Upgrading to Fedora 16

Recently, I tried upgrading to Fedora 16 from Fedora 14 on an x86 64-bit platform. I like using preupgrade as I had a great experience with it the last time. However, it appeared to hang late in the game (the screen would be left messed up or blank) when it was time to actually start the installation. After several attempts, I decided to upgrade to Fedora 15 to see if there was any difference. Everything went fine, and I was on Fedora 15 without any problems.

I tried going from Fedora 15 to Fedora 16, and the result was the same. I even tried using the installation DVD instead of preupgrade, but nothing changed. After some research, I was able to solve my problem. I made two changes, which helped me succeed. On the screen that shows the following options:

  • Installation or Upgrade
  • Troubleshooting

I hit the tab with the first option selected. It showed the options being used. I removed quiet and added nomodeset. Removing quiet helped me see what was going on and where exactly it was failing. Adding nomodeset actually fixed my problem. It is a known problem with Fedora 16 that for some hardware it fails when trying to change display resolution. Using nomodeset avoided any fancy display settings.

Lost Internet Access on Fedora Core 14

Recently, I ran into a very frustrating problem. I have a Fedora Core 14 machine which had been running without issues for a long time. I have been updating it regularly. One day, I decided to restart it for some reason. It came back fine but lost Internet access. The LAN networking was just fine.It actually took me a while to figure out that the Internet connectivity was broken.

After some research, I concluded that the default gateway configuration had been lost. Apparently, one of the updates changed the networking behavior. Earlier, it used to obtain the default gateway automatically, but it wasn’t doing that now.

I tried setting the default gateway by editing files, etc. but it would get overwritten. Finally, the command that did it for me was the following:

route add default gw <router_IP_address>

Look Ma, No Computer!

I have an Atrix 4G phone, which came with Android 2.2. I had been waiting for the Gingerbread (2.3) upgrade. When I learned about the upgrade availability from Motorola, the procedure appeared a bit elaborate, and required an SD card to be present in the phone. A file needed to be downloaded and then copied to the SD card for performing the upgrade. I checked various forums, and discovered that the update was also available from AT&T. Best of all, it could be performed directly from the phone using data or Wi-Fi. Just go to Settings > About Phone > System Update.

I tried the AT&T path and the upgrade was simple and smooth over Wi-Fi. All my data and settings (that I have checked so far) are intact and I love the new experience. I struggle to recall any upgrades that have been easier.

Restoring Tomcat6 after Fedora 14 upgrade

FedoraI had Alfresco 3.2r2 deployed in tomcat6 on Fedora 12 64-bit Linux. As it has become so easy to upgrade Fedora now, I decided to upgrade to Fedora 14. I backed up the data directory and the Alfresco webapp directory (because it had customized configuration), and then started the upgrade using preupgrade. It downloads everything that is needed for the upgrade, and the system remains available during this period. The upgrade starts on the next reboot.

The upgrade completed without any problems. However, the tomcat6 service won’t start up. There seemed to be multiple issues, such as the conf directory being empty. Updating tomcat6 using yum didn’t do much. So I removed and reinstalled tomcat6 as follows:
yum remove tomcat6
yum install tomcat6

That restored the conf folder but now I ran into class-not-found exceptions. It turned out that the Tomcat jars were present in a location different from the expected one. On further research, I discovered that the complete tomcat6 deployment consisted of several packages (tomcat6-lib, etc.), and the installed packages couldn’t be relied upon even though yum believed that they were installed/configured properly.

I decided to remove the tomcat6* packages using yum remove for each package listed by
yum list tomcat6*.

Then I installed tomcat6, which also installed the packages that it required. Tomcat6 was up and running in the first attempt after that. Alfresco also came up without any problem after I restored its webapp folder.

Windows 7 (64 bit) Wireless Driver for Thinkpad T400

I recently installed Windows 7 (64-bit) using retail media on my T400. It previously had Windows XP (32 bit)and I had to do a clean install. That means I lost all the Thinkvantage add-ons (aka bloatware) and it didn’t bother me too much since I like only a few of those utilities, which I could individually install.

After installing the OS and the drivers available from the T400 support site, the Wi-Fi device (Intel WiFi Link 5350) won’t start. It showed up with problems in the device manager. I checked the support site and there was only one driver available for this device. After trying various options (including restarts) unsuccessfully, I went to the Intel site looking for drivers. There were multiple versions available. I chose to install the latest driver and voila! The device was working in no time and was connected using 802.11n. I haven’t had any driver related wireless problems since.

Unlimited Vonage Minutes = 3,000

The Vonage World plan includes unlimited international calling to 60 countries. Except that these unlimited minutes really mean 3000 international outbound minutes. And no one at Vonage will volunteer this information to you unless you ask or you happen to exceed this number.

You may be asking, “Is this present anywhere in the terms of service?” Well, the number 3,000 isn’t but the reasoning behind it is. Vonage’s explanation is that most subscribers of this plan (which is for residential use) use about 1,500 minutes or fewer per month on international outbound minutes. So 3,000 is a good threshold to suspect abuse of the plan for business purposes. I would agree with the reasoning but I’d be tracking my usage if I knew that there was a limit on minutes.

The way I learned about the limit was that I had family visiting from abroad and they had plenty of time at hand to be calling family and friends at home. Vonage would not take this into account even when I told them of the situation and the duration for which the usage might be high. So I added another line to my existing adapter as this was still one of the cheapest options, given that no contracts are required anymore. When adding the line, I insisted to know the limit from the sales rep. He first said that there was no limit but the second time he sheepishly mentioned 3,000. He apologized when I asked why he hadn’t volunteered that information the first time.

Just to complete the details, you may exceed the limit by 20% twice and the third time (within one year) your plan may be switched to business plan or you can give up the service. You may exceed the limit by 50% only once in a year before the same options apply.

One last thought before we start demonizing Vonage. Going by the posts on the web, I think that Lingo also has a similar policy. The nightmare with Lingo is that it is next to impossible to close your account with them and they will keep sending you bills even if you transfer your number to another service. I am not familiar with plans from other VOIP providers but I suspect that they might have similar policies.

I just wish that Vonage could be more honest and transparent up front. Their plans would still be some of the best and the transparency would earn loyalty of subscribers like me.

Finally, I don’t represent Vonage so Vonage may refute any or all of the above information. Everything mentioned above is based on my own experience.

Using Netflix from PS3 through the DIR-655 Router

First a caveat, this solution may be addressing a generic situation rather than my specific setup. However, this is my exact setup so I wanted to be specific about it.

I have experienced sluggish connection from PS3 to Netflix and many times it had been quite frustrating to be stuck at the initial screen while all other devices on my home network would be accessing the internet fine. I could even stream Netflix to my laptop without any problems.

Finally, I started researching the problem and the fix that worked for me was quite simple. On the PS3, I specified the DNS server manually to be the resolver1.opendns.com IP (208.67.222.222). Before this, I hadn’t specified this setting and it was probably picking the default ones from the ISP.

Here is another discussion on the topic.