Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 - Hide the Recent Items in the Dash and Stop the Logging!

I really like Ubuntu 12.04. I even like the Unity Desktop (despite the general hatred it seems to attract amongst many users), it works really well on my netbook. However, Ubuntu has a lot of privacy issues, not the least of which is the integration of zeitgeist into Unity.

Here's what I did to get zeitgeist to stop logging. The "Privacy" app under System Settings never seemed to work properly, and clearing the history still left all sorts of information in the log files.

First, remove zeitgeist. I did this with synaptic. Don't remove the related libs, however, as Unity needs them. Restart the system.

Then, kill the running zeitgeist processes:

sudo killall -9 zeitgeist-fts zeitgeist-datahub zeitgeist-daemon
Then, remove the existing logs:

cd $HOME/.local/share/zeitgeist
rm activity*
You can use srm if you feel it is necessary. Restart the system.

Upon restart, Zeitgeist will recreate the log files, albeit they will be essentially empty. Now set them to read-only:

cd $HOME/.local/share/zeitgeist
sudo chmod ugo-w act*

Restart once more.

Once I did all this, the dash did not populate with recently used files, and the zeitgeist logs remained static. YMMV!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How to Install (or reinstall) Linux AMD / ATI Proprietary Video Drivers

If you are running Linux on a machine with an ATI / AMD video card, such as the Radeon HD series of cards, getting the most out of your video card can be a major pain. The open source fglrx driver that comes with many distributions works very well for most people - but often will let you down when it comes to using non-standard monitors such as an HDTV.

In my case, the open source driver could not detect my HDTV properly, and as a result, my screen stretched far beyond the edges of the display. Without the Catalyst Control Center application, I couldn't adjust for overscan. Additionally, when the HDTV was turned off and then on again, sound output would fail, requiring a restart. Installing the proprietary driver fixed both these issues.

Here's how to install the AMD / ATI proprietary driver. As always, backup any important data before making any major system changes. If you break your system, you have no one to blame but yourself.

1. Visit this page and enter the information about your system.

If you don't know your video card model, open a terminal and enter:
lspci | grep Display
2. Download the driver package. Save it wherever you like.

3. Extract the driver package.

4. Change permissions to allow the .run file to execute. In Ubuntu 12.04, right-click, select Properties, select Permissions tab, and check the box for "Allow executing file as program". Alternatively, open a terminal and manually change the file permissions:
chmod +x yourfilenamehere
5. Run the installer. If you get a message about fglrx not being uninstalled, you'll need to open a terminal and run the following command:
sudo apt-get remove --purge fglrx fglrx_* fglrx-amdcccle* fglrx-dev*
Restart your system and run the installer again. Assuming it is successful, run Catalyst Contol Center and adjust the video settings to your needs.

If you've already installed the ATI / AMD drivers, and suddenly they are broken, you'll need to do a removal and reinstall. This happened to me following a system update that affected the linux kernel. The most common symptom of this seems to be that the Catalyst Control Center application simply will not run. If you are running Ubuntu's Unity desktop, it may always load in 2d mode even if you choose 3d upon logging in. You can check what mode Unity is running in by running the following in a terminal:
echo $DESKTOP_SESSION
If the result is "ubuntu", it's running in 3d mode. 

To reinstall the drivers, do the following:

1. Open a terminal and run the following commands, one line at a time:
sudo sh /usr/share/ati/fglrx-uninstall.sh
sudo sh /usr/share/ati/amd-uninstall.sh
If either command gives you a message about files having changed and the uninstall failing, run them again with a --force option. Running the first command may not be necessary, but should cause no harm.

2. Reinstall the driver as per the steps above.

Tested on Ubuntu 12.04.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Configuring PS3 Media Server with Windows 7 Firewall

If you've installed PS3 Media Server, and you're getting the message "No Renderers were Found" and a great big red "X" on the Status tab, give the following a try. It worked for me.

(NOTE: These instructions are written for those using the Windows 7 Firewall. However, they should work for any other software-based firewall.)

1. Open Windows Firewall control (in Start Menu run box type "WF.msc")

2. You are going to create 2 new rules: 1 inbound and 1 outbound.

3. On the left side, select Inbound Rules. Then, on the right pane, you will see an option for a New Rule. Click it (see below).


4. In the New Inbound Rule Wizard (which should appear), do the following:

  • Choose Program and click Next
  •  Select This Program Path, and enter the path to javaw.exe on your PC (typically \Program files\x86\java\jre6\bin)

  •  Choose Allow the Connection, then Tick Private and Public.
Complete this process by naming the rule something notable (e.g. ! - PS3 Media Server). Repeat the process in Outbound Rules. Now restart PS3 Media Server. Provided everything else is in order, it should now work.

It is important to note that opening javaw.exe to inbound connections from any IP is a security risk. You may wish to limit the scope of these rules to your local subnet. You can do this by double-clicking on the rule, and selecting Scope. Here, you can limit the remote IPs that can connect to javaw.exe to your local subnet (or specific IP addresses, if you choose).

How to Convert FLAC or OGG to MP3 - The Easy Way

Downloaded some music, only to find it is in .FLAC format rather than mp3, and it won't transfer to your iPod or play on your favorite media player?

Here's an easy way to convert, without using converter programs of questionable origin (some of which, despite my best efforts, are probably turning up in my advertising on this blog...)

1. Download foobar2000 , a fabulous free (and more importantly, reputable) media player. Even if you choose not to use foobar2000 as your default media player, it's great to keep around and takes up very little storage.

2. Download the LAME mp3 encoder. Save wherever you like - I drop files like this in c:\utils. Unzip.

3. Install foobar2000.

4. Run foobar2000. Select File -> Preferences -> Advanced. On the right pane, you will see an option for Tools (see below)



5. Select Converter -> Additional Command Line encoder paths. Add the path where you saved LAME (for me, c:\utils). 

The above steps you will only need to do once. To save FLAC (or whatever format) to MP3, do the following:

1. Select File -> Add Files (or Add Folder, if you like)

2. Highlight the files in the foobar2000 main window, and right-click. Select Convert. Choose your options (I like 192kbps MP3).

3. Select Save Destination and convert!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

How to fix TVersity Error "Screenweaver MX was unable to LAUNCH one or more of its main windows"

If the TVersity interface will not load for you, giving the error "Screenweaver MX was unable to LAUNCH one or more of its main windows. The application must close", here's how most will be able to fix it.

This guide applies to Windows 7, Vista and XP.

Steps:

1. Open System Properties (Right-click Computer, select Properties OR type "sysdm.cpl" in the Run box)
2. Select Advanced System Settings
3. Click Advanced Tab
4. Under "Performance", click Settings button
5. Click Data Execution Prevention Tab
6. Select "Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select" (see image below)


7. Click Add, and browse to find TVersity.exe (default install location is C:\Program Files (x86)\TVersity\Media Server\web\admin\TVersity.exe).

You might need a restart for the change to take effect. 

If this issue started for you after installing EMET, you might need to do the following first:

1. Run EMET
2. Click Configure System button
3. Change DEP setting to "Application Opt Out" (see image below)



4. Restart, then complete the steps as detailed above.