Amazon MP3 Downloader on 64-bit Ubuntu (Lucid Lynx, 10.04)

sudo getlibs -w sudo getlibs -w sudo getlibs -w sudo getlibs -w sudo getlibs -w sudo getlibs -w sudo getlibs -w

I decided to upgrade my mp3 downloader since Amazon told me that there was a new version when I was downloading The Roots album, but then I found that getlibs didn't want to give me the libraries I wanted since the amazonmp3 downloader is compiled for 32bit 9.04, and 10.04 has changed some libs around. I found that someone else had already figured out which packages to use, to get it to work so I figured I'd share his post. He also has more info on actually using a 32bit binary on a 64bit system if you're not initiated into that bit of excitement.

Gnome Shell followup

I have failed to report on my gnome-shell experiences. Well, I can sum it up pretty quickly: it was neat and promising and all that, but I ran into a rather annoying bug with alt-tab window switching where it would get confused as to what was the last window I selected. It is quite possible that this problem doesn't exist if one builds from the latest source, but I haven't had time to do that yet, so I'm back to running old fashioned Gnome again. Maybe when I upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04, I'll try it again, since the package is undoubtably newer there.

Ubuntu 9.10 Beta First Impressions

I'd been running 9.04 with backported nVidia drivers for a month or so, since those drivers actually support adjusting the brightness of my laptop panel. After the latest mysterious "maybe-video-related" lockup, I decided that if I'm going to have my machine crash, I might as well have a good reason, so I upgraded to 9.10 Beta over the weekend. To add to the impetus, I think the driver for my wireless card in 9.04 doesn't properly support WPA, so it randomly would drop my connection, something it did a couple of times while trying to download the upgrade. To Ubuntu's credit, restarting networking didn't break the upgrade, it actually managed to recover.

So far, I'm impressed. The upgrade went smoothly. However, after I upgraded, I noticed that an 'aptitude upgrade' showed more packages that needed to be upgraded. I didn't keep a list (yea, dumb), but notably, some pulse audio packages were included in this list. This might just be related to be doing things like installing extra packages to make pulse work better.

Overall, it seems faster and much more polished than 9.04. They've obviously taken a page from Apple's play book with the use of well placed animated transitions. The new X based boot splash is a great improvement over the old splash, mostly in terms of giving the boot and shutdown experience a more unified feel.

One big thing that seems to finally fixed is the time it takes to re-associate with a wireless access point upon returning from sleep: it's now at least as fast as my Mac. We'll see how things go as time goes on, but so far so good. If I don't have to file any bugs in the next few weeks, that'll be extra awesome.

HP 8530w impressions, and some nVidia X server musings

My work issued HP 8510w recently had the type of hardware failure that
causes random complete lockups. No, it wasn't related to the memory, I
tested that. Much to my surprise, all it took to get it replaced was to
contact IT and tell them that it even had hung before even getting into
the BIOS. Even more surprising to me, they replaced it with a newer
model: I now have an 8530w.

 Given that I've posted before about how bored and disappointed I've been
with HP laptops, I figured I should post to say how nice the 8530w is
turning out to be so far. For starters, it is thinner and feels lighter
(but it's still 6lbs) and more solid than the 8510w. The screen is much
nicer, but since the 8510w had a 1920x1200 resolution, and this 8530w
has a 1680x1050 resolution, it's not quire apples to apples. I do also
prefer the keyboard, and they've added a keyboard light, which while not
as slick as Apple's backlit keyboards, gets the job done. (And takes me
back like 8 years to the IBM X21 I had... ;-) While the 8510w was fast,
the 8530w is even faster, and amazingly enough, seems to run cooler and

 While they do seem to have fixed most of my gripes with the 8510w, it
does seem like no one but Apple understands that people with laptops
carry their power supplies around with them. How hard is it to
incorporate an easy way to wrap up the cord into the design for the
power brick? Oh, and for some entirely inconceivable reason, the power
brick for the 8530w is bigger than that for the 8510w. Yes, you read
that right: they made the brick bigger. I just don't get that part.

 Oh, and Ubuntu (well, Linux in general) rocks: I got new hardware,
simply moved my hard drive to the new machine and booted up, and
everything works. It does help that they both have nVidia graphics, etc,
 but still, that part was awesome. Oh, and for anyone that happens to
have a laptop with a new nVidia chipset and doesn't have working
brightness controls, the newest version of the nVidia drivers fixes this
problem! For users of Jaunty, I uploaded the Karmic packages to my PPA, compiled
for Jaunty. (I can't seem to figure out how to make it so that it would
also compile the same sources for Hardy, but maybe I just haven't spent
enough time looking at it or did the proper RTFMing)

More on Firefox and Ubuntu

It looks like at least some of the Firefox font issues are fixed in Ubuntu 8.10. The fonts are comparable in size to Opera now, but Opera's fonts still look slightly better. They also seem to have fixed the "use system proxy settings" so that it actually works, which is neat. The thing is, Opera does have a lot of nice features that I do like about it, like the fact that it groups popups in a per-tab basis, and you can configure things like popup blocking and whatnot on a per site basis. If it wasn't for the fact that it seems to have weird issues with flash performance (today I was watching Zero Punctuation, and the audio kept on going fine, but the video would stop and then run really fast and then stop and then run really fast.), and I have had flash actually lock up the browser, so that only one tab locking up thing must have been a fluke. It's really too bad that I actually want to use web content that needs flash, since my life would be so much easier without that plugin. Anyways, I'm contemplating switching back to Firefox, for reasons that are completely not even remotely the fault of Opera. We'll see where this goes.

Ubuntu Hardy Heron and audio

Recently, I started using Banshee to play music on my work laptop, which runs Ubuntu. However, I found that I had sound multiplexing issues: No other sounds would work when Banshee was playing (or even when it was paused). It looks like despite many other things seemingly sharing the sound device nicely, Banshee didn't play well with others. After some internet searching, I got a pointer to this thread on the Ubuntu Forums. I following the instructions there, except the whole patching SDL thing, I figured I'd only go there if I found that I had an SDL app that didn't work. So far, so good, and it seems like it even works in Wine (the post claims that it doesn't work with Wine), and without using padsp! We'll see if I run into any problems, but so far, I'm quite happy.

Anyways, just wanted to share in case someone else has the same problem. (I actually rather like Banshee. It definitely pwns Rhythmbox.)

On the addictive qualities of Mac OS X

When my wife's laptop broke, we opted not to pay to fix it or buy a new one. The newest Ubuntu had impressed me, and I was pretty sure that I could use my work laptop running Linux, and let her use my MacBook Pro most of the time. This worked ok for a couple of months, but as time went on, I started to notice more and more things that I missed from the Mac. I've found that I've really gotten used to the feel of Apple's keyboards, and even more importantly, the screen on my Mac is so much easier on my eyes than the LCD in the HP laptop I got from work. Perhaps it's the way Mac OS X draws fonts, perhaps it's something else in the Mac OS X rendering layer, perhaps the MacBook Pro simply has a better screen. Whatever the case, my eyes are vastly happier when using the Mac.

Then there are the many things in Mac OS X that are simply more polished than in Ubuntu. Perhaps I should be a good open source citizen and take the code and fix the things that are broken, but I simply don't have the interest. There are way too many other things I'd rather be hacking on than trying to fix things like Ubuntu's network configuration application (I probably should write a future post on how this is broken, so maybe someone with interest could fix it). So while I don't have an addiction to any of Apple's other crack (I rarely use my iPod, I don't own (and don't plan to own) an iPhone or an Apple TV or what not), I do, despite my best efforts, have a Mac OS X (and Apple hardware to a certain extent) addiction.

Now all I have to do is find out how to get another Mac laptop for our household, preferably free... (sometimes it's annoying working for a company that makes computers...)