Archive for the ‘Desktop’ Category


My trusted Toshiba Tecra M5 motherboard gave up on me last week. I ended up spending all my savings on a new HP ProBook 4310s from my university. But configure this baby is a pain when it comes to Linux.

I loaded Linux Mint 7 Gloria (GNOME) then switch to Kubuntu Jaunty with 4.3.1 from backport. After 1 week of tingling with the configuration, installation and uninstallation, finally I had a usable system. I will not elaborate too much at the moment, since I will have mid-term soon. Also I am going to nuke my current system when Karmic come out.


Add either of the line below in ‘ /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf ‘
options snd-hda-intel model=mobile
options snd-hda-intel model=laptop

In KDE4 there isn’t much problem, but in GNOME, you might have to reload the alsa module from time to time, very annoying.
$ sudo alsa force-reload


iwl5100 needs backport module

$ sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-jaunty

ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330:

This is the most painful thing when it comes to compositing.

You will probably need a no backfill patch. Some minors and tolerable corruption but no more slowness when maximized and resized.

Stock fglrx-installer is the worst (install X crash when fullscreen in mplayer – both stock and from rvm ppa) . Fglrx 8.620 (CC 9.6) from x-updates is okay for generic use but XV in mplayer performance is terrible and also has scaling problems. Basically, your viewing experience in mplayer will be a horrible one. Best for me is CC 9.9 from AMD: good compositing, Xv correct scaling with default settings. http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/ati-driver-installer-9-9-x86.x86_64.run

Instruction for 9.9 can be found below. I used the 2nd link mainly for complete removal of the old conf.


Any problem please feel free to drop me a comment =)

To install webcam viewer:
sudo apt-get install luvcview

Upgrade to alsa 1.0.21 to have no more cracking noise with max PCM.

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-= My first offering to XFCE goddess =-

pyNeighborhood enables you to access your local network, mounting and unmounting shared folders, almost (yes, almost) 100% GUI – point and click. It works with both Windows and Linux shares,though I will cover the more problematic Windows share here. There are few guides floating around regarding pyNeighborhood but they falls short in tackle certain part as well as pose potential hazardous root access and alteration through file manager.


$ sudo apt-get install pyNeighborhood


1. Set up the directory to be mounted

– If you prefer less troublesome procedure then just create one folder in your ‘/home/[username]’

– I prefer not to cluster my home, so I will set up the mount point in “/mnt/lan”

$ sudo mkdir /mnt/lan
$ sudo chown tux:tux /mnt/lan

You need to change ‘tux:tux’ to your username (owner) and group. Say your username is ‘foo’ then the syntax will be ‘foo:foo’.

2. pyNeighborhood can be accessed through “Applications” -> “Network” -> “pyNeighborhood”

3. Now, select “Edit” -> “Preferences” in pyNeighborhood.

– ‘General’ tab:  ‘Mount folder’ will be the path to the folder we set up in step 1.

– ‘Network’ tab: Tick ‘Always use msbrowse’ if unchecked as well as ‘Try to retreive IP address when adding a machine from the group browser’.

– ‘SMB’ and’CIFS’ tab: append this chunk in front of each command. Say my username is ‘tux’ again, for example SMB tab mount command will now be:

‘sudo -u tux smbmount’

Repeat the same for the rest of the mount and unmount command but replace your username instead of tux.

This step is IMPORTANT because it let you mount without entering root password and your filemanager will not having root access thus avoid the potential hazardous alternation. Everything will be inside your userspace only. The -u (user) option causes sudo to run the specified command as a user other than root.

– ‘File Managers’ tab, remove the xterm one and a new entry: ‘thunar’ (or whatever filemanager you are using).

~* USING pyNeighborhood *~

From the left panel, you will see an icon with a name of ‘Groups’. Select it then Right click and select ‘Scan using msbrowse’

Your local workgroup will appear in the left panel under ‘Groups’, so right click on it and click ‘scan’ to show the machines under that workgroup. [Error might occur here, go to troubleshooting part later in the guide]

Choose a machine to browse, right click on it, and click ‘Add’. Alternatively, you can also double click. Try to retrieve the machine’s IP address if it is not already entered, and then click ‘Ok’.

The machine will appear in the right hand pane. Right click on the machine and click ‘scan’ to show the machine’s shared folders.

To mount a share, right click on it and click ‘mount -> mount as SMB’ (note: if SMB does not work the share will automatically be mounted through CIFS). Alternatively, you can also double click. You will see the ‘Mountpoint’ beside change to the path of your mount folder.

Right click the share, ‘unmount’ to unmount or ‘File Manager’ to access the file.

Have fun! 🙂

~* Troubleshooting *~

Thing will get a bit frustrating when you see this error on the status bar when you try to scan for machine under workgroup: ‘Failed to scan workgroup WORKGROUP’. Here we have to use commandline to get detail for the machine on the network then add to pyNeighborhood.

Open your terminal, type in the following command, note the workgroup and machine.

$ smbtree -S

So there is a machine HP040 in workgroup WORKGROUP. Now we will have to look for the IP of the machine we want using the following command. Just replace HP040 with whatever the smbtree spit out or the machine you want to connect to.

$ nmblookup -I \HP040
querying HP040 on HP040<00>

The IP of HP040 is, so note that down.

Go back to our pyNeighborhood, ‘Edit’ – ‘Add Machine’

‘Network Name’ : Name of the workgroup spit out by smbtree

‘IP address’ : the ip above

‘Display in a list as’ : whatever you fancy of.

That’s it. We’re done. You can mount and view the machine from the right panel. 🙂

A picture speaks a thousand words:


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Gparted is a wonderful piece of software compare to the Partition ‘Tragic’ (if you know which partition software I refer to). After 11 hours of intense resizing and moving blocks and partitions, my previous “frankenstein” hdd became a proper-planned hdd.

After a week of revamp my sluggish gnome into an xfce4 one, I decide to switch completely to Xubuntu – speed, light, efficient, compositing (>metacity one), edge window workspace switching, etc. Having xfce4 inside Ubuntu Gnome was a pain since I am not install the whole xubuntu-desktop. Disabling window manager, panel, desktop and replace with the new one was trully a troublesome task. Unless you request a guide, otherwise I won’t get into the trouble of redoing everystep of it. Moreover, after a recent update on my Ubuntu, i lost my whole local bin folder!!! All my scripts gone =.=”. Pissed!

Man, and you will wonder what the folk for Ubuntu doing when they just dump everything from the Ubuntu desktop to Xubuntu desktop. Regardless of desktop, your mixer will always be muted at start due to pulseaudio problem. Xubuntu desktop doens’t use pulseaudio yet ‘/usr/share/alsa/alsa.conf’ hook first function load is pulse.conf. =.=”

Can’t get any work done (oh wait, I am internship-less this summer) cos drooling over my lean Xubuntu desktop.

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Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty distribution release date draws near. Pulseaudio – the future is coming up as well. I admit that it works better compare to Intrepid, however, I still want to stick to the no-frills ALSA for my Intel on board card. If Pulseaudio works for you, by all means stick to it. I merely give you another option to choose. By the way, I manage to get my mic working 🙂 This guide will help you to kind of disable pulseaudio from starting / avoid pulseaudio to hog the sound hardware. It also solves the problem of every boot, the master channel is turned all the way down and muted.

The Environments: Firstly, I upgrade my Intrepid to Jaunty RC 32bits PC through ‘update-manager -d’. I have only one laptop so I can’t test the vanilla Jaunty RC version. Though, I will try to match the configuration as best as I can. Secondly, I have a built-in mic. Thirdly, the soundcard is an onboard Intel STAC9200 and I don’t have 2nd soundcard. For the uninitiate, the $ in front just denote your shell, after that is the command.

Required Packages: alsa-oss; libasound2; libasound-plugins; sysv-rc-conf (optional)

$ sudo apt-get install alsa-oss libasound2 libasound2-plugins sysv-rc-conf

The Procedure:

Step 1:

When I upgrade to Jaunty, it doesn’t install any new ’70pulseaudio’ file in Xsession. If there is no such file, safely ignore this step. If it is present, move it to somewhere safe. The command below sends it to your home root folder.

$ sudo mv /etc/X11/Xsession.d/70pulseaudio ~/

Step 2:

Disable Pulseaudio service from run level. Watch out for the dot at the end. Else you can use sysv-rc-conf GUI.

$ sudo update-rc.d pulseaudio stop 50 2 3 4 5 .

Unset Pulseaudio from system and set my card from ‘asoundconf list’

$ asoundconf unset-pulseaudio
$ asoundconf set-default-card Intel

Make sure your libao.conf is using alsa. Use gedit if you like. For the uninitiate, to save in nano, press Ctrl + x.

$ sudo nano /etc/libao.conf

Navigate from the menu: System – Preferences – Sound, make sure yours looks like the one in the screenshots below:


So far so good. Cos those steps are similar to my previous guide. Now come to the more tricky part.

Prevent Pulseaudio from daemonize. Open ‘/etc/pulse/client.conf’ with your editor again. Look for this line ‘autospawn = yes’ then change it to ‘autospawn = no’.

This folliwng step is thanks to one of my reading of Sonal Santan on the mailing list last time, but now in Jaunty then it can shine. If the just above step doesn’t work properly. Open ‘/etc/pulse/default.pa’ in an editor. Look for lines similar to the following two commented out lines:

#load-module module-alsa-sink
#load-module module-alsa-source device=hw:1,0

Add the following two lines just after these two lines:

load-module module-alsa-sink device=dmix
load-module module-alsa-source device=dsnoop

The above change will force PA  not to  take exclusive control of sound hardware.

This step is similar to my old guide. Open ‘/usr/share/alsa/alsa.conf’ in an editor. Comment out the line which says ‘/usr/share/alsa/pulse.conf‘ by inserting a # in the beginning. After the change, the @hooks section would look something like the following.

@hooks [
        func load
        files [
#           "/usr/share/alsa/pulse.conf"
        errors false

The above procedure will make sure ALSA is use system-wise. 🙂

OPTIONAL (But recommended anyway): Go to this link, https://help.ubuntu.com/community/HdaIntelSoundHowto look at this section Manually Specify Module Parameters and do yourself a favour 🙂 

Step 3:

Application specific issue is discuss here. Mplayer only at the moment.

MPlayer: 10 second wait before audio start playing.

—> Edit ‘/etc/mplayer/mplayer.conf‘, change the order to the order below (original pulse,alsa)
# Specify default audio driver (see -ao help for a list).

Step 4:

THE MIC WORKS 🙂 ! This step might need the optional step Manually Specify Module Parameters above.

I will give you a short tutorial on `alsamixer` which is required to get the elusive mic to work. Open alsamixer by type ‘alsamixer’ in the terminal. In alsamixer, using Tab to change View property. To MUTE/UNMUTE press m. To move the slider, use up and down key. To move to another property of same view, use right and left button. And the spacebar…


Now guys, you see the box right below the slider?  [ 00 ] == unmuted,  [MM] == muted. Check before you keep whining that there is no damn sound.

For the Mic to work, make sure (look at the screenshot, that’s how your should looks like)

Capture and Digital properties are not muted / not zero db. 67 is a good value. Capture should look like in my screenshot . If your capture looks like, —– then press space bar once to change it to L R  Captur.

Mux should be at zero.

Select your Input Source to Mic. Fire up your gnome-sound-recorder, choose Capture the voila. The capturing quality is better than M$ Windows with noise cancellation. Bleh 🙂

Step 5:

Check that you didn’t miss any step. Reboot (don’t be lazy) and make sure the damn sound is not muted =.=” .

Cheers and don’t disturb me for at least 3 weeks 🙂 Let me be at peace with my exams.


If you get the message as below

“audiotestsrc wave=sine freq=512 ! audioconvert ! audioresample ! gconfaudiosink: Could not open audio device for playback.”

You need todo the following to resolve it. Backup .asoundrc first =)

‘sudo /etc/init.d/alsa-utils restart’
‘rm ~/.asoundrc’

Btw, I set up twitter @ http://twitter.com/idyllic_tux to further disseminate any tips if I have in the future.

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Greetings everyone :]

After a long period of laziness, Intrepid problems on my laptop (wireless + kernel-panic #314961 and blank CD/DVD problem #321174), I finally resurface and of course not without a souvernir to you.

With many tasks at hand to handle, you are preoccupied most of the time, chances are important email goes unnoticed. Pidgin’s new email notification is puny and has no tray icon support (what a let down). cGmail doesn’t support normal free Yahoo! and WLM/Hotmail. You started your quest searching for a decent mail notification: kbiff, gbiff, mail-notification, etc. You settled for Mail-notification for it caught your eyes with the lean interface and gnome integration. After the installation from the repo, what a nightmare you got after an easy process of adding accounts. You started swearing mentally. Yahoo and WLM don’t work out of the box unless installing extra debs (fetchyahoo and getlive). Worst still, the deb itself is not up-to-date and even the latest deb doesn’t work!!! You googled and started swearing verbally now. SSL support is greyed out due to licensing issue. You could be like, “**** this sh!t already!”. Don’t worry, I was in the same situation as you. I am ended up building the package from scratch with ssl enabled and writing a guide on how to install and use Mail-Notification with Ubuntu.

== 1 ==

Download my deb with SSL enabled [*** here ***]. And if you need evolution integration then this deb as well [mn_evolution].

== 2 ==

Install neccessary debs for Yahoo!, WLM as well as OpenSSL

% sudo apt-get install fetchyahoo getlive openssl

== 3 ==

* Download the modified script for [GetLive here]. Credit goes here https://bugs.launchpad.net/mail-notification/+bug/297774
* Presuming you saved the file in your home document, we need to move/symlink it to /usr/bin and make it executable

% sudo mv ~/GetLive /usr/bin/GetLive
% sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/GetLive

== 4 ==

Launch it, Menu – Internet – Mail Notification
Configure the accounts, this is per usersetting.

== 5 == (Optional)
* Automatic start mail-notification when session start, System – Preference – Session
* Always display icon, open “gconf-editor” -> /apps/mail-notification/always-display-icon
* Give yourself a pat on your shoulder.

Cheers :]

PS:  if you want to build them manually next time, I just found a blog (http://glyphobet.net/blog/essay/286) which provided a script to do it. Though, you should revise the script before run it because removing “–disable-ssl” is in for 4.x while  “ssl=no” is for  version >= 5.4 from debian/rules. (more…)

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Me == High in Lethargy and Excuses. Diligence Free.

I have always been a fan of Thunar’s neat icon view where items with different dimension will have a same icon height in contrast to the peak and valley icon view of Nautilus.

Quick illustration of the hideous default icon view in Nautilus:


Now, we shall tweak the thumbnail of Nautilus icon view to make icons align in a more presentable way. The default thumbnail size is 96, to achieve a more consistent thumbnail, we use 50 as the value.

% gconftool-2 -s -t integer /apps/nautilus/icon_view/thumbnail_size 50

And if you prefer the GUI way, then Alt+F2, type in “gconf-editor”, navigate to the option as shown in the screenshot below, and set the thumbnail_size to 50.


Voila. The final Nautilus icon view will be as below. Not a 100% neat like Thunar but at least more consistent and presentable. I found this very useful especially for icons on Desktop.

nautiluschangedthumbOkay, that’s another nifty trick for you. And I am back indulging myself into studying for my last 2 papers.

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