Friday, 6 November 2015

SlimJet browser - Fit More Buttons beside Address bar


Sometimes it is nice to have a few toolbar buttons to make life easier by giving quick access to functions we need a lot.  But a few browsers now seem to think the Adrees bar has to take up almost the full width of the browser window,and some buttons get hidden behind a little arrow, making it necessary to open a drop down list to access them.

Luckily in Slimjet browser here's a simple way to let us set the Address bar to resize as we add more buttons.  Click the little black arrow to the right of your toolbar buttons and choose:

'Show toolbar buttons on left'


This puts all new buttons you might add using the customize menu, before the left end of the Address bar.
Like This:

Now the Tool Bar buttons are grouped to the left of the Address Bar, and the address bar will resize as we move more buttons into and out of the Toolbar.

Quick, Simple and Effective.

There are many posts on the web asking how to resize the Address bar to make room for buttons.  i have not yet seen a post on this method that I use in Slimjet, and I have no idea if it can be used in Chrome, Chromium or any other browser.

But if you have those little black arrows at the end of your Tool button bar, there's a good chance the option to move the buttons left or right will do the same thing on those browsers.



Saturday, 31 October 2015

install Google Earth on Elementary OS Freya - Ross Devitt



Google Earth has changed from just being a popular diversion on Linux to becoming a handy and for some people, indispensable tool used by many.   There are several ways to install Google earth in Debian based Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Elementary OS.

If you are using the 32 bit Elementary OS system, the quickest and by far the simplest way to install Google earth at the time of writing this post (October 2015) is from the terminal.   Simply press Ctrl+Alt+T  keys and when the terminal opens, type the following commands.  Type each one as soon as the previous one is completed and you have the $ prompt again.  You will need to be connected to the Internet of course, and you will be asked for your root password after you enter the second command.

This first command will get the install package from google.

wget http://dl.google.com/dl/earth/client/current/google-earth-stable_current_i386.deb

This one will unpack the deb file and prepare it for installation.

sudo dpkg -i google-earth-stable*.deb

(you will now be asked for the [sudo] password.  this is your root password.

You may see a message that there are dependencey problems with lsb-core and that Errors were encountered while processing.  You should be able to ignore these, because lsb-core is probably already installed.

The final command which actually installs Google Earth is

sudo apt-get -f install

You might be asked to confirm you want to go ahead with the installation - just hit enter.  Once complete Google Earth will appear in your Applications Menu under the Internet section.

Here are the three commands one after the other.  Just copy each one (one at a time), paste and hit enter.

wget http://dl.google.com/dl/earth/client/current/google-earth-stable_current_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i google-earth-stable*.deb
sudo apt-get -f install

NOTE!  This is for 32 bit systems.  64 Bit installation is a little more tricky.
For various reasons I run 32 bit OS on my 64 bit somputers.


Friday, 23 October 2015

Elementary OS and other distributions - ROOT low on space

This morning I again got a warning message the 'root' is low on space.  I've mentioned before that I'm used to the old days when Linux fitted nicely onto a single floppy.  And that a legacy of that is my tendency to only allocate about 15GB to the Linux root file system.

One major problem with root getting low is its impact on /tmp, particularly during operations like working with a HD video or something similar that uses /tmp a lot.  That is easily fixed in the short term by making /tmp a link to a tmp directory in my /home.

But even with that in place, I was warned that I knoy had around 500MB of free space in /root today.  So I set about discovering the culprit.  An analysis of my file scructure soon showed that I had almost 7GB in /usr, with much of it in /share.  One of the  surprising finds was around 2GB of icons that I never use.  Another was a huge stash of old Linux kernels and headers.

By deleting the folders for icons I never use from /usr/share/icons I managed to get about 1GB of free space.  it was after that I discovered all the kernels and headers.  But past experience reminded me that digging around these stripping one at a time was slow and tedious.  However deleting them all in one go is a big risk.

I used the uname -r command in a terminal to show me which kernel is being used, the rebnooted the system to confirm that this was the one used by GRUB.  I am aware of the importance of leaving at least one previous kernel and header in the system as a fallback in case the one being used fails.  In practice however, I have never managed to get a system to boot into one of the old kernels from GRUB.

So I opted for the riskier method of stripping the old kernels by purging all but the one currently in use.

Using the following in a terminal (acquired from:  https://ubuntugenius.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/ubuntu-cleanup-how-to-remove-all-unused-linux-kernel-headers-images-and-modules/)

dpkg -l 'linux-*' | sed '/^ii/!d;/'"$(uname -r | sed "s/\(.*\)-\([^0-9]\+\)/\1/")"'/d;s/^[^ ]* [^ ]* \([^ ]*\).*/\1/;/[0-9]/!d' | xargs sudo apt-get -y purge

Then waiting while it did its business then rebuilt GRUB brought my total free space on /root  to a little over 4GB.  Plenty to get me out of trouble until I decided some time to repartitions the hard drive and reinstall from scratch.

Before too long Elementary should complete another update with a replacement kernel and I should have a backup kernel and headers in place anyway.

For now, I have some room to move again!




Monday, 12 October 2015

Elementary OS FREYA Some keyboard shortcuts and a little surprise

Ok, this is probably no secret, but it is something I just noticed.  After using Elementary OS Freya for quite a while now it still provides little surprises from time to time.

I was about to put a hot key combination in a program and I pressed what used to be the 'Windows' key but is now more commonly called the 'SUPER' key.  (That's the one between Ctrl  and  Alt on most keyboards).   The plan was to use an easy to remember combination of Super and something else.  But I pressed the combination without opening the program.

And here's the result!

This is the menu as it first pops up - showing 'Places' on the computer.  Files, folders and stuff:


And here's what happens when I click on Graphics from that MENU:


A rather neat shortcut to a nice elegant desktop menu.

This is probably built into most Linux distributions, but because I'm so used to simply right clicking the desktop to bring up a Desktop Menu, I've never seen it.  it is probably also in Windows, but I haven't used that OS in more than a decade.

Almost 18 years now of using Linux and it still surprises me.  One thing about Freya's implementation of the desktop menu is that it is attractive.

The most common actions activated by the  'SUPER' key are.

SUPER and TAB will
cycle between desktops,
(just as Ctrl Alt Right Arrow - but with one less key to hold down)

SUPER and Home as well as SUPER and End -
will move forwards and backwards through workspaces
(just as Ctrl Alt Right or Left Arrow - but with one less key to hold down)

SUPER and W
toggles a view of all running programs in the current workspace

SUPER and A  on the other hand is quite useful.    It is similar to Supper W, but it
shows ALL programs currently running regardless of whatever workspace they are on.

SUPER and S
opens the normal Slingshot menu on the panel.

SUPER and L   -  
LOCKS the screen and requires your login password to get back in.

N O T E ! ! !
SUPER and P -  is   something to avoid.    It cycles between screen mirroring, swapping primary and secondary display settings and other stuff.  If you had 'Conky' clock running on your secondary display for example, it will rewrite it to appear on the primary display.
so SUPER and P is a SUPER P ain in the Arse.



Saturday, 10 October 2015

Linux, Elementary and the problem with temp files

One legacy of more than fifteen years using Linux is complacency.  some of us are so used to Linux being pretty well bulletproof that we forget it has changed.  And it has grown.  I fall for this all the time.  A root file system of a grew hundred megabytes used to be plenty.  Later as Linux distributions grew I started making root about two, then four gigabytes.  Over the last few years I installed into root partitions of fourteen and twenty gigabytes.  Now I find my Elementary OS Freya is taking all but three and a half of the fourteen gigabytes allocated to root.

This was not much of an issue in the past, but with NBN in Australia we have significantly increased our ability to move data around.  And as someone who likes playing with operating systems and graphics, not to mention editing video, I end up with large files in my /tmp directory.  This creates fairly regular warnings that my hard disk is low on space.

As an example, just now I decided to pull in a 1.6GB iso.  It wants to transit /tmp on the way to its eventual destination.  And there is only about 2GB space in /root.  Next time there's a major release of Elementary I will probably reformat my hard drive and allocate about 30GB to root.  For now though the simplest option is to make more room in /tmp.

Luckily in Linux the problem is relatively easy to solve.  First I need to redirect all saves to /root/tmp to my home directory.   So first I make a new /tmp under /home/user.   Then I send all 'current' tmp stuff there.  This applies to operations after Linux has actually booted.  There will be some files still going to /root/tmp, but most of them will be zero bytes in size.

Opening my text editor as root I can edit the environment file.

$  sudo kate /etc/environment          And on a new line enter the following:

TEMP=/home/user/tmp

Then save the file and reboot the computer.   whatever text editor you use can be substituted for kate.  gedit, kwrite, vi, whatever is in use at the moment.

Something to be aware of though is that things like lock files for the word processor and other functions will also be redirected to this /home/user/tmp directory.  So it is easy to kill stuff that shouldn't be 'made dead'.   If that is a concern, make the tmp directory hidden by putting a dot in front of it.  But remember to make the environment path read    TEMP=/home/user/.tmp      so the system can find it.




Monday, 5 October 2015

SLIMJET - My Favourite Browser for Linux and other Operating Systems

 Ok, I've been a naughty blogger again and haven't written anything for a while.  One of the joys of bad health.  However, I have been plagued by the slow browser thing again.

 Over the years I have seen web browsers gain more and more features, while becoming slower and slower to use.  This can be blamed on many things. The Internet becoming overloaded is the main suggestion I hear, but with the massive improvements in delivery speed people are writing richer and more intense content.  This often means downloading much more 'stuff and then everything slows.

However it is more than that.  Firefox used to be fast.  Opera once blitzed almost every other mainstream browser.  Google Chrome was brilliant for a while, and recently I switched to Chromium to get away from some of the annoyances that Mr Google imposes on us.

Opera is still fast and nice but has serious limitations in a Linux Environment.  Quite simply it cannot cope with the demands of something more powerful and versatile than poor old Windows.

There's a light at the end of the tunnel though.  One of my annoyances with Google Chrome that has been inherited by Chromium is the lack of customization.  And of course one of the reasons may of us 'old timers' still love Linux and particularly Ubuntu is that we can customise 'stuff'.  We can make most things look and work almost exactly as we want to.

I save a lot of pages from the web.  Pages I have created for people that I want to experiment on in a live situation.  And in most browsers I can simply go to File > Save Page As  and save the page with its various 'bits' to a folder.  Now, it is easy enough to do this with a keyboard shortcut, but I'm an old man and I use so many keyboard shortcuts that sometimes it is easier to click the File menu and choose Save As than to remember the shortcut.

But Google Chrome no longer makes that available.  I can find it by opening the file dropdown and looking under More Tools.  And there I can see the shortcut.  But right next to the shortcut is the menu item anyway, so I can click that.  However it is not somewhere easy to find.

So I discovered Flashpeak Slimjet.  Now, Slimjet is built on Chromium.  But unlike Chromium it allows customization.  So I can have just about anything just about anywhere I want it.

Slimjet (http://www.slimjet.com/en/) claims to be the "Fastest web browser for Windows & Linux Powered by Blink engine".  But it doesn't stop there.

Let's have a look at the features offered by this browser.


Efficient Ad BlockerKill Annoying Ads with Ad Blocker

 
internet download managerTurbocharged Download Manager
  Fed up with all the annoying ads? Kill them all with the built-in ad blocker. Boost the performance of your browser by saving memory, CPU and bandwidth consumed by the ads. Boost file download speeds by up to 12 times by making multiple parallel connections to the server. Also allows you to resume download jobs between different sessions.
 
form filler and password managerQuickFill Intelligent Form Filler
 
Fast Download ManagerFully-customizable Toolbar
  Smarter and more convenient than the basic password manager in Chrome. Save page link and login data in a form file which lets you open your favorite online account with a single click later on. Slimjet let users customize the toolbar and add/remove additional buttons to quickly access more features and functionalities.
 
In-Browser Facebook IntegrationConvenient Facebook Integration
 
download videoYoutube Video Downloader
  In Slimjet, you can share the link you visited, a paragraph of text or an image easily on facebook with a single click on the facebook toolbar button. Download any youtube videos to local hard disk in various resolution and format for offline viewing. You can also extract mp3 file from the downloaded video file.
 
fast photo uploadingPhoto Enhancement & Photo Framing
 
photo shrinkingInstant Photo Upload
  Slimjet includes a Photo Salon in which you can apply different effects or add beautiful frames to the photos before they are uploaded. Automatically compress photos to web-optimized resolution so that photos are uploaded up to 20 times faster.
 
Integrated Weather ForecastWeather Condition & Weather Forecast
 
url aliasURL Alias Support in Omnibox
  Display currrent weather condition and weather forecast directly on the browser window. Slimjet lets you define short aliases for long URLs which are slow to type and hard to remember. After that, just type the aliases from the omnibox to open the corresponding page.
 
browser extensionExtensive Support for Plugins and Themes
 
quick-dial new tab pageCustomizable New Tab Page

  Slimjet is compatible with most plugins and extenions designed for Chrome, such as Adblock Plus, RoboForm, LastPass, Avast Online Security, etc. It is also compatible with all the chrome themes. You can customize the number of quick-dial buttons and the background image. Multiple search engines and voice input are supported on the search box in the New Tab page.
 
Built-in Web Page TranslationFlexible Web Page Translation
 
options and settingsFlexible Options and Settings
  Instead of automatically translating a full web page into the current UI language, Slimjet lets you translate a web page or a piece of text between any two specified languages. Slimjet provides many additional options and settings so that you can customize the browser to best suit your personal preference instead of being forced to take everything as it is without any choice.
 
I must admit that I have replaced Slimjet's speed dial with FVD 3D Speed Dial, and I will write about that another time,  But it is simply because I like the curved screen look of FVD 3D.  On the other hand, I do use the YouTube download part extensively and I can also vouch for the ridiculously fast download manager.

There are many more features and options that can be used in Slimjet, but I don't know how much it can be loaded up without slowing it down.  For now though I find it lives up to its promise of speed and flexibility perfectly.  Chrome keyboard shortcuts work of course and I had no problem importing bookmarks and stuff from both Chrome and Firefox.

 More Features and Options:


 Auto refresh web page
Auto refresh one or more web pages based on a preset period.

 Enhanced autofill from predefined identity information
Added support of login id and preferred password to the autofill feature available in Chrome.

 Bookmarks side panel
Get quick access to more bookmark links and folders with the bookmarks side panel.

 Quickly switch search engine
A drop down button is available at the right end of the omnibox which allows users to quickly switch between different search engines.

 Save webpage screenshot
Save screenshot of the entire page or selected region as an image file.

 Flexible Tab Behavior Control
Options to control automatic tab activation, automatic tab creation, tab insertion order and more.

 Stop all gif animations
A simple switch can be flipped to stop all gif animations (most of them annoying ads) from playing.

 Allow mixed-mode http/https content
Option to allow mixed http/https content to run properly.

 Option to disable desktop notification
A simple switch to quickly disable all desktop notifications that many users find annoying in Chrome.

 Upload clipboard image
Upload image stored in clipboard quickly without having to manually saving it to a file first.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Elementary OS Freya - The DropBox problem.

Elementay OS has been one of those computing experiences that simply sneaks up on me.  What I mean is that I forget am using it, and forget to write about it.  That is a good thing in a way because it means I am not frustrated with it or challenged by it - it simply works.

There are still a few odd things that are still a bit strange.  Dropbox is one of them.  Sure, it can be installed form the Software Centre, but often that doesn't add the dropbox icon to the Wingpanel, which means you can't right click on the icon to check status and perform other actions.  If does however incorporate Dropbox into the default file manager, where right click actions are available.

Then you get people like me who have their Elementary OS Freya modified.  I don;t use the default file manager - I use a personally tweaked Dolphin.  And while my Dropbox folder shows up in Dolphin, there are no right click actions for Dropbox available.

So back to the Wingpanel icon.  Adding that gave me one click availability for Dropbox.

First, open Software Centre or Synapric (whichever you use) and REMOVE Dropbox.
Then close Software Centre or Synaptic.

Open a terminal and if you don;t already have it - install 'git'

sudo apt-get install git

Then 'git' the installer for Dropbox

git clone https://github.com/zant95/elementary-dropbox /tmp/elementary-dropbox

Then install Dropbox.

bash /tmp/elementary-dropbox/install.sh

I think from memory I got a message asking if I wanted to run Dropbox.  Accept, and it will ask for your login details.  Once that is done and you go through the initial guide stuff you should have the DropBox icon in Wingpanel.  If it is not there, try logging out and in again.  
If all went well it will be there.  In the screenshop Dropbox is the white icon on the left.


Sunday, 26 July 2015

pcDuino v3B no audio from some programs - by Ross Devitt

After using sudo board-config.sh to update my pcDuino v3B various things stopped working and I have written about some of them in the previous posts.  One ting I did not check before the upgrade though, was whether I had sound in my browser and things like smplayer and vlc.  XBMC worked and for my original purpose that was all I was interested in.

But the more I got involved in this magic little computer, the more I wanted to try other things.  And during that process I discovered the ONLY thing that had sound was XBMC.  So I did a little snooping.  And found a simple solution - for me at least.

Now at the time i didn't write down everything I did.  It was after midnight and I was exhausted.  But I know I did: 

sudo apt-get install pavucontrol 

I can;t remember if that installed all the other pulse audio stuff or if i had to also do:

 sudo apt-get install pulseaudio

But if you have this problem, try the first.  If it still doesn;t allow you to set up audio, try the second as well.

After I did this i could adjust sound settings from the volume icon on the panel.  Then I had ausio output in everything inclusing YouTube videos!

Cheers,

RossD

Saturday, 25 July 2015

PCDUINO v3B XBMC won;t play mpg and mpeg videos - by Ross Devitt

The longer I play with the PCDUINO v3B, the more things I find that are wrong with it.  but so far,with the exception of that problem creating a bootable, usable 32GB micro SD card, the other problems seem to have solutions.

One annoying thing that I discovered when I got my 1 Terror Bite portable USB 3.0 hard drives drives working in the pcDuino 3B was that while mp4 files played great, I have a heap of old mpg and mpeg videos that would not work.  Generally as XBMC was working through a playlist as soon as it encountered an mpeg or mpg extension, it simply shut down and dropped to the desktop.

I can't guarantee this solution this will fix it for everyone, but it worked for me.

Open a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install mplayer2


Then hit enter and wait.  You might have to hit enter again if it asks you for a Y/n choice.

Next do:

sudo apt-get install libavcodec-extra-53 

And hit enter again.

It was that simple.  As soon as I opened XBMC again it played all my mp4 and mpg and mpeg videos.  I haven't checked to see if avi files are still playing.  I must admit i was so excited I forgot.

Anyway, just another tip for pcDuino v3B users.  Hope it helps.

Cheers,

RossD.

pcDuino How to use pcDuino with a 1TB USB hard drive - by Ross Devitt

The pcDuino is a great device and can make a fantastic entertainment centre, but it has one major failing.  Although it is just the richt size to fit in an enclosure with a USB hard drive, it needs a uSB hub in the only USB port to run things like a mouse and keyboard or the wireless dongle for a wireless all in one keyboard like the Logitech k400.

This means that you can only run a USB hard drive if you install a powered USB hub.  And that means you need to have access to power for that hub.  I searched for a simple way to use power from the SATA drive connector to power a USB hub, and I searched for a simple adapter from the on board SATA to USB female.  Neither seems possible.

But there is a solution and it is relatively easy.

By following the instructions here:  http://learn.linksprite.com/pcduino/usb-development/turn-usb-otg-port-into-an-extra-usb-host-pcduino3/  very carefully, you can use the OTG port as an extra USB port for connecting the USB hub and wireless dongle.

And here is the great news!   Once that was enabled, I could run up a 1 Terabyte portable USB drive (NOT the desktop type) and access all my movies and music etc on it.  It plays 1.5GB 1080p videos without hesitation in XBMC.  And it allows me to select and play content from thumb drives connected to the USB hub in the OTG port just as easily.

This means that if I want to I can now have a 1TB USB drive attached to the bottom of the pcDuino case and use it as a complete self containeed Multimedia Centre.  Stacking that combo on top of my PowerBank should make the thing completely portable. 

It also means I might be able to install the OS to a partioned portable hard drive with a bit of work.  Al lI need is the right kernel and I might be able to get Elementary or Lubuuntu running completely on a nice big drive.

But those are experiments still in the plannign stage.  For now at least I have decent functionality.

Cheers - RossD

pcDuino3 - using 32GB SD Card as main drive - by Ross Devitt

The pcDuino3B has 1GB Flash memory and 4GB RAM.  With the pcDuino's version of lubuntu installed there's about 1.5GB of free spance for the home partition for user files.  This rapidly shrinks as it fills up with cacheed stuff, especially if you run a browser.

Luckily it is easy to write a shell script to clear the cache regularly and I am playing around with ways to do this at boot.  In the mean time it is a nuisance that such a great and versatile little computer is hamstrung by this lack of usable space.

Ok, first the good news!  According to these instructions on the Linksprite website it is possible to expand the usefuless of the pcDuino3 by cloning the OS to a 32GB micro SD card.

http://learn.linksprite.com/pcduino/quick-start/pcduino3/use-32gb-sd-card-with-pcduino3/

Now the bad news.

It is bullshit.  It might work for some people, but it doesn't work.

UPDATE - 

I'll put any updates here close to the top of the post so they can be found easily.  
I have jsut tried a third method to create a bootable 32GB microSD.  I used a utility called unetbootin, which usually works with almost anything.  It found the pcDuino .img file, and it even wrote it to the card.  But no way was it interested in booting.

Ok, back to the original post:
 
By following the steps exactly as written, I managed to end up with a 32GB microSD card with a dead partiton table.  It would not show up on any computer.  So I tried a 16GB card and ended up with a dead microSD card.  After that I wondered if I had a couple of dud cards, so I bought a brand new Sandisk Ultra microSD card and tried that.

Sure enough after carefully following the steps exactly I had another dead card.  Luckily Gparted on my Linux computer enabled me to rebuild the cards, Testing each one as I finished to make sure I could write a file to it and delete the file again.

Tried the board-config.sh thing again and managed to get one card that went through the motions of booting, but locked in a loop that asked for a sh file it expected to find on a USB disk. However reading the file told me it would overwrite the on-board nand and that is not somethign I wasnte to do accidentally.

I found another site that offered a more traditional way to burn a bootable 32GB micro SD using the following method.

sudo dd if=/home/user/file.img of=/dev/sdX bs=1M
    
     FIRST - UNMOUNT sdb1
    
     umount /dev/sdb1
    
     THEN - write the image
    
Wonderful!  I now had about 8MB of my 32GB disk used.  But still not bootable.

A bit of googling suggests this is a pretty common problem and nobody has devised a solution to it yet.  My guess is that there is somethign missing from the instructions at Linksprite.com.

My advice - forget about trying to use a 32GB card if it doesn;t work the first time and if you are worried aboout destroying partitions on the microSD cards.




However all is not lost.  Although I was not able to fix the lack of storage, I was able to delete some cache files and fix one other problem - which will be addressed in the following post.

And I am still trying to find a solution to the bootable 32GB micro SD problem.  If I could only find the thing as an iso instead of an img file.

Cheers,  RossD.


Friday, 24 July 2015

pcDuino ethernet not working - by Ross Devitt

There's problem on the pcDuino v3B that occurs if you update or upgrade the Ubuntu operating system.  WiFi networking still works, but the wired ethernet (eth0) is disabled..   It seems to be a Ubuntu problem, not a pcDuino problem as it has only been happening to people since recent Ubuntu updates and it seems to have happened to various distros.

I believe there is a way to correct it by editing a system file, but I'm not sure I have the patience at the moment to go looking for it.  So here's a quick fix that worked for me. 

Create a file in your Desktop folder and call it something like  Start-Ethernet   and copy the following 2 lines into it.

!#/bin/bash
sudo killall -9 NetworkManager

Then make the file executable (you can do this by right clicking the file in File Manager then choosing Properties > Permissions and click in the check box for Make Executable)

Then when you click the file on the desktop, it will stop your network, then restart it.  Instead of teh WiFi symbol on the right end of the panel, you will see two arrows, one up - one down.  This is the icon to show Wired Ethernet is connected.

It is probably not the correct way to fix the problem, but it is simple, and it works.

When you reboot the pcDuino though, you will be back to Wireless Networking.  Simply click the file again and wait until it swaps over to Wired Ethernet.

Obviously, if you don;t have a network cable plugged in you can ignore this.  But if you don;t have a WiFi router and have to rely on cables, this might just help you.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

what to do when PCDUINO will not shut down after lubuntu upgrade - by Ross Devitt

Ok, I came across an annoying problem with the PCDUINO after I ran sudo apt-get upgrade.  The shutdown icon on the right end of the panel no longer works.  It simply flashes the shutdown dialog on the screen for one second and if you can read it quickly enough it says you cannot shutdown while another user is logged in.

Now, on Linux, there is always another user logged in.  If you run the command   who   in a terminal you will see user  root logged in at ttys0 and tty1.  This is normal and necessary.  You will also see user ubuntu logged in at tty7.  This is you unless you created a new user account.

What is happening is due to the way some linux distros work with user policy and it is annoying but ridiculously simple to fix on our little PCDUINO because in lubuntu any files in the desktop folder are displayed 'on the desktop.

1 - open your desktop folder
2 - create a new text document called  SHUTDOWN
3 - open the text document
4 - In the text document type ecactly what is in the two lines below (nothing else) the 0 is a number ZERO

!#/bin/bash
sudo shutdown -h 0

5 - save the file then make it executable.  You could do this from the command line, but the easiest way is to open the desktop folder with File manager, then right click your file called SHUTDOWN   and open the Permissions tab.  At the bottom you will see a check box that says 'Make this file executable'.  Click the box to put a tick in it, and you now have a little program that will shut down your computer.

The file SHUTDOWN  will show on your desktop.  Simply click it and the PCDUINO will close down neatly and normally.  To start it again, just unplug the USB power cable from the power adapter or from your power bank and plug it in again.

Reboot from the icon is also dead, so you can follow the directions above and make another file called REBOOT in the Desktop folder.
Don't forget to save your new file and make it executable.

Just make the contents  below:

!#/bin/bash
sudo reboot


Again, this REBOOT file will show on your desktop.  Simply click on it and you can reboot your system.

I name the files in CAPITALS so I can find them easily and not click them accidentally.

There are more complicated ways to solve this problem by editing system files, but this is simple, quick and effective.

Cheers,

RossD


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

PC DUINO and LINUX as a Multimedia Centre - by Ross Devitt

After some disappointing experiences with Western Digital TV Live and Kaiser Baas Smart Media Player I have been using an old laptop to play my movies and videos.  The Kaiser Baas wasn't too bad, but Google Android should really have no place in communications or entertainment.

Don;t get me wrong.  Android is not the problem. As an operating system it is brilliant, powerful and flexible.  But after creating it, Google has turned it into a real mess.  Now, by rooting our devices and installing various open source non Google Android clones it is possible to dump the pre-installed garbage like 'hangouts' and Play Services, and get a fast lean Android that works better than any other phone or tablet alternative.  However, this is not as simple as it sounds.

Luckily I don't have a smart Android powered TV, so I am not locked into the painful user experience.  Unfortunately the WD TV Live seems to be powered by some sort of proprietary system and the ser Baas Kaiser Baas just bogs down under the load imposed by Android.  Of course the whole World Wide Web experience has been bogged down by Google.  Computers and networks have become faster and faster and because of Google the web has become slower and slower.  How ridiculous!

So back to multimedia.  There is a smart little microcomputer board called the Raspberry Pi that started a whole revolution in the education and hobby market.  And inspired by that are computers built on tiny boards.  One of these is the PCDUINO.  I got my hands on this magic little device recently and I have been experimenting with it.

One of my goals for some time has been to have something like an Android tablet running Linux.  The PCDUINO board is 120mm x 65mm x 20mm in size.  And it comfortably drives a 48 inch LED TV playing videos for hours on end without overheating.

And it goes one better.  One add on that is available for it is a 7 inch capacitive touch screen.  That makes it into a complete and very usable micro computer.

Of course a bare circuit board is just asking for trouble.  But about $7 adds a compact little protective case with holes to plug in all the relevant peripherals.


As if that's not enough, this little computer outputs via HDMI and has a 3.5mm audio jack as well.  So you can choose to drive your TV or monitor built in speakers through the HDMI cable, or if as I do, you prefer the thump and rumble of your stereo system, simply output the video via HDMI and plug the speaker system into the jack.

This Computer comes with Lubuntu configured for the Allwinner A20 chip and the ARM Cortex A7 CPU chip.  It uses a Mali 400 Dual Core GPU, which plays 720p video beautifully and so far has handled sending my 4k HD video seamlessly to the 48 inch LED TV.  You can easily replace the UBUNTU Linux with Android should you wish.

SDRAM is 1GB and there's 4GB of Flash Memory built in.  On my PCDUINO 2.5GB was still available after system use.  I added a spare 32GB micro SD card to give me some on board flexibility for storing stuff.
The one full sized USB port seems a bit lonely at first, but connecting a hub soon makes it a useful tool.

I have two ports in my hub taken up by Wifi adapters for my mouse and keyboard, but I will change to an all in one device when I can.  The hub is still handling two 32GB USB sticks for video and music without problems.

The only thing I could whinge about I suppose is the performance of YouTube video, but that is mostly a function of Google interfering with the web again and there;s not a lot we can do about that.  Once you download the video it plays perfectly.

The power is supplied by a micro USB port on the underside of the board at the end where the network socket and HDMI out socket live.  Further around the board is another micro USB port but this is mostly for debugging and diagnostics.

There is an IR receiver for using a remote or other IR device.  There's a SATA hard drive connecter and next to it the pins for powering the SATA disk.  A whole lot of space is dedicated to pins that allow connection of a lot of different peripherals.  The PCDUINO is based on and compatible with the ARDUINO and seamlessly conneects to all the 'shields' available for it.  DC motor controllers, sensors, GPS receivers and so many more tools for experimenting and designing.

Having HDMI out opens up some other possibilities.  One of which is to be able to use a 10 inch touch screen instead of the 7 inch one that uses a heap of connectors and a ribbon cable. This would be a lot less messy, especially when mated to a short flat HDMI cable.

I'm looking forward to exploring the capabilities of this little computer further.  For now i can also say that the version of XBMC Media Player that is installed on it does NOT play mpg videos.  It played every other video I threw at it but every mpg made it shut down.

Luckily all I had to do was open a terminal and run:  sudo apt-get install libavcodec-extra-53
the follow it up by typing:  avconv -i filename.mpg -c:v mpeg2video -q:v 2 -c:a libmp3lame outputfilename.mp4

Obviously replacing filename and outputfilename with the actual file names.  One warning though.  Rename the files so you don't have spaces!!  Command line stuff hates spaces.

Surprisingly the conversion was remarkably quick.  I think it was done in about the same time as it takes on my full desktop computer.

I'll add more about the PCDUINO as I explore it.  For now I am happily using it as an entertainment centre.   I have successfully powered it for several hours off my portable 'powerbank' that I use to recharge my phones and tablets, so that is another job.  Record just how long it will play full screen video while still running WiFi and stuff.

As far as futher expansion, This is the best screen option I have seen so far.
10" universal LCD with HDMI interface and capacitive multi-touch.
It has the advantage over other HDMI screens of being powered by 5VDC.  


 http://www.chalk-elec.com/?page_id=1280#!/10-universal-LCD-with-HDMI-interface-and-capacitive-multi-touch/p/42545413/category=3094861


Display specifications:
  • Display: 10” full-color a-Si TFT with IPS technology
  • Integrated touch-panel: capacitive multi-touch with up to 10 fingers
  • Native resolution: 1366x768 pixels
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Display colors: 16 millions (8-bits per color)
  • Panel dimensions: 269mm (H) x 172mm (V)
  • Weight: 245 grams
  • Input voltage: 5V DC
  • Low power consumption: 2.5W (typ)
  • High brightness: 450 cd/m2 (nits)
  • Contrast ratio: 800:1
  • Viewing angle: 89 deg (all directions)

Features:
  • fully integrated solution - no external boards and cables
  • slim design (<9 mm thickness including electronic and connectors)
  • easy installation – just connect and it will work
  • mini HDMI input accepts any resolution up to 1920x1080 (FullHD) and scale down to native LCD resolution
  • slim-profile power connector (OD=2.6mm, ID=0.65mm, positive central pin)
  • mini USB connector for touchscreen with support for driver-less single touch, or multi-touch with additional driver (Windows USB HID standard)
  • can be powered through the same mini USB connector
  • firmware can be updated through standard USB cable
  • audio engine provides decoding of HDMI stream audio and outputs it to standard 2.5mm connector
  • LCD brightness can be controlled by optional ambient light sensor, manually, or from your program with USB HID commands
  • internal LVDS scaler allows to get HDMI signal with any resolution from virtually any HDMI source, like RaspberryPi, Beagleboard/Pandaboard/, Beaglebone Black, Hackberry, Odroid, Cubox, mk802 and others Android stick clones, Gooseberry, Nitrogen/Sabre, OLinuXino-A13, normal PC/notebook, video players, etc.



Saturday, 4 July 2015

Elementary OS FREYA and video desktop wallpaper


Ok, I'll admit it, I like messing with stuff.  So when someone assured me video wallpaper would not work with Elementary because it uses its own window manager, I had to find out.   And it does work.  The picture above and those following are screen shots from a 4k (very high definition) mp4 running ;in an oval porthole through' (the easiest way to describe how it looks) one of my normal wallpapers.

Running a full movie at 4k definition is probably not the best thing to do as you will chew up between 20 and 30% of a low end AMD cpu processing.  But it works well and the performance hit is just a little lag occasionally when loading a new firefox page or some other cpu intensive task.  Anyway it is quaint.



I also made a .desktop script so I could drag it to docky and run the script that creates the video wallpaper.  One neat trich here is that clicking the icon in Docky once starts the wallpaper, and clicking it in Docky again stops it.  Which turns out to be rather handy.

The tools you will need are.

(1)    Shantz xwinwrap
available here:   http://tech.shantanugoel.com/resources/downloads/shantz-xwinwrap.zip

You can read about xwinwrap here:   http://tech.shantanugoel.com/2008/09/03/shantz-xwinwrap.html

(2)    Mplayer
Download and install mplayer from your normal repository

(3)    A video you like.   RENAME the video file with NO SPACES.
So if it is called my fave video.mp4,  rename it to my-fave-video.mp4   (you get the drift.  unix scripts don;t like spaces)
 I created a folder for my video wallpapers and the script should (repeat - SHOULD) just cycle through any videos in that folder.   It does on mine.  If it doesn;t check that there are indeed no spaces in the file names.

UPDATE - I managed to kill the cycling through the videos thing.  I may have changed settings in mplayer.  I'll have to look into it.  But for now it will repeat the first video it finds in the folder.
If I work out what I changed I'll try to remember to update this.

Ok, down to work.  You need to install xwinwrap.  After you install it, open a terminal and type the command  xwinwrap.  If you get a list of things you can tell it to do, it is installed.  Move to the next step.

If you haven't already got it, install mplayer.

1 -  Create a folder to use for your wallpapers.  Give it a suitable name.
2 -  Create a new blank text document.   Give it a suitable name with NO SPACES.

Create a blank text file in your video wallpaper folder.  Give it a suitable name.name

Copy everything between the rows of start (but not the stars themselves) into the file and save it.
The following script is not mine.  Someone else did the work to make it. 
****************
!#/bin/bash
if ps -e | grep xwinwrap
 then
  killall xwinwrap
  sleep 1
  exit
 fi
# first number is width
xwinwrap -ni -o 1.0 -fs -s -st -sp -b -nf -g 1355x800+0+0 -sh circle -- mplayer -wid WID -nosound *.mp4


fi
sleep 1
exit
******************

The final step here is to save the file and then make it executable.  I am too lazy to use chmod, so I simply open the folder in Dolphin and right click the file, go to Properties and choose Make Executable.  You will need to do whatever you normally do.  If you get stuck just google how to do it from the command line.

A little note here.  If you delete "-sh circle" from the script you will end up with full screen wallpaper without the oval port hole.  If you change the  first two numbers in "1355x800+0+0" you will change the oval or circle.  If you change the last number you will change the horizontal position and the third number should change the vertical position.   Just so you can play around. 

Ok, so now if you were to run that file from inside the folder you should get a video wallpaper. But then you have to open your system monitor and stop mplayer manually when you want it to stop.

So I made a .desktop file that I dragged to Docky.  It should work fine on plank too. 
Make another file in the wallpapers folder and copy the following between the stars as you did before.

****************
[Desktop Entry]
Comment[en_US]=
Comment=
Exec=/home/YOUR USER NAME/Your-Folder-You-Made-for-Wallpaper/NAME-Of-The-File-You-Made
GenericName[en_US]=
GenericName=
Icon=avidemux
MimeType=
Name[en_US]=
Name=
Path=/home/YOUR USER NAME/Your-Folder-You-Made-for-Wallpaper
StartupNotify=true
Terminal=false
TerminalOptions=
Type=Application
X-DBUS-ServiceName=
X-DBUS-StartupType=
X-KDE-SubstituteUID=false
X-KDE-Username=
*****************




CHANGE the two lines in BOLD to whatever paths and file names you need.
Save the file with a name like   start-wallpaper.desktop     or something.  
Drag the   .desktop   file to Docky.  I think you can also drag it to Plank if that is your dock.

In Dolphin I right click on the .desktop file and give it a pretty icon to make it easier to find.

That's it really.  To start my video wallpaper I click the icon in Docky.  To turn it off and release memory I simply click it again.  It is that simple.

Thanks to Shantanu Goel  for creating xwinwrap.  And thanks for the person who created the script I use to make xwinwrap run easily.

In my video wallpaper folder I have another folder with a library of videos I like.  I simply drag videos out of the library to run them and back in again when I want to change them.  Dead Easy !!

Friday, 3 July 2015

Transferring files to Elementary OS Freya by Bluetooth


Recently I had to move a heap of files from my phone's camera to my computer running Elementary OS Freya.  I was about to turn the phone off and remove the Micro SD card as usual when I realised that every computer I have has Bluetooth.  So I paired the computer and phone and sent the pictures that way.  And got a message on the phone saying the attempted transfer failed.

So I did a little snooping.  There waas no obvious setting in 'Bluetooth' in system settings, but some reading led me to a Gnome utility.  In Unity, there is a 'personal file sharing' option in the Dash.  But not in Elementary. 

In Applications, you can find an item called 'Bluetooth Transfers' that allows you to select a file to transfer from your Elementary OS computer to another device via Bluetooth.  But there's no obvious way to transfer a file from the other device to your computer, nor to set it up to accept transfers from other devices.'

Likewise choosing 'Bluetooth' in system settings allows you to transfer files to another device but I can see no obvious way to accept files from elsewhere.

Luckily though the actual program that does the leg work is there. 

Open a terminal and type in the command:    gnome-file-share-properties
This will open a window that allows you to set up to receive Bluetooth transfers. 

Towards the bottom of the window under 'receive Files over Bluetooth', tick the following.
(*)  Receive files in Downloads folcer over Bluetooth
(*)  Notify about received files

Between these two options is another where you can choose the type if devices you will accept files from.  It has a drop down menu.  I changed mine to 'Always' but the default is 'Only for set up devices'.

That's all there is to it really.  Close the window after you do these steps and pair with your bluetooth deice as you normally would, then send files as you wish.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Elementary OS and Apps

Just a note about the odd looking screenshot.  I usually have one image spread across two monitors.  In this shot I have the same image on each screen, but the screens are each of vastly different size and resolution.  that's why the odd black sectio top and bottom.  :-)

A little further into usage of Elementary OS Freya and I am discovering more good bits.  One f the best bits of news is that as far as I recall, so far not one of my computers running Elementary OS has crashed.  Crashing on relatively old computers was one reason I moved away form KDE and Mint KDE.  Even XFCE was causing problems and Gnome.  Well I just had problems working wit it.  But so far Elementary has coexisted nicely with the various things I have changed to make it 'mine'.

I wrote previously about myt dislike for some aspects of the Plank dock, and that I have installed Docky.  One thing Docky gave me was the ability to scroll through my desktops using the mousewheel.  A neat thing about Elementary is that because it is using its own window manager and other bits, there is a small but devoted team writing applications just for it.  One of the Elementary App sites is here:
https://quassy.github.io/elementary-apps/apps/

And one of those Apps is a simple workspace switcher for the wingpanel indicator.  Now, this indicator is missing possibly the most useful component.  The ability to switch desktops with the mousewheel.  But on the other hand, what it does is let me swap between a fixed number of desktops, and dynamically added desktops.  While I wasn't a fan of dynamic desktops before Elementary Freya, I am now.

In the picture at the top of the page you might just be able to make out the workspace indicator (showing Workspace 1).  Here's a close up of the Workspace Indicator App.
And here it is open for switching to the next dynamically created work space.


 Here is the App with the preferences window open.

You can rename workspaces to reflect what you are doing on them at any given time.  So maybe Workspace 1 could be called 'Browsing', Workspace 2 might be called 'Graphics' and so on.  And of course, switch dynamic workspaces on or off.

As  mentioned.  It would be nice to be able to simply scroll the mouse wheel on the App and switch workspaces. 
But I'm sure the developer has either thought of that already and has a good reason not to implement it, or that I can make a few tweaks to the code myself.

Until then, it serves as a reminder of what workspace I am actually on at the moment, and as a way to set the workspaces to a definite number and rename them if I am doing say, web work on one and graphics work on another.
Finally, here's the link directly to the home page for this handy little tool.
http://dysonsimmons.com/indicator-workspaces/




Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Elementary OS Freya and Docky - (by Ross Devitt)

I like Docky better than Plank.  And I do all sorts of things to Docky including making my own custom additions with their own icons to make it do stuff, because, well, it is simple.

But no matter that I have used it for years, occasionally I will find something it does that I simply didn;t know.  And a few minutes ago I found one trick.

I like to have the icons ZOOM larger as I move the mouse over them.  The normal way to change the zoom amount is to go into Docky Settings and select a dock, then adjust the zoom amount for that dock.  You can zoom up to 400% above the base icon size you have chosen.

Today I discovered quite accidentally that scrolling the mouse wheel over an icon on Docky while holding down the CTRL key will also allow you to change the zoom size.

No only that, but I can zoom far further than 400% as you can see in the screen shot!  Obviously this is a ridiculous amount of zoom, but there are times when I do adjust the zoom amount and this is a nice easy way to do it without going into settings.
Elementary across two monitors - Docky zoomed on primary screen with CTRL and mouse wheel
Wallpaper - One of the wallpapers that comes with Elementary OS


Monday, 8 June 2015

Elementary OS Freya - Desktop Switching with Two Monitors

Elementary OS Freya on Two Screens - Dolphin File Manager - and KIM (Right Click Image Menu)
Wallpaper - The Rocks - Nara Inlet, Whitsundays, Queensland Australia
Another one of my little annoyances with Elementary OS Freya has been solved.  I use two monitors and I often have related tasks across two screens on each workspace.  So my main workspace for example might be running my web browser on one screen, and either a video or a music player on the other.

Then I might switch to another workspace where I do my writing in Libre.  A third workspace might have whatever graphics I am working on, so GIMP or XARA or Inkscape might be on one screen along with Libre Office Draw, and my file manager and perhaps an image viewer on another screen.

The default setup with Elementary OS Freya was driving me nuts, because when I switched workspaces, only the primary display switched.  

Now, there are advantages to this, and one of them is that I can leave something like my to do list open all the time.  bt that can easily be accomplished by right clicking the title bar and choosing 'Always on visible workspace'.

Our friends at Reddit.com however have discovered the solution, and I'll paraphrase their answer here, because I am sure to forget it myself some time.

That behavior changed on Freya.  You can set it with dconf-editor. 
Go to org.gnome.mutter and uncheck workspaces-only-on-primary.

If you are using Elementary OS Freya and don;t see dconf-editor you should be able to find it in Software Sources, alternatively Google it and install it.
Once installed, if it doesn;t show in your menu, simply type dconf into the search box in your menu and it should appear.

Obviously if you want to switch back to having only the main screen swapping workspaces, just go into dconf-editor and check the box again.








Sunday, 7 June 2015

Elementary OS Freya - Not Enough Apps? - (by Ross Devitt)

I've been reading views and even the very few complaints about Elementary OS, however most are positive comments.  In fact, it was a user review that caused me to try it in the first place.  There seems to be only a couple of things people are not satisfied with.
Elementary OS Freya with Conky Clock running in corner of second monitor
Wallpaper - Hill Inlet, Whitsundays, Queensland Australia

One is that there are not enough Applications built into it.  I noticed that too.  One reviewer was surprised that there's no native system monitor.  Another wondered why Libre Office and Firefox or Chrome are not installed as part of the default suite.  More users are concerned that only a few settings can easily be tweaked.

I thought about this, and realised one of the refreshing things about Elementary OS is that I don't have to delete a lot of stuff to replace it with things I like.  The developers have worked hard on what is essentially a new Operating System 'based on' Ubuntu, rather than simply adding a theme to an existing distribution.

To that end it seems they took a fairly new window manager, then wrote enough code around it that Gala has become a new window manager in its own right, with the advantage of still falling back to code that is compatible with the rest of Ubuntu.  So nothing actually breaks, but the user gains from this. They wrote their own 'shell', Pantheon, and again, it makes a pleasant experience.  It is interesting to see some of the big Linux Distros looking seriously at incorporating Pantheon and Gala.

However when it comes to Applications they seem to have decided on enough functions for a beginner to get the job done on basic installation, then leaving the end user who knows enough, to add and remove what they want.

So there's a basic Music Player and a basic Video Player which both work well.  The one thing I liked about the Video Player was that it has a working repeat function, something often either missing or not working in some other light weight players.

The Midori browser complies with modern web standards and is fast.  It also has a Private Browsing mode that doesn't load your system up with redundant tracking data as well as the normal browsing mode.  If you want to slow your system down, just add one ot the big browsers, like Firefox, Chrome or Opera.

I think the one big omission is the lack of an Office Suite.  There might be an argument that the Elementary OS team is building their own, but this is unlikely.  It would also be a stupid waste of resources.  There is little to be gained from trying to compete with something like Libre Office.  As cute as the Gnome and KDE office suites are, they simply don't come close to Libre.  I can see why someone would develop Calligra for example, as a hobby.  But for serious use?  Not really.  Although with a bit of work, the Caligra Writing program might be a reasonable standalone Desktop Publisher, as Microsoft Office was.  Bearing in mind that MS Office was never really as good as its DOS predecessor Express Publisher, which it seemed to more or less mimic. 

So in my personal opinion the one big thing missing from Elementary OS is Libre Office.  And fixing that is as simple as opening the Software Centre and clicking a couple of times!


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Elementary OS - FREYA Workspace Switching with mouse wheel (by Ross Devitt)

Elementary OS Freya on Twin Monitors with Workspace Switcher selected on DOCKY
Wallpaper - Sunset at Islaverde Tropical Friendly Resort - Batangas, Philippines
I'm well into my Elementary OS usage now, and while I like it better every day there are some things about it that are simply annoying.  The main one is being able to switch the workspace using my mousewheel.

So because I always have two Linux operating systems installed I've been installing others where I'd had my XFCE installation to compare and see just how much this really means to me.

I tried KDE with Plasma 4.x again, and the newest KDE with Plasma 5, which happens to be so cumbersome it is horrible despite all the things I like about KDE.  I tried the new Chalet OS, which is kind of cutesy but has its own set of problems.  I tried Mint Mate and Cinnamon and remembered why I never use them.  Until it began breaking things Mint KDE was my favourite.

So I'm back now to TWO installations of Elementary OS Freya.  One with everything tweaked, and one to experiment on.

So, about the workplace switching, and the topic of this post.  In an earlier post I pointed out that the Elementary dock, called Plank, is based on Docky.  So it was not a big deal to install Docky and write some .desktop files to drag to docy so I had my own icons to launch whatever I want.

This morning I remembered a Workspace Switching 'docklet' in Docky.  Because I've always been able to switch workspaces in the past by scrolling the mousewheel I never found it useful.

When you click the Workspace Icon in Docky you are presented with a list of available workspaces and you simply click the one you want.  And Elementary being what it is, dynamically adds workspaces as you want, and deletes each space when all programs on that space have been closed.

 But, as well as being able to show a list of Workspaces to choose with a click, this clever little Docky Docklet allows you to simply scroll the mousewheel over it and it will scroll through the workspaces.

And it has one big advantage over scrolling the mousewheel on the desktop.  You don;t have to change out of full screen mode to get a clear spot to scroll!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Elementary OS Freya - Part 3 Viber running on 32 bit Linux

Viber for Windows running in ElementaryOS Freya on my Dual Monitor system with ViberStart and ViberKill added to Docky **  Wallpaper - Henning Island Whitsundays QLD
 
It had to happen!  I use Viber a hell of a lot and while the Viber people have released the 64 bit packages for Linux, it is a pain to get it working on 32 bit Linux.  Since I had already made Viber for Windows run on Mint, I decided to see if it would run in Elementary.  The good news was, it did.  The bad news I suppose is that I need to post the method here and bore people with details.

In the past I had used WINE to install Viber and it used to run, but somewhere in a recent release of either Linux or Viber for Window, the excutable would install, the come up with errors every time it ran.

A couple of weeks ago however I remembered PlayOnLinux and decided to see if it was good for more than games.  It is in pretty well all repositories, so I just installed it and opened it.

So here is a rather lengthy diatribe on getting it set up.  There are no messy configurations to do and no extra dll files and stuff to find as I had to in Wine.  You simply follow what is written here and it should all work.

Where you see the path /home/YOUR-USER-NAME/.PlayOnLinux/  Simply change 'YOUR-USER-NAME' to whatever is the username for that home folder. 

So an example if your logged in user is robert would be to change:

/home/YOUR-USER-NAME/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/_/drive_c/users/YOUR-USER-NAME/Local Settings/Application Data/Viber/Viber.exe

to :
/home/robert/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/_/drive_c/users/robert/Local Settings/Application Data/Viber/Viber.exe

ANOTHER WARNING that will be mentioned again below. 

When you get to either entering a command in a Terminal to start Viber, watch out for spaces and backslashes in the path.  If they are not in the right place - it won't work!

OK  HERE GOES:

Install PlayOnLinux

Download Viber for Windows.
Install the ViberSetup.exe or Viber.exe (whatever whatever it was called) using PlayOnLinux.


Open PlayOnLinux.  It was in the Applications Menu, Games, PlayOnLinux.

On the right, choose Install a Program.
When the Install Menu opens, look at the bottom and click on Install a non-listed program.  (If you don't see an option to Install a non-listed program, open and close a few of the Install options.  It will turn up at the bottom of one of them eventually as a line of text link)

The Manual Installation dialog will open, click Next
If you have NOT used PlayOnLinux before, click on install a program in a new virtual drive
Type in a name for your new virtual drive WITH NO SPACES

Now, Mr Intelligence here forgot to type in a name, so I ended up with a virtual drive called "_" 

NOTE !!!  Don't skip typing in a NAME for the virtual drive.    

Click Next and Follow the rest of the prompts


Yep, so my drive is in a folder called 'underscore'.
In the examples below I used 'NAME-OF-VIRTUAL-DRIVE'  to represent whatever you call your PlayOnLinux virtual drive when asked.

You should be asked if you want to Use another version of Wine. Configure Wine or Install some libraries.  You can skip this and click Next.

Once you get through this stuff you should be asked to Please select the install file to run.
Click Browse and find the installation file wherever you downloaded it. 
In my case, in a folder called Software Downloaded/Viber
Click the Viber.exe file and wait.

It 'SHOULD" install to the following directory - but it could take some finding. 
Do a search for Viber.exe in your file manager and you should find it in something like this below  NOTE the dot before PlayOnLinux - it is a Hidden Folder so if you go looking for it, select Show Hidden Files in your File Manager:  

/home/YOUR-USER-NAME/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/NAME-OF-VIRTUAL-DRIVE/drive_c/users/YOUR-USER-NAME/Local\ Settings/Application\ Data/Viber/Viber.exe

Find executable and open with PlayOnLinux and SAVE the association Always Open This Type etc..
Once it has opened, you will be asked to provide your phone number.  A pin code will be sent to your mobile.
Enter the pn and Viber should open.  If you already have Viber on a device, you shoudl see your contacts.
Once you verify it is working, close Viber and close PlayOnLinux.

NOTE playonlinux Terminal command is in LOWER case, even though the folder name is mixed upper and lower case.



Then use this command in a terminal to start Viber. 

playonlinux /home/YOUR-USER-NAME/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/NAME-OF-VIRTUAL-DRIVE/drive_c/users/ross/Local\ Settings/Application\ Data/Viber/Viber.exe

Viber for Windows does not like to shut down in Linux so I Kill Viber with this (I made an executable script).
In my Mint 17 if I don;t kill Viber Process after I close the actual Viber Program, my monitors shut down and they don't want to start again.
---------------
!#/bin/bash
   # a simple script to kill the processes in memory at the same time as killing Viber for Windows
   # By Ross Devitt
   # Kills Wine version of Viber.
   # I found I need it because Viber causes monitor power save mode to cut in and shuts doem my screens.
pkill Viber.exe     # Kills Viber
pkill playonlinux   # Kills PlayOnLinux
pkill python        # Kills Python to stop PlayOnLinux restarting itself over and over
pkill explorer.exe  # Kills the Windows bits
 
---------------

Once that is done you should be able to use the command in a script, a link or a launcher.
I opened my /home/me/Desktop folder and Right Clicked in the folder and created a 'Link ro Application'
then I just pasted this into the Command box on the Application tab:

playonlinux /home/YOUR-USER-NAME/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/NAME-OF-VIRTUAL-DRIVE/drive_c/users/YOUR-USER-NAME/Local\ Settings/Application\ Data/Viber/Viber.exe

Next I changed the icon for the Viber icon and put VIBER in the Name field.  I left the Work path empty.

I hope this helps a few people who want to use Viber in 32 bit Elementary OS Freya or otehr 32 bit Linux Distros.



Remember - there IS a working 64 bit Viber for Linux, but it is a pig to set up in 32 bit distros.

This post might seem to have too much detail, but it is easy to miss things so there are lots of reminders in there.

Have fun with ElementaryOS and Viber.


RossD.





Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Elementary OS Freya - Part 2

Elementary OS Freya across 2 monitors using Docky instead of Plank
Wallpaper - Henning Island - Whitsundays Queensland Australia

After installing Elementary OS on my multimedia computer on Sunday, then yesterday deciding I liked it enough to try it on my main desktop, I'm already finding the experience enlightening.  Docky is installed and available on either screen.

There doesn't seem to be a way to extend the panel at the top across the right screen, but that is not an issue.  Simply opening settings, clicking on 'Display' and clicking the star in the top left of one the screens shown will swap that screen to become the primary monitor.

The main advantage I can see for using Plank as the dock is that it uses far less memory than Docky, but it is simply not as configurable or versatile.

My initial plan was to use Freya to test and swap back to XFCE for regular tasks until I had set up things like my Brother printers and scanners, along with configuring my VPN.  But all that was achieved in such a short time, I just forgot to open XFCE once I had repaired GRUB after the Elementary installation.

Which I suppose might be the topic for another post.  Because Freya wrecked my GRUB configuration and it was annoying to fix.  If it happens to you, do a search for a tool called     '   grub-customizer   '      and there's a link I will dig up to help manually edit /etc/default/grub.   It was pretty straight forward, and was caused my my manual partitioning because I have several operating systems installed.  If I had to guess, I  think I probably accidentally installed GRUB to the wrong MBR.

I mentioned earlier that I first installed Elementary OS on my multimedia computer.  This is a five year old Lenovo AMD computer that was leftover when I closed my computer businesses following serious injuries in an accident in 2004.  I was left with a lot of fairly expensive equipment that was too good to throw away but not good enough to sell.

Five years on, the junk heap has become a source of all sorts of innovation.  Connected to a cheap ($190 - Chinese) TV, I could ditch the video player and adding my old Logitech speakers I suddenly had cinema sound.  Now with the National Broadband Network connected at 25mbps/5mbps I have streaming YouTube whenever I want it on a 32 inch TV.

I had tried several different Linux distros and desktops but Freya is the first I have really liked for this purpose.  On the Multimedia sustem I have left Plank as the dock simply 'because' it uses minimal memory.