Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Running Crossover on 64-bit CentOS 6

Codeweaver's Crossover provides a nice packaged interface to the excellent WINE - a runtime environment which allows you to run many Windows based applications under Linux, including Microsoft Office and Visio.

Although the crossover RPM installs without any issues, running Crossover on CentOS 64-bit requires some additional packages to be installed to provide the 32-bit dependencies:

yum -y install openssl.i686 libxslt.i686 libXcursor-1.1.10-2.el6.i686 libXcomposite-0.4.1-2.el6.i686 libtiff.i686 cups-libs.i686 libgphoto2.i686 mesa-libGLU.i686 libjpeg.i686 hal-libs.i686 openldap.i686 sane-backends-libs.i686 openal-soft.i686 lcms-libs.i686 gsm.i686

Once installed, its just a case of using Crossover's install utility to install your windows apps. I've found that I am able to run most programs with a bit of tweaking here and there, even if they are not in the Codeweavers or Community supported application lists.

Monday, 19 March 2012

CentOS 6 as a desktop distribution

Although there are distributions out there that are arguably better suited to the desktop/laptop environment, I have found CentOS 6 to be my perfec linux distribution for everyday use. However, a default CentOS/RHEL install needs a bit of tweaking once installed to make it completely useable. Tweaking a linux distribution is often part of the attraction of running a customised linux install on your desktop but it can come with the cost of increaseed maintenance, particularly when doing updates etc.

CentOS 6 comes with the Gnome 2 Desktop Environment by default - KDE 4.3 is also available and you can install XFCE plus some of the lighter desktop environments via some of the 3rd party software repositories (I'll come to those later). However, if you want the latest Gnome 3, Unity or KDE environments you will probably want to look elsewhere. Personally I find gnome satisfactory for my needs - its stable, doesn't get in my way, and since I spend most of my time in a web browser or terminal then its fine.

CentOS provide a laptop and media section on their excellent wiki. Redhat from which CentOS is derived do not provide the media codecs such as MP3 for licencing reasons so a default installation of CentOS won't be able to play all your MP3's, watch mpeg video or connect to flash enabled sites. Fortunately there are plenty of 3rd party software repositories available which you can use - these provide all those tweaks but in a manageable form - set them up right and you can update later without issues.

I use 3 3rd party repositories - EPEL, RPMForge and ELRepo. This is where you have to be a little careful. While many 3rd repositories won't upgrade "core" packages that are provided with CentOS, they may conflict with each other and break dependencies. One way to control this is to use yum-priorities to ensure one repo has precedence over another, so if a package exists in both repositories, it will be installed from the one with the highest priority, even if the package in the other repository is a later release.

More information on yum priorities and configuration of the repositories can be found on the CentOS Wiki. On desktops I personally set RPMforge with a priority of 40 and EPEL with a priority of 50. Then it's just a case of installing the necessary packages to complete your desktop setup:

yum -y install gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer-ffmpeg flash-plugin rhythmbox totem

Most laptops come with various sensors and power control utilities. These may require kernel modules that are not included in the standard CentOS kernel. Fortunately the ELrepo project provides many of these including the 3rd party ATI and Nvidia drivers. On my thinkpad, I install the kmod-tp_mapi package to control the battery charging module and preserve the lifespan of my battery, plus the kmod-r8192se to provide the wireless drivers.

Other useful utilities include:
lm_sensors - a package to allow you to monitor the temperature zones in your machine
tuned - this tunes the kernel parameters of your system such as powersaving modes for laptops

Firefox and Thunderbird have recently been updated to the 10.x releases - these are the longer term supported releases from the Mozilla foundation. VPN clients including OpenVPN and Cisco IPSec. Skype works. I can run Wine or CrossOver to emulate windows apps. Virtualbox or KVM to provide virtual machines. The only thing I perhaps miss on my default CentOS 6 install is perhaps a decent photo-manager, but I'm working on that one...

So although CentOS 6 may not have all the latest greatest software like Ubuntu or Fedoras, it is a perfectly useable desktop system. Moreover its quick, stable and proven and very unlikely to let you down.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Visio 2010 working on CrossOver 11

Great news for sysadmins and network administrators - the one tool I occasionally need to boot into Windows for - Visio - works on Wine/CrossOver. I previously had Visio 2007 working in my CrossOver setup but today I successfully installed and ran Visio Premium 2010 under CrossOver 11.

Brief installation instructions:
  1. Select an Outlook 2010 Installer.
  2. Install Visio as if you were installing Outlook 2010.
  3. When the installer errors about not being able to find Outlook 2010 in the bottle, click skip step to finish the installation.
I'll post seperate instructions on getting CrossOver 11 running on CentOS 64-bit in a later post...


To get Visio 2011 Standard working, follow these instructions but also install Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable from the Runtime Support Components into the bottle.

To get the PDF export functionality working you will need to install the Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS Add-In from the Community Supported Applications.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Installing Skype on CentOS 6 64-bit

1. Download Skype - you will need the static version.

2. Extract out the downloaded tarball somewhere appropriate on your system - I extract out under /opt and make a symlink:

cd /opt ; tar -jxvf ~/Downloads/skype_static-
ln -s skype_static- skype

3. Skype is a 32-bit app and as a result requires specific 32-bit libraries to be installed. Install the 32-bit dependencies for skype:

yum install gamin.i686 zlib.i686 libXinerama.i686 libXv.i686 libxcb.i686 nss-softokn-freebl.i686 libX11.i686 alsa-lib.i686 expat.i686 libXrender.i686 libICE.i686 glibc.i686 libXext.i686 libselinux.i686 freetype.i686 libXrandr.i686 libuuid.i686 libXScrnSaver.i686 fontconfig.i686 libSM.i686 libXau.i686 glib2.i686 libXi.i686 libgcc.i686 libstdc++.i686

4. Run /opt/skype/skype to start Skype up on your system.

5. (Optional) You can add a menu item by creating /usr/local/share/applications/skype.desktop with the following contents:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Skype Internet Telephony

Skype 4 for Linux has been released. It can be installed on CentOS 6 using the same process as above but requires the following additional steps to install extra dependencies:

yum install libtiff.i686
cd /usr/lib
ln -s libtiff.so.3.9.4 libtiff.so.4