Thursday, November 12, 2009

ATI Radeon HD 2xxx-4xxx (r600/r700) last resort driver solution on Ubuntu 9.10 64-bit

I have a development and leisure machine where I run 32-bit Ubuntu because of difficulties in the past with x64. A different system which is used for living-room surfing, gaming, and entertainment has been running Windows XP Pro x64 for some time now (which has complications of its own), but I wanted to give Ubuntu a shot. This system has an ATI Radeon HD 2900 Pro inside. I installed Ubuntu 9.10 x64 last night and it worked great, but every time I enabled the restricted flgrx drivers, the GDM wouldn't start or the screen would go black. I tried all kinds of solutions, but the only thing that worked for me was to grab the bleeding edge kernel and bleeding edge xorg which provides a driver for this card.

solution source

After doing some research, I found that the newest drivers aren't compatible with recent xorg versions, and the "older" cards like these aren't supported. I find it shameful that an expensive card a couple of years old is considered too old to support by ATI. Thankfully, the open source community is picking up their slack, and future Ubuntu releases will likely have these drivers available.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Decent Desktop Speakers (Altec Lansing BX1220)

I recently moved from a windows xp laptop to a dual boot Ubuntu/Vista desktop for music/web-surfing/movie viewing. I have been using Ubuntu 9.10 exclusively since I downloaded it, and this will be the topic of a future post. For now I will say that Ubuntu 9.10 has convinced me that Linux is ready for the desktop (even if you have to be a bit of a nerd to do some of the initial set-up depending on hardware) more than any version I have used before all the way back to 6.x.

Anyway, the desktop is a Dell refurb that had no speakers which was fine before I was using this box all the time and had headphones for it. So I picked up these speakers down at my local Wal-Mart last night for just under $15 USD. They are tiny USB-powered stereo speakers, but they still use a headphone jack for signal. I like the USB power because my wall outlet is loaded up with another PC (for work) and networking and printing equipment as is. The sound quality is nice with decent bass for the size, and they look sharp. I found it curious that the USB isn't carrying signal as well since I used to have headphone/mic units that did this, but it isn't really a negative.

Speaking of sound on Ubuntu, for some reason Ubuntu set my sound output to "Analog Stereo Duplex" which gave me garbled sound, but it just required changing the profile to "Analog Stereo Output" to fix. To do this, you just open Sound Preferences > Hardware (tab) > Profile (drop down). I took care of this before I got the speakers because my headphones sounded all wrong like a cd with tons of defects causing a "pixelated" sound as if a player were trying to compensate for the skips.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wireless for Atheros AR2413 (5005G) on Ubuntu 9.10

I recently upgraded from Ubuntu 9.04 to 9.10 only to find my wireless was no longer working. Using the previous backport solution I had mediocre wifi signal performance in 9.04, but it was reliable. I read that the ath5k drivers are now much improved and preferred over madwifi. The following solution gives excellent signal performance and reliability for me:

1.Comment out (prepend with a "#") all "blacklist ath5k" statements in files in /etc/modprobe.d/. The prime suspects are the following two files:
/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-ath_pci.conf (it will be in this file by default)
/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf (you may have put it here in the past)

My particular problem was that I had a copy of an old blacklist.conf file in this directory named blacklist.conf.old with "blacklist ath5k" in it, and although modprobe says it will disregard files not ending in ".conf" in the future, it still currently applies the commands within and keeps the module from loading.

2.After removing all files with this command you can test your wireless with "sudo modprobe ath5k." It should fire right up if all is well.

This is an updated version of a previous post covering Ubuntu 8.10.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

RIP encrypted DVD's to ISO (and play them) in Ubuntu

There are some good packages for encoding DVD movies into other formats on linux, but what if you just want to rip to an uncompressed .iso like DVDDecrypter or DVDShrink does on Winblows? I wandered across this helpful post and was ripping in minutes.

Install software:
  • sudo apt-get install lsdvd gddrescue

Decrypt DVD contents:
  • lsdvd /dev/dvd (or whatever your drive path is)

Rip that sucka:
  • ddrescue /dev/dvd image.iso dvd.log

PLAYING: (I found out the fuseiso bits here)
Install software:
  • sudo apt-get install vlc fuseiso

Configure fuse for iso mounting (only do this the first time):
  • sudo adduser your_user_name fuse (close and reopen the terminal to update your group status)
  • sudo mkdir /media/fuseiso (create mount point)
Mount the .iso as a drive:
  • sudo fuseiso isofile.iso /media/fuseiso
The drive may mount somewhere else like /dev/cdrom0 (it will contain the telltale audio and video folders). You can unmount it if you need to with sudo umount /media/fuseiso.

Play it already:
  • Applications -> Sound&Video -> VLC Media Player
  • In VLC Media -> Open Disk -> Browse... -> /media/cdrom0 (or wherever it was mounted for you) -> Choose
  • Enjoy.

I do not condone piracy, and I am posting these tips for making bit-perfect backups of movies you own.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wireless for Atheros AR2413 (5005G) on Ubuntu 8.10

I got a refurbished Dell desktop a few months ago, and Ubuntu 8.04 worked out of the box on it. Later, after a botched upgrade to 8.10 and a subsequent format and install of 8.10, I found that the wireless didn't work. It could see the access point, but it couldn't connect, would connect and drop after the slightest bit of activity, or got a signal strength in the neighborhood of 20% (where it formerly achieved ~85%). The solution involved enabling backport repos with the old working restricted driver instead of the new non-working restricted driver. This is much simpler than messing with madwifi.

The actual card is an old Belkin 54G, but the chip is the AR2413(Rev 1) according to lspci. Further info can be found here. Even though the instructions are for another specific chipset they work for mine as well.