Getting MythTV working is easy

My good mate Tthu wanted to make himself a mythtv box. He bought an old Dell online and after a trip to the computer fair to get a 500GB SATA hard drive, low profile PCIe video card and a PCI digital TV tuner card, had everything he needed.

So, at my place we started the install. First thing I noticed was that the video cad had a passive heatsink that took up the space for the only PCI slot in the machine. I gave Tthu the option of waiting and trying to find a more suitable card, or hacking up the box to make it fit. Here began the first of our modifications..

After removing the heatsink from the GPU, we broke off the part that stuck out over the capacitors and proceeded to bend the other fins over. Isopropyl alchohol and some arctic silver later and it was back together again. Perfect. 🙂

Then we noticed that the case no longer shut because the hard drive bracket came ever so slightly down onto the back end of the card. I whittled away a little of the PCB, but it wasn’t quite enough. Due to the bracket design, we had to break off a part of the metal. This then allowed us to hack at the bracket itself and with Jason’s trusty multi-tool filed away a perfect gap for the card to slide into (with my trusty Dyson grabbing the filings, of course). Only problem was that the plastic slide rail for the hard drive couldn’t slide in anymore.. so we cut that in half. Done! 🙂

End result? Machine works perfectly with the video card running at about 80 degrees, which is well within spec. How long it all lasts for remains to be seen! Only problem now is that the TV aerial can’t get any signal in the basement.. Jason, where’s that multi-tool?

Bootology [bōōt-ol-uh-jee] -noun. The art of booting Linux

Bootchart openSUSE 11.0I just came across bootchart, a tool for “performance analysis and visualization of the GNU/Linux boot process”.

Ever wondered what was causing that big delay in bootup? Install bootchart and check!

I installed bootchart on my openSUSE box at work with sudo zypper in bootchart, rebooted and edited grub on the fly, adding init=/sbin/bootchartd to the kernel line.

After your system has loaded, bootchart creates a log of the process which you can then turn into a chart with the command bootchart. You can also specify the log location if required, or change the output format of the chart from PNG to SVG or EPS.

Of course, what you do with this information is up to you 🙂 Happy hacking.

More netbooks..

Who isn’t making netbooks these days?


Toshiba has announced a new netbook called NB100, which comes with Linux (Ubuntu 8.04) or Windows XP.


Samsung has announced the NC10, which comes only with Windows (at this stage).


Asus has also released the N10, a new notebook based on the Atom – but is not calling it a netbook. It comes with 2GB RAM, NVIDIA graphics and 120GB hard drive. Oh, and it runs Vista, so I guess we can see why it needs more grunt.

-c

Dell joins the fray

Dell have finally released their long awaited “EeePC killer” netbook in Australia, the Inspiron 910 (also affectionately dubbed the “Mini 9” – but that just makes me think of a cross between Mini-Me and the Crazy 88 from Kill Bill).

In the U.S. Dell is selling the Mini 9 in a few different configurations. The pricing starts at US$349 with Linux and US$449 with Windows. I configured the Mini 9 with the same specs as the top Windows version, but with Linux, and it came in at US$494. That’s US$15 more than the Windows version at US$479. Hmmm…

Unfortunately, in Australia Dell is only selling one model of the Mini 9 and it only comes with Windows.

So, how does it fair (on paper at least)? Is it really the EeePC killer as some claim? Well in regards to specifications, most of these netbooks are running the same Intel gear, so there won’t be much difference there except that Dell has apparently enabled hyper threading (remember that?). There is currently no dual-core version of the Atom available.

Time to look at specs and price. The Mini 9 more closely matches the EeePC 901, so I’m going to compare these two.
Continue reading Dell joins the fray

GentXo

OLPCA few months back Dave Tulloh let me borrow his XO (one laptop per child machine). It’s pretty sweet and a nice little unit, but I couldn’t use the UI for everyday stuff. So, I decided to build a custom Gentoo system for it – yes, of course optimised for the geode cpu.

What I did is not exactly ground breaking. I didn’t discover anything or work it out, all I did was make a Gentoo system and boot it from a USB memory key. I even cheated and used their kernel and initramfs 🙂 Tisk, tisk! But hey, someone out there might find it interesting.

The goal was to build as small a system as possible, with XFCE4, Firefox, other main applications and multimedia capabilities. Here’s what I did.
Continue reading GentXo

Knock, knock. Who’s there? EeePC 1000. EeePC who? Exactly.

We’ve all heard of the EeePC, Asus’ flagship netbook running Linux that took the world by storm and forged a whole new market for open source software (potentially).


Ta daa.

It was a huge success! A singular consciousness that spawned an entire race of machines.. ahh, hang on a sec.. ok yeah, a new race of machines. Now every man and his dog are making them.

Continue reading Knock, knock. Who’s there? EeePC 1000. EeePC who? Exactly.

The ‘Little Blue Penguin’ dies

Well that’s it, there is no more Kororaa.
I’ve redirected the domain to ‘Make The Move’ and deleted my email account. If you wish to contact me, you’ll have to do so via my new domain email (or here on my blog).

It’s really is a little sad to see Kororaa die, it was a lot of fun 🙁

The Kororaa Penguin
Bye bye, little dude. You’re still the cutest penguin around.

-c

Please forward..

UPDATE: No sooner had I finished publishing this post I got a message on the IRC channel saying this feature has been commited to the main trunk. Yay!

These days I mostly use GNOME as my desktop. My home computer has it, my work computer has it. It’s great.

The default mail client for GNOME is called Evolution and it’s pretty good too. It has lots of icons around the place for things like new mail, read mail, replied mail, etc, but wait.. there’s no icon for forwarded email. Huh?

I came across this when porting KDE’s Oxygen icon set to GNOME – my father actually mentioned it was missing. I dug around and searched here there and everywhere but I just couldn’t get an icon to show up. I ran strace and there were two opens on mail-forward.png but these only appear on the action, not the status.

Jumping on IRC (#evolution@irc.gimp.org) I was lead to Evolution’s bugzilla where I found this feature request from 2001:
http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=203600

D’oh.

Now, if only I was a programmer..

MythTV Down Under (finally, it’s not all upside down)

Every 6 months or so for the past number of years I have tried to install a dedicated PVR, and fail. I give up because I just can’t get all the Australian stuff working nicely, but finally I have succeeded!

The main problem is that the tv guide grabbers just don’t work nicely in Australia. Install mythtv in the States and you’ll be working in 5 minutes, but here it’s a whole lot of heartache and pain.

Sure, I can easily watch TV, but I can do that in 30 seconds under Linux with Me-TV or Kaffeine. I want to be able to see what’s coming up, schedule recordings and all that sweet stuff (OK, Me-TV can do that too, but it’s new, and I also like the idea of mythtv :))

For anyone else out there like me, here’s what I did!
Continue reading MythTV Down Under (finally, it’s not all upside down)

Wine 1.0 and Civ 4 = awesome

WINE (Wine Is Not An Emulator) is an open source implementation of the Windows API which lets you install many Windows applications natively on Linux. After 15 years they just released their first stable release, version 1.0.

Awesome.

Although most linux distros have been using versions just pre-1.0, I thought I’d give it a shot. I added the repository to my sources.lst and installed wine 1.0 on my Debian machine.

Although WINE has their own directx implementation which lets you play many Windows 3D games I thought I’d try with Civilization IV which required a few external dlls. So, after doing a little search I came across a post on how to install Microsoft’s DirectX and replace the one included with WINE.

I followed the howto, including some tips for installing Civ 4 and I have to say it was sweet! I just got a new computer, so it is hard to tell if it’s faster than it used to be under Cedega, but I can say that the game didn’t feel slow at all, even at a late stage in the game with dozens of cities. This was at 1280×1024 with all settings at the highest level.

Civ 4 under Wine

If you’re a Civ 4 fan, give this a shot and let me know how it went for you!

-c