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Windows Media in Firefox on Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid

January 29, 2011

Ubuntu has become so user friendly lately that it is surprising when something doesn’t work right.  I have a new Ubuntu Media player system I’d set up for watching on our HD TV… you’d think I could just watch a Windows Media stream on it…. but noooo. The system for my media player is a HP Compaq P4HT  running 10.04 Lucid. I got it to work in the end, and I’ll tell you how I did it. Here’s the story:

Today I was watching the Egyptian crisis unfold on live Aljazeera video stream (which is almost HD quality).   After I tried looking to see what was the headlines on Skynews in Firefox, but it responded with “Search for suitable plugin? The required software to play this file is not installed.”   When I click search, it looks but responds with “No packages with the requested plugins found” when searching for codecs to play back Windows Media 9 stream.   This is surprising because I have the “ the ubuntu-restricted-extras package” already installed. VLC will play the stream outside of Firefox so something is reading the file.  So how do I get the stream to play within Firefox which uses the Totem Browser Plugin 2.30.2?

Here’s what I tried. There was an informative thread here on the ubuntu forums, discussing something similar.  So installed Medibuntu repos to start.  I was then able to install the w32codecs package.  I restarted Firefox but no change.

I added the repository for the latest gstreamer with “sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gstreamer-developers”, then updated and upgraded. I then restarted Firefox and it works now!  Sad to say this is how complicated it was to get a simple thing like a Windows Media 9 video stream working properly in Ubuntu 10.04.   I guess it has to do with the complicated proprietary format licensing issues.


Chromium Browser’s Web Apps

April 25, 2010

Wow, it’s been a while since my last posting!   Here’s a short and sweet tip.  Try out Chromium as an alternative to Firefox. It’s light, fast, open source, and stable. Some people prefer it to firefox because it’s so fast and easy to use.  I find it usually loads twice as fast as Firefox.  It also is very useful for how it lets you create ‘web applications’ which I’ll explain in a second.

Installation: enter these commands in your terminal:

 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chromium-daily
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get install chromium-browser


Web Applications:


Similar to Mozilla Prism but faster and easier to use, Chromium will let you turn a web site into a ‘web app’ which can be launched from a desktop icon, into a separate application window.   Each web app, running shows an icons in your task bar.   The web site appears like a separate applicatios without all the clutter of the normal web browser user interface.  Using Chromium’s ability to make application shortcuts on your desktop is really ideal for small screen computers like netbooks.  I like having my most frequently used web sites ready to load with a single click.  It gives much tighter integration with the OS, and is much more ‘distraction free’.    Right now I have set up on my netbook desktop a bunch of web apps like; google talk, mibbit, google contacts, slim timer, remember the milk, and more.

Here’s a short little video from Google showing how easy it is to do.

Mobile Blogging

March 16, 2010

I wrote this posting on my old mobile that has a qwerty keyboard, a Treo 600. I discovered that WordPress has a mobile site at Since I have …
[edit] and that’s where the blog posted from my mobile phone made an epic fail. I was interested in testing out how well this website from wordpress would work on my old Treo 600, since I have this unlimited web deal with my cellphone. So I swapped the SIM chip out into the Treo to use the qwerty keyboard. I only got 168 characters posted successfully. About as much as a twitter post.

Upgrading Ubuntu from 8.10 to 10.04

January 30, 2010

My old Sony Vaio desktop in the basement is still happily running Ubuntu 8.4…. I’ve mostly been using it to play Urban Terror lately. But tonight I intend to upgrade it to the Alpha 2 pre-release of Ubuntu 10.4 Lucid. I’ve been so impressed with Tomboy these days and how I can sync my notes across multiple computers using my UbuntuOne account. In order to do that I need the newer version of Tomboy… and well… why not just upgrade my old desktop to the most bleeding edge version of Ubuntu?

The last time I installed Ubuntu on this computer, I had made two separate partitions, one for the OS and the other for my /home files. This is a good idea because it makes doing upgrades much easier. The Ubuntu version on the box has not been updated in quite some time, so it would be a waste of time to try and download all the updates and upgrades. I’ve downloaded the daily build ISO of Lucid and have installed it on a USB memory stick using System–>Administration–>Create a USB startup disk.

One additional chore involved after installing the newer version onto my root partition is reinstalling any additional packages that I had. There aren’t that many so this step should go pretty fast. So after I post this, I’ll install Lucid and get back to you on how my upgrade turned out. I’m interested in seeing how fast the boot time of Lucid is currently. The developers have intended to achieve a blazing fast 10 second boot time on a Dell 9 Mini netbook. Here goes!

—> An hour later….

Ok Done! Here’s what happened. My first challenge was figuring out what keys to press to get into the boot menus. After finding it was f11, I found this machine was old enough that booting by USB didn’t seem to be supported. So I ended up just burning it to CD-R and installing it over my old root partition using the custom install options. I also chose to use EXT4 this time for root, and careful keep my home partition the same. During the install it asked for my user name and password, and voila upon reboot everything was there on my desktop just as I left it.

Boot time WAS in fact, UNBELIEVABLY faster than ever! In general this version seems to just fly, fast, like I’ve never seen before. I just thought this old P4 system was slow, but it moves so much faster now. From opening files in the desktop, to firefox surfing the web or playing games with a lower ping. This new version of Ubuntu looks rather promising.

A couple snags I’ve noticed so far – not surprising considering this is only an Alpha 2 release – is the NVIDIA drivers that were automatically detected didn’t work, so I had to add a different repository and install more recent drivers from there.

Oh, and I also now have access to my UbuntuOne and can sync my tomboy notes from my netbook to my desktop.

Mobile Broadband Wireless Netbook

December 31, 2009

This is my first blog posting from my netbook using my new unlimited internet cellphone plan. I’m online using an old Motorola RAZR V3R cell through bluetooth. I’m running blueman-applet in Ubuntu to tether to the cell as a GPRS modem. It’s not the fastest, but it only costs $10 a month!

Now I have internet anytime anywhere on my netbook that I have a cell signal. It’s slow, with tests ranging from 22kbps+ depending on the test site. returned an average latency of 1200ms and 55kbps speed.

I’m content with accessing mobile sites for basic web access, via my cell where I can’t get faster WIFI access. It’s fine for basic stuff like email, blogging, chatting, checking news, stocks, and weather.

It was quite the complicated pain and a lot of hacking hours to iron all the kinks out to get it working. Problems mainly in getting all the parts configured correctly: the cellphone, browser proxy, blueman-applet and so on. The steps I followed will need to be the topic of another future blog entry…

Enable Bluetooth on the NB200 / NB205

December 26, 2009

Bluetooth works for me in Ubuntu 9.10 on the NB200 after a little tweaking.
I’ve enjoyed using bluetooth to connect to my Motorola RAZR cellphone (V3 from 2005?). It wasn’t hard to get working. I used it to copy photos off the phone. But even more exciting is how I may this weekend be using bluetooth to ‘tether’ the phone to the netbook for unlimited (but only 5kbps) GSM web access. I’ll keep you posted how that goes, but for now here’s how I got bluetooth up and running….

I basically followed instructions posted on page 12 of the NB200 thread on Ubuntu forums by jeroenimo (with minor changes). Thanks for your help!

1) I downloaded and installed the omnibook-source package from here

2)Edit the source code to fix a pesky error:
cd /usr/src/
sudo tar xjf omnibook.tar.bz2
cd modules/omnibook/
sudo nano init.c
hit ctrl-w and search for this:
proc_entry->owner = THIS_MODULE;
when you get to that line add two // in front of it and make sure it look like this:
// proc_entry->owner = THIS_MODULE;
ctrl-o ctrl-x to save the file

3) compile and install the fixed source code
sudo m-a build omnibook-source -O
sudo m-a install omnibook-source

4) test it out. You should see a bluetooth icon appear in your system tray.
sudo modprobe omnibook ectype=12
entering the hciconfig command in the terminal should return some info, something like this if it’s been detected:
$ hciconfig
hci0: Type: USB
BD Address: 00:22:58:F3:46:F9 ACL MTU: 310:10 SCO MTU: 64:8
RX bytes:1035 acl:0 sco:0 events:41 errors:0
TX bytes:1370 acl:0 sco:0 commands:37 errors:0

5) Now make it run upon booting your netbook:
sudo nano /etc/modules
add this line and save the file

sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/omnibook.conf
add this line:
options omnibook ectype=12

save the file. Now when you reboot, the bluetooth icon should show that it is running.

6) after sleep or hibernate if it doesn’t reappear, you can reactivate it
by running in the terminal:

sudo rmmod -f omnibook && sudo modprobe omnibook ectype=12

You should see the bluetooth icon reappear. However you’ll want to make this automatic so create a file that restarts bluetooth, like this:

sudo nano /etc/pm/power.d/89bluetooth

and put this in:

rmmod -f omnibook
modprobe omnibook ectype=12

Save the file and change the permissions so it can be run
sudo chmod +x /etc/pm/power.d/89bluetooth

Now after sleep and resume, you should see the bluetooth icon reload in the system tray.

Bluetooth and BIOS fixes for the NB200

November 17, 2009

In late September there was a new BIOS update, version 1.6, for the NB200 posted on the site here. Some of the postings on the Ubuntu Forums say that this BIOS update will speed up the boot time, and prevents the netbook from stalling until the touchpad is used that some people noticed happening with the 1.2 BIOS.

Of course this poses a challenge to run the .exe BIOS update program when you don’t have a windows partition ! So what to do?

I tried using unetbootin to make a bootable freedos USB key, but get a “invalid opcode at 0007” error. Instructions here

And now back to the previously posted entry…

Here‘s an interesting thread on Ubuntu Forums discussing ways to do it in Ubuntu without windows. Most of the discussion here is about using CD’s and floppys… so skip it and take a look at the next idea.

Here‘s a guide showing how to make a bootable DOS USB memory stick to run the flash utility. The USB should be <4gb because of DOS size restrictions. I’ll look for a spare USB memory stick to do the update with and report back soon.

Flashrom is a linux program in the Ubuntu repositories that can be installed with sudo apt-get install flashrom. However since it’s reported to not work with the Acer Aspire One or the EEE 701 I have doubts if this would work on the NB200. When it comes to BIOS flashing who’s willing to experiment and risk turning it into a brick?
Be careful when you do a BIOS update, because it is potentially destructive!

A fix to get bluetooth working was posted in the forms recently. Page 12 in the big NB200 thread on Ubuntu Forums has some postings (118 &119) showing how to get the bluetooth working in Ubuntu. If I can find a bluetooth device around home, I’ll have to give this try and report on this as well.