Fixing Festival in Lucid Lynx…

I have come across a common issue with my Lucid computers.  After installing festival, the command echo "Hello world" | festival --tts gives me an error, “can’t open /dev/dsp”.  I found the fix, although I do not remember where.

Anyway, edit the following file:

sudo vi /usr/share/festival/festival.scm

and append the following lines at the end:

(Parameter.set 'Audio_Method 'Audio_Command)
(Parameter.set 'Audio_Command "aplay -q -c 1 -t raw -f s16 -r $SR $FILE")

This seems to take care of that issue, and the command now works.

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Got a Netbook…

I am going to a conference soon, and my wife cannot part with her laptop now, so I bought a $300 Asus Eee-PC netbook (1005HAB), with a 9-cell battery that gives me close to 9 hrs of battery time.  I bought it online through Best Buy (I know, I know), and picked it up at the store a few days later.  I had Windows7 Starter Edition on it.  I prepped a USB drive using a the KDE Startup Disk Creator program and the Kubuntu 10.04 Netbook Edition ISO.  I had to find the BIOS first (F2), and tell the netbook to boot from USB, but after that, Kubuntu Netbook installed without a hitch.  I chose to wipe everything, since the netbook came with the OS media (if I ever want to install Windows, yuck – but hey, I paid for it).  I set it up with separate partitions (including /boot) and formatted everything with EXT4 (for later conversion to btrfs when the 2.6.36 kernel comes out).

Everything worked right out of the box.  Including wireless and suspend-resume.  Sweet.  It is a little slow, but who cares?  This thing is so neat.  I am a little addicted to being able to go anywhere around the house now and surf, blog, email, and administer the other machines from this thing.  When I am done, I can close the lid, and later open it back up, wait a bit, and then be prompted to unlock the screen and get back online, no sweat.

In addition to updating the kernel to 2.6.35-17 and updating KDE to version 4.4.5, I also installed the MediBuntu repositories, set up the USB smartcard with Acrobat Reader, Firefox, and Thunderbird, and got the camera working with the new gmail video chat software.  One more thing – to get the function keys to work, I had to edit my /etc/default/grub file and change the line

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"

to

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash acpi_osi=Linux"

I also installed “eee-control-tray” from the repositories for better control over the camera, touchpad, etc.  The only thing I do not like is the touchpad, in fact.  When scrolling on a web page, it likes to keep scrolling whenever I move it into the page to click on a a link.  I use a USB wireless mouse now.  We are taking this thing everywhere we go now.

Now Using Kubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx…

Well, I finally upgraded my work machine from Jaunty to Lucid about a month ago, and really liked what I saw.  I was using 64-bit, and got sick and tired of all the little issues with flash, Java, and Acrobat Reader., so I switched to 32-bit instead.  KDE4 seems much more stable and polished now, and I can sign PDFs with my smartcard now in Acrobat Reader.  Since it worked so well at work, I went ahead and upgraded at home after a couple weeks.  This involved swapping my media computer with my main computer (the old RAID SATA setup I have is getting a little squirrelly), and rebuilding both.  The RAID computer was built using the Alternate Install ISO, which worked well.  In both cases, I lost no data unless I chose to, so the 300 GB of movies I had copied from our DVDs was wiped from the old media server.  I figure I can always recopy them in a smaller format later.  Yesterday, I updated my wife’s laptop, completely rebuilding it (wiped everything after backing up the user data).  I restored her data later and nothing was lost.

Some common things I am doing to customize my Lucid installs of Kubuntu are:

  1. sudo wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get --quiet update && sudo apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get --quiet update (from https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Medibuntu)
  2. sudo apt-get --yes install app-install-data-medibuntu apport-hooks-medibuntu
  3. sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2 w32codecs
  4. Update to a later kernel (currently 2.6.35-17) – sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kernel-ppa/ppa && sudo apt-get update
  5. sudo apt-get install linux-headers-2.6.35-17 linux-headers-2.6.35-17-generic linux-image-2.6.35-17-generic linux-maverick-source-2.6.35
  6. Update to a later version of KDE4 (currently KDE 4.4.5) – sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/ppa && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

So far, things work very well.  The computer with squid, squidGuard, and dansguardian is not going to be upgraded, however.  Another thing – no more XFS.  I now use EXT4 with everything, and have a separate /boot partition.  This is so I can more easily convert to btrfs when 2.6.26 comes out.  I read that btrfs suffered a large performance regression in the 2.6.35 kernel, so I will hold out for the 2.6.36 kernel instead.

Wireless Dilemma and Kubuntu 9.04 Network Manager….

While upgrading my kid’s computer and installing the web proxy and filter (see article titled “SquidGuard Blacklists…“), I ran across a real problem.  Wireless would start only after a user logged into their desktop, so the system had no IP address until then.  However, without an IP, Dansguardian would fail to start.  I tried scripting the problem away, essentially waiting indefinitely until a periodic check showed an IP address in use and then starting the services, but this did not work.  I played around with making an init script under /etc/init.d and using “update-rc.d” to create the proper sym links.  This also did not work.  I tried manually defining the wireless network using /etc/network interfaces and creating a /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf file.  This did not work.

It was then I remembered a server I had built at work, using Ubuntu-9.04, in which I had stripped off all of the GUI/desktop stuff, leaving a bare-bones server instead.  It worked fine on the network, and did not have Network Manager installed.  Looking in the init script folder under /etc/init.d, I found a NetworkManager service, so I made it non-executable (“sudo chmod -x /etc/inint.d/NetworkManager“), and ran “sudo update-rc.d -f NetworkManager remove” to get rid of the startup links.  After that, the wireless network started on boot just fine, with no need for user interaction, and the services for the proxy and filters started flawlessly (I added them into /etc/network/interfaces).

So, Network Manager was stepping all over /etc/network/interfaces.  Not anymore.  I could have removed the package, but other packages will then be removed, and I don’t want that.

For someone having trouble with their manual wireless setup, here are my scrubbed /etc/network/interfaces and /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf files:

/etc/network/interfaces:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf

# added 10-18-09 for proxy filter
pre-up iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.rules
post-up /usr/local/squid/sbin/squid
post-up /usr/local/dansguardian/sbin/dansguardian
post-down iptables-save -c > /etc/iptables.rules

/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf:

network={
ssid="myssid"
proto=RSN
key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
pairwise=CCMP TKIP
group=CCMP TKIP
psk="my-key-phrase"
}

This is for a WPA2 wireless setup (SSID and passphrase are bogus, of course).  Hope this helps someone.

Upgrading Kubuntu-9.04 from PPA – KDE 4, Xorg, Wine, OpenOffice 3…

I have upgraded all my systems to KDE 4.3.1 very successfully, and it is gorgeous.  While still slower than LXDE (this will likely always be the case), it is much better than the 4.2 that shipped with Jaunty.  I have also upgraded to OpenOffice 3.1.1, the latest stable Wine, and I have updated Xorg as well – all from the PPA (Personal Packages Archive) site.  Here is how, and from where:

To use these, click on each link, then:

  1. Select your sources.list version and copy the two deb lines to your /etc/apt/sources.list file
  2. Import the key with this command – sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 12345678 (replace 12345678 with the appropriate import key listed above)
  3. Update with sudo apt-get update
  4. Upgrade with sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Hope this helps, but YMMV.  This is only a “howto if you want”, not a “recommendation that you do”.  If things blow up, well, that’s the risk you take.  I find it encouraging, however, that across four different Kubuntu 9.04 systems, I have not had any problems from these upgrades, and found that many fixes and improvements had taken place.

Ultimately, this article is really to help me for future upgrades.  But if you get something good from here, that’s cool too.

LXDE on Kubuntu 9.04…

Well, I know this is Kubuntu.  And I know there has been some dissatisfaction with KDE 4.x.  I have felt it too, but can honestly attest to improvements to KDE as updates have come out for Kubuntu.  It is noticeably more stable now than it had been when I first switched to KDE 4.  That being said, I have still had enough dissatisfaction with it (speed, instability, general oddness) that I was able to become intrigued by several posts from one of my favorite bloggers, FullMetalGerbil, on a desktop I had not heard of before – LXDE (Lightweight X-11 Desktop Environment).

I tried it out (installed the packages), and I have to say, it was shockingly fast.  I logged out of KDE, logged into LXDE, and WHAM! it was up like that.  No waiting.  Apps seem a little quicker to open on it too, but this is subjective.  Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, etc. just seem to open a little quicker.  I have had a few weird things happen, mostly when playing VegaStrike 0.5.0, but nothing like the crashes it would give me under KDE.  No desktop crashing and reloading (I had that with Plasma several times), no freezing, no total lockdown so hard only Magic Keys would work (and sometimes, not even then) to reboot.  It has been very stable.  It looks nice too, not as fancy as KDE, but not hideous either.  I am still working on how to customize it (ok, I haven’t really tried to at all – lazy, remember?), but I COULD if I was motivated enough.  I really don’t care about tricking out my desktop anymore – I just want it to work for me.  LXDE is hitting the mark pretty well so far.

I have not given up on KDE 4, however, but this is a definitely a nice desktop to work with.  I can see why fullmetalgerbil raves about it.

And did I mention it’s fast?

Japanese Input on Kubuntu 9.04…

I set up Japanese input following Zorael’s tips on this link:  First Impression Jaunty/Kubuntu 9.04.  I added all packages for UIM, PRIME, SKK, skim, and scim that relate to each other, as well as some dictionaries and kinput2.  His directions were very helpful, and now my wife can input Japanese.

Short post…