CAC with Firefox Tip – Selecting Certificates

A quick tip if using a smartcard reader (for things like CAC) with Firefox – some web sites may not work right if you cannot select the proper certificate.  Some sites want the signature certificate and others want the email certificate.  Internet Explorer offers you a choice – Firefox may not, unless you do THIS:

  1.  Open Preferences.
  2. Advanced menu, Certificates – “When a web site requires a certificate”, select the button “Ask me every time”.

This will then force all sites to present you with a choice of certs to use from the card.  A little clunky, but it works well.

Beryl Tip – Desktop Octagon

Everyone seems to associate beryl with a 3D rotating cube.  Well, try this in beryl-settings-manager:

  • General Options menu, General Options – change Horizontal Virtual Size to 8.
  • Desktop menu, Rotate Cube – increase the Zoom setting (mine is around 14).
  • Visual Effects menu, 3D Effects – check “Draw backsides of windows” under Advanced.
  • Visual Effects menu, 3D Effects – check “Enable window depth”
  • Play around with the various acceleration, time-step, speed interval, and transparency settings.
  • Add skycaps and a skydome, and turn on rotating with mouse wheel.

You will end up with transparent rotating desktop octagon or other other polygonal desktop (past 10 really looks busy) with pop-out 3D application windows that float over the desktop – looks even more impressive than a rotating cube.  All rotating in your skydome backdrop image.

Beryl just rules.

Beryl Performance Tip – Beryl/Compiz Consumes CPU

I thought I would put in a quick observation about CPU utilization under Beryl (which I assume would be similar for Compiz, maybe incorrectly). As I was wandering through my blog stats, I saw a search entry on “compiz consumes CPU”, so here is my experience in improving graphics performance under beryl:

  • Turn off mipmaps.

I updated my system about a couple of weeks ago, and in playing around with the settings for beryl, I decided to try mipmaps. My graphics performance really seemed to take a hit, which translated into a large jump in CPU utilization. I confirmed this when running “glxgears” from konsole. The frame rate was horrible (using an nvidia 7600 GS card, no less) and CPU load was over 90%. After disabling mipmaps in beryl-settings-manager (there are quite a few places where they can be enabled or disabled), frame rates jumped from the low hundreds back to well over 2000 fps and CPU usage dropped to under 15%.  Nothing else made such a substantial difference.

Additionally, the level of detail I saw with mipmaps enabled was not readily obvious compared to when they were disabled. So, if your beryl (and maybe compiz) is dogging your graphics when you are sure it shouldn’t, uncheck those mipmap boxes first and see if things don’t improve. By the way, the settings affecting 3d, while seemingly the best place to start when dealing with performance issues, did not make nearly the same difference that disabling mipmaps did – so disable those 3d settings only if you are still not happy with performance. By that time, it might be wise to either look at getting a new card, or stopping the X server and reinstalling your video driver.

Hope this helps!

Firefox Problem…

Had a weird issue with Firefox tonight – It would not open any bookmarks.  I could manually type in a URL, use the throbber, and use the Google search window, but clicking on a bookmark did not do anything – it just sat there with a single blank tab.

Google did not yield much, so I opened a konsole and tried it.  Same result, and no error messages.

Next, still at the konsole, I tried “/usr/bin/firefox -safe-mode”.  I could have used just “firefox” (running “which firefox” showed that it was /usr/bin/firefox), but I wanted to make sure nothing else was getting in the way.

Firefox opened in safe-mode, but first asked me if I wanted to disable all extensions, reset to defaults, etc.  I left all options unchecked.  The theme and all extensions were  disabled while in safe-mode, but the browser worked fine now.  So I restarted Firefox in safe mode and chose this time to disable all extensions.  Then I restarted Firefox normally, by clicking on my desktop icon.

Now it worked, so I began reenabling the extensions, one by one, each time restarting Firefox.  Along the way, I cleaned out (uninstalled) some old extensions I rarely used (related to media downloads).  I started with the important extensions, like No-Script and AdBlock.  When I got to Colorzilla, Firefox crapped out again.  So I went into safe-mode again, removed Colorzilla, restarted Firefox, and it worked fine.  I soon had every remaining extension reenabled without any problems.

I had not gotten a recent update to Colorzilla, so I have to assume that it just crapped out.  Luckily, I rarely use that one anyway, so no huge loss.

Great Linux System Rescue Article…

Very cool – helps me out since I use Reiserfs…

Hope you never need to go to these lengths, but if you do, it’s good to know someone else left some directions.

Japanese Input Support on Mandriva 2007 Linux…

I decided to try enabling Japanese input on my system this weekend. I did get it to work, and here is how:

  1. I first Googled it. ^___________^
  2. I then made sure the following language and font packages were installed:
    • fonts-ttf-japanese
    • fonts-ttf-japanese-extra
    • fonts-ttf-japanese-ipanoma
    • fonts-ttf-japanese-mplus_ipagothic
    • locales-ja
  3. I then made sure to install the following input packages and their associated libraries:
    • canna
    • scim-canna
    • skim-scim-canna
    • anthy
    • uim
    • prime
    • kinput2
  4. I made sure that canna and jserver services were running at startup: “chkconfig –add canna” and “chkconfig –add jserver” (run as root)
  5. I appended to /etc/sysconfig/i18n the following lines:
    • GTK_IM_MODULE=scim
    • QT_IM_MODULE=scim
    • XIM_PROGRAM=”scim -d”
  6. I restarted gdm, and got a keyboard icon in my tray area.
  7. I configured it and disabled all languages but English and Japanese, noting that CTRL + Space toggles it on and off.

Now, when either of us uses CTRL + Space and selects Japanese, we have a variety of methods to input Japanese, whether it is katakana, hiragana, or kanji. This is on a standard US keyboard (no Japanese keys). The method we like best is Prime, which allows hiragana and kanji input, a list of selections as you type, and other options. I also set the list to be verticle.  In a nutshell, I took a shotgun approach to packages, installing everything related to japanese, canna, anthy, uim, scim, skim, and prime, excluding those packages applying to other languages.

I did have a big problem after modifying the i18n file, however. Firefox would no longer open. After much digging, I found that the problem was that we were using the Mozilla build of Firefox, not the distro-supplied build. The distro-supplied build was compiled on a more recent version of gcc than the Mozilla build, and after I switched a few icon paths around, we were back in business. From what I read, this would also affect Thunderbird users in the same manner. So either use the distro-supplied version if you run into this problem, or compile from source (make sure to compile in SCIM support).

This method of enabling Japanese input seems to work globally across the desktop, regardless of the application. Remember, though, YMMV.

The pages that best helped me out for this are:

  1. Troubleshooting Firefox and SCIM: troubleshooting article
  2. Enabling Japanese input globally:

New Japanese Word….

Well, not new, but new to me.

Mottainai. <mo tai nai  – long “o”, equal emphasis on each syllable>

My wife had to help me get the idea – there is no one word in English for it. The best we could come up with is “A philosophy of efficiency”. Basically, if there is a better way to do something, do it. If there is a better reason to *not* do something, do *not* do it.

Sounds easy, right?

Examples would be:

  • You have a 17 inch LCD monitor, and you want to buy a new 19 inch. The old one works fine, and the new one costs $350. You do not actually do anything that would benefit from a larger monitor. Mottainai – keep what you got, don’t buy the 19 inch LCD monitor.
  • Your driving home, 10 minutes away, and the kids want you to stop at a convenience store for something to drink. You have juice at home. Mottainai – wait till you get home.
  • You have some old newspaper with expired ads on it. Throw it away? Mottainai – let the kids paint on it instead.

Anyway, it just really struck a chord with me, cuz I am always trying to practice this at work and at home anyway – I just didn’t have a name for it (well, “cheap” comes to mind, but this sounds a lot better).

Fits quite nicely into all the Lean-Six-Sigma crap we are doing at work now. And hopefully, this is the last time I will bring work into my blog.