posted by Eugenia Loli on Mon 30th Sep 2002 01:10 UTC

"Red Hat 8 Review - Part III"
OpenOffice.org On a less important matter (possibly equally important for some IT engineers working at their dark room with RH8 trying to listen to their music - eg. my beloved husband) is the lack of mp3 capabilities. Because of the licensing issue of mp3 (which exists for YEARS for the SAME price, but for some reason people seem to think that this is a 'new thing'), Red Hat decided to not include mp3 libraries on their OS. This is their liberty, but let's be realistic here, most people use mp3s, no matter if both ogg vorbis and even wma are better technologies comparatively. Be paid that $50-60,000 USD needed to include mp3s on its BeOS back in year 2000, at a time that they were with one foot off the cliff, financially-speaking. And Red Hat, a much larger company, with more money and millions more users (Be never had more than 100,000 active users at the same time), decides to not license the technology. Well, maybe that was an ideologic decision rather than a business one, but the bottom line is most of their customers won't be entirely satisfactied by this decision. No matter how you turn it, this is a limitation of the default system, as mp3 is a very standard audio format these days. And manually downloading and installing the already created mp3 RPMs for Psyche, it will only make you an outlaw and not the solver of the real, larger issue at hand here.

On another XMMS issue, it refuses to play online playlists, like my favorite one (works on Lycoris, doesn't work either on Xandros).

There are good things in Psyche, don't get me wrong. GCC 3.2 rocks; all the binaries are really fast, the system feels fast, and by modifying the services to load on boot, will make your booting even faster (dunno why Red Hat decided to load things like wireless and PCMCIA daemons on this PC though - I don't have any such hardware). The default blue background image is pretty good too. WindowMaker, is the fastest between Gnome2 and KDE 3 and it works great too. The system is very stable too so far, except for the problems I describe later about the graphics driver. The filesystem used is ext3 while the kernel used is 2.4.18 (yes, it would have been nice to get some of 2.4.19's goodies, but hey, Red Hat's kernels are always kinda modified and patched with special patches for stability and they get a long time testing - which is a good thing).

On the downside of things, my mouse was not recognized to have a wheel mouse and after changing its type via the mouse system panel (one of the 2-3 mouse preference panels with the same name... see above to understand the sarcasm) to get it recognized as a wheel one, the mouse would jump like crazy on the screen, as if I had selected the wrong type (I didn't). Killing the X server (couldn't use the mouse or shortcut to logout - there is no shortcut) and reloading X, fixed the problem and I now have full wheel operations. I am not the only one with the problem. It seems that Red Hat does not enable wheel operations for all mice. Mandrake and Lycoris recognized the mouse with no problems though.

And talking about the X server... Hmm.. should I start about it, or not? I better do, it's part of the whole experience at the end of the day.

More system tools So, here is the story: First of all, there was no resolution available to pick above 1600x1200. This baby, a high-end SGI Trinitron 24" monitor, I got here can do up to 2048x1440, but I wanted to set it up for the much more "conservative" 1920x1200 at 90 Hz. The X preference panel does not let you pick VESA resolutions except the very standard ones, and to make things even worse, you can't pick the refresh rate you want. I hand-edited the XF86Config file, I double checked the monitor's sync info, and then added the 1920x1200 res to the confing file. Restarted X, and I was indeed at 1920x1200. But it wouldn't go more than 73 Hz, even if both the monitor and this graphics card can do more than 90 Hz for that specific res! I tried everything, I created a modeline via XTiming, nothing! It wouldn't go more than 73 Hz. I downloaded nVidia's official drivers, and install them successfully (I had 3D and all now). I reloaded X, and again, even nVidia's drivers X wouldn't let the refresh to go up to 73 Hz. To make the long story short, I had to email Andy Ritger at nVidia and ask him to give me his opinion of what's up here. Andy is an incredibly helpful engineer (thanks Andy!) and he sent me his GTF command line application that creates VESA modelines. Even by using this app's modeline, X wouldn't go above 73 Hz. By forcing the X server to go at 85 Hz, it would downgrade itself automatically at 1600x1200. By sending the XFree log to Andy, he figured out that for some (stupid most probably) reason, X thinks that when you are on 24bit, the pixel clock of the card can be only 300 Mhz, while it is 350. So, if I downgraded to 16bit color, I would get 90 Hz as requested. It took some more experiementation and my husband's additional help to modify BY HAND the modeline that GTF created and be able to get to 1920x1200x24bit @ 90Hz. There is no possible way that even Joe Admin in a remote office in Alabama would have figured out how to fix that without asking directly XFree or nVidia employees. For me, that is one more reason why X just doesn't cut it, and as a result, why RH8 doesn't cut it when configuring high-end monitors or other not 100% standard resolutions. Especially when Red Hat hopes to get all these ex-SGI animators over to their platform after porting their custom multimedia applications. These are issues that XFree should fix, include the (proprierty) GTF mechanism (there is no other way) and update the modelines for more VESA resolutions for up to 2048x1536. This is 2002 we are living in, not 1995.

Red Hat comes with DRI 3D drivers for Voodoos, i810, Matrox, Radeon and SiS. There is no 3D support by default for nVidia cards though. I was a bit unhappy about this a few days ago, but now I am over it. I mean, at the end of the day, this is a business desktop and as such it does not really need 3D, right? Well, not exactly. Think the... poor ex-SGI animators trying to port and work with Blender and other GL-enabled animation packages on a PC with Red Hat, or game developers. Developers are employees too and this a business desktop, right?

Table of contents
  1. "Red Hat 8 Review - Part I"
  2. "Red Hat 8 Review - Part II"
  3. "Red Hat 8 Review - Part III"
  4. "Red Hat 8 Review - Part IV"
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