Fix for can’t start graphical apps as admin.

Earlier today I would get an error about not being able to read the users Xsession file or something when I tried to start any Administrator program from the menu. sudo worked fine, but gksudo (the graphical password entry thing) didn’t.

Solution: full root partition.

Tips to free up space:

  1. Restart. This clears /tmp
  2. sudo apt-get autoremove && sudo apt-get clean (remove cached and unnecessary packages)
  3. check /var/tmp
  4. Maybe uninstall a hefty program or two. Games take up a *lot* of space.
  5. Don’t be like me and make a 10gb / partition on a terabyte hard drive [facehand].


Easy Auto-Update Sunlight Wallpaper

I used a post at Lifehacker to create my own, auto-updating, sunlight tracking wallpaper.

It is quite easy. It assumes that your Pictures directory is located at ~/Pictures. Change it in the script if yours is different. Just put it anywhere and execute it. If it doesn’t execute, just chmod +x changer.

Here is the script:

cd ~/Data/Pictures/Wallpapers/
if [ !-e world_sunlight_map_rectangular.jpg ]; then
wget && rm world_sunlight_map_rectangular.jpg && mv world_sunlight_map_rectangular.jpg.1 world_sunlight_map_rectangular.jpg && echo "Finished."

Save it in your home directory.

Use the normal wallpaper selector to set ~/Pictures/world_sunlight_map_rectangular.jpg to your wallpaper. It’s a pretty big image, so most screens will look fine with it. If you want to do anything else to it, I suggest you look into imagemagick or phatch. Note you will need to put the image manipulation in the script so it is run on the image every time you download it.

Then, install gnome-schedule from the repositories. It will add System > Preferences > Scheduled Tasks, where you need to add a new, recurrent task that runs changer every hour. After that, it should auto-update itself with no help from you.

It really is a nice effect. Since Gnome-Schedule uses cron, the linux job scheduler, doing this will add no background processes to your computer, or even slow it down in any way.

Most systems can get some sort of program that does this. Now we have one, and all it needs is one file!

I intend to create a script that does the installation at some point in time. I might even package it in a .deb!

The easiest way to rip DVDs ever.

I like to back up my DVDs for ease of watching on my computer. This was hindered when I switched to Linux, as I had no idea how to do it on Linux. Now, after a while, I have come up with the exact perfect way to rip DVDs.

This guide assumes you have done nothing to begin. (I think! I’ve done a lot to my computer, so no guarantees!)

Step 1: Enable DVD Playback

  • Add the Medibuntu repository to get libdvdcss2. [link]
  • now, install libdvdcss2 from medibuntu and libdvdread3.
  • now, open a terminal and run ‘sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/’ That enables the DVD playback.
  • Download the Handbrake CLI from [here]. Make sure to get the Linux one. Extract it to some folder. Your home directory will work just fine.
  • Now you should be ready.

Step 2: Ripping. (this is the one you do every time you want to rip a DVD)

  • Insert the DVD. If a movie player comes up, close it.
  • Go to a terminal. Run ‘./HandBrakeCLI -i /media/cdrom0/ -o DesiredFileName.mp4’. This assumes that Handbrake is extracted to your home directory and you are in your home directory. Also it assumes your DVD drive is on /media/cdrom0/. I t may be cdrom, or something else. I only tested it by myself. Put your desired filename (plus .mp4 at the end), as the final argument.

This uses the Default Handbrake preset. It’s pretty quick, comes out to 700mb-1.3gb, with excellent quality. It should autocrop as well. For other presets and advanced options, see the documentation. I personally like the default. If you have an ipod, there are presets for that as well so it will play better and at a smaller size on it.

Each rip takes a while, depending on your processor. My Intel Core2 Duo 2.0gHz laptop can rip a movie in about half an hour. YMMV.

This happens to take around half the time of doing this the easiest way I found on Windows.



Finally, I got the courage to test suspend and hibernate under Hardy. I am rejoiced to announce that it works better!

My previous issues stemmed from the ATI graphics card in my computer. Suspend worked perfectly, except the screen wouldn’t turn back on…

Now, when I suspend it works perfectly (albeit a bit ugly). It restores great. Suspend is all I ever used anyways, so I am overjoyed. Hibernate still dies miserably, eventually returning me to the screen mostly unharmed, but not turning off.

Overall, I am happy. Now if only I can figure out how to get the open-source driver working (although this isn’t too bad).

No more msttcorefonts!

It seems that one of the first things many ‘Ubuntu for Windoze users’ tutorials include installing msttcorefonts, the Microsoft fonts.

Don’t do it.

You will be amazed at how much better the Internet looks when there is no Comic Sans, no Arial. Arial is really a quite ugly font, you know?

Still need them for some reason? I do, because all of my papers for school needed to be written in Times New Roman. That is no longer an issue, thanks to the Liberation fonts. It’s a set of Liberation Sans, Liberation Serif, and Liberation Mono. They are almost identical, in size and style, to Arial, Times New Roman, and Courier New, the only fonts that you should ever need from msttcorefonts. As a bonus, the fonts are open-source, and available with a simple apt-get ttf-liberation.

Good Riddance to msttcorefonts.

WordPress hates apt:// URLS. Just ‘sudo apt-get ttf-liberation’.)


After nearly a month of not having my computer (I was at my Dad’s house w/o good internet), I have been messing with my computer a lot. Mostly with Hardy, as I upgraded yesterday. My install went badly. It did great on installation, but would just go to a blank screen after that. It was a graphics problem. The whole laptop with ATI graphics thing is Linux hell. I finally found a page that helped m,e installed the restricted drivers sans GUI. It’s called The Unofficial ATI Linux Driver Wiki. I do want to get the open-source driver working though sometime. I’m getting a new desktop that can be my fancy graphics machine while this one has better battery life.

That fixed my graphics problem. Hardy is great! Specifically:

  • The new version of Gnome is great, I like the clock applet.
  • Firefox 3 is the default browser. It just worked. Flash was perfect, Media files play inside it. No comparison w/ Gutsy there.
  • New versions of everything. I still have a few programs I build from scratch to get the latest SVN versions, but most of the programs are completely up-to-date now. That’s nice.
  • The network manager seems much more stable now. No idea why.
  • Liferea no longer freezes my computer.
  • Bluetooth is way better. It works out of the box. Mates perfectly, explore devices, puts icons on the desktop. Perfect.
  • Overall the entire system seems faster and more stable.

Bad stuff:

  • Evolution is still way too integrated. I happen to prefer Claws Mail, but I can’t use a custom calendar in the clock applet. This a trivial change, so why isn’t it done?
  • Still had graphics install problems.

I like it a lot though. I really can’t wait for Intrepid Ibex.

p.s. Sorry about the break in articles; reason is above. Somehow, however, my traffic like tripled in that time. I’ll be posting more soon.

The Coolest Feature of Firefox 3

Firefox 3 is amazing, and comes with so many improvements. It has shown great innovation. But the greatest advantage, to me, is:

I don’t need as many extensions as I used to.

That is it. Less extensions means faster startup, and way more stability. At one point my FF2 install had upwards of 50 extensions, and half a dozen themes.

FF3 gets rid of this need. The visual styles are moot. The icons and look are all straight from my theme, so Firefox looks exactly how it should out of the box. Lots of new functionality is integrated as well.

My current list of extensions:

  • Adblock Plus
  • DOM Inspector
  • DownThemAll!
  • Fission
  • Flashblock
  • Neo Diggler
  • PDF Download
  • Scrapbook
  • Stylish
  • Taboo
  • Web Developer

The best part is that most of these are not what most people want or need. Several (Web Developer, DOM Inspector) are for web development. Flashblock and Adblock Plus are to fix my aversion to ads and Flash. Only a few are fixes for what I see as deficient in Firefox. DownThemAll! is far superior to the Firefox download manager. Fission is a neat feature from Safari that I happen to like. PDF download should be integrated, as it provides a great, lightweight service. Neo Diggler is a personal favorite of mine. Scrapbook should remain an extension,l not everybody needs its functonality.

Taboo should definitely be part of Firefox. It has a  great idea, saving tabs for later, like visual, temporary bookmarks. One of the best and most useful extensions I have ever used. Stylish is similar. It is incredibly useful once you install it. You wish that it had come built in so you wouldn’t have had to discover it.

I hope that Firefox continues to focus itself on usability. They need to remove what isn’t needed and add what is. I’m very happy regarding speed. The RAM usage is way down, only ~60mb vs the ~200 on FF2. The only thing still slow is the Awesome bar. Incredibly useful, extremely slow.

Overall, I love Firefox 3.

By the way, sorry about the lack of posts. End of school year + final prep, etc. On the plus side, almost 6,000 hits on the blog! 5,900+ in the last 3.25 months.