link DBT-120 and a Treo 650 phone.

FedoraForum - Linux Support Community - This is now the official way to get community support of the Fedora Linux system. There is no official Red Hat mailing list for FC4 any more.

Fedora Multimedia Installation HOWTO - I discovered this great resource after I wrote this. This document goes into more detail than mine so it's a great resource.

The Unofficial Fedora FAQ - Another great guide that should answer most general questions about Fedora. Fedora Core 5 doesn't seem to be addressed there yet but most answers are the same for both FC4 and FC5.

This Fedora Core 5 Tips & Tricks translated into Italian - Thanks to Guido for translating this guide into Italian. Please also urge Guido to choose a better picture of me.

Fedora fc5 on EasyLinux.info - Yet another guide. The thing I love about Linux is that you can solve any problem a number of different ways. That includes these tips guides, everyone has a different way. Different strokes for different folks.

 
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