Archive for the ‘Applications’ Category

LibreOffice Writer to EPUB

My daughter loves to write stories in writer, gedit or anything she can get her hands on. I thought it would be great to put them on the nook in epub format. Here’s how to get the converter set up or the plugin installed.

My setup
LibreOffice 3.4.4
Linux Mint 12
Writer2epub.oxt [writer2epub 1.1.10] [link]

Download the extension here. Once downloaded, I right clicked the file (Writer2epub.oxt), and selected Open With LibreOffice. It launched, I accepted the agreement and it installed. Restarted LibreOffice Writer and there they are. Three icons in the upper left hand corner under the New Document icon. Nice!

I use Calibre to get these things on the eReaders.(Nook and Kindle)

Speeding up Iceweasel

This is being done on Iceweasel 3.5.16,
which is what comes with Debian 6 (Squeeze)
Open Iceweasel and type about:config in the address bar and press Enter.
Promise that you’ll be careful.
Change the following preferences to the new values shown.
Change a setting by double clicking it.

browser.display.show_image_placeholders: false
network.prefetch-next: false
network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server: 8
network.http.pipelining: true
network.http.pipelining.maxrequests: 8
network.dns.disableIPv6: true

That should do it.

Radio Tray

Let’s see… Radio Tray. It’s my new favorite application. I heard about it on episode 6 of a podcast called Working In The Open. Check out the podcast and check out the app. It’s not in the Debian repositories but there is a .deb install file on the radio tray site. Check that out here: .

It’s just a simple little app that runs in your system tray. It streams Internet radio stations. It’s easy to configure and to manage radio stations. To install, just download the deb file and run it. That’s if you have a Debian based system. I’ve installed it on Linux Mint 8 so far and I love it. I will attempt an install on Debian Lenny at a later date. I’ll update this post then. The source is available so it should be installabe on any linux system.

If you do install it, may I suggest your first station addition?

To add that station, just right click the Radiotray icon in your system tray and select “Configure radios”. When the “Configure radios” window pops up, select “Add”. Then just add the radio stations name and the URL of the stream. Select OK and your set.

Dig that!

ConvertAll for Mint 8 and Ubuntu 9.10 broke

I don’t use ConvertAll very often but when I do, it’s pretty darn handy.  It’s a conversion program. Miles into Kilometers and so on. We’ll version 0.4.2, the version in the Mint 8 and Ubuntu 9.10 repos, seems to be broke. I found a bug report >here< that included a comment >here< with instructions on how to fix or at least get around the problem. Which is pretty much, download version 0.4.3 . This is a solution from Colin Mills that fixed it for me. Colin writes:

“I can confirm that there is a bug in this version of Convertall. The developer ( has released a new version with a number of bug fixes.
If you are comfortable running the terminal, there is an alternative. Uninstall the current version of Convertall. Download and unpack the latest tar file from the website. Since the new package has the same dependencies as the current version, open a terminal and enter:-

sudo apt-get build-dep -y convertall
cd Convertall
sudo python

This will install a working version of Convertall. In my case, Convertall was not shown on the menu, so I used the Alacarte menu to add it. The launch command is “convertall’ and the icon is in “/usr/local/share/icons/convertall”.

Hopefully, the new version of Convertall will be ported to the Karmic repos at some point.”

Like I said, this worked for me except for the icon. It wasn’t there. That’s ok though, not needed. Thanks Colin Mills.

Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3… pt 4

Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 1 : MediaTomb
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 2 : HandBrake
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 3 : Mashpodder
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 4 : cron

So far I have Mediatomb installed and serving media to my PS3. I’m using Handbrake to rip DVD’s that I own and serving those mp4’s to the PS3 via mediatomb. I am downloading videocasts from the Internet via mashpodder and serving those files to the PS3 via mediatomb. Now I want to automate the downloading of those videocasts and the deletion of them after a week or so. For that we need cron… or crontab.

With cron, I’m going to automatically run mashpodder in the middle of the night and delete the old files that I have been downloading into those Audio and Video folders.

So open a terminal and add some cron jobs. At the commandline type:
$ crontab -e

Now you need to know the path to the script. My path is mashpodder-svn23/ .
Now how to set it up or write it in our cron tab file. The format is:
* * * * * [COMMAND]
1st * – Min (00-59)
2nd * – Hour (00-23)
3rd * – Day of the month (00-31)
4th * – Month (01-12)
5th * – Day of the week ( 01-07)

00 03 * * * [command] Would be an entry to run a script every night at 3am.

My mashpodder entry looks like this:
30 03 * * * mashpodder-svn23/
It runs at 3:30am every night.
If i wanted it to run every Sunday at 3:30am, it would look like this:
35 03 * * 07 mashpodder-svn23/
It seems that the week starts on a Monday in cronland. I think we get the point. Experiment, play around with it.

I have mashpodder putting those video/audio files in these directories.

I want to delete my videocasts after 10 days and my audiocasts after 180 days. I like to keep the audio around a little longer. I like to be file specific. My ogg file delete entry looks like this.
/home/terry/podcasts/Audio -name '*.ogg' -mtime +180 -exec rm -r {} \;
Now add specific times to delete these files. I use the same timing scheme that I used to run mashpodder.
I had to hunt around for the right delete command. The one I’m using works and is specific. It is also recursive, meaning it hits all subfolders. It will leave all other files alone. I know this is a bit confusing… at least it was to me but I got it hammered out and working. My crontab file looks like this:

I didn’t have to specify the Audio or Video folders in the delete commands. During the hunt for the correct delete command I had commands that would delete everything… even the folders themselves. The above commands do not do that. They are specific. I just left the Audio and Video folder part in there. My current crontab file is >here<.

Lots of good information here. Command scheduling with cron.

That’s it. I just let that machine run 24/7 and it does it’s thing. I fire up the PS3 on a daily basis to see what shows up. Like I said in the other posts, I’ll be re-doing/writing this all over again when the next Ubuntu LTS comes out. Maybe then I can document the whole process a little better. This was an experiment that snowballed and worked out well… for me anyway.

Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3… pt 3

Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 1 : MediaTomb
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 2 : HandBrake
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 3 : Mashpodder
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 4 : cron

Installed from synaptic:(make sure this is installed)

Once you have MediaTomb set up  and scanning the media filled folders you want to serve, lets add some more media. I want to download videocasts… or video podcasts.The best option for me is Mashpodder. I say this because I want to automate this downloading of the videocasts on a nightly bases. The automation part will be in part 4. Alright, lets get Mashpodder. Go >here< and download mashpodder-svn23.tar.gz

Download the file to your home directory. In your home directory, right click the tar.gz file and select Extract Here. Or open a terminal and navigate to your home directory. Type:
tar xvf mashpodder-svn23.tar.gz

Both methods should land a folder named mashpodder-svn23 in your home directory. Open this folder. The file we want to look at is mp.conf . Open it with gedit. The stock file should look like this.

It’s pretty self explanatory. What is not explained is that mashpodder will auto generate a “podcasts” folder in your home directory and save the downloaded podcasts here in what ever folder you decide to put them in. Also, your mp.conf file will need to live in this podcasts folder also. I just copied the mp.conf file from the mashpodder-svn23 folder to the podcasts folder… that I just created. Now make the necessary changes to the mp.conf file in your podcasts folder. I split mine into Audio and Video folders. It makes it easier to browse with the PS3. Now this is what my mp.conf file looks like as of today. It’s also located >here<.

I only listen to 2 audio oggcasts on the PS3… because they are music. All other audio pod/ogg casts are handled by gpodder on my laptop. Those go on my portable media player.

Now lets make sure the script executable. Open a terminal and navigate to the mashpodder-svn folder in your home directory. Type this:
$ chmod 755
chmod – Changes the permission of a file.
755 means read and execute access for everyone and also write access for the owner of the file.
Now run mashpodder. Open a terminal and navigate to the mashpodder-svn folder in your home directory. Now type:
$ ./
It might seem like it’s not working but it is. Give it a few minutes.

Now add the podcasts folder to your Mediatomb scan and all of the videocasts that mashpodder downloads should show up on your PS3 menu. Provided that they are the correct format. Check that out beforehand. Most videocasts these days are in the mp4 format(.mp4/.m4v) . The Mediatomb scan needs to be a recursive scan to get the subfolders.

I”ll be redoing this whole series probably within the year. This is a trial run that is working out pretty good.

Part 4 will cover cron. Every night I’ll be auto downloading videocasts and auto deleting old videocasts. Automation… dig it!

Update: Field 3 in the mp.conf file doesn’t always work as advertised. I just added a new videocast and gave it a 3 in field 3 and it only fetched 1 episode. I should have gotten 3 of them. Oh well. I do know that it will stay up to date though.

Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3… pt 2

Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 1 : MediaTomb
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 2 : HandBrake
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 3 : Mashpodder
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 4 : cron

Once you have MediaTomb set up  and scanning the folders you want to serve, let’s put some media in them. The thing that I have always wanted is my daughters DVD collection at the click of a button. I want her DVDs on a media server because she likes to watch them often and they seem to get pretty scratched up when she handles them. I still think that the DVD/disk media sucks because it’s so fragile. I can’t keep replacing Snow White every time it gets scratched by someone because it’s handled so much. I only backup DVDs that I have bought and I don’t share them. I have a good set up and I want to keep it that way.

So how to I get the DVDs onto my MediaTomb server so I can watch them via my PS3 on my TV upstairs? Handbrake. In part one I set up MediaTomb on Ubuntu 9.10 and set it to scan/serve a folder(Video) in the home directory. In part two I will convert a DVD into an mp4 file with Handbrake, then put it in that directory(Video). Easy as that. Why an mp4 file you ask? Because the PS3 likes the mp4’s .

I’m using a different machine to do the converting. It’s newer and faster. Debian 5 (Lenny) is the OS on this machine. The machine set up is here.

Installed from synaptic:(make sure this is installed)

You can also install the latest and greatest from the HandBrake site here. Pick your flavor.

Once HandBrake is installed, launch the application. Applications > Sound_&_Video > HandBrake.
It should look something like this:

I almost forgot. The movie you want to backup, put it in your set top box DVD player and start the movie. Once the actual movie starts, look to see what title it’s playing. You might have a Display button on your remote or something like that. Sometimes when you hit the skip chapter button, an on screen display will tell you the title and chapter. It’s sometimes abbreviated as TT. It could be from 1-99. Most movies play title 1 but a handful will play a different title. If you choose the wrong title, HandBrake will make the back up and it will look great….but the chapters will be out of order. So, check out the DVD in a regular non PC player first and get that title number.

Once you have the correct title, put the DVD in the DVD player/burner in your PC. With the DVD in the player and HandBrake open, Click Source. It’s in the upper left of the HandBrake screen(see image above). You will then be looking at a Select Source screen. Select your source on the left hand side, then click Open(see image below).

HandBrake will scan the DVD and select a title. Now look on the HandBrake screen and see if the correct title is selected. If not, select the correct title via the drop down menu next to it. Now select the location that you want your new mp4 to be saved. Then change the file name. I named this one example.mp4 . Hit start and that’s it. The default settings is perfect for the PS3. It will produce a file approximately 1-1.5 gigabytes. It might seem large but it’s very good quality. It usually takes about 2 hrs on my machine so have some patience. Some versions of HandBrake have a predefined PS3 setting. I’ve read that some people have had problems with this setting. The default mp4 setting works great for me. Nothing to adjust. The mp4 files look great playing on a large flat screen TV.

Once the conversion is done, put the mp4 file in the Video folder that MediaTomb is scanning. Open MediaTomb and rescan the folder so it shows up right away. Or you can wait until auto scans. Now you should be in business.

Part 3 will cover Mashpodder and possibly cron. Mashpodder to auto download video casts into my MediaTomb Video folder and a cron job to auto delete them after so many days. But, i might split those two up.

Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3… pt 1

Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 1 : MediaTomb
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 2 : HandBrake
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 3 : Mashpodder
Ubuntu 9.10 serving the PS3 and everything involved… pt 4 : cron

A PS3 for Christmas this year?… Lets get started. My original plan was to just feed some movies from a server/PC in my basement to the PS3 but things have changed. This will be a multiple part series so I’ll do the best I can to explain it. I’m doing this for my benefit, so I can set the whole thing up again once the next Ubuntu LTS comes out. If I can do this, most anyone else should be able to do this.

Parties involved:
Ubuntu 9.10
A couple of bash scripts

So in pt 1, I’ll be installing and setting up MediaTomb.

The PC involved/Hardware:
MB: Epox: EP 8RDA3+ Pro
CPU: AMD Athlon XP 2400+ (2Ghz)
Ram: 1.5 Gig
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 4 Ti 4200

Installed from synaptic:(make sure these are installed)
mediatomb 0.12.0

The Idea here is to have Mediatomb serve up some video to my PS3.
The OS on the PC is Ubuntu 9.10 . I installed MediaTomb right from Synaptic. The version in the repo’s is fine. Once installed, go to Applications > Sound_&_Video > MediaTomb. That will launch MediaTomb in your default browser(Firefox). It should look something like this:

Now you need to add which folders you want Mediatomb to scan/serve. At the top of the Mediatomb page you have Database and Filesystem. Click on Filesystem. Now if you have specific folders that you have your media in(video/audio) then specify each folder. Lets say you want to scan the video folder in your home directory. Then under Filesystem, click home > Your_user_name > videos.

Now to start scanning that folder, you click on the plus sign with the little arrows going around it. It’s in the upper right corner of the MediaTomb page.You will now get this page:

I have selected
Scan Mode: Timed – I want it to scan in specific intervals.
Scan Level: Full – I want a full scan.
Recursive: Checked – I want it to scan all subfolders.
Include hidden files/directories: Checked – Yes I want it too.
Scan Interval (in seconds): 1800(default-30min)

Do this for each folder that you want scanned. Now you should be set. If your MediaTomb and PS3 are plugged into the same network and MediaTomb is running, the PS3 will see it and display your Video folder and it’s supported contents. Look around on the PS3 menu’s under Video. You’ll see the MT icon.

Next set up your config.xml file. The location of that file is:
I used gedit to open and edit the file. Type at the commandline:
$ sudo gedit /etc/mediatomb/config.xml
Read through the file. I added ogg support because the PS3 does not support ogg. I left comments in my file above the 2 changes I made for the ogg addition. Also for ogg support, install VLC. It’s involved in the transcoding. VLC is in the repo’s. And turn on transcoding. The transcoding change is also in red.

For preview/thumbnail support, enable ffmpegthumbnailer. Enabling ffmpegthumbnailer is also in red. Then install ffmpegthumbnailer if you haven’t already. I installed it using synaptic.

This is my current config.xml file. All my changes/additions are commented and/or in red. I was going to set up MediaTomb to auto start on start up but I appears that it does that automatically. Maybe because I also installed mediatomb-daemon. I’ve done nothing else make it do this… but I like it.

Part 2 will cover converting DVD’s with Handbrake and the file format for the PS3.

More on the way… I just have to remember what I did. I will rewrite this whole thing on the next install. This install was more of an experiment that worked.

*A little bit of confusion*
If you haven’t noticed, there are two different locations for the config.xml file. One is in your home directory. It’s hidden:
The other location is:
The version that I have installed uses the config.xml file in the etc/mediatomb location. This is also the config.xml file that is used during the auto start when Ubuntu boots. If you open MediaTomb from the command line, The config.xml file in your home directory is used. I’m not using that one. So, just open MediaTomb from the drop down menus and edit the config.xml file located at etc/mediatomb/config.xml and everything will be fine.

* I’m sure I’ve missed something. I’ll add them in and fix my spelling and grammar errors as I go.*

Update: This auto start thing isn’t 100%. I’ve had to reboot on more than one occasion to get it to start on it’s own. I’ll have to look into it more.

Mozilla Thunderbird 2.x backup

Linux Mint 6 (Felicia)
Linux Mint 8 (Helena)
Mozilla Thunderbird 2.x

I just updated my dads laptop from Linux Mint 6 to Linux Mint 8. Actually, I Just installed 8 over 6. He uses Firefox web browser so I used xmarks to backup his bookmarks. He also uses Thunderbird… quite heavily. He has a pop account with verizon so he wanted all of his saved email/folders/settings moved to the new install. A little searching on the net and I found an easy solution. Before I wiped out Mint 6, I went into his home directory and copied his .mozilla-thunderbird folder to a thumb drive. It’s a hidden folder so you’ll have to select Show Hidden Files in Nautilus. It’s under View on the nautilus toolbar. The folder was around 700MB.

After I installed Mint 8, I checked to see if there was already a .mozilla-thunderbird folder in his home directory. Thunderbird is installed with the OS so I thought it might be there. It wasn’t there. That folder must be created when you set up an account. I copied his backed up .mozilla-thunderbird folder from the thumb drive to his home directory. I opened up Thunderbird for the first time and it was exactly like it was on Mint 6. Everything was there. Account settings… everything. Great. Email backup can’t get any easier.

ListGarden RSS Feed Generator

Debian 5 (Lenny)
Linux kernel: 2.6.26-2-686
Gnome: 2.22.3

Looking for an rss / podcast feed generator? This is a good one. It’s more predictable than the feed generator built into wordpress. More control.
I’m looking for and alternate feed for a podcast that I participate in. The Juiced Penguin. The feed that the wordpress plugin produces also includes posts that don’t have a podcast associated with it. I want a feed that is purely a podcast feed. I think ListGarden is it.
First we need to download the program.
ListGarden : The download is at the bottom of the page I linked to.
There are 3 versions to choose from. A Windows, Mac and generic perl version. Since we’re using Debian, we want the generic perl version (listgarden-1-3-1.tar).
I downloaded the tar file to my home folder. Now you can right click the (listgarden-1-3-1.tar) file and select Extract Here.
Or we can do it from the command line:
Open a terminal window.
Application > Accessories > Terminal
Navigate to where you saved the list garden file (listgarden-1-3-1.tar).
When you open the terminal, you should be there if you saved it in your home directory. Type:
$ ls
And you should see the listgarden-1-3-1.tar file. Once your there, type:
$ tar -xvf listgarden-1-3-1.tar

Either way should leave you with a listgarden folder in your home folder loaded with goodies.
Alright, now what? Start up the program.
The only way I’ve been able to start this thing up is from the command line. You have to open a terminal and navigate to where it is installed. In the home directory, in the listgarden folder. Type:
$ perl
You should get this notice: To access UI, display in browser:
Go to that address in your web browser and you’re in business.
I’m not going to explain how to use it but I do know that to save or use this program with saved rss feeds on another computer, all you do is save and move the listgarden folder. It’s that easy.

How to use ListGarden