Apr 19 2009

Skype on Eee PC Ubuntu Netbook Remix

Donnie had asked on my previous post if I had a chance to test Skype. I just tested, and everything works very well. I didn't experience any of the choppiness that he experienced. I know that there have been several bug fixes for both PulseAudio and Alsa recently to address issues with the Intel Audio chips. For reference, my installed versions are alsa 1.0.18.dfsg-1ubuntu8 and pulseaudio 0.9.14-0ubuntu20.

I did have to make a special entry in ~/.asoundrc for my stereo headset to output to both speakers. Skype provides 8-bit unsigned mono output audio, so it needs converted to stereo if you want sound in both headphone speakers. I copied these settings from http://help.ubuntu.com here. I didn't create the launcher script they mention. Just add the following to your ~/.asoundrc and choose "skype" as your Sound In, Sound Out and Ringer device in Options->Sound Devices.


pcm.skype {
   type asym
   playback.pcm "skypeout"
   capture.pcm "skypein"
pcm.skypein {
   # Convert from 8-bit unsigned mono (default format set by aoss when
   # /dev/dsp is opened) to 16-bit signed stereo (expected by dsnoop)
   # We can't just use a "plug" plugin because although the open will
   # succeed, the buffer sizes will be wrong and we'll hear no sound at
   # all.
   type route
   slave {
      pcm "skypedsnoop"
      format S16_LE
   ttable {
      0 {0 0.5}
      1 {0 0.5}
pcm.skypeout {
   # Just pass this on to the system dmix
   type plug
   slave {
      pcm "dmix"
pcm.skypedsnoop {
   type dsnoop
   ipc_key 1133
   slave {
      # "Magic" buffer values to get skype audio to work
      # If these are not set, opening /dev/dsp succeeds but no sound
      # will be heard. According to the alsa developers this is due
      # to skype abusing the OSS API.
      pcm "hw:0,0"
      period_size 256
      periods 16
      buffer_size 16384
   bindings {
      0 0
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Apr 18 2009

Eee PC Ubuntu Netbook Remix

In researching potential inexpensive laptop solutions for use in education, I decided that the Eee PC would be a great product for this use. I was especially excited that there were Linux offerings. For myself and potential students, this means no Windows Tax, since I would install Linux anyway.

I never tried the Asus version of Linux, instead, I opted to install the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. I may have tried the Asus version, but was immediately confronted with a EULA, so decided that a format was in order.

I've only been using this system for a few days. I have to say I am very impressed. The keyboard is small, but no so small that I can't type relative fast on. I've only installed a few things outside of the defaults that are installed by default with the remix.

I think this system could easily be used by any student in education. With a built-in webcam and mic, just add a headset and you've got a perfect device for online classes. I'll be using it with next week's Mozilla Open Education Course class. Very exciting times. I think once these units hit the $150-$200 range, they will be even more realistic for a student laptop.

What I'll personally be using this for? Well, the list is pretty long already.

  • I listened to Pandora via pianobar several hours this week at work.
  • I read a few chapters of an E-book with FBReader. Since this is such a small device, it actually feels like a book. I will certainly be reading more E-books now.
  • I used OpenOffice writer to convert an E-book to a different format. I'll be using OpenOffice continually for many projects.
  • I watched a couple cartoons with my daughter. One using Firefox with a flash movie player. The second was an avi file from Totem. The display is a little larger than her small DVD player, so with a headphone splitter, it was a familiar and comfortable experience.
  • I browsed around Twitter a little with TweetDeck.
  • I posted this.

Not only is this a super usable little computer. It will be a welcome option for students at all levels of education.

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Mar 17 2007

Ditch Windows for Good

Just to give a little background here. I haven't used Windows as a personal desktop, or even for work in about four years now. However, as a developer of web-based applications, I need to test things under Internet Explorer. Or more commonly referred to as Internet Exploder where I tend to lurk on the internet.

On a side note: If any IE devs, who previously promised to get back to me on POST not working with OpenSearch...please respond. It's still broken, and thusly IE is very much earning it's Internet Exploder title.

I've played with various WINE setups. Tried Win4Lin, VMWare, etc. Bottom line is though, I have no desire to use Windows at all.

The solution:

A few months ago I started using an install script for Linux called IEs4Linux. It is a beautifully written script that allows for automated installation of IE5, IE5.5, IE6 and IE7! This uses WINE, in an effective manner. Automagically downloads and configures each installation and drops a nice usable shortcut on your desktop.

Now I'm sure they don't like this much over in Redmond, but it allows me to do my development work and make sure stuff renders correctly through their bastardized implementation of W3C standards.

You can download this incredible script from http://www.tatanka.com.br



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Sep 17 2006

Flash Player 9 for Linux

This came up in a discussion with my wife. My daughter recently has been blocked from http://pollypocket.everythinggirl.com/ It claims to need Flash Player 8, but as is the case with most of these detection scripts, it's probably BS. I really wish they'd just let me enter anyhow and crash my browser if I like. Anyhow there is a new player in the works now, since Adobe bought out Macromedia. I think this may just be a temporary ploy for good PR, but we'll have to see over time.

Here is the link to the blog with updates on the status of the player. Penguin.SWF.

A couple items to note are that Mike Melanson is the new engineer at Adobe who is porting the player. He is an extremely qualified person for this, having contributed quite a bit to the Linux/multimedia world. It's also interesting to note that he uses Gentoo as his development flavor of choice. Gentoo definately makes an ideal development environment. The only issue will be getting this stuff to work with Debian/RH weirdness. They'll probably just end up packaging a bunch of static libs in the end to get rpms to work.


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Oct 31 2005

svn add Recursively

Here is a little helpful hint if you ever wanted to add files to the svn repository recursively. I grabbed this from the TextDrive Community Forum

Add all new file to svn repository at once

svn status | grep "^?" | awk '{print $2}' | xargs svn add

You can add this to your .bash_profile as well:

svn status | grep "^?" | awk '{print $2}' | xargs svn add

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