Over A Year Since My Last Post But What’s Really Changed in Linux?

November 16, 2012

It’s been a while — over a year — since I last posted anything here. A lot’s changed in my life. But what’s really changed in the Linux world?

Last time I posted, the kernel was in the 2.6.x era. Now it’s 3.whatever and ext4 is known to have some serious problems with recent kernel versions. Oops. Other software has evolved, too. Firefox was still in the 3.x era, now I’m running version 17 or something like that and by 2014 they’ll be able to switch to annual (2014.1, 2014.3, etc.) release numbers. Congratulations Mozilla.

A lot has also changed in interfaces. Gnome has undergone an image crisis akin to what pubescent girls do. That’s caused some distros to go out of their way to make it more useful for traditional users (since the Gnome developers didn’t count on so many Luddites continuing to use desktops, laptops, and other archaic devices when they changed their paradigms). I tried Ubuntu Pompous Penis for a while and gave Unity a shot. Then I wanted to shoot it. Other attempts to make Gnome 3 more “comfortable” for recalcitrant Gnome 2 users likewise pissed me off. I wasn’t alone and enough people with mad coding skillz forked G2 into Mate, which just might be the best thing that happened in the Linux world since my last post.

I needed to stay more on the cutting edge so I stuck with the Ubuntu ecosystem and tried Xubuntu (horrid) and Lubuntu. I was going to write that Lubuntu’s not quite as bad as Xubuntu but I just tried installing 12.10, codenamed Queer Quaker or some such, on my netbook — yes, I still use and often loathe it — and aborted only to realize it had made changes to my partitions without ever asking me to confirm that I actually wanted to make them. Don’t think you can make a dry run with Canonical installers in 2012 and not fuck things up. You most certainly will.

Speaking of fuck ups in Queer Quaker, Canonical decided to opt-in commercial searches for users of Unity lens. Which is why I won’t install anything that installs Unity anymore no matter how easy they make it to keep Amazon or anyone else from littering my searches with advertisements. I don’t care that future versions will be opt-in, this is something I won’t forgive/forget. (I’m now waiting for the Debian installer to load in CrunchBang Waldorf, which is what I’m installing on the netbook instead of Lubuntu.)

Hey, speaking of my Aspire One netbook, I replaced the buggy Atheros wifi card that was the thorn on my little white rose. It’s been problem-free ever since. I’m now a big fan of Intel wifi. Never had a problem with them no matter what OS I’m using.

I have a nit to pick about credit people take for others’ work in the FOSS world.This is nothing new. I’ve seen people not get credited for work they’ve done, and I’ve seen people apply stricter (GPL) licenses to changes they’ve made to more open (BSD, etc.) licensed code.

Here’s the deal. I tried contacting the founder/developer of Tiny Core Linux a couple months back but never heard back from him. The problem I have isn’t with him — he’s a good, decent guy I admire and respect. It’s with whoever set up the Tiny Core website and in particular the “about us” page. See, there’s a guy who’s credited with “banner, logo, and icons” who sure as fuck didn’t create the Tiny Core logo or the banners still used on the tinycore.com website.

I know because I created all the logos Robert has gone with, including the current one shaped like a screw with text engraved in it which better reflects the paradigms of TCL than the first logo I made with a CD-looking thing. If I still maintained my old e-mail account (at a site that closed it down due to inactivity for >3 months) I could produce e-mails from Robert telling me he wanted the blue text instead of red or other colors I submitted. I’d also show all of you that he asked me for the logo in SVG so he could get Tiny Core swag (hats in particular) for SCALE.

I recall I told him the license I was offering him the logo was Creative Commons – Attribution, just as I do for stuff I’ve made for my own website.

Did I get an attribution for it? No. And, to be fair, I never asked it to be posted everywhere like some people (howdy M*rga) demand. I didn’t know who else besides Robert and any of the other developers even knew I’d offered the new logo.

But here’s the rub. Someone else — a gentleman named Dale Marks — has been taking credit for my artwork since at least the last time the “about us” page was updated. That was 15 May 2011 — over a year and a half ago as I write this. I don’t know who Dale Marks is, but surely he knows as well as I do that he’s not the one who created the logo or banner.

Just to be clear, I don’t care that I’m not credited (as lucky13 or anything else). But I do care someone else never had the character to say, “Wait, I didn’t make that logo. Don’t give me credit for that.” Why should someone else take full credit for what I did?

Even if he did a variation of it, CC-A is about giving credit where it’s due. Not to him except for his variations on my original. The original was and forever will be mine. I know that. Robert S knows that. And Dale Marks, don’t you also know that?

Dear Lifehacker…

August 2, 2011

Dear Lifehacker,

I’ve noticed your new feature showing different desktops. Some of them are quite pretty, including the one you posted last night.

Not everyone, though, treats computers as an extension of darkly secret and unfulfilled ambitions to be an interior decorator. Some of us actually use our computers to accomplish tasks — to work and get stuff done. And, ultimately, it’s that utilitarian philosophy that leads us from playing with widgets and decorations to a more functional environment.

I’m submitting my own desktop for your consideration — so your readers will see how people can use computers to actually do stuff beyond add to the ambiance of their living rooms, offices, or (in some cases in which your readers haven’t left the nest yet) their parents’ basements. To further leverage bizarre bazaar, which I installed yesterday to get one thing in particular (see my previous post about that), I decided to see what else I could install. Among a few trivial things, I decided last night to follow emacs development (separate post forthcoming on setting up emacs-development on CentOS/SL 6).

This is my current desktop. I’m running Gnome 2.28.2 in CentOS 6. I usually run emacs maximized or fullscreen, sans menu-bar or tool-bar (I need to fix the bleeping scroll-bar while I’m thinking of it). Can’t tell it’s Gnome? Cool, because I often can’t tell that your featured desktops are running XP because they have so much stuff hiding that fact.

I usually run emacs in a GNU screen pseudo-terminal, but to appeal to your fancier tastes here’s the GTK2 bells and whistles. Neat, huh. I can browse (w3m), e-mail (various mail clients), edit, chat (erc), and even view images right inside emacs. I also enabled the widgetry to show clock, CPU temperature, and battery charge. For what it’s worth (if it helps a desktop like mine make your feature), I have three emacsen on this laptop: the version from CentOS base, this one, and sxemacs (not counting mg among emacsen, but it’s also installed on this).

I can try a different internal theme (currently wombat) if it still doesn’t reach your aesthetic threshold. If this isn’t fancy enough, I can post a picture of the version I compiled for my older laptop last night (Sabayon, ratpoison, compiled without-x and running inside screen).

Very sarcastically yours,
lucky :-P

Totally F’ing Retarded

August 1, 2011

I noticed when I was installing CentOS 6 that I was getting packages for git, cvs, and svn. I didn’t see bzr flash up but I wasn’t too distraught since I doubted I’d even use the other versioning systems much on this computer. I was wrong about that — I’ve been using some development versions of various software and most of them use either git or cvs.

This morning, I needed something in a hurry and found it uses bizarre bazaar. I checked to see if bzr was already installed and ended up installing it. I started to fetch a branch and decided while it was downloading to check some websites. Mind you, all this is occurring in GNU screen. I decided to maximize my terminal. A few minutes later I realized my wireless LED was no longer blinking so I presumed my downloading had finished.


I had a message that said: [Errno 4] Interrupted system call. WTF?

So I looked it up. First thing I found was this bug at launchpad. I’ve run into curses-based applications crashing due to resized console issues but never something that’s strictly run command line.


Then I remembered who sponsors its development. The same people who bring us Ubuntu.

At least the bug has reportedly been fixed (per the launchpad link above). Hopefully that will quickly make its way into the versions used by RHEL/clones. In the meantime, if you’re using the bzr version found in CentOS and SL base, don’t resize your terminal during bzr operations.

600 Club

July 27, 2011

It’s not much of a milestone considering the pace I was on when this blog started a few years ago, but here’s 601. Many thanks for the hundreds of hits that this blog continues to get each month even when it’s dormant.

Fun with Precompiled Binaries (Or, Why I Recompile So Many Things)

July 27, 2011

I often note that I find things in binary packages that irritate me. Sometimes it’s too much nonsense compiled in so that installation of a small utility requires massive dependencies to install. This means not just a lot of extra stuff taking up hard drive space, it means more packages that get updated and other inconveniences.

Sometimes I also notice little things that make me go hmmm. Today I was playing around with mocp, a curses-based server-client music program. There’s not yet a package for *el6 so I compiled it myself. I thought I’d hit up all the right things so that it would stream and play all common music codecs. Everything seemed fine with mp3, ogg-vorbis, and even an ASX stream. Then I tried an AAC stream and found I had more work to do.

No big deal. I searched to find out what I was missing. I found a suggestion that I should build it –without-aac (overriding the internal AAC decoder) so that AAC would be handled by the ffmpeg plugin. I tried that and it didn’t work.

So I decided to double check my ffmpeg version, which was installed from rpmforge. While it had faad and faac support enabled, I found something else that seemed a bit weird.

I know, I know. It’ll still work on other CPUs but it’s optimized for Intel Atom. Why? I’m not using this on my dual thread netbook, it’s on a dual core laptop. It could’ve (should’ve?) been compiled with -mtune=generic.

It’s stuff like this that drives me nuts and makes me start recompiling things or install something that I can optimize for my own use if the packaging (indiscriminately!) includes optimizations that suit particular hardware rather than generic. I thought that was the idea of pre-packaging binaries: so they could be used by a wide variety of common users.

For what it’s worth, the spec says:

Description: FFmpeg is a very fast video and audio converter. It can also grab
           : from a live audio/video source.
           : The command line interface is designed to be intuitive, in the
           : sense that ffmpeg tries to figure out all the parameters, when
           : possible. You have usually to give only the target bitrate you
           : want. FFmpeg can also convert from any sample rate to any other,
           : and resize video on the fly with a high quality polyphase filter.
           : Available rpmbuild rebuild options :
           : --without : lame vorbis theora faad faac gsm xvid x264 a52dec
           : altivec

So it has faad/faac enabled. Should’ve worked, no?

I checked version information against what I have on my older laptop running Sabayon (with dwm). No extra c flags noted in the ffmpeg -version output but I’ll double-check that tomorrow:

ffmpeg version 0.7.1, Copyright (c) 2000-2011 the FFmpeg developers
  built on Jun 30 2011 12:51:22 with gcc 4.5.2
  configuration: --prefix=/usr --libdir=/usr/lib --shlibdir=/usr/lib \
  --mandir=/usr/share/man --enable-shared --cc=i686-pc-linux-gnu-gcc

I still didn’t get AAC working on m *el6 laptop with the ffmpeg-devel package from rpmforge, or even when disabling it and building against the -devel packages for faad/faac. I’ll mess with it again tomorrow.

By the way, with all the -devel packages installed and all the compiling I end up doing, I wonder why I don’t just install something that has the relevant headers (Slackware) or that I can optimize and set up the right way — my way — from the start (Gentoo). Days like this, I wonder if the multi-year support of the EL clones is really all it’s cracked up to be. In fairness, though, we’re talking about a third-party repository and not stuff in the base which seems to be put together with more care and diligence. Maybe my lesson is to build my own packages for things not provided in the CentOS/SL repositories; that would solve not only this kind of issue but conflicts when a third-party repository has a more recent version number of something provided in the base.

South Korean Scientists Create Glowing Dogs

July 27, 2011

The only reason I’m posting a link to this article is because I’ve covered similar stuff before. And, just as I wrote before, this is about a lot more than glowing in the dark — it has practical value in genetic modifications relating to human illnesses. Plus it’s freaking cool.

My favorite is still the glowing pigs in Taiwan.

Update 20110723 – CentOS 6, Sabayon, Slackware, NetBSD, Etc.

July 23, 2011

Long time no see, haters. Since my last update earlier this year, I’ve been pretty busy. Usual stuff: family, work, and sports injuries.

I have a shiny new Lenovo laptop. One of the reasons I chose this one is because I was able to get a list of the hardware and checked it against lists of supported devices. It’s all supported very well under Linux and the BSDs (Net, Open) I looked at.

First thing I did was reduce the very large NTFS partition someone formatted it with (I never have booted this into Windows 7) so that it’s actually quite small. Then I installed a release candidate for Scientific Linux 6 on it, as that was the first available RHEL6 clone. I’ve since changed that over to CentOS 6 using a net install. And since I have no interest in booting the pre-installed OS, I changed my grub menu.lst to no wait, no options, just load that one in a freaking hurry.

As usual, I found some nits to pick about how certain other things were configured and I had to make some changes to get simple things to work. This goes for software as well as hardware.

First the hardware side of it. I thought the inkjet printer I keep in my room was supported out of the box despite noticing the printer would “eat” up paper upon finishing the job — not fully ejecting it before pulling it back in to the printer. It was only the past few days, though, I realized there was more wrong than met the eye. I needed to make some quick scans and xsane reported back I had no scanner. Hmmm. I checked it via scanimage and it was detected. I also double-checked the drivers and saw that the sane backends for hp and usb were there. I decided to see if the hplip site had a newer RPM than is available in any of the repositories I’ve enabled. I entered the relevant information and downloaded an up-to-date RPM with new drivers. Installing it required removing old RPMs. Then I had to set some permissions so I could use the scanner without escalating my privileges to root. The new hplip RPM also resulted in better printing and no more “eating” paper.

There was a variety of software I installed from the normal as well as third-party repositories. Most of it has been without any trouble — only a couple things from a more bleeding edge repository (EPEL) have conflicted with packages from others. Some of the configuration issues have been simple and straightforward. I’m coming around to accepting pulseaudio, especially as it makes some things easier. My Bluetooth headphones work fine and are able to remotely control playlists in totem. Haven’t tried yet in rhythmbox but mplayer (from rpmforge) needs remuco to work.

Even though I’d be exaggerating to call RHEL6 or its clones bleeding edge, it’s still new enough that repositories lack certain packages that I wanted to install. One solution (other than “wait”):

sudo yum groupinstall 'Development Tools'

I’ve recompiled things that bugged me as well as things that were either unavailable or that I wanted to update. I wanted liferea so I had to compile it myself. Dittos sylpheed (NOT claws) and mew (emacs e-mail client). I also wanted an update of org-mode for emacs, but I’ve also played around with compiling other emacsen. This morning, I decided to try sxemacs.

I wasn’t impressed with the clunky xaw widgetry, let alone the faces available on my laptop (trust me, terminus looked only a little better), and I decided against installing GTK1 headers just to see if that would look any better. Not even some minor color changes helped. I usually run emacs from console anyway because it’s easier to run it in screen and then shell in and out, locally or remotely, as needed. The faces (fonts) bother  me a lot more than the widgets — it’s not about the aesthetics as much as if I can clearly see what the hell I’m doing.

I’m going to try this for a while and see how much work it’ll take to get it working the way I use GNU emacs. Just remembered I forgot to change EDITOR=emacsclient to EDITOR=gnuclient. Also, this (last line!) has to go in the init.el to keep from opening a new sxemacs GUI instance:

(require 'gnuserv)
(setq gnuserv-frame (selected-frame))

Sheesh! Recompiled –without-x. Much better, too, after removing background color (transparent terminal over black wallpaper).

Now the fun of getting my other emacs stuff to work correctly with this.

I also converted my previous laptop over to CentOS 6. I did a minimal net installation, installed xfce from EPEL, and then added some of my own packages (including dwm and jwm because I decided I don’t care for xfce). My ridiculous Acer Aspire One is still running SL6 and still having issues with the fucking Atheros wireless card. When it starts to flake out on me, I pop in a zyd-based USB wireless adapter. Voila. I should blacklist the module for the Atheros card but, honestly, the AA1 has been such a pain in the ass that I seldom use it. I recently updated XP (30-something packages!) after not even booting it for like half a year and suffered some USB-related issues as a result. The good news is under the RHEL6 clones, all the other AA1’s hardware — including both internal card readers — work properly, without having to boot one side with a card inserted.

Okay. The headline mentions other distros and NetBSD. I’m considering some changes on the other laptop because a lot of stuff I’ve compiled for it would be just as easy from scratch instead of using source RPMs or new source. I tried to get a measure of how many packages are installed by default on a minimal install of various distros. I figure RHEL clones will have the most, followed by Debian, and on the other side of the scale will be Slackware and Gentoo (I haven’t used Sabayon before but I like the option of using a binary or portage depending on my tastes — this is why I’m also considering a BSD and pkgsrc).

There are certain distros I’ve taken off my radar list despite having a fondness for them. As I now use laptops, netbooks, and other portable devices — including portable USB storage — about 90% of the time, encryption is very important to me; one of my parents’ was a victim of identity theft in the past couple years and I was already a bit paranoid about what kind of information could be found in plaintext on my computers. On all my computers, I like the option of installing to, or easily setting up, one encrypted LVM which includes at the very least my /home, /var, /etc, and swap. I used to think it was adequate to encrypt just /home and swap but I’ve changed my mind after auditing “identifying” information available elsewhere on an unencrypted system. For example, plaintext wifi passwords in /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf (or elsewhere on a “non-standard” system) or stuff stored in /tmp. I also think it’s not enough that the “core” of the operating system be protected from threats, such as over the Internet; the biggest vulnerabilities usually stem from applications and user choices, and you can’t reboot those problems away — they’ll still be there if (or because) /home and /usr/local are RW, not read-only. When storage is measured in GB and TB and speedy multi-core processors, it’s harder for me to choose to run my OS in some “embedded” style.

Still on my TODO list is my post about what I use instead of OpenOffice.org. Also, I’ll try to write a post about the minimal install I did with more specifics (need to edit my gnote version of it — wish I could import that into this without reformatting) in the near future. As usual, no promises on time lines.

Debian Squeeze – Not All Perfect But Close

March 15, 2011

Not everything has gone well under Debian Squeeze. I’ve been running jwm and ratpoison, my preferred window managers (even though I’ve grown more tolerant of Gnome; it’s just a bit much for my laptop). In jwm, one of the things I do first is set up various apps to run maximized without borders. This has proven stable in most cases.

Here’s a shot of how emacs should start and look. Unfortunately, something in my .emacs has resulted in a problem where it doesn’t open full screen (even though I commented out fullscreen mode) — but that’s easily fixed by alt-f2 and selecting maximize. The above shot is what I should have, right?

Okay, so let’s switch desktops and then come back. This is what happens.

I first noticed this on my Aspire One. The icon and menu bars are fine so long as:

  • I don’t start w3m-el, or
  • switch desktops

Either of those happens, then bad stuff happens. I thought at first it might be GTK-related but this happens in jwm, not in other window managers (no fail in ratpoison or evilwm) — in the other window managers, the w3m icons are displayed while in w3m-mode and the default ones when in standard emacs modes. I think it’s something with jwm (whether it’s with jwm or the way it’s configured in Debian who knows), not emacs, since it’s not occurring in other window managers — I can switch between applications and/or desktops in evilwm, for example, and the icons don’t change or disappear.

This really is no big deal since my .emacs has lines turning off both the menu bar and icon bar (currently commented out), which is why I may not have caught this before. Another reason I may not have caught it is because I usually run emacs in console instead of using the GTK instance. Once I uncomment those lines in my .emacs, it’s going to be no big deal again in jwm.

One more nit to pick about the default jwmrc from Debian (again, no big deal because I edit/customize the hell out of it anyway). It has a lot of extraneous tags, including a section in the keybindings.

<!-- Key bindings -->
 <Key key="Up">up</Key>
 <Key key="Down">down</Key>
 <Key key="Right">right</Key>
 <Key key="Left">left</Key>
 <Key key="h">left</Key>
 <Key key="j">down</Key>
 <Key key="k">up</Key>
 <Key key="l">right</Key>
 <Key key="Return">select</Key>
 <Key key="Escape">escape</Key>

 <!-- #DEBIAN unused -->
 <Key mask="A" key="Tab">nextstacked</Key>
 <!-- #DEBIAN add -->
 <Key mask="A" key="Tab">next</Key>

 <Key mask="A" key="F4">close</Key>
 <Key mask="A" key="#">desktop#</Key>
 <Key mask="A" key="F1">root:1</Key>
 <Key mask="A" key="F2">window</Key>

In particular, that “unused” line is preceded and trailed by —>, and that first one shouldn’t be there if the goal was to comment out “nextstacked” in favor of next. I really hate that “nextstacked” setting in jwm, which renders meta (alt) unusable by anything but jwm — I consider it a bug. I’ve written to the author about this but for some reason that’s the default. If you use jwm and you have issues with using your meta/alt key, edit “nextstacked” to just “next” and then restart jwm. We fixed that in the default jwmrc in DSL. Looks like that was the intention here, too, but the result of not properly commenting out the whole nextstacked part is that the alt-meta remains locked up jwm. Guess I should report that. As well as the other issues.

An update, too, on the Aspire One. I ran into some problems with SL6rc1 on my Aspire One and needed something “ready to roll.” I haven’t decided if I’m going to run it again because I run Debian on just about everything else I own — which is why I decided to install it again on the AA1 despite past wifi-related issues. I did a very minimal net install of Squeeze despite concerns about wifi issues I’ve had under Linux with that netbook. The good news thus far is that it’s running without hassles and I haven’t had the problems even under the heaviest loads that used to cause the time outs — extensive uptimes and sftp’ing large and/or multiple files.

What did I install on the Aspire One? I’m using jwm almost exclusively with emacs, firefox (from mozilla rather than iceweasel), gtkpod, livetex, OpenOffice.org, skype, shotwell, gtkam, wicd-curses, and vlc. A few other things that don’t come to mind. It’s pretty lean and it rocks.

The emacs icon/menu bar issue doesn’t really put me off using jwm. It’s resulted in a noticeable performance boost over Gnome, and there are many things I like being able to customize (especially apps opening maximized sans decorations). Next trimming will come at the expense of network manager (though probably avoiding wicd because it’s not an improvement over using other more basic tools; wicd can’t scan for hidden SSIDs, but plain old wpa_supplicant does).

[Note/rant on wicd and hidden SSIDs: The documentation and lists for wicd suggest the inability to scan or find hidden SSIDs is exclusively a driver issue. BULLSHIT. I can find my SSID’s MAC address just fine via iwlist but wicd has failed on all three of my current laptops — that’s three unique drivers (Broadcom 43xx, Realtek something or another, Atheros ath5k), all capable of finding the SSID’s MAC address via iwlist and connecting straight-up via wpa_supplicant, and no such problem with network manager. I also ran into an issue with wicd-gtk that caused me to try the -curses version. When I would try connecting to my hidden SSID, the rescan would find no wireless connections — none! I’d have to restart wicd and try again, sometimes three or four times, to get a list of SSIDs again and then repeat the process trying to connect to the hidden SSID. The -curses version won’t connect to a hidden SSID but hasn’t required running ‘/etc/init.d/wicd restart’ at all — it just requires me to enter the hidden SSID name, rescan, connect. So I’m most likely ditching wicd altogether and probably running networking via my own shell scripts or the available networking scripts in /etc. I don’t hide my SSID for security reasons and I’m not going to unhide it just to use wicd.]

As you can see in the shots above, I’m running Bluetooth and the green dot on the bluez-manager applet signifies I’m connected at the moment to my headphones. I’m running mplayer streaming audio via pulseaudio (-ao pulse). Audio switches seamlessly between headphones and speakers, etc., when I turn the headphones on and off; the pulseaudio sink also switches between my stream and Skype during calls without interaction. No hassles at all. Just works. I had a lot of bad things to say about my initial experiences with pulseaudio but my recent experiences have been superb regardless of desktop environment/window manager.

Over all, I remain very happy with Debian Squeeze. It’s just a package here and there that may cause some minimal grief. Beyond anomalies, it’s rock solid, flexible, and has enough software options to keep most reasonable users happy.

Update: No tool bar, no menu, no problem:

More Debian Squeeze Love: remuco

February 22, 2011

One of my favorite applications is remuco. It allows you to use Bluetooth headphones or similar devices to remotely control multimedia. For example, I can stop, pause, and change tracks with the controls on my headset. Volume control was already possible via pulseaudio (a2dp).

Debian packages are available to control various multimedia applications. I’ve installed it for all the multimedia applications I have installed with the exception of mpd.

p remuco-amarok - duplex remote control for media players -
p remuco-audacious - duplex remote control for media players -
p remuco-banshee - duplex remote control for media players -
i A remuco-base - duplex remote control for media players -
p remuco-mpd - duplex remote control for media players -
i remuco-mplayer - duplex remote control for media players -
i remuco-rhythmbox - duplex remote control for media players -
i remuco-totem - duplex remote control for media players -
p remuco-tvtime - duplex remote control for media players -
p remuco-vlc - duplex remote control for media players -
p remuco-xmms2 - duplex remote control for media players -

Configuration is pretty easy, as remuco functions as a plugin under totem and rhythmbox (which I rarely use). It requires a little more effort under mplayer but is straightforward. In totem/rhythmbox, go to edit-plugins and then click on.

Here’s the rhythmbox plugin dialog:

And for totem:

To reiterate, unlike DW reviewers, I’ve had no trouble getting things working in Debian out of the box or even with the most minimal effort. Audio on the Bluetooth headphones starts when I turn them on and direct the audio to it and stops when I either manually redirect audio or when I turn off the headphones.

Squeeze Hardware Love and SL6rc1 Tease

February 21, 2011

More fun with laptops this evening.

Squeeze Hardware Love

This follows up on what I wrote earlier about a DW drama queen’s reviewer’s complaints about Debian hardware support. Since that person didn’t elaborate much beyond a wireless card on what hardware was problematic, I wanted to give an indication of how easy it’s been to configure my own hardware.

Aspire One

First, I think everything except one of the card readers on my Aspire One worked perfectly out of the box (net install) when I ran Lenny on it. The only issue I had — which has occurred regardless of distro (but not in XP, except when rebooting from a Linux crash to XP) — was with the Atheros wireless card. It’s flaky. The camera, microphone, audio jacks, etc., all worked fine. If not for the wireless problem, whether it’s hardware or software, I would run Linux on that little netbook and be a lot happier with it.

Primary Laptop

My new-old laptop got a new wireless card that doesn’t require some kind of blob or quirky driver to work. It’s worked fine with every distro I tried. I used ethernet to set up Debian via net install. Everything on it’s worked flawlessly. That includes the peripherals and devices I plug into it.

Peripherals and Devices

I’ve used a couple different Bluetooth headsets with my laptops as well as phones. They’ve been easy to configure by editing .asoundrc to include a setting (e. g., for btaudio) to direct alsa to redirect audio to the headphones — pretty much the same as any other distro using alsa would require.

Debian has pulseaudio available, but it’s not default like in certain other distros. I’m not a big fan of it but it’s probably the easiest way to get a2dp working in Debian.

Speaking of Bluetooth, all my phones are able to send files (mostly pics) to the laptop via Bluetooth. Set up was easy using the default Bluetooth tools installed in a basic net install (Gnome is the Debian default). My USB Bluetooth dongle was detected from first boot and has had zero trouble.

My printer, a nifty all-in-one HP inkjet model released in the past 18 months, wasn’t supported by the CUPS and HPLIP versions in the SL5.{4,5} ecosystem. The printer worked when I updated certain packages, but I suffered breakage on the scanner side. I lived with that until I had to use that scanner. That’s a game-changer when it’s down to one choice. That’s when I reinstalled Lenny and then upgraded the system to Squeeze (which was still in testing) because a colleague had given me a thumbs-up on it.

My other printers are all supported. No issues.

My USB hubs, powered and unpowered, function properly. Someday someone will build a laptop with enough USB ports to plug all my stuff in at once, and I will buy it. Until then, my desk looks like a freaking spaceship with blinking green and red lights everywhere.

All the rest of my USB plug-in stuff has worked flawlessly or with what I consider minimal configuration. That includes cameras, ZIP drives, external hard drives, and so on.

SL6rc1 Tease

I decided to install SL6rc1 on my Aspire One tonight. I know I wrote earlier that I’ll have more on my testing, and hopefully I’ll get around to that by the weekend. I’ll also have a few words (and a screenshot!) to say about the installation — which would probably upset that little weenie over at DW because the graphical installer didn’t launch from the icon so I did it text-style.

It went fairly smoothly, I updated the system, added some software, and had to add a few seconds to GRUB so I can choose between SL6 and Windows XP (didn’t have to but wanted to).

Anyway, this is just a tease. I’ll write a proper review shortly and load a few screenshots.