Linux: NVidia drivers break with 2.6.9 kernel

This afternoon, I recklessly did an apt-get dist-upgrade on my desktop system. Something I should have previously learned not to do, since it’s broken a few things on me before. This time, after rebooting, the X server wouldn’t load. This has happened before, somehow the binary Nvidia kernel module would get hosed and I’d simply re install it. Only this time that didn’t work. I figured, heck if my system is broken, might as well upgrade my kernel from 2.6.5 to 2.6.9. That part was very easy:

  1. download new kernel source
  2. make oldconfig to use my running kernels options
  3. make-kpkg kernel_image
  4. make-kpkg modules_image
  5. install images and reboot

Unfortunately, nvidia module would not cooperate. Turns out the new kernel doesn’t play so well with the driver, LKML: Sid Boyce: RE: 2.6.9-rc2-bk4 Unknown symbol __VMALLOC_RESERVE but since the source is available, it wasn’t too difficult to fix and recompile:

There is a recent post with details of what’s needed for the nvidia
driver to compile and work. Links to patched are included. For that one,
put as the first line in nv.c
unsigned int __VMALLOC_RESERVE;

All in all, this wasn’t as much of a time sink as it could have been. I’ve spent/lost hours before tinkering with the kernel, nvidia drivers, ALSA but this time it only took me 45 minutes to get back to a working system.

Essential software for your home linux lan

I’ve just finished upgrading my sister’s pc, which we use to share a dial-up connection, to Mandrake 9.1. ( Yes-dialup, I’m 2 miles from AOL’s headquarters and the closest to broadband that I can get is wireless or satellite.) I can’t say that the install was a piece of cake – the installer crashed on me a couple times until I ran it in advanced mode, and although I did an upgrade first I had to go back and do a complete install for the distribution. Upgrade pains aside, the KDE 3.1 desktop looks very nice and polished, and the system feels more resposive.

I wanted to highlight two software packages that anyone using NAT over linux should be running:

  • First, if you are running Mandrake stay away from DrakConnect’s Internet Connection Sharing Wizard and uninstall the Shorewall firewall package. Instead go over and grab Firestarter. After spending hours trying to get drakconnect to share our connection I gave up. Firestarter had our connection shared and secured in under 5 minutes thanks to its setup wizard.
  • Second, you should be running the Squid Web Proxy Cache with this ad-zapping perl script. Thanks to it, our connection is used much more efficiently, keeping cached copies pages and images locally while avoiding most banner ads altogether

While I can’t claim our connection feels like a DSL connection, it definitely has more responsiveness to it and as I watch ms-rpc scans being blocked I can feel a bit more secure.

Choosing a Linux NIC

Interesting summary of what to look for in a linux NIC beyond the price is here. I wish I’d looked at that earlier. I’m currently installing Mandrake 9.1 on my sister’s PC. Because her CD drive wouldn’t read the Mandrake iso’s I’d burned, I ended up having to do a net install from my PC to hers. So far, its taken 10 hours to do the install.

Ballmer on the Linux Threat

"IBM’s endorsement of Linux has added credibility and an illusion of support and accountability," Ballmer said.

OK, so its caught up to windows which has had that illusion of support and accountability since circa 1990.

Linux’s weakness, however, was the lack of a central body investing in its development in areas such as engineering, manageability, compatibility and security, Ballmer said.

Ok, this is the whole one man’s trash thing. Open Source advocates would argue that this is linux’s biggest STRENGTH. Plus key subsystems- like the linux kernel – have a central body overseeing development.

First, the Windows Server 2003 generation of products offers stronger performance and value than Linux in most IT scenarios.

The biggest value that it can provide are the lower initial costs associated with staying on the Microsoft upgrade cycle compared to the cost of migrating systems and people to linux. So, if you’re a Microsoft shop you’ll stay one because its still cheaper to do so. Same goes if you are a Linux shop.