Network Shares for Boxee: Samba Beats UPnP

posted in: Free Software, Linux | 1

Boxee logo iconThe Boxee Box is making big news, but for those of us who are not rushing out to spend $200 on a new device for our TVs, Boxee is free to download and install on any computer.  I have it installed on my Asus EeePC 1201n running Kubuntu, which has an HDMI output, along with my 25-foot HDMI cable.

Boxee works well playing videos from the Internet or from the netbook’s hard drive, but I wanted a way to play files over the network from my desktop.  By downloading videos on the desktop, I can stream them anywhere in the house.  In the past, I had used UPnP with Geexbox’s uShare application with mixed results, but I decided to give it another whirl.

Ushare is easy to install and setup.  It is available in the Ubuntu repositories, so it only takes a few clicks.  It has a web-based interface where you can add folders you want to share, and refresh any current shares.  That is one of the first problems.  In order for it to see new files, you have to refresh it each time.


Netbook Microphone Issues

posted in: KDE, Linux | 0

Ever since I bought my Asus EeePC 1201n about a year ago, I’ve had trouble with the microphone.  With Kubuntu 10.04, I had to chop up Alsa to get it working properly, and even then, it stopped working again after updates.  The latest version of Kubuntu, 10.10, presented a new issue: Pulseaudio.

I have never been a fan of Pulseaudio, particularly for KDE, since it did not have real KDE integration.  Apparently, various distribution developers have been working to better integrate Pulseaudio with Phonon and KMix.  What I have discovered is that it still does not work well with KMix, particularly with laptop hotkeys.  The volume control will jump all the way up or down when I simply press it one time.

At any rate, the microphone is something I need for Skype, and to my surprise, using Pulseaudio was actually a lot easier.  All I had to do was install pavucontrol (the pulseaudio volume control program).  Once I started it, I clicked on the input tab, pressed the “lock” button to unlock to the two channels (because the mic actually only has one channel), pulled the right volume all the way down to zero, and pulled the left one up to about 85%.  Poof!  Like magic, the microphone started working.

This is the kind of thing that should work out of the box when you buy a device with Linux installed on it, but when you are installing it yourself, you run into these little problems.  Fortunately, enough people complained about it on forums so that it got the attention it needed, and someone came up with a solution.

QtCurve faster than the rest?

posted in: Free Software, Technology | 0

I have an EeePC 1201n that has a pretty descent graphics processor (Nvidia Ion), but I was still noticing a little bit of sluggishness with KDE’s KWin desktop effects enabled.  Things like minimizing or switching desktops produced minor little hiccups.  Overall, it was still fast, but it was enough to make me try some different settings.

I happened to like QtCurve (style and window decorator) anyway, so I compiled the latest version and installed it.  As soon as I started using the window decorator, replacing the default Oxygen one, poof, instant speed.  The response time is excellent with absolutely no hiccups at all.  Is QtCurve just that much faster than Oxygen, or did building it from source specifically for this hardware make enough of a difference to increase the speed?

Either way, it is smooth sailing from here on out.