eXTReMe Tracker
Jan 302009
 

Until today’s kernel update to 2.6.28.6, the Atheros wifi card was not functioning correctly. Since the update to new kernel, the wifi card can now be used with the ath5k module which can be found in linux-backports-modules.

In order to get the Atheros 5007EG card to work, you first need to disable the built-in hardware driver.

System >> Administration¬† >> Hardware Drivers > Deactivate “Support for Atheros 802.11 cards”

Selection of Hardware Drivers in Januty

Selection of Hardware Drivers in Januty

Disable the Support for Atheros 802.11 cards

Disable the Support for Atheros 802.11 cards

After the card has been deactivated, open the terminal and install the backports modules for Jaunty.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-jaunty

Install Jaunty backports modules

Install Jaunty backports modules

This adds the ath5k module which supports the Atheros 5007EG card.

The computer needs to be Shutdown and powered back on. Somehow Restarting doesn’t work at times. The card has to be completely powered down for a few seconds and then started during power up.

You should be able to see the available wireless network list by clicking on the network manager icon. Thereon, you all know what to do :)

Jan 232009
 

The recently released Windows 7 Beta (Build 7000) has several improvements in its GUI. Many of these features have been discussed at length in several blogs. Among other things, there is a deafult option to stack all program tabs in the taskbar keeping it from running out of space.  There is a mouse-over feature that shows a preview of that program and brings that program to the foreground when the mouse is moved over that preview.

Then there is one tiny feature in the Windows Explorer that should have been implemented long time ago, but its good to finally see it in this release.

Organize >> Folder and Search Options >> View >> Use Check boxes to select items

Windows Explorer Checkbox Option

Windows Explorer Checkbox Option

Once that option is selected, a checkbox is displayed in front of the file each time the mouse hovers over it. This options overcomes the need to select individual files by keeping the ‘Control’ key press at all times.

Checkbox is displayed in front of file icon

Checkbox is displayed in front of file icon

This is one of the features I’d like to see ported over into Gnome for use in Linux distros.

Jan 212009
 

The norm has been to watch live streams over the internet if you are unable to watch a certain program on your TV at a scheduled time. The limitation of these live streams is that you can’t afford to miss anything, cause there is no way to rewind and replay.

Under Windows there are several tools that can capture live streams and save them to a file. These streams are usually broadcasted over the mms:// protocol. Oftentimes, this protocol is wrapped inside a .asx or .wmv wrapper. These wrappers have the information required to fetch the streaming media, either live or recorded.

There is an application in the Universe repository since Gutsy which enables us to store the streaming media as a local file. Its called mimms, and under Intrepid Ibex its running on version 3.2.1-1.

If your universe repository is enable, you can install mimms using aptitude:

$ sudo apt-get install mimms

Using mimms to record streaming media

Using mimms to record streaming media

Once the program is installed, you can do recordings of mms:// streams via terminal. The link of currently streaming video can usually be obtained by right-clicking on the video window and copy-link. To start recording type the copied mms:// link as an argument for mimms, which starts saving the streaming content to your /home/user folder.

$ mimms mms://cnnvideo.streamserver.asx

It displays the size of the output file in real time. You can stop the recording at any time by ctrl-c without damaging the file. This file can then be played using the media player of your choice.

Jan 202009
 

The Alpha-3 version of Jaunty became available two days past the scheduled release date. It included the kernel 2.6.28.4. It’s the first (alpha) release to include a kernel that supports EXT4 filesystem. The EXT4 became officially available in Dec 2008, and in less than a month it was incorporated into the 2.6.28 kernel.

There are several sites which post the performance benchmarks for EXT4 compared with other filesystems.

1 2

EXt4 is supposed to be much faster than existing filesystems. Several people have reported a booting time between 21 and 25 seconds, which is the time taken from bootloader selection till the login screen appears.

But beyond fast loading the alpha leaves a lot of room for improvement. Its integration with the /home/user partition is pretty buggy. One of the least stable module appears to be the alsamixer. The interface of volume applet has been changed significantly and is actually a lot less intuitive and quite inefficient.

Screenshot of volume control applet

Screenshot of volume control applet

As you see, the controller has a horizontal slider instead of the conventional vertical slider. More interestingly, double clicking on the volume control icon doesn’t open up the mixer like it used to. I’ve yet to figure out the workings of this applet.

Perhaps I might have figured out its usage, but I can’t vouch for the accuracy. One way to do it is:

Volume control applet (right click) >> Preferences >> HDA xxxx (Alsa Mixer) >> Select the device you want to control >> Close

Screenshot of volume control prefernces

Screenshot of volume control prefernces

I was able to change the line-in volume for use with a TV tuner card by the procedure I described above.

However the alsa module is very unstable in its present state. It causes one or more applications to crash at random. Most crashes were encountered when playing some form of flash media. Skype fails to load altogether. As soon as the login information is entered, the program coredumps with the following errors:

user@user-computer:~$ skype
ALSA lib ../../src/conf.c:2700:(snd_config_hooks_call) Cannot open shared library libasound_module_conf_pulse.so
ALSA lib ../../../src/control/control.c:909:(snd_ctl_open_noupdate) Invalid CTL hw:0
Aborted (core dumped)
user@user-computerf:~$

The video drivers for nvidia cards have yet to be released. Searching for Hardware Drivers yields a blank window. The drivers nvidia-glx-17x and nvidia-glx-96 are present in the repositories but the installation messes up the X and gdm loading. The only way to get back to X, is to remove the nvidia drivers and install ubuntu-desktop along with xorg. Once its done, typing

startx

gets you back into GDM.

On wireless side, ath5k is not included in the default distribution and it is still quite a bit of hassle to obtain it from backports and blacklisting the ath_pci modules *.

All in all, there is a lot that needs to be done w.r.t. Ubuntu 9.04 before it is released as a beta and then finally as an official release in April. It would be nice to try out a fresh install including a brand new /home directory.

ETA: * The Alpha 4 release of Ubuntu and Kubuntu contained ath5k, even in the LiveCD, thus the part about Ubuntu (jaunty) not having support for Atheros cards out of the box is no longer valid. I haven’t heard other testers say anything since Alpha 4 came out, so I guess it must be working for quite a number of folks. Still no support for the ATI graphics card though.