How to change the date display to international format

Calendar

On an Ubuntu system:

  • cd /usr/share/i18n/locales
  • sudo cp en_US en_INTL
  • sudo vi en_INTL
  • change the d_fmt line to: “<U0025><U0059><U002D><U0025><U006d><U002D><U0025><U0064>”
  • sudo vi /var/lib/locales/supported.d/local
  • add the following line: en_INTL.UTF-8 UTF-8
  • sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales
  • sudo vi /etc/environment
  • add the following line: LC_TIME=”en_INTL.UTF-8″

Reboot/relogin. Now you should have dates displayed like this: 2007-01-18.

Who says Linux is not ready for the desktop? Er.. right.

Windows Media codecs released

Windows Media

I’m happy to tell that the Windows Media codecs that I have been working on have just been released today on the Fluendo Webshop. And here is the announcement.

Currently there is:

  • an ASF demuxer
  • a Windows Media Video decoder
  • a Windows Media Audio decoder

The demuxer is used to extract the audio/video streams from the ASF files (that is, files commonly ending in .wmv, .wma or sometimes also .asf) and sends them to the respective decoders. The demuxer was written from scratch and the decoders are adapted from the sources provided by Microsoft. This is the first time one can play those files legaly on Linux because with those codecs comes the license to do so.

The platforms supported are:

  • Linux x86
  • Linux x86_64
  • Solaris SPARC
  • Solaris x86
  • Linux PowerPC

And more to come but I cannot disclose them yet. The media framework used is GStreamer which means all your applications using it automatically can play Windows Media files.

Ubuntu Linux on a Dell Inspiron 9400/E1705

Dell Inspiron 9400

So there is my brand new laptop. Interesting specs:

  • CPU Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 at 2 GHz, 4MB L2 per core, 667 MHz FSB
  • 2 GB of DDR2 RAM at 667 MHz
  • 120 GB SATA HD
  • 17″ LCD screen, 1920×1200
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 128 MB
  • DVD burner, Bluetooth 2.0, 6 (!) USB 2 ports, WiFi 802.11abg, Firewire, DVI output, Subwoofer, etc..

I briefly tried the preinstalled Windows 2005 Media Edition which seems to be a special version of Windows XP with a media player featuring an interface designed to be used with a remote control. There’s also a MediaDirect button that boots into a custom partition with Windows Media Center and allows to quickly watch movies, pictures and play music. Contrary to popular belief, MediaDirect does not use Linux.

Installing Ubuntu Edgy Eft

Installation was pretty easy, using the alternate CD. Then on the next reboot I could, of course, deal with most of the nonsense Linux users have to deal with setups less than 5 years old. The first problem was that the keyboard didn’t wooorkkk proooperrllly. Turns out one has to add the option ‘notsc’ to the booting parameters. We’ll see how kernel hackers will solve that issue. I can now fully use both CPU cores but the side effect is that I cannot close the laptop’s lid without suffering a complete system freeze. Not nice.

Now for the graphics part, which is always a problem when one owns an ATI or NVidia card (which means, most of the cards in the market). One has to install the restricted drivers and reconfigure Xorg to use the ‘fglrx’ driver in that case. Why this is not done automatically is beyond me..

Apparently the Radeon X1400 doesn’t provide an XVideo adapter with the current version of fglrx. But worse, the driver doesn’t seem to have any concept of syncing to vertical retrace which means that not only you get tearing in all 3D games, but also when watching movies (yes, I do know about Capabilities 0x00000800 and .drirc’s swap_on_vblank, both don’t work). This is really annoying as watching movies on that marvelous screen is definitely awesome.
The wireless card works good enough. Still no support for injecting packets while in rfmon but who cares 🙂

Bluetooth works. But it’s slow. I wonder when the BlueZ developers will finally notice that their stack is ten times slower than the one on Windows. I don’t manage to send files from Gnome, though. But gnome-bluetooth is not that good so that doesn’t surprise me much.

Audio works but there’s no support for the “subwoofer”. I mailed Richard Fish who told me he’d add a workaround because the BIOS isn’t supplying proper data.

Touchpad works. Horizontal scrolling is disabled by default though. Why?

The memory card slot doesn’t seem to work with MMC cards. I didn’t test it with other card formats.

Hibernation works, disable SAVE_VBE_STATE and POST_VIDEO in /etc/default/acpi-support.

There are a countless number of other things I had to tweak, like adding ‘noatime’ to /etc/fstab, enabling hashed b-trees directory indexes on ext3, removing all the superblock backups I don’t need, reserving less than 5% for root, enabling laptop-mode to spin off the HD when not using for long (not 5 seconds like their default silly config), making my Bluetooth mouse work by setting HIDD_ENABLED=1 in /etc/default/bluetooth (why isn’t this default? sigh), and so on. I didn’t test the firewire and the modem yet.

So, all in all. Yes, the Ubuntu guys did fix some stuff but there are still some braindead defaults that should be different. A good example is that fsck check that kicks in each time when you boot 30 times. Imagine you’re about to do a presentation on your laptop, you fire it up and.. “erm, sorry we have to wait a bit”. Why don’t they simply allow to skip the check?

Ibiza 2006

So there, I’m back from Ibiza again (went twice this year) and as the plane’s cabin chief member said: “Welcome back to Geneva and to reality” it’s time to get back to reality.

As usual it was wonderful, if one likes clubbing I guess.. So which were the coolest parties to go to?

meganite by Mauro Picotto each wednesday in Privilege which is supposed to be the biggest club in the world. Actually it can hold about 10000 people but most of the time they make it smaller by closing extra areas which don’t really make it the biggest club in the end. Who cares, the meganite sessions by Mauro Picotto and the other DJs was great and that’s what count. The club also has a cool outdoor area when you can chill out and meet people. They should just add a bit more seats. Entry price was decent.

Next there was Armin van Buuren and its Armada crew each tuesday at Amnesia. Those were wonderful and Armin was doing great sets as usual. Entry price was decent as well. The only problem in the Amnesia is that the chill out zone is quite small so you might not be able to sit down, and the main hall is smaller than the “terrace” one which is weird. They definitely should extend the main hall. Thankfully the Armada nights weren’t overcrowded.

Also at the Amnesia there were the Cream parties each thursday. Great stuff too but quite clearly overcrowded, especially the last one were I ended up leaving the main hall for a while. Far too many people..

Had 2 parties at Space, one of which sucked (Gorgeous). We were 3 people dancing in the electro room! And the main room had sucky music. I think it was the first time I left before the closure. The other party (We Love Space) was much better. Starts at 8 in the morning and continues until the next night, 7 in the morning or so (I forgot :)). The club is huge but one area still managed to get overcrowded. At least you can still chill out upstairs and on the entry room. Definitely one of the best club around, it could do with a few lasers which are lacking (only Amnesia has one I think).

Next is El Divino and the Azuli party which was okish. The club could be much better if they would shut down that silly “VIP” zone with 5 people in them. They have a great location with a beautiful view of the sea and the inside is good albeit a bit small. The music was great even though the DJs seemed to have problems with the Scratch live software crashing. Good that I use Final Scratch myself 🙂

Finally went to Eden which is a smaller club that I quite like nevertheless. There’s a great chill out area upstairs with beds and one of the room features the astonishing ElectricSex theme with Andy G and Ryan O’Gorman.

Oh and of course there was Bora Bora in Playa d’En Bossa. Great stuff.

I also managed to go a few times to the beaches and even enjoy the sun a bit, and not from only watching the sun rising as I was coming back from clubbing to crash into bed 🙂

The food sucked bigtime. I only know of 2 good restaurants in San Antonio (one in front of the Escalo Playa and the other being Kanya). We completely failed to find a descent one in Playa d’En Bossa. Why do they all cater for that silly kind of premade food? I just don’t get it.

I’m more tired now than I was when I flew there, strange isn’t it? Not really, this is Ibiza after all. Definitely going there again next year.