Thursday, June 26, 2008

Enabling Multimedia bits in Centos

Centos is the community version and binary compatible version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

It is 98% of RHEL with the exception that all logos, names and references to Red Hat are removed.

While is a very capable and robust Server OS, it can also be used as a workstation. The missing multimedia bits in Centos has caused many to label it merely good for Server.

To enable multimedia in Centos 5.x, first download the rpmforge rpm from here

Install it by either double clicking on the RPM or issue the following command as root:

rpm -ivh rpmforge-release-0.3.6-1.el5.rf.i386.rpm

Install yumex, the GUI front-end for yum:

yum -y install yumex

Once that is done you can launch yumex from the Applications -> System Tools menu or just as root launch it from the CLI by typing yumex.

Let it run for a while (it needs to refresh a bit) and then click on All in the packages bar. Put in gstreamer in the search bar and hit enter or click on the binoculars icon.

Select :
  1. gstreamer-plugins-bad
  2. gstreamer-plugins-ugly
  3. gstreamer-plugins-bad-extras
  4. gstreamer-plugins-ffmpeg
  5. xvidcore
  6. libquicktime
  7. mplayer-plugin (to enable viewing of online streaming content)
The click process que.

To enable Realplayer playback download the RealPlayer11Gold rpm from and click on Red Hat Package. Install it as per to the rpmforge rpm above.

To enable flash support (Youtube etc) install the following:
  1. flash-plugin
  2. libflashsupport
Hope this will be useful for those intending to start with using Centos on the desktop.

For Fedora 9 pls refer to

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

RMVB Playback in Fedora 9

Well I have tons of RMVB files, in F8 everything was dandy, MP3s, RMVBs and basically any other multimedia files you threw at it it just works. Best Fedora release ever, including F9.

Well I upgraded my home PC to Fedora 9 last week. Hmm...Apple trailers OK, MP3s OK, AVIs OK, RMVBs doesn't play...arrgghh. I installed Totem, Mplayer, Xine etc and still it won't work. I downloaded and installed RealPlayer11 from and the video was jerky.

Until I realised that I used the bin file to install it. Could that be the problem I wonder?

So I downloaded the RealPlayer11GOLD RPM and installed it, worked.

Lesson learnt, go for RPMs whenever possible when using RH-based distros.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Enable Multimedia bits in Ubuntu

Though xBuntu has been released since April 2008, in my quest to spread the usage of Linux, I usually recommend using Ubuntu as it is, IMHO the easiest to use and setup for noobs.

We can say all we want about how good and well OSS is for them, but if they can't even play MP3s or even play their favourite youtube site, well the argument ain't gonna hold water. So, for the benefit of newbies, to enable the "restrictive" multimedia bits enter in the following in terminal:

sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update

Note key in your own log-in password when prompted for password.

Once that is done, launch the Synaptic Package Manager and select ubuntu-restrictive (or kubuntu-restrictive fro Kubuntu) and click apply.

Your multimedia bits should run now. If you need any additional stuff to be installed, just go back to Synaptic and install whatever that is required.

A great site for starting out with Ubuntu is the Ubuntu Geek site. It has tons of info for server as well as desktop.

Note, the above commands for adding additional software repository works with also Kubuntu (including the KDE4 re-spin), Xubuntu and Edubuntu. However all must be at version 8.04.

Autonine for Fedora

Autonine is a rpm that eases the installation of "restricted" stuff and drivers on a Fedora (8 or 9) installation. It is God sent especially for us who are planning to run Fedora on notebook computers with Broadcom or Atheros wireless adapters.

It also allows installs of Reaplayer, Google Picasa etc.

It is a single RPM and you can check it out here

Friday, June 20, 2008

OpenSUSE 11 - some comments

Well, I downloaded OpenSUSE 11.0 via BT. I have always a soft spot for SUSE stuff. It was the longest distro I stuck with (> 2years) and until last year I was running SLED 10 on my notebook.

With trembling excitement, I installed it on my trusty notebook and other than a slight tweaking on SaX for my screen reso (wonder why it had problem with my LCD, detecting it at 800x600...guess Ubuntu spoiled me), everything was ok.

The Slab Menu gets some getting used to, but it is fine for me. I find it nice actually. As I work with many unicode (i.e. mostly Chinese) character files, the GNOME version seems better (from my expereince with 10.3).

The suite in OpenSUSE is simply superb, if not the best around among community distros.

Ah then what about YaST? I fail to understand what's wrong with it, coz I can work with it fine. Those who whine about how bad it is must have an issue with making stuff easy, even the ever most popular distro, Ubuntu does not have this all in one facility.

Ok, everything works as it should, it's pretty, it's polished but minus the MP3 and propreitary codec stuff. So as any self respecting geek will do I went ahead to download those juicy bits to listen to my precious MP3s.

Aha! So the numbers' change, the package manager is still ehh...yucky. Why should I be subjected to refreshes everytime I just need the GUI to add/remove packages. And yes I know I can disable the refresh but why the extra hoop to jump through?

I get time outs and such when trying to connect for updates/refreshes and to add stuff. Urggh. I know it is not line issues as I am running Fedora 9 and Ubuntu 8.04 here at work and I managed to setup, update and installed those "restricted" bits all within 60 mins with either distros.

Well, I find that the latest release of OpenSUSE is to put it mildly, just as bad as the 10.3 one. I just wonder when are they going to fix that annoying package manager. Pity that so much improvements have been touted but they still forgot to fix something so fundamental as package management.

Overall I would say OpenSUSE is a good distro, solid, nice but so as long you don't add or remove stuff often, it is a wonderful distro.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Spicebird is a souped up collaborative client (i.e. email client with extra stuff in it) that integrates with RSS Feeds and IM (GTalk./Jabber). It feels a lot like Thunderbird.

It is currently at 0.4 Beta but is working well. I escpecially like the RSS Feed and Clock integration. I tried installing the Enigmail Add-On but it would not support it.

Nevertheless it is a pretty cool tool. Just download it here , unarchive it and ./spicebird and you are good to go.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Linux beats Windows 2008 power saving measures

Found this interesting article when I was going through Planet Fedora.

So Linux is not only cost-effective, stable, secure, it is also greener than Windows. A piece of news to brighten up my day.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fuel price hike - less money for the rakyat.

The hike in fuel prices is as inevitable as me not winning the Miss Universe pageant; but the hike is astronomical for us who are earning less than 100k per year.

As a comparison my trusty old kapchai was happy with RM5 for a full tank. This morning, it wanted RM8 to be full. So I am giddy with anticipation for the day of when my kids can enjoy mee goreng at a crazy ass low price of RM5.!

The current regime is adept in making us rakyat pay ( we are expected to not only to pay, but to pay with songs in our hearts and smiles on our faces!!) for the benefit to "menumpang" in our own lands.

Malaysia Boleh!

Monday, June 2, 2008

FLV playback issues in F9 and Ubuntu Video

After an update on my Fedora 9 PC, MPlayer can no longer play FLVs. So I am holding on to the update of the gecko-mediaplayer on my Ubuntu notebook.

Also there is a Learning MOTU Video (in flv) featuring Daniel Holbach - basically on how to setup a devel environment for an aspiring MOTUs. Can't wait for Part 2.

Monopolist strikes again

Reading some of the entries, I am amazed that a convicted monopolist has the gall to question the Government's intention to standardise on particular data format.

I am even more amazed that there are those who still take the side of the sad monopolistic foreign entity. I guess where there is money to be made, people will sell their soul. Shameless!

This nothing more than economic colonisation and dare I say a form of terrorism.

Sounds like us open source folks are winning the battle. The convicted monopolist now is pissed. Good! That really made my day.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ubuntu UFW

For those who are trying Ubuntu for the first time, it may seem weird that it does not seem to have a firewall. Sure, the Ubuntu desktop is secured by default by not having any listening daemons but unless the user does not install anything extra we can't be sure that the desktop can be as secure as the default install.

Instead of installing something like Firestarter to secure your Ubuntu, Ubuntu 8.04 comes with the UFW, Uncomplicated Firewall.

At this moment it is still CLI-based but the syntax is easy to understand.

Launch terminal (Application -> Accessories -> Terminal) :

$ sudo ufw enable
That's to start the UFW. To stop it just replace enable with disable. The UFW service is up but no rules and policies have been defined, it is still ANY-ANY now.

$ sudo ufw default deny
This will set the default policy of blocking all incoming traffic. By default UFW allows all out going traffic unless otherwise specified.

I have SSH running on port 2121 and so to allow it through UFW:

$ sudo ufw allow 2121
This will allow UDP/TCP ports 2121 incoming to my PC.

If you only allow TCP port 2121:
$ sudo ufw allow 2121/tcp

You can also do:

$ sudo ufw allow ntp
To allow for NTP to pass, so as long it is defined in /etc/services

To see the status and rules defined in UFW:
$ sudo ufw status

To remove the rule:
$ sudo ufw delete allow 2121 (or 2121/tcp)

If you allow IP forwarding from one network ( to another in the public ( and you would like to block port 80 to the public one:

ufw deny proto tcp from to port 80

UFW is a simple and straight forward interface to manipulate the Linux firewall. It lacks the flexibility and the granularity of other CLI based interface like Shorewall or vuurmuur but will suffice for most PC systems.