Friday, December 12, 2014

Update Flash fix security flaws!

Browsing the web today I noticed that some Flash videos were not playing, and I saw this message:

"This plugin is vulnerable and should be updated".

The option to check and update Flash in Iceweasel told me I had the latest version, but Adobe has issued a security update for Flash.

As I have mentioned before, Flash updates are not automatically downloaded in Debian- a user has to do:
# update-flashplugin-nonfree --install

Restart the browser afterwards to load the updated Flash player.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Report a broken website

Firefox used to have an option to report a broken website: it's gone. However, there is now a cross-browser alternative at (found via Mozilla Support.)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Jessie wallpaper

Debian Jessie is frozen, so with the release on the horizon, it's time to think about what the wallpaper may look like. Here are a couple of my favourites from the proposals so far:
Sky Blue Jessie.

From DebianArt Themes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Can't save files to USB thumb drive in Debian

Did you install Debian from a USB thumb drive? Can't write to a USB thumb drive after installing because the owner is root?

Quick and easy solution: Look for a /dev/sdb1 entry in etc/fstab and comment it out:

#/dev/sdb1 /media/usb0 auto rw,user,noauto 0 0
Source:Debian Forum. Explanation from dhunter in same thread:
This is exactly what happens if you install Debian from a USB drive, the installer adds sdb1 to fstab and whenever you plug it in the system will mount it as root. Always remember removing sdb1 from fstab after installing from USB.

Google Street View freezes in Debian Jessie

There is a bug in the Cairo 2D Vector Graphics library in the version of Iceweasel in Debian Jessie at the moment (31.2, based on Firefox ESR 31.2) which results in Street View freezing.

A solution might be to install the latest version of Iceweasel from the Debian Mozilla team, as the bug is apparently fixed in Firefox 33. (Haven't tried this myself.)

A work around is to use Chrome or Epiphany/Web, which are not affected.

Update: or use Classic Maps, which uses Flash. (Debian Forum).

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bad Bash Bug

There's a bug in Linux. I read the story on the BBC this morning. Doing a bit of Googling, I came across a page at Red Hat which confirmed my computer (running Debian Testing) was vulnerable.
 By evening Debian Testing had a patch:
Now I seem to be safe:
However, the real issue here does not seem to be Linux desktops:
...this bash bug has been around for a long, long time. That means there are lots of old devices on the network vulnerable to this bug. The number of systems needing to be patched, but which won't be is [large].
Robert Graham, on

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Debian 8 "Jessie" to Get GNOME 3.14

From Softpedia:
Latest GNOME 3.14 to arrive in Debian Testing

Debian Testing or Debian 8 is the upcoming version in the Debian ecosystem, although there is no precise launch date known for the system. The Debian maintainers and developers have decided to push all the packages from the GNOME 3.14 branch, which is still under development, in the official repos. The progress is slow and it will take a while to be completed, but in the end we will have the latest 3.14 branch available for download.
I am currently using Gnome 3.12 in Debian Testing, and liking it a lot (must do a review soon).

Now I'm excited about getting an update to 3.14 (I know, geeky).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Create a simple animated GIF in Linux


Install imagemagick, put your images in a folder, and in a terminal run:
$ convert -delay 100 -loop 0 <frame1>.gif <frame2>.gif <animated>.gif
 (Slightly modified from the link above so I can remember how I did it.)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

GUIs broken in Debian Jessie

After an update recently, I noticed that some GUIs were broken.
Astute readers may recognise that all the broken GUIs use QT (KeePassX, Skype and VirtualBox).

The solution I found was to install qt4-qtconfig and change the GUI Style from Desktop Settings (Default) to GTK+.
Here are the same applications after the fix:
VLC was also affected, but curiously undoing the change did not break the GUI again as it did with the applications in the screenshot.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

External DVD drive not detected in Debian Jessie

The CD/DVD drive in my laptop long since packed in working, so I bought a cheap external drive from Amazon. (£12.99, free delivery.)

I plugged it in and ...nothing. The drive did not appear in Thunar. I thought I might have wasted my money on a drive that is not compatible with Linux, but then I tried VLC and that played the DVD all right. After that, the drive was mounted and visible in Thunar.

However, I tried the same thing today and could not get VLC to play the DVD I was trying to play. And it is really frustrating trying to solve a problem like that with a five year old girl asking you every 15 seconds if you have managed to play her Dora the Explorer DVD yet.

Eventually I had to give up, suspecting that the cheap drive might have broken. After lunch I tried booting into a Crunchbang Live USB, and to my relief found the drive was automounted and working.

I noticed the default name for the drive in Crunchbang was dev/dvd, so booted back into Debian and tried that: it worked.

But still the drive didn't automount. Later on, after aforementioned small child had watched Dora and chanted the obligatory mantra of "Swiper, no swiping!" three times plus various other exhortations and was sated, I managed to find the solution to the problem in a more leisurely period.

It seems there's a bug in Jessie which means drives are not auto detected.

Solution found on the Debian Forum.

The solution is near the end of the page, specifically:
To determine if kernel polling is enabled:

    cat /sys/module/block/parameter/events_dfl_poll_msecs
    cat /sys/block/sr0/events_poll_msecs

If you get 0 or -1 from both of those commands, kernel polling may be disabled.

To enable kernel polling permanently (survives a reboot), add the following command to your /etc/rc.local file (anywhere before the 'exit' line in that file):

    echo 2000 > /sys/module/block/parameters/events_dfl_poll_msecs
From udevil Homepage.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A look at Gnome 3.12

I would have liked to have an in depth look at Gnome 3.12, but unfortunately the Live CD I tried kept causing kernel panics every time I tried to launch an application. Here are a couple of screenshots I was able to take:

What I can say about it is that it looks beautiful, by which I mean the GUI of Gnome applications, the theme, the icons and the desktop, and it looks contemporary- of the 21st century rather than the 20th.

The Activities overview seems to open quickly. I tried an install of Gnome 3 recently in Fedora and found that there was a significant lag in opening the  Activities overview, admittedly on a now-quite-old laptop. I hope this is due to improvements in the compositing engine that might make Gnome more usable for me.

I've seen several people who wrote that they hated Gnome 3 say now that they use it and love it, so I suppose it's a bit ironic that I said I loved it from the start but don't now actually use it. Apart from the performance issue, another issue for me is non-Gnome applications. For example, I use Liferea a lot, but its notifications don't work natively with Gnome and look terrible; in XFCE however, it's fine.

Gnome 3.12 is in Debian Testing. I am tempted to try installing it, because it looks so good, and to see if any of my problems with Gnome 3 have gone, but my current installation of XFCE on Debian Testing is just so usable and stable that I'm reluctant to wipe it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Welcome to GNOME 3.12

Gnome 3.12 is out. You can try it out here. Somebody has already done so and posted a video (with a great soundtrack) here. I'll be doing so myself soon.