Landscaping With Inkscape…

Just a quick post here.  This is not a howto or anything.  I have several projects going on around the house, and I have started using inkscape to put down ideas.  So far, I have designed and build a small piece of furniture with it (a Japanese doll table set that stacks for easy storage) and several landscape designs for my front and back yards.  I have not found any program for Linux specifically aimed at landscape design, but I am really pleased with the ease and power of inkscape to handle the job.

Its 3-D block functions are especially useful for these tasks, when you want to show a side or perspective view of a feature or wall.  I also relied on this function heavily for my furniture project.  By the way, I nailed the furniture set first time – no mistakes.  My first piece of furniture, ever.  I pulled out each piece of the completed drawing to make a parts list, went to Home Depot, and matched up part numbers, quantities, and prices.  I also took detailed dimensional measurements while I was there to ensure proper fittings, and adjusted all of my planned dimensions accordingly.

hina-ningyo-phase1 hina-ningyo-phase1-partslist hina-ningyo-phase1-partslist-2

Using inkscape allowed me to methodically and precisely document all aspects of the project, which turned out to be fairly involved for a beginner like me.  No mistakes.  Next is the backyard patio….

Here are some ideas I was playing around with.  We are going for the trees and raised patio, to keep costs down.

house-now house-new-3 house-new-backyard
house-new-front1 house-new-trees backyard-raised-patio

So, in case you were wondering how to get started on a home project, open up inkscape and start playing around.  You might be surprised at what you can get away with.

Ubuntu, Nvidia, and Projectors – a HowTo Article…

Sorry, not mine, but I thought it looked pretty useful. Here is the link:

Getting a projector to work under Ubuntu Linux with Nvidia drivers

The Tech Explorer site has other articles you might find helpful as well, so dig around.

Have fun!

HOWTO – NVidia and the Kernel on Gusty Gibbon…

The next step for me after getting on a customized vanilla kernel was getting my NVidia 6600 working again (as opposed to the vesa driver). I had previously either used the Envy tool (Feisty) or the Restricted Modules (Gutsy), both using the stock Ubuntu kernels at the time. Neither worked on my new kernel. As a last resort, I ran Envy and uninstalled all evidence of my prior installation attempts, downloaded the current nvidia driver (100.14.19), ran chmod +x on the .run file to make it executable, and logged off to a console only.

I next (as root) ran kdm stop to kill Xorg, and then ran the .run script.

It worked like a charm. I then edit my xorg.conf file and uncommented the “nvidia” driver line and commented the “vesa” driver line. I always test after an install or upgrade by typing “X” (no quotes) – if things are good, a blank window environment with the cursor opens (kill it with CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE).

You can also check if the nvidia module is loaded with lsmod | grep nv.

I rebooted again, just to be sure, and everything came up great. Once in KDE, I ran glxgears and got 7600 FPS – you don’t get that unless you are running an accelerated driver. There are other ways to confirm you are using the right driver – the NVidia logo will pop up when Xorg first starts unless you have it disabled in the xorg.conf file, as I do, and you can use glxinfo instead of glxgears.

Problem solved, on to the next one – VMWare.

Rebuilding on Kubuntu…

Well, that free computer is now finally getting some use.  In fact, I am rebuilding everything, so after swapping out hardware to prep the freebie to become the new main computer, and the former champ to become the replacement for my son, I have decided to load Kubuntu 7.04.  The retired general now has one SATA hard drive, and is keeping the nvidia card.  It gained a new sound card, WiFi card, DVD all-in-one drive (the old internal and external USB drives had gone bad), and media card reader (from the freebie computer).  The new king has six SATA 80 GB hard drives, but needs a better video card, and has no room left for the media card reader.

Now, the Kubuntu install on the old computer….

It went well, smooth as glass.  I was able to start loading packages using Adept Manager.  Ran into a few snags with things breaking or locking, which I was able to fix.  Hardware detection is very good (better than Mandriva, I think), and setting up the USB printer (an HP 6210 All-In-One) was truly effortless.  I got the nvidia driver installed using the Envy script, which was very cool – but it would be nicer if it offered to just restart X instead of rebooting the computer.  I chose NO and just restarted X instead – glxgears went from a pre-install 182 fps to a post-install 7600+ fps (Beryl or compiz were not running).

First impressions?  Very easy to use, very nicely integrated, huge software repository (with universe and multiverse repositories enabled).

Second impressions?  Hides or changes too much – I do not count a learning curve as a bad thing, but I have gotten used to being able to manually roll in a vanilla kernel, and install nvidia drivers at the console login.  I like knowing what is in my inittab file – but it looks like this has been replaced by Upstart.  My attempt to install a new kernel failed, as did my attempt to install lilo (elilo).  Not sure why elilo failed, but even if it had not, the kernel install would have (I think).  I did find a tutorial for installing the nvidia driver and for installing a new kernel by hand, but a lot more depends on installing packages beyond what was needed on Mandriva.  Anyway, the kernel install was just a stab to see if it would work – I will just take more time and learn how to do it the Ubuntu way later on.

I *am* learning my way around dpkg and the apt- commands, and am getting used to sudo.   I really appreciate that sudo is available to the first user – I was getting worried that my wife and kids might be getting sudo privs and could screw something up, but nope – it’s just me.  Sure, I can visudo and relearn what to do, again, to more actively manage sudo privs, but it is nice that I do not have to.

So, I have to learn how to manually install the nvidia drivers, work with run levels without inittab (the stuff I found seems to indicate that if I build an inittab file, that will be given priority over upstart), and most importantly, roll in a new kernel.  This I need so I can pick up on the newest wireless hardware additions – this computer is going upstairs one day, and there ain’t no LAN cables there…

Overall, though, I like Kubuntu.  Some things are different, and I of course have some relearning to do, but barring any showstoppers, I am seriously considering a complete switch to Kubuntu.  I am waiting for the release of Mandriva 2008 in September before I make up my mind – if it is a good upgrade to 2007, I’ll keep using it as well.  One thing is for certain – I am off of Cooker.

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!

GIMPShop and iPod Fun…

Surfing through tags, I came across these links on VistaSucks.WordPress.Com:

  • GIMPShop – an add-on to GIMP that adjusts the menus and toolboxes to look more like Photoshop (soften the learning curve a little for those already familiar with Photoshop).
  • A thread on how to convert DVD content to MP4 content for your iPod, without encryption.

By the way, VistaSucks.WordPress.Com is a really funny site, with lots of “cautionary tales” (horror stories) of using Vista, as well as some interesting Mac articles. Good read!