Posts Tagged ‘Ubuntu

04
Jul
11

Migrating to Linux pt.1: The basics

Tux, as originally drawn by Larry Ewing

Image via Wikipedia

I have been using Linux for many years. I have tried many flavours, many distributions and I have written some of my experiences down, in this very blog. I am especially proud about managing to run my Intel Classmate on Linux, I have installed Mint on my eeePC and Peppermint on a VIA Epia ML, mini itx motherboard. However, my main PC would always run on Windows. Most of my work and pleasure (i.e. games and porn) would be under Windows and I have been somewhat sceptical about switching. Many years ago, I had tried the dual boot approach, but as it usually happens, one gets to constantly boot on Windows and soon the Linux installation becomes nothing more than wasted space on the HD.

Since my PC needed either some serious clean up and maintenance or a format for some time now, the thought of moving on to Linux was on my mind, but I guess I needed something to push me the right way. That something was a new machine that found it’s way to my house. Nothing out of the ordinary, an Intel E7400 sitting on a Foxconn motherboard. Still, it was a bit better than what I’ve been using, an Athlon XP 3800+, so I immediately decided I would be using the newcomer. Without much thought, I did a quick installation of Windows 7 and then I downloaded and installed Linux Mint 11. I know what you are thinking, I do have two OS’s on my PC, but this time, Linux boots first.

Reasons I still need Windows: I like games. I would not call my self a hardcore gamer, I get dizzy while playing an FPS, but I do like to play. I really like RPGs and one of my all time favourites was Baldur’s Gate. So, not being able to enjoy a good game was not an option. I have also purchased games from Steam and while I have read some articles about using Steam with Wine on Linux, I chose to keep it on Windows. I also do some video editing from time to time. Not professionally but still. I have heard about Linux solutions, such as Cinefx and I do intent to try that, but just to be safe I want to have something I know how to work with.

Despite the fact that I have installed Linux many many times, many different distributions on a number of machines, I still don’t call myself an advanced user. There are many things I have not encountered, things that to some of you might seem like a piece of cake, but none the less I decided to document my progress on using Linux for every day work here, hoping that I might be able to offer some help to those who face similar problems. Leaving all this mumbling aside, let’s see what was the first problem I had to solve:

The Printer. When you are a Windows user, things are quite simple. After finishing the OS installation, you are to install all drivers for the devices you have. Graphic cards, printers, scanners, in most cases, you just have to pop in the CD that came with the device and you are good to go. I had no idea how things were with Linux, since I never had to use a printer while on Linux. So when I turned my HP Laserjet 1020 on and a pop up message informed me that it was successfully installed and configured, I was more than happy.

That is until I tried to print something and although everything seemed normal, nothing would come out of the printer. No noise, no lights flashing, nothing. I imagined that the printer was not properly installed, so I started searching on line for help. I read a lot of things, mostly on how to go to HP’s website and download Linux drivers, but the problem was solved quite easily. I just opened a terminal window and typed:

sudo apt-get install hp-plugin

That downloaded and installed the print head firmware and my PC was able to communicate properly with the printer. So, in case you are facing something similar with an HP printer, give this a shot. Next time I will tell you how I set up my 5.1 surround sound.

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01
Sep
10

Installing Linux on an Intel Classmate pt.2

Image via wikipedia

In the first part of this post, we managed to get the wireless up and running (at least I hope we did). I wanted to get that out of the way, so we can deal with the real challenge: Getting the touchscreen to work properly.

Let me explain that a bit better. The touch screen did work right out of the box. What did not work however, was the tablet function. As most such devices, the Classmate features two accelerometers that detect the screen orientation and rotate the image accordingly. Not only that, the input controls have to be reversed also, or you would end up tapping on the left side of the screen and the cursor would stay on the right side.

My first priority was to get the screen to rotate properly. I thought that even if I could not get the accelerometers to work, I could rotate the screen manually, which would be extra work for sure, but at least I could operate it as a tablet.

At the end of the previous post, I gave a link to Kay’s site, where he proposed an alternative way to fix the wireless. My solution is based on Kay’s instructions with some minor modifications. I had been searching for a solution all over the internets, and Kay’s was the only thing I found that helped me. For some of you, Kay’s instructions should be sufficient and you shouldn’t need me for anything, provided you have installed Debian with the FVWM window manager. At some point, I would like to try out Debian, but as it is, I think I am better off with something more “out of the box”.

Disclaimer: Always keep in mind that I was trying things as they came, on a machine I did not mind formatting over and over. That means I had no problem following whatever I stumbled upon on the internet and I did not complain when something went bad (and trust me, many things went bad). Furthermore, ignorant as I am, I cannot exclude the possibility that many of the things I did were not necessary, that there weren’t other more sufficient approaches etc etc. I am just going to describe the steps I followed that had a result.

Alright then, now that we got the unpleasant part where I warned you about loss of equipment and sanity, we are good to go.

The first thing I did, was to install the driver (link to a zip file) for the touch screen. Although it might not be necessary, if you upgrade your kernel, at that point I was still with the old kernel, so I cannot verify that you can omit this step. However, you are free to perform an upgrade first (see below) and see what happens. In any case I was forced to upgrade my kernel, so I guess it could come first. If you are lucky, this will leave you with a working wireless, so go ahead and try it.

Once you download and unzip the driver, you will find a readme file with installation instructions. You will notice right away that you have to modify a file called xorg.conf and you are most likely to find out that you do not have such a file. The version of X server that you got with Ubuntu, no longer uses an xorg.conf. However if you create one you will force X to use it. Reboot into recovery mode and from the available options choose “Root console”. You are now logged in as root, joy! Type:

sudo Xorg -configure

Now, if you look in the root directory, you will find a file called xorg.conf.new which is what you are looking for. In the rare case it is not created in the root directory, you can try to locate it by typing:

find / -name xorg.conf.new

All you need to do, is put this file in its’ place and you’re set:

cp /root/xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf
cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etx/X11/xorg.conf.bak

Yeah, you got that right. The last one is a backup we keep in case something goes wrong and you are also right, we still have the .new file we created but one can never be too cautious. What I haven’t tried is what happens if you erase the xorg.conf file. I guess it will revert back to auto configuring X but haven’t tried it. You can follow now the driver installation instructions, just fine. I believe it should be easy enough. I you have any problem, drop me a comment and I will try to help with that. Below I have included the parts of the file that you need to add. At the “ServerLayout” section you have to add a line:

Section “ServerLayout”
Identifier     “X.org Configured”
Screen      0  “Screen0” 0 0
InputDevice    “Mouse0” “CorePointer”
InputDevice    “Keyboard0” “CoreKeyboard”
InputDevice    “HID TOUCH” “SendCoreEvents”
EndSection

And then you have to create a Device section:

Section “InputDevice”
Identifier  “HID TOUCH”
Driver      “xfhiddrv”
Option      “Device” “/dev/usb/hiddev0”
Option      “ScreenNo” “0”
Option      “Rotation” “0”
Option      “swapY” “0”
Option      “UpSound” “0”
Option      “DownSound” “0”
Option      “Parameters” “/var/touch.conf”
EndSection

Do you see the “Parameters” line? You are probably wondering why is that line there, when the instructions do not mention something. At the point of modifying my xorg.conf file, I was following this guy’s instructions and he had created a touch.conf file that he put  in the /var directory with the following contents:

#Touch Screen Settings file rotation, DbClick_Delay, DbClick_Area
0
460 30

Don’t forget to chmod to 666 to the file. I will be completely honest with you, I have no idea what this file does and if there should be another way to configure the touch screen. However, without this, I couldn’t get it to work. Remember, that if you upgrade your kernel, you might not need this.

The next thing we have to fix, is the rotation of the touch screen. Kay, does that using two scripts. One for the rotation and one that handles the accelerometers. The rotation script works, but it also restarts the window manager Kay uses, which is not needed in our case. Either download his script and  change it, or get mine. (Worpress would not let me upload a .sh file so I changed the extension to .doc).

If you try to execute accel.py it might generate errors and refuse to run. This happens because it tries to find a joystick device (bear with me please) and cannot find one. The system treats accelerometer inputs  like joystick inputs for some reason that eludes me. Now, it does not mean that you don’t have a joystick driver installed, just that where the script is looking for one there isn’t. Go to /dev/input and search for a js0 device. In my case there wasn’t one. This is where I needed to upgrade the kernel.

Go here and download the following files:

linux-headers-2.6.35-02063503-generic_2.6.35-02063503.201008211321_i386.deb

linux-headers-2.6.35-02063503_2.6.35-02063503.201008211321_all.deb

linux-image-2.6.35-02063503-generic_2.6.35-02063503.201008211321_i386.deb

Note that these files are for version 2.6.35 and that is the version I upgraded to. You can go one version further and get the files for 2.6.36, it’s up to you. You install these packages normally and on the next reboot you will see at Grub the new kernel version. You will also have a /dev/input/js0 device, which means Kay’s script now works perfectly.

That’s about it. You should now have a proper working touch screen on your Classmate. If you need any further explanation on any of the steps, drop me a line and I will do my best to help out. I really need to say one more time that the procedure I described above, was merely what I did to get my touch screen to work. By no means do I claim expertise on anything. In fact, if it weren’t for Kay, I don’t think I would have made it. So, I and you who are reading this, should thank Kay and if any of you follows these instructions and makes something of them, don’t forget to credit Kay too.

I decided I will put a third part up, with the conclusion I reached through out this whole process. Stay tuned.

31
Aug
10

Installing Linux on an Intel Classmate pt.1

Since my eeePC is now minty fresh, it deserves a little piece of mind, doesn’t it? Mint is so far the fastest OS I’ve installed on the eee (and trust me I’ve tried quite a few),  so I decided to stop messing with it for a while and let it rest. But the gods of Technology decided that although the eee earned some time off, I hadn’t, so they sent another toy my way, one more wicked and more difficult to handle than the eee:  The infamous Intel Classmate!

Image Source: Netbook Laptop Reviews

The above image is not of my own Classmate. I “borrowed” it from Netbook Laptop Reviews. So do me a favor and click on it to go there and read their review.

Now, the Intel Classmate has an interesting story. Just like the One Laptop Per Child initiative, it was an effort to equip students with a computer, that would be cheap, durable and able to become a valuable companion to the school’s curriculum. If you are interested in the story, click on the above link to read the OLPC entry in Wikipedia, and you might also be interested in the Classmate PC entry too.

History aside, a third generation Intel Classmate was given to me and of course I had to tinker with it, right? Right? In this post, you will find out what I did to get the wireless to working properly (which is actually no big deal but it could save you a lot of time looking around). In the following part(s) I will address a more interesting but less serious problem: How to make the touch screen work properly.

For a list of features, just go to the wiki entry above and read about the third generation Classmates. The only difference between what you’re going to read there and mine, was that mine came with Windows 7 starter, instead of Windows XP.

Since it has an Atom 1.6GHz cpu, I decided to leave Windows because although it is terribly slow, you can take some pills and work for a while if needed (nothing like the eeePC with Windows 7). I wanted to install Linux on it and dual boot and because it functions as a tablet, I thought Ubuntu Netbook Edition would be a good choice. The installation was a breeze. I don’t think there will be any kind of problem there. After the installation was finished however…

…I found out that I had no wireless! To be exact, network manager would see the wireless module, but it would not pick up any networks. This proves to be a known bug (see Bug #460323) and can be easily fixed. Open a terminal and type:

sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

I know there are people already laughing at me, but you know what? I don’t care… I like gedit and I am not going to pretend I like VI just to be one of the cool guys! Piss off!

You need to open the blacklist.conf file as root, hence the sudo in the beginning. Once you open it, add this line:

blacklist rt2800usb

The reason why we’re doing this, is because by default Ubuntu tries to load two wireless modules at the same time. So we blacklist one of the two and the other loads properly and yes, you have wireless up and running. Supposedly, if you upgrade your kernel the problem will be fixed without the need of this workaround. The one I downloaded, came with kernel version 2.6.32 and I should have tried to upgrade to version 2.6.34 or later before blacklisting the module, but I tried this solution first and since it worked I did not look into it any further.

A word of caution though: Since we are the kinds of lame people who use graphical text editors in comparison to the manlier vi, we need to be careful because not all editors work. I tried the same thing with kwrite (the equivalent of gedit for KDE) and it fucked up my file. So always keep a backup of what you’re messing with, okay?

An example of how you can keep a copy of blacklist.conf:

sudo cp /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf  /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf.old

There are some people that mentioned the above solution did not work for them. The Classmate I have features a wireless card by Ralink Technology Corp. I have pretty good reasons to suspect that all the third generation models have the same wireless card. Unfortunately, Ralink does not offer drivers for another OS than Windows, so there’s not much you can do there. My suggestion is to upgrade to the latest kernel, in the hope that this problem is fixed. Right now, the latest available kernel is 2.6.36. Another thing you could try, is what Kay suggests in this excellent article. I cannot verify if it works, since the blacklisting solution worked for me just fine, but since I followed the rest of that article (see part 2) I can tell you that he knows his business.

If you have trouble upgrading, be patient for the second part, where I will cover this procedure, as it was needed for another problem I had. Till then, Google is your friend.

UPDATE: Earlier today, I tried to connect to a wireless network and it would disconnect a couple of seconds later. At some point the network was lost from the network manager. I know there can be nothing wrong with the wireless network because other devices were connected and had absolutely no problems. Being a Windows user, I did what I am used to doing in such cases (reboot) and it worked fine. I’ve been working flawlessly for some days now and this is the first time I had such problems. I will keep an eye on it and report back if anything happens.

28
Nov
09

Manually Install Adobe Flash on Ubuntu

Just a quick one, hoping to save you some trouble, in case you have problems installing Adobe Flash Player for Firefox on Ubuntu.

For the past half hour, I have been trying to install it either from Adobe’s download page or from Synaptic Pachage Manager, with no success whatsoever.

What did work for me was to manually install it, and I would suggest you do the same, in case you experience difficulties too. In order to do that first you need to download the .tar.gz package from Adobe. Click the above link, go to the download page and from the drop down list, select .tar.gz.

Save and extract the file someplace (eg /tmp)

Now, you need to copy the extracted libflashplayer.so to firefox’s plug in directory. You need to be root to do that.

Open a terminal and type:

sudo cp /tmp/libflashplayer.so /usr/lib/firefox/plugins

It will ask you for the root password, just type it and you’re good to go. I didn’t even had to resrtart firefox.

UPDATE (5 Feb 2010): After an eeeBuntu re-install, I had to re-install flash for firefox too. With firefox v. 3.0 (I haven’t updated yet), flash plug in installed directly from Adobe with no problems.

04
Aug
09

Easy Peasy on eeePc 900. Maybe not so easy

easypeasy-1.1

Until very recently, my eee900 was running on Suse Linux.  I was more than happy with it, I liked the look and feel of it, I liked the fact that it was waaaay faster than windows and generally I thought we two were going to stick together for a long time. I did not know of one little detail though:

Vpn connection. I needed to be able to connect to my workplace through PPTP, since we are using windows machines there, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t make it work. Network manager, had support for vpn, but not pptp tunneling, so I resorted to Google and spent a whole day trying all kinds of remedies to no avail. My colleague, the one who talked me into installing Suse in the first place, had pptp up and running on his own machine and that only frustrated me more. It only meant that there was a way to make it work, I just hadn’t found it yet. When I asked him how he had done it, he said he could not remember (of course) but he could use Norton Ghost to bring his own image onto my machine. I agreed and gave him my eee, because I thought that having vpn was better than having to re-fine-tune suse. Due to a *slight* mistake on his side, I ended up booting in Windows home again (he had used the wrong image to restore on my eee), which solved me one problem (I now had vpn), but created a whole lot more (speed, hiccups, poor performance) .

The dilemma: Keep windows and try to speed them up, or re-install suse?

The windows user in me was screaming for the first option and I quickly found my self  browsing through this thread and installing nLite. For the record, I believe the instructions on the thread above are fantastic and to my knowledge they work like a charm, but something did not go well with nLite, so I wasn’t able to complete them. In the past, I have tried some of the tips mentioned in there though and they really make a difference, but still nothing compared to my experience with suse.

The fact that I failed tweaking XP (or sabotaged my self sub-consciously) meant only one thing: Back to Linux! But should I move back to suse, or maybe try something new. While searching for a linux distro that works well with netbooks, I stumbled on Easy Peasy. The scree-shots were nice, it is based on Ubuntu (ie user friendly). So off with the installation!

The OS installation was easier than easy, you only have to follow the instructions given here. One word of advise though: Use an MD5 checker with your download! It will save you a lot of frustration later ;).  I had to download the iso 3 times to finally get it right but it worked like a charm in the end. Almost like a charm…

The very first thing I tried to do was to set up a vpn connection and – what a surprise – I couldn’t. From what I understood, reading countless web sites, was that pptp is not directly supported in linux, and it’s usually used only for windows vpns. I found some great instructions here, but they are great for everybody else, except me, since I could not install network-manager-pptp. For some reason that I cannot understand, the specific package was not available in any of the repositories that were configured in Easy Peasy. There is however an application, similar to Windows “Add Remove Programs” and when I tried that one, it found a pptp client and let me install it. Be sure to select “All Open Source Applications” from the drop down list!

Now, I need to do some extensive testing, but so far I love it.




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