Fight for the Internet 1!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pulse Audio Dynamic Volumes (Take-2)

So today I tried using PulseAudio Dynamic volumes again, and the quick conclusion is this: They are bad, so very very bad.

Previously I had been cruelly subjected to Dynamic Volumes on with my Desktop through it's several speakers and sub-woofers. Now I tried it on my laptop using headphones / earbuds. The experience was actually worse.

On the surface Dynamic volumes seems nice, because in theory it should raise the total volume of the system as necessary. There is however one drawback. It raises the MASTER VOLUME for the entire system, which means all other applications and any subsequent applications will inherit that volume level.

So say you raise the volume on a piece of music you are playing (in Amarok for example), which is nice. They you load a video in your VLC. The video's audio is louder to begin with AND the VLC volume is set to the previous amount, which was 140%. Suddenly your ears are blasted with maximum audio volume. Painful and wrong.

Seriously. I'd fucking sue a company for earing damage if this wasn't free software with absolutely no warranty. (Okay, I wouldn't sue an open-source free company, even then, because I love open-source, but you get the point.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

HP Photosmart c4280 scanner in Fedora 19 Linux

I own an HP Photosmart c4280 scanner printer combo. I cannot vouch for the printing capabilities, but I can declare that I have got it working with scanning. Here is how to quickly get it setup in Fedora 19 Linux:

For the printing capabilities, run:

sudo yum install hplip hplip-gui libsane-hpaio hpijs  hplip-libs

Then run:

sudo hp-setup

If you just want to use the scanner, you still have to do the Printing Setup steps, but after that, it is ready to go. This setup uses the "Sane" scanning/printing system backend, so any graphic interface that uses that backend will now work.

NOTE: You may need to shutdown/startup the device again, and also restart Sane (xsane).

For a simple straightforward graphic app to help you scan, I suggest installing 'xsane', though there are also Gimp Sane plugins and one for KDE as well I believe.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to Convert APE (cd images) in Linux

Sometimes when I download music, the format is in APE which isn't convenient in Linux.

To convert a single APE file to a single FLAC file:

ffmpeg -i inputaudio.ape outputaudio.flac
To rip the multiple tracks from an entire CD image (with a .cue file) from a single APE file:

1st, convert the entire large ape to flac.
ffmpeg -i inputaudio.ape outputaudio.flac
2nd, edit the .cue file: Look for the line which lists the file name of the .ape file.
FILE "The Shrimp Shack Shooters - The Album.ape" WAVE
Change this to the converted output flac file:
FILE "The Shrimp Shack Shooters - The Album.flac" WAVE
3rd, then open the .cue file in K3b
4th, switch K3b to Conversion mode, by going to the menu: Project -> Convert Tracks.

Now you can output the tracks from the flac file individually.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Yet More Comments on Fedora's Usability

Quick post: SELinux is not for the masses. I honestly don't think it should be enabled for a desktop version of Linux. It's such a colossal pain with so little gain, and making the changes permanent is an exercise in genuine pain. AppArmor never troubled me and provided 99.99% of the gains.

The other big problem is the Firewall. Making the changes permanent is also not trivial and absolutely not obvious. Yes it can be done, but heavens it's not apparent. It was a serious source of frustration until I had to sit down, while seething with anger, to find the not-obvious permanent area. That GUI needs major reworks, because this will frustrate others. Actually, the fact that the firewall got in the way is something that shouldn't happen in the first place.

I have to genuinely give Ubuntu credit. They make using Linux much easier in many many ways... except for the whole Mir / Unity thing.

Friday, July 19, 2013

More Experiences Moving to Fedora 18

More Experiences Moving to Fedora 18

Here are more experiences more experiences moving from Ubuntu to Fedora 18.


Smoother integration of certain services, like the Updater. It doesn’t require a password much of the time.


After a month or two in Fedora, I discovered a really nice graphical program for configuring my firewall! At first glance and after a simple few tasks, I think it works very nicely with SELinux as well. This is a very pleasant surprise.


SELinux: Though I was aware of what SELinux, I had never specifically used it. I must give credit to the nice desktop user interface. For example, I needed to enable additional permissions for Firefox to use some Flash at one point. The GUI for SELinux was really easy to understand; just copy and paste this command into a console to enable that permission.
But on the slight downside, I was not able to configure my SSH exactly as I wanted until I figured out how to configure the firewall. This actually makes sense but wasn't easy for me to find the problem spot. I spent a long time attempting to configure SELinux and months later stumbled upon , and I'm not sure if it is a SELinux problem or not.


General Users

SELinux can be a pain to the average user unless there's something there to help them. I'm pretty a pretty advanced user in Linux and using SELinux is not simple or convenient. Fedora has a nice little helper System-Tray application but that's still not very useful.

For example, I routinely browse a website that uses flash. To allow certain features, such as saving a screen capture of the flash portion of the website, I have to run a SELinux command.

This wouldn't be a problem, except it is not simple or trivial to make this setting permanent. It's not readily apparent how to do this, so I essentially have to run this command every single day, every time I boot my computer up. Doing such a needlessly repetitive task to enable a certain feature is very Microsoft-Windows-esc, and should not be a problem on the Linux Desktop. There should be an easier way to do this.

Sadly I have to now go read some long and incredibly detailed manuals on SELinux, when I just want to browse a fucking website. Ugh.

This is a real Con, and I never had to do with this before.


Third-Party Fedora Support
Interestingly, I didn’t realize that the world had really jumped onboard with the Ubuntu craze. So many places where I have downloaded software for use in development now only list Ubuntu, instead of Fedora/Debian/Ubuntu or some more generic Linux form.

I really hope this is somewhat problematic for me, other than a minor headache with papercuts in using their Ubuntu-focused software.

Fedora Free Open-Source Software Ideology
While I really really like the Free and Open-Source Software ideology, this has actually been a little troubling in Fedora. For example, it is currently quite difficult to add an proper Oracle Java repository to my system.

While I really like OpenJDK when it works, current development projects of mine require the official Oracle JDK. I also want a repository on my system to handle this, especially for updates. I shouldn’t have to watch the news like a hawk for Java updates.

There are some features I really like about Yum, such as transaction history and undo-features, and a very nice console interface. But they are also not perfect. Aside from being slower than Apt, it is missing two very nice features. “apt-get autoremove” and the ability to perform a “dry-run” sort of simulation, though the later is really not that big of a deal for me.

I’ve yet to find an easy and convenient way to automatically remove unused dependencies (aka “orphaned” packages).

Also the dist-upgrade command doesn't seem quite as straightforward as the apt version.

Google Music

Not sure that Fedora should be blamed for this, but the Google Music manager is NOT working for me. I've tried the 32 and 64 bit versions, including completely deleting the configuration files under my home directory. Nothing works.

I don't know what to do but this is very annoying.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Downloading GIT sources from Difficult as Expected

Keeping in line perfectly with my experience every time trying to interact with Gnome or anything vaguely related to that community, I am having incredible difficult downloading from their GIT repositories.

I want to get the GIMP soc-2013-psd branch. But it is absolutely fucking unclear how to do this.

God damn it Gnome. Get it to together. I swear you do so much harm by thinking everyone in the world processes information and thought the obscure and unusual way you do. (Gnome3 ring a bell for anyone?)

God almighty the git repository has a worse layout than Tumblr. This is abjectly awful.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Workrave Ini Configuration File

Just a quick note, because I had to dig to find this feature out. I use the program called Workrave, as an anti-repetitive stress injury program. Works pretty well. Best one I've found so far.

It's fairly configurable, but it won't save your configurations to a specific file without an extra step. So if you reinstall your OS, you have to manually configure it again.

After digging through their docs, I found you need to create an empty workrave.ini file in your ~/.workrave directory. Simple huh?

Now I can take that config file and move it around to other machines if need be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

PulseAudio's Dynamic Volume Levels are Really Bad


So today I got to enjoy some seriously awful pain from the developers of PulseAudio. Now I kind of like PulseAudio, when it works. Which hasn't always been consistent.

When using Fedora, I used my scroll wheel over the Amarok icon to increase the volume. This not only raised the volume of Amarok, but it also raised the master volume for my ENTIRE SYSTEM.

If one application requests it's volume level be increased, PulseAudio raises that programs volume and the Master volume... and leaves them at that level.

Now every new sound made by any other applications, which all fall under the Master Volume, are at potentially high levels.

There is also the situation where you manually cannot LOWER the volume if some other application is requesting it be higher. I found myself in that position today where I madly scrolled down over the Kmix icon, only to watch the volume flicker between 93-94% maximum.

Apparently this is not bug, it's working as designed. But I can personally attest that it is designed WRONG!


The solution is simple. Edit (or create) the following file.


Make sure the following setting is enabled:
flat-volumes = no
Save that file and reboot. (I don't know if you have to reboot or if there is an easier way.) If you need help knowing how to edit a file under Linux, here is my simple guide.

Ranting on the Side

Yes, I'm angry. This is awful  and this is exactly the type of bullshit that gives people real reasons to legitimately criticize Linux. I shouldn't have my computer system suddenly explode with overwhelmingly high sound and STAY that way without my control.

My speakers are physically set to a very high volume because they are mounted around my room in stereo and not easy to access physically. I've controlled them digitally for over a decade. I will not have the freedom and power to control them with the flick of a keyboard button stolen from me because of this ineptly implemented feature.

I'm not saying you can't have a different paradigm for how audio should work, but god-damn-it you should not break (let alone shatter) the existing world to experiment. And that's exactly what this is: an experiment gone wrong. I honestly cannot see a situation where this could even possible work (as it is currently) for a user like me and thus the case for 90% of the rest of the world.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Experience Moving to Fedora 18


So after eight long and mostly very good years of using Ubuntu, I have finally been made to jump ship. It's funny how things sometimes all happen at the same time.


Fedora is a different place than Ubuntu but it's also nice. Both of them are. I think it is a testament to the quality of Fedora that it has not been difficult to find equivalents options and alternatives for most of what I want.

I think some of the problems I was having with Ubuntu when I left it were probably atypical. But I'll list them anyway, if only for my own memory.

1) Desktop Loading: When booting up, Kubuntu would load 90% of the desktop but then would hang for a period of 10 to 20 seconds. I could see everything and I could invoke certain actions but not everything. Then suddenly it would finish. At first I thought this last was from running Skype but now I'm doing that in Fedora and it's not slowed down at all.

2) Bootup Speed: Fedora boots up faster than Ubuntu / Kubuntu for me. Though admittedly I thought the graphics for prompting me my decryption password on bootup were better from Kubuntu than Fedora.

Why / The Reason I Switched to Fedora

The Big Reason: No More KDE

So if you don't know, Ubuntu is going their own way with their graphic display server Mir instead of using Wayland. Those are big complicated stories and issues which I won't detail here, but the one all important thing that came out of it was this:

The KDE people will not support Mir at this time, nor possibly ever based on decisions the Ubuntu team is making.

This is not to vilify Canonical in anyway. They can do what they want and I've liked and disliked decisions from every group at one time or another. Check out the articles on Phoronix about the subject, as they have better source links than I care to list here.

I have used KDE since the beginning in Linux and it's without question my all time favorite Desktop Environment, bar none. It is also, without question in my opinion, a far superior desktop than Gnome2/3 is, and I always recommend it to anyone who is knew to Linux. (Personally I've always felt that Gnome2's paradigm to be too much of a shock to any Windows immigrants to Linux, and I'm not friends with any Mac users savvy enough to handle even a two-button mouse.)

Just to be clear I don't hate Gnome. This is only my opinion. I am sure someone reading this will think I am foolish for pointing people to KDE because of instability. Yes, the initial KDE 4 release was a disaster which I still to this day don't understand why it happened. But if anyone reading this thinks Gnome is flawless, I only need point to Gnome3 to win my argument handily.

Ahem, moving on... sorry for the sidetrack.

KDE is far FAR more important to me than any underlying OS. It is my life in Linux. So if Ubuntu will no longer even support KDE being run on it as a community project, sadly they have no place for in my life anymore.

The Smaller Reasons: Stability Headache

I've used KDE for over 8 years, through stable and unstable times. But strangely, just as I upgraded to Kubuntu 13.04 and all the minor instability issues I suffered from KDE 4.9 (damn you Kubuntu for not upgrading to KDE 4.10 sooner!), suddenly I had to very real and serious problems. 

I use Firefox and the Pidgin instant messenger client every single day for almost every moment my computer is on. Suddenly when I upgraded, Pidgin began to lock-up and crash, which often was associated with a lock-up and crash of Firefox!

I don't know why and all attempts on my part short of running Pidgin in a debugger have failed to unearth the program or fix it. Compiling Pidgin freshly from source code doesn't seem to fix the bug either.

I strongly suspect this may be an error in a library for system resources/services that both Firefox and Pidgin use. But I am only guessing.

With these two critical program not functioning in my life, I had to make a change.

After having moved to Fedora, it has been extremely solid and reliable. In fact so much so that it has made my prior Kubuntu 13.04 KDE 4.10.2/4.10.3 desktop look shameful. Time will tell just how stable but so far first few days of light usage are very good.

Experiences of Moving / First Impressions of Fedora

Anyway, here is a list of some of my experiences moving to Fedora 18, after being in Ubuntu for so long.

Now I picked Fedora for several reasons. It's a very popular distro with good documentation and community. It supports KDE thoroughly, and tends to get about as much attention as possible behind Ubuntu itself.

The Fedora Installer

The Fedora installer needs a little polishing when it comes to smoothness and ease for completely new users. I managed just fine after clicking around a bit, but it still needs work.

Bad: First off, the buttons for clicking "OK" or "Done" are in unusual places. They are in the top area and on the left sometimes. This is not normal for almost all desktop applications. But I do understand this may be done because of needing to conform to different screen sizes. This would assure that the buttons would always be somewhere visible on screen. Still, this was a bit jarring to a new user. But the buttons weren't the only thing. Maybe I've been too long in Ubuntu's camp and I'm biased but I felt the flow of the decision making wasn't as guided as it could have been.

Good! / Bad: A major point I will acknowledge in favor of the Fedora Installer is the Hard Drive configuration system. But at the same time I must also critisize it for being slightly confusing.

The good point was that it allowed a fair deal more control and fine tuning that the Ubuntu/Kubuntu installers did. I could choose to encrypt multiple harddrives if I wanted, and also make larger volumes. This is an option Ubuntu has been promising for well over a year but continues to push back and we've not seen it yet.

At the same time I found their workflow and decision guiding needed a bit more hand-holding. I did eventually figure out how to use their partition manager/editor, and I have to say it works pretty well. But I was left with a distinct impression of lacking workflow. It didn't seem like I had a starting point and an ending point when I began editing my partitions. UPDATE: After doing this a few times as I migrated my other machines, I have learned to use their workflow model better, so it's not quite as rough as before.

So this is a mixed point on the review, but overall I have to give them a silver-star here for giving a lot more options when installing to your harddrives than Ubuntu. Perhaps the amount of options is the reason the workflow isn't so obvious to me; many options make that difficult to architect

Neutral: When I let Fedora auto-partition my system, it split the 128GB disk into two partitions. It gave about 50GB of space on my drive to OS and the rest to me. I have seriously mixed feelings about this.

Apper / Yum

Finding Apper: This was the first big problem I hit when using Fedora 18 with KDE, using the software updater is broken. It took me a moment to find Apper, which is the Software Management front-end in Fedora KDE. That was partly my fault. I looked for the words "Update" and "yum" but didn't get any results. Browsing under the category "All Applications" -> "System" didn't show me anything.

But I soon found Apper just sitting in my Favorites menu by default. I suppose my only suggestion is to also list it under the System category, because that's obviously where it also belongs.

Using Apper: Apper seems okay but a bit slow for a pro user, in several ways. The searching for items should be search-as-you-type.

Second and more importantly: When you finally click install there needs to be a better progress indicator. I tried using Apper to update my system, selected all 552 packages to update, and clicked install. It started, resolved dependencies, and then sat at 10% progress for many minutes. I thought the program had crashed so I cancelled and closed it. By then the system had asked me to reboot, which I did and tried this again. Same result but this time I couldn't even cancel out of Apper gracefully, so I rebooted a third time. This time I used Yum on the commandline and that was fine. (In fact I'm quite impressed with Yum.)

I only found out later that Apper really was working. I believe it was downloading the packages in the background but not showing me any progress indicators. This is a failure of user-interface design-101 people. Don't leave the User thinking their system has stopped responding.

Still, not a terrible experience. But I'll probably be using Yum or DNF from now on anyway. But as of right now I couldn't recommend Fedora to a newbie Linux user because Apper fails so badly in this regard.

Touchpad Tapping

Strangely, my touchpad works fine for navigation but doesn't work at all for tapping. I have no idea why and this has NEVER happened before in any distribution of Linux I've ever used.

UPDATE: I fixed this problem today! I had to go to System Settings -> Input -> Touchpad -> Tapping and under the Buttons section I had to assign actions for the different types of taps. I have never EVER had to this before but once I realized this was the problem, it was very easy to do. I'm not even mad at Fedora, though I hope they set some good defaults soon.

SSH / SSHD and SELinux

Long story short, I'm having severe troubles getting my ssh-daemon (sshd) to run on any port different than 22. I don't know if it is SELinux or the Firewall or what exactly that is causing the problem.

It's been a pain to get it to use my provided SSH-keys. Had to turn off GSSAPI options because they were really slowing down initializing of connections.

I'm going to look into fixing these, since obviously SSH can be made to run correctly under Fedora.


A somewhat neutral comment: Fedora never asked me to set the name for my system. It is clearly an easy thing to do but for a new-Linux user, this wouldn't be apparent. I figure they should have asked.


Back in Kubuntu/Ubuntu, my instance of Amarok was horribly unstable. It's been much better since I migrated to Fedora. It's not the versions; I've checked.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Firefox sessionstore.js recovery

So randomly today Firefox corrupted itself while I was using Google Drive. It stopped allowing me to edit the document, then refused to reload the page, or any other Google Drive document. Then when I closed and reopened the browser, all my 100+ tabs in various tab groups were gone, including my pinned tabs. I suspect it was because I had two Firefox windows open at the same time that might have caused the problem, but I'm honestly not sure.

Here is the simple way I managed to restore the tab data.

For those who don't know, the sessionstore.js is where Firefox keeps your tab data. Checking my Firefox profile's directory (which was ~/.firefox/MyBrowser/), luckily my sessionstore.js and sessionstore.bak file were both large and full of the tab data. You should find those two files and make a backup of them immediately.

The sessionstore.js is in fact one big JSON file.

On Ubuntu, I installed the package "yajl-tools" which stands for "Yet Another JSON Library". I did this to give me the JSON commands: json_verify and json_reformat.

My first thought was the sessionstore.js was somehow corrupt, but json_verify did not agree with me. Sending my sessionstore.js to json_reformat

I ran this command from command line to check if my file was okay:
cat sessionstore.bak| json_verify
If you get a message saying okay, then proceed to the next step. This command reformats the
cat sessionstore.bak | json_reformat >sessionstore.js
Next open the  sessionstore.js. I found that all the tabs were not being restore because they had been moved to the '_closedWindows' section.

View of my sessionstore.js from the top:
    "windows": [
            "tabs": [
                    "entries": [

This section had no real tabs. I could tell this should have been filled with data but was empty. Lower down in the file was the "_closedWindows":, which is where all my tabs had gone.

  "_closedWindows": [                                                                                                                 
            "tabs": [
                    "entries": [
                            "url": "",
                            "title": "Inbox (7) - - Gmail",
                            "subframe": true,
                            "ID": ....,
                            "docshellID": ....,
                            "docIdentifier": ...
                            "url": "",
                            "title": "Inbox (7) - - Gmail",

So I opened the file in sessionstore.js, copied the the 'tabs' section(including the header) under '_closedWindows' to 'windows' where it should have been, deleted the original and everything is running smoothly again.

Final form of my of my sessionstore.js from the top:
    "windows": [
            "tabs": [
                    "entries": [
                            "url": "",
                            "title": "Inbox (7) - - Gmail",
                            "subframe": true,
                            "ID": ....,
                            "docshellID": ....,
                            "docIdentifier": ...
                            "url": "",
                            "title": "Inbox (7) - - Gmail",
 Hope that helps. Source taken from here:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Kmix Volume Increment

I recently upgraded to KDE 4.10 and noticed that when I scroll over Kmix to increment/decrement the volume, I no longer had the fine control I liked. It would jump the volume by a whopping 15% with each scroll!

Now that's way too much for me, so here's how to give yourself finer control of Kmix's volume changes.

  1. Close and quit Kmix.
  2. Open the file ~/.kde/share/config/kmixrc
  3. In the [Global] section, add this line:

  4. Close the file.
  5. Open Kmix
  6. Enjoy

The 1.0 supposedly means 1.0%, but don't call me on that one.