Software Blog

2017-01-08 11.00 Niels Jensen

Editing mp4-videos in openSUSE

Challenges resolved

About a year ago Niels inherited his sons Nexus 6 phone, and during this first year have been quite pleased with it. It can record mp4-videos with excellent sound and picture quality. However the challenge start when wanting to edit one of these videos in openSUSE Leap 42.2. Our preferred tools are FFmpeg and openshot - using FFmpeg for croping, and then openshot for adding an opening title slide and ending credit slide. This has worked for years with videos recorded with using our Canon EOS 550D camera, which creates mov-videos, that are easily converted to other formats using FFmpeg.

Increasing frustration with ffmpeg

No such look with mp4-videos. Or any other formats, which are containers for mp4. However, it was possible to play the mp4-videos from the Nexus 6 in smPlayer. While attempting to solve the issue we tried different output files to ffmpeg, without demuxing and muxing capabilities my installed version of ffmpeg had. For example the command "ffmpeg -i SK.mp4 SK.flv", gave the error message "[NULL @ 0x798ea0] Unable to find a suitable output format for 'SK.flv' " followed by "SK.flv: Invalid argument". Later inspection of the output from "ffmpeg -formats" reveiled, that ffmpeg was correct. I even googled the message "Unable to find a suitable output format", and discovered that others encountered this message. But I did not find anything pointing towards a solution. The learning is: Check that the installed version of the software you are using is able to do, what you want to do!

When pressed for time find about open source tool

Since time was short we turned to VLC. This video player also have some editing capabilities, e.g. specification of cropping parameters before conversion to another format. I chose the ogg-format. This resulted in a playable file, but somewhat reduced picture quality compared to what I was used to from ffmpeg.

What should have been done in the first place

Turns out the trick is to go to the openSUSE Community webpage at http://opensuse-community.org/ and use the 1-click installer for either KDE or GNOME. If things don't work after installing the codecs, make sure all your multimedia packages are coming from Packman. Go to YaST Software Managment, click "View", click "Repositories", select the Packman Repository, click on "Switch system packages". This will replace already installed packages with packages from the Packman repository and also install any packages your are missing. On our system we were missing 8 packages and 36 packages were replaced. And as usuall with linux no restart is needed.

At first I had followed the instructions at "Unoffical Guide to openSUSE Leap 42.2 13. Multimedia Codecs" at http://opensuse-guide.org/codecs.php but overlloked the small print, which states "Afterwards make sure all your multimedia packages are coming from the Packman Repository: Start "YaST Software Management", then click on "View" and select "Repositories". Then select the Packman Repository and click on the buttom "Switch system packages" at the top of the list, and finally click on "Accept" to install the pacakges from the Packman Repository.

The legal reason for my problems is that openSUSE Leap 42.2 has to comply with the DMCA. I think that in this case the issue is the difference between "free to use" - properly for non-commercial perposes - and "free to distribute".

2016-11-29 21.15 Niels Jensen

A new feature of convert

- the linux command-line workhorse!

For years we have been using pdfsam to manipulate pdf-file, such as merge, rotate, extract etc. Today, I had to manipulate af pdf-file, which would not open in pdfsam. A quick Google search indicated, that convert could be used to extract parts of a pdf-file.

The first attempt

          • convert file.pdf[48-52] newfile.pdf

worked, but the quality of the resulting pdf-file was rather poor. So we decided to use the density parameter in the extraction, and

          • convert -density 300x300 file.pdf[48-52] newfile.pdf

produced an excellent extract. Linux command-line utilities, may take some learning, but in many situations the learning pay off. Pdfsam will likely still be our choice if individual pages have to be taken from different pdf-files and merged into a new file with some rotations.

2016-03-31 15.30 Niels Jensen

Libre Office

- Why you should learn it?

If you have been creating documents for a while, then sooner rather than later you will have a need to create documents for commercial print shops to get better control of the material, which you send to potential customers.

With LibreOffice you almost get the same control of the document, as you have in real publishing programs such as the open source Scribus or the commercial programs from Adobe. Hence if you take time to learn to master LibreOffice's template features and style features, which goes way beyond what Microsoft Office is offering you, then your interaction with a printshop will be easier. Bruce Byfield have published a description of the most important differences between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office in OCS-Mag.

If you are following the normal openSUSE update cycle, then you are properly currently using the 5.0.X version of LibreOffice. So start playing around with some of the features described by Bruce Byfield. That would make you better at communicating with your print shop when that need arise.

2016-02-07 11.45 Niels Jensen

Btrfs under openSUSE Leap 42.1

- better harddisk usage

Since installing openSUSE Leap 42.1 and choosing the default Btrfs for the root file system we have observed, a better hard disk usage than we experienced with openSUSE 13.2 and the xt4fs.

The picture above is the harddisk usage on our HP Pavilion Elite 430sc for the home and root partitions. The root partition is 20 GB, and about 80% is in use. With openSUSE 13.2 and the xt4fs we several times experienced the root file-system usage climbing to 100%, but with openSUSE Leap 42.1 and btrfs we have not seen root file system usage above 85% during our first few months of usage.

Root and Home partition usage easily visualized

The picture on the right shows the root partition usage, and the one below the home partition - most pictures and videos. We apologize for using pie-charts on which it is rather difficult to compare the size of different areas. However, the applicaton Filelight don't allow one to show the results in other formats, e.g. such as treemap or bar stacked bar charts.However, there is a new development in the pipeline called QDirstat, and it is from the developer op KDirstat, which don't work with the latest versions of KDE. Another options is the command line tool baobab, which allows you to switch between plots like the ones shown here and treemaps, and also display plots of subfolders.

So we clearly see openSUSE current default choice for root partition file system, as excellent. You just have to get used to shutdown taking a bit longer - especially if the system is not rebooted regularly.

Too small root partition

After a few months of usage we have experienced some problems with snapper on our notebook. Our 20 GB root partition is simply too small for snapper, and after a few system updates we ran out of space on the root partition. We think this is mainly due to the default snapper configuration not being optimal with our small root partition and our usage of the notebook, i.e. snapshots not being delete fast enough. Based on research on the different fora we have for the time stopped snapper until we can increase the root partition size.At least 40 GB is recommend, but we will increase it to 60 or 80 GB, since the process will require a full backup of our home partition.

Desktop before changing the default background. We really liked the large pop-up icons from the task bar.
2015-12-14 18.30 Niels Jensen

Adding openSUSE Leap 42.1

- to upgraded Windows 10 desktop

The addition of openSUSE Leap 42.1 to our system with Windows 10 was a breeze, except, that we choose the Btrfs file system for the root drive. That broke all our desktop start program icons. Hence we decided to re-install using the old ext4 file system for the root partition. There is properly an easy fix for the problems, but it was quicker to just use the familiar file system. Especially since we have yet to read any convincing information about why we should have chosen Btrfs.

After startup the fonts used by our Java application simply used ugly. It had been so long since our upgrade to openSUSE 13.2, that we forgot to install the Microsoft fonts using the fetchmstffonts package available in the repositories. Beside this minor problem we only have one remaining issue, which is that we usually configure each virtual desktop independently, i.e. one is just icons, another groups, and a third search.

We are using a SpikerOak unlimited account to store an offsite copy of all our data. Since SpikerOak don't have a openSUSE repository any longer YaST complained about the integrity of the SpikerOakOne package, and we had to ignore the message to install the package. SpikerOakOne is working fine in Leap 42.1.

Update on SpiderOak June 2018

We dropped SpikderOak, since we more needed an archive, than an off-site copy.

2015-12-14 18.15 Niels Jensen

Upgrading to Windows 10 problematic on dual boot system



Since a new version of openSUSE was released last month we decided it was time to upgrade the Windows 7 Home Premium on our Desktop system to Windows 10. That is not without its challenges! First we had to reserve our upgrade, which according to Microsoft would be ready with some days or weeks. However, just before this upgrade, we had upgraded an HP Pavillion laptop running Windows 7 Professional to Windows 10. On the Windows 7 Professional the upgrade was available as soon as we installed and run the Windows 10 upgrade app, and when we started the upgrade it completed without any problems. And all our files where, at Microsoft claimed, where we left them. The upgrade was completed relatively quickly.

Problems with openSUSE after Windows 10 installation

Based previously having problems with our openSUSE installation after installation of an upgrade from Microsoft we decided to see what people on the internet said. We did find one blogger, who claimed Windows 10 behaved well with Grub2. So we started the upgrade. Some hours later it failed with error 8007001F. We found many discussion of this error on Microsoft sites, and not a hint of a solution. After experiencing the error on two dual boot systems and not getting anywhere with the advice from the official Microsoft sites, we googled "Windows Update 8007001F", and found a discussion (scroll down to Stepan's reply on August 8, 2015) with an approach to a solution on a Microsoft forum site. The problem turned out to be Grub2 and the MBR. So we created a Windows 7 Home Premium Recovery Disk (64-bit), and executed "bootrec /FixMbr" and "bootrec /Fixboot" to remove Grub2 from the path to Windows.We the performed the upgrade to Windows 10. However, we still have not had enough patience to let Microsoft install all the updates created since the release of the upgrade software this summer (This means, that so far we have had to power off the system to stop Windows).

2015-10-20 10.00 Niels jensen

Using Google for Work

Continous improvement in import and translation

Safepark several years ago decided to use Google for Work - now G Suite, and it has not always been easy to open the different documents, which we have received. However, over the years things have improved, and recently during review of submissions for a major conference on loss prevention and safety promotion next year, we have experienced very few import problems.

The mentioned conference use a template with a special header on the first paper, and 3 years ago during the review of papers for the previous conference these headers disappeared on conversion to the Google Docs format. Also many graphical elements did not survive the transformation. This year the contributions submitted as *.docx documents opened without problems in the Chrome browser, and during conversion to the Google Docs format we only encountered a problem with one figure in 24 submissions. This has allowed us to comment extensively on each paper, suggest spelling corrections, etc, and share these commented versions of the submissions with the chair of the review group. One feature, which would have been nice, would have been the ability to save a version of the commented paper without identifying the reviewer name and other personal information.

Only problem we encountered during this review process was a current document going offline, even though we could still access other websites and read and reply to e-mails in GMail.

During a recent review of a PhD-thesis written in Microsoft Word we experienced the speed with which improvements comes to Google Docs. During a conversion of several chapters at the end of October most figures were not correctly imported from the Word document into the Google Docs document. At the end of November this had changed. Re-converting the same documents resulted in all figures being properly converted. And these conversions were done with the tools, that are free to use with any Google account.

We have also seen significant improvements in the translation of an English language document into Danish. We perform such translation to give Danish blood cancer patients access to information about the latest developments in medical research.

2015-07-21 19.00 Niels jensen

HP C7280 Ink System failure

After investing almost 200 USD in new ink-cartridges for our several years old HP C7280 about six month ago started up with ink system failure. The failure code was c18a0106, but that turned out not to be really important. We were just about to take the printer to the dump, when we decided to give fixing the problem another try. We simply googled HP C7280 ink system failure. And we found a solution at http://www.fixyourownprinter.com/forums/printer/54675 .

Here are the details of the procedure we used to get our old C7280 working again:

  • Press and hold the ‘*’ key on the keypad on the printer panel, then press the ‘#’ key and release them both
    • Press ‘123’ on the keypad to enter to enter maintenance mode.
      • Press the right arrow (beside the OK button) until System Config menu appear.
        • Press OK to clear any hardware error condition - in my case the ink system failure condition.
          • Power the printer off by removing the power cord, and then insert the power cord again.

When the printer started up again the following step were executed:

  • Select the language for the printer menu (English).
    • Select the location, country, of the printer (Denmark).

Then printer alignment started and a printer alignment pages was printed. This takes several minutes and then you are asked to discard the printed page, and connect the printer to your computer. We connected the USB cable to my Lenovo E520, and started hp-setup, which immediately found the HP C7280. We configured it. Under openSUSE this requires root access, but not a restart, and then printed a testpage, and the printing started momentarily.

Before using this procedure we had tried other approaches to ink-system-failure for HP printers found on the internet. None of these other procedures worked, such as pressing a combinations of keys on the keypad while powering on the printer - this was supposed to factory reset the printer. We have attached the scanned output from the printer after entering maintenance mode etc. at detailed above. Would it be nice if printer manufactures were more open about how their printers can be maintained?

Just a short update. After several days of using the scanner function with XSane on our openSUSE 13.2 desktop, some printing of pictures on photopaper and color printing of labels on an A4-sheet we are very happy that we got the C7280 working again. We still have some small issue with setting the photo paper type etc. But very pleased that one evenings work resulted in a working piece of hardware.

Update December 2017

Close to the end of 2017 this printer finally died after more than 15 years of good service. During it's last month the unit was mainly used for scanning with maybe a couple of pages printed each week. After a shutdown in the beginning of December the printer stopped starting up correctly. It continued to complain about paper jam, but there were none. So it got recycled. RIP!

2015-04-09 15.45 Niels Jensen

Out-of-space-on-root

on openSUSE 13.2

If you run out-of-space on root with openSUSE 13.2, then your system will boot, but X will not start. So your graphical desktop will not appear. This happened ones to us, and almost a second time. At the second occurrence a major cleanup af the major file areas /tmp and /var/tmp prevented the issue. However, to avoid this situation in the future we have implemented a procedure for cleaning these directories on reboot, which usually happens daily.

This is accomplished by copying the file tmp.conf from /usr/lib/tmpfiles.d to /etc/tmpfiles.d and editing the tmp.conf in the /etc/tmpfiles.d directory by changing the end of the lines for the /tmp and /var/tmp directories from '-' to '1d'. This means any files older than 1 day will be deleted on a reboot. Al alternative to this procedure would be to move /tmp - and possibly also /var/tmp to tmpfs, which is currently being discussed in several linux fora.

2015-04-09 14.45 Niels Jensen

KDE Leave menu doesn't appear

Recently we have had to stop our desktop system, which is usually running openSUSE with KDE, using the hard power off, i.e. pressing and holding the power button down for several seconds. The problem, was that if we right clicked on the desktop and to choose "Leave" from the pop-up menu, then nothing happened. Finally, we got tired of this and did some googling.

The solution was simple. Start "Configure Desktop", and go to "Startup and Shutdown", and in "Session Management" choose "Start with an empty session". Then after a Ctrl+Alt+Backspace we could login again, and Leave menu appears.

2015-03-29 10.30 Niels Jensen

Skype working again

on our 64-bit openSUSE 13.2!

After installing openSUSE 13.2 we had issues with getting Skype to start. The issue was not the one reported in the release notes.

Rather, it appears, that some 32-bit libraries, which Skype use was not installed when the base 32-bit functionality is installed during the install of a 64-bit open-SUSE 13.2. Starting Skype from a command line it reported, that libX11.so.6 was missing. Apparently that is a key X11 library, so without it nothing should work. The missing libraries were not properly identified during during installation of either of the unstable Skype-packages for open-SUSE 13.2 or the latest Linux rpm-package from the Skype website.

Initially we attempted to install the missing library using YaST by searching for "libX11.so". This resulted in nothing found. Yesterday, we tryed searching for just "libX11" in YaST, and discovered that the 32-bit version was not installed. We installed it, and again attempted to start Skype from a command line. Then another library was missing. This was then installed using YaST, and the procedure was repeated for another 3 or 4 libraries. Finally Skype started both from the command line and from the Skype icon under applications on the KDE desktop. Skype now even automatically starts after restarting the system.

Before arriving at the above solution we had searched the internet for rpm packages containing libX11.so.6. Installing such a package for openSUSE 13.2 did not solve the problem. Properly because the other libraries were still missing.

2015-03-22 21.15 Niels Jensen

openSUSE 13.2 everywhere!

and why we still have Windows around. We have now complete our migration to openSUSE 13.2. With the last migrations we ran into number of bad DVD. The writing was completed without errors, but since we used k3b the final result was not checked against the original file. With one DVD the installation stopped during image loading. With another is stopped at the time of boot loader installation and configuration. This was frustrating. We have now switched to Brassero for burning our install media, and as extra security use the check install media option before making our first install with a newly burned DVD.

As previously reported we had some problems with the Brtfs, and quickly abandoned that file system. We also attempted to install Tumbleweed on one of our systems. but since we have small piece of non-opensource software on many units, this attempt was abandoned after more careful reading about Tumbleweed.

Why still Windows?

Now to why we still have Windows around. We are involved in testing some java software developed by a research project. We have discovered, that some functionality sometimes work on Windows with the Oracle edition of Java, but not in openSUSE with the open source java. For example currently we have a program for designing graphical layout from a collection of objects. The menu of objects should open by right clicking on the canvas. This work on Windows 7 with the latest Oracle java edition, but it does not work on openSUSE with open source java. So apparently a needed default library is not being loaded by the open source java. We have not yet identified which one.

And yes! We love Google for Work. It allows among many other thing easy sharing of a whole folder tree with selected collaborators, and we can seamlessly edit and comment on Microsoft Word doduments, which collaborators have e-mailed us.

2015-02-22 17.45 Niels Jensen

Forgot your Windows login password to your home computer?

On your company computer this problem is easily solved by phoning IT support, who quickly resets your password to a one-time login. You are back in business with minutes. At home things are not quite as easy.

If you have forgotten your login password to your account on your home computer or your spouse is no longer around, and forgot to tell you her password. Then you can regain access to system by booting from e.g. an linux live DVD, and then changing a filename temporarily in the system32 directory plus making a copy of another file. After rebooting you will then be able to activate a command prompt before login, and in the command prompt window you can reset the password of any existing user account on the computer. If you are an expert, then you can find details about the procedure on the internet, and otherwise we would be happy to help you. Or you can watch this video:

Here is the procedure described elegantly in the above video:

  1. Download a live desktop version of the Ubuntu operating system
  2. Burn that iso-image to a DVD
  3. Change the boot priority of your system, so CD Drive is the first one.
  4. Now boot from your Ubunto DVD, and choose try ubuntu
  5. Open the file cabinet (if you are uncertain, then get help from a friend familiar with linux)
  6. Open the Windows folder
  7. Open the System32 folder
  8. Find the file cmd.exe and make a copy of it, eg copy_cmd.exe
  9. Find the file Utilman.exe and rename it Utilman1.exe
  10. Find copy_cmd.exe and rename it Utilman.exe
  11. Close the file cabinet
  12. Remove the Ubuntu DVD from your computer
  13. Restart your computer. Since there is no DVD in the drive Windows starts.

Once Windows 7 request your forgotten password, the click on the easy access buttom in the lower left hand corner of the screen, and a command promt window will open. In the command prompt window type

  • net user (this list the users on your Windows computer)
  • net user username newpassword (where 'username' is the user you have forgotten the password for, and 'newpassword' is the new password for this user)
  • close the command prompt window
  • sign into Windows with the newly assigned password

To remove a potential security risk, which this has created on you system, you need to revert steps 10 and 9 (in that sequence).

2014-11-16 20.15 Niels Jensen

Moving from openSUSE 13.1 to 13.2

OpenSUSE 13.2 have already had some excellent reviews, so two days ago we decided to upgrade some of our key systems. Here is our experiences: OpenSUSE 13.2 comes with a new and improved installer. It is a once through installer - if it works as designed. So If you start from a USB-stick or a DVD, and choose installation, the first thing, which happens is configuration of your network card. On our HP desktop the installer immediately recognized the USB wireless network card, and after a few click it was configured and worked during the installation.

So updated packages are downloaded from the repositories during the installation. So after a reboot you have an up-to-date system. That is in theory!

However, after the reboot the wireless connection had disappeared, and network manager was bit active on our KDE panel. After some messing around with network configuration we again had a network connection to the HP. The only drawback of the inline download of updated packages is that the install naturally takes longer. A side effect is that the time estimates for how much time is left of the install fluctuates with the speed of your internet connection.

We used the same DVD to update the openSUSE on our Lenovo Edge. However, the attempt to use the update feature of the DVD resulted in a partly broken system. Maybe because some of our software, like the openShot video editor were not yet is available in the 13.2 repositories, and we were unable to get a network connection working during the update process. Advice: Don't perform update without a network connected! Hence we had to revert to installing and updating after the install. This time there was a network manager on the KDE panel after the initial install, and network connection was established with a few clicks.

On the HP we have installed all the desktops available on the DVD, like KDE, GNome, Enlightenment, MATE and others. Only MATE appear to be broken. Also on the HP on which we installed all the server and development software from the DVD we installed Tesseract OCR with several front ends, like VietOCR. We tested this with both Danish and English language document successfully. Tesseract just give the text of the document, but the formating is loast.

After installation we had to add other software we use, such as Chrome, Chromium, Texmaker, Texstudio, Avast, the codecs etc. Unfortunately we have to do without openShot, since it is not yet in the 13.2 repositories. It is in Packman, but one of the dependencies are missing.

Update!

After a couple of weeks using btrfs we have switched all our systems to the previous default file system. The reason was, that btrfs had problems with shutdown of both our desktop (HP) and our laptop (Lenovo). On several occasions the only way to shutdown with btrfs was a hard power off. The "leave" option stopped working both from the start menu and from the desktop.

2014-01-21 13.45 Niels Jensen

openSUSE upgrade from 12.3 to 13.1

Currently we are upgrading all our linux based hardware from openSuSE 12.3 to openSuSE 13.1. This is being done because openSuSE 13.1 has been selected for long term support by the openSUSE organisation. That means 3 years of patching in stead of just 18 months.

Our hardware are a Lenovo S-10-2, a Lenovo Edge 520, a Toshiba Satellite A200, a Lenovo R40 and an HP desktop. Currently the first three have been upgraded. For this upgrade we elected to perform it online without downloading a DVD. This was done because of the very different amount of software installed on the Edge and e.g. the R40.

We started with the Lenovo S-10-2, which also has a Windows 8 dual boot partition. At the start of the upgrade we forgot to download the latest firmware for the Broadcom wireless card. This resulted in some frustration later on having to download this piece of software from Packman and getting it transfered to the S-10-2. Even though the online upgrade takes significant amounts of time - I guess about 5 hours for the S-10-2 - you avoid the usual patching that follows installation from a DVD. For the upgrade we followed the guide from unixmen, see http://www.unixmen.com/upgrade-opensuse-12-3-opensuse-13-1/.

For the first three upgrades we used just the openSUSE repositories, but for the latter we leave both Packman and Google repositories active, but of course remove the OBS ones.

2013-09-19 17-45 Niels Jensen

Making old e-mails useful again

For almost a decade from 1996 to 2005 one of os - Niels - used first JStreet Mailer and later Polarbar Mailer for all e-mail. It was an interesting experience first with the intensive communication on the beta-list while the first product was in beta, and later when a group of volunteers acquired the rights to the code and continued development of the Polarbar Mailer. The last version 1.25a can still be downloaded from www.polarbar.net.

Both these applications stored each e-mail as a separate file in a folder hierarchy created by the user. Unfortunate these pop-files cannot be directly imporated in modern e-mail clients, like KMail. Fortunately the structure of the pop-files are equivalent. to elm-files. Except, that during some periods the files used the X-DateReceived header in place of just Date in the sent folder. This header must be manually edited in order for the sent e-mails to display the correct date. So after changing the file-name extension and editing a few headers the e-mails can be imported in a KMail folder.

The import filter use the same folder name, at the original folder, but with the prefix PLAIN-. This prefix is a bit misleading. I discovered, that KMail displayed character based smileys as graphical smileys after the import, and also showed icons for attachments. However, this only if the user had elected to store attachments in-line.

The in-line versus off-line storage of attachment was an option introduced by the Polarbar Mailer team to cut down on start-up time, since Polarbar Mailer scanned each e-mail at start-up in order to generate the information for the graphical user interface.

Most of the old e-mails have little or no use, but a few contained registration information for different programs acquired during the last few years of the previous century. You can also get the old e-mail to your GMail account by creating some temporary folders om your GMail account, and copying e-mails to that folder in your KMail account.

2013-03-19 10.45 NielsJensen

Upgrading openSUSE using zypper

- from12.2 to 12.3

Safepark have started upgrading all our systems to openSUSE 12.3. Our first idea was to perform an online update using zypper, and this was attempted on Lenovo E520 running 12.2, but this failed towards the end while attempting to install Calibre. Also the guidelines on this apprach on opensuse.org indicate, that download and installation would be mixed. Just the way YasT used to work. However, when we executed zypper dup, then all the needed files - almost 4700 - were downloaded before the installation started. We did not investigated the failure further, but proceeded to download the DVD image using our Windows 7 partition.

During install all available software options were selected, since this allows us to switch between the different user interfaces provided by openSUSE, i.e. GNome, KDE Plasma, and several others. Even though we these days mostly use KDE, we like to have the option to select another GUI without having to look for additional software. Even then a complete installation only takes about 10 GB.

On the E520 the base installation was complete in less than ½ hour. We usually turn off automatic confirugation at the start of the installation process, since we have often experienced problems with the network configuration. This the download of release note after our network configuration also failed. It turned out this was because connection could not be established to www.suse.com. The installation of patches proceeded normally, and we all had success using HP setup to configure our HP Photosmart All-in-one printer (we don't use the fax). During installation we also noticed, that the single large texlive package has been split up into a large number of smaller package. That should make future upgrades of the texlive system much quicker.

After completion of the install we attempted to login using Gnome, but this failed. We instead used KDE, and after changing from using ifup to Networkmanager for the wireless network we could proceed to install the programs, which are not part of the DVD: Google Chrome Browser, Avast4Workstation for Linux, Skype for Linux, Google Talkplugin and Texmaker. This was the work we attempted to avoid using the online upgrade.

Impression after the first hours of usage is, that YasT have become much faster. That KDE is a pleasure - it even activated the cube without any user input. Furthermore suspend, now works just like I think it should: I close my laptop, and it goes into suspend move, and when I reopen it, it ask for my password before I get adcess to anything. This is cool! We are not that happy with Gnome, even though after installing the mentioned extra software we could log into Gnome.

We have also upgraded two other systems to openSUSE 12.3. One is an almost antic Lenovo R40 - almost 10 years old - which is used mainly for reading e-mails in GMail and connecting with people in Google+. It is doing fine on KDE in openSUSE 12.3. The is a Toshiba Satellite A200, which last Christmas took forever to boot XP, and gives reasonable performance with openSUSE 12.3, but properly would benefit from addtional ram. The Toshiba could be upgraded to 2 x 2 GB for about 400 DDK or around 55 €, which will properly be done later this year.

2013-01-31 11.15 Niels Jensen

Windows 8 install on Lenovo ideaPad S-10-2

Just before the expiry of Microsoft's offer to upgrade any computer to Windows 8 for just 229 DDK incl. VAT it was decided to attempt to install Windows 8 on our Lenovo ideaPad S-10-2. This was a dual boot system with Windows XP Home on the C-drive, and openSUSE on an extended partition. The latter was also in need of an upgrade.

First we ran Microsofts upgrade assistent. That showed we would have some problems executing the upgrade. First of all Windows 8 needed access to the NX bit on the processor. This was almost a showstopper. However, on YouTube we found a video showing a beta realease of Windows 8 starting up relatively fast on exactly a Lenovo ideaPad S10-2. Conclusion: If the beta would install, then properly the GA would also. Some googling and reading showed the NX bit was there, but that it was not available with older bios. So, we upgraded the bios to latest version from 2009.

The upgrade assistent still told us, there would be problems with some apps not starting due to the low screen resolution of the ideaPad S10-2. However, the mentioned YouTube video convinced us that install should be possible. The upgrade assistant also informed us, that some features of the Windows XP installation on the Lenovo would not work with Windows 8. E.g. the quick start buttom. We ignored that and proceeded to buy the upgrade. The first attempt was rolled back to XP are about 2 hours work. Windows 8 installed fine. However, during configuration we properly made two bad choices: 1) To logon to the system with a Microsoft account, and 2) To let Windows 8 automatically choose some system settings. That was yesterday.

This morning we gave it a second try. This choosing to logon with just a local acount, and to manually decide some settings during the configuration. This worked! After the installation we installed needed software such as Chrome, LibreOffice, PDFCreater and Skype. We also removed most of the built-in apps by releasing them from the start screen, since resolution problems prevented them from starting. Our installed software started fine from the start screen.

So how does this upgrade experience compare with upgrading from one version of openSUSE to the next? The fast that I just need to download a small progam - the upgrade assistant - and this then completes the almost everything without much user input. However, I would appreciate some more on screen information during the upgrade, much as openSUSE installers can do. I actually believe it would be a relatively simple task to create such an application for upgrading from one version of openSUSE to the next. It would basically be a small script to change repositories and then run zypper to perform the upgrade.

Also we have to admit, that the Lenovo ideaPad S10-2 starts up in less than 30 seconds from power on. to Windows 8 login. This is significantly faster than in Windows XP.

2012-11-01 12.45 Niels Jensen

openSUSE 12.2 experience

Our experience with openSUSE 12.2 has been very pleasant indeed. Our HPE system has a wireless keyboard and mouse. Formerly we had to wake up the system from suspend mode both in Windows 7 and openSUSE 11.4 by touching the main power switch. With openSUSE 12.2 the system wakes up from suspend mode by just touching the mouse. A much more logical way to start working on the system.

2012-10-20 14.30 Niels Jensen

VFS: Cannot open root device "null"...

Yesterday after the HTC Magic upgrade we successfully used a DVD-RW with openSUSE 12.2 to restore openSUSE functionality to our main desktop system. We even used the DHCP 4 or 6 option to connect successfully to our local area network and the internet, and the internet connection worked both in Gnome and KDE. After this success we today attempted to use the same DVD to upgrade our notebook and receive the following error message as the linux kernet was loadning "VFS: Cannot open root device "null" or unknown block(0,0): error -6". Googling this errror message we discovered, that the cause could be a bad DVD or CD. This was not a big surprise since we tried the DVD in both the build in drive on the Lenovo E520 and a USB attached drive with the same results.

Currently we are downloading a new iso-image, and will report on progress with the upgrade later. The direct download of the DVD iso latest a little less than one hour after which it was burned to a new DVD+RW. From this openSUSE 12.2 was successfully installed on the Lenovo E520. During the install the wireless connection was activated, and we for the first time was able to apply the patches before the final hardware configuration. Also on the Lenovo internet connection worked in both KDE and Gnome. However, we are not using the Network Manager at this time.

PS: KDE was a new learning experience for us. Have been mostly working in Gnome, and getting a bit frustrated with the new icon less desktop.

2012-10-19 08.45 Niels Jensen

Gingerbread on HTC Magic

- succesful upgrade

We successfully upgraded an HTC Magic 32A to run Android Gingerbread. Started by downloading the rom and gapps zip-files from http://db.communityrelease.com/release_display.asp?ReleaseID=716 - see download label at buttom left corner of page.

After several unsuccessful attempts to get the files transfered to the device using openSUSE with or without adk we booted into Windows 7 and simply copied the files to the device using drag and drop. However, at this point we experienced errors during flash of the rom zip-file. The error message contained references to ro.bootloader. After some searching in the forum.xda-developers.com we found a reference to a special version of fastboot commander in this thread http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=824435, and we downloaded the special version of fastboot commander for the HTC Magic from rapidshare using the link in the just mentioned thread.

Fastbook commander is a java based program for interaction with smartphones. We started the HTC Magic version of the program under Windows 7 by clicking on the jar-file contained in the fastbook commander zip-file. Then went to the HTC Magic tab and downgraded the radio and bootloader to the old one. After this step we were still unable to successfully flash the rom. As a last straw we up upgraded the radio and the bootloader again with erase checked. After this step we were able to successfully flash both the rom file and gapps file.

After the successful upgrade a few extra apps was installed, but key ones were already included with the gapps zip-file. Finally we tested the voice e-mail feature by successfully sending an e-mail - while on a WiFi connection - to recipients in Denmark and Canada. The phone was powered off, and rebooted in Gingerbread 2.3.7! Thanks to the developers at xda for making tools like fastboot commander available. They bring new life to old hardware!

2012-09-30 09.30 Niels Jensen

Desktop system upgraded to openSUSE 12.2

Safepark have now started a circle of upgrades to openSUSE 12.2. The first system to be upgraded was our HP Pavillion Elite 430sc - quad core intel based 64-bit system. The upgrade was done as a fresh install without formatting of the /home partition. During the install we could not get networking configured correctly, so the initial patching had to be skipped. After the completion of the install the network was configured to use Network Manager, and the system was patched with the latest patches from openSUSE.

Then a few additional applications had to be installed such as Google Chrome, Adobe Acrobat, and Dconf-editor. The latter application is needed to activate icons on Gnome, which is the desktop environment used most of the time. By default desktop icons are not activated in Gnome. After activation the desktop icons to the programs installed in /home/user/bin instantly became visible. During the initial usage of openSUSE 12.2 crashes of Adobe Acrobat Reader was experienced - especially during writing in PDF-forms. Using Evince this problem was not experienced.

openSUSE 12.2 has a very responsive suspend function, which is activated from the user menu in the top right corner under Gnome. The system wakes up by just touching the wireless mouse. Under openSUSE 11.4 the power buttom had to be pressed lightly - a behavior we have also seen on some Windows XP systems. As of this writing the system has been running for almost 4 days.

Actually it was installation of Windows 7 SP1, which moved the upgrade forward by a few weeks. Windows is rarely used on this computer, but we attempt to keep it updated using Windows Update and Secunia PSI. However, when attempting to install Windows 7 SP1 the install failed with a hexadecimal error message, which linket to some Microsoft support pages. Following the advice on these pages did not resolve the problem. Last week another attempt was done to google for a solution, and in a Linux Mint forum it was discovered, that the failure of the install of Windows SP1 occured because Windows was booted through Grub, and not directly from the C partition. The bios on the HPE system has an option to select the boot device before Grub, and using this feature allowed Windows SP1 to be installed without any problems followed after a reboot by more than a dozen security patches.

After installation of Windows SP1 and patches the Grub boot manager was no longer active. So for a few hours we could only boot into Windows 7. There is excellent material available at opensuse.org on how to resolve this issue - see http://en.opensuse.org/SDB:All_about_GRUB. Since Grub on the openSUSE 11.4 system was installed in the MBR, and this release of openSUSE would soon be at the end of the security patch periode a decision to upgrade was made.

Two other systems are waiting to be upgraded to openSUSE 12.2. These are also dual boot systems. One with Windows XP and one with Windows 7. We will attempt an in-situ upgrade of the later and report on the experience next month.

2012-07-22 11.30 Niels Jensen

SUSE leads because of openSUSE

After Attachmate last year bought SUSE from Novell there was a bit of uncertainty about what would happen. That did not last long. Here are some of todays facts:

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is used in 80% of all instances of Linux running on mainframe computers.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is used in 70% of all instances of SAP on Linux.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is used by nearly all of the world's major automobile manufacturers.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is used by nearly 80% of the US Fortune 500 aerospace and defence companies.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is used by nearly 70% of the US Fortune 100 general merchandisers, specially retailers and food and drug stores.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is used by over two-thirds of the global Fortune 100.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server have over 8500 applications certified to run on it.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are certified and supported on 13500 hardware.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is used on over half of the world's largest supercomputer clusters.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is a licensed product to which you can buy support from SUSE or others. However, if you can live with upgrading (migrating) your OS to a new version every 18 months, then you can get more than 90% of the benefits of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server by using openSUSE. A new version of openSUSE is release about every six months, and patch support is provided for 18 months. Safepark Consultancy have been using openSUSE on all its computers since 2008, and have experience with SUSE since SUSE Linux 9.2 Professional.

2011-03-22 12.15 Niels Jensen

Succesfull upgrade of ideapad S-10-2

- from openSUSE 11.2 to 11.4

A succesfull upgrade of a Lenovo ideapad S-10-2 from running openSUSE 11.2 to running openSUSE 11.4 was done. The upgrade took about 7 hours using the wireless internet connection of the notebook. But basically the proceedure involve using the command line tool zypper, and the procedure available at the www.opensuse.org web-site.

The detailed steps of on-line upgrade of openSUSE

First you need a list of your current repositories, and we suggest saving this to a file with the following command

    • zypper lr > oldrepos.sh

You then need to gedit to edit this file, so you can use it to remove existing reporsitories. We found it desirable to remove old repositories instead of just disabling them, at suggested in the procedure posted on the opensuse.org web-site. The lines in oldrepos.sh are edited to the form

    • zypper rr reponame

Then all old repositories are removed using the command (remember to fist give the file oldrepos.sh execution priviliges):

    • ./oldrepos.sh

Our oldrepos.sh to be used when upgrading from 11.4 to 11.5 are attached below. In the oldrepos.sh file you can use alias names for the repositories.

Next you need to create a file newrepos.sh, which creates the repositories, which you use for performing the upgrade. We have edited the file we used for the comming upgrade from 11.4 to 11.5, and attached it below. Creating this file is very important to the success of your online upgrade. Prior to this procedure becomming official, we use a similar approach, but unfortunately had omitted a key repository, and ended with a white screen after a reboot. In the current upgrade we added the Nvidia repository, the Google Chrome repository, the Printing repository and the Packman repository to the standard ones. Ones you are comfortable with the contect of newrepos.sh you execute the following command (remember also to give the file newrepos.sh execution priviliges):

    • ./newrepos.sh

We suggest checking, that all repositories have been added with the command 'zypper lr'. The rest of the upgrade is two simple steps:

    • zypper ref

to refresh all repositories and create local metadata information, and finally upgrade with

    • zypper dup

and wait. Our upgrade using a wireless internet connection took more than 7 hours. But, then after a single reboot we were running the latest openSUSE 11.4.

Why upgrade online?

This online upgrade was attempted for the following reasons:

  • The Lenovo IdeaPad does not contain any DVD drive, so conventional upgrade by downloading a DVD image, burning it, and making a fresh install would have required access to an external DVD drive.
  • To demonstrate, that control system running on openSUSE may be upgraded with very little downtime for the system. During the upgrade you could still access the internet, so in a control environment you would still be able to monitor and control the plant. Our system was only down during the final reboot. (At the end of 'zypper dup' you can execute 'zypper ps' to find which processes need to be restarted after the upgrade. There are properly tools to performs these restarts from a terminal window. However, currently we would not recommend this on a running control system).

Now about the experience. The upgrade from idea to reboot properly took mere than eigth hours. Clearly it would have taken less time to perform a fresh install form a downloaded DVD image. At the start of 'zypper dup' you are asked to accept certain licenses. Similarly when adding som repositories, you are asked to accept there keys, e.g. in our case with the NVidia repository. So if you think about combining the above steps to a single upgrade command file, you need to make sure the required responses are possible.

Occassionally during our 7 hour 'zypper dup' upgrade our terminal would turn light grey. We don't know why, but at least during these times the system could not be used. However, none of these led to upgrade abort. Also occassionaly we saw incorret permissons on config file, e.g 2755 in stead of 0755. These still have to be investigated based on the log file. The initial install of openSUSE on this computer required a special download of software for the wireless network dirver. This time this was not necessary, properly because the openSUSE project gather information about successful user deployments. This is done in a very transparent maner, and you can always say know.

A key benefit of online upgrading is that after the reboot your system is completely operational with the services, which you have spent time creating since the first install or previous upgrade, e.g. samba services, svn repositories or FreeNX access.

Also understand, that our upgrade involved a system with both GNome and KDE installed as well as all development tools. On a system used for control properly only one user interface is installed, and properly NO development tools. On such system the upgrade would take considerable less time. At the end of the first part of 'zypper dup' it reported how many packages would be removed, how many would be upgraded, and the total amount of packages to be downloaded would be about 1.9 GB - less than half a DVD download.

As a final note the experience of this upgrade is must like the upgrades of Honeywell PMX process control systems, which I experienced in the early and mid eigthies in the chemical industry. A lot of preparation, followed by a short suspence during a final restart or maybe it is mainframe technology comming to the desktop?

Update June 2011

Due to some unfortunate events a re-install of the above system was needed. Too much experimentation resulted in YaST being unusable. The re-install was done from a DVD image, and this actually showed a major advantage of the inline update process - if you have a running and up to date system. The Lenovo ideapad 10-2 comes with Broadcom 43xx wireless adapters, and these adapter has to have firmware added to work with any release of openSUSE. Unfortunately this firmware is not included on the DVD. This makes it impossible to use a wireless connection to add the latest fixes during the upgrade process. Also while most of the software I need is on the DVD. The Broadcom firmware is not, and neither are the following applications: Google Chrome, Google Picasa, Spideroak, Texmaker, Skype, Scribus, NX Client. Beginning to look at bit like with the OS from Redmond? I think so!

During this upgrade my ISP decided to double both the download and the upload speeds. However, that did not accur without some minor hicups. The DNS of my ISP could not connect to download.opensuse.org for updates and security patches. I actually had to change to the Google DNS at 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 both in the card configuration and in the router before I got a stable connection to download.opensuse.org.

Conclusion: When I need to upgrade to the next release of openSUSE in the fall or early next year then I will properly again choose the inline upgrade path.

2012-03-02 06.30 Niels Jensen

Introduction to FFmpeg

at Danish Engineering Society's Hillerød Group

At the start of spring, i.e. March 1st 2012, Niels gave a presentation on the usage of ffmpeg for vidoe and sound manipulation at the Process Technical Society of IDA in Hillerød. About 10 people attended this third meeting in the series "Linux - one step deeper". The presentation (in Danish) has been attached to this posting at file "2012 03 01 NJ Presentation_linux_et_spadestik_dybere ffmpeg.pdf" together with the script "IDA_video_project.sh", which performs all the manipulations described in the presentation, the base vidoe files "Base_videos.zip", which are hereby released under the creative commons license. The resulting video from the evenings project can be viewed here.

Finally two extra scripts are atteached. The first one "AVI2avi.sh" ensures that the videos are no longer in the proprietary Canon codec, but in yuv420p, as well as ensuring the frame rate is standard PAL. All scripts have been attached as a single zip-file to avoid issues with cross-site scripting.

2012 03 01 NJ Presentation_linux_et_spadestik-dybere ffmpeg.pdf

Update @15:45: Added $LOCATION parameter to parameterfile video.prm, which is used by script EditVideo.sh. Also modified script EditVideo.sh to work with latest verison of ffmpeg, and modified font size and spacing of lines on introductory picture and exit picture.

Update @16:55: Found some sound problems with the EditVideo.sh script. Corrected those, and uploaded revised scripts, which now also include a webpage parameter.

Update July 2018

If you are more to a GUI than a command line, then Safepark has recently had very good experience with using KDenLive to created video. Read the tutorials before using the program. The interface is extremely flexible, and once you learn it, then you have access to a professional tool.

2011-09-12 14.15 Niels Jensen

openSUSE upgrade from 11.2 to 11.4

We recently had another experience with upgrading a system form openSUSE 11.2, for which security patches are no longer availalbe, to openSUSE 11.4. At first an on-line upgrade was attempted. The system in question was LIFE computer with less than 1 GB of memory, a 75 GB harddrive, a NVidia GeForce FX 5200 graphics card, and an old IBM 10 GB SCSI drive plus a PRISM wireless network card.

The usual replacement of all software souces was done by first removing the 11.2 sources, and then adding and refreshing the equivalent 11.4 sources. Then the online upgrade was started, and it appeared to go fine. Except, that the screen was black during the upgrade, and the system hence unaccessible. At the of the upgrade it was necessary to force a power off of the system and a reboot, but the GRUB came up showing the old 11.2 kernels only. The default was selected and the new 11.4 kernel started in runlevel 3. From here is was possible to login and startx - appearantly only KDE - from the command line. Once running in full screen graphical desktop mode we were able to access the internet using the PRISM wireless card in the system. However, we could start YaST, but none of the YaST features we tried worked.

I was then decided to re-install 11.4 from a previously downloaded DVD using reformating of the root partition, but leaving the home particition untouched. This worked quite well using the automatic hardware configuration. However, we did not succeed in getting the network properly configured during the install, and hence the usual software update had to bypassed. After re-booting we were able to get wireless networking running using KNetworkManager.

Then all security and other patches were applied to the system. Finally some additional software was installed. Using YaST the opensource java was replaced with the Sun Java, Adobe Reader was installed, Scribus was installed, VirtualBox was installed, and UFRaw was installed. Sun Java is needed to use the Danish secure login system for all public services NemID. UFRaw is needed to manipulated raw pictures from Canon's 550D. Additionally we installed Googles chrome browser and picasa photoediting software from respectively www.google.com/chrome and www.google.com/picasa using the 1-click install. Finally we installed Cups-PDF from software.opensuse.org, FreeNX from en.opensuse.org/FreeNX, and VLC media player from www.videolan.org/vlc also using the 1-click install. With a similar 1-click install the proprietary driver for our NVidia graphics card was installed. In order to be able to test the remote desktop access the latest NoMachine client for linux was downloaded from www.nomachine.com and installed by clicking on the rpm-file. Finally the latest linux driver for our Xerox 7345 with professional finisher and hole punch was downloaded from www.support.xerox.com/support/dadk.html. However, with the PPD-file downloaded in this package we were unable to get color printing to work, so we replaced it with an older PPD-file we had, and then color printing was working. Finally we installed our online backup client from www.spideroak.com.

This upgrade was performed to create access to patches for the OS. The time involved - without considering the partially failed and aborted online upgrade - was approximate one working day. This could be reduced somewhat by downloading the additional applications, such as chrome, picasa, vlc, FreeNX to a USB drive and creating an install script for these applications. We are considering this when upgrading to a new 64-bit server later this fall. The system in question is used by a small church council in Denmark, and with the current usage a 1½ day unavailability is acceptable, since documents could still be accessed using our online backup service.

After installation the openSUSE system complained about an excessive number of problem areas - relocaed blocks -on our old (vintage 1999) IBM SCSI drive. So we will not used that drive for anything critical.

2011-06-01 14.45 Niels Jensen

openSUSE 11.4 on IBM ThinkPad R40

Install of openSUSE 11.4 on R40 using a downloaded iso burned to a DVD went quite smoothely. However, installation of fixes during install was not possible, since network was not configured correctly, but both the network card and the wireless card were identified, and the proper drivers installed. The installer also correctly identified my NVidia graphics card, and installed the necessary software and configured combiz without any user intervention. That was cool!

Installation of the accumulated fixes since the release of version 11.4 took forever. More than four hours. It completed overnight while I slept.

Could have been easier to add additional applications

There are a few applications, which every family member use. They are Google's Chrome, Goolge's Picasa, and Google's talkplugin for GMail. It would be nice if there was a single repository, which one could add and then install these applications from, and not just repositories from which you can latter update the applications. Two other applications, which we like are VLC Player and Skype. Videolan actually tells you how to add there repository. Unfortunately Google and Skype, which is now owned by Microsoft, don't have the same easy instructions for adding their repositories to your system, as Vidoelan does.

During installation of Google Chrome, which I first attempted from the downloaded rpm package the library libpng12.so.0 was found missing. I had to install this separately using Software Manager.

Then I attempted to install Create Background Slideshow, but that application appears to be only available for openSUSE 11.3, but I nonetheless installed it in 11.4. I can run it, but I don't have an applicaton icon, and I cannot create a shortcut. These are, I think, indications something is broken. I have downloaded the source and may take a look at it.

Looks like that won't be necessary. The Create Background Slideshow installed itself in the Look and Feel section of the Control Centre, and it was easily added to favorites.

Why replace Windows XP with openSUSE on this computer?

This install of openSUSE wiped out the Windows XP Professional installation, which came with the computer 5-6 years ago. With the continues stream of opdates from Microsoft, Lenovo and other vendors over the years the system and application software had increased to more than 20 GB leaving only about 13.5 GB for user files. Of course with limited space for files there was a big fragmentation problem. Even programs such as Smartdefrag or O & O defrag could not do anything about it. The time from power on to a usable desktop with internet connection had grown to more than 10 minutes. Properly, as some Ph.D.-students at CAPEC pointed out years ago, windows should be freshly installed every 2 years. And a fresh install would properly have reduced the startup time. However, it would properly have done little to the space problems.

With the installation of openSUSE and the extra applications the systems and application software only take about 6 GB of the root partition. This obviously leave more space for user files. In addition the time from power on to a workable desktop with internet connection has been reduced to less than 2 minutes. So while the Windows XP installation had very limited space for both system and user files, the new openSUSE 11.4 installation has amble space for both systems files and user files - on exactly the same hardware.

Background for successful move to openSUSE

Prior usage of and familiarity with GMail, Google Chrome, Picasa, Skype and VLC from the windows environment will make the switch less painful for the user. Additionally will prior familiarity with OpenOffice.org make use of LibreOffice less problematic for the user. However, I do hear occasional complains, that turning a pictures is much easier in Microsoft Word than in OpenOffice.org Writer or LibreOffice Writer. Hopefully the future will change this. And I am sure the speedier startup will be appreciated - every day!

After initial usage it turned out the touchpad was too sensitive, and this interfered with the use of the trackpoint. This was fixed by lowering the touchpad sensitivity settings in the Control Center. The user also wanted Google Earth installed. Another easy fix.