Monthly Archive for August, 2009

Linux Needs Open Multimedia on the Web

The state of web multimedia on Linux is pitiful. Proprietary codecs, plug-ins and closed standards are helping to keep Linux a second rate citizen. What Linux needs is not another proprietary framework like Moonlight, but more open standards. Can Google help by making YouTube a Theora-fest?

Linux Needs Open Multimedia on the Web

Control KDE with speech, thanks to simon

Simon is a program which lets users control KDE using their voice.
This is quite an impressive project and certainly worth a look (video included).


Disabling single click in Dolphin (without KDE)

Justin switched to Dolphin under GNOME because Nautilus was too slow at expanding directories and the like.

One annoying “feature” for him is that Dolphin uses single click by default. Normally a user could change this under System Settings, however this is not installed.

So, the easiest way to change this (probably even if you do have System Settings installed!) is to edit the configuration file in your home directly.

sudo vim ~/.kde/share/config/kdeglobals

Under the [KDE] section, add SingleClick=false and save.

Close and re-open Dolphin and everything is now double click again.. *Ahhhh*

More jackalope than jaunty

We have some IBM x3650 servers at work with Adaptec 8k ServeRAID controller cards and SAS drives.

For the life of me I can’t get Jaunty to boot on the machines. It installs just fine, but the initial reboot fails to find the root device and drops me to an “ash” shell which doesn’t ever actually appear. The keyboard also doesn’t work.

It doesn’t matter what RAID array I have, whether I’m using LVM or a standard partitioning scheme with an msdos partition table.. it just doesn’t work.

I’ve added aacraid and several other modules to the initramfs, still no joy.

Add the fact that the machine takes 10 minutes to boot each time I want to test a small change and it’s one super frustrating situation.

Oh, and 8.04 LTS works just fine.

One bug which appears to be a grub issue that I don’t have, which hasn’t been touched since April. There’s another about being unable to find the root device that also hasn’t received any love.

If anyone has some suggestions (install Debian?), let me know. The reason I’m using Ubuntu is because we have a local mirror and Jaunty because it’s a virtual machine and KVM is the way I want to go.

Update: Ahh, problem resolved and it was my fault. See comments..

MediaWiki out of memory

A fresh install of MediaWiki on an Ubuntu server was throwing memory errors when trying to save certain pages.

mediawiki Fatal error: Allowed memory size [blah] exhausted (tried to allocate [blah])

The fix is simple – increase MediaWiki’s memory size in /etc/mediawiki/LocalSettings.php, which is only 20MB by default.

I also changed PHP’s maximum allowable memory size in /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini and reloaded the server.

ffmpeg Cheat Sheet

Came across this useful cheat sheet for ffmpeg, for anyone wanting to easily manipulate audio visual material.

Arch Linux: The Simple, Flexible (and Fast!) Distro

Arch Linux is a unique distribution, offering the latest free software via a super fast package manager coupled with a “keep it simple” philosophy.

It is fast becoming a very popular distribution and now thanks to their split packages, you can install a lightweight KDE 4.3 desktop for even more flexibility and speed.

Check it out in my latest article for Linux Magazine.

Bitten by the ext4 “bug”

It finally got me today.. I’d been very careful with ext4 after all the news about file system corruption (not that I’m blaming the file system) and haven’t been using it on critical systems.

In fact, I’m still not, but I have been testing it. So as I understand it, if the system crashes hard you might not get your data written to disk. Fair enough, we have magic keys to help combat that, and they work well – except when a crash takes out your keyboard input too.

So on the test Apple Xserve machine I’ve installed Fedora onto, I thought I’d install ext4.

Since installing it, I needed to backup some data using an LTO-4 SAS connected tape drive. Unfortunately the SAS card I have is PCI-Express and the IBM servers I use at work are PCI-X only. So I put the card into the Xserve and set up the tape drive (well set up is an exaggeration, it worked out of the box).

Everything has been going just swimmingly, however today I wanted to run some tests on various block sizes and that’s when the trouble started.

It wasn’t the SAS drive that caused it, I was in the process of running the tests I had previously run successfully on it, on the fibre channel connected IBM tape library. When it got to testing 2048, the Fedora machine hung (and hung hard). I was also erasing a tape in the SAS unit at the same time (which kept on going).

Long story short (although it’s a bit late now) magic keys would not save me and I was forced to power off. Upon reboot, my /etc/fstab file was corrupt – some sort of binary, text concoction which I noticed contained (among other things) “/dev/st0,” one of the drives I was using. How the hell that got in there I’ve no idea!

Since fixing the fstab, numerous other GNOME binaries are broken too.. reinstall time tomorrow, this time with ext3! 🙂

Ubuntu + KDE 4.3 + log in = instant reboot

With the release of KDE 4.3, I added the PPA archive for Jaunty and upgraded from the previous release.

Now, the computer boots to the log in screen just fine, but logging in causes the computer to instantaneously reboot the machine.

Creating a brand new user account and logging in also suffers the same problem.


Update: Changing the video driver from radeon to vesa stopped the system from instantaneously rebooting, however the machine freezes at the KDE loading screen (even magic keys don’t work!). Looks like something to do with hardware initialisation, perhaps kwin trying to enable something fancy.. not sure.

Update 2: I was able to log into KDE with the vesa driver and disable desktop effects. After a reboot the system no longer crashes with the radeon driver. I then re-enabled the desktop effects and rebooted. This time I can log in, the effects are enabled and it doesn’t crash. We’ll see if it lasts!

Tiny Core, the little distro that could

Have you ever tried Tiny Core? It’s a live Linux distro which boots to a graphical interface at only 11MB (MicroCore is 7MB).

It is designed to be used as your default operating system, and combats issues like “system rot”. It’s a really interesting project and definitely worth a look!

If that sounds interesting to you, have a read of my latest article at Linux Magazine.