Friday, 27 May 2011

Replacing Network manager with WICD

Fed up with slow shutdowns on the N210P when connected to the network drives, and as the usual changes (see end) didn't work, I decided to replace with Network Manager with WICD. I've done this before to get around the same problem and although I've not noticed a performance improvement I have read this is a side benefit.

sudo apt-get install wicd

Damn whitelist! Have to change the whitelist else the WICD icon won't show in the indicator display. Here I add both python and wicd to the whitelist (I could whitelist all but have had problems clicking on icons):

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "['JavaEmbeddedFrame', 'Mumble', 'Skype', 'python', '']"

Check that I can connect with WICD, then remove network manager

sudo apt-get remove network-manager

The default WICD icon is hideous in my opinion, luckily Will Laws has provided a revised set based on the default Network Manager set. Download the tar file from his site at the above link, then:

mkdir ~/tmp
cd ~/tmp
cp ~/Downloads/wicd-elementary-light.tar.gz .
tar -zxvf wicd-elementary-light.tar.gz
cp wicd-elementary-light/* /usr/share/pixmaps/wicd/

As mentioned above, the "usual" changes for slow shutdown of CIF drives didn't work, ie changing the run order at shutdown and reboot - see Ubuntu Wiki. I really do wish this basic problem, which seems to have been around for years, was resolved. The problem seems to lie with Network Manager shutting down before the CIF shares are unmounted.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Dell updated to Ubuntu 11.04

Just updated the Dell desktop to 11.04 using Update Manager. No problems except for setting up the VPN for my wife's work. Forgot that Network Manager only allows one user to be connected at a time and so the NM icon wasn't showing. Logged myself out and all fine, didn't even have to set it up again.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 Unity and xrandr

Had a odd problem when using xrandr to get higher resolutions on the Samsung N210P. It seems Unity makes changing the resolution a bit harder than with 10.10. I previously used

xrandr --output LVDS1 --mode 1024x600 --scale 1.25x1.25

to get 1280x750 resolution. With Unity this leaves black bands to the top and right of the screen.

The fix is easy though makes changing resolution a little faffy. Just run the above and then run

unity --replace

after pressing ALT-F2.

Unity rebuilds the screen to the appropriate resolution.

This post and my response on Ubuntu Forums gives more details.

Friday, 20 May 2011

EasyN FS-613 webcam installation

I wanted a cheap webcam to monitor the rear of our house, from the reviews on Amazon I chose the EasyN FS-613 webcam although the Amazon page didn't identify it. These are my installation notes in case they are of help to someone. If you look hard enough you can find a label on the packaging that says FS-613A but otherwise the camera is identified as an F-series.

First steps
Plug in network cable to router
Plug in power cable
Turn on at the wall (no on/off switch on the camera) and it tracks around, presumably as a self test
Check on router - camera had correctly set its IP to - this is also marked on the bottom of the camera for those who don't want to read the manual.

Basic settings
I don't run Windows so didn't use the software provided, instead I did it the "hard" way - which is actually very simple on a standard network.
Go to in Google Chrome. Default logon is admin with no password.

You are then presented with camera control choices:
ActiveX for IE
Server push for Firefox, Chrome
Javascript for Mobile
or a dedicated ipad option
Using Chrome so used server push, camera worked straightaway.

Network settings
Click on the options button on the web page control.
Set password for admin (not forced to do so but really necessary) and one other user (not necessary). Camera will reboot.

Changed camera IP to port 81. It reboots again.

Set wireless details, another reboot. Remove network cable. No problem connecting on my WPA2 wireless network.

And that is it on the camera itself, that's all you need to do if you want to monitor via your own network.

Additional settings
There were some other changes I needed to make on my system to use with my camera monitoring software and to allow external viewing. For some of these you can use the webcam's own software - eg dynamic dns, alarm settings.

External viewing
Port forwarding on router (Linksys WRT610N)
External port 50001 maps to port 81

I use DynDNS to provide a static URL for external viewing of my network. The router handles the updating of the IP address.

Monitoring software
My webcam monitoring software running on the Ubuntu server.

Add new monitor - obvious settings except for path to images is path /snapshot.cgi?1305894863217

and image size 320x240. Will test to see if other options.

Restart Zoneminder (though I also had to reboot my server for some reason).

IP Cam viewer
A brilliant Android monitoring program with a very responsive developer and well worth the £3 cost of the full version.

Again all obvious settings - there is only one choice for an EasyN webcam (the FS-613) and it seems to work fine.

Haven't tested the visual side yet!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Android - moving from 16gb to 32gb card

I was a bit wary of upgrading my microsdhc card, given that so many of my applications are installed on the card (via Titanium Backup). I'm also using simple2ext to redirect the dalvik-cache and download folders to the sd-ext card.  However, it really was as simple as formatting the new card and then copying over the old files. Hope this helps others - remember to back up everything beforehand just in case.

1. I only had one card reader so I copied the contents of the old card to a folder on my laptop. Again I could have used the command line for this but I wanted to visually check what I was copying so used Nautilus. I had to use root permissions (gksudo nautilus) to copy sd-ext. Remember in both cases to show hidden files before copying.

2. Using GParted (I find formatting a bit scary so used a GUI) I formatted the new card as follows:

512mb ext3 partition called sd-ext
remainder as fat32 called sdcard

3. Copy the files to the new card.

4. Insert new card and power up phone - perfect first time!

HTC Desire using CyanogenMod 7.0.3-Desire.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


I am hoping to post here some thoughts and tips on Ubuntu and Android (either using them separately or together). I'm a full-time father looking to keep his IT skills up to date while looking after my little sons. At present I'm using the following systems:

HTC Desire running Cyanogen mod 7 on T-mobile UK
Samsung N210P netbook running Ubuntu 11.04
Dell desktop (but not very often) running Ubuntu 10.10 (will update shortly)
Old Sony Vaio laptop running Ubuntu 10.10 server