Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Me and a Mac...

I finally did it and I'm strong enough to admit: I got myself a MacBook. Gone those years I made fun of Mac users? Well no, I guess not, but MacOSX isn't that bad after all! ;-) The main reason why I bought the MacBook was curiosity. As I got quite acquainted with Windows over the years, followed by Linux and (at least to some point) Solaris, I wanted to know how MacOSX would "feel" like. So I got this MacBook: 2,4 MHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, Intel GMA X3100 integrated video controller and 160GB hard disk. Though Apple hardware is of good quality, I still think it's way to expensive - but nobody forced me to buy it... ;-)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Grub2

The grand unified bootloader (grub) not being updated since 2006 Canonical announced to release the next Ubuntu version 9.10 - also known as "Karmic Koala" - with grub2 as the default boot manager. Of course I got curious and as I read an article in c't about this topic I had to see what grub2 was about!

If you're running Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty it's quite easy to switch to grub2. However, if you installed Jaunty to boot from an ext4 partition you're likely to have grub2 installed already.

There is a nice howto which explains installing grub2 in Jaunty at Ubuntu's wiki here. If you follow the instructions, grub2 will end up in your boot partition (not the MBR) first and a new entry to your old grub is added, giving you the chance to boot grub2 via chainloader. You are advised to follow these instructions, because if grub2 doesn't work for you, you're still able to boot with grub. However, I decided skip this step and installed grub2 straight to MBR.

CAUTION: fiddling around with the bootmanager may leave you're system unbootable!! If you don't know how to recover from such a state, please don't do it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

sidux 2009.2


On July 15th sidux 2009.2 was released. I was looking forward to this release because it's the first one with KDE4 as I didn't wanted to go through the hassle of updating from KDE3... For those who haven't heard of sidux: it's a Debian sid (the unstable branch of Debian) based distro and 100% compatible with Debian sid. In fact it uses sid's repositories together with sidux' own repositories. The latter provide bugfixes to some broken packages in sid, sidux artwork, some tools unique to sidux and of course the sidux kernel (which might update quite frequently). sidux has a rolling release cycle which means, you may update to each next "release" by just updating through Debian's apt-get. As the homepage says: sidux is "Debian hot and spicy!". But most of all it makes running the unstable Debian sid quite stable!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Vanilla kernel for Debian Lenny

The default Linux kernel of Debian Lenny is of course very stable - but a little outdated. If you're the more adventurous type (or just need support for newer devices) you might like the idea of installing a more recent vanilla kernel? Luckily, Debian makes this task quite easy and you'll end up with real Debian kernel deb-packages! I'll provide a small HOWTO here which you might follow and a small script which will automate everything. I gathered most of the information given here from the official Debian documentation (have a look at this and this).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lenny: VirtualBox 1.6.6 & current kernel 2.6.29

Debian is one of the best Linux distros out there (if not the best). The latest stable version called Lenny was released about a month ago, but as always, Debian never ships the latest software or kernel versions. So I decided to install the latest vanilla kernel (2.6.29) from kernel.org (I might provide a howto for this task later... ;-) ), but to stick with Debian's software repositories. This work's really great - most of the time... I ran into one problem installing Debians (rather old) VirtualBox OSE 1.6.6 though. As I don't run Debians kernel I needed to compile a suitable kernel module for my kernel 2.6.29 using Debians module-assistant. But compiling the module bailed out with errors: ‘struct task_struct’ has no member named ‘euid’. Luckily I found a solution for VirtualBox 2.10 on VirtualBox Forums. Of course the provided patch didn't work for VirtualBox 1.6.6 but from there on it was easy to build one. If you run into the same problem, well, this is how it worked for me:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fedora desktop with Dust theme and Murrine svn gtk engine

Running Ubuntu 8.10 on my laptop I fell in love with it's Dust theme - not officially part of Ubuntu 8.10, but you can get it here. So I wanted to install it on my desktop machine running Fedora 10.

First problem is that Dust GTK2 theme requires a recent Murrine engine and Fedora provides version 0.53 only. As I recently got to like the fun of building RPMs I decided to try my luck - and it worked out! So, I can provide Murrine svn143 RPMs for Fedora. But starting applications from within a terminal window showed up some error messages concerning Murrine engine & Dust theme. So, I did some slight changes to Dust's gtkrc files - et voilà, no errors anymore.
Next I needed some orange touched icons for this theme. I liked Tangerine a lot when running Debian/Ubuntu and this icon theme goes very well with Dust theme, but it showed up with Ubuntu logos... Don't get me wrong, I like Ubuntu (and it's logos), but not when running another distro... So, I replaced Ubuntu's logos with Fedora's and again tried to build RPMs. In the end I was left with a desktop like this:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Switching from mp3 to ogg

When it comes to multimedia software most Linux distributions have one thing in common: no proprietary codecs - and this might include MP3 playback. I have no deeper insights in the license terms of the MP3 codec, but there is a whole website about it by THOMPSON, the company claiming to control MP3 licensing: mp3licensing.com. There are other proprietary codecs as well, i.e. "aac" which I think is the default file format for Apple's iTunes and devices by Nokia and Sony. Wouldn't it be nice to not care about this crap? The open source alternative is "ogg vorbis", providing great quality audio files and high compression at the same time. So, how can you switch from mp3 to ogg?

If you already have a large collection of MP3 files I guess it wouldn't make any sense converting them to OGG (though possible). Just keep them as they are. But you could start ripping your new CDs to OGG and go on with this format.

If you're interested http://www.vorbis.com/ would be a good starting point.