LIRC is a software package under linux which allows you
interface with remote control/controlled devices. LIRC is pretty much a must
for any 1/2 decent MythTV configuration.
For my Myth setup I use LIRC both to change the channels on the cable-set-top-
box and as a way to control the mythtv interface from the couch. Although this
is a quite common configuration its annoying to get working.
The first thing you have to decide when setting up LIRC is what hardware you
want to use. You can build your own receivers/transmitters but the simple
plans make for quite crappy and unreliable devices; for something more
sophisticated the cost of parts adds up to exceed the cost of kits/ready-to-
I had a (X10 based) RF serial receiver and remote (that I got a while back
with my Nvidia PC cinema card). It worked with better LIRC than it ever did
under windows. To control the set-top-box I first got an iguanaworks USB
transceiver but it would not work since
it only transmits at 36khz (It can be flashed to transmit at 58khz with a
non-existing utility) and all the devices I needed to control only worked at
58khz. Money down the drain. So I decided to try again, this time I got the
Serial Iguanaworks transceiver this one
interfaces with LIRC more like the home-made transceivers except it has
greater range (thanks to a .3f capacitor (think battery) which stores energy
Alright so I'm thinking I have the hardware configuring should be a breeze. I
already had the controlling software installed, all I needed was to compile
the drivers. I downloaded the debian driver source package it looked all very
nice and neat, it allowed me to select the drivers I want and even attempted
to compile the drivers automagically.. except it failed. The sources it
provides are too old and were no longer compatible with my kernel. No big
deal, I'll compile the vanilla drivers from LIRC -- wrong.
LIRC can't be compiled with just any combination of drivers you want, the
configuration scripts compile either any ONE driver or all of them. No big
deal, I thought, I'll compile all and install only the onces I need.. except
all the drivers don't compile. Compilation broke on some driver that I didn't
need. So I decided to hack the config scripts a bit. I downloaded the CVS
version of LIRC opened the configure.in file and around line 1207
if test "$lirc_driver" = "all"; then
Trimmed down the list of drivers to only the ones that I needed. I then ran
autoconf to generate all the needed Makefiles and ran ./configure --with-
driver=all --with-port=0x3f8 --with-irq=4 --with-timer=65536 --with-x --with-
transmitter && make && make install and things built correctly with only the
drivers I wanted.
From then on configuring LIRC was a breeze, I modified the debian
/etc/init.d/lirc script to use
start 2 lirc daemons, one for each driver and configured them to talk to each
Finally I made my
lircmd.conf using irecord
and configured MythTV, xorg and channel changing
script. YAY, working mythbox.
Brief overview of all the programs and devices that make up my mythbox
A/V Hardware: Nvidia MX440 (vga/svideo out), Happauge150 (rca audio/svideo in), CHAINTECH AV-710 (optical audio out), RCA dvd/audio system
Remote controlled devices: RCA TV, Scientific Atlanta Explorer 4200 (cable box), Nvidia branded X10 RF remote
The last problem I had was the cable box being off while mythtv was trying to
record, Its a nasty one. But it turns out the cable box has this nice feature
where it will turn on when any numerical key is pressed on the remote (can be
enabled in the settings menu). So when mythtv changes channels the cable box
is either already on or is turned on auto-magically.
More of my config files.
Chimei 22" Nvidia
I thought the days of modelines in xorg (and linux in general) were over but I
guess I'm wrong. The last 2 monitors I configured I had really difficult time
with. One needed needed just a modeline but the other needed nasty config
hacks. The first configuration was a Dell 21" monitor with a i945 graphics
card and the other a 22" Chimei CMV-221D/A with an nvida GeForce FX 5200 card.
The Chimei monitor autodected just fine over VGA but was fuzzy and wavy, and
hooking it up over DVI, the nvidia card did not want to drive it over 800x600
(instead of native 1680x1050). So I had to get down and dirty with the X
Anyway here are the appropriate sections from my xorg.conf file for the Chimei
(I'll post the Dell ones later)
Identifier "Generic Monitor"
Identifier "nVidia Corporation NV34 [GeForce FX 5200]"
Option "NoLogo" "true"
#NOTE this is probably dangerous only use this line with appropriate Modeline
Option "UseEdidFreqs" "false"
Option "ModeValidation" "NoMaxPClkCheck,AllowNon60HzDFPModes,NoVesaModes,NoXServerModes,NoPredefinedModes"
Identifier "Default Screen"
Device "nVidia Corporation NV34 [GeForce FX 5200]"
Monitor "Generic Monitor"
Modes "1680x1050" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
Modes "1680x1050" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
Modeline "1680x1050 (GTF)" 154.20 1680 1712 2296 2328 1050 1071 1081 1103
Browsers -- I hate them
I hate browsers every single one that I've used. Every browser out there is a
pathetic failure when it comes to user interface. Right now my favourite
browser is iceweasel/firefox but in my book it doesn't have much going for it.
The browsers have a love for pop-up-dialogues. It's getting a little better
but not good enough. I remember when in firefox if you mistyped a URL it would
pop a dialog box "Server not found." So you'd have to take your hands of the
keyboard and hit OK and then put the cursor back to the address bar and try
again. Why does the browser need to confirm with me that I mistyped something?
Now this is no longer a problem; when you go to non-existing
page you'll get a message insider your browser pane saying
that server cannot be found. This is great but I believe that NOTHING should
pop-up without the users intent
Say, for example to search for something on google and you get a link to a
mailing list. I've seen a few mail-list archives where they use self-sign
signatures (https) so you get a pop-up dialogue saying that the page is not
kosher. WHY?! Its not a page I care about for security; in fact most pages I
visit I don't care much if the anyone spies in on what I read. I think this
warning should be brought up where it can be ignored without any user
interaction. For example a drop down bar with a message (like those pop-up
blocked notice). Heck you can even turn the whole browser panels and things
RED so even the most senile users will notice something strange is up. And
maybe the first time the user comes across this error it should pop a dialogue
explaining why the browser miraculously turned red.
Users hate dialogues if it has more than 200 or so characters in the message a
majority of the users won't even read it, they will in a robotic-type fashion
click on some button until the dialogue will disappear. So, just stop with the
pop-up dialogue boxes they are annoying and not useful. If your program needs
to constantly pop things up for user to select then you have failed user
Iceweasel/Firefox has this awesome feature where you can scale the page fonts.
Its incredibly handy when you come across a web 2.0 website with 2 point font
(fucking web designers, readability first style second!! STOP IT!!). Now this
is all fine but I am tired of always manually adjusting the fonts per website.
Fortunately there is other great feature
(Edit>preferences>content>font&color>advanced>minimum font size) where you can
set the minimum font size. Well you'd think this is the best thing since
sliced bread (figure of speech, I hate sliced bread too but thats for another
day) but there is a tremendous flaw with this feature. When you select a
minimum for of size, say, 8 every font thats less than size 8 will be turned
to 8 all larger fonts will not be affected. This sounds great in theory but
horrible in practice, if you got to some heavily stylized graphics your
setting will send a lot of fonts out of boundaries. So you'll get overflowing
menus, notices and all that other jazz. Its so annoying its that its not
usable. What the browser should do instead is scale all the fonts on the page.
Say the smallest font on the page is of size 5 then 8-5=3 so increase EVERY
font on the page by 3 points, kind of like what happens when you use manually
adjust font size (view>text size>increase).
Stupid menu-bars. Every browser is full of them. You have the status bar on
the bottom the menu bar, search bar, tab bar and bookmark bar on the top,
WTF?! When I use the browser I want to see the webpage not the static content
of the browser. STOP stealing my real estate. So I suggest you disable the
bookmark and the status bar. And you'll scream BUT I want the functionality of
my status bar; "I want to know where the link points that I am about to
visit." Well so do I, I hate the bar but like the functionality it provies,
but there is nothing to say that the functionality can't be moved. Say when
you move your mouse over a link your address bar displays the address of the
link, and as soon as you move away from the link the address bar goes back to
displaying the address. As for the load status, I've found this great plugin
called fision which
takes from a safari feature, shows the progress of the loading in the
background of the status bar.
The great menu bar, its immune from any customization. I just sits there, does
nothing most of the time, face it how often do you use it? While its very
useful its not needed all that often (maybe once a week) so why is there not a
feature where it can collapse into a expandable menu (kind of like the start
button on windows or kmenu in kde) And when you click this monster it would
just appear. Now allow this menu button to be place into any other panel and
forget about. What a real estate saver.
I love cookies just not the internet kind. I think cookies are a sign of a
lazy developer. Yes in some instances cookies are the only way to go (such as
persistent user tracking) but they are often misused and where plain in-URL
ON YOU). Now I have cookies disabled by default and use a cool plugin called
cookie button which
allows me with one click to enable cookies for a particular page, such as my
banking web page or a forum which I regularly visit. Its a great approach to
cookie management, with one exception. I wish firefox had a feature where you
could accept any cookies for some length of time, for those truly stupid
websites like ebay. When you login to ebay you get forwarded through a lot of
pages each with their own third level domain name. The cookie management in
firefox does not have any features to help you deal with this dilemma. This is
where "accept all cookies for next 30 seconds.. and add pages to white-list"
would come in extremely handy, for the more advanced users there should be a
way to add cookie exceptions with wildcards for example *.ebay.com. If the
cookie management features are properly implemented then the firefox
developers should consider disabling cookies by default and thus weaning web
developers from using cookies as much.
Who Wrote This Shit
Portmap by default listens to all IP addresses. However, if you are not
providing network RPC services to remote clients (you are if you are setting
up a NFS or NIS server) you can safely bind it to the loopback IP address
<Yes> OR <No>
Maybe I'm slow or something but I really hate this prompt in debian. Which is
accompanied by the installation of portmap. Seems like you need a degree in
english logic to figure out what you need to select. If you run NFS and NIS
and are Confused the hell out by this prompt just select NO.
UPDATE: Just because you select NO doesn't mean that debian will actually not bind RPC to portmap. You might want to run dpkg-reconfigure portmap again and make sure it did the right thing.. I got a nasty surprise the day after .. when 2 of the NFS servers stopped mounting. Filed bug report
qmail, a love - hate relationship
After years of procratination I finally got around to whipping my mail system
back into shape. Its quite common qmail+vpopmail+courier-imap+courier setup.
What I really wanted was spamassassin and some more features in the web based
front end (ilohamail).
I've tried to setup spamassassin a couple time already but each time as I
started reading howtos all the vigor would dwindle away. The whole qmail
configuration and philosophy is great, take all the pieces you need arrange
them together (with some help from duct tape and wd-40) -- and voila a full-
fledged mail server! Except one day you'll pass a point where you can barely
keep track of all the pieces that keep your mail together.
So as I was reading how to get spamassassin integrated into qmail I thought,
"Qmail sucks I hate qmail.. its way too complicated." A little later (think
HOURS) I had broken the delicate chain of apps and inserted qmail-scanner and
spammassassin (spamd and spac) into the mix. Amazing things still worked and
now my email had special X-Spam-Status tag (YAY!).
Qmail and me have a true love-hate relationship. When it works and you don't
need anything extra from it, then, its great. But as soon as you get this
nagging feeling "I wish I had feature X" you start slowly hating qmail --
untill you fix it up and make it all pretty again.
As a sidenote -- pay no attention to the fact that ilohamail 9.X is a beta
version. It works great and the new features are way worth the migration from
8.X. Email filters, imap over SSL, gpg, public calendar... the list goes on
So once again -- with the help of bind9 (SPF), spamassasin, qmail scanner,
ilohamail 9.X -- my mail system is modern!
I guess I in some kind of "documentation" mood. I've written up 2 linux how-
tos one for using PPTP under linux and the other is an article for
tuxmobile.org about installing Debian on a Dell XPS
I've spent the whole summer working at BNL developing a
ethernet based FPGA programmer called n3c. Its based on a coldfire m68k chip
an awesome platform. As soon as I get an ok to post (part of the) the sources
I will. Now I have a few things in progress a cool PIC18F controlled fountain,
some linux how-tos and school.
Open Source Today (WRT102 research paper)
In the mid 1980s a new movement came about, a movement to free computer users
from the restrictive model of software development. Up until this time most
software developers (especially those in corporate environments) were intent
on keeping their software source code in the dark; this way no one was able to
modify or "steal their software." While today this idea is still the dominant
one, the tide is changing. The concept of Open Source is becoming more popular
and accepted with each day. One fundamental question remains: Is Open Source
Software (OSS) really a god send, will people and companies accept OSS
solutions over Proprietary ones?
Sami describes Open Source as concept of developing and distributing software
which is the direct opposite of the more common and familiar Proprietary
Software (2). More often than not, when a user receives a (proprietary)
computer program they get a compiled version (also known as the binary or an
executable), it contains a series of computer instructions which are generally
uninterpretable by humans. This binary is not what the the developers use to
write the program; it is instead a translation from a computer-language
(source code) to pure machine-instructions. A common analogy of executables is
a "black box" which, when given certain input, will return an output. The
source code however is a blueprint describing what is contained in this black
box. Unlike proprietary software, when a user receives Open Source Software
they also receive a copy of the source code. With this source code the user
can theoretically modify and customize a program to their liking.
There are two goals which the Open Source movement is trying to address, both
of which bring the software development closer to the user. From a practical
approach, when compared to proprietary software, OSS evolves at a phenomenally
fast rate. Since many people can analyze a programs inner structure for bugs
and security flaws, patches and updates are released faster. It is for this
reason alone that many people choose OSS solutions instead of the proprietary
ones. From an ethical perspective, some Open Source developers believe that
they have a responsibility to society in providing better software.
Unfortunately sometimes this responsibility is hindered by legal means, it is
not uncommon for a company or developer to file for a patent on algorithm. In
essence this prevents or limits other developers from implementing this or
similar algorithms in their programs.
Lately the concept of Open Source has turned into a political border-lining
religious philosophy. There are two main churches (or cults) of Open Source
Software, Open Source Initiative (OSI) and the Free (Libre) Software
Foundation (FSF). While the underlying idea of these two organizations are
similar -- the source code should always be provided with the binaries -- they
are not homogeneous. Richard Stallman of the FSF describes the difference the
best, he claims that FSF and the OSI differ in their values. Unlike the FSF,
OSI approaches this issue from a practical perspective rather than an ethical
Today the user base of Open Source Software is still small fraction of all
computer users, but it should not be ignored. Over the past few years the user
base has been growing dramatically. If this kind of growth rate is sustained
Open Source users will soon become a significantly sized group. However, one
should not jump to the conclusion that while many people are jumping onto the
OSS bandwagon that they are also welcoming the the aforementioned religion.
Although it is virtually impossible to measure; many Open Source users are not
activists or converts they simply use Open Source solutions because they are
either more convenient or, perhaps more importantly, because they often
Perhaps you have heard from a friend how Open Source solutions are better and
so much more secure, or maybe you have recently seen an IBM commercial
bragging how they are now providing secure Linux based solutions. If OSS is so
much better why isn't everyone using it? The simple truth is that apart from a
few projects (ie: Firefox, OpenOffice.org) Open Source is not very user
friendly and generally requires extensive knowledge of computer/software
systems. As far as security goes, Open Source alternatives are not per se more
secure. There are many reasons why Open Source Software programs fare better
when it comes to viruses and intrusions: they are not as an attractive target
because there are generally fewer of them; they are patched more quickly when
security flaws are discovered (ie: ping of death exploit); and finally, as
pointed out by Ferris, people running advanced Open Source systems (ie: Linux)
are generally more aware of security and learn to avoid compromising their
machines(40). But of course security on Open Source solutions is not all hype.
Many alternatives to proprietary solutions such as Apache and Firefox have
been time and time again been proved to be more secure.
The most promising area for OSS today is in the corporate environment, as
companies require ever more dynamic solutions to their problems proprietary
software can only go so far. Generally it is very hard to integrate several
proprietary systems together into a single solution, and the fact that you are
often not able to customize proprietary software which you bought to suit your
task doesn't help you much. For an systems administrator it is generally more
important to do exactly this. For example if you want to use one package for a
mail traffic handler and a totally different system for mail box handling you
could, theoretically, achieve just this. If you wanted to do this with
proprietary software you'd probably be out of luck, its highly unlikely that
company A which makes a mail system would like to make their mail handler
compatible with the mailbox handler of company B.
As mentioned earlier there is a good number of companies that embrace Open
Source Software, but there is also the other side. Recently several high
profile companies (Microsoft, SCO) have gone on tremendous slandering
campaigns to try to kill the the OSS movement while it is still developing
stage. A question emerges: if some are able to turn a profit while producing
"free" software why cant others adjust their business plan to the new wave?
This is generally not a question of economics alone but also, one of politics.
Companies which provide Open Source software are usually more interested in
selling solutions then programs. IBM for example sells specialty hardware with
integrated OSS packages which together aim to make it easier for
administrators to implement the solution into an existing system. As a
company, IBM is not concerned about selling software. It knows that the
software alone, without the special hardware, is not of interest to the
public. Other OSS oriented companies (ie: RedHat, Novell) make their money by
either selling support to a product which they "give away" or alternatively
they provide a more customized solutions which would be impossible from an
out-of-the-box package. From the other side, companies which are anti Open
Source (ie: Microsoft) sell consumer end programs which accomplish routine and
general tasks. Often times these packages do not require support and because
these packages are easy to re-invent and have relatively low development cost
and therefore can be cloned by OSS projects. The OSS project called
OpenOffice.org (branch from Suns Star Office) serves as perfect example of
this phenomenon, many users have adopted OpenOffice.org as a replacement to
Microsoft Office. Not only is OpenOffice.org capable of doing virtually
everything Microsoft Office can but it can be deployed on a number of
operating systems and also, its free (gratis and libre). It is evident that
some companies have a lot to loose if many consumers switch to Open Source
Instead of sitting back and complaining how the customers are wrong for
choosing alternative software, companies should be thinking of adapting to the
change in consumers needs. There is money to be made from OSS, many
misunderstand the meaning of "free" when its referred to Open Source software.
While free does mean gratis, when it comes to Open Source software it is used
as by its other meaning: libre. Being free of charge is not a requirement for
a piece of software to be considered Open Source, how ever it is required that
the software come with its source code and without patents or other
limitations. In other words, switching the practice of a company from
Proprietary software to OSS does not mean that they have to switch their money
making strategies, companies can still charge per piece of software just as
Novell or Sun is doing.
Following current trends it is not hard to foresee what direction Open Source
is heading in. The future for OSS in server-type applications is looking
bright, companies of these fields are happy to donate developer time and
research money to keep the non-profit projects in motion. In his evaluation of
Open Source, Fugetta, points out how IBM and Sun are avidly developing for
Apache (86). Considering that Apache has a 67% market share of web servers and
is still growing (Broersma), one can safely say it is not going anywhere.
Apache is not alone, BINDS, mySQL and many other Open Source server-solutions
are also looking strong. The future for OSS in personal and consumer level
programs is also looking quite good. Although the enthusiasms by users is not
as great there is a sizable number of developers willing to work on these
projects. Fortunately developers are beginning to place more emphasis on user-
friendliness, with this more users are likely to deploy Open Source programs
to address their software needs.
- Asiri, Sami. "Open Source Software." ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society 33.1 (March 2003): 2.
- Broersma, Matthew. " Apache zooms away from Microsoft's Web server."Zdnet 12 Jan. 2004.
- Ferris, Paul. "The Age of Corporate Open Source Enlightenment." Queue 1.5 (July/August 2003): 34-44.
- Fuggeta, Alfonso. "Open source software -- An evaluation." Journal of Systems and Software 66.1 (Apil 15 2003): 77-90.
- Stallman, Richard. "Why 'Free Software' is better than 'Open Source.'"Free Software, Free Society: The Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman. Ed: Joshua Gay. Boston:Free Software Foundation 2002
Been a while since I last posted an update. I've been mainly occupied with
college, but yet I've managed to throw together some new projects. First of
all I have started working on a php gallery script to dynamically make
galleries using imagemagic (gdimage lacks different format support so I
abandonned it during the first stage). Also I have finished a project of a
different sort, installing linux on a gateway handbook 2000, a 486 sub laptop
computing device. Right now its purpose is to act as tool to controll other
machines from bed. I'll post pics and tech notes about it when I get a chance
(I am making this entry from bed using elinks).
I hope you all enjoyed my little prank. (Server was not shutdown by MPAA after
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