Changing window control layout in Ubuntu 10.04 beta

Some changes in Ubuntu are really annoying. Switching from esd to pulseaudio was definitely my favorite for 2009.

The window control button change currently running in the 10.04 beta is a canidate for this award in 2010.

Here is a quick and dirty fix in order to allign your controls to the right side of the window using the gconf-editor (note to Windows Users: this is almost as using the Registry Editor):

  1. launch gconf-editor from a console
  2. switch the directory tree to apps –> metacity –> general
  3. find the key named button_layout
  4. change the value to menu:maximize,minimize,close,
  5. take a deep breath 🙂

Android: Using your local Amazon MP3 shop with WWE Roms

Some Android custom Roms are only available in WWE (World Wide English) which is not really a big deal. However there are a few exceptions when it comes to native characters or services based upon your locale.

Since I live in germany, i have a german Amazon account which I use for online purchase including my music.

When downloading AmazonMP3 from the market, the application will check your locale and set the Amazon Shop accordingly. In most cases of WWE Roms, this will be AmazonMP3(US) and you wont be able to purchase MP3s with your native account (DE in my case).

Using morelocale 2 you can manually set your locale to your preferred area and you should be able to use your native provider ignoring the WWE locale on your phone.

HD Playback in Ubuntu: VDPAU on an ION Netbook

GPU Video enhanced playback is becoming more and more important with the availability of low cost Netbook and Nettop CPUs.

If your device features an ION gpu (such as my Lenovo S12 netbook) you will be able to playback even 1080p HD Videos using VDPAU in Linux. These implementations are also available for Windows as DXVA (Direct X  Video Accelleration) or NVIDIAs CUDA interface (which is not limited to enhancing video performance).

To use VDPAU simply follow these steps:

  1. make sure you are using the restricted NVIDIA drivers
  2. grab a trailer from – I used the 1080p Simpsons movie trailer
  3. download mplayer-nogui: apt-get install mplayer-nogui
  4. playback using vdpau: mplayer -vo vdpau -vc ffh264vdpau The\ Simpsons\ Movie\ -\ 1080p\ Trailer.mp4 vdpau
  5. For comparison: mplayer The\ Simpsons\ Movie\ -\ 1080p\ Trailer.mp4   novdpau
  6. When using a mplayer GUI such as smplayer or gnome-mplayer, make sure to select vdpau in the video playback options
  7. Enjoy Full HD video playback

Android 2.1 on HTC devices

A lot of 2.1 Roms with HTC Sense have been released for the Hero lately due to the availability of the HTC Droid Eris sources.

Stability and Speed is awesome!

Here is a quick review on VillainRom 3.1 for the HTC ( available at )

  • very Stable
  • great Performance
  • new HTC Sense and Widget features
  • Screen Overview (press Home on the Homescreen or Pinch)
  • all working 2.1 features (Market, Navigation, Energy Manager)

The official release for the 2.1 Hero Rom is yet to come but regarding the VillainRom you wont have to wait any longer for the stable Android 2.1 with HTC Sense.


HTC Hero Rom overview

So I spent the last 2 weeks testing available custom Roms for the HTC Hero. Here are my conclusions so far…


– all Version used are for GSM Heros – please dont install them on non GSM Heros

– not tested with paid Apps since I dont use them, if you do buy apps from the market, its probably best to stick with the official releases

– havent tested any Facebook/Twitter kind of stuff

Modaco 2.x/3.x custom rom (Based on Android 1.5)

I have been using this Rom ever since I unboxed my HTC Hero back in August finding the preinstalled Rom provided by HTC lacking performance making it very unpleasant to use for a touch device.

The features in this Rom make it the closest you can probably get to a true Linux device including a dropbear SSH server, busybox, a wide range of supported Filesystems (EXT2/3/4, NFS, CramFS, SquashFS), parted and sqlite toolset and many more.

Stability and Performance have a negligible price – The Roms are based on Android 1.5 which is pretty much out of date compared to the newer Android phones. If you don’t need the new Market or the Google Maps Navigation features – this is the Rom to go with.

Hero/Espresso Hybrid – v1.2 (based on Android 2.1)

Since an official Android 2.x release is yet to come for the Hero, most 2.x custom Roms using leaked HTC Roms have limited Sense UI app and widget support. Many widgets will constantly fault close due to a lot of bugs waiting to be fixed.

This is one of the few 2.x releases with most of the Sense UI apps and widgets working quite stable. Since this release is based on a G1 port, performance is still a little sluggish but should improve with the next few releases.

If you are desperate for Android 2.x and in need of the HTC Sense UI functionality – this would be my recommendation.

Hero21 Community (based on Android 2.1)

I have been putting my hopes on this one for a while. There are still quite some bugs in the HTC apps (Music, Alarm Clock, Weather)

Be sure to check with the change logs to make sure apps vital to you are working.

KaguDroid 1.0 (based on Android 2.0)

Very fast and perform-ant Rom but no Sense UI. After using Sense for a couple of months now, i simply don’t want to miss it. If you like the standard Android interface – this is certainly worth looking at, as it is a lightweight Rom for your Hero.

Hik@Ri 2.1.0_0 (based on Android 2.1)

This is a WWE release (stands for World Wide English) with a functional Sense UI in Android but some minor bugs in the HTC apps & widgets

Karmic and BCM43 drivers

Just booted up the new Ubuntu Karmic release in live mode prior to the installation. I always do this to check if there are any incompatibilities with hardware on a new release. This has happened a few times in the past due to driver and kernel module changes.

I checked the live mode to make sure the initial plug and play installed all the drivers needed for the basic operations. The hardware drivers assistant detected the BC4312 wireless card and offered either the free or the proprietary drivers.

If you have worked with Ubuntu in the past, you may have noticed that the free drivers for the BC43 chipsets are very buggy and often lack WPA connectivity so you will have to stick with the proprietary drivers to begin with and replace them later on.

So I rebooted and installed Karmic Koala on my HP550.

After the installation process the hardware driver assitant listed neither the free driver nor the proprietary one which can get you stuck if you are depending on a wireless connection.

In order to get the drivers running, you will have to install the b43-fwcutter package via

apt-get install b43-fwcutter

After the installation, the hardware driver should be listed (if this is not the case, simply reboot the machine).

Select the Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA wireless driver and reboot the machine and you are good to go.

There still needs to be some more improvement handling hardware drivers in Ubuntu to make it more accessible for beginners, but overall the plug & play regarding hardware has become very decent – in my experience even better than Windows 7 if you are not using the newest hardware.

Btw. 9.10 has gone official 😉

Android mobile client for Nagios

Nagroid is a mobile client that speaks to nagios via http/https licensed under GPLv2.

The client will let you configure category aware notification sounds for either Warning Alarms, Critical Alarms or Down/Unreachable alarms and allows you to filter handled problems.

This app goes along very well with ConnectBot (GPLv3) if  https/https access via SSH tunnel is required.

Pretty neat, but I guess the xmpp notifiaction is more practical to me when it comes to Nagios.

Hacking at Random 2009 program online

The program for the upcoming outdoor hacking event in the Netherlands is online with some very promising topics:

Stay tuned for my upcoming outdoor hacker event survival guide 😉