Archive for the ‘Linux’ Category

Debian Lenny and my Sony Vaio VGN-FZ38M Notebook

Since a few weeks now I am in a new employer-employee relationship. I got a brand new Asus notebook. By accident I indeed booted M$ V1sta and cleanly restarted the computer. I then changed the BIOS password and was already happy to reboot, to enter the password and then install Debian GNU/Linux. The password??! It didn’t accept my password! Okay, after a few calls with the Asus customer support I really was very unpleased and we had to send this piece of cake back to the trader. I really can’t recommend the Asus support. That’s my personal experience. It’s now 4 weeks back we sent it in and we still didn’t get something back. So in the short term I got another Notebook, it’s a Sony Vaio VGN-FZ38M. Everything runs fine, the installation was straight forward and I had no glitches yet.

emil@xxx:~$ cat /etc/debian_version

emil@xxx:~$ uname -a
Linux xxx #1 SMP PREEMPT Wed Dec 3 09:26:13 CET 2008 i686 GNU/Linux

It’s specs are something like Intel Core 2 Duo T8100, 4 GB RAM, 200GB HD, WLAN 802.1 a/b/g/n, 15.4 WXGA – 1280×800 (that’s one obvious minus point), a NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT GPU, Firewire, USB, Bluetooth and a Blue-ray disc drive.

For your info, here comes the output from lspci:

emil@xxx:~$ lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile PM965/GM965/GL960 Memory Controller Hub (rev 0c)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile PM965/GM965/GL960 PCI Express Root Port (rev 0c)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #4 (rev 03)
00:1a.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #5 (rev 03)
00:1a.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #2 (rev 03)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 03)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 03)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 2 (rev 03)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 3 (rev 03)
00:1c.4 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 5 (rev 03)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1 (rev 03)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #2 (rev 03)
00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #3 (rev 03)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #1 (rev 03)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev f3)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801HEM (ICH8M) LPC Interface Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801HBM/HEM (ICH8M/ICH8M-E) IDE Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 82801HBM/HEM (ICH8M/ICH8M-E) SATA AHCI Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 03)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation G86M [GeForce 8400M GT] (rev a1)
06:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 4965 AG or AGN [Kedron] Network Connection (rev 61)
08:00.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88E8036 PCI-E Fast Ethernet Controller (rev 16)
09:03.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCIxx12 Cardbus Controller
09:03.1 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments PCIxx12 OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 Host Controller
09:03.2 Mass storage controller: Texas Instruments 5-in-1 Multimedia Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO/xD)

The WLAN device required to fetch the driver from this intel page und to put it in the /var/firmware/ directory.

emil@xxx:~$ ls -l /var/firmware/
total 184
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 187672 2008-12-03 14:56 iwlwifi-4965-2.ucode

My config fle for the network devices looks similar to the lines below, we have of course an encrypted WLAN and so I had to pass some more parameters to the config.

emil@xxx:~$ cat /etc/network/interfaces
# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# The primary network interface
#allow-hotplug eth0
#iface eth0 inet dhcp

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
pre-up (echo ‘Modprobing iwl4965’) && /sbin/modprobe iwl4965
post-down (echo ‘Removing iwl4965′) && /sbin/modprobe -r iwl4965
wpa-key_mgmt WPA-PSK
wpa-pairwise TKIP
wpa-group TKIP
wpa-psk your_Pre-Shared-Key
wpa-driver wext
wpa-key-mgmt WPA-PSK
wpa-proto WPA
wpa-ssid your_ESSID

This works for me, the screen resolution is sometimes a handicap and I would like a better battery uptime. But altogether this seems to be a good device without anything really ugly per my definition.

For further information about linux on notebooks etc you might have a look at

HTH, Emil

EDIT: This notebook does not support Intel Vanderpool / VT technology !

This really is a big disappointment !

VMware Workstation and Linux 2.6.27

Today I received a comment from Kang about a fix for VMware Workstation 5.5 and Linux 2.6.27.

You get the file here and of course at his place, too.

It works like any other vmware-any-any-update:

tar xvzf vmware-update-2.6.27-5.5.7.tar.gz
cd vmware-update-2.6.27-5.5.7/

Good luck.

edit: The archives were updated. Thank you, Kang.

VMware Workstation and Linux 2.6.26

I had to update my kernel to something 2.6.26, so VMware was broken again. I tried to fix it with the previously working fix from here, but that didn’t work. I had a look at the recently released vmware-any-any updates. No, these didn’t work for me either. When I tried to start a virtual machine I got a message like

Version mismatch with vmmon module: expecting 138.0, got 168.0

Yes, I know – using VMware Workstation 5.5 is pretty stupid and doesn’t make things easy – nonetheless no explanations now. Thus I extracted the vmmon.tar file and edited vmmon-only/include/iocontrols.h and in line 48 there is

#define VMMON_VERSION           (168 << 16 | 0)

I fixed this by modifying the version value from 168 to 138, saved the changes and once again ran the script. Okay that helped. Alright. No, it obviously didn’t help.

Unable to change virtual machine power state: Cannot find a valid peer process to connect to.

GRMBL. Now that’s stupid. So I lurked around every corner and found this vmware-any-any-update117 version which finally helped me out.


P.S. Of course I consider dropping VMware for some other solution…asap.

Edit: For linux 2.6.27 just have a look at this page!

FlashEmbedded Family

On Sunday we have been on a visit to my older brother and his family. Nerdy as I am I had our Sony Handycam with me on the trip and arrived back at home with plenty of new video footage. So I just wanted to make some videos available and digitalized and converted the dv source material from the camcorder with dvgrab and ffmpeg.

So this is some kind of a minimal HowTo, hope this helps someone.

If you are like me, you don’t like the idea to rely on 3rd party websites like There are a few good reasons to keep the video on your site – you have the physical control and you don’t need to accept confusing licence agreements. So here we go!

First I piped the output of dvgrab directly from the firewire to ffmpeg. This deinterlaced, converted and scaled the dv file to something more useful for a web page. I think that the following options are fine, feel free to change them and of course make use of man dvgrab and man ffmpeg.

dvgrab -format dv1 – | ffmpeg -deinterlace -f dv -i – -f flv -vcodec flv -s qvga -aspect 1.333 -qscale 3.5 -acodec libmp3lame -ab 32k -ar 22050 example.flv

Next I uploaded the example.flv file into the root directory of the domain. I use the open-source FlowPlayer Flash applet to actually embed the FLV video in my web page. I had to get a copy of the flowplayer.swf and flashembed.js from their page and copied the files to the root directory as well.

And finally I added the following lines to the html page.

<!– include flashembed –>
<script src=”flashembed.js”></script>

<!– this DIV is where your Flowplayer will be placed. –>
<div id=”videodiv” style=”width:640px;height:503px”></div>

// place Flowplayer to our DIV
flashembed(“videodiv”, “FlowPlayer.swf”, {config: {

// Flowplayer configuration as comma separated list
videoFile: ‘example.flv’,
initialScale: ‘scale’


That’s it. You should now have your video embedded in your page.

System administration assistance

Do you know Nagios? It is a service and resource monitor helping the admin to keep an eye on the hosts. I have been working with the 2.x (now legacy) series for a while, haven’t worked with the 3.x series by now. I am going to install 3.0.2 on some new machines today and migrate the servers with the anterior 2.x to stable 3.x as soon as everything is working fine.

Another chunk of software that recently caught my attention is called puppet. It is “an automated administrative engine for your *nix systems, performs administrative tasks (such as adding users, installing packages, and updating server configurations) based on a centralized specification.” Sounds pretty interesting, but it is getting better. “Puppet can let you focus more on how things should be done and less on doing them.” Puppet is open source and is released under the GNU Public License.

And I came across cfengine, a project that was started in 1993 and is similar to the operational area of puppet and released under the GPL, too. Like puppet it is used in both large and small companies, as well as in many universities and governmental institutions.

When I took a closer look at their sites to check who is using which software, both projects state that sites of several thousand hosts are common. That are dimensions where I have to admit I am obviously impressed. And the absence of proper tools for system administration and assistance software is really unthinkable.

Once again the quintessence is that there is a lot of great software available for your needs if you just dig for it. Keep you shovels steady!

VMware Workstation and Linux 2.6.24

While everyone else here is asleep I decided to test some recently released distributions in a virtual machine. I had to update my vmware modules to match my actual kernel version. I did

cd /usr/src/
tar xvzf vmware-any-any-update-116.tgz
cd vmware-any-any-update116

Some setup confirmations later the install routine finshed. So far so good. I started the workstation and when choosing an iso image a message popped up saying: “The folder could not be displayed – VFS error: Invalid parameters.” Known problem, easy fix – try this:

cd /usr/lib/vmware/lib
ln -sf /usr/lib/
ln -sf /lib/

VMware now works again, hooray! Happy virtualization!

Debian Lenny, FreeBSD and my HP Compaq 6715b

Of course I love working on my dualcore workstation, crammed with 4 gigs of RAM and a rocket fast SATA Raid 0+1 mass storage. I really don’t complain. But the notebook I used on the road and on-site at customers had seen better days. So some weeks ago my employer agreed to buy me a new notebook. To make things short – I ordered the HP Compaq 6715b. It has a 1680×1050 screen resolution, a decent amount of RAM and an AMD X2 Turion Dualcore. The harddisk is quite okay, 250 GB SATA at 5400 RPM. I had to get rid of Windows Vista, so I took my freshly burned Debian Lenny weekly build CD and installed it. Lenny offers a pretty nice working environment. I didn’t use all the space availible, there has always to be playground for testing purposes. I already thought of installing OpenBSD and FreeBSD on the remaing space.

So what is working and what is not? What were the pitfalls in the installation procedure?

I was keen on changing the internal BCM 4312 802.11a/b/g Mini-PCIe WLAN device to something more functional. So I ordered from our wholesale dealer a Gigabyte AirCruiser G Mini-PCIe card with an Atheros chipset. But when I rebooted my computer I was suprised by the dreaded “104-unsupported wireless network device detected” message. It is possible to modify the bios and to insert some hex code to make it work, but I had better things to do. So now I am using the built in card via ndiswrapper and when I need more functionality I simply plug in an (Atheros) Orinoco Gold PCMCIA adapter. The fingerprint reader works fine, I tested it though I don’t need it.

Here is my simple xorg.conf and the output of lspci and verbose lspci

The release of FreeBSD 7.0 two weeks ago was just in time, I fetched the install images and went through the install procedure without any hassle. I haven’t installed the WLAN drivers yet, but the ndis tools are always red-hot in FreeBSD and so I expect it to function properly , too. In FreeBSD I use the radeonhd drivers, 2D desktop performace is fine. On FreeBSD 7.0 the sound is not working yet, but that’s for the time being fine.

My xorg.conf and my pciconf -l -v in BSD.

Altogether I think this notebook is recommendable. Its performance is all right, the display is very nice and bright. The casing doesn’t get too warm and the battery lasts up to three hours.

If you need more information on notebooks running linux or unix, have a look at and don’t hesitate to submit your experience by yourself.