boogdesign posts

Longer posts on standards based web design, portable web development and Linux, intermingled with some stuff on my other nerd interests.

Rob Crowther, London, UK based Blogger, Web Developer, Web Designer and System Administrator - read my Curriculum Vitae

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Category: Debian / Ubuntu


12:30:36 am Permalink Amarok Issues with Ogg on Kubuntu

Categories: Linux, Debian / Ubuntu

I just spent an hour fannying around with Amarok because it suddenly refused to play Ogg Vorbis encoded files. The correct solution turned out to be in this thread on the Ubuntu forums. The problem I was getting in Amarok was a message like this every time I tried to add an .ogg file to the playlist:

Some media could not be loaded (not playable)

Several of the solutions I came across recommended removing my Amarok profile, which then meant a good ten minutes waiting for it to re-scan my collection before I could see if the solution worked. Which it didn't.

A few more helpful solutions pointed the finger at Xine, the sound engine which Amarok uses, though most of the solutions were based around installing missing codec packages I already had (I was playing these same files in Amarok with no problems last week). However, when I tried playing the files in Xine directly I got another error message about there being 'no demuxer plugin available'. Again I spent some time trawling through solutions which blamed Grip for using incompatible versions of the Ogg Vorbis codec, or generating incompatible ID3 tags, but these were unhelpful.

The solution, when I found it in the forum thread above (which links to this Fedora related blog post), was very simple - exit Xine/Amarok, remove the catalog.cache and restart:

rm .xine/catalog.cache

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12:41:14 pm Permalink Debian one more time

Categories: Linux, Debian / Ubuntu

As there's a brand new release out and I have recently acquired a spare laptop and harddrive I decided to try installing Debian once again. The new installer really is a big improvement, the only downside was that I was planning to run KDE and the 'Desktop Install' option puts in Gnome by default - I was assuming I would get asked for my preference, trying to remove Gnome afterwards proved to be too difficult for me, so I've ended up with both installed. Still, this was the first time I managed to install Debian and immediately boot into a graphical environment, no manual configuration of X, so progress is definitely being made!

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02:35:10 am Permalink Enlightenment and GDM for Gnome 2.8

Categories: Linux, Debian / Ubuntu

I installed some new window managers to play around with on my Ubuntu laptop, the nice thing about having access to the Debian repositories is that there's a package for just about everything available for download. XFCE was fine, set itself up so that I could just choose it from the session menu in GDM and in I went. I'm lacking some of the applications which appear on the default menus but that won't be a problem long term. Also encountered a problem browsing SMB in XFFM, but from the error message it seems like the master browser is missing on the network.

Enlightenment proved slightly more of a challenge - no entry appeared in the GDM session list. Googling revealed that I should have a file in /etc/X11/gdm/Sessions, only problem being there was no such directory on my laptop. After footling around for a while I opened up the gdm.conf file, found the line where it listed the search path for session files and went through them one by one. Found what I was looking for in /usr/share/xsessions - a gnome.desktop and a xfce4.desktop file. Copied the xfce4 one to enlightenment.desktop and edited with nano and I was in. Once in I had trouble starting any apps because left click on the desktop didn't seem to work. Eventually found a 'Regenerate Menus' option on the enlightenment menu and, though that didn't add the full menu from Gnome, it did at least get me an eterm and from there I was into Firefox and posting on my blog...

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05:36:18 pm Permalink Ubuntu replaces Gentoo

Categories: Linux, Gentoo, Debian / Ubuntu

I've given up on Gentoo for now, more due to my struggles with the default configuration for Gnome than anything else (gconf schemas up the spout after I changed the X keyboard). Since I was taking the laptop on holiday I wanted something which required a bit less maintenance. I first installed Progeny Developer Edition, which looked quite nice and installed easily enough but seemed to be lacking in recent updates. I then went for Ubuntu instead and, as with my previous experience installing on a laptop, it installed very easily and it was then very easy to get everything else I wanted on. Only thing I'm missing from Gentoo is my Toshiba laptop utils to let me run the fan the whole time while I'm plugged into the mains.

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12:49:56 am Permalink SuSE and Ubuntu

Categories: Linux, SuSE, Debian / Ubuntu

In the last ten days I've been trying some different linux distros. First of all at work we needed to investigate the possibility of porting our .Net app to Mono. Since I'd recently received the 'Novell Linux Technical Resource Kit' containing a SuSE 9.1 DVD, and Novell own the Mono project, I figured it was a good chance to try it out. We stuck a spare 10Gig HDD in a colleague's machine and ran the installer. It was quite a slick process except it seemed to bork the X install so we got to experience the command line installer, and it completely failed to make a boot floppy (we were unwilling to overwrite the Windows MBR on the main HDD). Fixed the X problem by manually running the config program and managed, after a quick Google, to make a GRUB boot floppy on my FC1 install. A bit of trial and error getting the parameters correct and we were up and running. I'd chosen Gnome as the desktop environment, since that was what I'm most used to and Monodevelop is a GTK app. Having managed this at work I thought it was worth a try at home so I cleaned up the second HDD on my old desktop machine and created a 20Gig space. This time I let it install KDE, it got the X config right and also created the boot floppy perfectly. In KDE all the sysconfig tools were a lot more obviously positioned and I managed to do an online update and get Firefox and Thunderbird installed with little difficulty. The default theme is very slick and manages to look quite professional which wasn't my previous experience of KDE, the Yast2 tool is also very nice for system maintenance and there was a wide selection of useful things pre-installed such as RealPlayer and the Flash plugin (presumeably because this is a 'professional' version). I haven't had much luck since then, however. The website seems to offer no way of getting updated versions of KDE etc. apart from manually downloading all the packages, and I've not yet figured out how to get the mpeg codecs and other 'non free' stuff installed. Wine seems to struggle a bit with gp_vcon too, fonts are missing off the dialogues (or the fonts are too small to be seen). Overall a reasonable distro for an newbie, very easy to setup and use, but the online support seems weak in comparison to what I'm used to with Red Hat/Fedora.

Ubuntu is based on Debian, the most Gnu of all Linuxes, except without so much political baggage and an up to date selection of packages. It comes on just one CD, because the authors want to concentrate on getting one selection of rock solid packages rather than providing three or more options for everything in the usual Linux fashion. I've never had much luck with Debian before but I started by installing over my previous best effort, an old laptop I'd done a Knoppix drop to HDD install onto. Aside from some unrelated hardware difficulties with the laptop the install went smoothly, I was booted into a nice looking Gnome desktop in just more than half an hour. I was slightly confused at first because I couldn't su to run things as root, but then I discovered there is no root user, the Ubuntu way is to use sudo for everything. After a week's intermission for yet more laptop hardware difficulties I now have it updated through Synaptic and have added on the optional repositories and got most of the stuff I want installed. Still searching for libdvdcss and the win32codecs but I think it's mostly there. All in all, an excellent distro for someone new to Linux, well organised and presented, though it might be worth waiting for the next release so you don't have to spend an hour downloading updates after the initial install.

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