Saturday, July 19, 2008

Painless Linux Solutions to Problems I've Been Dodging

Yippy, Skippy! I fixed my Flash plugin problem on my "too new" Linux box! I was moping around, whining that "I don't wanna learn to build a 32-bit chroot and put Iceweasel inside it! I don't wanna!" when I ran across a couple of pointers to Unofficial nspluginwrapper & ia32-libs-gtk packages for Etch. The lovely folks at DIP Consultants put out a nspluginwrapper for Debian Etch AMD64, and included detailed directions for installing it all at the command line. There was no thought, no comprehension required on my part (although I have some glimmer of understanding about what happened), and it worked, right off the bat!

So now, I can watch cute kitty videos on YouTube on my Linux box. Life's good, eh? But every silver lining has a dark cloud. I had thought the sluggish loading of Web pages was due to Iceweasel's futile search for the Flash plugin, but such is not the case. Iceweasel still took 15 to 20 seconds to look up and load Web pages.

I searched for solutions to the problem, and found several Debian forum discussions on topic. One set of solutions involved the /etc/resolv.conf file; they offered a good DNS address, and when I put this in my /etc/resolv.conf my browser speed picked up nicely; however, as soon as I rebooted the computer, the "NetworkManager" rewrote the file with the bum nameservers (which are actually my router's address).

One approach to the problem would be to learn about DHCP, how DNS addresses are assigned, and generally learn about networks, NFS, and technical details of my service provider's settings. Fortunately, I found a way to postpone improving my knowledge: Browsing very slow in iceweasel/firefox/konqueror/etc from

in firefox type about:config into the address bar, and set 'network.dns.disableIPv6' to true. I'd imagine this will probably sort it out.

This did, indeed, sort it out, allowing me to postpone education and self-improvement for another day. Here's a bit of knowledge about network.dns.disableIPv6, so that I can truthfully say I've learned a little something today:

IPv6 was designed in part to solve the problem IPv4 will soon be facing: the exhaustion of all possible IP addresses. Mozilla implemented IPv6 support in early 2000, but that support did not receive widespread testing until recently as IPv6-capable OSs and network software/equipment became more common. One particular bug that has appeared exists not in Mozilla, but in IPv6-capable DNS servers: an IPv4 address may be returned when an IPv6 address is requested. It is possible for Mozilla to recover from this misinformation, but a significant delay is introduced.

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