Compiz in Ubuntu 7.10

One of the reasons that I wanted to upgrade to Ubuntu 7.10 before it was released was so that I could have a play with the new developments in compiz. It was therefore more than a little disappointing to discover that it did not work. When I tried to enable desktop effects, it would simply state that it could not, and would revert back to metacity.

At first, I was a little annoyed as I could not even see any error message as to why this had failed. Finally, for another reason, I started gnome-settings from the command line. When I then selected the appearance tool, and tried to turn on desktop effects, some useful information scrolled up the screen.

It would appear that by default, compiz checks that the graphics card has at least 64 MB or RAM before it will allow compiz to start. No doubt this is done for a good reason, but this does not help me with my 32 MB graphics card in my laptop.

A little bit of googling and I discover that compiz in Ubuntu has a wrapper script called /usr/bin/compiz A quick look in here and it is easy to see where the check for the RAM is done. I dropped the limit to 32 MB and tried again. Yay! Wobbly windows 🙂

Now all I need to do is find out how to configure compiz ….

Resist the urge to upgrade

I am currently running Ubuntu 7.04 on two computers at home. In the past, I have always found it hard to resist the urge to install the development version of the next release of the distribution I am running. This started when I was using Debian. With its slow release cycle, Debian stable did start to feel a bit tired as a desktop system.

I would find that the latest version of some software with the features that I was interested in was not available. Rather than muck about with back-ports etc., I just went and installed testing, and then unstable. These are only my own machines, and the need for stability was not critical. The only time this did bother me was when I wanted to print. I found that my printer needed to be re-configured at regular intervals. A couple of times this did bite me as I wanted to print something quick, and due to changes in CUPS or whatever, my printer was off-line.

I then moved to Ubuntu. With its shorter release cycle, I decided that I would have the best of both worlds. I could have the more recent versions of software, and not have unpredictable breakage. Two upgrades a year should be ample. Well I could not wait for the final release of version 7.04 so I installed that a few months early, to try out compiz IIRC.

Now I am trying hard to resist the urge to upgrade to 7.10 before it is released. I fully expect that it is already stable enough for my use, but it would be good to wait until it has been released to try it. Not long to go now!

MythTV on Ubuntu

I have just installed MythTV on my Ubuntu desktop machine using the instruction found here. I am really pleased with the result even if I did have to jump through a few hoops to get here.

I first looked a MythTV a while back, when I first got the DVB USB adapter. I had trouble setting it up and was a bit disappointed so I did not bother to use it. Instead I just use Xine to watch live broadcast, and then dvbstream via the ‘at’ command to schedule recordings. It worked, but was not very elegant.

I decided to have a go again after reading the guide mentioned above. The initial set-up probable went OK, but for some reason I could not get the schedule to download the information required. I fiddled about lots and tried alternative methods, only to later discover that I had a network problem, not an issue with MythTV. By this time I had already sent an email to the guy who wrote the guide above.

To avoid untangling the mess I had gotten into, it seemed that it would be easier to remove what was already set-up, and start again. This time the schedule was working in that the data was retrieved from the website, and could be seen in the schedule. However the problem now was that the channels had been duplicated in the schedule. When I selected a channel that had program information, I could not tune in. When I selected the version of the same channel that had no information, it would tune in OK and display the channel on the screen.

From the replies that I received from the author of the guide, it was apparent that the information for the channels is stored in the channel table of the mysql database that is used by MythTV. Well a quick view of that table showed me what was wrong, and a quick bit of SQL editing, and I had the channel table sorted.

Now I have a fully working MythTV setup that I am quite pleased with. The only thing I would like to do now is to set-up the system so that it can be run in a window in the corner of the screen, much like can be done with Xine. My hardware now probably needs some attention as it is not exactly the quietest machine.