Tuesday, December 23, 2008

WBT-201 & Fedora 10 (building RPMs)

Of course I wanted my Wintec WBT-201 gps logging device to work with Fedora as it did with Debian/Ubuntu (see this post). And after playing around a little with the stuff, it did! So, this is what I wanted:

  • gpsbabel (accessing and converting gps data)

  • gtk-g-rays2 (managing the WBT-201)

  • gpscorrelate (automatically adding gps data to exif tags of my pictures)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Installing and configuring Fedora 10

I still like Debian and Debian based distros like sidux or Ubuntu most, but - as always, if something works too well - I wanted something new... As I recently joined a training course at Red Hat and a new release of Fedora just hit the servers, I went for Fedora 10.

I think the main difference between Fedora and other "big" distros is the fact, that within a Fedora release, you'll receive major version upgrades of applications and even the kernel itself. I think this is a pro, though you might argue, this might have a negative affect on a distro's stability. So far, I couldn't find any big issues.
As you can read in every review about Fedora, it comes strictly with open source software only. No playback of mp3 files or Nvidia drivers. It's very easy though to add those features, if you know how. If you're used to Fedora, you won't find anything new here. If you're a first time Fedora user or even new to Linux, this post might be of help. I just put together all the useful information I found on the net and I will always refer to the original text. A good starting point is "The Unofficial Fedora FAQ".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Debian with lame, mencoder, transcode, xvid & dvd::rip

Debian has one of the largest software repositories around but also has a very strict policy (which I respect) when it comes to legal stuff concerning free software or copyrights. I guess this is the reason why some multimedia software packages are missing. If you stick with Debian you have to install them manually, or - if you want the easy way - you could of course add some third party respositories or change for example to Ubuntu which doesn't seem to share Debian's concerns. As I'm running sidux (which is based on Debian Sid) I wanted to go for the manual installation (I don't like to add repositories other than Debian's). Debian comes with an MPlayer package but it lacks menconder. If you need menconder you'll have to install from sources. lame, transcode, xvid and dvd::rip are not part of Debian repositories at all, so we'll have to install them from sources, too. In this HOWTO I'll explain how this worked for me (running sidux on amd64). I guess it should be similar to Debian testing or even stable.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fedora 9 & Acer Aspire 5572 ZWXMi with encrypted file systems

This HOWTO is listed at
TuxMobil - Linux on Laptops, Notebooks, PDAs and Mobile Phones

A year has passed since installing Ubuntu Feisty on my Acer Aspire 5572 notebook and it was about time to try something new. With recent Linux distributions a lot of manual configuration tasks are not necessary anymore and things became even easier. There is no big difference between installing Ubuntu Feisty or a current Hardy on this laptop, except with Hardy almost everything works out of the box. But I wanted to try something different and I wanted encrypted file systems which are easy to set up. Fedora 9 has those features so I gave it a try. (Of course this would be possible, too with Ubuntu, but Fedora comes with an installer which handles file system encryption very nicely.) So here's my HOWTO on installing Fedora 9 with encrypted file systems on an Acer Aspire 5572 ZWXMi notebook.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

sidux 2008.02 "erebos" released!

Since yesterday the new sidux release "erebos" is available! As sidux follows a rolling release cycle you can always update your running sidux to the latest release via regular dist-upgrades. erebos comes with kernel 2.6.25.9 and KDE 3.5.9, all software is up to date as of Debian sid on June 25th. You can read the full release notes here.
If you want to use "smxi", the sidux maintenance script, you have to install it manually because it is not part of "sidux-scripts" anymore. Read this post on sidux forum for more info. To install smxi follow h2's advise and run as root:
cd /usr/local/bin; wget techpatterns.com/smxi.zip; unzip smxi.zip
rm /usr/local/bin/smxi.zip

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"gpsbabel 1.3.5" for Ubuntu Hardy

Ubuntu Hardy Heron is out but sadly it comes with a rather old version of gpsbabel: 1.3.3. To read data from my Wintec WBT-201 I need at least gpsbabel version 1.3.4. With 1.3.5 already released I wanted the latest version - of course!

I tried to follow my own instructions given here to build a deb package for Hardy, but it didn't work... It wouldn't compile cleanly and errored out with:
lmx.c:34: Fehler: »link« als andere Symbolart redeklariert

(Sorry, got it in German only)

I googled a lot, but nothing... Compiling the sources worked well, but not if I tried to build the deb package via "uupdate". As I'm no expert in building packages this gave me a hard time, but finally I got it: you have to edit debian/rules a little and it works! But now, step by step.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 aka Hardy Heron (beta)

It isn't for long, until the new Ubuntu Linux "Hardy Heron" will be released. Time for me to have at least a short look at it and provide some screenshots. So I installed both Ubuntu and Kubuntu as virtual machines using VirtualBox. Kubuntu will come with two flavors: one with KDE3 and long term support (LTS) like the Ubuntu version and one with KDE4 and I guess without LTS. KDE4 is still missing some apps and sometimes has some minor issues with stability. Anyway, of course I chose Kubuntu with KDE4.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

libmtp7 for Ubuntu Gutsy (Creative Zen & Ubuntu Gutsy)

As already mentioned in my last post, Ubuntu Gutsy does not come with a current version of libmtp which is required if you want to get your Creative Zen running with Linux. Luckily, it's very easy to build new packages: just download the latest source from here and follow my HOWTO on building new packages for gpsbabel - it works just the same. You'll end up with four packages (libraries, development, documentation and tools). You'll have to install at least "libmtp6_0.2.6.1-1_<arch>.deb". Once your new package(s) is/are installed, you need to do one more thing though: when building the new package, we were updating from Ubuntus libmtp6, so the package is named "libmtp6...", but what we actually have inside the package is libmtp7. Amarok expects "/usr/lib/libmtp.so.6", but we now have "/usr/lib/libmtp.so.7" (which is a symlink to libmtp.so.7.1.0). We do overcome this small issue very easily:
cd /usr/lib
sudo ln -s libmtp.so.7.1.0 libmtp.so.6

You may now run Amarok and start syncing your media files! (See some details here.)

If you don't want to build the packages yourself, feel free to download them from here (build on Ubuntu Gutsy i386):

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Creative Zen & Debian

Since I recently became the proud owner of Creative's Zen (8GB) mp3 player I wanted to make it work with Linux. So I prepared myself for some hours of google-ing and configuring and trying... But, I was sooo wrong! It's (almost) as easy as plug and play! ;-)
(-> Thanks to energiequant.de!)

OK, now for the details. I got Zen working with Amarok 1.4.8 running on a current sidux. And I guess that's the point: you might need rather current versions of programs and libraries. sidux being based on Debian sid does provide all this. If you're running Ubuntu Gutsy you might need to compile some of those, but I can't tell for sure. Just try.
You need of course Amarok and libmtp7. I additionally installed mtpfs and mtp-tools, but I think you don't need those. I guess Amarok is part of nearly any Linux distribution, so you may need to add libmtp7. In case of sidux/Debian/Ubuntu (as root):
apt-get install libmtp7

Ubuntu Gutsy comes with libmtp6 and I cannot tell if this works with this version of libmtp. (EDIT: libmtp6 does not work!) You might need to install the current version from this website or wait for Hardy... I might try this on my notebook running Gutsy - if so, be sure I'll let you know! Once libmtp7 is installed, connect your Zen to a free USB port an start Amarok.


Go to Settings -> Configure Amarok -> Media Devices and select Add device. Choose MTP Media Device as module and give the new device a name. You don't need a mount point. Now select the Media Device tab, click Connect (see picture) and you should see your media library.
To upload tracks, go to your local media library, right click tracks or albums and send them to your media device. Those tracks will be queued and are transmitted by clicking the button next to the Connect button. And as bonus: if you let Amarok manage your album covers, those will be visible on your Zen!! (A feature I missed with Zen's Windows software.)
Before disconnecting your player, be sure to click the Disconnect button!

That was easy, wasn't it?!?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Creative Zen (& Explorer problems...)

My Creative Zen Xtra (30GB) is a little big so I was up for a new and smaller MP3 player. I decided to buy Creative's Zen (8GB). It's a quite handy device and so far it works good. First thing you should do though is updating the firmware. Download it from Creative's Support website and execute the downloaded file (Windows only...).


Zen is MTP compatible only which means it's not recognized as mass storage device. Except it's optional SD card, which pops up as a new hard drive in Windows (has to be activated in the player's setup). Speaking of, all media stored on SD card has to be imported manually to Zen's media database. I don't care but some people do not like this fact. Once you get used to navigating through Zen's menus it's quite comfortable. Zen's battery is charged by connecting the player to the computer's USB port, which is bad if there's no computer around. I'd recommend spending some extra bucks on "ZEN USB Power Adapter" (see picture) so you can charge the battery wherever you find a power supply. Another thing I'd add is "ZEN Clear Case" which protects the screen from scratches. I can't say anything about Zen's qualities as video player as I haven't used this feature - and probably won't at all - but as MP3 player it's great!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

WBT-201 & Debian/Ubuntu

As I liked the idea of geo tagging my pictures I decided to buy Wintec's WBT-201 GPS logger. It's a neat little device and fits into every pocket - so no problem carrying it with you all the time. Of course it comes with some software to export the geo data and tagging your pictures with it. And of course it's Windows only (and maybe MacOS, but not sure about this). The good news is, the WBT-201 works with linux, too. By the time of writing I'm running sidux for amd64, which is kind of Debian Sid, and Ubuntu Gutsy for i386 on my laptop.

We basically need three apps installed:
  • gpsbabel <= 1.3.4
  • gpscorrelate(-gui)
  • gtk-g-rays2

Unfortunately Debian/Ubuntu only comes with a suitable version of gpscorrelate, for gpsbabel and gtk-g-rays2 we need to do some manual interaction. But now for the details! (Please bare in mind I've done this with sidux and Ubuntu Gutsy, but the below may vary if you're running another Debian based distro.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Linux Documentation: Management Style ;-)

Recently my attention was brought to a small snippet of the kernel documentation which was really funny. It was about "taking the blame". I then installed the kernel docs of my Linux distro (Ubuntu Gutsy: apt-get install linux-doc) and found the whole document here: /usr/share/doc/linux-doc-2.6.22/Documentation/ManagementStyle.gz

READ IT! It's really funny! Here's a small excerpt:
Chapter 3: People II - the Good Kind

While it turns out that most people are idiots, the corollary to that is sadly that you are one too, and that while we can all bask in the secure knowledge that we're better than the average person (let's face it, nobody ever believes that they're average or below-average), we should also admit that we're not the sharpest knife around, and there will be other people that are less of an idiot that you are.

Some people react badly to smart people. Others take advantage of them.

Make sure that you, as a kernel maintainer, are in the second group. Suck up to them, because they are the people who will make your job easier. In particular, they'll be able to make your decisions for you, which is what the game is all about. So when you find somebody smarter than you are, just coast along. Your management responsibilities largely become ones of saying "Sounds like a good idea - go wild", or "That sounds good, but what about xxx?". The second version in particular is a great way to either learn something new about "xxx" or seem _extra_ managerial by pointing out something the smarter person hadn't thought about. In either case, you win.

I then found out here that it was written by Linus Torvalds himself and as you see, it incorporates the wisdom of a guy who does not take himself or his work too seriously. (I guess it reflects the attitude of a lot of those guys who write open source software?) And best of all, those few lines cover all you need to know if you a) are a manager b) have to deal with them! If you like to read the whole text and don't run linux, you may download it here. I promise: it's worth while! :-)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Updating phpBB2 forum to phpBB3 via local installation

Recently I upgraded a phpBB2 powered forum to the new phpBB3. I theory, this shouldn't be a problem as the new version provides a script which transfers the old database tables to the new ones. In my case, the conversion stopped somewhere when importing the old database tables. It gave me an error with something like "...end of script..." - that was it. I guess this was due to some PHP/Apache settings and as my forum is hosted by a simple webhoster, I had no chance of dealing with the settings (no root access!). If you run into the same problems maybe the following can be of help.

My initial setup with my webhoster was a phpBB2 forum with no addons running on an apache2 webserver with PHP5 support and a MySQL 4 database as backend. I wanted to run the new phpBB3 forum with the same setup except for the database, which would be MySQL 5 then (this is optional, but I had the choice of creating a new database).

WARNING: This HOWTO worked very well for me. It may fail though and could destroy your forum/forum database. So, follow it at your own risk and always keep backups!