Workaround for Screen Flickering in Kubuntu 8.10

Okay, I've got a dirty hack for now to work around the flicker problem in Kubuntu 8.10. You can edit /usr/bin/startkde and comment out the line starting ksmserver (kwrapper4 ksmserver).

Then instead write

kwrapper4 krunner &
kwrapper4 plasma &
kwrapper4 kwin

There will be no session management, but also not flickering. I'll let you know when I find a better fix.

Update: Eventually I did find a much better fix. But it doesn't work for KDE 4.2 (yet).

Google's Lack of Response to Security Threats

Google criticized a security researcher for publishing information about a security vulnerability in the android platform. They had no reason and don't do anything to motivate researchers tells us the article at cnet.

Arora - A Webkit Browser

Today I accidentally stumbled about Arora, another simple webkit based browser. And I'm very pleased. It's quite fast, renders webpages without errors, is google-mail, etc. compatible, and has a basic interface that's very similar to Firefox(tm).

That's getting pretty close to a cross-plattform Safari in my opinion. In comparison to Chrome it lacks the faster javascript engine and the multi-threaded multi-process approach, which causes it to slow down a bit with many tabs open. A private browsing feature is included.

But I think it's lean, but a true alternative and I'm writing this blog post in it - without any issues. I've tested version 0.4 in Ubuntu 8.10.

Apt-Get Tipps

TuxArena put up a nice summary of some useful apt-get commands.

I have to correct them in one point: For dpkg -L to work, the package needs to be installed already.

I also have a few extra ones:

  • apt-cache search (search packages)
  • apt-cache show (show full package description)
  • apt-cache policy (show available package versions)
  • apt-cache depends (show package dependencies)
  • dpkg -P (remove package completely, that means also configuration etc.)
  • dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low (reconfigure package, show all options)

Ubuntu 8.10 No-Go for Dual Head

Don't upgrade your Ubuntu to 8.10 if you want to use a dual head setup. There second screen will reguarly turn off for a second while there is an edid ddc scan shown in the Xorg.log. (The bug is not really fixed or fix not in main repository yet. Or I've found a different one. -> It's still not working!)

And the whole system will stutter during that time. That makes video playback very annoyingly slow and usage an external monitor impossible. I'll let you know when I find a fix.

Ubuntu Getting Slower

After upgrading to Ubuntu 8.10 (release candidate), I've recently noticed stuttering in video playback. That might very well also be related to my using the intel 2.5.0 xorg driver. But Phoronix now made a correct examination and found out Ubuntu is getting slower and slower since 7.04.

Complexity or just bad programming? Is it related to the kernels gettings worse and if so, is that related to the Ubuntu patches or the vanilla kernel? I'm curious for hopefully following explanations.

Mode Setting with IntelFB

Let me begin by stating that the intelfb driver is very old already. And there are issues. Mode setting with "non-CRT" devices usually fails:

intelfb: Non-CRT device is enabled ( LVDS port ). Disabling mode switching.
intelfb: Video mode must be programmed at boot time.

So you need to set the mode very counter-intuitively via the vga kernel commandline. To do that, you need to know the mode. Especially on 64-bit systems the only way to find it out is sudo hwinfo --vbe.

Now you can use a kernel command line like video=intelfb:mode=1280x800 vga=0x0362 and the system should boot with the chosen resolution. Even if you're using a laptop like I am.

This will not work with a kernel earlier than 2.6.28-rc1 from my experience, but maybe you're lucky. If nothing happens, try the newest kernel. And of course feel free to comment in any case. And I think this works only if the intelfb module is compiled-in, not if it's compiled as a module, as it usually is in distribution kernels.

Trouble Uninstalling a Package?

Sometimes you're trying to install or uninstall a package, but the process aborts, because the installation script fails. I think there was an option in apt-get or dpkg to override this behavior, but for now there's a very simple workaround that will usually help:

Insert a line "exit 0" into the script causing the error. (It then exits "without an error" right away.) At least in init scripts during deinstallation this should not cause too much damage. In my example, the packet tspc failed during upgrade from hardy to intrepid (release candidate).

There were a few packets that didn't upgrade cleanly, about 5 I think. But now everything works pretty well.

Encyclopedia of Life

A website mapping (or trying to) all life on our cosy little planet Earth. Why go to other planets to find life if you need not go father than your backyard? Out now:

Also check out this interview with the founder.

Flash 10 in Ubuntu 64 Bit

There's a nice little script that does the entire installation automatically. Worked great for me. Make sure you check the contents of the script, it's not a lot. And when you run a script as super-user you should always do that. Then do sudo bash

Automatic Monitor Brightness Control

Why isn't there a software that controls your monitor's brightness level automatically. E.g. if you have a webcam, you could use it to detect the current amount of light in the room. If you don't have a webcam, you could use the current time.

Canon Printer Problem "pstocanonij write error,32" Solved

I just had the error message

"pstocanonij write error,32."

when trying to print something with the Original Canon Printer Driver and my MP610. It turned out I needed to cancel the job. I printed a test page and then I printed the same thing again and it worked just fine. Sometimes it hangs up and I have to turn if off and on again.

But I still have no idea why he's cleaning his inks several times a day currently...


The error comes up more and more often now and I haven't found a real fix yet. It might be related to certain settings. The printer prints one page and then stops printing.


You can either use a different driver (e.g. the gutenprint one), or it may be an incorrect page border setting. In my experience, changing the page border settings back to their original settings (31,75mm) fixed the problems. You may have to reboot your computer and turn the printer off and on again for it to work again.

It might also be that your /tmp directory is full. This happens especially when you're using the special tmpfs on that directory, as some distributions automatically do. Or, of course, if you're main partition is out of space.

Mixed Static and Shared Library Linking with GCC

If you want to link some libraries statically and other dynamically you can use these switches:

-Wl,-Bstatic -lsomelibstatically -Wl,-Bdynamic -lotherlibshared

If you just want to compile it all statically, use LDFLAGS="-static".

Dillo 2.0 for AMD64

I've compiled Dillo 2.0 for Ubuntu amd64 (or "intel64") and packed with upx. It should work with other amd64 distributions as well. It does not need fltk 2.0, it's statically linked. Ssl support is missing. It didn't find my ssl library. The required libraries are: => (0x00007fffde5fe000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e44800000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e40c00000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e3dc00000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e3f800000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e41c00000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e44000000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e46400000) => /lib/ (0x0000003e3d800000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e3fc00000) => /usr/lib/ (0x00007f6dd6242000) => /lib/ (0x0000003e3d400000) => /lib/ (0x00007f6dd6033000) => /lib/ (0x0000003e3cc00000)
  /lib64/ (0x0000003e3ba00000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e41000000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e41400000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e3ec00000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e3f000000) => /lib/ (0x0000003e3d000000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e40400000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e3f400000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e40000000) => /usr/lib/ (0x0000003e3e800000)

Enjoy! ;-)

Dillo Browser 2.0 Out Now!

Well, if browsers were only about pure speed and size, I guess dillo would always win. It's probably the most minimalist browser for X. And it's blazingly fast. It Opens extremely fast, it loads webpages in amazing speed. And now version 2.0 is out. Unfortunately there are no amd64 packages available, so I had to go and do it myself again. I will put them in a seperate post.

Javascript innovations - How will Opera react?

Until now it seemed Opera was the most innovative Browser out there: Tabs, Browser Sync, "Magic" Input bar, ... Opera had it first, or did it better.

Now Firefox came with their JIT Javascript engine and Chrome added a multi-threaded approach to that and I ask myself: How will Opera react?

In my experience Opera has been pretty good with most webpages and was faster, especially with many web pages at the same time. But it does get laggy then. And especially (Google's) web applications such as Gmail and Google Reader respond pretty slowly in Opera.

I've set up the email account, because I was bothered how long things took in Gmail. And using Firefox was not better, using both is really annoying.

I wish Opera was available with Chrome's innovative new features... Hopefully they're already working on it. And Opera Browser for the Web 2.0.

The Knotify4 Wake-Up Problem

Martin Kretz released an alternative backend for phonon that fixes the knotify4 high wake-up problem.

Broadcom Wireless Drivers - wl vs. b43 - Performance Comparison

I've compared the performance of both drivers with a simple iperf test over a few meters:

Broadcom Proprietary Driver:


TCP window size: 85.3 KByte (default)  
[ 4] local port 5001 connected with port 46362
[ 4] 0.0-10.2 sec 24.6 MBytes 20.2 Mbits/sec  
[ 5] local port 5001 connected with port 46363
[ 5] 0.0-10.2 sec 24.6 MBytes 20.2 Mbits/sec
[ 4] local port 5001 connected with port 46365
[ 4] 0.0-10.2 sec 24.0 MBytes 19.8 Mbits/sec

Receiving 1470 byte datagrams
UDP buffer size: 375 KByte (default)
[ 3] local port 5001 connected with port 35141[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 24.2 MBytes 20.2 Mbits/sec 1.364 ms 0/17239 (0%)[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order[ 4] local port 5001 connected with port 38437[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 27.2 MBytes 22.8 Mbits/sec 1.837 ms 0/19418 (0%)[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order[ 3] local port 5001 connected with port 45356[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 28.8 MBytes 24.1 Mbits/sec 1.319 ms 0/20555 (0%)[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order
B43 Open Source Driver

TCP window size: 85.3 KByte (default)
[ 4] local port 5001 connected with port 42345
[ 4] 0.0-10.1 sec 19.6 MBytes 16.4 Mbits/sec
[ 5] local port 5001 connected with port 42346
[ 5] 0.0-10.2 sec 23.1 MBytes 19.0 Mbits/sec
[ 4] local port 5001 connected with port 42347
[ 4] 0.0-10.2 sec 21.7 MBytes 17.8 Mbits/sec


Receiving 1470 byte datagrams
UDP buffer size: 375 KByte (default)

[ 3] local port 5001 connected with port 57459
[ 3] 0.0-10.1 sec 14.0 MBytes 11.7 Mbits/sec 0.438 ms 152/10171 (1.5%)
[ 3] 0.0-10.1 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order
[ 4] local port 5001 connected with port 55062
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 15.7 MBytes 13.1 Mbits/sec 1.372 ms 205/11373 (1.8%)
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order
[ 3] local port 5001 connected with port 49861
[ 3] 0.0-10.1 sec 23.4 MBytes 19.5 Mbits/sec 3.724 ms 292/17017 (1.7%)
[ 3] 0.0-10.1 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order
[ 4] local port 5001 connected with port 42069
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 21.5 MBytes 18.0 Mbits/sec 1.370 ms 239/15544 (1.5%)
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order

As you can see, the proprietary driver is slightly faster in TCP mode. And somehow they're both really slow in UDP mode. That's something I'd like to find out more about.

Update: That was my fault. For some reason iperf restricts UDP tests to 1 Mbit/s. Now the results are more appropriate. The result is that the proprietary driver has a more stable connection speed.

But I think that's really not worth installing a proprietary driver. Broadcom really would better integrate the changes into the open source driver. Their driver is still relying on the deprecated wireless system anyway.

Update2: Further tests showed that, at least after a while of usage, the proprietary driver creates high network latencies. Ping times to the router went up from 2 ms to an average of 160ms (peaks of 500ms !).

Broadcom Proprietary Drivers with Linux 2.6.27

I've found a way to get the drivers to compile... I just downloaded the intrepid restricted modules package source from Ubuntu.

Then unpack, go to ubuntu-intrepid-lrm/ubuntu-restricted/broadcom
and make -C /lib/modules/`uname -r`/build M=`pwd`

They only work with TKIP for me, at least not with WPA2. (The open source b43 drivers does.)

Broadcom's Unfree Driver

Broadcom put up some partially binary drivers for their wireless chips. Well, better late and little I guess. They don't compile with 2.6.27 yet, though. Please post hints in the comments.

Automated Linux Kernel Testing

I'm currently always using the current git kernel. And my thought is: Why isn't there some tool available to automatically tell the developers how many users are currently runnig the kernel, on what platform, how many segfaults, crashes, etc. the test systems had. That would make it much easier to know bugs are there... And it could all run automatically in the background, or at least semi-automatically.

Perfect Slide Shows in Linux with Digikam's Advanced Slide Show Plugin

I've always been jealous of Picasa's Slideshows under Windows. They don't work well in Linux' Wine version unfortunately. Until today. I wrote an email to the developer of the great kde screensaver "smooth slide saver" that I've mentioned just the day before yesterday.

And he told me about a digikam plugin with similar features. It was pretty hard to find. Even after looking up screenshots of it being used. It's called digikam advanced slideshow plugin. And it's part of the kipi-plugins package.

You need to install the packages digikam kipi-plugins. Then you start digikam. Don't select the normal boring slideshow that's normally used. Instead select a couple pictures in an album, go to Extras (in the menu), select (Advanced) Slideshow, right underneath Find Duplicates. And enjoy! :)

And the great thing: Digikam and with it the (opengl) advanced slideshow plugin support the comments I put into the pictures with Picasa. That means I can do the perfect slideshows under Linux now, even much better than Picasa'a Windows slideshows, with all my comments. And all open source! Cool.

Smooth Slide Saver

I think at least one of the best screen savers available on Linux is the SmoothSlideSaver. It's an enhanced version of the GL picture screen saver and as the name says it's really smooth. There was a version for KDE 3.5 available. I so wish someone would port it to KDE 4... *sigh* ... and I wish it was integrated into the main distribution - because it really deserves to, at least into extragear.

KDE 4.1 with Multi-Head

Just a short note: If you plan to use KDE 4.1 with Multi-Head, make sure you do *not* do it using xrandr, otherwise KDE gets confused and messes up your screen. So set up your xorg.conf statically.

Intel put up a short howto, but it shouldn't be that different for other drivers. The important part goes like this:

Section "Device"
Identifier "Configured Video Device"
Driver "intel"
Option "FramebufferCompression" "off" # on for battery, off for multi-display
Option "monitor-LVDS" "internal"
Option "monitor-VGA" "external"

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "internal"

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "external"
Option "RightOf" "internal" #the left display is the primary one

Section "Screen"
Identifier "Default Screen"
Monitor "internal"
Device "Configured Video Device"
SubSection "Display"
Virtual 2560 1024
# this should be as large as both displays next to each other

Section "ServerFlags"
# Option "Xinerama" "true" # crashes
Option "AIGLX" "false" # crashes multi-head

After doing that, (instead of crashes and frustration) you're rewarded with very nice customization options in KDE 4.1.2: You can set the wallpaper for each screen, put different plasma applets at different locations, etc.

If you're using the intel driver I can also recommend disabling AIGLX in the ServerFlags Section of your xorg.conf to make the setup more stable. After supend/resume I regularly have to set reconfigure the screen setup with xrandr and then switch back and forth between X and the console to turn my external monitor back on.

I wonder how the new X server version in Kubuntu 8.10 will be.

Divx Embedded Video with Mplayer in Linux

If you want to watch Divx embedded Videos in your browser, like they used to be offered by Stage6, you can use the mozilla-mplayer package with the following customizations:

Install the package mozilla-mplayer.

In /etc/mplayerplug-in.types you need the lines
video/divx:divx:DivX Media Format;
video/vnd.divx:divx:DivX Media Format;

and in /etc/mplayerplug-in.conf you need the line

Don't start your browser before you've made these changes, otherwise you need to uninstall the plugin, start the browser, exit it, reinstall the plugin and then it should work. This works in Opera and Firefox for me.

Update: Unfortunately this does not work on all pages, some seem to check specificly for the plugin, which of course won't work...

New Stuff

Pogue just wrote an article about basic things every computer users should know. Well, most of it I did know and won't write it here. But one thing I found interesting it the part about new hardware coming out:

iPods come out in September and digital cameras in February and October.


If you want to try out a browser that uses webkit in Linux, just try out midori. It's not a lot like chrome, though. It's not as fast, etc. I do hope they quickly port a privacy-enhanced version of Chrome to Linux...

At least in the meantime I will stay with Opera, and hope they incorporate some of those Chrome features. That might make Chrome entirely unnecessary, which would be good. Google is probably too big already. No need for them to dominate the browser market. If their products just weren't so good and innovative...

KDE Webkit

I just found out there is a webkit KDE port, called webkitkde, with Ubuntu (372kb) packages:

Webkit is what Apple uses for Safari and Google used for Chrome.

Update: This does not work cleanly if you use the kde 4.1.1 packages for hardy from the motu developers. Or to make it short: webkitkde works only in intrepid, because of wrong paths. If I have a workaround at the end.

Update2: Google Mail works with a bit of tweaking now. (I had to set Konqueror to identify as Safari 2.0 and reload the page

Update3: It's really beta software, you're not likely to have a lot of fun with it... :(. Gmail does not really work after all.

Update4: Even compiled from svn-trunk it's not really fun. There's some problem with the page loading, the fonts are too small I think. And just using khtml is much faster and more fun.

Just put this into your (Ubuntu hardy) shell:

sudo su -c "echo 'deb intrepid main' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/intrepid.list"
apt-get update
apt-get install webkitkde
sudo su -c "echo > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/intrepid.list"
apt-get update

# workarounf for hardy
cd /usr/lib/kde4/share/kde4/services/
sudo ln -s /usr/share/kde4/services/webkitpart.desktop .
cd /usr/lib/kde4/lib/kde4/
sudo ln -s ../../
# now the fine-tuning
cd /usr/lib/kde4/share/kde4/apps/ && sudo ln -s /usr/share/kde4/apps/webkitpart
cd /usr/lib/kde4/share/icons/hicolor/ && for i in 16x16 32x32 48x48 64x64 128x128; do cd $i/apps; sudo ln -s /usr/share/icons/hicolor/"$i"/apps/webkit.png; cd ../..; done;


And to uninstall:

sudo rm /usr/lib/kde4/share/kde4/services/webkitpart.desktop /usr/lib/kde4/lib/kde4/ /usr/lib/kde4/share/kde4/apps/webkitpart
cd /usr/lib/kde4/share/icons/hicolor/ && for i in 16x16 32x32 48x48 64x64 128x128; do cd $i/apps; sudo rm webkit.png; cd ../..; done;
sudo apt-get purge webkitkde

The README tells us:
You can switch between the different rendering engines:
View -> View Mode -> {KHTML, WebKit} (Website needs to be opened)
If WebKit does not show up in Konqueror, run 'kbuildsycoca4'.

If you want to set the WebKit part as default, run:
'keditfiletype text/html'
and move "WebKit (webkitpart)" in the "Embedding" tab to the top.

For more information about this project please see also:

Browsers in Linux

Okay. After my Opera link frustration I must admit that I've come back. Firefox was nice and fast at the beginning, but it's got serious issues after using it for a while. And with many tabs it gets slower, it's not very pretty, it takes longer to load, FlashBlock causes me a lot of trouble. And other issues.

I just like Opera. It doesn't get slower after using it for a couple weeks. It's got a neat bookmark system (It better not dare swallowing my bookmarks again!!!), it's fast&snappy. I hope they'll fix the network issue which cause Opera to be faster on slow links but slower on fast links. And some webpage don't render well.

And I hope they'll quickly incorporate a lot of the improvements of Chrome. I think if it would run natively on Linux (it works quite well with WINE), I'd be very tempted to use it as my primary browser.

Google Ads Experiment Ended

I've ended the experiment with Google Ads and removed all ads. I've earned somewhere between 0 and 8 cents. Looks like my Blog (still) has way too few visitors. I don't even really know from looking at my ad control website. And then they did put some quite weird and non-fitting ads in here every once in a while...

But don't worry, I'm still spying on you with Google Analytics. ;)