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Posted by orchid on Sat 28 Jan 2006 at 14:18
Tags: none.

This morning on my backup computer I did a weekly upgrade and as usual lots of packages needed upgrading, but one package hotplug, was marked to be removed and replaced with udev. I knew this was a big leap, I have seen the bug reports for udev and of course the hundreds of posts on the debian-user mailing lists. I thought though that sooner or later I will have to make the switch and let it do the upgrade. When I rebooted, the wireless card didn't come up, there was no sound and no X server. For this machine its not a big deal because I pretty much use it for backing up my other computers, and testing upgrades like today's so that I can see what problems I will have on my main desktop.

The X server wont come up because it cannot find /dev/input/mice, this seemed easy enough to fix, I tried /dev/input/mice, /dev/input/mouse0-3 and /dev/psaux with no success. I guess its moved somewhere? There is no sound because of a missing /dev/dsp, even though its the same device and symlink as on my non udev desktop

armarda:~#  ll /dev/dsp
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 9 2005-04-10 01:22 /dev/dsp -> /dev/dsp0
armarda:~#  play /usr/share/bzflag/missile.wav
sox: Can't open output file '/dev/dsp': No such device
The Atheros wireless won't work because the modules I had compiled are no longer automatically loaded. So I have to manually do

modprobe wlan
modprobe ath_pci
modprobe ath_hal
ifup ath0
This is something I never really understood. When I do a modprobe _foo_ the next time I rebooted, _foo_ was then automatically loaded. I do not know how this happens but it just did. Now I do not know where to look to fix it.

So...some poking around on the web is needed to fix this mess. I think my kernel 2.6.8 might be a problem, I might need a newer one? The other, most tempting option is to remove udev and reinstall hotplug. But if udev is no going to go away, it seems like something I should probably learn to deal with.

In the meantime, my main desktop will sit and wait, I will just put udev on hold for now and update all the other packages. I should mention that because I am running unstable, these things from time to time do happen and I should take it in stride and go find the appropriate documentation.


Posted by orchid on Tue 10 Jan 2006 at 19:38
Tags: none.
I thought I saw an article on installing planet software for Debian, planet as in blogs, rss, etc, I cant find it using the site search, was it on another site perhaps?


Posted by orchid on Sat 26 Nov 2005 at 12:33
Tags: none.
A post on debian-mentors led me to Virtual Richard M Stallman, or vrms, which tallies the number of packages on your system that are non-free.
             Non-free packages installed on morcheeba
abs-guide                 The Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide
album                     HTML photo album generator with theme support
ebook-dev-alp             [EBOOK-DEV] Advanced Linux Programming
ebook-dev-ggad            [EBOOK-DEV] GTK+/Gnome Application Development
grokking-the-gimp         GIMP tutorial book by Carey Bunks (HTML)
nvidia-glx                NVIDIA binary XFree86 4.x driver
  Reason: Proprietary license
nvidia-kernel-2.6.8       NVIDIA binary kernel module for Linux 2.6.8
nvidia-kernel-source      NVIDIA binary kernel module source
rar                       Archiver for .rar files
rutebook                  Linux: Rute User's Tutorial and Exposition, an online
ttf-larabie-deco          Decorative fonts from
ttf-larabie-straight      Straight fonts from
ttf-larabie-uncommon      Special decorative fonts from
ttf-mikachan              handwritten Japanese Truetype font
ttf-xfree86-nonfree       non-free TrueType fonts from XFree86
unrar                     Unarchiver for .rar files (non-free version)
  Reason: Modifications problematic
  16 non-free packages, 1.1% of 1473 installed packages.
It seems RMS would not be too happy with me as 1.1 percent of the software I use isn't free I do feel however that its not a bad effort and I have Debian to thank for that. I could actually get by with no non-free packages if it weren't for tuxracer, foobillard and bzflag depending on an open gl capable video card driver for my Nvidia 6800, but even then my bios is proprietary and probably some other things I've not considered.


Posted by orchid on Mon 7 Nov 2005 at 01:54
Tags: none.
I have been reading up about fork(), wait(), and the exec{lpev} family of functions. Useful stuff albeit a bit tough for a C newbie like me.
I do know now how fork bombs work but was suprised to see one in action on my (ubuntu breezy) laptop:

#include                                                                                                     #include                                                                                                    
int main(void)
 while(1) {                                                                                                                      
  return 0;
The problem is Debian, and Ubuntu both set ulimit -u to "unlimited" so I as a plain jane user can spawn as many processes as I like, and the kernel will happily comply until stuff like this starts to happen:

orchid@supergrass fork $ killall -9 a.out
bash: fork: Resource temporarily unavailable
orchid@supergrass fork $ screen -x           
bash: fork: Resource temporarily unavailable
orchid@supergrass fork $ top                 
bash: fork: Resource temporarily unavailable

Now I realize during normal use its unlikely that you will accidently do this but
I could have just as easily been logged into a friends machine, whatever and been
compliling and testing little programs and suddenly I crash the machine.

It just seems like an unsafe default to have. Solaris I am told is 29995, I don't know what the other linux distro's set ulimit to, nor the BSD's for that matter, but hopefully its not "unlimited"

PS, how do you properly input code and or blockquotes etc etc in these blogs? I think ive messed it up a bit.


Posted by orchid on Tue 18 Oct 2005 at 03:08
Tags: none.
Im really liking Graveman for gui cd burning.
For most iso's and stuff I use cdrecord from the command line but sometimes I need to pick through a directory and decide as I go what files to add and what to leave out, jobs like this tend to favour a GUI.
I used to use K3b but prefer GTK over QT if I have a choice. Besides that, graveman *seems* faster than k3b, no real data to back it up but id does load much faster for me presumably because Xfce4 has already some gtk libs loaded?
Anyway the app still lacks some features but it looks like they are on the TODO list.

I also played with aptsh Which is a shell wrapper around apt, I havent had much time to check it out fully but it has some handy alias's like "show" instead of "apt-cache show" and similar ones for install and remove. You can type "help" or "help-howto | less" for some more details


Posted by orchid on Thu 13 Oct 2005 at 23:06
Tags: none.
A while ago my then roomate asked me about some audio apps for linux, he was a big
fan of the windows apps Reason, Acid Pro and Cubase VST, but if you have ever bought any semi-pro to pro audio packages you know how much they cost and then the yearly updates yada yada yada.. On the up side, most times it does work out of the
box and phone support usually comes included in the price.

He saw Audacity once on my computer and asked about setting up his computer to dual boot linux so he could play with some of the Open Source stuff.

I tried Debian but this was a year ago when the whole 2.6 kernel, Alsa instead of OSS transition was going on so it was a struggle for me to get it all working, not
to mention a ton of reading on things like Jack and Alsa and kernel modules. Not fun.

I ended up installing Agnula DeMudi, a Debian based audiocentric distro
Well it worked, the Jack sound server ran out of the box and everything was hunky-dory. Sadly though as a new linux user he quickly realized some effort was required on his part to learn a few basics like where to save his files and so on, which proved too much for him and he went back to windows. He did like Ardour though and was impressed enough to look for a Windows version, not sure how that went.

So anyway, a year later and I decided to install some stuff the other day. I am using Alsa and kernel 2.6.8 on Debian unstable.

apt-get install rhapsody qsynth freewheeling qjackctl sooperlooper amsynth ardour-gtk-i686

After it all downloaded and installed, I first ran qjackctl which makes things SO easy to set up, as soon as you start another app, like amsynth for example it pops up in qjackctl and you can drag the output into the input of any other app or just leave it outputting to the sound card. (I dont have MIDI but theres lots you can do there also)

Its really amazing the quality of some of these programs, Ardour is really advanced and with a little documentation reading you can get some wild sounds out of it! :-)

LinuxJournal has some great articles also on some of the new music tools, just do a search on audio tools


Posted by orchid on Wed 12 Oct 2005 at 00:44
Tags: none.
Learning to program isnt easy, and irc helps, a freind who can say paste what you have, then look it over, and comment on what your doing wrong is a great help.

Then next logical step is a pair-programming editor, with a chat window and compile and shell perhaps and of course an editing window.

I had lamented the lack of pair-progamming apps for linux, Mac and Win32 both have some pretty mature products for this and recently someone blogged about Gobby.

Sadly no Sarge package but it is in unstable (not sure about testing) and I checked it out. Its actually quite good, more than one person can join the editing session so it would make an excellent app for tutorials and such.

One major drawback, programmers tend to LOVE their favorite editor, and even for quick lesson cannot bear to use something as less featured and customized than what they are accustomed to. Gobby falls short in this area, offering a (at least at first glance) gedit type of editor. It would be great if the program gave you an empty window and let you fill it with $EDITOR.

I have found Gnu/screen a poor-womans way around this, run screen, then run emacs, open a shell window in emacs for compiling, a scratch buffer for chat, and of course some file to edit. Enable multiuser in screen, add their name to the screen user list, let them ssh in and run screen -x orchid/

Of course you really have to trust them enough for an ssh account but screen has some basic permission commands for multiuser mode so its not really that bad. I am sure more could be done, maybe a restricted bash shell and so on. For me the point is moot as only my close friends have the time and inclination to ssh in and help me anyway :-)