Tuesday, September 12, 2006

An ebay weirdness

I have just started to sell some junk (what else?) on ebay and came across a little nasty I thought I would document here. I was using Windoze (cough, cough), and Micro$oft Internet Exploiter. After quite a while I noticed that the web pages were no longer working properly. I could not enter the category of a new item and was getting a warning triangle on the bottom left hand corner warning of scripting errors. Several other people also get this and I saw a range of conflicting advice. However, on guy said to uninstall the flash player. I went to uninstall in the control panel. I did not see flash listed but I saw Macromedia shockwave player so I uninstalled that. Suddenly, ebay started working again! Go figure....

Saturday, September 02, 2006

privoxy on linux

Here's what I did to get privoxy working on linux, using the source tarball:- The unpacked source does not come with a configure script. You have say: autoheader autoconf before you can say configure;make;make install It builds and installs just fine once this is known. It installs into /usr/local/sbin with the config files in /usr/local/etc/privoxy. This is actually a mis-match - when privoxy is run from /usr/local/sbin it complains that it cannot find the config file /usr/local/sbin/config. Of course it can't find it! The files are in /usr/local/etc/privoxy! Create a symbolic link:- cd /usr/local/sbin ln -s /usr/local/etc/privoxy/config . Then the privoxy daemon will start up ok. Then you just change the proxy settings in firefox to point to for all protocols. That's it!

Friday, August 25, 2006

xmms on linux

There is a new version of xmms, version 2, which works with GTK2 and supports the latest codecs. I started to look at this because I recently obtained a number of music files in m4a format, which the old xmms cannot handle. This blog describes my experience trying to get xmms2 up and running on linux. xmms2 depends on scons (which is installed via python) and SQLite (configure;make;make install). xmms2 will, in theory, build without any other dependencies being satisfied but it is as well to get some other things installed for the optional components of xmm2. First is the mad library for mp3 support (configure;make;make install). Next is ogg/vorbis (configure;make;make install). Next is ALSA support (configure etc...). Next is the crucial one, AAC support via the faac library from www.audiocoding.com. This proved to be some hassle: faac has a slightly non-std build in that ./bootstrap must be run before running configure. When I downloaded faac the bootstrap script has been DOSified so I had to say "dos2unix bootstrap bootstrap" to fix that. The configure script then started to produce the usual output but near the end fell over with: .infig.status: error: cannot find input file: This looked like another DOS-ism and indeed it is. configure.in and Makefile.am also need to be unDOSified but that's not all. I run the following script found on a faac WIKI: #! /bin/bash if [ -d $1 ]; then for i in $1/*; do ./$0 $i done else mv $1 tmp cat tmp tr -d \\r >$1 rm tmp fi I then re-added execute permission (to every file for simplicity). Re-running configure still did not work so I re-ran bootstrap. This generated a configure script that ran to completion. The make then worked although there were several warnings about missing newlines at end of file. Clearly this release still has some rough edges. Finally I was ready to try using scons to build xmm2. Then I found that xmms2 also depends on the command git-rev-parse. I tried to download and build git. Its tarball comes with a Makefile and just typing 'make' seemed to do the trick. One small suprise was that once the build finished, saying make install as root caused lots of other building to happen. However, finally, it did install but when I re-ran scons on xmms2 I still had problems. git installs to /root/bin so I tried running scons as root with /root/bin added to my PATH. The error I got was: fatal: Not a git repository scons seemed to blunder on and got several other later errors such as list index out of range. At this point I gave up for the night. If I return to this I will add notes as comments to this blog entry.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

External USB drives, Linux and Windoze

I recently bought a Maxtor 250GB external USB drive. This was to share files between my Linux and Windoze systems without having to worry about blowing away my linux installation if I decided to go with a new distro. There were several problems. First, the maxtor drives comes preformatted as NTFS so by default it can only be read on Linux. That was no good for me. I needed to reformat it as FAT32 but this proved to be much harder than you might think. I blanked out using the disk using dd so start completely from scratch. Windoze 2000 and Windows XP do not seem to recognise completely blank disks. The option to partition them is greyed out. Third party tools such as Partition Magic also seem to have the same problem. I tried to set the disk up under Linux using fdisk. This was very problematic but I did eventually get it to work. Here's what happened: using fdisk to set the partition to FAT32 (type = 'c') did not seem to do the trick. The next time I went into fdisk it claimed the partition table was empty. Eventually I came across some info that said the mkdosfs command has to be used and there is where I found a very nasty gotcha. Unlike most unix commands the mkdosfs command takes the options AFTER the device filename. If you put the options first as I did then the command claims to be working and sits there for ages as if it is working, but it does not produce any output. When it eventually finishes you think it has done the job but actually it has done nothing. Trying to mount the partition gives errors because the disk is still empty (you get various errors that basically indicate it could not find what it wanted from the superblock). The command that I used that does give the right results is: mkdosfs /dev/sdb -c -F 32 -I -v The command I was using was mkdosfs -F 32 -I -v /dev/sdb. When the command does work it takes a very long time but you can see it is working because it comes up with a long list of during the bad block search. Another gotcha to be aware of is to avoid having the disk mounted during boot time. This is because because large partitions can cause problems for certain boot loaders.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Setting up MySQL

This blog entry describes my attempts to set up mySQL on my Linux machine. First, download the source tarball from http://dev.mysql/downloads. Uncompress and de-tar. It is built in the standard way, i.e. configure; make; make install. There are quite a few dependencies etc so it takes a while for the configure to run. There are loads of files to compile to it takes quite a while to make.

Movie file formats

Movie clips in AVI form tend be unplayable in DVD players even when the play has been multi-regioned. So there needs to be a way to convert these files to MPGs. Googling for AVI to MPG converters gives loads of hits but these hits turn out to be mostly dead-ends. This blog entry is about my discoveries into getting a working AVI to MPG converter. The hits from google tend to be references to shareware for Windoze. I tried one of these in desperation and although it initially seemed to work I later realised that the MPG was truncated to the first hour of the film. It also took AGES to run (I left it converting overnight). I looked for open source solutions and these seem to be very thin on the ground. I came across ffmpeg (http://www.ffmeg.org) but the last official source release fails to compile with the latest GNU compiler. The latest CVS snapshot also did not work properly when I ran it on Linux. It consumed more and more memory and CPU until eventually all the machine was doing was swapping. I then tried building the last official release on cygwin and amazingly, this works! Not only does it work but the command is quite quick as well. To convert fred.avi to fred.mpg the command to use is: ffmpeg -i fred.avi -target vcd fred.mpg

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Interesting s/w: gramps

gramps gramps is a program for displaying and editing genealogical information in the standard GEDCOM file format. Julian Cohen gave me the GEDCOM file for Brenda's family tree and I tried to build gramps so I could display it. There are some teething troubles building gramps which I document in this blog. gramps requires very recent versions of gconf and gnome-python. A little gotcha which is not at all obvious is that gnome-python also requires a very recent version of pyorbit otherwise gnome.ui will not be built. When this happens, the grams configure says that gnome-python is not there even when it is! So here is what you have to do: install gconf (I used version 2.12.1) install python (2.4.2) install pygtk (2.8.2) install pyorbit (2.13.1) install gnome-python (2.12.3) Now a configure && make && make install for gramps should work.