Tag Archives: ubuntu

Jaunty Upgrade After Effects

Being something of a linux/technology geek and with the recent-ish release of Ubuntu 9.04, I decided to upgrade my home desktop PC from Ubuntu 8.10.  Like the last time I ran through the upgrade, I was surprised at how smooth the upgrade process went.  Unfortunately 2 new problems appeared after the upgrade was complete, with once again one problem being rather minor and the other one being much bigger.

First up the minor problem, after rebooting into the new hotness of Ubuntu 9.04, I was greeted with a pop-up windo telling me “There was an error while performing indexing : Index corrupted.” The pop-up gave 3 options: “Ok”, “Cancel” or “Reindex all contents”. I tried all 3 but the pop-up kept coming back even after multiple reboots. The only thing I could initiall figure out to do was to kill the tracker
ps -ef | grep tracker
kill -9 XXXX XXXX XXXX

Yes, I know that’s probably a horrible idea but I rarely use the tracker’s search on my home PC so pbbbhhhhttt! A quick Google search later, I found a bug report on LaunchPad about it under which I found these instructions:
sudo aptitude install tracker-utils
tracker-processes -r

I apparently already had the tracker-utils  installed, so the first didn’t do anything for me. The second command above however shutdown the tracker and removed the indexes, so the tracker was able to recreate them cleanly. Since running those commands, the pop-up hasn’t come back.

Now on to the fun with the major problem. This was a case of network failure, specifically wireless network failure. While this is a desktop PC, I live in an old house without network cabling and my PC sits too far away from the ideal location for the router to run a cable. So I have a D-Link PCI wireless NIC in my desktop.  The NIC is based on the Atheros AR5413 chipset, Network performance has never been as good as a wired connection but it had been acceptable until this upgrade to 9.04 when the wireless stopped working.

I had been using ndiswrapper to load the windows driver for the card but that suddenly stopped working. I could see all the wireless networks in my neighborhood, but couldn’t connect to any of them (either networks secured with WPA or wide open ones). I started doing some research into the problem using other computers with working internet connections. I found that my router was getting blacklisted while my desktop was trying to connect and then it would timeout without ever making a network connection.

Also while researching the problem, I found out that there was now a new, open source driver which should be working with my wireless NIC (ath5k).  So I removed ndiswrapper, and tried out this new driver. Alas it wans’t particularly stable, dropping connection ever couple of minutes. However since my wireless NIC uses an Atheros based chipset, I had another option. I installed the madwifi driver via jockey-gtk (Ubuntu’s tool for installing restricted modules/drivers).  For whatever reason, activating the driver via jockey-gtk didn’t actually get it up and running. To test it, I used:

sudo modprobe ath_pci

To actually get the driver to load on every boot, I edited my /etc/modules file to include ath_pci.

The madwifi driver doesn’t appear to make as strong a connection as the ath5k did; the gnome network manager applet shows the connection under madwifi usually has ~45-55% signal strength (under ath5k & ndiswrapper I could get as high as 70%). However I’ve yet to lose a connection to my network while using the madwifi wrapper whereas ath5k would drop connection every couple of minutes and ndiswrapper would usually drop the connection at least once an hour (back on Ubuntu 8.10 where it actually worked for me). Also the madwifi driver allows me to connect to my network on boot-up; unlike ndiswrapper which always took some time to connect after I was booted up and signed in. So overall, I’m pleased with my new networking setup but would have been more pleased if the changes I made could have been done automagically by the upgrade process or if the upgrade process at least warned me that it might break my networking setup.

Lucky Day

This will be a somewhat scatterbrained… err, random post.

First off if you are having problems with a certain contest, then plugging the secret letters into the Internet Anagram Server could be very helpful.

I like RPGs and play in a couple now & then.  I have also run the occasional session or two, but lately I got this itch.  The itch to play in a campaign world of my own devising which means I’ll need to run more than a single session or two. In trying to prepare myself for that, I’ve been following some new blogs and today read the logical article I’ve ever seen on the subject of war & international relationals.

This week while staying home sick1, I finally got around to upgrading my work laptop from Ubuntu 8.04 to 8.10. I had been holding off mostly because it is my work machine and I had the idea I should keep it on Ubuntu’s LTS releases. Then I realized while I was keeping the system on a theoretically more stable version, I kept adding 3rd party packages/repositories to update specific programs I wanted (which contradicts the point of sticking with a LTS release). So I did the upgrade and was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the upgrade went. However I did run into one minor and one major problem after the upgrade.

  • Minor problem: My dual monitor configuration got screwed up. Most likely because I did the upgrade at home (where I don’t have a 2nd monitor for the laptop).
  • Major problem: All my SSH keys stopped working. I ended up recreating them and getting them pushed back out to all the servers I need to access using keys. Still that was disconcerting, especially since nothing about the keys (client/server) had changed. Even our network admin at work was confused by that one.

On the positive side, Adobe Flash Player 10.x is available for Ubuntu 8.10, so now I can watch Comedy Central’s clips of the Daily Show again (under Flash 9.x, they always crashed Firefox). Additionally there are prebuilt packages for Gnome-Do 0.8.x for Ubuntu 8.10, which like Mr. Pibb + Red Vines is crazy delicious! Specifically, Gnome-Do with the Docky theme. I believe the idea behind the Docky theme was to mimic some functionality of OS X’s dock, but could be mistaken (don’t own a Mac). The performance is bit slow on my older desktop2, but it works great on the work laptop.

1 Nausea + dizziness + complete lack of energy. Fortunately I’m mostly over it now, though still working to get my energy levels back up.
2 Based on an AMD 1800+ CPU.

XBMC + Hulu = GOLD!

I’ve been home sick today and when not sleeping I’ve been working to upgrade the version of XBMC I have installed on my softmodded XBox.  I had been running the last stable release, but running into the occasional problem.  First off I’ll note that Nautilus 2.22.5.1 under Ubuntu 8.04.1, does a crappy job of working as an FTP client.  That held me up for a while, but after switching over to using gFTP things went much smoother.

The side effect of Nautilus working so poorly was I had time to do a little googling.  I’ve heard good things about the Hulu website for watching TV shows I’ve missed.  Thing i I hate sitting at my computer for long periods of time when I’ve got a comfy couch1 and a much larger TV than computer monitor. So as I said, I started googling and looking for a XBMC/Hulu plugin and I did find one in the XBMC Forums.

Unfortunately the 0.2 release mentioned in the first post of that thread didn’t work so well for me and there were 38 pages in the thread.  I did some more searching and found an article over at LifeHacker.  The article seems to be talking about the same plugin but links to a newer release of it.  I kept looking to see if there were anything else out there and found what appears to be the main site for the plugin, xbmc-hulu.  That last site doesn’t provide a simple download, but you can use subversion to checkout the lastest copy of their plugin.

And that latest version is pure gold, which is to say I’ve not run into a single problem watching any videos via the plugin.  Now I can sit back on the couch and watch Colbert Report, The Daily Show and all sorts of other good stuff that I don’t get with my cable TV package.  If my sinuses clear up and this cold goes away, I could be really happy.

UPDATE: I appear to be getting quite a bit of traffic (for me anyway) on this post, so thanks for stopping by! Also I’ve finally read through the entire 40 pages (at the time of this writing) in the XBMC Forums thread about this plugin.  From reading that thread, there appears to be a lot of confusion on where/how to get the plugin to work.  So for the record, I’m running xbmc-hulu 1.0 (SVN copied checked out on 26 January 2009) on top of T3CH’s 2009-01-25 build of XBMC (rev17349) on an original XBox (softmodded using Mech Assault via ProductWiki’s instructions).

UPDATE: Per the XBMC-Hulu plugin release thread, there is no currently working version of the plugin.

1 Someday I will have a comfy chair!

Dapper to Hardy in 23 painful hours

I I finally set about upgrading my home server1 from Dapper to Hardy yesterday. I had been hoping for a less traumatic experience then upgrading my desktop computer from Dapper to Gusty2. Unfortunately I once again ran into problems. First off, it’s been nearly a week since Hardy was officially released but when I tried to run the official upgrade tools they all initially told me I was running the latest version. According to the documentation, I should have been able to run either sudo do-release-upgrade or sudo update-manager but neither worked. I was only able to start the upgrade process by running sudo update-manager -d and my understanding is that “-d” tells the program to grab the latest development version. Weird, but oh well. Then the process just dragged on and on and on and on and on…. I eventually went to bed leaving it running. The only reason I stayed up as late as I did with it was the excellent book I was reading.

When I got up this morning, it was still running but was hung up on a question I needed to answer. I clicked through the question and a few more before heading off to work. When I got home, again the upgrade was hung up on a question. I worked my way through answering all the questions and let the upgrader do its job. Unfortunately the upgrader eventually failed on these packages: gnome-applets-data, gnome-applets, ubuntu-desktop and update-manager. I clicked through the errors and then the upgrader said:

Could not install the upgrades
The upgrade aborts now. Your system could be in an unusable state. A recovery will run now (dpkg –configure -a).

I clicked ok to the error, something flashed up and then the upgrader died/vanished/went away. I tried running:

  • sudo aptitude update but it sat there for far too long for my sleep deprived and impatient self.
  • sudo aptitude upgrade, only it said there wasn’t anything to upgrade.
  • sudo aptitude autoclean, *shrug* it's part of my standard script for updating my systems.
  • sudo aptitude dist-upgrade, only it said there wasn’t anything to upgrade.
  • sudo dpkg --configure -a, it said there were unconfigured packages but it couldn’t fix them automagically. It mostly complained about gnome-applets-data.

I ended up running sudo aptitude install gnome-applets-data gnome-applets ubuntu-desktop update-manager and that fixed up those errors no problem. For giggles of insanity I tried running sudo aptitude -s -f install to see what else might be left to update3. It found another 111 packages it wanted to remove but some of them I want to keep, so I’ll have to look into that more closely. Most likely all these errors were caused by my own foolishness, as at one point I was testing some stuff out on the machine and enabled some 3rd party repositories to install unsupported apps. *blech* I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. I was able to reboot the machine and connect to it via SSH and SMB, but HTTP seems to be broken at the moment. *bugger* Apache is one of the packages sudo aptitude -s -f install wanted to remove. I guess looking into that just got bumped up my priority list.

1 An old Dell Dimension desktop with a PII-400 CPU and 256 MB of RAM.
2 Never fear, Fritz (my desktop PC) is next on my list of machines to upgrade.
3 More accurately, I found some instructions when upgrading my desktop from Dapper to Gusty that recommended doing that to ensure all apps got updated.

HowTo: Install Windows Vista in 2 Minutes

Do you have a new computer that doesn’t run Windows Vista? Do you need step-by-step instructions on how to install it? Then watch this great YouTube video for instructions.

Then go download and install a proper OS, like Ubuntu.

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