Skywave Linux: Notes and Bugfixes

Written and curated by Webmaster - Developer Philip Collier
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Skywave Linux 5.0

Boot Problems

The iso file for version 5.0.0 crashes during boot for flashdrive setups using Ventoy, Rufus, and similar tools. The reason is the wrong kernel listed in the grub configuration. The bug is fixed in Skywave Linux 5.0.1.

If your system fails to boot, unable to find kernel 6.4, you can edit the grub config to set the proper kernel, as follows:

  1.  Navigate in the root file system to the configuration file /boot/grub/grub.cfg
  2.  Edit the menu entries so they point to the correct file names:
      initrd.img and vmlinuz (without version numbers)

  The menu entries should look like this:
  # Live boot
  menuentry "Live system (amd64)" --hotkey=l {
     linux   /live/vmlinuz boot=live quiet splash findiso=
     initrd  /live/initrd.img
  menuentry "Live system (amd64 fail-safe mode)" {
     linux   /live/vmlinuz boot=live components memtest noapic noapm nodma nomce nolapic nosmp nosplash vga=788
     initrd  /live/initrd.img

If you are using a multiboot SSD or hard drive set up with an old fashioned grub2 configuration, you can use a grub config similar to this example, which runs on my laptop (booting in bios / non-efi mode):

  # The first drive is 0, first partition is 1.
  set root=(hd0,1)
  set default=0
  set timeout=10
  set gfxmode=1024x768
  insmod ext2

  menuentry 'Skywave Linux v5.0 (Debian)' {
     set isofile="/isofiles/skywavelinux-5.0.0.iso"
     loopback loop 
     linux (loop)/live/vmlinuz boot=live findiso= threadirqs mitigations=off
     initrd (loop)/live/initrd.img

  menuentry 'Skywave Linux NEXT v5.0.1 (Debian)' {
     set isofile="/isofiles/skywavelinux-5.0.1.iso"
     loopback loop 
     linux (loop)/live/vmlinuz boot=live findiso= threadirqs mitigations=off
     initrd (loop)/live/initrd.img

Castero (podcast player) crashes

When a podcast episode is selected, Castero crashes. The problem is due to a missing software dependency; correctable with the following action to install it:

sudo nala update; sudo nala install -y libmpv2

Skywave Linux 4.4.0

DirectKiwi database updating is not working due to permissions, which you can reset with one terminal command (then retry):

sudo chmod 664 /usr/local/src/directKiwi/directKiwi_server_list*

Skywave Linux 4.1

Neovim has a couple of bugs, which are easily fixable and are indeed fixed in Skywave Linux v 4.2.

First, there is a tendency for Neovim to not render properly when opened in a tiled or floating terminal. The problem seems to be that i3 resizes the window after Neovim has set its dimensions, so the window you get is "jacked up" and needs to be cycled (unfloat / float again) or (float /unfloat). The problem does not occur if Neovim is run fullscreen. The following code in the init.vim file seems to fix it:

" Prevent rezize glitch on open
autocmd VimEnter * :silent exec "!kill -s SIGWINCH "

A second issue involves the fzf plugin in Skywave Linux version 4.1, resulting from a silly dev attempt to save space by linking the plugin to the system installed fzf. The plugin and main system have a version mismatch, so the fzf plugin fails. If you try to view color schemes or do a fuzzy search, it does not work. The fix is to do one of these:

Skywave Linux 4.2 will have updated fzf and the plugins, plus a freshened setup based on the language server protocol. It be will be a faster, smoother, better tool for editing text and code. And Neovim was already fast, smooth, and awesome...

i3 Window Manager

Note one: i3 is not like conventional user interfaces. Refer to the i3 keybindings and learn how to manage your windows, bring up the menu, and create your keyboard oriented workflow. It is fabulous, but it is not like Windows, or vanilla Gnome or MATE. Toggle your floating windows with "Shift + Super + Space" exit your session with either "Ctrl + Alt + Del" or "Shift + Super + e".

Key bindings for i3, Neovim, and Tmux are linked from the README page bookmarked in Firefox.

Custom bootloaders

If you use your own grub or syslinux bootloader setup, be aware that for Skywave Linux 4, point the bootloader to "initrd" not "initrd.lz" and likewise, "vmlinuz" is simply "vmlinuz" (both within the /casper directory). The intensely annoying livecd integrity check can be disabled by using fsck.mode=skip as a boot option.

Bootloader error in version 3.0: Isolinux is incorrectly pointed to the kernel file vmlinuz.efi instead of vmlinuz. If you use grub or isolinux to boot the iso, edit the file to use vmlinuz. Else, simply use version 3.0.1 or later.

Users with Nvidia Video Hardware: Boot and shutdown times are longer than usual on the current 4.4.0 Linux Kernel due to Ubuntu's use of sub-optimal video drivers. Users who fully install Skywave Linux can download the proprietary drivers and realize faster speeds.

SDR Updater

SDR Updater and certain packages using SoapySDR drivers failed to run after switching Skywave 3.1.0 to apt repository drivers. The issues are resolved as of version 3.1.1. Users on earlier Skywave versions should skip to version 3.1.1 or later.

USB Devices

External USB drives will not properly mount in version 3.1.0. Kernel, 4.15.0-xanmod1, with supporting modules, was a bit too fresh and buggy. On fully installed systems or systems with persistence may be updated to a more mature kernel with these terminal commands:

apt update && apt install linux-xanmod-4.15 linux-firmware

A after kernel installation is complete, reboot and enjoy more device friendly behavior.

Installer Issues

Linux-clone script: If you get the syntax error from something wrong on line 68, make these changes:

Use a text editor as root with...
    "sudo vim /usr/local/sbin/linux-clone"
    "sudo nano /usr/local/sbin/linux-clone"

Move to line 68 and see the incorrect code:

    / / > 2>> ~/rsync.err

Delete the lone ">" so that the line looks like this:

    / / 2>> ~/rsync.err

Save and close the file.  Enjoy your working filesystem cloner.

Installer crashes on versions 2.0 and earlier: Ubiquity had a bug which caused installations to fail when selecting languages and time zones. To remedy the bug, use "sudo apt update" and then "sudo apt upgrade" to freshen the running system before attempting a full installation.


Some users report "no audio" on certain hardware. In some cases it is due to the system not recognizing the hardware and loading improper audio drivers. Try the solutions well documented in the Ubuntu forums to modprobe the best audio modules. In other cases, the fault was in a too narrow device specification in the Pulse Audio configuration. In the file /etc/pulse/, look near line 46 for the code:

load-module module-alsa-sink device=hw:0,0 sink_name=processed_output

Replace it with:

load-module module-alsa-sink device=sysdefault sink_name=processed_output

Restart Pulse Audio or reboot the system. Check the audio by entering "sound Settings" and clicking the test buttons.

SDRPlay Devices on Skywave Linux 1.6

SDRPlay USERS: There is a software bug in Skywave Linux 1.6 which interferes with the configuration of Dump1090 for the SDRPlay. Please use the following shell command to correct the script and restore normal functionality. The command needs to be run only once for fully installed versions of Skywave Linux 1.6. Users booting from the iso file or DVD should run the command once per computing session before running Dump1090 on the SDRPlay:

sudo sed -i 's/\/sbin\/dump1090/\/sbin\/dump1090_sdrplay/g' /usr/local/sbin/dump1090_sdrplay/

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