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Tagged: ubuntu

On Revoking Ubuntu’s Root Privileges

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu GNU/Linux. While they’ve made great contributions to free software, they’ve also been very inconsistent in their commitment to software freedom. Mark Shuttleworth’s response to the privacy concerns in Ubuntu 12.10 has fundamentally shattered my trust.

An Uneasy History

From restricted drivers to Launchpad to non-free documentation licences, there have always been concerns about Canonical’s commitment to free software. By 2010, the issues were becoming more serious. Ubuntu used to clearly warn users about restricted drivers, but in the Ubuntu Software Center, no longer is proprietary software merely tolerated, but now it’s celebrated and actively promoted. The average user doesn’t interact with Launchpad, but with Ubuntu One, Canonical’s proprietary service, users must delete, disable or ignore all of the places where it’s built-in to the Ubuntu experience. The concerns were starting to affect my everyday use.

But, I didn’t leave. I uninstalled the Ubuntu One packages, and ignored the Software Centre. Though, I did start exploring my options, with a Debian dual-boot and Trisquel in a virtual machine. However, there are many things that I do like about Ubuntu. My Ubuntu install is still 99% free software. Despite the controversy over the design process and community engagement, there are many things I like about the Unity — the current obsession of Canonical’s founder, Mark Shuttleworth. I appreciate the outcome of his previous obsession as well — Ubuntu’s release cycle works really well. And, maybe there’s some sentiment — I’ve been running the same Ubuntu GNU/Linux install, across three different computers, since I first left Windows in 2007.

In 2010, my relationship with Ubuntu became uneasy, but it didn’t end. I’m not sure I can say the same for 2013.

The Amazon Dash Debacle

The EFF, RMS and this tongue-in-cheek bug report provide a decent summary the issue: Ubuntu 12.10 raises serious privacy concerns by reporting searches in the Unity Dash — which have traditionally been local searches — to Amazon, relayed through Canonical.

That Ubuntu screwed up is obvious — at the very least, by enabling this by default. But it’s more than the mistake; it’s the response. In defending the decision, Mark Shuttleworth writes:

We are not telling Amazon what you are searching for. Your anonymity is preserved because we handle the query on your behalf. Don’t trust us? Erm, we have root. You do trust us with your data already. You trust us not to screw up on your machine with every update. You trust Debian, and you trust a large swathe of the open source community. And most importantly, you trust us to address it when, being human, we err.

This doesn’t build my trust; this shatters it. I did not switch to a free software operating system to have the overlords flaunt their control over my computer. Canonical has done many annoying and prioprietary things in the past, but “Erm, we have root” is antithetical to the very notion of software freedom. Ubuntu does not have root access on my machine, nor does Canonical have access to my data. Yes, I must trust the Ubuntu project every time I run updates on my system, but this is a relationship and responsibility to be handled delicately, transparently, respectfully — not a position of power to be flaunted. I trust Ubuntu to maintain the software on my computer. That I trust Ubuntu to provide my system with security updates and bug fixes does not in any way give them licence to do other things, like relay my Dash searches to a third-party through a proprietary network service.

To make matters worse, Mark Shuttleworth recently referred to “who rant about proprietary software” as “insecure McCarthyists.” In response to a question about “decisions that have been less than popular with the Free-software only crowd,” Shuttleworth writes:

Well, I feel the same way about this as I do about McCarthyism. The people who rant about proprietary software are basically insecure about their own beliefs, and it’s that fear that makes them so nastily critical. […]

If you think you’ll convince people to see things your way by ranting and being a dick, well, then you have much more to learn than I can possibly be bothered to spend time teaching.

Aside from the pot-kettle-black nature of his tone, this does not build my trust in Canonical.

These responses strike at very heart of my decision to use GNU/Linux — software freedom. Canonical has never consistently cared about software freedom, but their offences and missteps have come closer and closer to my everyday computing. Now, a serious violation of privacy is brushed aside dismissively because I should just trust Ubuntu and Canonical because “erm, we have root,” and to raise concerns about proprietary software is akin to “McCarthyism.”

No, Mr. Shuttleworth, you don’t have root. The fact that you think you do makes me want to move far away from Ubuntu.

After Ubuntu: An Exit Strategy

I would rather not leave Ubuntu. I don’t take the decision lightly. But developments over the past few years have made me very uneasy, and Shuttleworth’s attitude has shattered any trust I ever had in Canonical. Even if Ubuntu fixes this particular problem, I’m not sure what can be done to rebuild trust.

At the very least, I’m preparing an exit strategy:

  1. I’m going to install GNOME 3 in Ubuntu (and maybe LXDE). I like many things about Unity, but adjusting to a different desktop environment will make leaving Ubuntu easier.
  2. Then, I’ll re-evaluate other GNU/Linux distributions. I really like Debian GNU/Linux — it’s just the release cycle that gets me for a primary machine, but I’ve heard good things about Debian testing for everyday use. I’ll also take another look at Trisquel.
  3. I may give Ubuntu 13.04 a chance. I don’t look forward to migrating to another distribution, and the Ubuntu GNOME Remix might be a compromise. Also, it’s not just me — my wife, father, and some machines at the office all run Ubuntu, as well as my living room and recording studio machine. I’m just not sure if I can trust Ubuntu anymore. So, seeing as it may take me a few months to try out other desktop environments and distributions, I may wait to see what changes in Ubuntu 13.04, and re-evaluate middle-ground options like the Ubuntu GNOME Remix, though I’m wary of just “fixing” the problem for myself.

I’ve been patient through many Canonical missteps, and I’ve defended the Ubuntu project over the years. But the “erm, we have root” response shatters my trust in any Shuttleworth-run endeavour. It’s antithetical to the reason I switched to GNU/Linux — software freedom — and I’ll switch again if that’s what it takes.

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HOWTO: Sync Notes Between Tomboy and Conboy with Snowy [UPDATED]

Updated: I’ve updated this guide to detail a proper sync with Snowy, rather than the old Unison hack (below), since Conboy now supports more than just Ubuntu One, and an experimental version Snowy is operational.

I’ve been a regular user of the fantastic Tomboy note-taking application since I replaced my Palm Pilot with a Nokia N900. With Conboy, a Tomboy client for Maemo, and Snowy, a web application for Tomboy notes, it seems like the perfect platform for uniting personal notes across the desktop, mobile and web (except for one drawback: Tomboy itself is a Mono application…). Initially, I used a hack with Unison to synchronize Tomboy files manually between my N900 and laptop, but I recently moved to proper, albeit still experimental, syncronization through my own Snowy server.

Installing Snowy

Snowy is a Djano-based, AGPL web service for Tomboy notes, currently under heavy development (and still labelled as experimental). I installed Snowy on my own Ubuntu web server using the official installation guides. I went with mod_wsgi, though I have Django running via mod_python on another server.

Installation was very straightforward. Just a few notes:

  • The debugmail step in the INSTALL file within the Snowy source directory didn’t seem to work for me, but I’m not too concerned about email yet. I’m just running this for me and my family. I’ll likely revisit this later.
  • Between the time that I followed the INSTALL steps and when I went to first sync from Tomboy, I had decided to switch the installation to a slightly different URL. I couldn’t figure out why the sync didn’t work, but it turns out I still had the old URL in the Django Sites table. Just a silly mistake on my part.
  • When you log in to your new Snowy server, in the current version, it isn’t obvious where to click to see your notes. You can click on your avatar in the top-right corner, or simply add /<username> to the end of your Snowy URL (e.g. my username is balleyne, so http://<my-snowy-url>/balleyne brings me to my notes

Tomboy

Tomboy comes packaged with the web sync plugin in recent versions of Ubuntu.

  1. Backup your notes!
  2. Log into Snowy in your default web browser.
  3. Open Tomboy, and go to Edit > Preferences > Syncronization
  4. Select Tomboy Web as the Service, and put in the root URL of your Snowy installation as the server.
  5. Follow the instructions to authenticate, save your settings (I set Tomboy to automatically sync every 60 minutes), and synchronize!

Conboy

Conboy focused on supporting the proprietary Ubuntu One web service first, but it now supports synchronization to any Tomboy web service (though the feature is labelled Beta). The only problem I had setting this up was a strange error about a missing api-ref and local time, but it turns out Conboy just didn’t want a trailing slash in the URL (seems like the trailing slash prevented proper authentication at the sync stage).

  1. Backup your notes!
  2. Log into Snowy in your default Maemo web browser.
  3. Open Conboy, and go to Settings in the main application menu.
  4. Enter your Snowy URL — without a trailing slash — as the Synchronization URL
  5. Click Authenticate and follow the instructions.
  6. Synchronize!

Conclusion

I’m super happy that the Tomboy / Conboy / Snowy combination is now ready to use, but do pay attention to the beta nature of Conboy sync, and the experimental nature of Snowy — make sure to backup your notes regularly to avoid any data loss.

I’m happy to be a guinea pig myself.

Old Way: Sync Notes Between Tomboy and Conboy With Unison

Disclaimer: this is a hack from someone who doesn’t know Tomboy well. It worked for me, but YMMV. And I have backups. And, mostly importantly… why aren’t you using Snowy now instead?. The instructions below should be treated as a hack preserved for historical purposes.

I wanted a way to sync Tomboy on my Ubuntu desktop with Conboy on my Nokia N900, but Conboy only syncs to Ubuntu One—a proprietary web service. Snowy synchronization support is supposed to be on the way, but Snowy itself is still under heavy development, so this might be a great option in the near future, but not today.

A comment on maemo.org made me think that rsync over ssh was a possibility, and a quick rsync showed this to work (as far as I can tell). The trick is being able to sync changes back and forth; rsync can’t handle updates to both the source and destination—it’s unidirectional.

Hence, Unison—a bidirectional synchronization utility. In case it’s useful to anyone else, this is how I’ve setup Unison to sync notes between Tomboy and Conboy.

Step 0: Some things you should know

First, I want to be clear that this is a temporary hack while I wait for proper synchronization support through Conboy with Snowy.

Prerequisites: I already have OpenSSH running on my server, and I have key-based ssh access configured from both my laptop and N900. Unison syncs remotely over SSH.

What this does: It allows me to synchronize notes and changes to notes from my N900 to my laptop, and potentially to any number of other computers.

What this doesn’t do: Unison has support for handling conflicts, but it’s not the least bit Tomboy-aware. A proper Tomboy sync might give you the option of renaming a note that has been changed in more than one place, but with Unison, you’ll be looking at diffs and merges of cryptically named XML files. So, I don’t recommend relying on Unison to sort out conflicts. I plan to sync often, backup often, and avoid conflicts as much as possible. This is for advanced users.

Tomboy Concerns: I’m using Tomboy, but actually quite uncomfortable with the risk, since it depends on Mono. I’ve considered switching to Gnote, but haven’t yet because I’m concerned about losing data/synchronization compatibility. But, this solution might work for Gnote too, and I may well s/Tomboy/Gnote/g in the near future.

Step 1: Desktop

1A: Install Unison

Unison is cross-platform and available for a variety of operating systems

I have Ubuntu on both my laptop and server right now, and I’m syncing through that server (instead of directly to my N900, which would be another option).

In Ubuntu, you can install unison with the command:
sudo apt-get install unison

Or, if you want a GUI:
sudo apt-get install unison-gtk

1B: Create a Unison profile for Tomboy

I created a file called ~/.unison/notes.prf with the following text:
# Unison preferences file
root = /home/balleyne/.local/share/tomboy/
root = ssh://alleyne.to/.local/share/tomboy/

I decided to sync my notes with the Tomboy directory on my server, which is also a workstation.

Now, I can synchronize the notes on my laptop with my server by running the command:
unison notes

1C: Enable NoteDirectoryWatcher Add-in for Tomboy

Tomboy doesn’t automatically look for changes to notes on the file system unless you enable the NoteDirectoryWatcher Add-in: Edit > Preferences > Add-Ins > Tools > Note Directory Watcher > Enable. This way, Tomboy will accept any changes you get from the Unison sync.

Step 2: Mobile

2A: Installing Unison in Maemo 5

To compile Unison, you need the OCaml compiler. To compile OCaml, you need the gcc compiler. I began the process of compiling compilers, but then realized that there were some unison .debs available already:

These were compiled for an older version of Maemo, but the command line version seems to be working fine for me in Maemo 5. Note, that if you use the GUI, it’s standard GTK, not a Maemo port, so you might need the stylus to use it.

To install, I ran the following commands:
$ sudo gainroot
# wget http://www.bundyo.org/maemo/unison/unison_2.27.57-2_armel.deb
# dpkg -i unison_2.27.57-2_armel.deb

2B: Create a Unison profile for Conboy

Similar to step 1B, I created a file at ~/.unison/notes.prf:
# Unison preferences file
root = /home/user/.conboy
root = ssh://alleyne.to/.local/share/tomboy

Now, I can sync my mobile computer with the server by running the command:
unison notes

And there was much rejoicing.

Conclusion

With Unison configured, I now have a basic, low-level sync between Tomboy and Conboy. I’m getting into the habit of syncing every time I change anything, to avoid conflicts. This should tie me over until a Conboy Snowy sync is available.

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SOLUTION: Firefox Fails When Upgrading After Using Mozilla PPA

This is a quick fix for a problem I had when upgrading to Ubuntu 10.04, after having used the Mozilla PPA.

The Firefox upgrade failed during the distribution upgrade process (from 9.10 to 10.04). I was told to run `dpkg -a –configure`, and the same error occurred again (it’s in bold).

$ sudo dpkg -a --configure
Setting up firefox (3.6.3+nobinonly-0ubuntu4) ...
update-alternatives: error: alternative path /usr/bin/firefox doesn't exist.
dpkg: error processing firefox (--configure):
subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 2
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of firefox-3.5:
firefox-3.5 depends on firefox; however:
Package firefox is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing firefox-3.5 (--configure):
dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of firefox-3.0:
firefox-3.0 depends on firefox; however:
Package firefox is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing firefox-3.0 (--configure):
dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of firefox-gnome-support:
firefox-gnome-support depends on firefox (= 3.6.3+nobinonly-0ubuntu4); however:
Package firefox is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing firefox-gnome-support (--configure):
dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of firefox-3.5-gnome-support:
firefox-3.5-gnome-support depends on firefox-gnome-support; however:
Package firefox-gnome-support is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing firefox-3.5-gnome-support (--configure):
dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
Errors were encountered while processing:
firefox
firefox-3.5
firefox-3.0
firefox-gnome-support
firefox-3.5-gnome-support

A quick web search brought up a bug report, and I was able to figure out this fix with the help of one of the comments:

Update: Fixed.My original solution was only temporary, and had to be repeated for each Firefox update (all the way through every update with 10.04, 10.10, now 11.04…). I’ve found the root of the problem now, by comparing local dpkg diversions for Firefox on my affected machines against an unaffected clean Ubuntu install.

On my laptop:

$ sudo dpkg-divert --list | grep firefox
local diversion of /usr/bin/firefox to /usr/bin/firefox.ubuntu
local diversion of /usr/bin/mozilla-firefox to /usr/bin/mozilla-firefox.ubuntu

The clean Ubuntu install returned no results for the above command. (Also, note that in the full output for dpkg-divert –list, those were the only local diversion — another hint that they were from the PPA upgrade rather than Ubuntu itself.)

So, I ran the following commands to remove the diversions:
$ sudo dpkg-divert --remove /usr/bin/mozilla-firefox
$ sudo dpkg-divert --remove /usr/bin/firefox

Then, the most recent Firefox upgrades worked without a hitch on both of my affected machines. Finally fixed… *fingers crossed*

Updated: This isn’t a complete fix, as the problem reoccurs every time Firefox is updated. If someone knows how to fix this for good, let me know…

$ sudo rm /usr/bin/firefox
$ cd /usr/bin
$ sudo ln -s ../lib/firefox-<your-current-version>/firefox.sh firefox
$ sudo chmod 0777 firefox
$ sudo apt-get -f install

The symlink for /usr/bin/firefox had been pointing to /usr/bin/firefox-3.5, which no longer existed, so the commands above (1) remove the dead-end link; (2) add the proper link (YMMV depending on which version of Firefox you are upgrading to); (3) resume the upgrade process.

Hope that helps!

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SOLUTION: Extract .exe archive with 7z in Ubunu 9.04, fix “Unsupported Method” error

Just posting a quick fix to a problem I had with using 7z to extract an archive. I could list the contents of the archive, but any attempts to extract gave an “Unsupported Method” error. Dan Jacobson posted a solution to the debian bug tracking system, which is to install the package p7zip-rar.

In Ubuntu 9.04, I ran:
sudo apt-get install p7zip-rar

Now, I can extract the contents of my file with 7z as follows:
7z e TekSavvyAM.exe

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Solution: Amarok Won’t Play Anything After An Upgrade To Ubuntu 9.04

I was happy to discover earlier today that Ubuntu 9.04 includes Amarok 2. But once I figured out how to queue up some music (which took a little time), I realized that nothing would play.

This was the standard output when I ran it from the command line:
balleyne@balleyne-laptop:~$ amarok
amarok(14270) Phonon::KdePlatformPlugin::createBackend: using backend: "GStreamer"
Object::connect: No such slot MainWindow::showStatistics() in /build/buildd/amarok-2.0.2mysql5.1.30/amarok-2.0.2/src/MainWindow.cpp:692
Object::connect: (receiver name: 'MainWindow')
QLayout: Attempting to add QLayout "" to MainWindow "MainWindow", which already has a layout
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
Couldn't resolve property: radialGradient3986
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
Couldn't resolve property: radialGradient3986
QWidget::insertAction: Attempt to insert null action
QWidget::insertAction: Attempt to insert null action
QWidget::insertAction: Attempt to insert null action
QWidget::insertAction: Attempt to insert null action
QWidget::insertAction: Attempt to insert null action
QWidget::insertAction: Attempt to insert null action
QWidget::insertAction: Attempt to insert null action
amarok(14270) Plasma::Applet::save: saving to "1"
amarok(14270) Context::ContextView::setContainment: "" Line: 599
amarok(14270) Plasma::ThemePrivate::config: using theme for app "amarok"
amarok(14270) Plasma::Applet::save: saving to "2"
amarok(14270) Plasma::Applet::save: saving to "3"
amarok(14270) Plasma::Applet::save: saving to "4"
amarok(14270) CurrentTrack::dataUpdated: CurrentTrack::dataUpdated
amarok(14270) Context::ColumnContainment::insertInGrid: "" Line: 603
amarok(14270) Context::ColumnContainment::insertInGrid: "" Line: 603
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
Couldn't resolve property: radialGradient3986
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
Couldn't resolve property: radialGradient3986
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
Couldn't resolve property: radialGradient3986
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
Couldn't resolve property: radialGradient3986
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
Couldn't resolve property: radialGradient3986
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
Couldn't resolve property: radialGradient3986
Object::connect: No such slot FileBrowser::Widget::setDir( const QString& ) in /build/buildd/amarok-2.0.2mysql5.1.30/amarok-2.0.2/src/browsers/filebrowser/FileBrowser.cpp:112
Object::connect: (sender name: 'KBookmarkHandler')
Object::connect: (receiver name: 'FileBrowser::Widget')
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
Couldn't resolve property: radialGradient3986
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
link XMLID_7_ hasn't been detected!
Couldn't resolve property: radialGradient3986
balleyne@balleyne-laptop:~$ amarok(14270) MagnatuneConfig::load: load
QPainter::begin: Cannot paint on a null pixmap
QPainter::begin: Cannot paint on a null pixmap
QPainter::begin: Cannot paint on a null pixmap
QPainter::begin: Cannot paint on a null pixmap
QPainter::begin: Cannot paint on a null pixmap
amarok(14270) CurrentTrack::dataUpdated: CurrentTrack::dataUpdated
amarok(14270) CurrentTrack::dataUpdated: CurrentTrack::dataUpdated
amarok(14270) CurrentTrack::dataUpdated: CurrentTrack::dataUpdated
amarok(14270) CoverFetcher::CoverFetcher: ""
amarok(14270) CurrentTrack::dataUpdated: CurrentTrack::dataUpdated
QString::arg: Argument missing: Amarok - No track playing., 0:00
QString::arg: Argument missing: Amarok - No track playing., 0:00
QString::arg: Argument missing: Amarok - No track playing., 0:00
QString::arg: Argument missing: Amarok - No track playing., 0:00
QString::arg: Argument missing: Amarok - No track playing., 0:00
QString::arg: Argument missing: Amarok - No track playing., 0:00
QString::arg: Argument missing: Amarok - No track playing., 0:00
QString::arg: Argument missing: Amarok - No track playing., 0:00
QString::arg: Argument missing: Amarok - No track playing., 0:00
amarok(14270) CurrentTrack::dataUpdated: CurrentTrack::dataUpdated
amarok(14270) CurrentTrack::dataUpdated: CurrentTrack::dataUpdated
amarok(14270) Context::ContextView::clear: "" Line: 165
amarok(14270) Context::ContextView::clear: "" Line: 165
amarok(14270) Context::ContextView::clear: "" Line: 165
amarok(14270) Context::ContextView::clear: "" Line: 165
amarok(14270) CoverFetcher::~CoverFetcher: ""

The “QString::arg: Argument missing: Amarok – No track playing., 0:00” seemed to be the problem. I found the solution from Xavier Merino:

sudo apt-get install phonon-backend-xine

I restarted Amarok and now it works fine.

Update: People are reporting mixed results in the comments. This fix doesn’t work for everyone. Let me know if you become aware of a better solution and I’ll update here.

Another suggestion is sudo apt-get install libxine1-ffmpeg

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Getting Started with the Openmoko FreeRunner: Installing Om 2008.12 in Ubuntu

Heather, my girlfriend fiancée, was kind enough to buy me an OpenMoko Freerunner in January. I went out to get a new SIM card (since there were known issues with my current one) and I experimented with it for a couple weeks, but had to leave it be lately as the past couple months have been very busy.

This morning I got back into the game.

One thing I wish I’d known from the outset is that there are a bunch of different distributions available. When I went into the IRC channel for help, I got several (polite) rtfms directing me to the Getting Started guide (which I was already looking at). Except, the Getting Started guide and FAQ provided a ton of contradictory information (which I’ve since tried to correct) about which distribution ships by default, nevermind a clear explanation that there are different distributions to begin with. Even worse, the FreeRunner ships with Om 2007.2, which is old, basic and not even supported anymore. (My mom asks, “so, would you say that it’s not quite ready for the average user yet?” Considering that the first order of business is to reflash it with a new distribution…) It took me a while to figure all that out. I hope to spend some more time soon trying to improve the documentation so that new users aren’t as confused as I was in the beginning.

I’ve decided to start with Om 2008.12 Update, the latest official distribution. I may consider FAT and Dirty Openmoko (FDOM) soon, which is just Om 2008.12 “updated with many ready-to-use applications.” Qt Extended is on my radar as the just-a-working-phone distribution (but where’s the fun in that?). Though, the next major step I think will be to dual-boot with Android, as that seems like it may be the best option in the long-run (though it’s very much a work in progress now).

Installing Om 2008.12 Update in Ubuntu

Installing Om 2008.12 was actually pretty easy in Ubuntu: download the kernel and rootfs, then follow the instructions to flash the NeoFreeRunner. (I didn’t worry about a backup since I had nothing of value on there.)

I choose to use dfu-util instead of the NeoTool GUI because dfu-util is already in the Ubuntu 8.10 repositories.

sudo apt-get install dfu-util

I only encountered one problem when following the instructions. When I tried to run the dfu-util command, it detected two devices, even though I had nothing else plugged into my laptop but a power cord. The second one was named “UNDEFINED”, which wasn’t particularly helpful either.

$ sudo dfu-util --llist
dfu-util - (C) 2007 by OpenMoko Inc.
This program is Free Software and has ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY
Found Runtime: [0x1d50:0x5119] devnum=4, cfg=0, intf=2, alt=0, name="USB Device Firmware Upgrade"
Found Runtime: [0x0a5c:0x2110] devnum=3, cfg=0, intf=3, alt=0, name="UNDEFINED"

According to the comments on this ticket, it’s actually expected behaviour for dfu-util, and it could very well be my bluetooth interface that was showing up. Instead of disabling it, I just used the -d flag as suggested in the comments to specify which device to update. (Also, under Ubuntu, don’t forget sudo…)

sudo dfu-util -a kernel -R -d 0x1d50:0x5119 -D Om2008.12-om-gta02.uImage.bin
sudo dfu-util -a rootfs -R -d 0x1d50:0x5119 -D ./Om2008.12-om-gta02.rootfs.jffs2

… where 0x1d50:0x5119 is vendor/product ID of the FreeRunner (found via `dfu-util –list`).

The FreeRunner can boot from flash memory or a microSD card. I plan to try Om 2008.12 (or a variant) in flash and I’ll probably dual-boot with Android on the microSD card at a later date. So far, I’ve just turned it on and sent Heather a message and added her as a contact, but I hope to finally be getting some real use out of it soon!

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HOWTO: ThinkVantage Button in Ubuntu 8.10

I’m pretty sure this is the same fix I used in Gutsy and Hardy, but I had to do it again to get my ThinkVantage button working on my ThinkPad T61 in Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid. I just added the following line to /usr/share/hotkey-setup/ibm.hk and it worked after a reboot.

setkeycodes e017 148 #thinkvantage button

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HOWTO: Thinkpad scroll button in Ubuntu 8.10

Overall, I’ve been pretty happy after upgrading to Ubuntu 8.10, but there were a few annoyances. I noticed my Thinkpad scroll buttons stopped working, and when I checked xorg.conf, all my changes were commented out with a note “HAL is now used.” At least wasn’t too hard to figure out how to configure it through HAL.

  1. Create a new file mouse-wheel.fdi at /etc/hal/fdi/policy : sudo gedit /etc/hal/fdi/policy/mouse-wheel.fdi
  2. Add the following lines to the file:
    <match key="info.product" string="TPPS/2 IBM TrackPoint">
    <merge key="input.x11_options.EmulateWheel" type="string">true</merge>
    <merge key="input.x11_options.EmulateWheelButton" type="string">2</merge>
    <merge key="input.x11_options.YAxsisMapping" type="string">4 5</merge>
    <merge key="input.x11_options.XAxsisMapping" type="string">6 7</merge>
    <merge key="input.x11_options.ZAxsisMapping" type="string">4 5</merge>
    <merge key="input.x11_options.Emulate3Buttons" type="string">true</merge>
    </match>
  3. Restart and it should all be working.

Now to get my ThinkVantage button working again… *sigh* Update: fixed.

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Ubuntu Christian Edition: Don’t surf the web, walk on it

I found this a while back and it’s pretty old, but I just came across it again recently and had a good laugh. There’s an unofficial Ubuntu distribution called Ubuntu Christian Edition and this blog has a ton of hilarious[ly nerdy] “facts” about it, for example…

  • In Ubuntu Christian Edition, all documents are saved by grace through faith
  • With Ubuntu Christian Edition, you don’t need to surf the web — you can walk on it
  • For 40 days before Easter, Ubuntu Christian Edition works in text mode only
  • Ubuntu Christian Edition has the confess command that deletes your logs and caches

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sox soxio: Failed reading : unknown file type

I began receiving this error in Ubuntu (after upgrading to Hardy 8.04 I think) whenever I tried to use the sox or play commands. Turns out the solution is pretty simple, sox had just lost its available format libraries.

sudo apt-get install libsox-fmt-all

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