This weekend I converted my principal home workstation to Fedora Core 2 Linux. I'd like to make an effort to abandon using Windows XP on the PC altogether, so I spent extra time setting up the workstation properly.Leaving Windows XP on /dev/hda1 as a dual boot, I prepared the to overcome a known issue with FC2 and dual boot scenarios. Having been bitten by this before on another machine, I was ready this time. Following the instructions here, I ran the Fedora Recue Disk (disk 5 of the iso set) and at the shell I ran the command "fdisk -l /dev/hda" to examine the geometry. You see, FC2 is known to alter the way Windows perceives the geometry and can leave you unable to boot Windows at all after installing FC2.
Noting the fdisk output, I jotted down "/dev/hda=4385,255,63".

Then I shutdown the system, put in installation disk 1, and at the prompt entered "linux /dev/hda=4385,255,63". This tells the Fedora installer the exact geometry to overcome this problem. See my earlier blog entry on my first experience with this bug. I confirmed that Windows and Fedora booted fine at the end of the installation. After the installation, I immediately ran the up2date utility to update all the recommended packages. To tighten up security and improve performance, I used "chkconfig --list" to examine the service configuration, turning off unneeded services.I'd like to thank Stanton Finley for the excellent documentation on configuring Fedora. This guide made a great cheat sheet towards setting up lots of extras that make running Linux on the desktop a pleasure. Since RedHat and Fedora do not provide out-of-the-box support for mp3 playback due to avoid potential litigation, I installed mpg123 and the XMMS mp3 plugin to provide that capability. Curiously, running system-config-soundcard to test the built-in soundcard (Intel 845 chipset with AC'97 audio) failed to produce any sound. After confirming that modprobe.conf was configured correctly, and after scanning lots of threads from others with the same problem with FC2, I continued to struggle with this for some time. I went ahead anyway to install Xine for mpg and dvd playback. See Stanton Finley's FC2 page for configuring win32 codes for wmv files. I was rather surprised to find that Xine had no problems at all with sound as I was startled by the speakers after I had left them set turned all the way up. To track down how Xine was able to produce sound, I ran it in verbose mode (xine -v) while piping output to a file. Reviewing the output file, I found the following bit of useful information:

main: probing audio output plugin
snd_pcm_open() failed:-19:No such device
>>> Check if another program already uses PCM <<<
load_plugins: failed to load audio output plugin
main: probing audio output plugin
audio_oss_out: audio.oss_device_name = auto, probing devs
audio_oss_out: using device >/dev/dsp1
Ah ha! Alsa audio output failed, and oss output worked using the device /dev/dsp1. To check this out, I streamed the output of a process to the device to see if any noise was produced. The command "netstat -c > /dev/dsp1" confirmed that this was the active device for my built-in sound card. Other than sound for video playback, the only other sound I'm interested in is mp3 thru xmms. Xine plays mp3s just fine and it has an entertaining visualization to offer as well, but xmms still wasn't working. I found that I could configure xmms for a specific output device, so I changed it to use /dev/dsp1 thru the setting:
Preferences > Audio I/O Plugins > Output Plugin > {OSS Driver} > Configure > Devices > Use alternate device > /dev/dsp1
Now xmms works like a charm.Continuing with the installation of new software, I went on to add the following: Next I configured Samba to securely share my home directory with Windows' clients. Although I've done this many times in the past, I found that the premier issue of Red Hat's Wide Open magazine had a great howto that explained the importance of some Samba features that I wasn't already aware of. This was a great refresher that allowed me to set up Samba right the first time. This customized Fedora Core 2 installation will permit me to use Linux as my primary workstation at home for just about all tasks. I'm quite happy with it so far, but there's just one more thing nagging at me... I'd like to VPN to my work, but that seems like it will provide a signficant amount of effort to set up on Linux. I began with the installation of OpenVPN, but I'll just have to leave that for another day.