Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Trying out the LibreOffice build

In case you haven't heard, there was a little fork of the OpenOffice project not too long ago. They can explain the reasons for it a whole lot better than I can, so I'm not going to. Normally, I never built OpenOffice on Gentoo because I knew it would take a darn long time, and the pre-built 32-bit binaries worked well enough. With the fork, I decided to try it out anyway.

It's somewhat easier to do with the instructions for LibreOffice. Download a bootstrapping tarball, and run a few commands. It's not as easy as the usual ./configure; make; make install, but pretty close.

First step is to configure and download all the dependencies. I tried to make it use as many system libraries as I could so as to limit the build size/time. The largest one left was Firefox/xulrunner which seemingly isn't built with the correct flags on Fedora. So that all took up about 2-3GB. Then a "quick" make later, and voila:

It only 4 hours 20 minutes to build. After building, it all took up a mere 7GB or so. It turns out that the install instructions on the Get Involved page are incorrect, but the wiki How to Build page is. So I used make dev-install and everything ends up in ./build/install/. Unlike what it says in the wiki, the makefile does not print the location of the final install. Fortunately, it wasn't too hard to find, in ./build/install/program. Run cd ./build/install/program; . ./ooenv; ./soffice.bin -writer and there you go:

Now I just have to figure out something to contribute.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Another College Puzzle Challenge!

So this weekend was another College Puzzle Challenge. Just as fun as last year, but slightly different.

There were no waves, so we got all the puzzles at the beginning. I guess that has its advantages and its disadvantages. It's somewhat daunting to have so many puzzles to decipher. On the other hand, you're almost never at a loss for something to do. The biggest problem is that it lets some teams finish in three hours!

One upside from last year was that even though the requirements stated Silverlight 3, we didn't really need it. License issues aside, the Moonlight 3 preview is just too crashy to be useful as far as I can tell. For some reason, they got rid of the date&time of last submission, which I found nice before. They did manage to reduce the website issues, even while adding auto-refresh to many pages. It wasn't perfect, but definitely better than last year (though it could be because they actually gave us multiple copies of each puzzle again).

But the best part this year is that we actually solved the metapuzzle. Nowhere near first, but maybe about two hours before the end. Then we even finished all the rest, too! It's too bad they don't show the time, because we really did solve the last one at exactly 11PM, the absolute end of the challenge.

I don't know if this was different from last year, but once you solved the metapuzzle, any further solves didn't seem to count for anything. Since the metapuzzle is the "clincher", I guess that makes sense. So there we are, eighth at UT, and 96th overall. Moving up from last year!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Jumping on the Fedora 14 bandwagon

Fedora 14 was released just a day or two ago. I figured I'd be cutting-edge and upgrade on pretty much the day it came out.

Of course, as with last time, I'm trying to do so on a laptop with little room for any more stuff. This time though, I tried as hard as I could to get preupgrade to work instead of doing a new install.

The Free Space Issue


The first issue was, of course, the lack of free space, on both /boot and /. /boot is slightly less than 100MB, meaning I wouldn't be able to fit the install image on it. Fortunately this time, it correctly realized I didn't have room, and set up anaconda to download it after booting.


The RPMs get downloaded to /var/cache/yum before being installed, but I didn't really have enough room for that. What I did have was a 4GB USB key. So I edited /etc/fstab to overlay the key there. I was a bit concerned that anaconda wouldn't mount it when I rebooted, but it did so correctly, so I didn't run into any trouble there.

Now, preupgrade seems to download a separate directory for each repository, then link the files into one large thing. Since the USB key was FAT32, it couldn't really do that linking. Since preupgrade is written in Python, it was easy for me to hack it to copy instead of linking. That was a bit slower and naturally took up double the space, but there was enough on the key for it.


But then there's the more pressing issue of the space on /usr.

Clearly I'm really pushing it on the free space front here. With the help of Baobab, it was pretty clear where I could find the most "dead" space. These locale files are huge, and a pretty small portion is actually in my usual locale, en_CA. So of course, that was the first thing I axed.

Everything seemed peachy, but it turns out that preupgrade sucks at estimating required disk space. I then removed OpenOffice and kdelibs, and anaconda stopped complaining. However, it still ran out of space, though I managed to clean up some stuff and restart it.

The Download Issue

Preupgrade indicates that it will resume from where it was if you cancel it. While this may be true of the RPMs, it's not of the metadata, kernel image, or installer image. I don't really know why it needs to update the metadata all the time, and I don't really know what it is. But I do know it shouldn't have to download the image every time. The problem is that it wants to check the file size, and then downloads the whole file just to do so. This is to ensure that you have enough space to hold the images on /boot. So if there's enough room, it downloads the file again to place it on the drive!

Since I didn't have enough room on /boot, it had to download the installer image whenever I started upgrade process. Obviously, I didn't want to do that too many times after it failed the first time. So I downloaded the image and placed it on the USB key. Then it was a simple matter of modifying the kickstart file in /boot just before rebooting so that it would specify the right location. The anaconda installer took care of the rest.

The Cleanup

After rebooting, yum thought I had several fc13 packages still installed. I tried rebuilding the database but that really didn't help. I tried writing a small script to pick out the extras and remove them, but then I realized that package-cleanup would do that and do it better. A run with --cleandupes took care of the problem. It also took care of some phantom missing storage space.

Why bother?

So I'm sure you're all wondering why I even bothered, instead of just installing fresh. I'll admit that would have been easier, as with last time. Mostly, I just wanted to see if I could. But arguably more importantly, I was able to see whether I could do the upgrade via a USB key.

In other words, one could get preupgrade to download everything to the USB key and install from there. It wouldn't be too difficult, probably just requiring an option to tell anaconda where the package cache was. It may already exist in the kickstart configuration, but I haven't looked into it. You can already place the installer image on a USB key, as I did above.