weblog by Urs Gehrig

A weblog about libre software, law, technology, politics and the like.

06. October 2008

Rock and roll with mpg321
@ 21:35:09

Shuffled replay of mp3 files from a formerly iTunes-organized music library:
me@foo:~/Eigene Musik/iTunes$ find . -name '*.mp3' | mpg321 -@ - -z

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03. December 2007

Fuppes beliefert MusicPal
@ 20:31:30

Seit Kurzen dringt bei mir die Musik aus der Konserve mittels MusicPal in die Ohren. Die Konserve - eine 2.5 inch, ca. 160GB USB HDD umfasst ein Debian und ein Abbild meiner CD-ROM Sammlung, soweit diese überhaupt schon erfasst ist. Debian läuft in aller Ruhe auf einem Linksys NSLU2. Die Musikdaten werden mittels Fuppes (A free multiplatform UPnP (TM) A/V Media Server) den Endgeräten bereitgestellt. Fuppes war leider (noch?) nicht als ".deb" Datei für die ARM Plattform verfügbar, hat sich aber compilieren lassen. Einziges Sorgenkind ist die 2.5 inch HDD - hier wäre ein RAID oder dergleichen wohl noch ganz vernünftig, allenfalls könnte auch rsync auf eine andere HDD dienlich sein. Die Musik wird über ein BKS Homenet sozusagen frei von WIFI-Strahlung übertragen.


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13. October 2007

Sharing folders with VirtualBox
@ 21:14:14

The host system is a Linux based OS, the guest system - running within VirtualBox - is a Windows based OS. The challange was to share a common folder. The documentation was pretty clear about it; but still it did not work. Now it does. In the guest system, a simple
c:\>net use x: \\vboxsvr\myshare
did the job [1]. There is no need subsitute vboxsvr with or or something like that. myshare is the name of the shared folder located on the host system.


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05. July 2007

Zattoo on Kubuntu (Feisty Fawn)
@ 21:34:16

Although made for Debian Etch and Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy) the Zattoo build [1] works with Feisty Fawn. The following installs had to be executed:

$ sudo apt-get install libxul-common libmozjs0d libnspr4-0d libnss3-0d libxul0d
$ sudo dpkg -i zattoo-


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04. July 2007

Swisscom Mobile Unlimited on Kubuntu (Linux)
@ 23:30:27

The Swisscom Mobile Unlimited PCMCIA card, object of desire, is a GlobeTrotter Fusion+ model. The discussion here is about getting it working on a Thinkpad X60 running Kubuntu Feisty, currently using a 2.6.20-16-generic Linux kernel.

You might want to start with the installation of the Nozomi GPL Cardbus driver for an NB or NF card type (HSDPA 1.8, UMTS, EDGE, GPRS and WiFi 802.11g), if NB or NF are the first two letters of the Serial Number [1]:

$ sudo apt-get install nozomi-source
$ ls -t /dev/ | grep noz

There were no /dev/ttyUSB* devices on this machine. Neither the card could be found with lsusb. Nevertheless I continued and installed gcom ("Gcom is a scripting language interpreter useful for establishing communications on serial lines and through PCMCIA modems as well as GPRS and 3G datacards. Works with Option GlobeTrotter GPRS/EDGE/3G/HSDPA and Vodafone 3G/GPRS datacards."):

$ sudo apt-get install gcom wvdial
$ gcom -d /dev/noz0

Enter PIN number: ****
Waiting for Registration..(120 sec max)....
Registered on Home network: "Swisscom",0
Signal Quality: 24,99

There is also wvdial to install, a PPP dialer with built-in intelligence [2]. Configure wvdial via /etc/wvdial.conf and follow the instructions given here [3]. I slightly modified the file to fit with Swisscom services:

# cat /etc/wvdial.conf
# Created P.Hardwick for GlobeTrotter EDGE and GlobeTrotter Combo EDGE
# Step 1
# sudo wvdial Setup
# Step 2
# sudo wvdial Status
# repeat Step 2 every few seconds until you get an operator name reported
# Step 3
# sudo wvdial Swisscom &

[Dialer Defaults]
baud = 57600
Modem = /dev/noz0
Dial Command = ATD
Carrier Check = no

[Dialer Swisscom]
Init = AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP",""
Phone = *99***1#
Username = gprs
Password = gprs

[Dialer Setup]
init = AT+CFUN=1

[Dialer Status]
init1 = AT+COPS?;+CSQ

Finally a "sudo wvdial Swisscom" should do the job:

$ sudo wvdial Swisscom &

There are various good resources [4] on the web that might help you out, starting with Hannes' comments on such a card, especially regarding the ppp settings [5]:

$ egrep -v '#|^ *$' /etc/ppp/options
lcp-echo-failure 0
lcp-echo-interval 0

Recently there has been a GUI made available, which can be found on [6]. Newer models of the Thinkpad X60 have an integrated multimode card, but these configurations have only been tested with an external PCMCIA card.


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03. July 2007

Skype on Kubuntu
@ 19:56:33

While trying to login to Skype on Kubuntu the application returned a "database failure". It had nothing to do with a possible wrong username or password. Removing the ~/.Skype directory and starting up skype from new helped to fix that problem.

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30. May 2007

Lenovo Thinkpad mit Linux Kubuntu Feisty Fawn
@ 18:15:23

Die Adfinis GmbH hat Linux Kubuntu Feisty Fawn für die Tell IT systems GmbH konfektioniert, so dass bei Tell IT nun auch Lenovo Thinkpad mit Linux bestellt werden können. Die Tell IT systems GmbH kommt damit als erster Lenovo Händler in der Schweiz einem wachsenden Bedürfnis nach, Notebooks mit einem Vorinstallierten Linux auszuliefern [1,2].


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01. November 2005

amaroK LiveCD - Open Music Player
@ 08:49:52

amaroK is an Open Source music player for Linux (an UNIX-like) operating systems. amaroK also communicates with iPod and iPod shuffle. The LiveCD is meant for those not running something like Linux and additionally offers a set of music files licensed unter a Creative Commons license. The music is provided by Magnatune. amaroK also runs on OSX if KDE is installed [2].


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10. August 2005

SUSE Linux 10.0 Beta 1 available
@ 08:43:16

From [1]:
SUSE Linux 10.0 Beta 1 (code name: Prague) is an unsupported, open source only, preliminary edition of SUSE Linux that contains bleeding-edge packages and represents the latest development snapshot.
It is also available as BitTorrent from the mentioned site.


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30. May 2005

Linux Solutions Group aktiv in der Schweiz
@ 17:12:55

Herzliche Gratulation an Andreas Halter [1], der wesentlich für den Aufbau der Schweiz-Aktivitäten der LiSoG verantwortlich sein wird.


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23. November 2004

Jollix - Gentoo Live CD
@ 15:05:34

Jollix is a Knoppix-like live CD based on Gentoo [1]. Jollix 0.3 Betatest comes up with Linux Kernel 2.6.5, Kudzu Hardware Recognition, XOrg-X11 6.7.0, KDE 3.2.2, KVIRC 3.0 Final and WLAN und Bluetooth Support. There is not yet a GUI to install the live CD contents to the harddisk but a very detailled howto. It works perfectly with Qemu.


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23. October 2004

Playing with Qemu
@ 14:48:17

Well, a 600MB image for Debian turned out to be a bit too optimistic, at least, if I would like to run Gnome ;) So I was looking for a way to resize the image. Actually, I am not sure if this will work, but it sound reasonable:
You need to boot up with a rescue CD. Then you can use the command line tools e2fsck and resize2fs. For example:

e2fsck -f /dev/hda3
resize2fs /dev/hda3 2000M

You can also use GUI tools like qtparted [1].
Eventually one could just mount another bigger image and move the system to it [2]. Just a guess.


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21. October 2004

Get Debian running on Qemu
@ 22:06:09

Qemu rocks. To have a running Debian guest system on a Windows host I first prepared a initialized ("zeroed") 600MB image with
mkqemuimage -s 600 debian.img
and then downloaded a Qemu installer for Windows [1], a Qemu GUI [2] for Windows and a Debian ISO image [3].

What followed next was to find ou the appropriate command line to start that installation from the ISO an get into the installation routine. Basically one should get around with this:
qemu.exe -L "c:\programme\qemu\bios" -cdrom "debian-30r2-i386-binary-1_NONUS.iso" -boot d -m 96 -hda "c:\programme\qemu\img\debian.img" -nics 1 -user-net -localtime -enable-audio
Having finished the installation I did have to close and to reconfigure the command line. There I removed '-cdrom "debian-30r2-i386-binary-1_NONUS.iso" -boot d' to '-boot c'. From then on, the system boots no longer from the iso file.

If You get bug messages like "Debian - clock timer configuration lost!", then have a look at this proposal (upgrading to kernel 2.4.x) [4].


Update: You may also use a business card ISO from, which is only 34.1MB [5].


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20. October 2004

Qemu for OSX
@ 20:58:36

Qemu was not yet available for OSX in April, but now there is even an installer around [1].


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11. August 2004

283 potential patent claims against Linux
@ 10:34:38

From the OSRM paper:
Dan Ravicher, founder and executive director of the Public Patent Foundation and senior counsel to the Free Software Foundation, reviewed all U.S. software patents that have been litigated through appeal, examining whether the Linux kernel contains technology that could trigger patent claims against end-users. In conclusion, he found that no court-validated software patent is infringed by the Linux kernel. However, Ravicher also found 283 issued but not yet court-validated software patents that, if upheld as valid by the courts, could potentially be used to support patent claims against Linux."
That reminds me of the book written by Karl-Friedrich Lenz called "Grenzen des Patentwesens. Konkrete Maßnahmen gegen die Patentinflation."; always worth a read and giving you ideas what one could do against (software)patent claims [2].


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16. March 2004

Just no win-win situation
@ 21:24:46

Yesterday I moved a PHP project from Windows to OS X. For reasons of laziness I often code something like:
if (stristr(PHP_OS, "WIN")) {
echo "Do something Windows-related here...";
This worked usually perfect for scripts moved between Windows and Linux based systems. But one has to be more precise for scripts to run additionally on OS X. Since OS X comes with a PHP_OS string consisting of "Darwin". If you are wondering, why your scripts do not work on Mac try this:
if (stristr(PHP_OS, "Windows")) {
echo "Do something Windows-related here...";

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21. January 2004

Furlongs Linux Kernel Emulator
@ 15:28:17

Wez Furlong [1] started reading through some documents at MSDN and finally ended up with a small Linux kernel emulator for Windows. Amazing story ;-)


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13. January 2004

Captive - Handling NTFS on GNU/Linux
@ 12:20:23

Captive [1] allows to write files from Linux to a Windows NTFS partition. Captive has been developed by Jan Kratochvil. Read a review of Captive at Amun-Ra [2].


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11. November 2003

Merger of Fedora Linux and Red Hat Linux Project
@ 17:17:19

Today I came across a new Linux project. It is a merger of the Red Hat Linux Project and the Fedora Linux [1], which was a single repository with well-tested packages for Red Hat, and now called Fedora Project [2].
With corporate backing and guidance from Red Hat, and a high level of community involvement, Red Hat intends to have two separate distributions: Red Hat Enterprise Linux and a "Debian-style" community-supported distribution from the Fedora Project [3].


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Novell becoming a new OpenSource leader?
@ 12:16:44

Recently it was Novell that bought Ximian [1], now they just bought SuSE Linux AG [2,3]. It just looks as Novell is aiming to become one of the global players in offering OpenSource know-how and technology, or in their words Novell aquires others
[..] to Expand Linux Solutions and Open Source Commitment


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Running Linux from a USB memory stick
@ 09:37:14

Stresslinux [1] is a minimal linux distribution and is said to run from a USB memory stick.


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02. October 2003

AGNULA - A GNU/Linux Audio distribution
@ 08:09:16

AGNULA [1] ist an acronym for "A GNU/Linux Audio distribution" a project funded by the European Commission. AGNULA's main task will be the development of two reference distributions for the GNU/Linux operating system completely based on Free Software (i.e. under a FSF approved Free Software license) and completely devoted to professional and consumer audio applications and multimedia development. One distribution will be Debian-based (DeMuDi) and the other will be Red Hat-based (ReHMuDi). Both will be available on the network for download and on CD. The project started on the 1st April 2002 and will last for two years.

This is a strong statement by the European Commission to provide an audio system based on Free Software in an emerging audio consumer market.


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11. August 2003

Gnoppix and Morphix
@ 12:40:25

Gnoppix is comparable with Knoppix but comes with Gnome [1]. Morphix is a modular distribution, with live-cd support and runs without any configuration (you burn the CD, you put it in your CD-ROM drive, you boot and it works) [2]. More CD-ROM based distros on [3].

[1] Version 0.4_2 (beta)

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16. July 2003

XFce - The Cholesterol Free Desktop Environment
@ 10:27:53

XFce [1] - the first release candidate of XFce 4.0 has just been announced - previously known as XForms cool environment, is a desktop environment reminiscent of CDE that uses the GTK+ library, and isn't resource-hungry. XFce includes a window manager, tool bar, file manager, backdrop manager, sound subsystem, clock and calendar, mouse configuration and pager module. It is also available for Debian [2].


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Linux in Munich
@ 10:12:38

USA TODAY [1] reports what most European knows regarding the deal that the city of Munich will switch to Linux. But if you imagine the general addressees of USA TODAY this is kind of astonishing. Furthermore one gets a closer look on the deal that Microsoft was ready to take:
USA TODAY obtained government and corporate documents that provide a rare insider's look at Microsoft's efforts to keep from losing a key customer. Among other things, it:

- Agreed to let Munich go as long as six years, instead of the more normal three or four, without another expensive upgrade, a concession that runs against its bread-and-butter software upgrade strategy.

- Offered to let the city buy only Microsoft Word for some PCs and strip off other applications. Such unbundling cuts against Microsoft's practice of selling PCs loaded with software.

- Offered millions of dollars worth of training and support services free.

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18. March 2003

Unofficial APT repositories
@ 19:20:42 [1] is intended as a place for people to share useful APT (Advanced Package Tool) sources for the Debian operating system. It offers sources for most platforms.


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mono for Debian
@ 15:57:41

Packages [1] of Mono, a Free Software .NET framework implementation, are now available for Debian GNU/Linux. It is hoped that feedback from users of these packages will facilitate the development of a framework for the seamless integration of Mono and the .NET environment into Debian GNU/Linux.


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04. March 2003

Date sticks to hwclock
@ 16:10:29

I just had to adjust the date to stick to the hardware clock:

[aloha]# date --set="2003/03/04 16:01:00"
Tue Mar 4 16:01:00 CET 2003
[aloha]# hwclock --utc --systohc

[Update] Time synchronisation via Internet [1].


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User-mode Linux
@ 11:28:52

User-mode Linux [1] allows you to run multiple Linux processes on a separated process-level. How is User-mode Linux different?

[from the online documentation] "Normally, the Linux Kernel talks straight to your hardware (video card, keyboard, hard drives, etc), and any programs which run ask the kernel to operate the hardware, like so:"
User-mode Linux
"The User Mode Linux Kernel is different; instead of talking to the hardware, it talks to a 'real' Linux kernel, like any other program. Programs can then run inside User-Mode Linux as if they were running under a normal kernel, like so:"
User-mode Linux
It might be an alternative to Vmware under some circumstances [2]. This paper might help to install UML too [3].


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02. March 2003

CollegeLinux - Linux for Students
@ 12:17:25

First released in February this year, CollegeLinux is a new Linux distribution based on Slackware [1] and aims to provide an easy installable operating alternative for students [2][3].

[via desktoplinux 4] Professor David Costa, Dean of Robert Kennedy College (RKC) in Switzerland: "Slackware is -- in my opinion -- one of the best distros in terms of stability and structure. I don't think that another Red Hat-based distribution can add something relevant to the original base. We wanted to have a user friendly environment but also a learning experience for the user, being himself a student or not. Furthermore, I think that Slackware package system is much more reliable them 'rpm'."


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14. February 2003

Debian GNU/Linux on Xbox
@ 18:52:20

One could read with delight, that they managed to bring Debian onto Xbox somehow [1]. The price came down from CHF 399 to CHF 329, which is quite an affordable webserver.


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03. January 2003

Lindows Chief revealed as Xbox-Linux mystery backer
@ 12:00:00

According to an article on [1], Michael Robertson of Lindows [2] has been revealed as the major donor behind the Xbox-Linux project [3].


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26. October 2002

SuSE Linux 8.0 FTP Download Edition
@ 12:00:00

SuSE offers now also a freely available download version of its well known Linux distribution. One starts with a 16M boot.iso file [1][2].


(Update) To install the distro you will need to configure a network card first and then an FTP IP and a repository to start with:
- /pub/suse/i386/8.0

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22. October 2002

Xbox Linux Mandrake 9 Released
@ 12:00:00

I recently reportetd about a project pushed by a contest to implement Linux on Xbox [1]. They moved pretty much forward and offer now Linux Mandrake 9 on Xbox [2].

And it is to remember, that an Xbox compared to a conventional PC costs "only" at about CHF 349.00 [3].


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