Debian unstable X11-related bug and workaround -- Unrecognized option: /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc

FYI, if you're not using xdm/kdm/gdm but are instead starting the X11 server manually with startx (which is what I usually do) you might have experienced brokenness in Debian unstable recently:

Fatal server error:
Unrecognized option: /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc

This is already reported as bug #482425 and #482527 and should hopefully be fixed soon, but in the meantime this patch against /usr/bin/startx should work around the issue:

--- /usr/bin/startx.orig 2008-05-26 18:21:26.000000000 +0200
+++ /usr/bin/startx     2008-05-26 18:21:36.000000000 +0200
@@ -107,9 +107,7 @@
 if [ x"$server" = x ]; then
     # if no server arguments or display either, use rc file instead
     if [ x"$serverargs" = x -a x"$display" = x ]; then
-       server=$defaultserver
        serverargs=$defaultserverargs
-       display=$defaultdisplay
     else
        server=$defaultserver
     fi

Hope that saves some people out there lengthy investigations and hassle.

Silicon Mechanics to ship servers with coreboot preinstalled

Quick newsworthy item related to coreboot, which I wanted to mention a lot earlier, but then forgot about it: Silicon Mechanics is shipping their Rackform nServ A236 with coreboot pre-installed if so desired by the customer.

From the coreboot News page:

Chris Watson at Silicon Mechanics says: "We will commit to offering coreboot preinstallation on the Rackform nServ A236 with a specific set of hardware and software. In the future, we may expand the program to additional platforms based on customer interest."

The A236 is a nice 1U server with 4 drive bays and a dual Opteron board (Supermicro H8DMR), which is supported in coreboot v2.

Nice to see more and more vendors shipping their products with coreboot pre-installed...

Green energy from Lichtblick getting... cheaper!

You might remember that I wrote a blog entry about my switch to the green electric utility "Lichblick" (Germany) a while ago. I did that purely out of environmental reasons, I didn't want to continue to waste money on polluting and/or dangerous crap such as fossil or nuclear power. Yes, even if that meant a slightly higher price (but I really didn't compare prices much before switching — I was after an environmentally clean solution, not the cheapest solution).

Quick status update: the switch went really nice and easy, no downtimes, no hassle. I've been a happy customer for more than 8 months now.

Today in my snail mail inbox: a letter from Lichtblick that they're going to reduce the price per kWh from 20.25 to 19.99 (Euro) cents starting July 1st and they give you a guarantee that there won't be any price raises before the end of 2009 (more details also here). Now, that's a positive surprise there.

Compare that to 98% of all other energy providers in Germany who have lately increased prices quite a lot for very obscure or non-existant reasons.

Yes, I do realize that the reduced costs are not that dramatic, and Lichtblick is using this as a means to impress people and gain new customers. But I fully support them in doing so, the more people are switching to a green energy provider the better, if you ask me. I encourage everyone to consider switching, either to Lichtblick, or some of their competitors (in Germany) e.g. Greenpeace energy, Elektrizitätswerke Schönau, or Naturstrom AG. There are various alternatives in other countries too, of course.

Nine Inch Nails album "The Slip" released under Creative Commons license

NiN

You might have already heard of it — the new Nine Inch Nails album "The Slip" has been released by them under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 US license. Yep, that's right, it's totally legal to download it from the web — and use it for any non-commercial purposes!

It's a bit annoying that they want your email address, though. Nothing that bugmenot.com (or similar) cannot fix, but still. Luckily, the files are now also available from archive.org! This, and the fact that the music is CC-licensed allowed me to "play" one of the songs in my Creative Commons music podcast (RSS), and more will likely follow.

Redirecting audio to a remote host using esddsp

There are situations where you might want to redirect some audio you're playing on your local computer to another computer's speakers, potentially in a different room, or even anywhere on the Internet.

One of many possibilities to do that is to use the Enlightened Sound Daemon (EsoundD, or esd). It ships with a program called esddsp (apt-get install esound-clients) which can redirect various audio sources.

First, you have to start the esd daemon on a console on the remote host (the one which should output the audio on some speaker, for example 192.168.0.xxx) e.g. like this:

  $ esd -public -nobeeps -tcp

You can do this as regular user (no need to be root) if you have the proper permissions. You also need to allow connections on port 16001 in your firewall settings. Then you can redirect audio to that daemon from another computer. In this example I'm redirecting some music using various players:

  $ esddsp -s 192.168.0.xxx:16001 mpg321 -o esd foo.mp3
  $ esddsp -s 192.168.0.xxx:16001 mplayer -ao esd foo.mp3
  $ esddsp -s 192.168.0.xxx:16001 ogg123 -d esd foo.ogg

This also works fine for videos, in which case you can redirect the audio (but not video):

  $ esddsp -s 192.168.0.xxx:16001 mplayer -ao esd foo.mp4

For the video player Miro, I've recently documented this in the Debian package's README.Debian file. Basically you have to edit ~/.xine/config and enable audio.driver:esd there, then start Miro with

  $ esddsp -s 192.168.0.xxx:16001 miro

Audio will be emitted on the remote host, video remains on your local PC.

Some programs may also support esd natively, in which case esddsp is not required, e.g.

  $ ogg123 -d esd -o host:192.168.0.14:16001 foo.ogg
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