Friday, April 22, 2005

Another update.

Following on from my previous post, another update:

Kplayer & Mplayer are working perfectly now that I've got the codecs installed properly, have acceleration working with the right options and I now know to always use Alsa for sound wherever possible. I have one spurious AVI file which identifies itself as DivX which won't play properly under any of the codecs except one but that one's not automatically picked. Selecting that codec manually makes it work and it's only one file that does this.

I've associated most of the formats with their respective players. Upgrading to the just-released Opera 8 was simple enough, no glitches and it's much faster and more stable, although it was too clever for it's own good and tried to use the Win32 Opera directory from my previous Windows install to get its Java from.

The first Java site I visited, I noticed and a quick whereis pointed me to a seemingly good java directory which Opera refused but then managed to find some sort of clue and suggested I try another. The suggestion worked and Java runs better than ever inside the browser.

I've now bought Crossover Office because it does what I want it to, was cheap enough, though I'm not sure about the subscription module for update. However, I was paying for one piece of subscription-based software on Windows and at least if I stop paying for Crossover, I get to "keep" the last version. Crossover runs my Word 2000 without problem, also my Irfanview tool (at least for all the bits I've tried that I would ever need). I'm going to try JASC Paint Shop Pro 7 on it at a later date.

I've configured the login screen the way I want it and this way it has a simple "shutdown" button that my girlfriend can use to turn it off if she's the last to bed at night. Before it needed a console login and a shutdown command and she's not familiar with non-GUI systems.

KPlayer issues solved, I've set it to be the default player for every media file format and I've also tested GSpot in wine and it runs perfectly.

Sound was my biggest problem so far. SDL games were sometimes perfect, next time they were run the sound would lag by over a second. That was unacceptable and annoying. Eventually, after much Googling, an upgrade of SDL, a tweak of ALSA settings to enable basic hardware mixing (I'm not brave enough to attempt the dmix plugin yet and don't really have a need for it) and most importantly, disabling the aRTs system. This hasn't lost me any sound that I would like to keep and stops the sound that I do want from lagging so inconsistently. This is something that I hope upgrading to a later version (whether or ALSA, KDE, aRTs, or even the linux kernel) will fix because it's plainly a problem.

I've upgraded packages (simple) and also installed remote passwordless SSH (more difficult) by a combination of Googling and guessing. Already I've had a few SSH login attempts using basic passwords from various places in Taiwan and China but I'm not paranoid enough to worry about them. Passwordless-SSH was more of an educational distraction than a real need. And, yes, my ADSL router was forwarding unknown ports to a no-longer-existent local IP address instead of to my main machine (which used to have it's own firewall). A quick tweak of the settings and SSH showed up externally as responding.

Further on my quest for "work distractive technologies", I've played a bit with TuxRacer and it looks like 3D acceleration is working properly... :-)

Still fighting with the bloody KDE clock as it just insists on pissing about when set to a timezone that uses BST and says it's applied changes that it doesn't. Wonder if KDE 3.4 has fixed that issue?

Still no problems or major disappointments as of yet but rest assured that I'm hunting for some more show-stoppers..

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