Category: Linux

Netflix Official Linux Support

There’s finally an officially supported way to watch Netflix on Linux without jumping hurdles through various methods that try to work around their Silverlight requirement.

Perhaps they’re copying the same method that allows Chromebook users to stream Netflix, but it requires the Chrome browser in Linux to do it. Before I did this, I attempted to install and configure Pipelight to see if I could stream a show in Firefox, and I was met with the incompatibility page. So, I removed Pipelight and installed Chrome. Went to Netflix, logged in and the show I tried to view opened up without a hitch – lacking any additional packages installed besides Chrome itself.

Though I prefer Firefox to Chrome, I’ll happily boot up Chrome if only to watch Netflix. It sure beats the uncertain methods of trying to either emulate or immitate Silverlight, which has been the popular tactic for some time now.

You can grab the Chrome package to install directly from your machine by going to its download page, or you can install it from terminal using APT by adding Google’s repositories:

wget -q -O - https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub | sudo apt-key add -
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/ stable main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google-chrome.list'
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install google-chrome-stable

 

Linux Mint’s “Point” Updates

Linux Mint is doing something that is new, at least to me. If they’ve done this in the past, I didn’t know about it, so I’m assuming that they didn’t. They’re releasing a “point” update to version 17 “Qiana”, their latest LTS release of Mint, which will be 17.1 “Rebecca”. Based on what has been said in this blog post on Mint’s official website, I assume that all point releases will feature a different codename.

If my understanding is correct, Mint’s point-release updates won’t be quite the same as Ubuntu’s. Where Ubuntu 14.04.1 is actually the same exact distribution as 14.04 only with updated packages and kernels that would automatically be updated from Ubuntu’s repositories anyway (though saving you the time of downloading them – by getting them in the installation ISO), Mint 17.1 will feature updates to the desktop environments themselves. So, where 14.10 will feature an updated Unity, most likely, that could only be applied to 14.04 by enabling unstable repositories, Mint will work out a stable update to their environments and actually push it to be a stable update to their LTS release. This is awesome. There were small changes to Unity that I wanted from 13.10, but I didn’t want to upgrade to 13.10 or take the chance of upgrading the Unity environment in 12.04 at the risk of it having compatibility issues with packages in the 12.04 repositories. Even if my concerns were unfounded, updates to LTS releases are typically limited for a reason, and that’s usually to help ensure that people don’t run into compatibility issues or crippling bugs.

What’s also cool about the point-releases for Mint is that it will be upgradable through their Update Manager. Though Mint sees updates to packages at a slower pace than Ubuntu, this usually means the chance of having issues with those updated packages is minimized, which is better than getting the new bells and whistles only to have them break your machine and put you in an aggravating position of having to revert and recover. I like Mint. When the next LTS version is released, I may just change for my primary PC. I have two years to think about it, though I’m already running it on my laptop to see how the progression goes. That’s not to say that Ubuntu is being looked at as a loser in this. After all, I’ve used it as my primary OS for nearly three years now, and there’s obviously good reasons for that. I just can’t fail to consider another distribution that may be making better strides in improving the Linux experience, even if Ubuntu continues to be an excellent OS that is probably the best for first-time Linux users to try. On top of that, Windows users considering the migration over to Linux may find Cinnamon and MATE both more comfortable than Unity, in terms of a layout that closer resembles Windows’ Start menu-style layout. I would recommend Mint over Ubuntu to such a person.

Ubuntu Software Center: ‘Available from the “main” source’

For anyone who comes across this problem, which I did tonight on my laptop, you may want to first try closing Software Center and re-opening it. Several suggestions on askubuntu.com and other results from searches online mentioned removing entries from the source lists and so forth. As I said, just closing and re-opening solved the problem where it happened to me. I’m not going to assume this is something new, as people asking about it on those sites when I searched it were experiencing it with 12.04. I never experienced it in 12.04 and have only experienced it once so far on one machine running 14.04.

What occurred was when clicking on an application in the Software Center I was shown no reviews or info for the application, but instead only the message Available from the “main” source with a button saying Use This Source where Install would normally be.

The Linux Hurdle

Okay. After talking with a co-worker yesterday about why he should install Linux on his somewhat-antiquated Vista-ran laptop, I ran into road blocks. He’s pretty reluctant to heed my suggestion and even dip his toes, let alone jump in head-first.

I’ve tried to make points of why I like Linux better than Windows. However, the truth is that I don’t consider Linux a replacement for Windows. It’s like driving vehicles. I drive my smaller compact car almost everyday, because it’s more convenient for typical day travelling and it gets better gas-mileage. So, why do I keep my pick-up truck? It’s a gas guzzler, and depending on the time and place it can be impossible to find a parking spot. Still, if I have to haul something or traverse tougher terrain that requires a vehicle with more clearance or four-wheel drive, my truck is there to save the day. In this case, my compact car is Linux and my truck is Windows. Linux will almost always get the job done, typically faster and with less hassle, while Windows is there to provide any crucial services that Linux just can’t do.

Being that my co-worker’s laptop hard-drive is fairly full, he’s running Vista and he says he has never de-fragged his hard-drive, I’d bet that I can boot up, check my emails, pay a couple of bills, shut down and boot back up to my work space in Linux before he even reaches his desktop for the first time in Vista. And my Linux setup has been installed for nearly two years now. Though, I’d say a fresh install of Linux wouldn’t do it any better. The same can’t be said for Windows.

But like I said, I’m not saying throw Windows out the window. I’m just saying make use of the tools available to you. What’s the point of booting into Windows to do generic tasks that end up taking far longer to complete than they necessarily have to? After all, the less you use Windows, the longer it takes to slow down. Of course, good practices and regular maintenance can help keep Windows running as good as possible. But when you can minimize the amount of work necessary in those respects as well, it makes no sense not to at least dip your toes in. And the sales pitch is spot on: Linux is free, it is generally designed to boot alongside of Windows and it is fairly easy to remove it and revert back to just having Windows if you decide you don’t wish to keep it.

I hope my co-worker comes to the decision of giving Linux a shot. After all, I never used Linux once until two years ago when I decided that testing out a freely available OS seemed like a fun endeavour. It ended up causing me to change up my routine permanently.

LibreOffice (Latest Version) Installation for Ubuntu, Linux Mint and elementaryOS

This is somewhat of a follow-up post to a previous post regarding updating LibreOffice for Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based OS.

Because each version of Ubuntu and any OS based on it usually pulls from a specific repository where software that has been deemed stable for that version is stored, getting the latest version of a particular software can be impossible without some configurations. Having used both Ubuntu and Linux Mint, and successfully installed and updated LibreOffice using the LibreOffice PPA, I thought the same could be done for elementaryOS, which is also based on Ubuntu (the latest version, Luna, being specifically based on Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin).

However, after installing eOS and installing LibreOffice from the default repository, I then added the LibreOffice PPA and found that it caused some issues with the Update Manager in eOS. Not only would it not allow me to update to the latest version of LibreOffice, but it even seemed to interfere with eOS being able to get other updates. I couldn’t even alter the settings in the Update Manager. After removing the LibreOffice PPA from the software sources, all problems seemed to vanish with non-LibreOffice updates. The biggest problem for me at that particular moment, however, was that I couldn’t get LibreOffice updated. A few sites mentioned compiling LibreOffice source to install the latest version, which I didn’t care to do (updating was not that big of a deal for me, if compiling the source was my only option), and so I came across someone else who mentioned following the same steps I had done before, yet adding the PPA before installing the software. So, I followed the necessary steps to completely remove LibreOffice (credit to an answer on askubuntu.com).

sudo apt-get remove --purge libreoffice*
sudo apt-get clean
sudo apt-get autoremove

And then I removed the PPA by opening Update Manager, going to Settings… at the bottom-left, going to the Software Sources tab and removing it from the list. After, I simply re-added the PPA and reinstalled the software back onto the computer using the terminal.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa
sudo apt-get install libreoffice

I open LibreOffice and find the latest version (4.1.4.2 as of writing this post) installed.

As far as complications with updating the software further, or interfering with other updates, I can’t say. I had already ran all other updates before reinstalling LibreOffice, and so the system is showing up-to-date. I will post a comment if I see the PPA in the sources list causing any other problems, or not updating LibreOffice beyond 4.1.4.2.

There are also some articles posted on elementaryupdates.com regarding ways to configure LibreOffice and other applications to fit more into the eOS appearance, in case anyone is interested.

Update 2015.08.31

On Linux Mint 17.2, I’ve realized that there is one additional step required in addition to what I had mentioned above to update to the latest version of LibreOffice (5.0.1 as I’m writing this). You have to set the priority for the package so that Mint’s update system will allow it to be updated/installed from the PPA. To do that, you need to create the file /etc/apt/preferences.d/libreoffice.pref and place the following inside of it:

Package: *
Pin: release o=LP-PPA-libreoffice
Pin-Priority: 700

This information was taken from the Mint here.

Windows RDP and Remmina: “Unable to connect to RDP server”

If you’ve been using Remmina to RDP to a Windows machine for some time and then all of suddenly find yourself running into the error Unable to connect to RDP server <address>, take a minute to read my experience before you go through some possibly-unnecessary steps.

I occasionally reboot my modem and router, and after doing so tonight, I found I was unable to RDP into a machine running Windows 7 Ultimate on my LAN from Remmina. I immediately checked to see if I could RDP to a Windows Server machine on the same LAN from the same Remmina client and could. So, I ruled out Remmina being the problem – or so I thought.

My next check was at the network. I figured that maybe the machine was either not connected to the network or had been assigned a different IP. So I then connected a monitor the machine and checked via ipconfig to verify that the IP address was the same. I still decided to reboot my router again.

Next, I checked and rechecked the RDP settings on the Windows machine to ensure that RDP was enabled. Everything looked fine on that end, so I moved to the firewall settings. The firewall was set to allow access to RDP on the machine.

Next, I went to the net for support. I searched “unable to RDP into Windows” and naturally found lots of various explanations and solutions. Knowing that I have VirtualBox setup on the computer with network drivers installed, I decided to narrow my search to include that. That’s when I found explanations regarding issues caused by the Host-Only virtual network connection that Windows sees as an “unidentifiable” network connection type. Having had issues with this limiting my network access on a computer in the past due to Windows taking precautions in thinking it is connected to an insecure network, I jumped at several solutions that involved registry edits to tell Windows that the network connection was virtual and host-only – and that it terminated at the machine itself. Re-enabled the driver and found problem was not resolved.

I then decided to boot into Windows on my laptop and see if Windows’ own RDP client could connect to the machine. It did, but the connection seemed sluggish. I then became suspicious that either the network or the machine’s NIC were somehow at fault – which didn’t rule out in my mind that the connection on the machine created by VirtualBox could be to blame as well. I then went into the Network and Sharing settings on the machine and disabled the connection. Rebooted the machine and found myself facing the same problem.

Finally, I wisened up and searched for help: “unable to connecto to Windows RDP using Remmina” and found the solution to my problem. Again, there were several suggested solutions, but I did find the one that worked for me. One solution suggested changing the Advanced > Security value in the connection’s profile in Remmina to RDP. This not only didn’t fix my problem, but caused additional problems with connecting to the machine.

The solution, surprising enough, was as simple as removing an entry in a file. I simply opened .~./freerdp/known_hosts and removed the line that corresponded to the host. I restarted Remmina and tried to connect, getting prompted to accept the host’s key, and was happily connected. Was a little agitated that I spent so much time and work trying to resolve a problem that was so easily fixed, but happy to again have the ability to RDP into my machine.

Ubuntu Unity Dash: Removing Links

There are occasions when applications that have been removed have stale links left behind in the Unity Dash. Though it is harmless, it is annoying to see them popup as results to searches in the dash when they are useless – creating a problem by taking up search results that could lead to what you’re searching for more quickly.

Removing them is fairly simple, but it can be easy to forget if you haven’t done it before – or at least not for a while.

Most of the links in the Unity Dash are stored in the /share/applications folder. However, depending on if the application was installed for just one user or for all users determines which folder the links are stored at. If the application was installed on the system for all users, you will have to use root access to remove them from the /usr/share/applications directory. If they were installed by a user strictly for that user, they will be in the .local/share/applications directory within that user’s home.

Make sure you empty your Trash after you delete the links. They will not be removed from the Dash until you do.

Ubuntu: Creating non-buntu Startup Disks

I ran into this problem while trying to create a startup disk for OpenSUSE in Ubuntu using the included Startup Disk Creator. I noticed that only Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based isos were being listed in the program, and even when browsing to the other isos, I found that clicking to open them in the program did nothing.

After some brief searching, I came across the following thread in Ubuntu Forums. The second post within the thread was extremely helpful to me, and following its instructions led to a successful bootable USB drive with which I was able to test OpenSUSE. On top of that, I learned from the post that the Startup Disk Creator software included in Ubuntu is actually limited to only Ubuntu-based isos.

So, I thought it would be worthwhile to repost the command here on my blog for both my own records and for anyone else who might not have managed to come across the use of dd to create bootable disks in Ubuntu. From what I understand, it should work for just about any type of bootable disk. However, I can only testify that it worked for the OpenSUSE disk from my own experience so far. As always, make sure you are certain of what you’re inputting when working with CLI, and this command could cause some serious pain in terms of data loss if you accidentally designated the wrong location.

sudo dd if=/path-to-iso of=/dev/sdX bs=4096

The command should be fairly straight-forward. The if argument should be the full path that points to the location of the iso. The of argument should be the device that is being written to as the startup disk. That’s probably obvious, but I felt it was necessary to clarify just in case. I’m assuming that bs is referring to the boot sector location of the device being written to, but that is purely speculation on my part and the value was simply left as-is when I used this method of creating the boot disk.

You can also use the mount  command to list all mounted devices currently connected to your computer. If you know the name of the device (which you can see by hovering over the USB drive’s icon on the Unity launcher) you can then look through the list of devices displayed from mount  and find what device it is so that you supply the right value for the of argument when using dd. A more graphical method would be to open the Disk Utility and find the USB drive listed in the left pane. Clicking on it will then display the device information in the right pane, including where the device is mounted.

I’ve been meaning to create a Windows boot disk using this, to at least see if it would work. I need to re-install Windows on a laptop that doesn’t have a disc drive built into it, and the USB method seems my best option. I’ll add a comment or update the post with the results once I run it.

Ubuntu / Linux Mint: Adding the LibreOffice PPA

If you’re using a previous version of Ubuntu or Linux Mint, such as 12.04 or 13 (the last LTS releases), then you’re probably using an old LibreOffice suite – at least if you choose to use LibreOffice. I believe version 3.6 is in the 12.04 repositories – which I also believe is what is used by Linux Mint 13. There’s nothing wrong with LibreOffice 3.6, but there’s also nothing wrong with wanting the latest and greatest, and 3.6 is quite a few releases behind the current LibreOffice update.

Luckily, whether you wish to re-install LibreOffice or simply update the installation that comes pre-packaged with Ubuntu / Linux Mint, getting the latest version is easy as one command line in terminal.

Simply add the LibreOffice PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa

You will also want to update the package index:

sudo apt-get update

After this is done, simply load up the Update Manager for whichever OS you’re running, click Check and you’ll find updates listed for LibreOffice. Ubuntu typically prompts to run a partial upgrade, which is fine. I didn’t see this in Linux Mint.

If you’ve removed LibreOffice and need to install from the PPA after you’ve added it, simply submit the following command:

sudo apt-get install libreoffice

That’s it. Whether you upgrading or doing a fresh install, you’ll have the latest release of LibreOffice, along with continuous updates to the application through your Update Manager.

Linux Mint MATE: Default Num Lock, Keyboard Shortcuts and System Monitor

This post is in reference to an earlier one, which can be found here.

The difference is that this example refers to Linux Mint using the MATE desktop environment. The reason I’m posting this is because I’ve recently installed Linux Mint with MATE, and was shocked to not only find no keyboard shortcut for System Monitor (which is missing by default in Ubuntu as well) but also no shortcut to terminal. So, I will explain how to add these. The steps are actually just as simple as the ones used for adding shortcuts to Ubuntu.

Personally, I find the layout of the configuration GUI for keyboard settings a little less convenient in Linux Mint from Ubuntu’s Unity, but it’s still usable and I was able to get the job done just fine without referring to any help online. The place where I found myself stuck for a second was the command used for launching these applications. In Ubuntu, System Monitor is accessed by the command gnome-system-monitor. However, in Linux Mint with MATE, it is mate-system-monitor. Not really all that shocking once you realize it, but it took me a minute to realize that I wasn’t using Gnome or a relative desktop.

But anyway. To configure keyboard shortcuts in Linux Mint with MATE, simply go to the Menu on the taskbar and click Control Center, which is about five options up from the bottom. Under the Personal category, which is at the top of the window, you’ll see Keyboard Shortcuts, which is likely the second option down from the top at the far right. One this window is opened, you can just stop. Don’t bother looking for a shortcut for either Terminal or System Monitor – just in case you’re thinking one may exist. It doesn’t, at least not if you’re using Maya. When you’re ready to create a shortcut, just click the + Add button at the bottom. The new window that pops up is exactly like what is seen in Ubuntu. Two lines: one for the title and one for the command that is called. If you wish to create a shortcut for Terminal, the command should be mate-terminal . If you wish to create one for System Monitor, the command should be mate-system-monitor , as mentioned earlier in the post. Then assigning the key combination for the shortcuts is also exactly as in Ubuntu: you simply click the shortcut you created in the list and then when it says New shortcut to the right, you hit the key combination you wish to use on your keyboard. Done.

Lastly, if you wish to have Num Lock turned on by default when you log into Linux Mint, simply open up Control Center from the Menu (as explained above), click Keyboard under the Hardware category, click the Layouts tab at the top, click the Options… button near the bottom, expand the Miscellaneous compatibility options branch and check the box next to Default numeric keypad keys. If you’ve done this in Ubuntu, you’ll also see that this is very similar.