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Opera without Advertisement

20.09.2005 at 21:08

Today Opera released their browser for free (as in beer) without advertisements. This is really good news for me because Opera is my favorite browser and a great piece of software.

And before someone is arguing that I should use Firefox instead, because Opera is not open source (free as in speech), I am a supporter of Free Software but Opera is just an exception. Out of curiosity I have even installed vrms to show the non-free packages on my system and here is the result:

Non-free packages installed on mydebian

opera                     The Opera Web Browser

  1 non-free packages, 0.2% of 617 installed packages.

As you see, it is really just Opera but I can't actually describe why I like it. It is simply the best internet experience. A quote from Slashdot illustrates it quite well.

So thanks Opera for releasing your great browser.

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XPM Icons for the Fluxbox Menu

18.09.2005 at 18:24

I recently needed some XPM icons for my fluxbox menu, I found the following resources quite useful:

Integrating the icons into the fluxbox menu is straight forward.

[exec] (text) { command } <~/.fluxbox/icons/icon.xpm>

Below is a screenshot of my current menu.

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Running Multiple Window Managers with Xnest

12.09.2005 at 20:18

My favorite window manager is currently fluxbox but I recently wanted to try out wmii. So I searched for a way to run multiple window managers and still be able to switch between them. This is were Xnest comes in. With Xnest it is possible to - well - nest a X server.

We have to pass another display number to Xnest because the default :0 is normally already in use.

Xnest -ac :1

Afterwards we can start any application on our nested X server. The easiest way is probably to launch a terminal and issue further commands from there.

xterm -display :1

Note that within our new xterm the display environment variable is set accordingly:

echo $DISPLAY
:1.0

Another way would be to simply set the display variable to 1 instead of 0 in the terminal where you started Xnest. All application will redirect their graphical output to the nested X server.

export DISPLAY=":1.0"

Next step would probably be to start a window manager in my case I just typed wmii in my xterm and everything worked as expected.

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Sound Mixing with the ALSA Dmix Plugin Instead of a Sound Server

10.09.2005 at 10:34

I'm sure you have already tried to play multiple sounds simultaneously in which case you probably got a message saying that /dev/dsp is busy. That's because only one process can open the sound device at a time.

Of course there are different solutions to work around this problem. One possibility is to use a sound server like aRtsd, EsoundD or jackd. Applications will no longer talk directly to the sound device, instead they will send their data to the sound server which will then mix several audio streams for playback by a single audio device.

However, for my purpose a sound server is overkill. There is another way to achieve the same thing with dmix which is a ALSA plugin. I honestly don't know why they call it a plugin because at least in my ALSA installation it was already integrated and I just had to create a ~/.asoundrc configuration file for my sound chip (snd_intel8x0).

pcm.dmixer {
    type dmix
    ipc_key 1024
    slave {
        pcm "hw:0,0"
        period_time 0
        period_size 1024
        buffer_size 8192
        rate 44100
    }

    bindings {
        0 0
        1 1
     }
}

pcm.dsp0 {
    type plug
    slave.pcm "dmixer"
}

pcm.!default {
    type plug
    slave.pcm "dmixer"
}

pcm.default {
    type plug
    slave.pcm "dmixer"
}

ctl.mixer0 {
    type hw
    card 0
}

The downside of this method is that you have to configure each sound application to use the alsa:dmix plugin. In XMMS this can be done in the Preference window by choosing the ALSA output plugin [libALSA.so] and configuring it to use plug:dmix as audio device. For vlc you have to install an additionally package.

apt-get install vlc-plugin-alsa

Afterwards you can change your ~/.vlc/vlcrc to use the plugin.

[alsa] # ALSA audio output

# ALSA Device Name (string)
alsadev=plug:dmix

The correct settings for other applications can be found with google. This howto could also be of interest.

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Bootsplash on Debian Sid

05.09.2005 at 20:45

First of all I normally don't care much about eye candy stuff, but recently my girlfriend told me that she found it quite boring to see the boot log scrolling by. Because I have never set up a boot splash before, I gave it a try.

Patching the kernel

First of all we need to patch our kernel, the patches can be found on bootsplash.org or bootsplash.de. They can be applied as usual.

cd /usr/src/linux;
patch -Np1 -i bootsplash.diff

Configuring the kernel

Afterwards we can configure our kernel with make menuconfig. The following options should be compiled in.

Code maturity level options  --->
 [*] Prompt for development and/or incomplete code/drivers
Processor type and features  --->
 [*] MTRR (Memory Type Range Register) support
Device Drivers  --->
 Block devices  --->
  <*> Loopback device support
  <*> RAM disk support
  (4096) Default RAM disk size
  [*]   Initial RAM disk (initrd) support
 Graphics support  --->
  [*] Support for frame buffer devices
  [*]   VESA VGA graphics support
  Console display driver support  --->
   [*]   Video mode selection support
   <*> Framebuffer Console support
   Bootsplash configuration  --->
    [*] Bootup splash screen

Userspace modifications

Next we have to set up some user space tools, to accomplish this we add 2 temporary lines to our sources.list

cat >> /etc/apt/sources.list << "EOF"
 deb http://debian.bootsplash.de unstable main
 deb-src http://debian.bootsplash.de unstable main
EOF

Now we are ready to install a the needed packages.

apt-get install  bootsplash sysv-rc-bootsplash

Normally debconf should ask you a few questions and create a initrd.splash. However, if this doesn't happen, you can do it manually.

splash -s -f /etc/bootsplash/themes/default/config/bootsplash-1024x768.cfg > /boot/initrd.splash

Adjusting the boot loader

The last step is to adjust our boot loader configuration. Here are the relevant entries from my /boot/grub/menu.lst

title Debian GNU/Linux Sid / 2.6.13 splash
root(hd0,0)
kernel /linux-2.6.13-splash vga=791 splash=silent
initrd /initrd.splash

Enjoy your boot splash.

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