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Showing posts from July, 2009

Firefox 3.5 is unstable while viewing large pdf files

I an running Firefox 3.5 in Intrepid with 1 GB RAM. The new firefox does not hog much RAM but I noticed it is comparatively sluggish when a lot of tabs are open. This means that it is using the hard disk as its cache.
The trouble begins when I try to open a pdf inside Firefox using the Adobe plugin. For small pdf files it is stable. But for large ones Firefox 3.5 freezes outright provided I have quite some tabs open. And once frozen it becomes difficult to kill. The Firefox window disappears but the acrobat window lingers and refuses to budge. I tried to kill it in all possible manner. It turns out that the Firefox was still lurking in the background. Therefore, its child processes could not be terminated.
So i had to kill Firefox first. But for the Firefox, normal SIGKILL did not work. Have to brute force kill with signal 9. Then the acrobat window goes away like a nice kid.

Ext4 causes data loss

I am reading this in lot of Linux journals, magazines and forums that the new ext4 filesystem causes massive data loss in case of desktop manager crashes. For example, if KDE crashes during loading, most of its configuration files are lost. The reason is that ext4 uses late journalling of files meaning changes are committed physically to the disk only after ~ 120 seconds while the metadata is written immediately leading to truncation of files in case of a crash. For ext3 this time was ~ 5 secs. This would be fixed only in a later kernel 2.6.30. So, it is better to avoid ext4 for now. Those who have already done it might want to revert back to avoid data loss.

Source :

Outstanding problems in Intrepid

There are some outstanding problems that exists in my Intrepid box which I am trying to solve for quite some time. But every time after spending considerable time on research and ending up with little information I give up. I list them here so that I get to them the moment I have some spare time.
Sound record does not work in my box. Have to figure out the fine balance between pulseaudio and ALSA.
Webcam (Creative Vista LIVE) works with Cheese without hiccups but fails to work in Skype.VGA problem : I have integrated Radeon X200 with an 8X PCI slot in my comapny PC. So no point adding a PCI card. It would under perform. The problem is that Compiz(Desktop effects in Intrepid) works only with propriety drivers fglrx. But Quake III Arena becomes a slideshow with fglrx running. It has something to do with indirect direct rendering. I is also responsible for the flickers in the video players like mplayer. I have a separate post where I discuss the issues with not having DRI (the one with mpl…

My experience with auto

I came across the following mail making rounds and I could not help share my latest bitter experience with auto rickshaw.

... shares his inspirational
encounter with a rickshaw driver in Mumbai: Last Sunday, my wife, kid, and I had to travel to Andheri from Bandra. When I waved at a passing auto
rickshaw, little did I expect that this ride would be
any different. As we set off, my eyes fell on a few
magazines(kept in an aircraft style pouch) behind the
driver's back rest. I looked in front and there
was a small TV. The driver had put on the Doordarshan
channel. My wife and I looked at each other with disbelief and
amusement. In front of me was a small first-aid box with
cotton, dettol and some medicines. This was enough for me to
realise that I was in a special vehicle. Then I looked
round again, and discovered more - there was a radio, fire
extinguisher, wall clock, calendar, and pictures and symbols
of all faiths - from Islam and Christianity to Buddhism, Hinduism an…

Imagemagick - convert (a tool to batch manipulate images)

Convert is an extremely powerful and versatile but "simple to use" tool to manipulate images. No need to open each file and operate on them in GIMP or Photoshop. I helps best when I know exactly what to do with my pics. For example, I want to resize all pics from a recent field trip and also give them a border along with a nice tag at the corner like "Goa trip" so that I can recall later in my life where are those pictures from and if I include the date too(which I always do) I have a nice picture diary. I think it i always a good idea to tag pictures with dates. That is where this tool comes in to be so handy. In Photoshop also you can do batch conversion of images. To do the tagging you have to save a group of transformations like adding text at the corners as "Actions" and open files one by one and keep applying that to each of them. So boring. In imagemagick this is accomplished with just one line command. See my shell script at the end for an exampl…

philosophy vs science

I have long wondered why India who had developed such deep philosophical ideas fail to do the same for science. Did Indians gave preference to philosophy over science ? The answer is yes they did. The reason is that in India there always had been people who tried to sound cool and deep rather than informed. The result is a culture of philosophy instead of real science. Too much logic spoiled the brain of our ancestors in India. Philosophy was considered the coolest thing to do. Even now people seem follow the path of their ancestors. The long grown tradition of debating over pointless philosophical issues didn't seem to lose its charm to some people. Here's a nice article which discusses this.

Also see what David Berenstein has to say about it at

Some people tend to argue that philosophy c…

Get rid of notifications of available updates in Jaunty

Jaunty has an annoying habit of popping up notifications of available updates in middle of work every few minutes.

I quote the changelog of the Ubuntu team -

"...Ubuntu 9.04 introduces a change to the handling of package updates, launching update-manager directly instead of displaying a notification icon in the GNOME panel. Users will still be notified of security updates on a daily basis, but for updates that are not security-related, users will only be prompted once a week. ..."

This is the default behavior in Jaunty and cannot be turned off from the package manager.

To circumvent this use the code.

gconftool -s --type bool /apps/update-notifier/auto_launch false