Archive for the ‘Linux Audio & Video’ Category

How much memory users uses in GNU / Linux and FreeBSD – Commands and Scripts to find user memory usage on Linux

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015




If you have to administrate a heterogenous network with Linux and FreeBSD or other UNIX like OSes you should sooner or later need for scripting purposes to have a way to list how much memory separate users take up on your system. Listing memory usage per user is very helpful for admins who manager free-shells or for companies where you have developers, developing software directly on the server via ssh. Being able to check which process eats up most memory is essential for every UNIX / Linux sysadmin, because often we as admins setup (daemons) on servers and we forgot about their existence, just to remember they exist 2 years later and see the server is crashing because of memory exhaustion. Tracking server bottlenecks where RAM memory and Swapping is the bottleneck is among the main swiss amry knives of admins. Checking which user occupies all server memory is among the routine tasks we're forced to do as admins, but because nowdays servers have a lot of memory and we put on servers often much more memory than ever will be used many admins forget to routinely track users / daemons memory consumption or even many probably doesn't know how.  Probably all are aware of the easiest wy to get list of all users memory in console non interactively with free command, e.g.:

free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:         32236      26226       6010          0        983       8430
-/+ buffers/cache:      16812      15424
Swap:        62959        234      62725


but unfortunately free command only shows overall situation with memory and doesn't divide memory usage by user

Thus probably to track memory users the only known way for most pepole is to (interactively) use good old top command or if you like modern (colorful) visualization with htop:

debian:~# top



Once top runs interactive press 'm' to get ordered list of processes which occupy most system memory on Linux server.Top process use status statistics will refresh by default every '3.0' seconds to change that behavior to '1' second press  s and type '1.0'. To get Sort by Memory Use in htop also press 'm'

[root@mail-server ~]# htop



However if you need to be involved in scripting and setting as a cron job tasks to be performed in case if high memroy consumption by a service you will need to use few lines of code. Below are few examples on how Linux user memory usage can be shown with ps cmd.

Probably the most universal way to see memory usage by users on Debian / Ubuntu / CentOS / RHEL and BSDs (FreeBSD / NetBSD) is with below one liner:


server:~# ps hax -o rss,user | awk '{a[$2]+=$1;}END{for(i in a)print i” “int(a[i]/1024+0.5);}' | sort -rnk2
daemon 0
debian-tor 63
dnscache 1
dnslog 0
hipo 21
messagebus 1
mysql 268
ntp 2
privoxy 1
proftpd 1
qmaill 0
qmailq 0
qmailr 0
qmails 0
qscand 291
root 94
shellinabox 1
snmp 1
statd 1
vpopmail 80
www-data 6765


Output is in MBs

Below is output from machine where this blog is running, the system runs ( Apache + PHP + MySQL Webserver + Qmail Mail server and Tor) on Debian GNU / Linux.

 To get more human readable (but obscure to type – useful for scripting) output list of which user takes how much memory use on deb / rpm etc. based Linux :


server:~# echo "USER                 RSS      PROCS" ; echo "——————– ——– —–" ; \
ps hax -o rss,user | awk '{rss[$2]+=$1;procs[$2]+=1;}END{for(user in rss) printf “%-20s %8.0f %5.0f\n”, user, rss[user]/1024, procs[user];}' | sort -rnk2


USER                 RSS      PROCS
——————– ——– —–
www-data                 6918   100
qscand                    291     2
mysql                     273     1
root                       95   120
vpopmail                   81     4
debian-tor                 63     1
hipo                       21    15
ntp                         2     1
statd                       1     1
snmp                        1     1
shellinabox                 1     2
proftpd                     1     1
privoxy                     1     1
messagebus                  1     1
dnscache                    1     1
qmails                      0     2
qmailr                      0     1
qmailq                      0     2
qmaill                      0     4
dnslog                      0     1
daemon                      0     2


It is possible to get the list of memory usage listed in percentage proportion, with a tiny for bash loop and some awk + process list command

TOTAL=$(free | awk '/Mem:/ { print $2 }')
for USER in $(ps haux | awk '{print $1}' | sort -u)
    ps hux -U $USER | awk -v user=$USER -v total=$TOTAL '{ sum += $6 } END { printf "%s %.2f\n", user, sum / total * 100; }'

107 1.34
115 2.10
119 1.34
daemon 1.32
dnscache 1.34
dnslog 1.32
hipo 1.59
mysql 4.79
ntp 1.34
privoxy 1.33
proftpd 1.32
qmaill 1.33
qmailq 1.33
qmailr 1.32
qmails 1.33
qscand 4.98
root 1.33
snmp 1.33
statd 1.33
vpopmail 2.35
www-data 86.48

Also a raw script which can be easily extended to give you some custom information on memory use by user is here.
You can also want to debug further how much memory a certain users (lets say user mysql and my username hipo) is allocating, this can easily be achieved ps like so:

root@pcfreak:~# ps -o size,pid,user,command -u mysql –sort -size
796924 14857 mysql   /usr/sbin/mysqld –basedir=/usr –datadir=/var/lib/mysql –plugin-dir=/usr/lib/mysql/plugin –user=mysql –pid-file=/var/run/mysqld/ –socket=/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock –port=3306


root@pcfreak~# ps -o size,pid,user,command -u hipo –sort -size|less
13408 19063 hipo     irssi
 3168 19020 hipo     SCREEN
 2940  2490 hipo     -bash
 1844 19021 hipo     /bin/bash
 1844 19028 hipo     /bin/bash
 1844 19035 hipo     /bin/bash
 1844 19042 hipo     /bin/bash
 1844 19491 hipo     /bin/bash
 1844 22952 hipo     /bin/bash
  744  2487 hipo     sshd: hipo@pts/0
  744  2516 hipo     sshd: hipo@notty
  524  2519 hipo     screen -r
  412  2518 hipo     /usr/lib/openssh/sftp-server

You see from below output user running with www-data (this is Apache Webserver user in Debian) is eating 86.48% of overall system memory and MySQL server user is using only 4.79% of available memory

Output is shown in Megabytes per username memory usage, and user memory usage is ordered (stepping-down / descentive) from top to bottom

Getting more thoroughful and easier to read reporting without beeing a 31337 bash coder you can install and use on Linux smem – memory reporting tool .

SMEM can provide you with following memory info:

  • system overview listing
  • listings by process, mapping, user
  • filtering by process, mapping, or user
  • configurable columns from multiple data sources
  • configurable output units and percentages
  • configurable headers and totals
  • reading live data from /proc
  • reading data snapshots from directory mirrors or compressed tarballs
  • lightweight capture tool for embedded systems
  • built-in chart generation

Installing smem on Debian 6 / 7 / Ubuntu 14.04 / Turnkey Linux etc. servers is done with standard:


debian:~# apt-get install –yes smem



To install smem on CentOS 6 / 7:


[root@centos ~ ]# yum -y install smem

On Slackware and other Linux-es where smem is not available as a package you can install it easily from binary archive with:


cd /tmp/
tar xvf smem-1.3.tar.gz
sudo cp /tmp/smem-1.3/smem /usr/local/bin/
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/smem


Two most common smem uses are:


root@mail:~# smem -u
User     Count     Swap      USS      PSS      RSS
dnslog       1       44       48       54      148
qmaill       4      232      124      145      464
hipo        11    13552     8596     9171    13160
qscand       2     4500   295336   295602   297508
root       188   217312  4521080  4568699  7712776


Below command shows (-u – Report memory usage by user, -t – show totals, -k – show unix suffixes)

root@mail:~# smem -u -t -k
User     Count     Swap      USS      PSS      RSS
dnslog       1    44.0K    48.0K    54.0K   148.0K
qmaill       4   232.0K   124.0K   145.0K   464.0K
hipo        11    13.2M     8.4M     9.0M    12.9M
qscand       2     4.4M   288.4M   288.7M   290.5M
root       188   212.2M     4.3G     4.4G     7.4G
           206   230.1M     4.6G     4.6G     7.7G

To get users memory use by percentage with smem:

root@mail:~# smem -u -p
User     Count     Swap      USS      PSS      RSS
dnslog       1    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%
qmaill       4    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%    0.01%
hipo        11    0.17%    0.11%    0.11%    0.16%
qscand       2    0.05%    3.63%    3.63%    3.66%
root       194    2.64%   56.18%   56.77%   95.56%

It is also useful sometimes when you want to debug system overloads caused by external hardware drivers loaded into kernel causing issues to get list of system wide memory use sorted by user


 root@mail:~# smem -w -p
Area                           Used      Cache   Noncache
firmware/hardware             0.00%      0.00%      0.00%
kernel image                  0.00%      0.00%      0.00%
kernel dynamic memory        38.30%     36.01%      2.28%
userspace memory             60.50%      0.98%     59.53%
free memory                   1.20%      1.20%      0.00%

smem is very nice as if you're running it on a Desktop Linux system with Xserver installed you can see also graphical output of memory use by application:

root@desktop-pc:~# smem –bar pid -c "pss uss"


smem can even generate graphical pie charts to visualize better memory use

root@desktop-pc:~# smem -P '^k' –pie=name



If there is a high percentage shown in firmware/hardware this means some buggy module is loaded in kernel eating up memory, to fix it debug further and remove the problematic module.
userspace memory actually shows the percantage of memory out of all server available RAM that is being consumed by applications (non kernel and other system processes which make the system move). You see in above example the kernel itself is consuming about 40% of system overall available memory. 

We all know the SWAP field stands for hard disk drive used as a memory when system is out, but there are 3 fields which smem will report which will be probably unclear for most here is also explanation on what USS / PSS / RSS means?

RSS is the Resident Set Size and is used to show how much memory is allocated to that process and is in RAM. It does not include memory that is swapped out. It does include memory from shared libraries as long as the pages from those libraries are actually in memory. It does include all stack and heap memory too.

There is also PSS (proportional set size). This is a newer measure which tracks the shared memory as a proportion used by the current process. So if there were two processes using the same shared library from before.

USS stands for Unique set size, USS is just the unshared page count, i.e. memory returned when process is killed 

PSS = Proportional set size, (PSS),  is a more meaningful representation of the amount of memory used by libraries and applications in a virtual memory system.  
Because large portions of physical memory are typically shared among multiple applications, the standard measure of memory usage known as resident set size (RSS) will significantly overestimate memory usage. The parameter PSS instead measures each application’s “fair share” of each shared area to give a realistic measure. For most admins checking out the output from RSS (output) should be enough, it will indicate which user and therefore which daemon is eating up all your memory and will help you to catch problematic services which are cause your server to run out of RAM and start swapping to disk.

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Quick shortcut to lock your Linux computer desktop (Few words on Linux screensavers)

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Locking the PC while going for a coffee break, Lunch or toilet is longly used to secure physically your PC display from spying eyes or prevent you from  someone to install a spying software or leak private data from PC HDD to an USB drive.
People who are coming from the wonderful MS Windows OS   are certainly used to quick shortcut key combination to lock PC screen with:

Windows key + L


So how to do Lock Screen on Linux?

On Linux locking your Screen the Quick Shortcut is:


Locking the screen is done (depending on the Linux distribution) by using by either using historically famous XScreenSaver if non-gnome / KDE graphical environemnt is used or if in Linux Gnome GUI with  gnome-screensaver and on KDE desktop manager with kscreenlocker.


Exact command executed on CTRL + ALT + L keypress on GNOME is:

gnome-screensaver-command -l

On KDE to manually lock screen command is:


Nomatter whether with GNOME or KDE its worthy mention that xscreensaver is more Screensaver rich than kscreenlocker and gnome-screensaver as it includes about 200 different Screensavers making screen nice to watch when you come back from a lunch.

For people with Windows key keyboard who are too used to using Windows XP / 7 lockreen WIN + L key shortcut to make Windows (key) + L keys combination work on Linux with GNOME desktop:

System -> Preferences -> Keyboard Shortcuts

Make Win + L keys combination work on Linux with KDE desktop

  1.  "System Settings" (KDE menu).
  2. Choose "Keyboard & mouse" (on "General" tab).
  3. Choose "Global Keyboard Shortcuts" on the left.
  4. Choose "Run Command Interface" from "KDE component" dropdown list.
  5. Choose "Lock session".
  6. Select "Custom".
  7. Click on "None" (button changes to "Input…").
  8. Compose your desired sequence by pressing appropriate buttons on your keyboard.
  9. Click "Apply".


For other desktop environments like Window Maker you can use xmodmap command to bind Win + L keys

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Create video from linux console / terminal – Record ssh terminal session as video with asciinema, showterm, termrecord

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

You probably already know of existence of two Linux commands available by default across all Linux distributions scriptwhich makes a text based save of all commands executed on console and scriptreplay – which playbacks saved script command typescripts. Using this two you can save terminal sessions without problem, but in order to play them you need to have a Linux / UNIX computer at hand.
However If you want to make a short video record displaying what you have done on Linux console / terminal, you have few other options with which you can share your Linux terminal sessions on the web. In this short article I will go through 3 popular tools to do that – asciinema, showterm and termrecord.

1. Asciinema Current most popular tool to create video from Linux terminal

Here is how ASCIINEMA's website describes it:

"Asciinema is a free and open source solution for recording the terminal sessions and sharing them on the web."

apt-get –yes install python-pip

To install it with pip python package installer

pip install asciinema

Or if the machine is in DMZ secured zone and have access to the internet over a Proxy:

pip install –proxy= asciinema

It will get installed in /usr/local/bin/asciinema to make a terminal screen video capture just launch it (nomatter if it is privileged or non-privileged user):


To finalize and upload the recorded terminal session, just type exit (to exit the shell), hopefully it will get you an upload link.


You can claim authorship on video you issue:

asciinema auth

Use can then embed the new Linux terminal session video to your website.

2. ShowTerm – "It's showtime in a terminal near you!"

ShowTerm have same features as AsciiNema. Just like AsciiNema, what it does is it creates a record of your terminal session and then uploads it to website, providing you a link over which you can share your terminal lesson / ascii art video / whatever with your friends. ShowTerm is written in, the world famous Ruby on Railsruby web development framework, so you will need to have ruby programming language installed before use. As showterm uses the Internet to upload video, so it is not really an option to create videos from remote terminal session on servers which are in DMZ with no access to the internet, I will explain in a little while how to create video of your terminal / console for private purpose on local server and then share it online on your own site.

a) To install ShowTerm:

– First be sure to have ruby installed:

On Debian / Ubuntu and derives deb Linux, as supersuser:

apt-get install –yes ruby curl

On CentOS / RHEL / Fedora Linux

yum -y install ruby curl

NB! curl is real requirement but as website recommends downloading the script with it and later same curl tool is used to upload the created showterm file to .

– Then to finalize install, download showterm script and make it executable

curl > ~/bin/showterm

% Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                       Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100  2007  100  2007    0     0   2908      0 –:–:– –:–:– –:–:–  8468

mkdir ~/bin
chmod +x ~/bin/showterm

This will save the script into your home folder ~/bin/showterm

b) Using showterm

To run it to create video from your terminal simply start it and do whatver you will in terminal.


After you're done with the video you like type exit



Note that if your server is behind a proxy curl will not understand proxy set inside Linux shell variable with http_proxy var, to upload the file if you're behind a proxy you will have to pass to curl –proxy setting, once you get the curl line invoked after failure to upload use something like:

curl –proxy $(echo $http_proxy) –data-urlencode cols=80 –data-urlencode lines=24 –data-urlencode scriptfile@/tmp/yCudk.script –data-urlencode timingfile@/tmp/lkiXP.timing

Where assuming proxy is defined already inside http_proxy shell variable.


3. Creating video from your terminal / console on Linux for local (private) use with TermRecord

In my humble view TermRecord is the most awesome of all the 3, as it allows you to make records with an own generated Javascript based video player and allows you to keep the videos on your own side, guaranteeing you independence of external services. Its

pip install TermRecord

TermRecord -o /tmp/session.html


You can further access the video in a local browser in Firefox / Chrome / Epiphany type in URL address bar:

/tmp/session.html to play the video


TermRecord uses term.js javascript to create the video web player and play the video which is directly encoded inside session.html.
If you want to share the video online, place it on your webserver and you're done 🙂
Check out my TermRecord generated video terminal sample session here.

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How to disable GNOME popup notification in Debian Wheezy Linux

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

how to disable remove GNOME 2 / 3 popup e mail notification  Debian Ubuntu Linux screenshot

I found it very annoying to have a pop-up notification every time I receive a new email it is just pointless there especially, when I already use Thunderbird (IceDove) to fetch my email via pop3. This pop-up notification though planned to be useful messes with my Desktop and breaks the habit on how I'm used to old GNOME interface…. I remember same popup notification was present on older Fedora releases (back in time when I used Fedora Linux for my Desktop).

disable Gnome popup notification new email Debian GNU Linux Wheezy 7 screenshot

My logical guess was in order to disable popup notification in GNOME 3 I had to tamper with gconf-editor. In gconf-editor config database there is:

Apps -> Notification daemon

Problem it is not possible to turn it off. Only available change options are:

default-sound, popup_location, sound_enabled, and theme

After some time of try / fail attempts I found the solution on linuxquestions forum, its quite raw solution but it works, all I had to do is change permissions of /usr/lib/notification-daemon/notification-daemon;

debian:~# chmod 0000 /usr/lib/notification-daemon/notification-daemon

Another thing that is handy to disable is POP UP Window with warning that you have low disk space on Hard Drive.

The warinng for Disk space is very annoying and popups up on every GNOME boot. Actually the hard drive with Low disk space is and old mounted partition in NTFS and I only use it to read data.

Here is how to disable HDD Notification Warnings in GNOME:

debian:~# chmod 0000 /usr/lib/gnome-disk-utility/gdu-notification-daemon

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Linux: 8 Console Music players / Listening mp3 music in text mode

Monday, June 17th, 2013

As most of computer geeks, music is very important to make up my day and bring me up from bad mood or boredom. I like doing things from console, so even though nowadays Linux Desktop is so convenient, I still often prefer playing my mp3s from command line. In that spirit its worthy share with newer Linux users about existence of few mp3 players I used over the years to play my MODs / XM / Wavs / Mp3 pure console:

1. First and maybe most used over the years is mpg123 and its clone mpg321

mpg321 debian gnu linux playing mp3 in console screenshot
mpg123 is first mp3 player I ever used in Linux with no graphical environment and even to this day I install it on every Linux Desktop I have to configure. Its small its handy and it plays well most of mp3 music. Historically there was some issues with licensing of mpg321 making it not 100% (GPL-ed free software). Therefore a clone of it was made mpg321.
mpg321 is also a good mp3 player, but in some encoded mp3s my experience shows mpg123 plays music better (with less glitches).

 Install both mpg321 and mpg123 on Debian and Ubuntu and rest of deb based Linuces is with trivial:

debian:~# apt-get install --yes mpg321 mpg123

2. MP3Blaster (More interactiveNcurses mp3 and ogg vorbis player)

mp3blaster console music mp3 player Debian linux wheezy gnome terminal screenshot

debian:~#  apt-cache show mp3blaster|grep -i -A 1 description

Description-en: Full-screen console mp3 and Ogg Vorbis player
 mp3blaster is an interactive text-based mp3 and Ogg Vorbis player with

Description-md5: 0f28b31112e54bf3e946048856a7b6ce
Tag: interface::text-mode, role::program, sound::mixer, sound::player,

root@noah:/home/hipo/Плот# apt-cache show mp3blaster|grep -i -A 1 description
Description-en: Full-screen console mp3 and Ogg Vorbis player
 mp3blaster is an interactive text-based mp3 and Ogg Vorbis player with

Description-md5: 0f28b31112e54bf3e946048856a7b6ce
Tag: interface::text-mode, role::program, sound::mixer, sound::player,

To install:


debian:~# apt-get install --yes mp3blaster

3. Open Cubic Player – Cubic Player rewrite for UNIX and Linux

listening mp3 mod xm in console and terminal opencubicplayer ocp gnu linux debian

Those who remember how we used to listen music in DOS (Disk Operating System) days, should certainly remember Cubic Player – IMHO it used to be best MSDOS music player to play CDAudio, midi, MODs, WAVES etc. sound formats. I was more than delighted to find out some few years ago, some geeky developers started project aiming to rewrite from scratch Cubic Player for UNIX OS-es. Open Cubic Player is nowadays reality stable and kicks ass. I warmly recommend it to everyone who want to play music from console or terminal! It simply kicks ass!!! 🙂

Install it with;

debian:~# apt-get install --yes opencubicplayer

4. Cmus C Music Player (mp3 / wav / aac / flac / ogg vorbis) console player

Cmus tiny console terminal gnu linux mp3 music player screenshot
debian:~# apt-cache show cmus|grep -i description -A 2

Description-en: lightweight ncurses audio player
 C* Music Player is a modular and very configurable ncurses-based audio player.
 It has some interesting features like configurable colorscheme, mp3 and ogg

Install it with:

debian:~# apt-get install --yes cmus

Cmus tiny console terminal gnu linux mp3 music player screenshot
5.Good old but gold Mplayer

noah:~# apt-cache show mplayer|grep -i description -A 2

Description: Ultimate Movie Player For Linux.
 It plays most mpeg, avi and asf files, supported by many native and win32
 DLL codecs. You can watch VCD, DVD and even DivX movies too. The other

Description-en: movie player for Unix-like systems
 MPlayer plays most MPEG, VOB, AVI, Ogg/OGM, VIVO,
 ASF/WMA/WMV, QT/MOV/MP4, FLI, RM, NuppelVideo, yuv4mpeg, FILM, RoQ, PVA files,

noah:~# apt-get install --yes mplayer

playing music in console and terminal mplayer play mp3 ogg and videos in linux console


7. herrie – Minimalistic console music player

herrie linux console music player
Other newer player I just recently heard of is Herrie.
I red quite positive things about it, installed it but never got into habit of using it.

8. MikMod – Portable tracked music player


Talking about geek music and old school stuff it is impossible not to mention MikMod. Even 12 years after i saw it for first time I still use it often to play cool music from Its my personal believe MikMod is a player for hard core coders and hackers 🙂

noah:~# apt-cache show mikmod|grep -i description -A 2

Description-en: Portable tracked music player
 Mikmod is a very portable tracked music player which supports a wide
 variety of module formats including compressed sample Impulse Tracker

I'll be glad to hear from others what was your favourite console sound player

noah:~# apt-get install --yes mikmod

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Get more peaceful night sleep on Ubuntu, Mint and Xubuntu Linux using gtk-redshift

Monday, March 11th, 2013

gtk redshift Xubuntu Linux screenshot sleep peacefully when using computer at late

If you want to have more peaceful night sleep when working on Ubuntu or other Debian based Linux distro, be sure to have gtk-redshift installed.
It is a little program that simply changes the color gamma of screen and makes your screen look more reddish at night. According to many scientific research done on how we humans react, whether using computer late at night. It is concluded that less bright colors and especially reddish color gamma relaxes our eye strain and thus makes it easier for us to get a sleep quickly once in bed. gtk-redshift is available in latest Ubuntu 12.04 as well as on other Ubuntu derivatives (Xubuntu, Mint Linux) etc.

Easiest way to install it is via respective GUI Package Manager or via good old Synaptic (GUI aptitude frontend).
I personally prefer to always install Synaptic on new Desktop Linux PCs, use it as package GUI frontend, for the simple reason it offers one very similar "unified" package Installer outlook across different Linux distros.

The quickest way to use GUI version of Redshift is to install with apt:

root@xubuntu:~# apt-get install --yes gtk-redshift

To further use it it needs one time to be run with color gamma paraments, launch it first time via terminal with:
user@xubuntu:~$ gtk-redshift  -l 52.5:13.4

It is a good idea to make a tiny shell script wrapper with good settings for gtk-redshift and later use this shell wrapper as launcher :

root@xubuntu:~# echo '#!/bin/sh' >> /usr/local/bin/gtk-redshift
root@xubuntu:~# echo 'gtk-redshift' >> /usr/local/bin/gtk-redshift
root@xubuntu:~# chmod +x /usr/local/bin/gtk-redshift

From then on, to launch it you can directly open it via terminal

user@xubuntu:~$ /usr/local/bin/gtk-redshift

To make the program permanently work, make it run via respective GUI environment startup . In GNOME add it start-up from:

user@xubuntu:~$ gnome-session-manager

Important note to make about gtk-redshift is that on some older monitor screens, very early in morning the screen becomes too red, making screen look like displaying on very old long time used CRT monitors. For people working in fields like; Web Design, Architecture, or any drawing twisted colors effect will be annoying and will probably interfere with your perception of colors. However for programmers, system administrators and people who use computer mainly for typing and reading gtk-redshift is huge blessing.

Enjoy ! 🙂

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How to configure old ISA sound card on Debian / Ubuntu / Xubuntu Linux

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

isa old soundcard make work on Debian Ubuntu Xubuntu Fedora GNU / Linux
If you happen to install a modern GNU / Linux distribution to a relatively old computer hardware with an ISA non-PNP (Plug and Play) soundcard it will be not visible neither among PCI devices list with (lspci) command nor in USBs list (lsusb). Thus with ISA cards, the way to configure a 16 bit SoundBlaster is via a special kernel modules snd-es18xx and snd-sb16 which thanksfully is still existent even on latest Linux distros. Without this two modules enabled in the kernel trying alsamixer command will be unable to launch the mixer as the soundcard is not detected on run of /etc/init.d/alsa start – ALSA enabling boot script – loaded during the system enters runlevel 2.

For one time test of sound card driver, I tested by running:

manastir-pomorie@manastir-pomorie:~# /sbin/modprobe snd-es18xx
manastir-pomorie@manastir-pomorie:~# /sbin/modprobe snd-sb16

On enabling enabling the sound card via above two drivers on the speakers – volume raised to Loud a kind of beep sound was heard, this led me to thoughts now it might work. Before testing the sound in running Youtube Video with sound in Firefox, I launched alsamixer to see if volume settings for SoundBlaster are not muted. Not surprisingly they were set raised to lowest level as you can see on picture:

alsamixer xubuntu configuring isa old sound card on deb based distro

After raising the volume level for PCM and testing in browser thanksfully soundblaster worked fine.
To make the two kernel modules making the ISA card work, I added the modules to /etc/modules

manastir-pomorie@manastir-pomorie:~# echo 'snd-es18xx' >> /etc/modules
manastir-pomorie@manastir-pomorie:~# echo 'snd-sb16' >> /etc/modules

Even after restarting XUbuntu sound drivers gets loaded. Though I tested this on Xubuntu as Xubuntu is Debian based, same kernel module should be working fine on Ubuntu and Debian. The exact Xubuntu version and kernel on which the ISA card worked is;

manastir-pomorie@manastir-pomorie:~$ cat /etc/issue
Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS \n \l

manastir-pomorie@manastir-pomorie:~$ uname -a;
Linux manastir-pomorie 3.2.0-38-generic #61-Ubuntu SMP Tue Feb 19 12:20:02 UTC 2013 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

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How to configure Matrox Graphics MGA G200 AGP on Debian and Ubuntu Linux

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

I just had to configure a Matrox Graphics MGA G200 AGP on a very old computer installed with Xubuntu 12.04. The Graphic card is not automatically detected and Xorg Linux server automatically runs X without generating any config in /etc/X11/xorg.conf after Xubuntu install. By default Linux uses the VESA driver for running X, the problem with VESA is it is very slow in videos and is only good for text reading and simple browsing. For watching video and Youtube, one needs to install the custom Video card driver on this host the Video card was identifying in lpsci as:

user@oldhost:~$ lspci |grep -i matrox
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: Matrox Graphics, Inc. MGA G200 AGP (rev 03)

In deb package repositories, there is a special xorg MGA driver suited to run MGA cards, thus to use it I had to first install it with:


user@oldhost:~# apt-get install --yes xserver-xorg-video-mga

For allowing card to normally watch movies – you have to have installed a special video driver which is to be lated built from source:

user@oldhost:~#  apt-get -b source mga-vid-source
user@oldhost:~# dpkg -i /usr/src/modules/mga-vid/debian/mga-vid-source_2.6.32-1_i386.deb

There is also special program to test if MGA video driver is installed and work correctly mga_vid_test. To have it installed and use it you have to be running on 2.6.x Linux kernel cause it is a bit of old software plus it is necessary to have installed mga-vid-common i.e.:

user@oldhost:~# apt-get install --yes mga-vid-common

I did a quick research online for other people who faced similar problem and found in Ubuntu Forums the following MGA G200 recommended xorg.conf
Below config was little modified by me as by default it was configured to run in 1280×1024 in 24 bit depth color. Usually 24 bit color is high for old cards, plus the resolution of 1280 seemed quite high for this piece of old iron, so I decided to use the better suiting old computers 1024×768 in 16 bit color depth.

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Improve your night sleep (Insomnia) on Linux with redshift

Friday, February 15th, 2013

sleep better at night while using Linux with redshift command line and gui applet / improve your insomnia while being a linux user
For a while I've been experiencing troubles with getting asleep. As I work in the field of IT already for 10 years and with time it seems the problem is accelerating. I've read on the internet a lot on the topic of getting asleep and how this relates to computers and computer equipment use and came to the conclusion one of the main reasons I have troubles getting asleep is I use computer late at night usually I use PC until 2, 3 o'clock. Then when I go to bed, I cannot fall asleep until its early in the morning usually 6, 7 in the morning. My main operating system on notebook is Linux so almost all of the time I use Linux. I've noticed when I occasionally use Windows, my eyes tend to be less strained afterwards and I sleep better. Thus I suspected there should be some kind of tool in Linux which changes how PC screen displays to make eyes more relaxed. I didn't have the time to research seriously and before some time the little research I've done on this led me to nothing. Just a week ago, I've read one of the articles in Linux Magazine (December) issue, there is a very thorough article in it on how to avoid headaches and eye strain using a tiny tool which changes monitor screen gamma called redshift. In this article will explain in short how to install and use redshift to make your PC work less stressful and improve your sleeping at night. I'm using Debian as a basis Linux distro and thre redshift is available via package, other deb derivatives Ubuntu, Xubuntu etc. aslo have it. For Fedora and most of other Linux distributions redshift is also available from default repositories. For those who use Slackware or some older Linux distributions, redshift has to be installed manually from source but this should be trivial.

1. Install Redshift and Redshift-gtk packages

To install on Debian and Ubuntu:

# apt-get –yes install redshift redshift-gtk

On Fedora install with yum:

# yum -y install redshift

After installed you will have two programs to tune the screen color temperature, one is console based ( redshift ) and the other one is GUI based ( gtk-redshift ).

redshift-gtk is a GUI frontend

Here is a list of redshift tool options:

2. Changing color gamma with redshift

hipo@noah:~$ redshift -h
Usage: redshift -l LAT:LON -t DAY:NIGHT [OPTIONS...]

Set color temperature of display according to time of day.

  -h        Display this help message
  -v        Verbose output

  -g R:G:B    Additional gamma correction to apply
  -l LAT:LON    Your current location
  -m METHOD    Method to use to set color temperature (randr or vidmode)
  -o        One shot mode (do not continously adjust color temperature)
  -r        Disable initial temperature transition
  -s SCREEN    X screen to apply adjustments to
  -t DAY:NIGHT    Color temperature to set at daytime/night

Please report bugs to <>

To set your screen to Reddish mode which will relax your eye strain and therefore – when you go to sleep you have a better sleep, type:

 hipo@noah:~$ redshift -l -35:-56 -t 5000:3300

Other monitor red-color afternoon or night time gamma to relax your eyes is;

hipo@noah:~$ redshift -l 52.5:13.4

3. Setting redshift to auto change screen gamma via cronjob

If you prefer automatically changing color gamma to reddish at night – will make your eyes (and hence organism) less alert set as a cronjob in lets say 22:00 o'clock at night;

 hipo@noah:~$ crontab -u root -e

00 22 * * * redshift -l -35:-56 -t 5000:3300 2>&1 >/dev/null

4. Controlling manually between standard and reddish color gamma through gtk-redshift

For people who like to control and switch between color gamma using GNOME Applet run gtk-redshift like so:

hipo@noah:~$ gtk-redshift  -l 52.5:13.4

gtk redshift gnome applet screenshot Debian Linux

Clicking on the icon of redshift the color gamma gets changed to red, another toggle reverses back to normal.

There is another tool called F.lux which does the same as redshift. F.lux precedes redshift, actually redshift author write it as attempt to create superior F.lux. Flux works on Windows and Mac OS X – so users who work at night on this platforms might want ot check it. I tried installing f.lux on my Debian Squeeze Linux but had troubles because of requirement for newer python-appindicator :

noah:/home/hipo# apt-get install fluxgui
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree      
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 fluxgui : Depends: python-appindicator (>= 0.0.19) but it is not installable
E: Broken packages


Probably with some tampering I can make f.lux work but I was lazy and since I already had redshift, I decided to quit and just be a happy redshift user.

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Linphone a good working Skype voice over IP alternative

Monday, February 4th, 2013

If you never tried linphone I warmly recommend it.
2 days ago, with a friend of mine we tested a bunch of Linux softwares to find out what is the situation with possible alternatives to Skype to transmit Voice and Video. I've been interested into Skype Alternative programs since about 2 years, but so far I never found good and easy to set up working Linux alternative.

We first tried Ekiga. Though it is said to be a good Linux SKype alternative, my ekiga client running on Debian Linux stable Squeeze ver. failed to connect to SIP account I've created on I've tried hard to make ekiga connect to account SIP created from but all time I was getting an error on connect:

Ekiga did not manage to configure your network settings automatically. You can still use it, but you need to configure your network settings manually.

Please see for instructions

ekiga cant login to SIP protocol error enable port forwarding manually - ekiga is not ready to use on Linux

After continously trying to follow instructions from above pointed URL and making proper settings on my DL-524 Wireless Router and all time ending up with the annoying error, we decided to finally completely abondoned it and try some other voice over IP clients.
We  tried Jitsi and few others which prooved to be unworking. Finally we give a try to Linphone which seemed to be promising. We tested it On Linux platform, where both of Linux installed OS-es where tested were running Debian Linux (one stable Debian Squeeze and one unstable Debian Blackstar). Linphone even with different versions on different Debian Linux OS-es worked fine Video conferences were crashing but voice over IP via SIP protocol works okay.

Setting up linphone to do speak (voice over IP) conference calls with friends is easy task, you need to have linphone package installed, i.e. run:

apt-get install –yes linphone

Then once installed launch it from terminal or GNOME menus with:

$ linphone-3

You will have to create account on's website via Register a Linphone account. Once registered and confirmed the account, linphone sends you an email with credential info, through e-mail like:

Dear Linphone user, your account has been activated.

You can now use your linphone account with these parameters :

The Linphone team.

Then in linphone you should configure new created Linphone account via:

Linphone -> Preferences -> Manager SIP Account

LinPhone Working Linux Skype Alternative Settings Screenshot

Once account is added, calls via SIP protocol are ready to go. Probabl,y due to incompitability between versions of Debian stable Linux and unstable the user you will add and about to call is showing as offline, however calling between each other works perfect and voice quality is quite good.

good working skype  inux alternative to proprietary skype voice video chat program - linphone rulez

Linphone has a version for Windows as well as for AppleIphone mobile phone.

LinPhone for Iphone version dialpad picture

For console geeks, there is also a command line tool interface to linphone linbphonec;

$ linphonec
Warning: Could not start UDP transport on port 5060, maybe this port is already used.
Warning: video is disabled in linphonec, use -V or -C or -D to enable.
linphonec> help
Commands are:
help Print commands help
call Call a SIP uri
chat Chat with a SIP uri
terminate Terminate the current call
answer Answer a call
autoanswer Show/set auto-answer mode
proxy Manage proxies
soundcard Manage soundcards
webcam Manage webcams
staticpic Manage static pictures when nowebcam
ipv6 Use IPV6
refer Refer the current call to the specified destination.
nat Set nat address
stun Set stun server address
firewall Set firewall policy
call-logs Calls history
friend Manage friends
play play from a wav file
record record to a wav file
quit Exit linphonec
register Register in one line to a proxy
unregister Unregister from default proxy
duration Print duration in seconds of the last call.
status Print various status information
ports Network ports configuration
speak Speak a sentence using espeak TTS engine
codec Audio codec configuration
vcodec Video codec configuration
ec Echo cancellation
mute Mute microphone and suspend voice transmission.
unmute Unmute microphone and resume voice
nortp-on-a Set the rtp_no_xmit_on_audio_mute
configuration parameter
Type 'help ' for more details.
linphonec> quit

Another great thing about Linphone is it is licensed under free software license GPL2 – meaning source is publicly accessible – thus anyone with skills and desire to port it to any computer architecture can do it. I did not have time to test it throughfully with newer version of linphone to know if Video calls works fine – whether same program versions are used between both peer sides, nevertheless for anyone willing non M$ sniffed channel to do voice calls between Computers linphone is nice.







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