Archive for the ‘Geek’ Category

Sound, USB 2.0 and DIrectX3D in VMWare Player for a Windows XP guest

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I have had a Windows XP virtual machine kicking around for a while and just figured out how to upgrade it for some of the new features of VMware Player 2, as well as fix the sound problem I’ve always had with the virtual machine. (more…)

Read commercial DVDs in Ubuntu

Monday, June 18th, 2007

I had libdvdcss working for a while on my Ubuntu PC, but at some point it stopped working for most if not all DVDs.  I could not read the DVDs at all, let alone play them.  I tried a number of players, and a number of techniques to back them up, but nothing worked.  I had installed libdvdcss from medibuntu, which is referred to in the main Ubuntu help here.  I added the medibuntu to my apt sources.list as shown in the medibuntu howto.   There are multiple other sites and forums which explain this process, but that is straight from the horses mouth.

I still do not know why the package stopped working for me; however, to solve my problem I removed libdvdread and libdvdcss from my installation with the package manager.  I also removed all dependant packages.  I then installed libdvdcss the old fashioned way as detailed here, among other places.  I needed to follow the directions I was given to build an “experimental” install on my AMD64 machine.  Voila, reinstall libdvdread, vlc, and some of the other packages that had been removed, and everything worked fine.  I’m still not sure exactly what the root cause was…

Create a custom imapd.pem SSL certificate for Westhost IMAP

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

This trick will let you get rid of the annoying Thunderbird dialog questioning you about the SSL certificate every time it checks for new mail. In the imap directory which holds the imap certificates (see this WH forum post), /usr/local/imap-server-1.0/openssl-0.9.8d/certs, execute this command:
../bin/openssl req -new -x509 -nodes -out imapd.pem -keyout imapd.pem
which I found here during a google search. openssl will prompt your for a number of parameters; however, the reason I had to do this, and the most important part of the certificate generation is the Common Name (CN). The CN is the name that you set up in your IMAP client (such as Thunderbird) as your IMAP server. I use a sub-domain for my IMAP server (, but the Westhost manager website does not allow me to select that Common Name, it automatically selects as the CN.

Compile rsync on Westhost 3

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

A little trick for compiling rsync. I didn’t think it would be just this easy, but all that is required is a simple change to the options.c file from
#include <popt.h>
#include "popt/popt.h"
I imagine this has something to do with the new version of gcc. This fixed the error I was getting on line 24 of options.c because popt.h was not found.

If you want rsync to work with a remote connection to your server, link or copy rsync to /usr/bin/rsync.
ln -s <your rsync path> /usr/bin/rsync

Part 2 – Put your Lacrosse WS-23xx weather station online

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Automated updates from your 23xx to

I have an extra linksys WRT54G (with linux firmware) lying around which I plan to use as an always-on linux box. I have not set this up yet, but I have tested out a simple setup on my desktop Linux box to upload the data from my 2317, which is now accessible by IP (see previous post), to (more…)

Part 1 – Put your Lacrosse WS-23xx weather station online

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Setting up a Serial Device Server

I got a WS-23xx (I think 17, but it was just called “pro”) for Christmas. The PC softwhere which comes with it is horrendous. In addition, I didn’t want to have to have a PC running all the time in order to upload data to the web. This hack will show how I took a Lantronix MSS-T1 Serial Device Server, and modified it in order to make it work with the 2317. Once the Serial Device Server is working, the 23xx essentially has an IP address and can be accessed from any computer that could normally access that IP.

1. Acquiring a Serial Device Server

What is a Serial Device Server? It is a powered electronic device which converts an RS232 serial data to data that can be transferred over a TCP/IP network (more…)

Backup an entire DVD with dvdbackup (no transcoding)

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

I had to hunt quite a bit to find a utility that would let me back up an entire DVD in its original format. My only goal is to back the DVD up onto the hard drive. I’m not interested in transcoding, or playing it on my iPod. dvdbackup is available in the ubuntu repository. The man page shows how to back up a DVD. In its simplest form, the command line looks something like this:

dvdbackup -i /dev/scd0 -M -o outdir

Where /dev/scd0 is the DVD device, -M says full backup, and -o points to the output directory.

Make nvidia driver work after Ubuntu Feisty upgrade

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

My /etc/X11/xorg.conf had been modified by a previous download of the nvidia driver. I think it may have been a tar file from nvidia’s website. At any rate, the driver was no longer loading after I upgraded to Feisty (and maybe it had not been working before). xorg.conf provides a command to overwrite the file with the repository version, which worked perfectly for me. It also realized that I had nvidia-glx installed already, and put in the correct settings for it.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg

While I was cleaning up, I removed the old open source nv driver, xserver-xorg-video-nv.

06/18/2007 Hmmm… Somehow my nvidia driver got screwed up and I had to use vesa (installed via the above example) to get GDM up. I tried reinstalling the nvidia-glx-new driver mulitple times, as well as the restricted modules to no avail. Finally in reading through this  (dead link:  example, I found the command:

sudo apt-get install linux-generic

which seemed to upgrade my restricted-modules to match my current kernel. I’m not sure how they got out of date, but after running:

sudo nvidia-xconfig --no-composite

everything seems OK again.

Set up netbios name with Samba

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

I’m not sure why the System->Administration->Shared Folders gui does not let one set up the netbios name for your Samba server, but it does not seem to in Feisty Beta at least. To set the name, you must edit /etc/smb.conf and add a line

netbios name = <the name you want>

I restarted Samba for good measure: sudo /etc/init.d/samba restart. I found this in a post here.

Copying Figures from PDFs

Monday, March 12th, 2007

I found this discussion in a google search. I will distill what I took from it and what worked for me. The best suggestion for free software was ghostscript and ghostview with pstoedit. Install in that order. Ghostscript is the command-line backend used by the ghostview gui. Pstoedit is a plugin to ghostview/ghostscript which allows you to save a page in a number of formats. For importing to Microsoft products, the best format is Windows Enhance Metafile. Once you have opened your pdf file in ghostview, select edit->Convert to vector format… Then choose the file type and the page you want to convert. I was not able to figure out how to select just a portion of a page. (more…)