New Nvidia 96xx Legacy Driver

Nvidia has released a new Legacy driver.

Release Highlights:

  • Improved compatibility with recent versions of X.Org X servers.
  • Improved GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap out-of-memory handling.
  • Improved compatibility with recent Linux 2.6 kernels.
  • Improved compatibility with SELinux systems.
  • Fixed a problem that prevented 32-bit OpenGL applications from running on 64-bit systems.

The Improved GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap out of memory handling is important because it fixes the black window bug.  So now us Legacy users can finally use Compiz without black windows 😀

How To: Ubuntu MIDI Playback with Audacious

One of the things I kind of missed from Linux is general MIDI playback. Currently there’s only a few options. Use a software synth such as Timidity or try and fool around for a long time to get your hardware to play MIDI. There is some hope though, a new plugin in the gstreamer-bad package upstream will allow any gstreamer based player play MIDI through Timidity. But if you have a sound card that can play MIDI why not use it? A software synth is very CPU intensive, using the hardware seems optimal. There’s also another way. Audacious has a MIDI plugin that can do both hardware and software synth, so everyone ends up happy.

So how do you do this?

Software Synth, AMIDI Plugin with FluidSynth Backend

This is good for computers that do not have a sound card capable of MIDI playback.

First install Audacious and extras

sudo apt-get install audacious audacious-plugins audacious-plugins-extra

Now open Audacious and right click anywhere on Audacious to bring up the menu. Go to Preference. Click on the Plugins tab and highlight the AMIDI-Plug plugin. Then click Preferences and select the FluidSynth backend. Now select the FluidSynth Backend tab to configure it. You’re going to need to find a general MIDI soundfont. There’s plenty available out there. Now you need to add the location of the soundfont (.SF2) to the SoundFont settings. Now click OK. You should now be able to play back MIDIs 🙂

Hardware Synth, AMIDI Plugin with ALSA Backend

This is a little more tricky and you need to have a sound card that is capable of MIDI playback. Any card that uses the emu10k1 driver (e.g. Sound Blaster Audigy 2 and 4) should work since they are capable of loading soundfont wave tables into the sound card.
First let’s install the necessary item

sudo apt-get install audacious audacious-plugins audacious-plugins-extra awesfx

Now open Audacious and right click anywhere on it to bring up the menu. Go to Preferences and select the Plugins tab. Highlight the AMIDI-Plug plugin and click on Preferences. Highlight the ALSA Backend. You can configure extra options for the ALSA backend by clicking on the ALSA Backend tab, but the defaults should be fine. Click OK and close the Preferences dialog. Now you’re going to need a SoundFont. If you have a Sound Blaster Audigy check the installation CD. There should be some soundfonts on there. Copy them to your hard drive somewhere. Now open a terminal and cd to the directory where you put them

cd /path/to/soundfont/

Now load it into the sound card with asfxload

asfxload soundfont.SF2

Now you can close the terminal and go back to Audacious. You should now be able to play MIDI files off the hardware. The only slight inconvenience to this is that when you reboot you will have to reload the soundfont before playing MIDIs.

I’ve made a screencast of both ways to do this if you need to see it visually 😉

Just be warned the first half came out really loud for some reason, so you might want to turn your volume down a bit. 😆

How To: Screenlets bzr

From what I’ve heard, the maintainer of Screenlets was not able to keep working on the project. Now because of the awesomeness of open source 😀 someone else has picked up the code and created a new bzr branch. This is a guide on how to install them since there is no repository for them yet.

First, if you have a previous version of Screenlets installed you need to remove it completely.

If you have installed it from a repository:

sudo apt-get remove –purge screenlets

(that’s two hyphens before purge. Doesn’t copy into the terminal correctly 😕 )

or if you have built them from source and still have the source directory:

cd /path/to/directory

sudo make uninstall

If you don’t have the source directory anymore:

sudo rm -r /usr/local/share/screenlets*
sudo rm -r /usr/local/bin/screenlets*
sudo rm -r /usr/lib/python2.4/site-packages/screenlets*
sudo rm -r /usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/screenlets*

Also make sure to remove your Screenlets folder in your hidden .config directory

rm -r .config/Screenlets

Now to get installing 🙂

The first method will be to build yourself a .deb so if you have to remove it for any reason or just want to be able to manage installed software easier you can.

So let’s install the dependencies

sudo apt-get install dpkg-dev fakeroot build-essential rcs bzr cdbs debhelper python-all-dev

now check out the code

bzr co

(that should be one line)

You should now have a new directory in your Home called Screenlets-new

Now cd to that directory

cd Screenlets-new/

Now to build the deb

dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot

Now if you open your Home folder you should have a nice deb sitting there for you. Double click it to install.

When I went to install the deb package I got some nasty looking errors and was told that the package failed to install, however the Screenlets still worked. So not sure what that was about.

Quick Way

After checking the code out from bazaar

cd Screenlets-new/

sudo python install

This will install Screenlets directly into your system without building a deb package. I would recommend trying to build the deb first as it just makes managing the software so much easier.

What’s new? A bunch of new Screenlets 🙂 as well as some new code to make Screenlets work without the need for a Composite Manager such as Compiz. Whoohoo! I can finally get some eye-candy on my old laptop. 😀

My List of Useful Applications

I’ve decided to make a list of applications that I’ve found to be helpful/handy. Some of them may be little know, some may be well known. So without further ado:


This one isn’t in the Ubuntu repos, but there’s a repository on the home page. This has got to be the best Bluetooth manager for GTK. Coupled with many of the other Bluetooth utilities such as gnome-vfs-obexftp, this is a very powerful application. You can inquiry for devices, keep a list of favorites, send files, and even browse your device right through Nautilus.


I’ve found this to come in handy a lot. It’s a little color chooser that lets you pick any color on your screen along with a ton of preset colors you can choose from.

sudo apt-get install gcolor2


More than once I’ve found myself disappointed by Sound Juicer. It doesn’t have a whole lot of options and, for me at least, the resulting audio files came out very poor with lots of pops and click due to scratches. Then I found Grip. Grip is a very light weight yet highly configurable CD ripper. It can rip in many formats and, the best feature in my opinion, it has Paranoia. No it’s not a suspicious application 😆 . It will detect and auto-correct any pops or clicks during the encoding process that result from the unavoidable CD scratches. After ripping a few CDs with Grip I was very pleased with the outcome. Not a single pop or click.

sudo apt-get install grip


Brasero is the official Gnome CD burning application. Previously I’ve used Gnomebaker but now I’ve switched to Brasero. Brasero is the up and coming CD burning application. Sadly the Gnomebaker project appears to be dying. It’s capable of multi-session data CDs, auio CDs, copying CDs, burning CD images, and erasing CD-RWs. I’ve seemed to have better luck with Brasero than with Gnomebaker or the Nautilus CD burner.

sudo apt-get install brasero

Sound Converter

Ever needed to quickly convert an audio file? This is a great application for just that. It can convert the most common audio file types. The application is pretty much straight forward. I’ve found it to come in handy a lot of times.

sudo apt-get install soundconverter

Gnome Schedule

Gnome Schedule is a little graphical front end to Cron. It’s very useful if you need to run something at a certain time. You can schedule events recurrently or one time only.

sudo apt-get install gnome-schedule

Nautilus Image Converter

This is another very useful little app. Nautilus Image Converter is a little extension for Nautilus that lets you resize and rotate images. A lot of times I’ve needed to resize an image and found opening the Gimp a bit overkill for that. Now I can just right click on an image and resize or rotate it in seconds.

sudo apt-get install nautilus-image-converter


This is a great little app. It just like Top only it shows a lot more information. You can sort processes by different categories, kill processes and much more.

sudo apt-get install htop


Conky is a very light weight, highly configurable system monitor. I’ve found Conky to be extremely handy. I love having all my system stats right on my screen at all times. It’s very easy to catch any run away process. There’s a huge thread in the Ubuntu forums full of people’s conkyrc files. I feel lost without Conky 😆

sudo apt-get install conky


Gmountiso is very useful for mounting .iso images. Ubuntu can do this natively through the terminal, however if you don’t know the commands this is a very helpful application.

sudo apt-get install gmountiso