Monday, November 21, 2011

Upgrading Ubuntu 10.04 to 11.10.

Due to the Kernel of my current Ubuntu Linux being incompatible with the new squashfs, I wanted to update my Ubuntu desktop to the newest version, 11.10. The old version I was using was 10.04 LTS (long-term support).

The process had to be done in three parts, and took a quite long time (~3 hours). If you have a slow internet it could take much more. But at least the process was straightforward.

First, I upgraded from 10.04 to 10.10 with this guide (quoted below).

Upgrade from 10.04 LTS to 10.10 - Network Upgrade for Ubuntu Desktops (Recommended)

You can easily upgrade over the network with the following procedure.
  1. Open the Software Sources application from the System -> Administration menu
  2. Select the sub menu Updates from the Software Sources application
  3. Change the Release Upgrade drop down to "Normal Releases" and close the application
  4. Press Alt-F2 and type update-manager 
  5. Click the Check button to check for new updates.
  6. If there are any updates to install, use the Install Updates button to install them, and press Check again after that is complete.
  7. A message will appear informing you of the availability of the new release.
  8. Click Upgrade.
  9. Follow the on-screen instructions.

The process took about 40 minutes. I still had to upgrade from 10.10 to 11.04 and from 11.04 to 11.10, so at this point I realized it will take a while.

After the upgrade was ready, I rebooted the computer and once again opened the update-manager and clicked on the "Upgrade" button. The upgrade from 10.10 to 11.04 took about 50 minutes for me.

And then at 11.04, after the reboot, I did the same thing again. Again, the process took about 50 minutes.

So finally I had arrived  at 11.10. Things look a lot different now, but it didn't take too long to get used to. And finally the squashfs-tools work!

If you don't know how to see the version of your Ubuntu installation, type cat /etc/issue in a terminal window.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Asus K8n bios update

I was bummed to find out that there was no USB boot option on my K8N motherboard BIOS. Hoping that a BIOS update would give me that option, I started to figure out what to do.

I downloaded the latest BIOS version from the ASUS K8N pages. (download -> select your OS -> BIOS -> Bios version 1011). The version 1011 was released in 2006, so I figure that will be the last version they will release.

Then I got the Asus Update program for Win XP, from softpedia.

First, I saved the current BIOS for backup reasons. I selected "Save current BIOS to file" and clicked Next, chose a folder and saved it as "oldBIOS.rom".

Then I updated the BIOS with "Update BIOS from file". I chose the new BIOS rom file "1011.rom" I downloaded earlier.

The BIOS Flash window.

After a short while the BIOS flashing window appeared, with info on my current BIOS version and the one I was updating into. I figured it would be safer to clear the CMOS checksum to get the default settings, in case the old settings would be somehow incompatible with the new BIOS version.

I clicked flash and crossed my fingers.

Flashing complete.

Then to reboot the computer, hoping it would boot without problems... (If a BIOS update fails and you're left with a crippled BIOS, you can say goodbye to your mainboard unless you have 1337 skillz. So be warned!)

...and it worked! I was able to boot to USB from the boot menu (press F8 at boot time to get there). However, there is no option to set USB in the BIOS setup utility boot order settings. It seems I can only boot to USB by manually going to the boot options menu every time. But that's OK with me as long as I can boot from USB!

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask in the comments!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Running Black Dahlia on Windows XP/Vista

OK, I just played through the old PC adventure game Black Dahlia. It's a good game, well worth a look if you like adventure games. It's a full-motion video (FMV) based game spanning 8 CDs, with some OK acting and an entertaining (but confusing and sometimes illogical) plot.

The game was made in 1998 for Windows 95/98 and it's not that trivial to get it to work flawlessly. Here's how to do it.

For Windows XP users:

1) Install the game.
Put CD#1 in, and run the SETUP.EXE.

2) Download and install the Black Dahlia patch V1.1.
Download the V1.1 patch from here.

3) Try the game out and see how it works.
You don't have to use the windows 95 compatibility mode. For me, the 95 compatibility mode just made the mouse unresponsive. A problem with most modern computers is that when you get to play, the 360 degree view spins like hell when you try to look around, making the game unplayable. There's a solution to this:

4) If the 360 degree view is too fast, edit the configuration file BD.INI.
Edit these parameters:
spin edges = 1
spin vres = 2
spin hres = 2

spin edges = 1 tells the game to spin the view if the mouse is taken near the edges of the screen. This is a better way to navigate through the game, since you can also specify the speed of the "edge spinning".

The other important parameters are spin vres and spin hres. "2" is the lowest speed you can set, with "1" not moving at all. The lowest speed is okay for playing, or at least it was for me.

You can also change the edge sizes, but I didn't need to do that.

5) If you still have problems, try out the Virtual PC solution below. And you can always try asking for help in the comments below.

For Vista / Windows 7 users or if the above solutions didn't work:

1) Install Windows 95 or 98 onto Microsoft Virtual PC.
If you don't have it, download Microsoft's Virtual PC. It's free to download.
Download for Windows 7. Download for Vista or XP.

Get hold of a copy of Windows 95 or 98. Maybe the easiest to install for the Virtual PC is the Windows 95 floppy disk version. Here's some guides to help you with the installation.

Guide for installing Windows 95 CD version on VPC.
Some tips for Windows 95 CD version on the Virtual PC.
A good tutorial for Virtual PC.

2) Now that you have a working Windows 95 / 98 virtual computer, install the game and the patch as you would normally. But you have to put the patch executable on a CD image or a floppy to get it mounted on the virtual PC.

3) Run the game.

I tried also the Virtual PC solution myself, but with my somewhat slow computer, the video in the game was lagging. So I just ran the game directly in Windows XP with the above BD.INI tweaks.

There's also another guide on how to install Black Dahlia, but it has some really unrelevant stuff in it. You don't have to defragment your hard drive before installing! Still, if you want to try it out, it's here.

Good luck! Please ask if you have any questions!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to find out your Linux distribution and version number

Write this command to the terminal:
cat /etc/*-release

It will bring out the distro and the version.

Octave io package troubles fixed...

I was trying to use the textread function in Octave 3.2, under Ubuntu 10.04.

All I got was this error message:
error: `textread' undefined near line 5 column 9

I learnt from the internet that I need the io package from Octave-forge.
So, I downloaded it and tried to install it from Octave with this command:

pkg install  io-1.0.14.tar.gz

Unfortunately, that also gave an error message:
Error: the following dependencies where unsatisfied: io needs octave 3.4.0

So, I found out the io-1.0.13 package is compatible with Octave 3.2. The older versions can be found from the Octave-forge directory tree. I downloaded that version and tried to install it with this Octave command:
pkg install  io-1.0.13.tar.gz

Still an error message. 
make: mkoctfile: Command not found
make: *** [textread.oct] Error 127
'make' returned the following error: make: Entering directory `/tmp/oct-TJBAXw/io/src'
make: Leaving directory `/tmp/oct-TJBAXw/io/src'
error: called from `pkg>configure_make' in file /usr/share/octave/3.2.3/m/pkg/pkg.m near line 1253, column 2
error: called from:
error:   /usr/share/octave/3.2.3/m/pkg/pkg.m at line 714, column 5
error:   /usr/share/octave/3.2.3/m/pkg/pkg.m at line 287, column 7
octave:1> pkg install  ~/io-1.0.14.tar.gz
warning: file ~/io-1.0.14.tar.gz does not exist

Googling around, I found that I need to install octave-headers package.
apt-get install octave-headers


Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Package octave-headers is a virtual package provided by:
  octave3.2-headers 3.2.3-1ubuntu1
  octave3.0-headers 1:3.0.5-7ubuntu2
You should explicitly select one to install.
E: Package octave-headers has no installation candidate

Then by running
apt-get install octave3.2-headers
I finally got the headers installed and started Octave again.

Now, installing the io package finally worked!!!

pkg install  io-1.0.13.tar.gz

A lot of work!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Turn off Autoplay in Windows XP for good!

One of the most annoying things mankind has ever created is the Autoplay in Windows XP. No matter what you do, it doesn't seem to understand you'd prefer play the files yourself than scan the entire CD or USB hard drive contents and then propose some halfwit automatic action.

So, here's a guide on how to TOTALLY disable this P-O-S.

Go to Start Menu -> Run... and then write 'gpedit.msc' in the text field like in the picture below. Hit enter or click OK.

Run a program called "gpedit.msc".

You get to the Group Policy editor.

You get to an advanced configuration editor called "Group Policy". Click on Administrative Templates and then on System. Scroll down to find the option Turn off Autoplay.

Find the option "Turn off Autoplay" in the Group Policy editor.

Double-click on the Turn off Autoplay option to get a property editor screen. Of course, you know what to do there... Select Enabled and All drives, like in the picture below.

Set Turn off Autoplay to Enabled and effective on All drives.

Click OK. Now, Autoplay should never bother you again!

The Turn off Autoplay settin has been enabled!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Installing & using Lightscribe in Ubuntu Linux

Download the Lightscribe Simple Labeler software

The Lightscribe Simple Labeler for Linux can be downloaded from the Lightscribe homepage for free. You also need to download and install the Lightscribe System Software package. After agreeing to the license terms, download the "deb package" if you use Ubuntu (Ubuntu uses debian-style package management).

Download Lightscribe System Software
Download Lightscribe Simple Labeler

The main download page for Linux Lightscribe software

Install the software

I'm not sure if it matters, but I installed the Lightscribe System Software package (lightscribe- first. Find the packages where you downloaded them and double-click on them (or single-click, depending on your Ubuntu configuration. Anyway, run them).

Install the .deb packages

The Ubuntu package manager window comes up. Click on the "Install Package" button and wait a while. Repeat these steps for the "lightscribeApplications" package. You now have Lightscribe installed on your system!

Running Lightscribe Simple Labeler

To run the Lightscribe Simple Labeler, open up a terminal window (from Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal), copy-paste or type this command and press enter:

The welcome screen of the Lightscribe Simple Labeler

The welcome screen appears. It works! Click Next, to go on.

Example label settings

Edit your label according to your likes and press Next to see the results.

The label with the example label settings.
The font size cannot be changed and custom pictures can't be used. You can use one of the provided decorations, such as the tribal shown in the next pic:

Another label design with some tribal decoration.

That's it. It's not giving you much freedom and the font size could be bigger, but anyway with this you can label your discs in an easy way.


Ubuntu Community Documentation - Lightscribe - Lightscribe disc labelers for GNU/Linux

Edit: I found another program, DiscWrapper, which is capable of printing much more complicated designs through the LaCie's Lightscribe application. I'll be writing about it soon I quess :)
Discwrapper homepage on

Monday, January 10, 2011

Draw squares & circles with GIMP

Today I realized I don't have a clue how to draw circles or squares in GIMP.

I knew how to do it in MS Paint, but Paint draws everything 1 pixel wide... I wanted thicker squares.

I opened GIMP but didn't have a clue how to draw squares... I could select squares but that was all.

So, I found this very nice video that shows how to do it. Here it is!

Have fun drawing circles...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Minecraft recv failed error... fixed!

OK. A lot of people seem to have this problem. Finally, I managed to fix it for myself!

This problem is quite common with Minecraft Survival Multiplayer.

Basically, the problem goes like this: you connect to a server, maybe manage to do something for some minutes, and then you eventually hang up with the message:
Internal exception: java.netSocketException: Software caused connection abort: recv failed

For some, this comes instantly. Some fall straight into the void and cannot communicate through the chat, although they see the others talk. Some even get to mine something for a while. But then it all ends with this message.

It seems that this problem is due to two things: certain integrated network adapters and their old / buggy drivers, and the current buggy state of Minecraft multiplayer mode.

Also, some people report that the problem may occur due to incorrect port forwarding. With me, this was not the case.

Solutions that work for some people (but didn't work for me)...

The first thing to do is to try shutting down your firewall program. That didn't help for me.

Second, try this: (this is for XP, should be similar in Windows 7 or other versions)
1) Open Control Panel, click on System, click on hardware tab, click "Device Manager"
2) Find your network adapter and go to it's properties
3) Go to Advanced and change property "Transmit Buffers" from 256 to 512.
For me, this didn't work - I did not have such a property in there.

But finally, I figured out a third fix that finally worked for me!

The fix

The fix was actually very simple. You need to update your ethernet adapter's drivers. The hardest part was finding the updated drivers.

1) Find out the make of your ethernet adapter.
2) Get a new driver for the adapter.

If the adapter is not integrated, and is on a separate card you can look for the model on the ethernet card, or by looking at the device manager for model name (see above).

If the adapter is integrated onto the motherboard, you need to find out the make of your motherboard.

That task is very easy with a nice free program called CPU-Z. You can download the software from CPUID webpage for free.

Here's CPU-Z showing info about my crappy old motherboard.

From the above screenshot you can see how the CPU-Z interface looks like.

So, I found out that my motherboard is a K8N made by ASUS. So, I went to the ASUS support site and searched for drivers. Unfortunately, the drivers on the site hadn't been updated at all! They were the same shitty old drivers from 2004 that I had already!

What then, I thought. I was already thinking of getting some new ethernet card...

Then I noticed NVIDIA was the maker of the chipset and the ethernet adapter. Maybe they had newer drivers? By googling "nforce3 drivers" I found a link to a NVIDIA support page with a bit newer drivers (2005 I recall). After installing the newer drivers from NVIDIA, it finally worked!!!

I logged onto a server and just wandered around for ages looking at giant buildings.

I have to be careful I don't waste too much time playing this.

That's it for now! Thanks for reading and I hope this helps you!

PS. If you have any problems, ask away!

New blog... again!

Hi all,

Since posts about computer fixes / hacks didn't fit the earlier two blogs I had set up, I decided to start a new one to keep things tidy. So, this will be my blog about various computer tricks & problems I run across.

Thanks for reading!