Archive for the ‘Fedora’ Category

Scientific Linux 5.4 (Live/USB) on my Aspire One

April 17, 2010

I ran Scientific Linux for a little while on my new-old laptop and still have it installed on a spare hard drive in my new desktop (though I’ve been running Debian on that for about a month). Really didn’t have much trouble with it — it’s just what one should expect by something that’s oriented for enterprise use: stable, solid, not flashy, not bleeding edge, no drama.

For those who don’t know about Scientific Linux, it’s compiled from RHEL sources so it’s in the same category as CentOS. The biggest difference between CentOS and SL is the former is a community-run project while SL is based at FermiLab. SL has a more scientific orientation than CentOS, with a focus on packages for use in research and writing and less on games and entertainment (though there are concessions to games and entertainment). If the SL repositories are inadequate for your needs, there are optional third-party repositories of RHEL binary-compatible RPMs which should work across the spectrum of RHEL-compatible distros.

I was playing around with distros while watching the NBA playoffs tonight, since the first two games today were routs. I first decided to look at SL54 live CD on my Aspire One. I first tried the Lite image but it lacked wpa_supplicant, so I grabbed the full Gnome image and put it on USB via unetbootin. For what it’s worth, the Lite image uses icewm (which is also on the Gnome live CD) and comes with Firefox, emacs, vim, xfe, and probably other stuff I didn’t bother looking at very closely. Sorry, but there’s only so much I can do without networking. I did log out of icewm to run emacs in console and I can vouch for its stability.

Once I set up a USB stick with the Gnome image, I booted up. It’s straightforward and comforting because I like to see hardware detection instead of some sexy graphics. I encountered one little problem logging in: Scientific Linux live CD has a pre-login option to set keyboard and passwords (passwords are optional). With the small display of my Aspire One and the large text in the dialog, I was unable to see the area where the prompts were. Fortunately, I’ve used this fine little live CD before so I knew US-English keyboard is 1 and I didn’t bother to choose to set a password since I was just seeing how well it would do on the Aspire One. After hitting return, I went to the gdm login and entered “sluser” and I was quickly in  Gnome.

After a quick look at dmesg and lsmod, I quickly set up my wireless. Voila.

It’s been a while since I spent this much time using Linux on the Aspire One. Other than occasionally logging in to my TinyCore/MicroCore install on this thing, I’ve given up running Linux on it. Search my ath5k entries and you’ll see why. I never did sort out whether it was related to the ath5k driver, something in the 80211 MAC stack, or wpa_supplicant — it could be one, it could be a combination, but I know for sure that it isn’t the card (it works flawlessly in Windows no matter how long I’m on it). It’s quite possible if the problem is with wpa_supplicant that “backing down” to an enterprise-oriented distro like Scientific or CentOS might let me run Linux on this thing since wpa_supplicant most likely is a more stable (okay, older) version with certain patches to fix bugs. The problem with testing that tonight is I was on battery and thus not up long enough to see. (I just plugged in again to reboot and post this.)

The only issue I remember under SL54 on my desktop was having to manually update hplip for my printer. The same would apply to CentOS and other RHEL-compatible distros (what does that leave, Oracle?). That’s a minor consideration compared to the issues I had with repeated wifi timeouts under the following distros (not the fault of the distros, just a summary of ones I ran on the AA1):

  • PCLOS (KDE, Xfce/Phoenix, etc.)
  • Fedora (10, 11, 12)
  • Debian (Lenny and Sid)
  • CrunchBang
  • TinyCore/MicroCore

I think that’s it. There were others I ran off USB but never would install because they weren’t ready for prime time. And when I run off USB (as I did tonight), it’s rarely for hours or days on end. It was more like 45 minutes while I shelled in to my desktop and moved files around (including the above screenshots). Like I wrote above, not enough time for the ath5k to race and panic and then no longer be detected.

I didn’t do a full checklist of hardware compatibility but I don’t think this thing would have any unresolved issues (except maybe the stupid card readers). I was a little surprised after the login thing with the keyboard and password prompts that gdm and X ran perfectly and detected the correct resolution. I didn’t look at the webcam. I presume audio works (the error beep sure did) but didn’t bother with that since I already knew I’d have to download codecs to listen to anything other than ogg files (I was watching the games, not interested in streaming or playing anything). As you can see from the wifi icon, my ath5k card was properly detected and nm-applet did a cursory scan to find available networks; I set it up quickly and was networked with WPA.

I’m still determined to run Linux on this thing even though it’s supposedly been for sale for the past couple months. I’ll probably give this USB stick with SL54 a longer look on the AA1 in the coming days to see if I can get the ath5k to time out again. For now, though, I have to get some sleep.

UPDATE: I’ve posted an update/addendum to this post.

20091119 Update – AA1, New-Old Laptop, New Desktop, Etc.

November 19, 2009

Slowly getting back into the rhythm of my own life again and finding more time to set up computers. I’m selling my AA1 as I noted in the previous update.

I’m not running Slackware on the new laptop right now. I downloaded PCLOS Zen Mini to see what a stripped down Gnome desktop system would be like. I ended up installing it on the new-old laptop and have added only packages I want/need. Despite my dislike for bloated packaging typically found in binary distros, this is much preferable to installing something that comes with software packages I don’t care for and end up replacing with the ones I want. I don’t know how much longer I’ll run this before changing again. I’m surprisingly pleased with it so far — even with the sizable updates I ran upon installing it — but I think I’m probably going to ditch anything running Gnome or KDE. I saw that Texstar has Xfce and e17 (coming soon?) versions available as well, in addition to LXDE (which just isn’t my cuppa).

I’m currently burning the Fedora 12 Xfce live ISO. I doubt I’ll install it but who knows.

I’ve also been running TinyCore on this laptop via USB. I may end up setting it up on the hard drive at some point.

I’ve also acquired a new desktop to replace my old one. The old one, which had the funkiest parts and configuration I think I’ve ever encountered in an OEM computer, bit the dust and I don’t feel like finding a new power supply for it; it’s not a standard power supply and the model is no longer supported by the manufacturer. I don’t have an OS installed on it yet and probably won’t get to it until this weekend at the earliest (more likely Thanksgiving weekend since my holiday shopping is done). I haven’t made any choices about distros for it yet but maybe I’ll have some time to look around a bit more before I slap in my USB stick and copy TinyCore to that hard drive.

Another Way (Maybe) to Skin The MTP Cat

July 19, 2009

I knew there was a nexus between MTP and PTP but I hadn’t checked to see if I could use libgphoto2 to access my Samsung S3 before today. I decided to check because I saw the S3 listed among the devices supported by libgphoto2. Imagine that.

I’d already installed gtkam, which uses libgphoto2, to manage my old Kodak digital camera. I looked to see if the S3 was among the “cameras” listed in the camera selection dialog. It wasn’t listed there but several similar Samsung models were. I didn’t have anything to lose so I plugged it in. I then ran the “detect” option and, voila, I had a listing for my MTP device. I expanded the entry and I had access to everything on the device.

screenshot-20090719160151

What gets me is that this (in #!/Jaunty) is the current version of gtkam and libgphoto2 2.4.2 (current is 2.4.6 and the S3 is named among supported devices in that version). Even with the current version of libmtp, I don’t have the ability to see things by directory (not shown but take my word for it: “Datacasts” and all  the other directories are listed above this “Music” directory) when using apps like rhythmbox. My only option is to use mtp-tools (aka “mtp-examples” to those of you still hitting my blog searching for Fedora help). The only options I have in rhythmbox are to view by artist, song, album, etc. Useful but limited. At least mtp-tools is adequate to manage the device.

I haven’t looked to see if there are any other apps using libgphoto2 to manage MTP devices or to allow mounting them via fuse. Speaking of fuse, the version of mtpfs in Jaunty’s repositories is of no use to me. I can mount the device but a command like ls results with question marks rather than file sizes and permissions. It also shows the filenames but doesn’t allow any other operation on them.

Anyway, it’s nice to see there might be another way to use MTP devices under non-Windows operating systems and that it may actually yield better results. Of course, I’ve only tried to read files and directories and delete files. It may be back to square one if I try to add files.

UPDATE: I installed gphotofs, a fuse system for libgphoto2 which allows PTP/MTP cameras to be mounted as any other filesystem. Yes! I can mount the device and have full access of it. Just deleted a bunch of podcasts from the Datacasts directory.

screenshot-20090719165825

My shell, mksh, carries text beyond the screen (<) so you can’t see the rm command but you can see the result. Finally something freaking works right.

UPDATE 2: Add another 16MB (27MB when various {u} dependencies are removed) of cruft removed. Gone are rhythmbox, libmtp, libusb-dev (needed to recompile libmtp), mtp-tools, mtpfs, etc. It’s redundant to gphoto2/gphotofs and I have much better access to my device now.

UPDATE 3: Using gphotofs is very easy, especially if you’ve used fuse before. You need to be in group plugdev. I chose to create a mount point in my home directory (~/mtp) rather than use a point like /mnt. To mount, first make sure fuse is loaded (lsmod if it was built as a module) and then use the gphotofs command:

gphotofs ~/mtp

Or whatever your mount point is. Once mounted, you can navigate and issue commands as you would any other directory (in a terminal, file manager, whatever you want). When finished, unmount the point:

fusermount -u ~/mtp

Or whatever your mount point is. Give it a moment to umount and then you can remove your device. It’ll work for your camera (if the camera is MTP or PTP) as well.

UPDATE 4: Fuck. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. I can read from the device and copy and delete from it. Copying to it:

cp: cannot create regular file... Function not implemented

So tomorrow I reinstall libmtp and mtp-tools. Yippee.

Update 20090708: crunchbang, etc.

July 8, 2009

Following up on a recommendation from kruce, I saw there was a new release of crunchbang (#!) and decided to download it since it’s been a while since I last looked at it. I wanted to see if it would work better on my AA1 than Fedora, particularly with the ath5k problem I’ve had. I also want to see how much lighter it is than Xubuntu.

I ran into a problem trying  to get the latest ISO:

crunchbang-dl-whoops-666x390

Oh well. I’ll try again later. Even though it’s based on Ubuntu.

I’m seriously looking at alternatives to Fedora 10, including Fedora 11 despite some problems I’ve noticed (including broken Synaptics driver and requirement for ext4 root partition when installing from the live CD). I ran the KDE image again the other day. As much as I like KDE and its integration, it’s a bit much for my AA1’s lone GB of RAM. And I think I’d wait for PCLOS 2009.3 if I were really KDE-inclined.

More soon, maybe.

UPDATE 15:28 US/Central – 8 July 2009: Still no luck with the “official” download link which isn’t mirrored. The forum has torrent links and others are making the ISOs — some of them anyway (understandable since most people would ordinarily only download one or two depending on architecture and whether they want the regular ISO, the lite ISO, or both) — available on their servers. First success in starting the download from the main site resulted in failure; the server timed out and I couldn’t reconnect to it. I wanted to download the lite ISO but the only link I saw for it was via The Pirate Bay; that would require a change in DNS servers since my ISP blocks TPB. Trying to get the regular ISO now (really big thanks to those hosting). It’s very slow and tedious, though.

UPDATE 2 – 17:15 US/Central – 8 July 2009: (EDITED AND SCREENSHOTS ADDED) Got it downloaded and installed to USB thumbdrive via unetbootin. First boot was faster than I thought it would be. Default keyboard came up as GB, no problemo. Freaking NetworkManager again. Got connected to my router, no problem. Kept an eye for messages related to my Atheros card freaking out like in Fedora, but nothing in the short time I was running #!.  (I downloaded latest kernel sources to try and see if that fixes the problem with the card flaking out.)

Here are a couple screenshots. Nothing special, just screen and some pinging.

cbshot003 

cbshot002

The RAM use in conky was cache, actual memory used was closer to 530 after running Firefox. That’s very admirable compared to other things I’ve run off USB.

Will I install? Ummm, don’t know yet. I want to give the lite version a spin first because this has some stuff on it that I’ll replace anyway. To its credit, it recognizes my hard drive as /dev/sda and the USB stick as /dev/sdb, which means it should install (e. g., GRUB) properly if I do put it on my hard drive.

Hiatus

July 6, 2009

Okay, final straw with this problem I’ve had recur several times now with suddenly losing wireless and no longer being able to even scan. I’ve mentioned this problem a couple times before. It starts in Linux and persists even when I reboot into Windows. It hasn’t ever happened to me in Windows alone — not before I installed Linux and not while running Windows. It only happens in Linux (specifically in Fedora).

There must be something dreadfully wrong with the ath5k driver in Linux or in any patches Fedora may apply to it or in NetworkManager. I didn’t look to see if there’s something in dmesg that might be helpful, but I did notice that iwconfig showed throttling at different transfer rates even when I manually set it down to 11MB. Then I’d look again a few minutes later and one time it’s at 1MB and the next it’s at 54MB.

I was running nm-applet and suddenly got a notice that I’d lost my network. Then it tried to reconnect. I was able to scan briefly while it tried to reconnect the first time, but it picked up only my SSID (there are at least six visible now in Windows) and showed a weak (12/100) signal strength (“EXCELLENT” in Windows). Then I got into this circular hell with the Gnome keyring dialog and then another one with my WPA settings. Meanwhile, scanning showed no visible networks anymore. The problem once again persisted when rebooting into Windows. I logged in, the wifi LED blinked a time or two, and then I got the icon in my system tray showing that I didn’t have wireless; it was unable to scan again, too.

This tells me that whatever the fuck is happening, it can’t be very good for my wifi card because a software-only issue should resolve when the system is rebooted. So it seems to be affecting the hardware. Is the card overheating? I don’t know. I mentioned before that the area above the card gets pretty hot when running Linux (I recall similar heat under other distros I’ve run). All I know is that I’m able to get things up and running again after resuming from suspend.

Between this craziness and the card readers issue, it’s getting easier to decide to upgrade to Windows 7 in a few months. I was hoping to be able to find an alternative, but right now I see too many problems to consider Linux a viable solution for me — especially if it turns out the problem is or could be deleterious to my hardware. Maybe this can be fixed somehow between now and October 22nd. Maybe not.

In the interim, my Linux-related posts may be less frequent than they’ve been the past few weeks because I honestly have no idea if or when I’m going to bother booting back into Fedora.

EDIT/UPDATE – 6 July 2009 – 22:05 US/Central: I read through some of the bug reports and need to doa little more homework to see if the Fedora kernel has the appropriate patches. If not, more work for me to do and I may go ahead and install Fedora 11 — or something else — with a newer kernel with the rewritten module and see if that works. If anyone reading this uses the ath driver in any of the BSDs, please leave comment about any issues with it (with or without the patch mentioned on the netbsd wiki’s Aspire One page).

Update 20090705 – services trimming, fluxbox tweaking, added xsel, dircolors, etc

July 5, 2009

I was going to install some ratpoison-friendly tools late (for me) last night but, as usual, they come with so much overhead that I decided against installing. These are things that work well regardless of window manager. I’d run into similar bloat issues back when I was using Debian on my old laptop — try to install something light and it comes with MBs of dependencies that aren’t needed unless you compile with every option. This is one of my biggest gripes against binary-based distros. For the convenience of not having to compile anything, you’re hostage to how others compile them for you.

This time the apps I wanted to add were xsel and xbindkeys; the dependencies in Fedora are guile and tcl/tk.

screenshot-20090704185238

Had to say no. I think I can add xsel without guile or tcl/tk — I’ll check and see in a bit. (Edit…) Okay, I’ve installed xsel because it has no dependencies I didn’t already have installed. I could live with guile but I’m not going to install even more languages like tcl just to use one small app. Fedora comes with enough as it is. Why not streamline everything and use perl, python, or lua only? I think I installed ruby when I installed mew. I wish everything in open source was more standardized and more attention was paid to reducing dependencies so you don’t have disparate libs for disparate apps like this.

I also spent a little time last night trimming down services that start up in my favored run level. I decided to start CUPS manually since a lot of the time I’m not connected to my main printer or near enough one of the available network printers to get my stuff. I also shut off the NFS-related (rpc) services, IPV6, and a few others.

This morning I started on something totally unimportant except to Linux “reviewers” (especially the ones at distrowatch), aesthetics. I wanted something a little less dark. This is it for now. Whatthefuckever.

screenshot-20090705071957

Of course, my terminal is still black and about 75% of what I do is in that (screen) so it doesn’t make much difference. I decided to alias ls to include dircolors in my mksh profile so I have a little more color there now. Not a big deal either way. Same information as before.

Since I added more stuff in my .xinitrc, it’s apples to oranges comparing initial RAM hits. At login, though, I’ve lost about 10 more MB. I know there are people who consider unused RAM a waste of resources, but I find it more wasteful to clog up RAM with things that won’t be used or which serve dubious purposes lacking any utilitarian value (including wobbling windows).

I still have more things to do with fluxbox configuration, especially adding more keybindings. It’s kind of awkward the way it’s set up now with some of the defaults. I also want to add more things to the menu to automate tasks.

That’ll all have to wait. I hadn’t planned on doing any of this last night or this morning. More during the week when (if) I find time.

Using libmtp, mtp-tools in Fedora 10

July 4, 2009

Working on MTP-stuff while watching the first day’s time trials in the Tour de Lance. I removed rhythmbox several days ago along with the big load of Gnome bloatware I ditched. No big deal.

aa1-s3-600x445

Just for background, my MTP device is a Samsung S3 (YP-S3). The S3 was on my wishlist because it’s capable of playing OGG and video; it also has a cool touchpad interface instead of a stupid wheel thing. Unfortunately, just because it plays ogg files doesn’t mean it plays fairly with non-Windows operating systems. It was purchased from a big box electronics store which runs its own music download site; this retailer sells custom-flashed models to work with their store and this custom firmware removes OGG-capability (even though the retailer’s site provides specs suggesting it does play ogg files). I installed the default firmware for the device to get OGG support on it; Windows, though, will wrongly suggest these files won’t play on the device when copying. And despite being capable of playing back video, the videos must first be converted for the device using Samsung’s software that comes with it. I chose to not install it so I don’t watch videos. Finally, the other fly in the ointment with the device is that it’s MTP rather than UMS. UMS is standard USB storage and MTP is Microsoft Transfer Protocol. Of course, the packaging and specs don’t tell the consumer that it’s MTP and not plug-and-use like any standard USB device.

Fortunately, there is some MTP support for non-Windows operating systems via libmtp. The project has had some support from Microsoft. Contrary to the naysayers and haters, Microsoft wants wider adoption of their protocols. After all, a Zune sale makes them money whether the user wants to use it in Windows or Linux. Unfortunately, the ease/difficulty of getting devices to work depends on how they’re set up by manufacturers and how many developers or owners have provided information to the developers. Some applications which use libmtp work better than others, which also is affected by which version of libmtp is being used.

There are several applications which use libmtp to support MTP devices. These include amarok and rhythmbox, but also include lesser-known applications and utilities.

I installed mtpfs, a fuse filesystem allowing the device to be mounted, in Debian but was unimpressed with it. I didn’t see mtpfs in Fedora. I don’t know if I’ll bother with compiling it. In Debian, I was able to mount the device and navigate directories to read files but had zero control over files. Like other MTP utilities, there was scant information to help me resolve the problems. I wish it had worked because I love the fuse approach for things like this.

I also looked briefly at gnomad2 (in Fedora) but was put off by a few things. The worst part was the non-recognition of my device (not too surprising since the application isn’t a general MTP manager but targeted to a couple specific devices). The other thing — and this is the kind of aggravating thing some programmers do that pisses me off — is that it uses graphical interface boxes for the main part of the application or its preferences designed for high resolution screens so that on a smaller screem (such as my AA1) a user has to press alt to scroll the thing up off the screen to get to the options on bottom. Maybe the developer isn’t aware that scrollbars allow users to navigate below a certain point if their screens aren’t the same size as his. I removed it after having to push it up the screen repeatedly to find more options to see if it might be tweakable to find and work with my device. I just said, “Fuck it.”

While most users would feel more comfortable using an application like amarok or rhythmbox which uses libmtp, libmtp comes with its own set of tools (usually called mtp-tools for some strange reason). These tools are command-line and not very well documented. Maybe they’d be easier to use if they were, eh.

The first thing I had to do was figure out which Fedora package has mtp-tools. After looking through the mtp-related files (via yum search and yum info) I realized “libmtp-examples” is mtp-tools. Whatever. I installed it and started seeing what I could do with it.

One important command to see if the device is recognized is mtp-detect. This command will provide details about the device — name, ID numbers, directories, and capabilities. Once you know the device is recognizable by libmtp, you can look at managing it (the list of mtp commands is posted below).

I wanted to copy a couple test podcasts to one particular directory. I didn’t know off the top of my head if using mtp-sendfile would result in my podcasts going to the Music directory or to the root directory. After transferring them — one of which resulted in an error — I disconnected the S3, turned it on, and started looking for it. Music? No. But it did land in the file manager’s Music folder, and it played when I selected it.

So I had to figure out  how to manage the directory structure on the device. It’s offputting to have everything go in one directory when there’s a full tree of directories to manage things better. The mtp-folders command produces a list of folders, each with a number in front of it.

After doing a few searches, I learned that I can’t name destination directories when transferring files but rather need to use their number codes (available via mtp-folders). Once I knew that it was easy to send my podcasts to “Datacasts” on my Samsung S3.

screenshot-20090704113939

I still get the “unknown options” error message but the files are going to my “Datacasts” directory; when sending to “Datacasts” by name, they were going to the root of the Music directory and accessible only in the File Manager rather than under Music (stupid, huh). Also note that the permissions require root access to the device. Go figure. I’ll add a new group for it or something but it’s not a big deal since Windows will ignore the permissions anyway.

There are a variety of mtp-tool commands. As you can see, though, I used mtp-connect –sendfile instead of mtp-sendfile. No matter because mtp-sendfile, mtp-delfile, mtp-getfile, mtp-newfolder, and mtp-sendtr are all links to mtp-connect.

mtp-albumart        mtp-emptyfolders    mtp-getplaylist     mtp-reset           mtp-trexist
mtp-albums          mtp-files           mtp-hotplug         mtp-sendfile
mtp-connect         mtp-folders         mtp-newfolder       mtp-sendtr
mtp-delfile         mtp-format          mtp-newplaylist     mtp-thumb
mtp-detect          mtp-getfile         mtp-playlists       mtp-tracks

I’ll see if I can put together a better, more comprehensive tutorial on using these devices without installing bloated apps like those mentioned above.

Little fluxbox tweaks

July 3, 2009

Nothing fancy. I edited a theme — bora_black — so that it’s flat and uses terminus font instead of sans. Maybe I’ll adjust colors some time soon. I’ve also been messing around with setting up fluxbox to act a bit more like ratpoison or dwm. For now, that means apps which I like opened full screen (which is just about everything except GIMP and Skype) are set to do that. They’re also opening without title bars. I think title bars are a waste of space when running things maximized.

screenshot-20090703165425

What’s not to love about screen and emacs? Works the same regardless of window manager. At least the iconbar updates as I switch between things in screen.

I kind of like the way fluxbox is working set up like this but not as much as I like ratpoison. I have more stuff set up to operate via keybindings, including the menu. The menu is so spartan than I’m pretty much opening things via fbrun. I’ll get around to filling it in sooner or later. I’m also looking through the fluxbox documentation to see how much more I can do with it to keep it out of my way.

One thing I wish it had is tabbing, which I remember from the old version in DSL. See, sometimes the bigger version number isn’t necessarily better.

That’s it for today. And maybe for the weekend. Happy Fourth!

Fedora 10 on AA1: Configuring Skype, Using Fluxbox

July 2, 2009

Using fluxbox in Fedora 10 today. Mainly because I was working on Skype settings between conference calls and writing reports, and Skype is one of those nasty little apps that opens up multiple little windows which ratpoison manages individually. I haven’t had good luck using tmpwm in ratpoison, and I wouldn’t want to do that just to go back and forth to Skype.

screenshot-20090702154525

I’m also running NetworkManager (and nm-applet) again today while I test something else out. I’m likely removing that altogether ASAP and trying something different and easier to manually configure. I hate having networking spawned as a child process within X. It’s no problem as long as you’re in X but it has to be restarted if you break your X session for any reason. I saw a few options (not wicd — I want something lower resource but still able to choose between certain networks and blacklist others) so I may play around when I have more time and see if I can find something manageable and fairly flexible. Or no?

I had Skype working before I scrapped everything and installed Debian. I had to go through every setting again to remember what I did before, and then I realized Skype’s setting was still stuck on “Let Skype Adjust Your Audio.” Oh no. I got it all fixed when I stopped letting Skype fight me. Skype should be easier to set up without pulseaudio since it uses alsa anyway; IIRC, I had an easier time setting it up before even though I didn’t remove pulseaudio the first time I set up Fedora 10. BTW, I used alsamixer this time to adjust my audio settings.

I know Skype isn’t open source. So what. Not everything is or can be. I don’t have a problem with it. If someone could come up with a legitimate cross-platform open source application that works as well and (in most cases) easily, I’d use it. Right now Linux has no video conferencing software compatible with AIM let alone multi-platform so Skype it is. If there’s an argument against Skype being closed source it means that it can’t be re-written to use only one window. But the same argument is pretty much true of open source software like GIMP which also opens too many windows rather than operating within one.

I’ve also noticed one of those quirks between Linux and Windows. The space just to the right of the Synaptics touchpad gets pretty hot. That’s right above where the wifi card is located. I wonder if that’s why it’s gone wonky on me a couple times before. I haven’t noticed it getting this hot before in Windows. Who knows.

I’ve written before that I’m not a big fan of fluxbox. It works which is all that matters to me. I think I still prefer jwm because it’s more utilitarian and fairly easy to configure. I’ll see if I can get around to binding more keystrokes for things; I’d like to ditch the redundant title bars on the windows, too, and open (most) things maximized.

Okay, back to work. I have a lot of stuff to edit tonight.

Sayonara PulseAudio

June 28, 2009

I removed pulseaudio, which I consider proof that open source isn’t about the best ideas always floating to the top. Sometimes the worst ideas float to the top. Just like shit. I don’t think there’s really that much difference between open and closed source software because both are driven by similar pragmatism and developers try to do the best for their target user audiences; it’s not about the intentions of the developers, it still comes down to execution by the end user. What seems like a great idea can make things a hassle for users.

Even getting around it can be a hassle. Is removing pulseaudio straightforward and painless when a distro uses it by default? Of course not. Now I have to set permissions so a non-root user (ahem, that would be me) can use /dev/dsp and /dev/snd/; by default, permissions on /dev nodes are reset when the system is rebooted. I also have to let apps like mplayer know that we’re not using the default pulseaudio any longer, so I’ve set an alias to add -ao alsa to mplayer.

screenshot-20090628083513

Not a big issue, just clumsy.

Since I’d already removed a lot of dependent packages when I removed Gnome (or a lot of it anyway) last night, there were only a couple related packages to remove with it.

The result, though, is worth it. Everything’s working (sounding) a lot better and without tracking down every fucking possible setting in those idiotic scrolling interfaces. (Some pluseaudio settings weren’t found in alsaconf. Simplification? No, aggravation.)

More tweaking and clearing out cruft today as I have time.