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Dual Booting the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 with Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 13.10


The HP Sleekbook 15 was launched late in 2012 and if you get the Intel variant it comes with a 3rd generation Core ix processors (Ivy Bridge), offering good battery life for a 15.6″ laptop which is around five hours with average use or the AMD A series or processors. Graphics options are quite broad with either stock Intel HD Graphics 4000, AMD Radeon or nVidia GPUs. On some models there is even an option for a SSD drive although apparently you can’t install Ubuntu to thsi drive.

Much to my surprise you get s choice of pre-installed operating systems from HP:

  • Windows 8.x
  • Ubuntu 12.04LTS 64-bit – Certified by Cannonical, although this is only the Pentium Gen. 2 variant.

There are also touchscreen (Sleekbook Touchsmart) variants as well as 14″ screen versions making the model range quite extensive. Because all Sleekbooks are around 2cm thin, there is no room or a DVD drive and no external drive is supplied as standard. However, if you need one these are cheap to buy.

My own model is a Sleekbook 15-b052sa which was pre-installed with Windows 8 and uses a Intel Core i5 CPU (3rd gen) running at 1.7Ghz 8Gb RAM and now fitted with a 500Gb Seagate Momentus XT hybrid had disk drive replacing the stock 750Gb SATA drive.

As with all new computers they are supplied with the dreaded UEFI BIOS which adds aditional security to the computer whilst eliminating the traditional BIOS. For users of non-Microsoft operating systems and Microsoft ones before Windows 8 this has the potental of being an additional hurdle to jump. However, in reality this is not a deal breaker people make it out to be and is just different to the traditional way of installing an operating system with some additonal steps.

On my Sleekbook I set-up Kubuntu 13.10 64-bit to dual boot, with the only issue being the installer which did not give me an option to install Kubuntu alongside the existing operating system. This is a know bug in the 13.10 Ubuntu installer and the workaround is to manually create the partitions, not too difficult but a step which may be daunting to a new Linux user. There are a number of guides on the internet if you know where to find them although the Mint 16 Install Guide (Mint 16 is based on Ubuntu 13.10) makes a decent job of describing the process.

Note: If you do not want a separate data partition your Home folder will be located on the same partition as the operating system. In itself not a problem, but some people prefer t keep the two separate, and if you are using Mint this is recommended because unlike Ubuntu there is no official way of upgrading to a new version without a reinstall, so keeping data on a separate partition makes re-installation a lot easier.

The basic steps for setting up dual-boot using GRUB are as follows:

  1. Make your Windows 8 recovery USB Key/ DVD
  2. Backup Windows
  3. Resize your Windows Partition
  4. Create a boot-able Ubuntu USB drive using a downloaded ISO
  5. Deactivate in Windows 8.x Fast Startup and Secureboot in BIOS (press F10 on boot on HP laptops to access BIOS settings)
  6. Install your flavour of Ubuntu off the USB drive creates earlier (step 4) which will install GRUB
  7. Reboot off USBĀ  drive and Run Boot-Repair. Why this is not pre-installed in Ubuntu is beyond me because when GRUB 2 breaks it’s a complete pain to fix. This utility is a Linux tool-kit must have!
  8. [HP Only] Once you have done the above you may still find that you do not get GRUB appearing. Apparently this is a feature of HP laptops, pressing F9 on boot will display a boot options menu and you can select Ubuntu from there and display the GRUB menu, otherwise the default boot option is Windows and this default can not be changed.

Despite step 8 above, I’m loving Ubuntu on the HP Sleekbook 15 as being Canonical certified, everything just works out of the box, has good battery life is vary fast especially with the hybrid drive I installed and because it’s a slim design the keyboard is easier to type on.

Categories: Uncategorized

Choqok – Support for Twitter has been restored!


 

When Twitter switched off API 1.0 back on the 11th June, the tweets went dark for Choquk users as the application had not been updated in time to support API 1.1. This was due to the original developer Mehrdad Momeny not having time to maintain Choqok himself and on an appeal to the Linux community. Daniel Kreuter has stepped in and had developed Choqok 1.3.1 which supports the API 1.1.

For Debian users of KDE 4.10, a patch has been compiled and is available in Launchpad. Just download and run.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

gPodder 3.x: Changing the Downloads Folder Location and Missing Subscriptions

January 13, 2013 5 comments

In Ubuntu 12.04LTS (and variants) gPodder v2.20 was shipped and as with all previous versions of this podcast catcher software, it was relatively free of any major bugs as all good software should be if properly tested.

So it was with a degree of horror on upgrading Lubuntu 12.04 to 12.10 that I discovered all of my podcasts (10Gb worth) had apparently disappeared off my hard disk along with the subscription lists.

Missing Subscriptions

It a pity that not enough consideration had been given to how to transparently migrate from the SQLLite2 database in gPodder 2.x to the SQLLite3 database in 3.x this could have been avioded. It’s hardly surprising that with these sorts of problems, the year of the Linux desktop remains a distant hope for the community. If stuff worked in the previous version, it should remain working in the new version and if it does not then the software should be held back until fixed as with open source there is no commercial pressure to get software out of the door at any cost other than that self imposed by the developers.

After a bit of searching on the internet I found an ubuntuforums.org post from gds which is reproduced below:

Re: gPodder subscription list gone after upgrade to 12.10

I had the same problem. Ubuntu 12.10 now ships gpodder 3 which uses a new and incompatible database format. They don’t appear to have supplied any conversion tool nor any warning that your old config wouldn’t be converted (thanks!). However – it seems gpodder3 keeps it’s configuration in a gPodder directory in your home dir, while gpodder 2 was keeping it’s configuration in .congfig/gpodder. So I was able to recovery my subscriptions.

Here’s what I did: from the gpodder download site I downloaded the last release of version 2 (I used this one). Unpack the files somewhere (we don’t need to actually install it, just run it once. I put them in /tmp). Make sure gpodder 3 isn’t running.

Then from a terminal I ran
Code:

cd /tmp/gpodder-2.9
bin/gpodder.py

Now you can export your subscriptions to an OPML file that gpodder 3 can import (it’s on the subscriptions menu). Once you’ve done it you can quit and run gpodder3. Skip past the initial dialog offering you default subscrptions and you can import the OPML file you created in the last step.

I had an extra problem, because even after this gpodder3 didn’t recognize any of my previously downloaded podcasts (it wanted to pull down 3Gb of new shows!). This might be unique to me because I was using a non-standard location for my downloads, but I solved this by the brute-force technique of doing one last sync to my player from gpodder 2 and then telling gpodder3 to consider all the subscriptions up to date. I’m sure we could do better but this was enough for me.

Changing the Downloads Folder Location

With my subscriptions back, the next step was to find out where my previously recorded podcasts had gone.

Now I suspect I’m not too unusual in downloading a lot of podcasts both video and audio. becaue of the formers size, I do not store them in the default download folder location dictated by gPodder but store it on a separate data drive so if my filesystem partitions runs out fo disk space (as that is where my Home directory is located) I will not crash the system! I’ve been there before so I’ve learnt the hard way.

Up until version 3, gPodder allowed you to change the downloads folder location and in the Wiki this is still possible if you run Windows, Linux/ Unix/ OS X and MeeGo. If you run a varient of Ubuntu Linux, then as far as version 3 of gPodder goes you are stuffed as this feature does not work due to a software bug.

Whilst the Wiki does suggest making “session-wide changes on Ubuntu Linux”, it does not really explain how to do it and how to test that the change has been applied and gives up in providing proper instructions by pointing distressed users to the Ubuntu community documentation on Persistent Environmental Variables, which isn’t great in itself.

Whilst a bug has been raised about this probelm and Thomas Perl has tried to provided some assistance to my question about how to see if the variables have been set, I’ve decided to take a different approach and redirect the gpodder downloads folder residing in my Home drive to another folder on a different drive. Whilst useful for resolving this particular gPodder problem, it also has other users like redirecting the contents of your Documents folder to another folder on the same or different drive.

To mount one folder on to another you need to use the following command syntax:
sudo mount -o bind <source folder path> <destination folder path>
This is what I did:
In my case my gPodder folder is located in /home/username/gpodder/ and I wanted it to be located on /media/data/gpodder/
1. I moved all files located in the source folder /home/username/gpodder/ to the destination folder /media/data/gpodder/
2. Opening Terminal I entered the command
sudo mount -o bind /home/username/gpodder/ /media/data/gpodder/
This mounted the destination folder on to the source folder, effectively redirecting it to the new location.
Whilst this command is useful, it’s of no use if you have to keep reentering it every time you wish to use gPodder.
To make this permanent you will need to edit /etc/fstab and add it in. Using the above example this is what I did:
1. In Terminal enter the following to edit fstab as sudo:
sudo nano /etc/fstab
2. At the bottom of the file add the following comment:
# Mount Folder /media/data/Documents/ on to /home/username/gpodder/
3. Then add the following line below:
/media/data/gpodder/ /home/username/gpodder/ auto bind,gid=46,defaults 0 0
4. Save the file
5. Exit nano and from Terminal enter the following to rerun fatab and mount devices listed in it:
sudo mount -a
If the syntax was correct, there should be no error messages and you should be returned to the command prompt.
Using you file manger check that the /home/username/gpodder/ folder contains the same content as /media/data/gpodder.
If uncertain, create a file or folder in one and see if it appears in another, you may have to refresh the display (F5) to display the change.
GPodder will continue to think it is saving podcasts to the default folder location, but using this trick it will actually be saving them to a location of your choice without the need to fiddle around with environmental variables.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Mini How To… Recovering the GRUB 2 Boot Menu


The one thing I really hate in Linux is the GRUB boot loader, it’s fine when it works but when it goes wrong it can be a complete pain to fix and in this respect GRUB 2 is worse than the original version of GRUB.

So after upgrading one of my Dual boot PCs to Windows 8 Pro from Windows XP, I was not surprised to find that I could not boot into GRUB. On this occasion not the fault of GRUB but of Windows which has always obliterated any GRUB (or for those who can remember that far back) / LILO instance.

The way to restore the GRUB menu is to use a tool called Boot-Repair, the only problem is that it is not included by default* in Ubuntu 12.04.

According to Help Ubuntu two options are available:

  1. Use the Ubuntu-Secure-Remix CD or the Live Boot-Repair iso CD
  2. Or just boot of an Ubuntu live CD and install it.

As I have plenty of Linux Format DVDs stuffed with all sorts of Live distros so I booted up Ubuntu 12.04 LXF remix live CD, opened terminal and added the repository using the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair && sudo apt-get update

I then entered

sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair && boot-repair

to install boot-repair and then run Boot-Repair from Terminal

After that I just followed the on screen prompts.

Since first using it to fix the above problem, I’ve now used it on a number of occasions for different problems and it has yet to let me down.

*Apparently, this is due to change in a future Ubuntu release.

Categories: Uncategorized

Mini How To… How to get rid of Unity from Ubuntu 12.10!


I’ve never been a fan of Unity, I prefer Gnome 3 so when I found that I was unable to login to Gnome 3 in Ubuntu 12.10 after upgrading from 12.04 and could only login to Unity, I decided that enough was enough and Unity was going to go as it just adds another layer of complication when diagnosing bugs in Ubuntu.

In this particular instance, the blooming useless LightDM display manager was the cause of the problem and after reverting back to GDM I could then login to Gnome 3 and not Unity.

I found this blog post which walked me through what turned out to be a simple task in removing all of the Unity mischief from Ubunti 12.10.

Categories: Uncategorized

Mini How To… Installing GNOME 3 Shell Extensions

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Whilst I like GNOME 3, common with many other Linux users out there, the illogical Suspend option present in GNOME 3 is a real irritation, having to press down the ALT key to get shutdown to display on this menu. 
I assume the GNOME 3 developers/ designers thought this up as a good laugh after a heavy drinking session one Friday night. Well the joke is no longer funny!
Whilst Fedore 16 and Mint 12 have both seen the light and have changed this menu option to Shutdown, Ubuntu 11.10 who’s developers are clearly focused on pimping Unity have not. I really don’t know why Ubuntu doesn’t spin off Ubuntu as Gbuntu, as they did with the KDE version Kubuntu. Maybe GNOME3 would then get the love it deserves in Ubuntu and we can all see how many people are using Unity!
Anyway back on topic, the GNOME Shell Extensions website was launched at the end of 2011 by the GNOME project to make it really easy to install and manage installed extensions in GNOME3. The site is so easy to use a tutorial is unnecessary and although it is still in Alpha, it works really well.
The only noticable absence is the lack of a Search bar, but at present this is not too much of a problem as there are about 130 extensions available currently available, so browsing is feasible for now.
So having banished the Suspend menu option using the Alternative Status Menu (#3 in popularity), I also took the opportunity to add the following, after all Linux is all about freedom of choice!

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Categories: Uncategorized

MyLinuxRamblings YouTube Channel now available

February 11, 2012 Leave a comment

To make my blogs slightly easier to follow, I’ve decided to do some screen casts for future blog posts. The first blog post to make use of video will be called How to change MythTV Backend from Localhost to a Static IP Address.

I’m using RecordItNow in KDE (Kubuntu 11.10) to produce the screencasts, although due to a bug stopping the recording proved difficult due to this nive little bug . Luckily, a patch in a test ppa fixed the problem.

Unfortunately, there is also a problem uploading to YouTube, which is reported in this Launchpad bug report
Bugs aside, the video got uploaded to YouTube using the web based uploader. It can be found at http://youtu.be/FpGufLPH_jw in 720p HD quality, should such things excite you!
The blog will be appearing in the next few days along with a second video to complete the article.

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Categories: Uncategorized
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