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Sunday, July 13th, 2008, 1:06 am

Using Mandriva Linux 2008.1 with 2 GB of RAM (Highmem)

I’ve just had quite an ordeal getting my GNU/Linux installation to utilise all my RAM. It’s the first time that I’ve had such a problem and I went for the hard solution rather than the simple one (GUI-based), which would have worked fine. For the record, here’s the process of troubleshooting (publicly logged in the Phoronix channel).

<schestowitz> I have a quick h/w question. Is there any reason why on a dual-core system with 2GB of RAM only 1GB should be reported as visible?
<starkmjolk> schestowitz: not that I’m aware of.
<starkmjolk> schestowitz: is 2GB visible in the BIOS?
<schestowitz> Oh, I’d have to reboot to check this.
<schestowitz> starkmjolk: I’m underutilising. My BIOS shows 2 GB but this system only picks up 1 GB (Mandriva 2008.1 32-bit on an AMD 64-capable).
<redeeman> does it show 1024 or 8xx ?
<starkmjolk> schestowitz: what’s the first number of “free -m” in a terminal?
<schestowitz> Mem: 884 874 9 0 20 338
<redeeman> you are missing highmem
<redeeman> in the kernel
<uncle_fungus> looks like you’re running a lowmem kernel
<uncle_fungus> darn, beat me to it
<schestowitz> Never compiled one before.
<redeeman> weird that mandriva would disable highmem
<redeeman> especially in these days
<redeeman> but i guess they figure people are gonna use 64bit
<schestowitz> Yes, indeed. 2 GB is quite standard.
<redeeman> what cpu is it?
<redeeman> anyway, you should get 64bit
<uncle_fungus> you’ve got the 586 kernel installed.
<schestowitz> Amd Athlon X2 5000
<uncle_fungus> install the equivalent without 586 in the name
<schestowitz> Having already set it all up, I’d be reluctant to mess with the kernel.
<uncle_fungus> kernel-desktop- will do you just fine
<redeeman> you are going to get updates to the kernel eventualy
<redeeman> +l
<schestowitz> It might break something, no?
<uncle_fungus> no
<redeeman> well it can break stuff naturally, but the chances are very slim
<redeeman> and you can always just go back
<redeeman> if it does not work
<schestowitz> Hmmm… assuming I have prior experience building it from source and replacing, no?
<schestowitz> Thanks for the help BTW.
<uncle_fungus> go into rpmdrake and select the kernel-desktop-latest package
<uncle_fungus> and disable the kernel-desktop586-latest package
<schestowitz> Oooo, lots of options there… under ‘kernel-desktop-latest’
<uncle_fungus> the regular one will do
<uncle_fungus> to start with
<uncle_fungus> it should have as the version
<schestowitz> OK, I’m selecting and adding kernel-desktop-latest
<schestowitz> To satisfy dependencies, the following package(s) also need to be installed: kernel-desktop-
<uncle_fungus> yup
<schestowitz> The following 2 packages are going to be installed: – kernel-desktop-
<schestowitz> – kernel-desktop-latest-
<uncle_fungus> yea, one’s the kernel, one’s a meta package that will auto-pull the latest available
<schestowitz> Ok, I trust you on this. :-)
<schestowitz> OK. It’s done. Anything I should do next?
<uncle_fungus> reboot and select your new kernel ;)
<uncle_fungus> if it doesn’t work, reboot and use the old one again
<schestowitz> How would I select the old one? Which one should I try to choose?\
<uncle_fungus> it’ll appear in your boot menu
<schestowitz> Okay, so I’ll try the one without 585 in the name, right?
<uncle_fungus> yup
<schestowitz> Thanks a lot! Hopefully I’ll be back. :-)


<schestowitz> uncle_fungus: uncle. Dude. You almost killed me.
<uncle_fungus> huh?
<uncle_fungus> i did wonder why you were offline so long
<schestowitz> :-) Here I am 3 hours later with yet another new distro. :)
<schestowitz> Don’t worry.
<schestowitz> The good news is that I have all 2 gigs now and it’s back to normal. All kernels including the old one went bananas.
<schestowitz> :-)
<schestowitz> Just for details (Michael has this documented, so…)
<uncle_fungus> oh? bananas how?
<schestowitz> After updating the kernel the graphics driver went boom ( :-) ) and I could barely give text input except for in tty1
<uncle_fungus> ah, yes, thats a bit of stupidity in the mandriva update system
<schestowitz> It seems as though the Mandriva conrol centre (MCC it’s called?) had a better procedure for fecthing new kernels with drivers embedded in them.
<schestowitz> uncle_fungus: I agree. I wasn’t faulting you.
<schestowitz> Anyway, I have another new partition (Kubuntu is what I’ve had burned).
<uncle_fungus> depends what drivers you need. The fglrx installer in mandriva is hopeless in my experience. I just do everything manually
<schestowitz> Perhaps more interestingly, Manbo came up in the package management.
<schestowitz> And I’m sensitive to this because Turbolinux swaps code with Microsoft and gets to see their source code.
<schestowitz> That patent deal and Manbo have always been a bit of a mystery, particularly their legal effect. PJ gave up on Mandriva because of it and I debated with Peter Brown of the FSF at the time. No answers. Anyway, Manbo is already *ahem* alive.
<schestowitz> BTW, I’d use the free driver, but michaellarabel insisted that dual-head needs the blob.


One Response to “Using Mandriva Linux 2008.1 with 2 GB of RAM (Highmem)”

  1. twitter Says:

    That is odd but non free video drivers might pull you down. Check out what Mark Shuttleworth had to say about binary blobs here. I’ve even had trouble with the free i810 drivers because it used bios routines that killed power management for me. That experiment lasted about five days before I ran back to 2D.
    64 bit Lenny works well for me on my dual core AMD. I suspect this is because it minimizes the binary blobs and I’ve never installed anything from non free. If you use E16 and take advantage of their pagers you can do without multihead. If you need accelerated graphics, you could be out of luck for a year or two.
    It’s been about five years since I compiled a kernel. It’s been easier and cheaper to replace things that don’t work with free software than it is to struggle with blobs from people who don’t wan to cooperate in the first place.

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