Monday, 12 November 2007

Experimenting with Fedora 8

The Fedora Community released the latest version of Fedora on Thursday, 8th November 2007. The new Fedora 8 came with numerous enhancements and features and I was thrilled to start experimenting the new distro. Since I don't want to hinder my work at the office, I tried to upgrade my desktop using YUM. The upgrade instructions can be found here : YumUpgradeFaq

The upgrade process was smooth, except it took too much time, because of slow Internet connection. The process took place in one of the text console, and I was able to work on the desktop without any problem. The process took about 6 hours and then I rebooted the machine.
The desktop graphics looks very cool and nice. But there are couple of issues that I had to came across with the new desktop. Some of them are listed below:

1. Unable to set the Screen Resolution
But I was struck with the screen resolution in the newly upgraded machine. I tried to set the resolution to 1024x768, but each time I login, the screen resolution immediately changed to 800x600 after a while. I had a Intel Original Motherboard and /etc/sysconfig/hwconf said that the Graphical Controller is "Intel Corporation 82915G/GV/910GL Integrated Graphics Controller".

I tried to upgrade the kernel and different options in /etc/X11/xorg.conf. But all the experiments failed. Finally, with the help of the guys from #fedora@freenode.net I tried to install 915resolution. After installing 915resolution using YUM, I have to reconfigure the display and now the screen resolution issue is solved. Thanks to the guys at #fedora.

Info: The Summary in the 915resolution rpm package says the reason:

Intel video BIOS hack to support certain resolutions.
915resolution is a tool to modify the video BIOS of the 800 and 900 series Intel graphics chipsets. This includes the 845G, 855G, and 865G chipsets, as well as 915G, 915GM, and 945G chipsets. This modification is necessary to allow the display of certain graphics resolutions for an Xorg or XFree86 graphics server.


915resolution's modifications of the BIOS are transient. There is no risk of permanent modification of the BIOS. This also means that 915resolution must be run every time the computer boots inorder for it's changes to take effect.


915resolution is derived from the tool 855resolution. However, the code differs substantially. 915resolution's code base is much simpler. 915resolution also allows the modification of bits per pixel.


2. Too Small desktop Fonts in GNOME-2.20
Fedora 8 uses GNOME-2.20 and I was faced with unusual(small) size of the fonts in the desktop and Google fetched me to the fedoraforums.org. The small fonts issue can be resolved by setting the default font dpi to 96 (This value can be found at /etc/X11/Xresources, the Xft.dpi: 96). The exact reason why this happens in GNOME is still unknown to me. May be I have to dig the gnome bugzilla.

Apart from the font issue, the GNOME desktop looks extraordinary, one of the best experience ever had, since I started using it on 2001.

3. Reading and Typing Malayalam
I was very much disappointed when I accessed the Malayalam Wikipedia page in Firefox. In Fedora 7, there were some issues, but in Fedora 8 it was really worse. The default Malayalam font used in Fedora 8 was lohit-malayalam and I removed it and installed Rachana-g02, but it didn't helped. This was a known bug(#242016) in lohit-malayalam and pango in Fedora 7 and 8, and I have added some screenshots for a comparison of the issues.

With guidance from the Swathanthra Malayalam Computing(SMC) community I tried the Suruma patch. Since there was no Suruma patch for Pango-1.18, I tried patch4pango-1.16.4.

Installing Suruma was very easy, I need to just run the install script and the installation wizard guided me to complete the operation. Then I installed the Rachana-g02 fonts which render traditional Malayalam glyphs.

To install Rachana fonts, download the fonts from here
Copy the fonts files(*.ttf) to /usr/share/fonts/malayalam-sm/
Change to /usr/share/fonts/malayalam-sm and run the following commands

# cd /usr/share/fonts/malayalam-sm
# mkfontscale
# mkfontsdir
# chkfontpath -a /usr/share/fonts/malayalam-sm
# fc-cache

Open your Mozilla Firefox and access http://ml.wikipedia.org to check whether the fonts are correctly displayed.

In order to type Malayalam, you should first set the Input Method:
To chose the Input method go to System --> Preferences -->Personal --> Input Method.


Enable SCIM and now click the Input Method Preference :

In the Global Setup you can configure the trigger key, which is CTRL+SPACE by default. In the IMEngine menu, you have to chose which languages you need support. You can also chose transliteration or the inscript method. Apply all the changes and re-login to your desktop. If everything is OK, then you will be able to read and type Malayalam in your desktop.
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