MKV’s & Ubuntu: Redux

March 12, 2009

For all (5) of our regular blog followers, you already know that I’ve installed Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Alpha on to my Eee PC 1000. It is running a Low-Power Intel Atom (LPIA) processor at 1.6Ghz. It is not exactly a fast little devil, but it does a decent job for most things you’d want to do on a netbook. One of the things I do, is watch videos on it and one of the perennial problems with doing so under Linux has been poor MKV (H.264) support. In fact I wrote about this a year ago. On the Eee PC non-MKV videos generally work well. Occasionally, they’ll have render troubles (due to lack of processing power), but for the most part, they work fine. What surprised me though was the fact that many MKV videos I’ve downloaded have also worked well, or at least much better than I recall. When I found that some MKV files didn’t have any trouble at all playing, frankly I was shocked. I wasn’t sure if it was something in 9.04 or what was going on, so I had a co-worker test on his 8.10 box and they also played well. Now I’ve found some videos, generally the ones that look like they are higher quality (therefor require more CPU time for de/compression) and have high-motion action scenes, that don’t fare so well. Even with that being the case, turning off SpeedStep (so the Eee PC is stuck at 1.6Ghz) seems to remove a lot of the issues. On one of these “problem” videos for me, I had the co-worker test and he reported that everything went smoothly. He said that if he didn’t know about Linux’s sordid history with MKV’s, this video would give him no reason to believe otherwise. Info on machines after the break… My previous post was in March of 2008, which means I was most likely using 7.10. It is possible the MKV issue or base line decoding algorithm was “improved” in 8.04 or 8.10 and has been tweaked in the last year.

ASUS Eee PC 1000, Ubuntu Jaunty and You!

February 25, 2009

If you follow my twitter feed, then you know over this past weekend I got an ASUS Eee PC 1000. In fact, I spend a good deal of time tweeting about it on Monday when it arrived. I thought I’d spend a little time sharing my impressions of the device and some of the tinkering that I’ve done with it over the last few days (it lasted about an hour before it got reformatted). Please note: Most of this post is in the extended body, so to read it all you need to click the more button. In the past I haven’t used this feature much, but this post is really long. First the system specifications: • 10.2″ LCD @ 1024×600 • 1.6 Ghz Intel Atom • 1 GB RAM • 40 GB SSD (More correctly: 1x 8 GB and 1x 32 GB) • Comes pre-installed with Xandros Linux (of the Debian family) • 1.3 Megapixel Webcam • Stereo Microphones (shows as 1 device, used for noise canceling) • ~5 Hour battery • SD Card reader • 802.11b/g/n Wireless • 10/100/1000 Ethernet • Bluetooth • Multitouch trackpad • Ports: 3 USB, 1 VGA, 1 power, 1 microphone, 1 headphone, Network Hardware Review My first impressions is that this is a nice little package. My unit came in black and I think it looks good; granted it is a glossy surface so it picks up fingerprints. The accent pieces, like the buttons above the keyboard and the mouse buttons, have a brushed steel look (though they are probably plastic), which I think looks really classy. The screen is nice and bright at its brightest setting, though it doesn’t get that dark. The buttons on the mice are a little tough for my preference, but it isn’t really a deal breaker, especially since you can just tap the pad instead (which I have the tendency to tap really hard). Additionally, the important thing is, it is LIGHT, 3 pounds and change with the standard battery. They keyboard is advertised as 92% full size which I think is a fair description, though some compromises have been made in the name of fitting into the form factor. My only real problem with the keyboard is that directly below the Enter key is the Up arrow – right where I expect the Shift key to be. The Shift key has been moved to the right of the aforementioned Up arrow. Since I have a preference to use that right shift almost exclusively, I hit that Up arrow by mistake A LOT when I first started on the device. But like any keyboard that is slightly different, it takes a little getting use to, then it is all good. In fact, I am typing this entry up on the Eee PC itself and I’m not hitting the Up arrow by mistake nearly as often (and I find myself using the left shift some, which is actually a good thing for me to do). Overall, I’m pleased with how it is designed. Semi-update: I got to take a look at Brion’s Dell Mini 9, the shift key/arrow key setup is the same on his machine as it is on my Eee PC. So I’m under the impression that this is actually a fairly common design for netbooks. It makes sense, since most “regular” keyboards have the arrow keys off on their own little island and that wouldn’t fit in such a small form factor.

World Of Warcraft Under Linux

March 2, 2008

One of the first things I did after getting Ubuntu running was to see if I could get and install World Of Warcraft using Cedega. Yes, I could have used Wine (Which I do have installed) but it only has a bronze rating and frankly I wanted to see if it would run WELL under Linux. Regardless, I resubscribed to Cedega and got it setup. Positively detected everything (including 3d accell, ALSA and OSS) which is always pleasant. The problem came when I tried to install World Of Warcraft. I count mount the install exe (on the CD, and copied to the local drive), it would launch the installer, play the music, etc… But every time I moused over the “Install World Of Warcraft” button – it crashed. I enabled the debugging and found the line “wine: pcm.c:973: snd_pcm_delay: Assertion `pcm’ failed.”. With a little googling I found the answer to be simple – change Cedega over from ALSA to OSS. I did that and away I went. The install went off without any further problems. Now doing the patching process (which was fast enough for me, since I copied the patches from my old machine) is a bit interesting. I had some troubles here and there, alot of dialog boxes about missing html files and the like – even a crash in game. All that being said – it worked. It wasn’t pretty – but it did work. After a few hours of patching and other misc odds and ends – I got into the game. Works like a charm. Runs really good too, better than it did in Windows (I’d guess). So in the end, I’m happy, and I can play. I played for several hours straight last night and got from 35 to 37. I had no crashes, no “glitches” and no slow downs (with the exception of Iron Forge, of course). So far, so good. (After the break I included my Cedega hardware information in case it is of use for anyone)