Martin Cooper's Linux Blog

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Tag Archives: Debian Squeeze


My Favorite Podcasts

Science Fiction Podcasts


“Clarkesworld is a monthly science fiction and fantasy magazine first published in October 2006. Each issue contains interviews, thought-provoking articles and at least three pieces of original fiction. Our fiction is also available in ebook editions/subscriptions, audio podcasts and in our annual print anthologies. We are a two-time winner of the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine and our fiction has been nominated for or won the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Locus, Shirley Jackson, WSFA Small Press and Stoker Awards.”


The Drabblecast is a weekly podcast featuring flash fictions from a variety of genres. Its singular message is that of off beat, funny, eclecticism. It is a paying fiction market, accepting submissions (see the submissions page for more information). The Drabblecast is the winner of the 2010 and 2011 Parsec Awards for Best Speculative Fiction Audio Magazine.

Escape Pod

“Escape Pod is the premier science fiction podcast magazine. Every week we bring you short stories from some of today’s best science fiction stories, in convenient audio format for your computer or MP3 player.”

Flash Pulp

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Lightspeed Magazine

Lightspeed is an online science fiction and fantasy magazine. In its pages, you will find science fiction: from near-future, sociological soft SF, to far-future, star-spanning hard SF—and fantasy: from epic fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, and contemporary urban tales, to magical realism, science-fantasy, and folktales. No subject is off-limits, and we encourage our writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope.

Linux Centric Podcasts


News, reviews, rants, raves, chit-chat, geekspeak and more – a new TuxRadar podcast all about Linux and free software will be posted here every two weeks for free download. All TuxRadar podcasts are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 licence. Music by Brad Sucks.

ubuntu uk podcast

The Ubuntu Podcast covers all the latest news and issues facing Ubuntu Linux users and Free Software fans in general. The show appeals to the newest user and the oldest coder. Our discussions cover the development of Ubuntu but aren’t overly technical. We are lucky enough to have some great guests on the show, telling us first hand about the latest exciting developments they are working on, in a way that we can all understand! We also talk about the Ubuntu community and what it gets up to.

The show is presented by members of the UK’s Ubuntu Linux community. Because it is covered by the Ubuntu Code of Conduct it is suitable for all.

The show is broadcast live every fortnight on a Tuesday evening (British time) and is available for download the following day.

Some Rights Reserved

All contents of this site (including audio) are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

Full Circle Magazine

The independent magazine for the Ubuntu Linux community.

The About sections are direct quotes from the Podcast sites.



Kindle 3

Kindle 3

My Kindle is probabley the best bit of Tech that I have bought in the last year. Since I bought it I’ve read many more books than I normally do. It has cut down on the amount of luggage I take on holiday as it stores hundreds of books for a very small weight allowance. I have the Kindle 3 which I think Amazon is now calling the Kindle keyboard, it’s the Wifi only edition with a 4 GB memory. The other good thing about a Kindle is that it uses a Linux operation system as many ereaders do and therefore works well with the Linux File Manager which can then be used to copy and paste books to the Kindle. Amazon books can be emailed direct to your Kindle as long as you are within a Wifi area or to your PC for transfer later to your Kindle by USB lead. The Amazon Kindle reader app works OK when installed within Wine if you wish to use it on your Linux PC. Calibre is also a very good program to manage and convert books from one format to another, it can transfer books via the USB lead or email them direct to your Kindle. Calibre is in some Linux repositories but for the most up to date version it is better to instal it from their site at

If you want an internet site to keep up with the latest books, track the books you are reading, have to read or want to read check out Goodreads

For a site that will email you a list of Amazon books that are currently being offered free by Amazon try the ereaderriq site at


I normally use the GUI version of this program to level the gain on mp3 music files but I wanted to do the same job automatically in a small script to level out all my podcasts in their seperate folders prior to loading them onto my mp3 player.

The values I use are;

-c : ignore clipping
-p : preserve file modification time
-r : apply Track gain
-d 6.0: makes it 95.0 dB (defaults to 89.0)

The script I use moves to the main Podcast folder then line of script finds all mp3’s in the sub-folders with it.

$ cd /home/martin/Podcasts

$ find . -name *.mp3 -exec mp3gain -c -p -r -d 6.0 ‘{}’ \;

This then levels out the gain on all podcasts to 95db.

Folding@Home on Debian Squeeze

New Year, New Operating System & a New Team

It’s been a while since I blogged about the Folding@Home Project so as I have moved to Debian Squeeze on my server I thought I’d document the install of the Folding@Home software and move my contributions from the Ubuntu Team to the Debian Team.

The Folding@Home Project can be found at and their goal is

“to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases. You can help scientists studying these diseases by simply running a piece of software. Folding@home is a distributed computing project — people from throughout the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. Every computer takes the project closer to our goals. Folding@home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems millions of times more challenging than previously achieved.”

So in other words, whilst you computer is switched on it’s unused capacity can be working away on problem solving for a common cause.

First you need to a name to use, start at and enter the name you wish to use and as long as it’s not found in the search you are good to go just make sure you and note it down for later.

Then you need a passkey this is a unique key which binds your donations to your username just in case someone else decided to use the same name get one from and note it down for later.

So my sever is an AMD 64 duel core and I want to run 2 instances of the Folding@Home software 1 on each processor. I start by creating a folder in my home folder called Folding@Home, opening a Terminal I do;

$ mkdir Folding@Home

then moved into it and created 2 more core1 and core2

$ cd Folding@Home

$ mkdir core1 core2

I now downloaded the software from the site download page at downloading the software for 64 bit PC’s called FAH6.34-Linux64.tgz into my Downloads folder. I then moved into that folder with;

$ cd ~/Downloads

and extracted the fah6 file within the tar archive with

$ tar -xzvf FAH6.34-Linux64.tgz

the copy the fah6 file to both the core folders and making them executable with

$ cp fah6 ~/Folding@Home/core1
$ chmod +x ~/Folding@Home/core1/fah6


$ cp fah6 ~/Folding@Home/core2
$ chmod +x ~/Folding@Home/core2/fah6

Then we need to cd back to the core1 folder with.

$ cd ~/Folding@Home/core1

Then run the following;

$ ./fah6

[Note ./fah6 -config can be used later to reconfigure]

This then asks the following questions;

User name [Anonymous]? Type in your username, then press [Enter].

Team Number [0]? Type in the number 2019 for the Debian Team, then press [Enter].

Passkey []? Type your passkey here and, press [Enter].

Ask before fetching/sending work (no/yes) [no]? to make things automatic, leave at no and press [Enter].

Use proxy (yes/no) [no]? I’m not behind a proxy, so I left at no, and pressed [Enter].

Acceptable size of work assignment and work result packets (bigger units may have large memory demands) — ‘small’ is10MB (small/normal/big) [normal]? again I left at the default of normal, and pressed [Enter].

Change advanced options (yes/no) [no]? y
Core Priority (idle/low) [idle]?
Disable highly optimized assembly code (no/yes) [no]?
Interval, in minutes, between checkpoints (3-30) [15]?
Memory, in MB, to indicate (3966 available) [3966]?
Set -advmethods flag always, requesting new advanced
scientific cores and/or work units if available (no/yes) [no]?
Ignore any deadline information (mainly useful if
system clock frequently has errors) (no/yes) [no]?
Machine ID (1-16) [1]? 1 as this is running on core 1 I added a 1 when I do the same actions in the core2 folder I’ll add a 2 here
The following options require you to restart the client before they take effect
Disable CPU affinity lock (no/yes) [no]?
Additional client parameters []?
IP address to bind core to (for viewer) []?

The program then runs, updated, downloads the first batch of work and starts to process…..

The above config info is stored in the core1 folder and named client.cfg, you could just copy this to your core2 folder and open it and change the machineid=1 to 2 resave it then just start up the fah6 process with

$ ./fah6

and it would start processing or you can not complete the same action on the second core.

to stop the process I use;

$ killall fah6

to start I use

$ ./fah6 -verbosity 9
from within each folder

This bash script will run both in one terminal window.

#### Folding@Home ####
## Core 1 ##
cd ~/Folding@Home/core1
./fah6 -verbosity 9 &
## Core 2 ##
cd ~/Folding@Home/core2
./fah6 -verbosity 9

You can check your progress by entering your username at the site updates daily.

GRUB2, change the background image

I’ve just install Debian Wheezy and don’t particularly like the space themed background so decided to replace it

I just want a black background so produced a black image in GIMP 640×480 pixels called grub.png then copied it from my home to /usr/share/images with

$ sudo cp ~/martin /usr/share/images/grub.png

then I edit grub with;

$ sudo leafpad /etc/default/grub

and add


under this section:

GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`

and uncomment

then update it with;

$ sudo update-grub

on reboot I now get GRUB with a all black background, changing the GRUB_TIMEOUT=5 number will also change the time GRUB shows on the screen, GRUB_TIMEOUT=0 with prevent it showing at all if you wish.

GTK Apps i.e. VLC look ugly in Debian Wheezy

VLC looks very ugly on my Debian XFCE desktop but you can control the look of Qt apps with a program called qt4-qtconfig you can find it in the Software Manager or use the command line:

$ sudo apt-get install qt4-qtconfig

Then you’ll find it in: [Menu], [Settings], Qt 4 Settings on XFCE

If you want qt apps to use the same theme as your other apps open Qt 4 Settings
Then Select [GUI Style:] as GTK+
Then use [File], [ Save] and exit.

Minimal XFCE Debian Install

I finally decided it was time to move away from Ubuntu due to the gradual move towards a MAC style Desktop with Unity as the final straw. I had a go with Xubuntu and a short period of the Linux Mint XFCE Debian edition then decided to move to Debian with an XFCE Desktop. So this is my own minimal XFCE Debian Install.

Install Debian squeeze from the netinst CD image which can be downloaded from I used the larger of the 2 which was approx 200MB in size.

Insert CD then select install, English, UK, British English.
Enter Hostname, Domain name and root password twice
Full name, username for account and user password.
Select Partitioning method as manual
I usually allow
20GB for Root partition /
50GB for /opt as I store programs there I download source for and don’t re format it every time I install.
2GB swap
and the rest as /home I don’t re format it every time I install to keep my documents safe.

once the install is done and the PC is rebooted you get a console screen asking you to login, so login using your username and password then at the prompt enter;

$ su
and then the root password, then

$ apt-get install xorg xfce4 synaptic gdebi wicd slim iceweasel dmz-cursor-theme gnome-wise-icon-theme shiki-brave-theme leafpad

This gets you
an X server to run your desktop on
the XFCE desktop
a package manager
a package installer
a network manager
a GDM graphical desktop manager [login screen]
the iceweasel web browser
my favorite theme/icons/cursor
and the leafpad text editor

after these are installed, log out and back in again to your Graphical Desktop.

This is the basic install it just needs a selection of programs and a bit of manual configuration..

[Edit Jan 2012 : the Slim Desktop Manager does not currently work in Debian Wheezy [still in testing] but the new lightdm does]


tsMuxeR video conversion for Sony Bravia

Convert a video file to the .m2ts format to stream to the Sony Bravia Tv from a miniDNLA server using Handbrake and tsMuxeR. This gives you a much smaller file than the .mpg file which is the other option. If you wish to use .mpg then the only way I have managed to get this working is to use ffmpeg from the command line using.

$ ffmpeg -i input.m4v -target pal-dvd output.mpg

This will use various input file extensions just amend the input file.

tsMuxer is a Transport Stream muxer which will convert .mkv video formatted files created in Handbrake to .m2ts files suitable for playback on the Sony Bravia. First convert your video to a .mkv video file using Handbrake making sure you select the Audio codec as AC3 (ffmpeg) in the [Audio] Tab and the [Framerate:] as 25 (PAL Film/Video) or any other option you prefer except the (Same as source) option. Handbrake is available in both Debian and Ubuntu repositories, stMuxeR is available by download from here: Download the Linux version [currently tsMuxeR_1.10.6.tar.gz] into your home directory. Then create a directory in /usr/lib by opening a Terminal and entering the following;

$ sudo mkdir /usr/lib/tsmuxer

move into the tsmuxer directory with;

$ cd /usr/lib/tsmuxer

now extract the archive you downloaded with;

$ sudo tar -xvzf ~/tsMuxeR_1.10.6.tar.gz

if you list the contents with

$ ls
you will have 4 files in the tsmuxer directory including


make sure they are both executable with;

$ sudo chmod +x tsMuxeR


$ sudo chmod +x tsMuxerGUI

now add a shortcut to /usr/bin with;

$ sudo ln -s /usr/lib/tsmuxer/tsMuxerGUI /usr/bin/tsMuxerGUI

now you can run the program by typing tsMuxerGUI in a Terminal or create a menu launcher with tsMuxerGUI as the command.

Open the program and on the Input Tab select [add] to add the .mkv file you have transcoded with Handbrake, in the [General track options] section, select [Change fps:] 25 and [Change level:] 4.0. Then in the [Output] section select M2TS muxing and browse to an output folder if you wish to change the default. Now select the [Start muxing] button. The output file should now play on your TV.

Media Server for the Sony Bravia

I wanted a DLNA/UPnP server to allow me to view photos, listen to music and watch videos and PC recorded TV on my TV. The media is currently stored on my Linux server. I tried various options before finding miniDLNA here . The MiniDLNA server was extremely easy to set-up and worked out of the box and coped with my Sony Bravia KDL-40W5500 40in LCD which other servers software did not. The TV is connected to my local network via a network cable to a Home Plug.

The Home Plug is a DEVOLO dLAN 200 AVmini Starter Kit 2x Home Plug AV Adapters £79.99 from PC World in the UK

This TV supports images as .jpg, music as .mp3 and video as .mpg or .m2t/m2ts, I’ll blog post how to get the correct settings for the video files later. [ Edit see here tsmuxer-video-conversion-for-sony-bravia/ ]

First I downloaded both the static and src tar files from here [go for the latest currently 1.0.22] I wanted the pre-build version as there are a lot of unmet dependencies when I tried building it on Debian Squeeze and a frankly gave up. Download the 2 files [currently minidlna_1.0.22_src.tar.gz and minidlna_1.0.22_static.tar.gz]. Open the static version in your favourite archiver and extract the file minidlna located in /usr/sbin directory within the archive and minidnla.conf located in etc/ directory within the archive to your home directory. Now using your archiver program again to open the src version and extract the minidlna.init.d.script from the /linux/ directory within the archive to your home folder.

you should now have 3 files;


in your home directory

now open the minidlna.conf in your favourite text editor and change the following highlighted text to match the paths to your media, server name and paths to store the database & log files.

***** file extract *****

# set this to the directory you want scanned.
# * if have multiple directories, you can have multiple media_dir= lines
# * if you want to restrict a media_dir to a specific content type, you
# can prepend the type, followed by a comma, to the directory:
# + “A” for audio (eg. media_dir=A,/home/jmaggard/Music)
# + “V” for video (eg. media_dir=V,/home/jmaggard/Videos)
# + “P” for images (eg. media_dir=P,/home/jmaggard/Pictures)

# set this if you want to customize the name that shows up on your clients

# set this if you would like to specify the directory where you want MiniDLNA to store its database and album art cache

# set this if you would like to specify the directory where you want MiniDLNA to store its log file

***** End file extract *****

I left the rest of the config as it was.

Now we need to sore the config and program file and test they work so in a Terminal;

$ mv ~/minidnla.conf ~./minidnla.conf

this moves the file into your home directory as a hidden file by adding the dot at the from of it. I have a seperate partition for the system directory /opt so that I can store user added programs which I don’t want to get removed when I do an upgrade so I’m going to store the minidnla program there in it’s own directory

$ sudo mkdir /opt/minidnla

create the directory

$ sudo mv ~/minidnla /opt/minidnla/minidnla

move the program file into it.

$ sudo chmod +x /opt/minidnla/minidlna

make it executable

You could leave the program in your own home directory or move it into /usr/bin in which case amend the paths in the commands above.

Now we can run the program to see if it works with in my case;

$ /opt/minidlna/minidlna -f /home/martin/.minidlna.conf

so this is the path to the program, followed by -f telling it to look for a file then the path to your config file.

This should now start minidnla building it’s database and then serving up the results, depending on the number of files this may take a while but you can check out the log file for errors on progress.

The only problem I had was that one of the music directories had root permissions on it not my own so if you get error that’s the first thing to check. If all has gone well you should be able to see the results on the TV. If your TV does not see the server which on mine shows up under the name of the server I added in the minidnla.cof and has a Tux penguin icon then check out your Firewall on the PC server.

Next we want to be able to autostart the server if we ever restart our server and be able to start, stop or restart it with easy options. So now open the minidlna.init.d.script in your favorite text editor and amend the highlighted text shown below. Just 2 lines to amend the path to your minidnla program and the path to the monidnla.conf file.

***** file extract *****

# Short-Description: DLNA/UPnP-AV media server

ARGS=’-f /home/martin/.minidlna.conf’

test -f $MINIDLNA || exit 0

. /lib/lsb/init-functions

case “$1” in

***** End file extract *****

now move it to /etc/init.d/ with

$ sudo cp /home/martin/minidlna.init.d.script /etc/init.d/minidlna

this changes it’s name to just minidnla and

$ sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/minidlna

make it executable, now reboot the PC and the server should auto start.

$ sudo update-rc.d minidlna defaults

And update, now you can the use the following commands from a Terminal to control the server.

$ sudo /etc/init.d/minidlna stop

$ sudo /etc/init.d/minidlna start

$ sudo /etc/init.d/minidlna restart