Debian and google-talkplugin

A few months ago I lost the capability of making phone calls through Gmail on my Debian laptop or through Google Voice. While it was a bit of an annoyance, I never minded it much because I always had my phone or my Windows 8 laptop available and I could use them instead.

A few days ago I tried using Google Hangouts out of curiosity because it keeps getting props as a good service to make video calls with and since Skype keeps getting worse and worse all the time.

Okay, so Hangouts only works on Chrome. Fine, I’ve got Chromium installed. Fire it up, install the extension… then nothing. Hangouts couldn’t connect to the AV hardware. Logged in to Gmail, tried making a phone call… same thing.

Now I had two separate browsers have the same issue on the same system. A bit of searching drove me to a few blog posts here and there, but nothing in detail. Then I struck gold with this post buried in the Google Products forum:

This worked for me:

This turned out to be a libudev problem. It seems I had two versions installed for some reason. Removing libudev0 solved the problem. My version of chrome depended on that version, so I had to reinstall that as well.

$ dpkg --get-selections | grep -i libudev
libudev0:amd64 install
libudev0:i386 deinstall
libudev1:amd64 install
libudev1:i386 install
$ apt-get remove google-chrome-beta
$ apt-get remove libudev0
$ dpkg -i ./google-chrome-beta_current_amd64.deb

First I checked what libudev libs were installed, finding out both libudev0 and libudev1 were installed just like in the forum post, so the fix was pretty straightforward:

# aptitude remove chromium libudev0 iceweasel
# aptitude install chromium iceweasel

That was pretty much it. After this, I tried placing a call through Gmail on Iceweasel and had no problems. Firing up Chromium and trying to initiate a video call reported no issues either.

Everything is as it should be. Now if Google published a version of Picasa native to Linux…

C’mon, now

I’ve been trying to get the damn Debian Wheezy installer to work via USB on a Thinkpad T60 for the past three days without any success. Sure, it works like a charm when put on a CD or a DVD and booting from there, but that is beside the point.

I’ve tried various methods I’ve found on the web and on the Debian wiki without avail. To use any of them, you need to fuck around with the terminal, or installing things (as in the case of unetbootin). As it is right now, most Linux installers still can’t easily be put on USB drives without fucking around on the command line and getting things wrong a few times.

I realize I’m just venting, but… really, it is now past mid-2012. Apple is selling its OS X via digital delivery. Microsoft is about to do the same with Windows 8, and did sell Windows 7 installers on USB drives.

Linux should have gotten there years ago, to make it easy for people to try it out and keep their files around with them. Instead, we have lots and lots of guides for “the perfect $LINUXDISTRO USB install”, all of which are outdated within a few months. This would have led to Linux spreading virally among the common user, instead of just staying in the nerd ghetto.

Combine this with motherboards implementing UEFI and Linux installers not supporting it, and the future is getting ever dimmer for “Linux on the desktop.” Next time someone says “This is the year of Linux on the desktop” I will laugh at them on their face.

Set Qt mouse pointer inside GNOME

You don’t have to install theme packages, engines or extra apps. All you need is already on your Debian system:

# update-alternatives --config x-cursor-theme There are 2 choices for the alternative x-cursor-theme (providing /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme).

Selection    Path                             Priority  Status
* 0     /usr/share/icons/DMZ-White/cursor.theme   90    auto mode
  1     /usr/share/icons/DMZ-Black/cursor.theme   30    manual mode
  2     /usr/share/icons/DMZ-White/cursor.theme   90    manual mode

Press enter to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number: 1 update-alternatives: using /usr/share/icons/DMZ-Black/cursor.theme to provide /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme (x-cursor-theme) in manual mode.

If you’re not using Debian, it seems the way to go is to follow /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme with the following:

[Icon Theme]

Either method sets the cursor theme systemwide through Xorg itself. To set it for a single user, add the following to ~/.Xdefaults:

Xcursor.theme: DMZ-Black
Xcursor.size: SIZE #optional

In my own case, I was using the the DMZ-Black theme on GTK applications, but Qt3/Qt4 applications (Amarok 1.4, Clementine, Skype, KeepassX) had the mouse pointer switch to DMZ-White when it entered their windows. Nothing that would cause trouble, but annoying if you want a consistent look across your environment.

As said before, this avoids unnecesary cruft on your system and works for all desktop environments you might have on your system.

Tips grabbed from here.

The no-bullshit Samba plus Nautilus network shares method.

Here is how to setup Samba and GNOME Nautilus to allow user directory sharing without having to allow root access. These commands are made with Debian in mind, so if you want to use them for your Linux distribution, you’ll have to adapt them.

  1. Install samba and nautilus-share.
  2. # aptitude install samba nautilus-share

  3. Rename your smb.conf to smb.conf.master
  4. # cd /etc/samba
    # mv smb.conf smb.conf.master

  5. Add the following to smb.conf.master somewhere under the [global] stanza using your favorite text editor.
  6. security = SHARE
    usershare allow guests = Yes
    usershare owner only = No

  7. Run the following command:
  8. # testparm -s smb.conf.master > smb.conf

    This tests the samba master configuration file, then outputs the results to the file samba itself will use for its configuration. If it finds errors, it will warn you about them.

    According to the Samba docs, a small smb.conf file improves performance. It also improves readability once you’re familiar with Samba options.

  9. Restart samba.
  10. # /etc/init.d/samba restart

  11. Add your user to the sambashare group. If more people use the system and they need to share files, make sure to add them as well.
  12. # useradd -G sambashare foo

  13. Log out of your user session, then log back in.
  14. On Nautilus, when you right-click directories you will now see a “Sharing options” item. Through this item you can:

    • Share the folder, assigning a share name.
    • Allow read/write access.
    • Enable Guest access, which allows people without a user account on the system to access the share.

This last option is the most useful as people can now get stuff through the network without having to deal with usernames or passwords. Does this make the Linux system behave like a Windows system? Yes, it does.

There is something to be said, however, about the convenience of creating shares without having to muck around the smb.conf.master file whenever you want to make a change.