Archive for the ‘WINE’ Category


Screen Capture and Video Editing for Linux

December 31, 2008

I’ve been bemoaning the lack of video-creating support for Linux and apparently, I’m not the only one.  I just caught Steven Vaughan-Nichols’ recent article on the subject and I had wanted to add screen recording to my wish-list of 2009. It sure would be nice if CamStudio were ported to Linux.  But now I think I might not have to.  There are a couple of web apps that might just fit the bill.

ScreenToaster and Screen-O-Matic are two web-based screen recorders that look promising, as long as the microphone functions properly.  And I have yet to test either of these programs nor have I tested my mic in Linux.

As far as I can tell, neither of these have done a lot of testing with Linux.  I saw where Screen-O-Matic claimed minor issues with RedHat Fedore Core 3 with Firefox 2.0, which looks like an old configuration to me.  For Vista, XP and Mac it was all good with Firefox.    So this post serves as a sort of placeholder for me when I want to try this out, as well as an invitation to the rest of you to try it and then let the rest of us know how it works.

And this might be the answer to more and more of the typical Linux woes.  There were several attempts to try online non-linear video editiong in 2007, but most of those are gone as of the end of 2008.  The most promising, so far, looks like it might be JayCut.   Unlike the now defunct YouTube mixer and Jumpcut (which was bought and then abandoned by Yahoo) it does allow downloading of the finished product.  The online video editing is still in its infancy, but perhaps in 2009 there might be something better that comes out for orphaned Linux users who are not using the DOS-like command line.

For screencasting and video editing, the ability to download the finished product is key.  As demonstrated by the Jumpcut fiasco, it is too easy for an outfit to be abandoned and then you can lose all your stuff.  That particular move by Yahoo indicates to me that they might deserve to be bought out by Microsoft.

I’m looking forward to seeing what new discoveries I can make with Linux in 2009.  My 2009 wishlist includes:

1. Simple and stable nonlinear video editor

2. Simple screen recorder with the possibility of adding annotations ala Camstudio

3. A Linux capable of finding my Dell laptop webcam

4. A more complete WINE capable of running at least all of the old Win98 programs instead of trying to keep up with the latest stuff.  I have a ton of old apps and games that could use a new lease on life with my kids.

5. A painless way to export my Thunderbird and Firefox settings to either windows or to another machine or just so I can upgrade to another Linux distro.  Mandriva has worked okay on my Dell Vostro 1500 but I’d like to try the latest Mepis without losing all my stuff.


Just trying to get a job done

November 19, 2007

I’ve really neglected this blog!  Almost as much as I’ve neglected the Linux machine I’ve had sitting here since May.  It is a dust collector, largely because of issues I listed in the last post.  Namely, despite the hoo-ha of the community, Windows programs seem to work better.  Quality is defined as a combination of performance, speed, utility, features, availability and stability.  Only Windows has been offering up this sort of combo on a consistent basis.  And that is disappointing considering my enthusiasm for Linux was fueled by frustration with M$.


But that doesn’t mean that Linux has no place around here.  I still read and write extensively with my Zaurus, which is still the dandiest little gadget in my house.  I just never leave home without it.  But I demand more from my desktop machine or even a laptop.  And the following represents a case in point.


I had a need this weekend, and for awhile it looked like Linux might prove to be the answer.  This would be highly fortunate, since this would be a public presentation, thus turning others on to Linux or at least showing them an alternative.


I had downloaded a 13 minute video that I was going to show in my adult Sunday school class.  The video was downloaded and turned out to be only available in QuickTime’s .mov format.  And that is where the pain started.


My first idea was to simply burn this to a DVD and I would play it on the church’s DVD player.  But my DVD burning software choked every time I tried.  My old version of Nero was willing to burn, but the product would have no sound.  I then fiddled with downloading some conversion software to change the .mov to an avi or pretty much anything else.  Again, the programs I tried choked.  Keep in mind; I’m at home working over a modem.  I’d nabbed the video at work earlier in the week.


This is when I decided to try Linux, since I know some of these distros had DVD burning capability and just might be able to work.  It was worth a shot.  The only distro I’ve downloaded in the past 6 months is Puppy 3.01, so decided to try that.


This was my first go ’round with the newest Puppy and it was it’s nice and easy self, although the desktop seems to have gotten uglier since 2.15.  We were back to the 2.01 Win95ish theme.  But I persisted because we had a job to do.  Unfortunately, Puppy’s DVD authoring software had no more success with burning this video that my Windows programs. 


Okay, no problem.  I had my work laptop, and I would simply play it on there for the group that ranges from 5 to 25 people.  Right?


That work laptop is under IT lockdown, which means I had limited ability to change much on there.  And it didn’t have QuickTime.  Which means it would not even *play* the video!  ACK!


I pulled my Linux distros out again.  First there was Puppy 3.01, because it was the newest and fastest.  Gxine is the default player on this distro.  It played the video nicely except there was no sound.  Crap.  Okay, I’ll move on.


I reached for Ubuntu 6.06, next.  Dapper Drake was supposed to be the Big Deal, right?  The default player here is Totem.  However, Totem failed to play this video at all, saying it needed more codecs or whatever.  But since Ubuntu can’t spot a modem (we’ve been through THAT before!) it wasn’t going to get more codecs.  I needed something that could run off a live CD.  The video itself was residing on a 1 G memory stick and none of the distros had issues reading the thumb drive.


Next, I tried Mepis 6.0.  The default player here is Kaffeine.  And Kaffeine work *marvelously*!  So in this comparison of media players, Kaffeine clearly stole my heart.  And so I determined the Mepis would be a costar of this presentation, and was delighted at the prospect of showing off my nerdliness.


But I quickly discovered another problem.  The laptop LCD display was inadequate as you had to be right in front of it to see it.  While I could plug in a regular full-sized monitor, the thought of lugging that thing to church was prohibitive.  But no to worry, because I had bought a 19″ Polaroid LCD TV monitor that also had a VGA connection.  Unfortunately, Mepis was unable to show up on the thing.  I was stuck again.  Windows had no problems showing up, though.  Hmph.  Since there’s no Windows version of Kaffeine, back to square one.


I finally downloaded QuickTime Alternative and managed to miraculously install it.  Problem solved.


But this further highlights the twin problems of any Linux desktop.  Namely, software and hardware.  More recent versions of Mepis might have worked but I have no way of knowing.  Other distros that made an appearance in working with the monitor were SuSE 10.1 and Dream Linux 2.2.  The live DVD SuSE wouldn’t even boot up and Dream Linux looked dreamy on the laptop but never showed up on the TV. 


So Window$ XP wins again.


So here are issues that I’ve had to struggle with in my attempts at making Linux work:

– Printer/scanner support

– Modem support – even with a serial modem!

– LCD monitor support

– Media playback out of the box (DVD, QuickTime)     

– Lack of a usable Stepmania package

– Abiword’s lack of dictionary

– Lack of RTS games

– Various programs hang, and most distros rely on a command line kill.  Puppy does not, fortunately.


These issues could be overcome with more persistence and skill, perhaps.  But I, as an average Windows power user geek, am not going to invest a whole lot into fiddling with it much when I have a machine that more or less works fine running Windows.  There’s very little that I can do in Linux that can’t be done on Windows but the reverse is definitely not true.  If that machine breaks down, it will be nice to have the other as a back-up.  But Linux has not yet earned a spot in the first string. Many of these issues, like the printer and modem are the most basic of productivity issues.


I still have my eye out for the distro that can do the job.  Perhaps I need to make clear my criteria:

– Adequate support for my printer and other hardware

– Modem support

-Basic programs that are completely functional

– A working functional version of WINE

-Adequate multimedia support

– Relative ease of use


Mepis would be a clear winner except for the whole modem and WINE thing which is where Puppy fits in as the sole distro that has gotten me online.  Puppy’s other main advantage is speed, since it runs totally in RAM.  Mepis is heavy in the software and packages if one can get online to get them.






CrossOver Linux

April 10, 2007

In my continuing attempt to get a Linux machine into the realm of being functional and even perhaps useful and fun, I decided to take a look at the proprietary version of WINE, namely CrossOver Linux.  If the program proved easy enough and versatile enough, I would have no problems spending money on such a thing.  What’s $40 or so to be free of Windows or at least to make old machines new again? 


Fortunately, you can download a trial version to try for 30 days.  So I went ahead and downloaded the trial version.  Downloading proved to be simple enough after giving CodeWeavers my name and email address.  The file was about 19 mb so it easily fit on my thumbdrive.  This was then taken to a MEPIS machine that I have that is not networked at the present time.  I really would just like to have a stand-alone machine that can be productive, play some games and find its own fit in my technology milieu.   I hope this is not asking for too much.


One of the first things CrossOver promises is that is should be easy to install.  To this nOOb, that was not a very good promise.  “Easy to install” would mean seeing the icon after MEPIS detected my thumb drive and opened the directory and then me clicking on it and it installing.  That would be easy.  However, this thing had an icon that told me that it wanted to do something in command line mode.  Oops.  That isn’t good.


CrossOver’s directions and help on installation were imprecise and not very helpful.  However, I did find a command in the MEPIS menu that did the trick to getting this thing installed.  It actually took two tries before it began installing.  My machine is a bit on the slow order, at 866 Mhz, so this involved some waiting.  I went and had lunch while it did its thing.  After lunch, I decided to try to play around with it.


CrossOver does list several applications and games that it is supposedly compatible with.  At the beginning of running the program, it asks you to select some of these for installation.  Since I didn’t have installation discs for any of these and since I wasn’t networked, I went ahead and tried to install a couple of simple games that I had discs for.


Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is one I thought would be fairly simple and straight forward.  So I went ahead and directed CrossOver to attempt to install this game as an Unsupported Application in the menu.  CrossOver then created what they refer to as a “bottle” for this so it wouldn’t mess with program settings for programs that were supported.  The installation looked promising and proceeded fairly normally, if not a bit slowly.  At the end, CrossOver lets you know that it is simulating a restart to install the program.  However actually playing the game did not work.  I was informed that DirectDraw did not work in 16 bit mode, which Millionaire uses.  So I have no idea what that means as far as actually getting the game to work.


A second test involved an old copy of Backyard Baseball that one of my paras got from a box of General Mills cereal.  This is a surprisingly fun and addictive game, at least to me, which involves some real strategy and genuine skill plus some luck doesn’t hurt either.  Both Millionaire and Baseball are 1999-2000 games which puts them squarely within a Win98 capability.    Backyard Baseball installed fairly easily, and I was able to play this game normally.  I tried to play across two sessions and sure enough, it saved the info from my teams and my season.  So in this regard, CrossOver was successful.  The game play is essentially the same, although the “escape” button I used to keep from having to watch replays didn’t work and the exit function was not at all smooth.  In fact, I ended my session, logged back on and the CDRom was no where to be found and I had to use a paperclip to get the thing out.  Then it seemed okay with my CD drive.


More testing is in the works with some other game CDs that I have.  I’m wondering if not having Explorer 6 installed is going to prove problematic.  Hooking it up to the network isn’t too much of a problem, although it’s just an inconvenience.  I’m not holding out a big hope for more sophisticated games, though.  I’m just taking the program out for a leisurely stroll and there are already some problems cropping up.  I’m still learning about installing programs and then finding those that I’ve already installed.  My machine does have some limitations with processor speed, but 320 Mb RAM should be more than adequate. 


I will say that this is a more promising and easier application than WINE ever was, but we still have a ways to go before I’m convinced that it is worth $40.  I’ll try a few other applications or games in the near future (at least within the next 30 days) and I’ll let you know.  I actually have a few older Win9x games that sort of had issues with XP so it would be kind of cool to see some of these resurrected as well as if some of the few other games I have decide to work.




Mepis v Freespire

December 20, 2006

I had a task that I thought might be just the thing for a Linux distro.  My wife, Jane, is an avid picture-taker.  She nakes millions of digital pictures.  Millions and billions.  And she is over running our hard drive with all of her pictures of tress, butterflies, fish and kids. Mostly kids.  So we are trying to move them off, archiving them.  She has over 100 CDs crammed with pictures.

In the past, Windows has had issues with simply putting data and pictures on to a DVD.  In the past, I found it easier to burn files on to a DVD using Mepis and the K3b burning program.  In fact, it’s what I used to burn the iso images of Mepis 6.0 and Freespire 1.01.  Te problem today seems to be the media that I’m using.  My 8x burner is not liking the 16x media which is about all you can find in stores nowadays.  I’m looking into a firmware upgrade but in the meantime I still wanted to move Jane’s pictures.

Mepis 3.3.4 was the version I tried first since that is where I had the most success before.  Later versions of Mepis don’t put the drive icons right on the desktop like I like which is why I opted for this seemingly ancient distro.  When Mepis failed to do the job, I decided to boot up Freespire.

I had just found my misplaced copy of this distro and decided to give that a try.  Being newer, I thought there might be less issues.  Turns out that it didn’t like my media either.  However running these two distros in succession gave me a better feel for how both of these work.  And I came away feeling better about Freespire.  Jane was watching me and I could tell that the Freespire interfave was something she could deal with a lot easier than the Mepis interface.  It just “felt” better.

Both of these were run in Live CD mode and took quite awhile to boot up and took time to execute some commands.

So I’m going to spend $30 and get a new 16x burner as well as some 8x DVDs.  The old burner will be reserved for a second machine I’ll be putting together one piece at a time and Freespire just might be the OS I decide to use.  Heaven knows I won’t be buying Vista or XP!

In other news, I just tried to install WINE on my puppy machine (9.22 I think) and it still crapped out when I tried to configure the sound.  So that is a source of irritation.  I might like to play a game or two while Jane is fiddling with her pictures!  Something more sophisticated than frozen bubble.



Yucky Wine

November 29, 2006

The biggest problem that I had, up to a point, with Wine and Puppy was finding a version for Puppy.  And mike gave me a god idea with the forums. [DOH!]  so
I found what were touted to be the most stable version of the various files and downloaded them.  I then attempted to install them.


Okay, this is the major problem with Linux that I thought I had somehow escaped and gotten past.  I mean I got my modem working and had played with several distros.  I sort of fell for the Puppy but now I’m having second thoughts.


I didn’t write down the error messages, and sorry I can’t be more specific, but the Pup did not like these new files AT ALL.  I had gotten an earlier version of Wine to sort of work on the old machine I had put an older version of Mepis on.  I thought I knew what I was doing but knowledge of one distro does not always readily transfer to another one.  I can see the benefit of this when it comes to escaping a virus or malware (who’s going to write malicious code for EVERY distro?!?). 


The other problem besides the thing obviously not installing and working are the problems describing the process of it not working.  Maybe it’s just me, but I have a hard time figuring out exactly WHAT the problem is.  I click on the bone icon (the dotpup packages), expecting stuff to happen and I’m not sure if it did or not.  I click the Wine icon and it opens a window and then closes.  Or nothing happens.  Or I get so far as to a point where it wants to be configured and then it closes when I try to set up sound.  No error, it just closes.  And then I have to start over.  Or I might get an error message that I totally am clueless as to what it means.  And I thought MS could be cryptic.


No I did not memorize or write down each and every little thing.  I am a lazy Windows user, remember!  I am clueless and a nOOb!


At the moment, I have this delicate configuration of 4 different machines running 4 different OS versions that can do what I need to get done.  It would be really, really nice to have one machine (or better yet, all 4) that was proficient enough to perform as needed with all the different hardware and software that I have.  This seems to be asking too much.  Okay, what I have works for the moment. I’ll just let some hair grow back or wait until necessity drives me to mess around some more!LOL!




Linux to the Rescue Again

November 9, 2006

 And this time it wasn’t because I was screwing around with anything!

Something died on another of my new machines,  (Not the one I screwed up with the attempted dual boot) so I spent a half day working on that.  It would not boot at all, even with a live CD.  That’s when you know you have a major screw-up.  So I took new machine #3 out of the box.  However Mr. Khan has not had any of us installed as users yet, so I’ve been using Puppy Linux just to my Paraeducators can check email and surf the web.


And since they’ve been using it they can barely tell the difference.  They do kind of know something is different, but by and large they have not complained or anything.  While all of them have a computer at home with access to the internet, NONE of them are using Firefox.  So when it comes to tabbed browsing, they have no idea what they are missing.  I think this is the sad state of affairs as folks have placed all of their trust in Microsoft.   Anyone who has never used anything else (which is most people) have no idea of how inferior their stuff really is.  I showed one of them how to get around a bit in tabs and she became an instant believer and convert. 


So Linux is operating again pretty much full-time in the classroom, but it is decidedly doing lighter duty than I put my machine through.  Still, there are 4 different adults using this one machine and it seems to be working for all of them.  I try to tell them about the OS they are using and their eyes just sort of glaze over.  They are just not all that interested.  They just like the fact that it works.  I think they represent more typical users who have modest needs, and Puppy Linux pretty much fits the bill for anything these 4 are going to to.


I, OTOH, do have more extensive needs because I’m creating instructional materials using specialized software packages.  WINE is supposed to work but I have yet to get a copy of it installed and working. 




How Linux ruined My Day

November 3, 2006

There are days when I wonder; would I be better off never having heard of Linux? Today was one of those days.

It all started because I was trying to run an innocuous adaptiv technology program called Boardmaker. Elain and Loraine had recently installed it for me, but had failed to test it. So I thought it would work, and it said I had insufficient priviledges. Which is crap, because I DO have administrative priviledges on this machine and I proceded to attempt to invoke them. But still, the program failed to work properly, largely because it has issues with XP and multiple users. Making it work required all mannerr of jiggery and fiddling. I became frustrated.

Ever gotten frustrated and did something dumb that seemed like a good idea at the time?

I’m under a bit of pressure to produce something and I needed this program to do it. So I came up with the scheme of partitioning this 80 gig hard drive, installing Mepis in a dual boot situation and the using WINE to get Boardmaker to think I was on my home machine with unrestricted administrative rights.

So I used QT Parted to repartition my hard drive and then blindly let it install Grub, thinking I would get some sort of message with an option of which OS to boot at startup. All of this seemed to go swimmingly well. Too well.

While doing all of this, a young lady came to my room with some questions. She had been referred to me by Loraine and Elaine, who are the twins who do most of the basic IT stuff around the school. Apparently the young lady, who I’ll just go ahead and name Halle as in Halle Barry, had just bought a new computer. from Wal-Mart and it came with Linux preinstalled. I asked her which distribution and she said she didn’t know but I guessed Linspire. Yes, it came with Linspire, which I had tried once as FreeSpire. She was having trouble getting online, because she was using dialup and her ISP was Bellsouth.

I was kind of excited to find someone else around getting into Linux but sensed her frustration. I almost suggested she take it back to get an XP machine but she insisted she did kind of like it. So we brainstormed and came up with the fact that there was an ISP provider who had an icon on her desktop to try for 3 months while she looked in the Freespire community for someone who was also using Bellsouth.

While we’re talking, my machine is in the process of becoming the district’s only dual boot XP/Linux machine. Or that was the idea. While talking, I rebooted and then looked over and noticed it wasn’t booting. It kept saying there was no boot disk. It was not locating the hard drive. I went from feeling pretty good to feeling like crap in less than 2 minutes. I was totally distracted from helping Halle at this point, and mumbled something about me maybe not being the best authority since I had apparently fried the school’s computer…one of the brand new ones!

She thanked me and said it had been helpful and went off to lunch or class or wherever. I was now in deep shit. Putting Mepis or whatever distro on an old P3 destined for the scrap heap is one thing. Frying a brand new machine is a different matter entirely. Loraine and Elaine, who live and die by Microsoft and FUD would have a field day. And then there was the head of IT in my building, Ghengis Khan. I don’t call him that just for the hell of it!

Fortunately I had a student out and all my paras were present. They could do most of the real work while I attempted to save my system from my own folly. And so the race was on.

Again, Mepis 6.0 has a few issues that made life harder than it had to be. It’s much more difficult to locate partitions. I did a live CD boot with Mepis 3.1 and those partitions both appeared right on the desktop. Whew! A look around revealed the Windows stuff was all still there. Good. Now I just had to figure out how to get the thing to boot and do it without total administrative access.

I used my other networked machine (the new one I let the paras use) to search for a solution to get the system to boot. I really was not keen on losing all of XP because there are still things that HAVE to be done with XP. Important stuff like grades and attendance.

For the next 4 hours, I was diligently trying various things. Most Master Boot records need the XP install disk in order to be fixed. Since I did not have an XP disk, this was not an acceptable option. I tried copying a few suggested files from the sister machine to fix the crippled one. Nothing doing.

The tool that finally did it was a little program called Gag46 orr something like that. Very simple, very small (fits on a floppy) and fairly elegant. Using this floppy, I could have my dual boot, but more importantly, Windows would boot.

The first thing Windows did when it booted was to “correct” the partitioning work I had done, so now Mepis was knocked off. But that’s okay.

It was a long and frustrating day, and Boardmaker STILL doesn’t want to work!

Grub eventually decided to “work.” Actually, there is no menu to pick the OS like I get with Gag46. No, just a command prompt looking exactly like an old MS DOS prompt, with commands every bit as cryptic. The one I got to work was “reboot” and then used the Gag46 to get XP back up.

As it stands now, I can use the floppy to get back to where I was before I had my bright idea. I’m not saying I’m giving it up entirely, as I still think the idea has merit, but just not this second.