Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quicktip: Setting keyboard layout in GNOME via CLI

Since I tend to break my installation quite often while testing new stuff, I'm always looking for more agile way of re-setting my system quicky. Of course backups could do the job, but I find a clean install much cleaner and safer for my purposes.
So, here is a tip how to set keyboard layouts from the command line using GNOME - very useful if  you speak more than one language:

gconftool-2  -R /desktop/gnome/peripherals/keyboard/kbd
gconftool-2 --recursive-unset /desktop/gnome/peripherals/keyboard/kbd
gconftool-2 -s /desktop/gnome/peripherals/keyboard/kbd/layouts -t list \
--list-type=string [us,de]
gconftool-2 -s /desktop/gnome/peripherals/keyboard/kbd/options -t list \
 --list-type=string ["grp	grp:alt_shift_toggle,terminate	terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp"]
Do notice: there are TABS in the empty spaces up there. GNOME's xml was intolerant for my attempts to replace them with spaces, and really only worked with the braces.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Linux users: stop whining about UEFI Secure booting!

Sorry for the provocative title, but I think Linux and other FOSS Operating System should really stop whining about the UEFI secure booting.
I see no difference between someone who buys a laptop made by Apple and a someone who buys a Laptop with Windows OS. As the saying goes: "If you sleep with dogs, you wake up with flees". For a very long time the Linux Community ignored the WINTEL monopoly and did very little to support free hardware manufacturers. Many people would invest tons of time in hacking and patching Linux and drivers where they where manufacturers ignored deliberately or unintentionally Linux.
I don't buy hardware very often. And so most people who use Linux don't need to. But when I do buy hardware or asked to recommend hardware, I never do buy anything with Windows, or NVIDIA, or ATI.
I won't even answer friends or family question in the style "can you recommend this WinLaptop or that WinLaptop?". Sounds extreme, I know. But in fact, my strategy works. I have successfully bought my own Laptop from a small company that sells Clevo laptops with out windows. And more than 5 friends of mine who saw "Linux Just Works" out of the box, decided to buy these laptops too. I think it shows that there is a Market for people who are not interested in Windows. Even if it is small, it is growing.
But besides looking for a Laptop which does not come with Windows. You can specifically buy Hardware from manufacturers that do support Linux. Nowadays the ARM architecture is  rising, and provides computational power which is enough for most home users. In fact, the beagleboard provided more computational power than my 6 years old Laptop which still works. Not only that, the architecture is completely open, so I know, no UEFI Secure boot will shit on my head from the manufacturer.
There are a few more hardware manufacturers which make nice and OPEN hardware. To mention a few:
gumstix, opencircuits, hawkboard, pandaboard, igep and even more.
And there is even a whole Laptop/Tablet based on beagle board. 
You might mock the  "lousy" or humble hardware offering in this free field. But in fact it is enough for text processing and multimedia. It is enough for me, and I know, my next laptop, will be based on ARM, because I give a #!$% about UEFI, and I don't care what Microsoft does. Instead of fighting it directly, I will give my money to companies which promote my computational freedom.
I hope this post will encourage at least one extra person to re-consider his next WINTEL/AMD/NVIDIA buying.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How to: Bluetooth Speakers without Pulseaudio

About 3 months ago I have purchased a Bluetooth Speakers set. I chose the Creative Labs D200, which provide me with nice tunes compared to the prices. The speakers worked out of the box with my Bluetooth adapter. Pulseaudio also makes life easier to switch between the laptop's own speaker to the Bluetooth speakers. However, I get irritated sometimes with pulseaudio, and I was looking for an alternative solution.

After researching a few different sources I have come up with my own flavor of solution, which I document here for future benefit of myself and others.