Tuesday, 23 December 2008

USB Hard Drive Runs Slow

Came across this in a forum. Hey, I have this problem too!
'I had the odd Linux version mount external FAT32-drives (USB sticks) with some crappy mount parameters that it would have been quicker to write the data on the HD with my own hands - yes, literally.

So if you happen to use Linux..

Try mounting the external FAT drive without the "sync" option, i.e. with

"mount -o async".

But you'll have to remember to umount the external device manually before removing it; sometimes a lot of the writing happens only delayed at the time of umounting - at least it did sometimes with my SuSEs.'
(Thanks to The Voice of Doom on Fark.com)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

I Like Toys

I finally got a digital camera. I'm not experienced with them at all on any system, so when it came time to plugging it in to my computer, I wasn't sure of what I was doing.

I plugged the sucker in, and I expected a little USB-type drive would pop up on my desktop, but that did not happen.

Searching for a solution was kind of a pain because lots of ads for my camera kept popping up. Samsung doesn't exactly give directions for linux, either.

A little more searching finally revealed this page.

You have to turn the camera on after you plug it in to the computer. The page also warns to turn it off before unplugging it. By this, I would assume the USB device doesn't draw power from the computer via the USB connection, but it draws power from the camera's batteries.

A green light came on on the camera when connected. The screen momentarily asked me to choose between "computer" and "printer", so I chose... computer. The screen then turned black, but the light stayed on. At this point, a device appeared on my desktop, and I was able to sift through the directories in there like a regular USB flash drive.

Hope that solves a "what now" scenario for some of you camera/linux newbies.

What camera did I pick up? A Samsung S760 at "Wally World". 7.2megapixel, 3x optical zoom, takes SD cards only (not SDHC). Set me back $87 (November 01, 2008). Yes, I got the pink one. I'm generally anti-pink, but in my defense, I think it's less likely to get stolen and less likely to be mistaken for someone else's.

Pretty decent pictures, especially if you stablile the camera well when snapping photos. I used Digital Image Stabilization mode to take a few night shots outside my window. Best sample:

You're looking down Broadway Ave towards Main in Winnipeg, MB. The large white lit-up building is the Hotel Fort Garry.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

BSOD on Linux

Yes, you can get the Blue Screen of Death in Linux. Too funny.
is a package you can find in your repository. It has all sorts of screensavers, including popular OS error screens. Install via Synaptic Package Manager, Adept, or what have you.

Good for confusing the hell out of a roommate, friend, or spouse, though I really don't recommend messing around with the desktop environment settings of a person who you may want to continue relations with.

For a temporary trick, try this Flash trick. The ESC key exits full screen mode in Flash.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

tar switches for command line

tar -xzvf /path/to/your/file.tar.gz
xkcd? xfce? No. xzvf.

I'm sorry, that's a really bad nerd joke. I'll bet the nerds didn't even laugh.

Flash player doesn't install in Firefox

Flash wasn't working for me in Firefox. At one point, I had installed several flash players via Symantic or Adept, until learning I should only install flashplayer-nonfree. I removed the other ones, but still no go. I tried downloading the package from Adobe manually, and installing via the command line, but got this error:
Please enter the installation path of the Mozilla, Netscape,
or Opera browser (i.e., /usr/lib/mozilla): /usr/bin/firefox

WARNING: /usr/bin/firefox is not a directory.
Here are the tricks to fix it:
  • it seems the Adobe installer wants the actual numbered version of the firefox directory. "whereis firefox" didn't help me in this respect (as suggested on help forums). I ended up using /usr/lib/firefox-3.0.1 Yours might be slightly different. Why Adobe couldn't have indicated this in the installer... I don't know. Twits.
  • when testing out whether flash works on something like YouTube, make sure you don't have something like the "NoScript" add-on preventing anything you may need. (D'oh!) I had to allow both youtube.com and ytimg.com in NoScript.
... that brings up the question whether flash was actually working all along and my NoScript was thwarting all my efforts. Oh, probably.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Distributions, Applications, and Toolkits

Programs that "run better/faster" on specific Desktop Environments

Keep in mind your distribution uses different programming toolkits for their applications, so to minimize the amount of overhead that gets loaded up you may want to make sure your applications are native to what's already running. For this reason, you may want to use Transmission instead of Ktorrent if you're using Xubuntu.

gtk toolkit users:
Transmission bittorrent client
Synaptic Package Manager
Gimp (yes, rly)

qt toolkit users:
Adept Package Manager
qt browsers include Konqueror and Opera. I'm guessing you'll just stick with Firefox anyway!)

You may have seen "apt-get" and assume it refers the Adept Package Manager. It doesn't. APT is an acronym "Advanced Packaging Tool", package management system for Debian-based distributions. Synaptic and Adept are merely front-ends for this tool (i.e. they make it look purty).

Wikipedia articles on pieces of software often mention what toolkit the software uses, either in the first paragraph, or in an infobox on the right.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Ktorrent runs in background with no interface

kTorrent runs as background process with no interface (GUI). This fixed it for me:
rm .kde/share/config/ktorrentrc

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Viewing your Drives

sudo fdisk -l
(For posterity.) I forget this command.

And. Well. Forgetting this command is a little more understandable (I use it to mount my NTFS drive):
sudo mount /dev/hdb1 /media/kat120data/ -t ntfs -o nls=utf8,umask=0222
(all one line)

For those of you who don't know, drives connected with an IDE cable are listed as hda, hdb, (etc.) Their partitions have a number... for example, hda1, hda2, hda3... Drives that are connected via USB (external) or SATA (internal) connectors are labeled with 's', for example: sda1. There are a lot more filesystems than this, and they require different commands for mounting properly.

Be warned that NTFS drives (formatted under Windows NT or Windows 2000) don't necessarily have reliable write access under Linux. They're working on it. You can install some packages to mess around with it. Hard drives formatted with FAT32 (Windows XP, Windows 98, Windows 95...) have reliable read/write access when mounted in Linux.

Because of ext3 (Linux filesystem) benefits, I was really wound up to format my new USB external hard drive in ext3. Upon opening the box and reading the documentation, it is already formatted in FAT32. I've decided to leave it this way because I want my friends to be able to easily read the data off my drive (in case I cart it over to their place). Windows and ext3 don't intrinsically get along.

Most of us have only heard about FAT32 and NTFS, but the amount of computer filesystems is huge.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

CD Will Not Eject, Unmount (again)

Cliff's Notes:
- Close all applications that were referencing the DVD/CD (k3b, kaffeine).
- Close all Konqueror windows.
- use "pkill Konqueror", "pkill k3b", etc. in the command line for good measure.
- THEN try to eject your DVD/CD


Let. Go. My. DVD.

This time I get
umount: /media/hdd is not in the fstab (and you are not root)
Please check that the disk is entered correctly
I've just been burning DVDs like mad because my primary hard drive indicates it's failing while booting.

The last DVD seemed to burn, but produced an error at the end that it failed anyway. I re-loaded the DVD anyway and it popped up with the DVD name. I was able to open data on the disc. Soon after, I closed the pdf and pressed the button on the drive to eject. It wouldn't let me. The light is not on. The drive is not 'working' (no auditory indications that it is running). Ejecting the CD from the icon on the Desktop does not work and gives me the same error as well. Unmounting from there does the same. I did a search for this to come up with a command line solution.
Will by default eject the cdrom. (By the way, the UNIX manual for eject is very well-written. "man eject | more"). I tried:
eject dvd
(with and without "sudo" beforehand) but it gave me an error
umount: /media/hdd: device is busy
umount: /media/hdd: device is busy
Error: umount failed
eject: unmount of `/media/hdd' failed
Is there a command line way to force the drive to "stop" so I can eject it? Due to advice here, ejecting via the desktop icon should work, so I have to make sure that all programs referring to the cd/dvd are not running. *rolls eyes*
pkill k3b
and then attempting to eject still gives me the same error. I was about to accuse them of being liars, but I started thinking "there can not possibly be another application locking up the DVD. " And then... "A Konqueror window opened when I loaded the DVD. But I closed that." And then... "but there is another Konqueror window open, listing the contents of my hard drive. That was open at that time, and it's still open now."

I closed all my Konqueror windows.
I typed "pkill Konqueror" in the command line for good measure.
And yes, now the DVD will eject (via right-clicking the DVD icon on the desktop).

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Need Rasterizing PDF Firefox Plugin

Not really a Linux issue, but a FOSS issue:

I'd like a pdf plugin for Firefox that automatically rasterizes a pdf that's being opened and inserts it inline, or opens it in a new window. This would be especially helpful if the pdf is only one page.

Rasterization at 72dpi would only be necessary as it is on screen. Therefore, rasterization should be pretty fast.

The reason I've thought of this: my city's library insists on providing links to things that look like posters or news articles, but it's a pdf. Therefore, I must open my laggy pdf software on my machine and go through that whole dialog.

Yes, I know, I could just get more RAM (but my motherboard doesn't play nice with RAM and I'm also frugal).

Monday, 7 April 2008

Worms & WINE Are Not as Expected

Today I came across a web page with a download for the old computer game Worms 2. I recall playing this and Worms: Armageddon with my fellow residence friends when I was in University (affectionately called "rezbians"). I wondered if it could run on Linux. I know there is a web page somewhere which tells you such things.

I typed "worms wine" into Google before thinking. I got unexpected results which should (?) have been expected.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Lost Sound when Plugging in USB flash

I was playing an .avi in kaffeine, and at the same time I plugged in a 512MB USB flash drive. Immediately I lost sound in Kaffeine, though video was still playing. I check Youtube via Firefox, same thing.

I used to have a problem in Amarok where if Amarok crashed, it would mute the sound without my noticing. Thankfully I remembered to check this in Kaffeine, but that was not the problem.

I don't mess with the sound settings often, so I had a fun time trying to find them (turns out they're not in your system or settings menu... try looking for KMix in the Multimedia menu instead.)

I log on to the freenode IRC channel #kubuntu, and a couple nice folks there had some suggestions for me.

I was told to pay special attention to KMix lines: master, master mono, PCM. These were all fine (at or near the top).

(You can also open alsamixer via the command line)
I was then advised to restart ALSA.
sudo /etc/init.d/alsa-utils restart
This did not work. I tried closing all my programs which might be using sound, and running the command again. This did not work either.

I ran the command, and then rebooted. This works! Now I have my sound back.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Mounting ntfs Drives in Kubuntu

Find the device and its partition in a terminal window:
sudo fdisk -l
Bootable devices will be marked. The actual drive used to boot will have partitions split up into swap space. IDE devices often (but not always) start with 'h', SATA devices and USB flash drives start with 's'. fdisk will indicate which file format the drive is formatted in. Hard drive letters indicate a specific device (i.e. a hard drive), numbers represent different partitions used in that device. Subsequent letters indicate addtional devices, and will likely be added incrementally (for example, if you have a SATA hard drive mounted first and then attach a USB flash drive, the hard drive should be sda, and the flash drive should end up being sdb.)

Numbers indicate a partition of that particular mounted device. Linux will reserve room for swap space and a boot sector in addition to the filesystem where you will store your files.

Mount the device to a destination folder. Replace 'hda1' below with the drive you wish to mount, and change the '/home/...' directory to where you want to mount the files to (the directory in this case will act like a link or bookmark). The folder in the home user's directory will be "ubuntu" (not your computer name) if it's running off a live cd.
sudo mount /dev/hda1 /home/ubuntu/Desktop/folder -t ntfs
-o nls=utf8,umask=0222
This is for mounting ntfs drives only!

(I've found other commands to "mount an ntfs drive", but they don't seem to work.)