Posts Tagged ‘Ubuntu’

Ubuntu -> Wine -> Steam -> Portal 2 sound issues

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Umpf… looks like I missed April although I promised myself to add at least one post per month. But recently nothing really interesting happened so what can I do? :s

One thing that’s been on my mind for a while though is a sound issue I had in Portal 2: All dialogue files were usually played at twice the normal speed. I turned on captions so I didn’t miss out on the story but it’s not quite the same isn’t it.
The symptoms were mostly the same:
-During the startup video (the valve guy) sounds was really jittery
-Diagogue files were played faster than normal
-Constant white noise in the background

Occasionally, the following fixes worked:
-In the options, change the sound quality from its current to something else (high, medium, low)
-Switch the sound environment from headphones to 2 speakers (almost identical settings) or the other way around. The other sound settings didn’t work for me at all.

During increasing desperate tries I tried deleting all local Portal 2 sound files hoping that Steam would replace them. That didn’t help so I downloaded the whole package again (in Library, right-click Portal 2, go to Properties, switch to the tab “Local Content” and select download again. Uh… don’t quote me on this, I’m writing this from memory so some names and places might be wrong.

What fixed my problem in the end was an upgrade from Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pengolin) to Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) which updated (refreshed?) the Wine settings. Wine is the same version in 12.04 and 13.04 but when starting Steam the first time Wine was writing out some updated settings.

In the end, it could be that my Wine configuration was just marbled. I’ve been trying to get Simcity running (any version) but without success and maybe that messed up Wine. My suggestions, if you suffer from the the same issue, are therefore:
-Reconfigure Wine
-Check for newer version of Steam
-Download the local content again
-Play around with the Audio settings in Portal 2 (sound quality and speaker configuration)

HTH & cheers

What’s going on with Ubuntu Certified Professional?

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Last week, I took the official Apple “Mac OS X 10.8 Essential Support Course” followed up by the official test. I passed so I’m a Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC) on top of all the other acronyms I hold.

Although I don’t work on Mac OS X every day, I have a good working knowledge of the general handling and the underlying OS. The course, which ran at quite a fast pace, summed up all the important points very nicely. The test featured the occasional tricky question and a score of 73% or higher was required to pass. And I passed.

We used the official Mac OS X 10.8 course book which contains precise information on Mountain Lion (although to be fair, the author probably only had to replace ‘Lion’ with ‘Mountain Lion’ to release a ‘new’ version or so). I actually understand now what happens after the kernel is loaded and what processes produce the login screen and what happens when a user logs in and so on.

On the other hand, the last official book on Ubuntu Certified Professional (UCP) was released in 2008 and was already out of date half a year later because of the energetic activism the good people at Canonical display all year round. No wonder that with all the changes that happened to Linux and all the changes that Ubuntu brought on itself, I still don’t feel secure about the internal workings on Ubuntu. Sure, there’s source code but I don’t think anyone actually reads that to get a general understanding of an OS. The man pages? Please! You mean those cryptic writings where the overview section is never really helpful because you need to have a PhD for reading man pages in order to understand them? Ah yes, the lack of useful examples is another gripe I have with man pages.

After passing LPIC 1, I was all fired up to become an UCP as well. But the lack of concise information put me off and the ever growing gap between the OS and the documentation put me off even more. Until today, no update to the Ubuntu Certified Professional book (available on has been released. I guess, even the author got fed up and felt he could use his time in better ways.  I sincerely doubt anything useful will be released in the future on that particular topic. And with Canonical pushing Ubuntu into a its own niche a bit more with every release, Ubuntu will have a hard time to become a viable candidate to compete against Windows in the enterprises – if that was ever their goal. Accordingly, the value of being a UCP shrinks and shrinks. Actually I’ve never really met anyone who was certified.

Maybe I should focus on LPIC 2 again, too…

wget, busybox, ipv6…

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

In our work environment, we use pxe and preseed to roll out Ubuntu 12.04 installations. In the late command, we even splat puppet standalone and a subversion repository on it. Works nicely.

Last week however, this tested routine stopped working in a very early stage – when wget in busybox tries to figure out which release of Ubuntu to pull from the mirror server.

The actual code line was: wget -q ftp://somehost.domain.local/file -O – | grep -E ‘^(Suite|Codename):’
This line didn’t return anything, so the installation got stuck. On my pc, the same line returned something useful.

In the end, the problem was that ipv4 and ipv6 were configured automatically and wget in busybox prefers ipv6 over ipv4 but if wget fails, it does not try again with ipv4. And since it comes with busybox, you can’t force a protocol family (see ‘man wget’ for further infos).

The solution was to supply another kernel parament in the pxe configuration: ipv6.disable=1

There are some users who report that this line does not work for them. Maybe they got the spelling slightly wrong or they put it at the wrong place but with this additional parameter, our setup is working again.

The sad thing about this is that this problem was already bug-reported in 2007 but the status was put to ‘wontfix’ and closed. Way to go 🙁

And I only wasted about 6 hours of working hours for that crap.


Pictures to movie: A simple example of avconv

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

In 2011, I travelled from 豊岡 (Toyooka) to 京都 (Kyoto) by train. Every couple of seconds I took a picture with my camera. Since then, I wanted to merge all these pictures into a movie, if possible with some music.

I tried the better known video editors such as OpenShot Video Editor, Pitivi Video Editor, Blender and such but never really got far. Either pictures couldn’t be mass imported or they couldn’t be distributed evenly etc. etc.

Finally, a friend mentioned ffmpeg last week so I tried it again. Unfortunately, ffmpeg seems to be deprecated but they recommend to use avconv instead which comes with “libav-tools”

Format converting is an art of its own, but if you just want the basics, all you need is the following command:

avconv -f image2 -r 3 -i ./%04d.JPG -i soundfile.wav -c copy -crf 20 output.avi

Run this from the folder where your *.JPG pictures are and you will get a movie “output.avi” including a soundtrack from soundfile.wav. “-r 3” means 3 frames per second, so play around with this value if you a ‘faster’ or ‘slower’ movie.
Something else to keep in mind: The pictures must be named in numerical order: 0001.JPG, 0002.JPG etc.
If you don’t have your pictures named like that, try this command (all on 1 line in the terminal):
i=0; for f in *.JPG; do ln -s $f $(printf “%04d.JPG” $i); i=$((i+1)); done
This will create symlinks for all .JPG in your folder in the order that `ln -s` would output them.

This is the result: The final video

As usual, a couple of simple examples in the man page would have been helpful.

HowTo transfer files from Ubuntu 12.04 to your Huawei Smartphone

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

For some reasons, Google dropped the USB mass storage file transfer in Android 4.x in favor of MTP which makes it hard somewhat hard to transfer files to and fro an Android-based Smartphone if you don’t have a Windows of Mac OS X installation around. This move has not been very popular with a lot of users who use Linux, especially since Android is Linux based, too.

However, apart from ftp’ing ssh’ing files, there is an alternative: Darran Kartaschew brewed up his own simple digital file player called gMTP

On Ubuntu, it can be installed via sudo apt-get install gmtp

Afterwards, connect your Smartphone to the PC with whatever USB-cable that came with the phone and (on a Huawei Smartphone), change the USB setting to “HiSuite”. gMTP will ask if you want to mount the SD-card or the device itself and there you go. If you select the device, you can browse the complete Android installation. No rooting required.

gMTP’s GUI looks somewhat rough and transfer is not that fast but for the occasional transfer, it should be enough. It’s still much better than iTunes 11 😉


Custom-sized Pearl…

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

I wrote about Pearl before. This time, prepare for a custom-sized board! Originally I wanted to try a 25×25 board but even with an 8 core cpu und 16gb of RAM it takes forever to be created. So I settled for a 16×16 board.

After drawing all the obvious lines, it looked like this:


And based on this very good preparation it took not even 10 minutes to finish the game:


Back to programming and system engineering!

Ubuntu’s recent developments and my opinion on them

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Howdy… one last blog entry in 2012.

Ubuntu has come a long way and in the recent releases has introduced a lot of changes, e.g. the global menu, Unity, HUD, the scrollbar…

My opinion on most of these changes: They do not hold what they promise and I could do without them. It’s thankfully easy enough to uninstall most of them.

On Unity
A lot has been written on Unity. A fair amount of people don’t seem to like it, others seem to get along well. I’m somewhere in the middle: Navigating around can be achieved using a keyboard only, which is great. Other aspects are not as positive: The dash is fixed to the left side of the screen, it’s not possible to attach widgets to the top bar like it was in Gnome2.
One thing I sorely miss: An overview of all installed applications. Other than typing all the letters of the alphabet in the dash to see what applications come  up, I haven’t been able to find a workaround.

On the global menu
As far as I understand, “GUI experts” explained that the global menu results in less mouse movements and aid the user because the menus are all in the same place.
Unfortunately, I work on a 27” screen at the office. I permanently have several programs and or windows open and the global menu is not only confusing but also requires me to move the mouse around much more than without the global menu.
Good thing though that the global menu can be removed: sudo apt-get remove firefox-globalmenu thunderbird-globalmenu appmenu-gtk appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-qt
They have a global menu and Mac OS X as well. I don’t like it there either. The difference to Ubuntu’s global menu: It can’t be removed.

On the HUD
So far, I’ve only activated this feature occasionally by mistake and closed it again as quickly. Either I know a key combination by heart because I use it that often or I have to look around in the menus resp. I want to look around in the menus.

On the reworked scrollbar
Another one of changes that weren’t really necessary in my opinion. The old scrollbar worked just as well and the few pixels saved don’t justify a new scrollbar which sometimes is hard to click on and move. Even worse, whereas most dialogue windows used to be completely resizable in any direction, some are now fixed in size e.g. the text field below the update application. It’s now so small (and can’t be resized) that no useful information whatsoever can be read there.
The scrollbar can be reverted to the old setting in 12.04 like that:
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface ubuntu-overlay-scrollbars false

On the shopping lens
Well, not much to say about this one. Not only was there an outcry by many Ubuntu users, even the EEF thinks this one reeks. And it does. To remove it:
sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

In conclusion, my feelings towards Ubuntu have become really mixed. Where Debian used to have no sparkle compared to Ubuntu, Ubuntu was just as stable but came with newer software. Now, Ubuntu seems to be running into a direction that many users don’t seem to enjoy who consequently leave the ship for e.g. Mint. Despite everything I wrote here, I’m still reasonably happy with Ubuntu 12.04 (not so much with 12.10) and I’m following the development of 13.04 closely, as ever. I don’t plan on changing the distro (yet), also because I wouldn’t know which one to pick. Fedora is releasing too quickly with too many experimental features and besides I can’t stand rpm-based distros. I’d have to give Mint another try or maybe Debian.

Enough ranting for this year. Let’s keep or fingers crossed for next year!

Creepy pearl solution :-)

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

In the game called “pearl” you have to run a line through all dots on a board. The goal is to create a loop and the black and white dots have different requirements.

The principle is very simple and the game is some good diversion in times of stress.

Recently, I’ve come across this creepy solution:

Proof, we’re being monitored by machines? Who knows… I for one welcome our mechanical overlords. Can’t get any worse, can it…

If you want to try it, on Ubuntu it can be installed by the command “sudo apt-get install sgt-puzzles” which will install a whole package of other puzzles too.

Installation of Citrix Receiver on Ubuntu Precise Pangoling 12.04 x86_64

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Hopefully, these instructions will help you installing the latest Citrix Receiver client software (as of June 2012) on Ubuntu 12.04
The idea is to start from a fresh installation.


Update & upgrade your Ubuntu installation:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Install via apt-get:

flashplugin-installer (better to have for the Citrix website)
ia32-libs (includes the required ia32-libs-multiarch:i386)


Download from the Citrix website –> Citrix Receiver –> Linux –> For 64-bit Systems:

–> sudo dpkg -i icaclient_12.1.0_amd64.deb

The installation will return the following error:

Errors were encountered while processing:

–> run “sudo apt-get install -f” to install the recommended but missing libc6-i386, lib32z1, lib32asound2, nspluginviewer:i386, nspluginwrapper

Edit the icaclient.postinst file to fix the installationscript:

sudo vim /var/lib/dpkg/info/icaclient.postinst

On line 2648, replace “grep” with “grep -E” and “86” with “86|x86_64” , save the file and quit.

sudo dpkg –configure icaclient

Starting the application:

Start Citrix Receiver on the cli as /opt/Citrix/ICAClient/wfcmgr

Afterwards, it depends on your Citrix environment.
I start the apps via menu “View” -> Citrix XenApp View. In a different window, Citrix Receiver asks me about the server name.

Continuing, you will probably receive the following “Client Error”:

You have not chosen to trust “QuoVadis Root CA 2”, the issuer of the server’s security certificate (SSL error 61).

sudo cp /usr/share/ca-certificates/mozilla/QuoVadis_Root_CA_2.crt /opt/Citrix/ICAClient/keystore/cacerts/

When I start Citrix Receiver again on the cli as /opt/Citrix/ICAClient/wfcmgr, I am prompted for my user credentials for the Citrix server.

Error / Known Problems:

If connecting to the client is successful but applications don’t start resp. die after 40 ~ 50 secs, have your Citrix administrator check whether your Citrix server can access (firewall) your configured homedrive/homepath as specified in the properties of your Active Directory user account.

Don’t let Banshee scare your removable device!

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

As you might know, Banshee replaced Rhythmbox as default media player in Ubuntu as of 10.10. Apart from being written in Mono (which I consider a weak point), Banshee is a more temporary media player with support for many portable media players and online stores.

I sport a Transcend MP860 which I described in one of my earliest post. So far, I was just manually copying files to and back to the device using the shell or Nautilus. It works but I wanted to see whether I can use Banshee for that as well, since my music collection of 5800+ songs is already being managed by Banshee.

The first couple of tries were not succesful. Dragging folders from 1) to 2) didn’t work as I was hoping.

Dragging folders from 1) to 2) didn’t work

Banshee would start converting the .ogg files to .wav files. As the MP860 can play .ogg files, no conversion should be required.

The context menu of the device in Banshee was not helpful either: right-clicking the “8.0 GB FileSystem” and selecting “Device Properties” does supposedly allow you to change settings, but in my case only .wav was available.

As so often, Google to the rescue! Sometimes it’s frustrating though. Nothing but bug reports about format conversion problems or promising hints that end in 404 error pages. Fortunately, I found another post that treats a similar sort of problem with Banshee and removable devices. The steps outlined in that post helped me fix my problem. I will show you what I needed to change to fit it my requirements…

Below is a screenshot of my MP860 when I connect it via USB to the pc:

The directory structure on my MP860

These are the default directories and the MUSIC folder contains my audio files in a two-tiered structure e.g. <band>\<album>

Now, in order to make Banshee recognize the MP860 player as a media player that’s capable of playing .ogg files, I needed to touch the following file in the root of the MP860:

cd /media/disk (<– your player might be mounted with a different name)
touch .is_audio_player

Fire up your favourite text editor and edit .is_audio_player to contain the following lines:


It’s probably self-explaining, but here you are:
The first  line must contain the path to your music files.
The second line… I actually don’t know. My directory structure is two levels deep… I have no idea where Banshee would copy files if the folder_depth were 3.
The last line specifies the output format that your player knows. If the file format in Banshee matches the output format specified in that line, no conversion will take place. The files will just be copied. In his post (see the link above), Activ8specifies several non-ogg formats, separated by a comma. Check out his post for the exact syntax or feel free to experiment!

HTH some.