Ask Shadowman


September 2003

September. Ten years since it decided not to end. Time for the swoon, the harvest moon, and the sordid boon they call by one name, like Franny or Zooey. Faster than a Windows virus, more powerful than a Beowulf cluster, able to answer questions in a single newsletter - it's a freak, it's a geek, it's... Shadowman. And he's got your number, or at least you have his. There's no shortage of newbies to dis-newbify in his inbox.

Got a question that you'd like Shadowman to answer? Ask him.


Theresa M. was up the proverbial creek, without a proverbial paddle and pondered:
I am trying to update my kernel using "up2date -u -f", and am getting the following error: "Test install failed because of package conflicts: installing package kernel-2.4.20-18.7 needs 5Mb on the / filesystem"
When I do a "df -h", I get the following:

 
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda8  251M 214M   23M  90% /
/dev/hda1   53M  15M   35M  30% /boot
/dev/hda6   16G 303M   14G   2% /home
/dev/hda5   16G 2.2G   13G  14% /usr
/dev/hda7  251M 117M  121M  49% /var
none        61M    0   61M   0% /dev/shm
It looks like I should have enough disk space, but apparently up2date doesn't think so. I was not able to do any updates for a while because I had changed the root password and then promptly forgot what I changed it to (yes, I know that was stupid).


Shadowman says:
And knowing is half the battle.

Shadowman likes to keep old kernels lying around. Half paranoia, half laziness, half separation anxiety. Usually folks get this error when they do likewise, and /boot fills up.

If that's the problem, what you'll want to do is remove some older kernels from your install, to free up some space in /boot. All you need is 5M in addition to the space you have left in there.(That's Shadowan's frosted side, the shredded geek side says repartition /boot to 100M).

Run 'uname -a' to see the kernel you are running. Then remove any other kernels, oldest to newest with a 'rpm -e kernel-2.not.the.one.running.now' for each.

You may also have extra kernels selected (ie debug), which are not necessarily necessary.

In your case, Shadowman thinks it's more likely that up2date is wedging itself trying to pull the rpms local. So you need to do some investigation and some clean-up. It may look like you have enough space, but - as Shadowman found out the hard way at a local dance club on one "Ladie's" night he'd rather forget - looks can be deceiving.

Run up2date-config and see where 'Retrieval/Installation > Package storage directory' is pointing, and clean up some space on that partition.

You should be able to complete your up2date after that.

Michael S. dusted off his Dell, installed like... heck, then wondered:
I have succesfully thrown out all Microsoft garbage and am now running Red Hat Linux 9 on my laptop. Everything works fine except two things, which I can't solve

1) My built in modem (LTWin) doesn't work at all
2) Writing to floppy disc only works running root. I have tried changing authority without success

DELL 8000 Inspirion is my computer.

Shadowman says:
Last things first, you need to edit /etc/fstab. Go to the column on the right, and change 'owner' to 'user'. Voila! Authority changed with success.

First thing next, you need to install the LTModem package, and you still may be SOL. Shadowman picked up a Xircom ethernet/modem PCMCIA card, and loves it dearly.

Since you like your older laptops, you may be a bit of a DIY sorta guy. In which case, hit http://www.google.com/linux and search for LTmodem, and let 'er rip.


BARRISTER EKONG BASSEY
KAYODE SOWEMIMO & CO.
SOLICITORS & ADVOCATES
LAGOS - NIGERIA

DEAR FRIEND, COMPLIMENTS OF THE SEASON. GRACE AND PEACE AND LOVE FROM THIS PART OF THE ATLANTIC TO YOU. I HOPE MY LETTER DOES NOT CAUSE YOU TOO MUCH EMBARRASSMENT AS I WRITE TO YOU IN GOOD FAITH BASED ON THE CONTACT ADDRESS GIVEN TO ME BY A FRIEND WHO WORKS AT THE NIGERIAN EMBASSY IN YOUR COUNTRY. PLEASE EXCUSE MY INTRUSION INTO YOUR PRIVATE LIFE.

I AM BARRISTER EKONG BASSEY, I REPRESENT MOHAMMED ABACHA, SON OF THE LATE GEN. SANI ABACHA

[skip skip skip]

THIS MUST BE A JOINT VENTURE TRANSACTION AND WE MUST ALL WORK TOGETHER. SINCE THIS MONEY IS STILL CASH, EXTRA SECURITY MEASURES HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO PROTECT IT FROM THEFT OR SEIZURE, PENDING WHEN AGREEMENT IS REACHED ON WHEN AND HOW TO MOVE IT INTO ANY OF YOUR NOMINATED BANK ACCOUNTS. I HAVE PERSONALLY WORKED OUT ALL MODALITIES FOR THE PEACEFUL CONCLUSION OF THIS TRANSACTION. THE TRANSACTION DEFINITELY WOULD BE HANDLED IN PHASES AND THE FIRST PHASE WILL INVOLVE THE MOVING OF US$25,000,000.00( TWENTY FIVE MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS ).

[snip some more]

Shadowman says:
Dude. 25 MILLION DOLLARS? You're going about it all wrong. Shadowman would never fall for that. Not twice.

First of all, STOP ALL THE DAG BLASTED YELLING. Secondly, you need a realistic sounding amount. Say you won the kitty on the SuperMadBall scratch off you bought on vacation, but since your country doesn't support gambling, you know? Something they can believe.

The point is, Ekong Bassey, Barrister, friend of the Abachas, of the Lagos Abachas, just take the whole thing down a notch. Don't be so EARNEST. You don't want to come off as a scam artist.


In short:

To Mike V., who was having trouble with RPM Shadowman says: rm -f /var/lib/rpm/__db*; rpm --rebuilddb

To Chris A.., who wanted to shut it all down Shadowman says: put a list of usernames in shutdown.allow, then 'shutdown -a' should work. You can also try 'halt'

To SoBig, who showed up many a time in the Shadowbox from folks who did not actually send it. Shadowman says:What is this? The bronze age? Get a real OS.