And the Rest

flac to ogg conversion

I had a large number of directories of music files in flac format. Flac is a great format due to the lossless compression, but I wanted to take these files on the road with me, and I had limited storage space. The solution, covert them to ogg format.
A google search brought up a great perl script to do the conversion. I am using Kubuntu Karmic Koala, so on first run it complained “Encoding application not available: /usr/bin/oggenc”, but these is easily solved by “sudo apt-get install vorbis-tools“.
After that, converting a directory of flac files was as simple as:
./acxi -q 8 -s /home/temp/input-dir - d /home/temp/doutput-dir
Obviously change your input and output directories to you need.

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And the Rest

Search for the mythical Linux laptop

It is time to get a new laptop for work purposes. The current Dell laptop is now 3 years old, and although it still runs perfectly, it was always a desktop replacement, and never designed to be moved around. And although it originally came pre installed with Windows XP, it has been a Kubuntu machine for most of its time.
So besides being smaller (12-13″ screen), lighter and with much longer battery life, my other requirement was that I do not need Windows installed or pay for the disks. The Kubuntu Linux 8.04 with KDE 3.5 CD was waiting and that would be the operating system.
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And the Rest

KDE4 and back again

For many years now I have been a very happy KDE user when it came to a Linux desktop. Not that I have anything against Gnome, but KDE just felt right. So for a while now I have been looking forward to KDE4 as a big jump to even better functionality, ease of use etc. The KDE developers have been very open that KDE4 is still rough around the edges, but the best way to get the most users and widest use is to take away beta from the title and let it go. Now KDE 3.5 is serving me fine, but with the release of Kubuntu 8.04, this way the chance to give the new KDE a real go.
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Software Development, Web

Windows within Kubuntu with qemu

The major hassle of doing web development on Kubuntu (or any non Windows system) is the inevitable hassles with the browser which still has the majority of users (IE6). Options to deal with this include:

  • Dual booting with Windows
  • Using services such as browsershot and browsercam
  • Multiple PCs in a network with different OS
  • Let IE users be dammed

All these options have disadvantages in terms of cost and/or time. Having tried most of them, I decided now was the time to try another option – virtualisation or running an OS inside another.
In this case I have started to run Win XP with Kubuntu. Again their are a couple of options, but I went with qemu. There are a number of good resources for this on the net including:

Here are the list of instructions I used for Win XP on Kubuntu Fiesty Fawn.
em1:~$ mkdir virtual_os
em1:~$ cd virtual_os
em1:~/virtual_os$ qemu-img create winxp.img 3500M[Suggested size seems to be at least 3 Gig.]
em1:~/virtual_os$ qemu -boot d -hda winxp.img -cdrom /dev/hdc -m 256 -localtime[The /dev/hdc will be specific to your setup. /dev/cdrom did not work for me. This will start the install from CDROM, and expect the process to take time]
em1:~/virtual_os$ qemu -boot c -hda winxp.img -m 256 -localtime[Once installed this is my command to run the guest OS. The number after -m is the amount of memory to allow the guest OS. If you have plenty give it more.]
And that was it. Internet connection was working straight off. Things are a little slower but using only IE it was workable. I just need to get used to Ctrl-Alt to break out of the guest OS back to my native desktop.

Things still to do:

  1. Have the guest OS interact with the host
  2. Try Win 98 as it should be less system intensive.
  3. Have Win XP with IE7 and 98 with IE6.
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And the Rest

The VISTA hype leaves me cold

A few ‘news’ stories yesterday about the release of MS Vista, and people lining up at Midnight to get their copy. The usual marketing spiel from a MS rep that sounded exactly like the marketing for XP. I just don’t get it. My main laptop is a dual boot system: XP and Kubuntu Linux, so I am not completely anti MS. But the thought of handing over around $300 for something that doesn’t seem that revolutionary, is a concept I fail to get. Besides the laptop is about 18 months old, and probably would not be able to handle Vista.

I see the retailers are all celebrating the new equipment sales Vista will create, and tonnes of perfectly good PCs on the scrap heap. Great for the planet.

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And the Rest

Up and running with Kubuntu

Over the years I have tried a number of Linux distributions: Redhat, Mandrake/driva, suse. All had their pluses and minuses, with my preference generally for Mandrake.

Last year when I changed to a Dell laptop as my primary work computer, I again set up a dual boot system. This I didn’t enjoy so much. Many frustrating hours when there are other things to be done. Redhat Fedora 3 & 4 annoyed me no end, getting info about Mandriva was a pain, so I settled with opensuse. Some config on my part but relatively smooth and it did the job with minor quirks.

During this time I had never tried a Debian based system, but I was hearing so many good things about Ubuntu I had to give it a try. I have always had a personal preference for KDE over GNOME, so I went for the sibling Kubuntu. Download the iso file, burn it to disc, and start the install. 6 steps and I was up and running. This I found scary. No extra config or hunting the internet for drivers. System updating was simple, and it just works. I am sure there are issues I haven’t hit yet, but they should be small. If K/ubuntu keeps this up I may just use it on the server.

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