sábado, 31 de mayo de 2014

Weekend fun

I braced myself for a weekend marked by work.  So, I turned on my ZaReason Strata laptop and left the room to get a cup of hot tea.

When I returned, I found Lara, my cat, playing with the keyboard.

This is the only "cyber-attack" that I have suffered since I migrated to Linux... And I have to admit that it is, by far, the cutest!

sábado, 10 de mayo de 2014

From .flv to mp3 with Firefox add ons

Sometimes I need to get the audio from a video in YouTube, which I download using Download Helper, the convenient Firefox add-on.

Normally, I prefer to do the process myself: that is, I extract the audio with a program (VLC) and then use Audacity to convert the file to whatever audio format I  like.  The advantage of this approach is that I stand on my own feet and can get my .mp3 file all the time and the way I like it.  The downside is that, depending on the distro I am using, I might not have the tools available.

If you do not know how to use those tools (or ignore how to use the Linux terminal to achieve that purpose easily), you can always take a point-and-click approach to convert .flv videos to .mp3 files thanks to a Firefox add-on called BestVideoDownloader 2 (you can get it here).  This add-on relies on a transcoding Web service called converttomp3.net.

Once you have installed BestVideoDownloader 2,  go to your desired YouTube video, play it and scroll down to look under the title.  Right next to the like/dislike buttons, you will see the downloading icon of BestVideoDownloader 2.
 Click on it and a drop-down menu with format options will appear.  Select the one you prefer.  I used MP3 192 Kbps:
Once you select the format, you will see a button indicating that you can proceed to the download service:

You will be taken to converttomp3.net service, which will indicate that the conversion of the file is in progress:

The conversion will finish and the service will ask you to specify the .mp3 file tags.  Simply click on "CONTINUE": 

This will take you (finally!) to the download page.  Notice that the service will only store your .mp3 for two hours.

This process is certainly convenient, but it has a main drawback: you depend on the service to be up and running for your conversion to work.   Another potential problem can be that, depending on the version of Firefox that you use (or if you update the browser in the future), the add-on might stop working until it catches up with the browser version.

jueves, 8 de mayo de 2014

OpenMandriva Lx 2014 and iBus, Success Still Eludes Me

The quest to make iBus work with OpenMandriva has been a difficult one.  I first tried to see if I had all the required dependencies according to this page:

    GConf2 [*]
    ibus [>= 1.2.0]
    python(abi) [== 2.7]

I discovered that I missed a couple.  Most of them are already installed.  However, even having all of them, iBus refused to launch. 

I followed the instructions on this page to activate iBus:

$ pkill -9 ibus
$ ps -ef | grep ibus
$ /usr/bin/ibus-daemon --xim &

The last command activated iBus, but it did not remember the IME selection (Japanese, Anthy).  

The page also said this, which I did not understand:

After ibus-daemon is invoked, Run ibus-setup to set the preference, enable input methods, also start ibus daemon.
 $ ps -ef | grep ibus
foo 15735 15518  0 11:30 pts/3    00:00:17 /usr/bin/ibus-daemon --xim
foo 20037 15735  0 12:58 pts/3    00:00:00 /usr/libexec/ibus-gconf
foo 20039 15735  0 12:58 pts/3    00:00:06 python /usr/share/ibus/ui/gtk/main.py
foo 20041     1  0 12:58 pts/3    00:00:00 /usr/libexec/ibus-x11 --kill-daemon
foo 20042 15735  0 12:58 pts/3    00:00:01 python /usr/share/ibus-anthy/engine/main.py --ibus
So, that's as far as I have gotten now...

Want to Install OpenMandriva Lx 2014? Some Things You Need to Know

OpenMandriva Lx 2014 was recently released.  I had three installs of OpenMandriva Lx 2013 and, to be honest, I was not convinced to upgrade the systems (one desktop and two laptops).  After all, the previous released did pretty much what I needed and I did not want to ditch SimpleWelcome and use Homerun, the new default in OpenMandriva 2014.

When I learned that it is possible to change Homerun, I decided to install the distro.  Interestingly, not using Homerun proved to be a smart move for me.

The Partition Problem

This is how my OpenMandriva Lx 2014 desktop looks right now.  I placed the ROSA Rocket bar panel on top and as auto-hide.  I also added Cairo Dock at the bottom:
OpenMandriva 2014 running on my ZaReason Strata Laptop: workspace 1
As expected, when you click on the ROSA SimpleWelcome, you get this:

ROSA SimpleWelcome on OpenMandriva Lx 2014

The Timeline on OpenMandriva Lx 2014
Now, here's the interesting part.  When I installed the distro, I first tested Homerun.  I discovered that, if you have a multi-boot system, Homerun acknowledges the presence of your other partitions, but refuses to open them. 

For example, when I tried to access my home partition in Mageia, this is what I got.

The path indicated is correct, but the contents displayed correspond to what I have in my freshly installed OpenMandriva Lx 2014 /home.

I tried it once again, this time with my home partition in PCLinuxOS:

As you can see, the path indicates that you are in home_PCLOS (the tag of my /home in PCLOS), but the contents you see are exactly the same that Homerun displayed for the home partition in Mageia...that is, the contents of /home in OpenMandriva Lx 2014.   This happened in both laptops and the desktop.

I then switched the interface to KDE launch to see if it was a generalized problem with the desktop environment.

KDE launch uses Dolphin to open up the contents of your other partitions.  There was no problem whatsoever accessing my files with Dolphin from the KDE launch interface.

The ROSA SimpleWelcome interface does not show the strange behavior displayed by Homerun, either.

The Repository Problem

The other interesting problem I discovered had to do with the repositories.  After I finished my installations, the first thing I did was to update the system.  OpenMandriva Lx set the repos, so I just ran the control center and clicked on update.  There were several packages found, so I installed them.

Once I did this, I tried to install Steam and Skype.  All I got was a message telling me that a fatal error had occurred and that the mirrors were not available.  I set then some FTP mirrors manually (the main32 repo was absent) and tried to install Steam and Skype again.  The answer this time was also negative, but because of missing dependencies. 

The solution was to re-install the OS to all three machines.  Right after completion, without updating, I could successfully install Skype and Steam.

Other Problems: Wi-fi, Printer, Japanese IME

On my HP Pavilion laptop, OpenMandriva picked up the Wi-fi out of the box.  The story was different on my ZaReason Strata.  I had to use a cabled connection to get to the repos and downoad the appropriate package, which did the trick.

Regardless of my many attempts, I could never get my Epson Stylus TX 200 to print.  I mean OpenMandriva 2014 configures the scanner out of the box, but the printer is simply missing.  I installed the driver manually and, even so, nothing has happened.  UPDATE:  I finally made the printer respond.  It turns out that OpenMandriva Lx 2014 does not like the Stylus TX200 drivers I use in Mageia.  So, I downloaded the printer driver (epson-inkjet-printer-escpr-1.4.0-1lsb3.2.x86_64.rpm) from here and that made the printer work.

Last and sadly, success has eluded me trying to get iBus to work on OpenMandriva Lx 2014 so far.  This was not new; the same was true of the previous OpenMandriva release.


I guess that the main question is: after seeing those problems, do I intend to keep OpenMandriva Lx 2014?

The answer is yes.  I find the distro responsive, beautiful, and functional for pretty much all I need (except printing or typing in Japanese so far :-P ).

Those, however, are very specific problems that other users should not expect to find, I suppose, and I can live with them.

OpenMandriva Lx is a very nice distro.  You can read a good review by Prashanth here.

It's the Ides of August!

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Roman general Julius Caesar is given an ominous message by the Soothsayer.  The message is a simple warn...