When it works, it's great!

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#1 Tue, 2017-01-03 22:13
DonAllen
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I've been critical in the past of Alpine's documentation and the quality of the software. Because I like the concept (minimal, secure) I check back periodically. In the last week or so, I installed 3.5 on a Thinkpad X250 I have. Nothing has worked well on this machine, not even Slackware or OpenBSD (I think they have problems with their iwm driver, because the wifi is painful to use). So far, after working around an issue or two (e.g, the sqlite package doesn't provide the tcl api support, nor does the tcl package, as it used to; I've filed a bug report and worked around it by building the tcl support from source) the system is working very well. Fast, small, and secure. Hopefully this is an indication that it is converging to something that I can use more widely on my computing menagerie.

/Don Allen

Wed, 2017-01-04 17:47
DonAllen
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Well that didn't last very long. Pleased with the performance on the Thinkpad I spoke of in yesterday's message, I tried installing on a small, low-power desktop machine that is my primary computer (I built it). Slackware runs fine on this machine, as does OpenBSD, but the better performance, added security of Alpine and good experience with my X250 tempted me to try installing it on this machine (first doing a full backup with Clonezilla).

Here's what Slackware's lspci output looks like:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 16h Processor Root Complex
00:01.0 VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] Kabini [Radeon HD 8400 / R3 Series]
00:01.1 Audio device: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] Kabini HDMI/DP Audio
00:02.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 16h Processor Function 0
00:02.5 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 16h Processor Functions 5:1
00:10.0 USB controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] FCH USB XHCI Controller (rev 01)
00:11.0 SATA controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] FCH SATA Controller [AHCI mode] (rev 40)
00:12.0 USB controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] FCH USB OHCI Controller (rev 39)
00:12.2 USB controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] FCH USB EHCI Controller (rev 39)
00:13.0 USB controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] FCH USB OHCI Controller (rev 39)
00:13.2 USB controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] FCH USB EHCI Controller (rev 39)
00:14.0 SMBus: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] FCH SMBus Controller (rev 3a)
00:14.2 Audio device: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] FCH Azalia Controller (rev 02)
00:14.3 ISA bridge: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] FCH LPC Bridge (rev 11)
00:18.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 16h Processor Function 0
00:18.1 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 16h Processor Function 1
00:18.2 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 16h Processor Function 2
00:18.3 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 16h Processor Function 3
00:18.4 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 16h Processor Function 4
00:18.5 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 16h Processor Function 5
01:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 11)

After getting the system installed and creating my account, I tried to get X working, using i3 as the window manager, no desktop system. I had previously installed xf86-video-ati and dbus, so I could run dbus_uuidgen to make firefox happy. 'startx' produced the beginnings of the usual i3 screen and then froze. I had a look at /var/log/Xorg.0.log and there was a complaint about a missing shared-library file, /usr/lib/xorg/modules/dri/swrast_dri.so. Using the Alpine site, I found that that file is supplied by the mesa-dri-swrast package, which I installed. Still no luck -- X froze after startup. The system was still up and I was able to ssh in from another machine. The error in Xorg.0.log was gone, but the outcome hadn't improved. Then I tried rebooting the machine and after the initial usual boot chatter, no more text appeared, and no login prompt. I shut the machine down, using ctrl-alt-del, powered off, powered on and tried again. Screen still blank after initial chatter and no login prompt. At that point, I threw in the towel and restored Slackware, which I am using to type this message.

This is reminiscent of my previous experiences with Alpine, where things don't "just work" and the documentation is simply inadequate to keep you out of trouble and get you out of trouble once you are there.

Mon, 2017-01-09 22:23
DonAllen
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Another attempt, my last for a good long while, to use Alpine: this time, on a Thinkpad W510 with Nvidia display hardware. Slackware works well on this machine, using the nouveau driver. But again, tempted by the performance of Alpine, which is undeniably good *if* it works, I backed up the system and tried installing Alpine 3.5. After doing my usual install routine, I installed X, and installed the nouveau driver, I tried starting X. It froze, Before going catatonic, it reported in Xorg.0.log "wfbScreenInit: symbol not found" in the nouveau driver. Quality assurance is not as glamorous or as much fun as writing code, nor is documentation. Alpine needs a lot more of both. Maybe I'll check in again in a year or two to see if this distribution is finally real.

Sat, 2017-01-14 18:08 (Reply to #3)
logol
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I can confirm this problem with my notebook using NVIDIA Optimus, Xorg fails to load the "nouveau" module:

(EE) Failed to load /usr/lib/xorg/modules/drivers/nouveau_drv.so: Error relocating /usr/lib/xorg/modules/drivers/nouveau_drv.so: wfbScreenInit: symbol not found

Until I found a way to fix this, I have to disable nouveau and fallback to the onbord-gpu with xf86-video-intel :(

/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-gpu.conf

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier "layout"
    Screen 0 "intel"
    Inactive "nouveau"
EndSection
 
Section "Device"
    Identifier  "nouveau"
    Driver      "nouveau"
    BusID       "PCI:x:x:x" # Sample: "PCI:1:0:0"
EndSection
 
Section "Screen"
    Identifier "nouveau"
    Device "nouveau"
EndSection
 
Section "Device"
    Identifier  "intel"
    Driver      "intel"
    BusID       "PCI:x:x:x"  # Sample: "PCI:0:2:0"
EndSection
 
Section "Screen"
    Identifier "intel"
    Device "intel"
EndSection

Mon, 2017-01-30 09:26
PLANTROON
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For nouveau, I had to load fbcon module in /etc/modules:
echo fbcon >> /etc/modules
Not sure if it would help you as you have a dual GPU setup. If you can use nVidia card on its own with Intel disabled, then it should work.

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