Posts Tagged ‘GPLed’

How to convert Adobe PDF file format to Microsoft Word DOC on MS Windows 2000 / XP / Vista / 7

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

How to convert PDF to DOC on Microsoft Windows XP, MS Windows 7, Win Vista convert PDF to MS DOC 2003, ABBYY Covert Page
I had to convert Adobe PDF file to Microsoft Word ( .doc) file on Microsoft Windows OS for a friend. There is plenty of software available to convert PDF to DOC on Windows, as well as few web-site services claiming to convert correcly PDF to DOC. Converting PDF to DOC is easy and can be done with Open Office, however the reverse process is a real pain in the ass. I tried a dozen of free web serviecs to convert an ancient Latin writting PDF to DOC but none of them couldn’t properly convert it. Failing with the web services as a tool to convert, I’ve turned to seeking a tool that will do the trick. After trying few PDF to DOC converters which failed to produce a properly structed edittable DOC from the PDF file, I’ve come across ABBYY PDF Transformer 2.0. Abbyy PDF Transformer finally did it …

I’ve tried hard to look for a free software good PDF to DOC converter alternative for Windows but it seems as of time of writing this post there is no GPLed free software that does properly convert PDFs to MS WORD DOC ….

Using Abbyy PDF Transformer 2.0 is a piece of cake all I had to do is select the PDF file (pressing Open PDF) and then click on Convert (in right bottom corner). Below is a shot of Abby PDF transformer in action.

How to convert PDF to DOC on Microsoft Windows XP, MS Windows 7, Win Vista convert PDF to MS DOC 2003, abby pdf converter in action

How to solve ALSA sound problems with old Linux programs and games depending on (OSS)’s /dev/dsp / fix wine games and pulseaudio problems – My few thoughts on OSS and ALSA

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

 

ALSA OSS Pulseaudio ESD Some fixes workaround to gnu linux audio messI remember GNU / Linux, 11 years from now, times when ALSA was not standardly shipped with Linux.
Back then ALSA still lacked good support for many SoundCards and was still a "baby project".
In that time what we used to have sound on Linux was OSSOpen Sound System. OSS emerged right after the first ever Linux sound system VoxWare (formerly known as the Linux Sound Driver).

Back in those days OSS was used for multimedia support on both GNU / Linux and BSD based free OSes. It was few years later when I heard and used ALSA for a fist time and it wasn't really a love from first sigth.

One can easily find out by the name ALSA it is a system especially built for the Linux kernel and that's one of the reasosn why *BSD systems has their custom separate sound system.
There is plenty of reasons why OSS was substituted with ALSA. Main reason was its commercial like license, OSS wasn't completely "open source" GPLed (free software), there was resctions on use of OSS for commercial goals.

With its emerge ALSA started to push away OSS slowly. Somewhere in 2003, alsa has officially entered the Linux kernel source and until 2005 it was the default standard for all GNU / Linux operating systems.

As of time of writting ALSA has become the only sound system to have support for multiple sound card devices for Linux.
My experiences with ALSA, however ain't so nice if I take a look in my past experiences.
Since the very beginning of using ALSA, I had plenty of troubles with configuring properly my sound card not to mention, even after configuring it the MIDI support was not there.
Besides all the troubles main problems were stemming from the many applications still written to use OSS as sound system and hence with those sound was impossible with ALSA.The most problematic thing about apps written with OSS in mind was all of them tried to stream sound via /dev/dsp (OSS Digital Sound Processor), since alsa did not used /dev/dsp those programs was soundless.

On the other hand OSS was creating issues as well, one severe problem with OSS was the inability to stream multiple sounds simultaneously, because each sound stream required to pass voice through /dev/dsp and usually there was only one /dev/dsp.

The message;

/dev/dsp: Device or resource busy
and the proceeding irritation that used to annoy us in the early GNU / Linux days had of course some raw workarounds hacks but generally the workaround did not fix problems always.

Introduction of alsa free us from /dev/dsp issues but on the other handy has created a whole ocean of new BIG problems …
ALSA has modular structure and this imposes a great problem nowdays. The modular architecture is generally a good idea, however the way this was implemented within ALSA is far away from clear and easy to understand by the end user and therefore makes it very unintuitive and obscure.
Alsa misses simplicity which somehow was partially in the days of OSS. Thinking over the general situation with Linux multimedia nowdays, I believe it was exactly ALSA Project responsible for the so delayed mass Desktop Linux adoption.

Many long year standing Linux users had certainly had the alsa troubles during new system installs (correct me if I'm wrong).
The only fix to multiple soundcard initialization problems was to download alsa source and compile from source and hence made it hard and discouraging for people giving Linux a try.
This kind of ALSA "brokenness" pattern continues even to this very day (in Debian) Linux and probably building the alsa system from source is among the good practices to have a functional Linux sound system…

With all said the historic reason why ALSA was not quickly adopted and still is not a preferred default system for many applications ported to Free Software OSes by commercial company vendors is clear. Its simply not working out of the box …

Hope some ALSA developers will read this post work on changing the crazy structure of ALSA over complexity. ALSA needs automate way to solve issues with itself, the configuration should be more trivial and unified if Linux has to become more attractive for Desktop adoption.

Anyways, after the few words of history and indicating my pesonal observations on ALSA. I will proceed and explain few things on how ALSA can be configured to support and play nice with OSS dependant programs as well some basic explanations on common incompatibility between esd and pulseaudio and how this can be fixed;.

To assure nowdays OSS API built programs and games would work with Alsa its necessery to have installed;

ALSA wrapper for OSS applications

On Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and most Linux distributions the Alsa OSS compatability layer comes under a (deb / rpm) package named alsa-oss

To install OSS compatability on Debian, Ubuntu and the like Debian based distributions issue:

debian:~# apt-get install alsa-oss alsaplayer-oss
...

On Fedora and other rpm based distributions install is with:

[root@fedora ~]# yum install alsa-oss alsaplayer-oss
...

alsa-oss provides with a command called aoss that should be used to work around some issues with old applications still depending on OSS:

hipo@debian:~$ aoss programName

Using aoss is helpful especially in situations if you have to run programs which deal with MIDI and others which somehow want to use /dev/dsp

There is also alternative way to enable alsa native support for MIDI and OSS by loading 3 kernel modules:

debian:~# modprobe snd-seq-oss
debian:~# modprobe snd-pcm-oss
debian:~# modprobe snd-mixer-oss

Note! The three modules has to be separately build using kernel source at most cases and does not come with most Linux distributions, so on many installations (including my current), they will be missing. If for you they load properly or you have customly build them add them also to load on system boot, like so:

echo 'snd-seq-oss' >> /etc/modules
echo 'snd-pcm-oss' >> /etc/modules
echo 'snd-mixer-oss' >> /etc/modules

The Linux sound situation becomes even more messy when ESD enters the scene. Many of the novice new Linux users certainly don't remember (Enlightened Sound Daemon) . ESD historically preceded PulseAudio . Hence it will be good to mention ESD was used for few years in GNOME and in around 2006-2007 it was substituted by PulseAudio.
Many applications, however who was ported or written for Linux especially (the proprietary ported ones) was already built to work with ESD and even though newer GNOME releases was fully using pulseaudio, this (non free software apps and games) were still depending on ESD.

The situation was partially fixed by creation of module for pulseaudio which added emulation support for esd . This was done by a module library for pulseaudio called libprotocol-esound.so
The package for almost all Linux distributions which does the esd emulation via pulse is pulseaudio-esound-compat . In latest Fedora Linux pulseaudio-esound-compat is installed by default.
In Debian and other Linux distributions it might need to be installed via apt with;

debian:~# apt-get install pulseaudio-esound-compat
...

pulseaudio-esound-compat solves some of the ESD app incompability but not always …
Handy tool also worthy to mention in solving PulseAudio, OSS incompatibility issues is padsp

padsp is helpful in solving obsolete issues with OSS applications (trying to access /dev/dsp) and therefore unable to communicate with Pulseaudio
padsp – is a PulseAudio OSS Wrapper.

An example where padsp is helpful is in case of /dev/dsp errors like:

/dev/dsp: Device or resource busy
Could not open /dev/dsp

Another common problem with sound on Linux is when running windows applications (running windows games with wine).
Quite often sound fails to work since wine tries to directly communicate with alsa and fails because alsa sound channel is taken by pulseaudio.

To workaround wine issues with pulseaudio, one of the solutions is to temporary stop pulseaudio, before running the wine emulated application:

hipo@debian:~$ pulseaudio --kill

Later on when the windows wine emulation is completed, pulseaudio has to be started once again in order to make Pulseaudio applications produce sound again, e.g. one has to issue:

hipo@debian:~$ pulseaudio --start
Alternative way to workaround wine sound issues is by using a script to kill pulseaudio every second. Here is fix_pulseaudio_wine_sound_probs.sh script

This script was reported by many people as fix to problems with wine games failing to play sounds and music, anyhow I personally prefer using the stop / start pulseaudio method.

The picture below is taken from Wikipedia and illustrates, clearly the intergalactical complexity of sound systems on Gnu / Linux and BSD

I just hope one day this (OSS, ALSA, esd, Pulseaudio) mess will be over! In the mean time I hope my suggested work arounds helps someone. If someone has a better more unified script or solution please share in comments

Play Nintendo Super Mario Bros on Linux (Secret Mario Chronicles) and SuperTux

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Super Mario for Linux, Super Mario Chronicles

Are you looking for free software version of the old-school absolute Nintendo classic Super Mario Bros. ? 🙂

If you’re an old-school geek gamer like me you definitely do 😉
I was lucky to find Secret Mario Chronicles a Linux version of Super Mario while I was browsing through all the available for installation Linux games in aptitude .

The game is really great and worthy to be played. It’s even a better copy of the classical arcade game than SuperTux (another Mario like Linux clone game)

Super Tux A Super Mario Bros. clone for Linux

Both Super Mario Chronicles and Super Mario Bros are available for installation as .deb packages in the repositories of Ubuntu and Debian and most likely the other Debian direvative Linux distrubtion.

To install and play the games out of the box, if you’re a Debian or Ubuntu user, just issue:

linux:~# apt-get install smc supertux

The other good news are that both of the games’s engine, music and graphics are GPLed 🙂

To Launch the games after installation in GNOME I’ve used the menus:

Applications -> Games -> Super Mario Chronicles
andApplications -> Games -> Arcade -> SuperTux

The games can also be launched from terminal with commands:

debian:~$ smc
debian:~$ supertux

The only thing I don’t like about Super Mario Chronicles is that it doesn’t have a good music and only sounds, just to compare SuperTux has an awesome level music.
Along with being an absolute classic I should say that these two games are one of the really good arcade games produced for Linux and if I have to rank them as a gamer among all the other boring arcade games today available for Linux this two ones ranks in the top 10 arcade games prdocuced for Linux

Enjoy and drop me a thanks comment 😉 !

A quick and easy way to install Social Network on Linux/BSD System with Elgg

Monday, March 14th, 2011

I’m experimenting this days with Elgg – An Open Source Free Software GPLed Social Network which enables users to quickly create Communities.

Elgg is really easy to install and all it requires is a Linux/BSD or Windows system with PHP, MySQL and Apache installed.

Elgg is provided with dozens of nice plugins which for a short time enables individual to create fully operational Social Network like facebook.

Many people nowdays use facebook without realizing how bad facebook is how it breaks their privacy.
Facebook is actually a spy network, it stores data and pictures, likings and user behaviour of million of users around the world.
This needs to be stopped somehow, maybe if people start using the free software networks like elgg to build a mini-community which has profound interests in a certain spheres of work, life and amusement.
The evil empire of facebook will slowly start to loose it’s position and the small projects networks based on Elgg and the other Free Software Social Networks which are currently available will start to rise up.
I’m currently really a novice into Elgg but I’m more convinced that the guys who develop it and contribute to it in terms of handy plugins have done really a great job.

It’s ultra easy even for non professional middle level user to setup himself an Elgg install.
The installation procedure is not much harder than a simple wordpress blog or joomla based website install.
The installation of elgg takes no more than 10 to 20 minutes, the plugin installation and setup time further could take few days but in the end you have a full featured Social Network! This is really amazing.
The installation of new plugins in elgg is also fool proof / easy all you have to do to equip a newly installed elgg with plugins is to go to it’s root directory and look for the mod directory. The new plugins which needs to be installed, could be directly downloaded and saved via links, elinks, lynx or even wget to the elgg installation directory.

Most of the elgg plugins comes in a form of zip files so after being installed simply executing:

server:/home/elgg/mysocialnetwork/mod# unzip walltowall.zip
....

The above cmd will for example unzip the WallToWall elgg plugin and the plugin will be further ready to be enabled via the administrator user set upped during your elgg installation.

The configurations of elgg are being accomplished via:

Administration -> Tool Administration

I should I’m still experimenting with Elgg social, until this very moment I’ve installed the following elgg plugins:

aaudio
akismet
artfolio
blog
bookmarks
buddytalk
captcha
categories
chat
crontrigger
custom_index
custom_profile_fields
default_widgets
diagnostics
elgg-ebuddy
embed
embedvideo
emoticons
externalpages
family
fbconnect
file
file_tree
flyers
forum
friend_request
friends
garbagecollector
groups
htmlawed
invitations
invitefriends
izap_videos
kaltura_video
lastfm
likes
logbrowser
logrotate
lucygames
members
messageboard
messages
milockergames_frameme
noscript_message
notifications
pages
polls
profile
reportedcontent
resume
river_comments
riverdashboard
riverfaces
search
siteaccess
tagcloud
theme_simpleneutral
thewire
tidypics
tidypicsExt
tinymce
twitter
twitterservice
user_contact_list
uservalidationbyemail
walltowall
weather
wp1
zaudio

One very handy feature I truly enjoy about Elgg is that it gives every user an own blog which or in other words when somebody registers in Elgg, he automatically gets a personal blog! How cool this is Yeash 😉
The Elgg photo upload plugin is also another interesting story. The photo plugin is a way better from my first impressions than facebook’s buggy upload client.
Elgg also uses heavily jquery for it’s various operations and the user experience feels very interactive.

Of course as with all free software things are not perfect some of the elgg plugins or (mods) as they are called are not working.
For example I couldn’t make by so far the weather plugin which is supposed to report the weather.

Maybe some tweakening of the not working plugins will easily make them working. What is really important is that the Elgg basis system looks and seems to work really good and enpowers the user with a social network alternatives to the ugly facebook.

In order to experiment with Elgg I’ve established a small social network targetting at University College and School Students called MockATeacher. The idea behind MockATeacher is to help students in their report writting by providing them with a place where they can meet other students and share files.

Some other aspects I’ve planned for MockATeacher is to build a small community of people who would like to share about idiot teachers, teacher stupid sayings as well as to mock the idiotic type of education that we and our children are up to in this age.
Just to close up, if you’re looking for some time to spend in experimenting in an enjoyable way you definitely need to install elgg and play with it 😉