Posts Tagged ‘player’

Play Midis on Linux / Make Linux MIDI Ready for the Future – Enable embedded MIDI music to play in a Browser, Play MIDIs with VLC and howto enjoy Midis in Text Console

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

how-to-play-midi-on-gnu-linux-in-graphic-environment-console-and-browser-midi-synthesizer-and-linux-tux-together

 

Play Midis on Linux or Make Linux MIDI Ready for the Future – Enable embedded MIDI music to play in a Browser, Play MIDIs with VLC and howto enjoy Midis in Text Console HOWTO

 

Playing MIDI has been quite a lot of fun historically,

if you grow up in the days when personal computers were still young and the Sound Blaster was a luxury, before the raise of Mp3 music format, you have certainly enjoyed the beeping of PC Speaker and later on during 386 and 486 / 586 computers the enjoyment of playing tracked music such as S3M and MOD,

in that good days playing MIDI music was the only alternative for PC maniacs who doesn't own a CD Drive (which itself) was another luxury and even thouse who had a CD ROM device, were mainly playing music in CD audio format (.CDA).
Anyhow MIDI was a cheap and a CPU unintensive way to listen to equivalent of favourite popular Audio Songs and for those who still remember many of the songs were recreated in MIDI format, just with a number of synthesized instruments without any voice (as MIDI is usually).

The same was true also for the good old days of raise of Mobile Phones, when polyphonic was a standard as CPU power was low MIDI was a perfect substitute for the CPU heavy Encoded MP3s / OGG and other formats that required a modern for that time Intel CPU running in 50+ Mhz usually 100 / 166Mhz was perfect for the days to play Mp3 but still even on that PCs we listened to Midi songs.

Therefore if you're one of those people like me who still enjoy to play some Midi Music in the year 2017 and feel a bit like Back into the Future movie and a Free Software fan and user, especially if you're a novice GNU  / Linux Free Software user, you will be unpleasently surprised that most today's default Linux distributions doesn't have an easy way to play Midi music format out of the box right after install.

Hence below article aims to give you an understanding on

How you can play Midi Music on GNU / Linux Operating System

First, lets Prepare to load necessery Linux kernel modules to make sure MIDI can be played by soundcard:

In /etc/modules make sure you have the following list of modules loaded:
 

linux-desktop:~# cat /etc/modules
3c59x
snd-emu10k1
snd-pcm-oss
snd-mixer-oss
snd-seq-oss

!Note the modules are working as of time of writting and in time can change to some other modules, depending on how the development of ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) goes, and if the developers decide to rename the upmentioned modules

If you just have added the modules to /etc/modules with vim / nano to reload modules into the Linux kernel run:

 

linux-desktop:~# modprobe -a


Secondly, Installing a whole bunch of MIDI music related program tools can be achieved in Debian by installing the multimedia-midi package, e.g.:

 

linux-desktop:~# apt-get install –yes multimedia-midi

 

1. Playing Midi in Graphical environment with a double click using VLC


How to make MIDI easy listanable in Linux graphical environment like GNOME / KDE / XFCE desktop ?

 

If you want to make Midi music execution sa easy as  just clicking on the .MIDI file format on Linux you can do that with a midi extension available for VLC (Video Lan Client) Universal Multi Platform Media Player player

To install it on Debian Ubuntu GNU / Linux
 

# apt-get install –yes vlc-plugin-fluidsynth

 

Необходимо е да се изтеглят 6754 B архиви.
След тази операция ще бъде използвано 35,8 kB допълнително дисково пространство.
Изт:1 http://deb.debian.org/debian stretch/main amd64 vlc-plugin-fluidsynth amd64 2.2.6-1~deb9u1 [6754 B]
Изтеглени 6754 B за 0с (33,6 kB/сек)           
Selecting previously unselected package vlc-plugin-fluidsynth:amd64.
(Reading database … 382976 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack …/vlc-plugin-fluidsynth_2.2.6-1~deb9u1_amd64.deb …
Unpacking vlc-plugin-fluidsynth:amd64 (2.2.6-1~deb9u1) …
Setting up vlc-plugin-fluidsynth:amd64 (2.2.6-1~deb9u1) …
Processing triggers for libvlc-bin:amd64 (2.2.6-1~deb9u1) …


Besides making your MIDI play on the GUI environment easy as a a point and click VLC will also be able to play MIDIs on GNU / Linux from your favourite browser (nomatter Firefox / Chrome or Opera), even though the player would play in a new PopUP Window it is easy to select once MIDI file from a random website for example – here is a directory listing of Webserver with Doom II Soundtrack in MIDI format , click over any file from list and Choose option for VLC to always remember that MIDI files has to be opened with VLC player.
 


2. Enable Firefox / IceWeasel browser to Support Website embedded MIDI files

 

 

So VLC could make you listen the downloadable MIDIs from Web pages but,
 

What if you have stumbled on an old website which was configured with very OLD HTML Code to play some nice music (or even different MIDI songs) for each part of the website (for each webpage) and you want to have the Websites created with embedded MIDIs to automatically play on Linux oncce you visit the site?


Sadly default support in Browser for MIDI across all GNU / Linux, I've used so far never worked out of the box, not that still anyone is developing modern websites with MIDIs, but still for the sake of backward compitability and for sake of interactivity it is worthy to enable embedded MIDI support in Linux

But with a couple of tunings as usual GNU / Linux can do almost everything, so here is how to enable embedded browser support for Midi on Linux (That should work with minor modifications not only on Debian / Ubuntu / ArchLinux but also on Fedoras, CentOS etc.
If you try it on any of this distributions, please drop a short comment and tell me in few lines how you made embedded midi worked on that distros.

 

apt-get install –yes timidity mozplugger

Next do restart firefox

Sometimes in order to work you might need to delete /home/[YOUR_USERNAME]/.mozilla/pluginreg.dat and restart firefox again, e.g. make a backup and give it a try:

 

cp -rpf /home/hipo/.mozilla/pluginreg.dat /home/hipo/.mozilla/pluginreg.dat.bak
rm -f /home/hipo/.mozilla/pluginreg.dat

 

Another good tip as talking for embedding MIDI support is to embed XPDF to render PDF pages inside the Browser, by default this is done by GNOME's Evince PDF reader but as it is sometimes buggy and might crash it is generally a good idea to switch to xpdf instead, if for some reason PDF is not directly displaying in browser or suddenly stopped working after some distro uipgrade, you might want to do below as well:
 

apt-get install xpdf

vim /etc/mozpluggerrc

Fin d and Comment out the line starting with:

It should look like this afterwards:

 Repeat Swallow ….
 

text/x-pdf: pdf: PDF file
#      repeat swallow(documentShell) fill: acroread -geometry +9000+9000 +useFrontEndProgram "$file"
        repeat noisy swallow(Xpdf) fill: xpdf -g +9000+9000 "$file"
        repeat noisy swallow(gv) fill: gv –safer –quiet –antialias -geometry +9000+9000 "$file"


 

3. Play Midi music in Linux text console / terminal


There is a console tool that historically has been like the Linux standard for playing midis over the years as I remember, its called timidity

 


To install timidity on .Deb based Linux:
 

linux-desktop:~$ su root
Password:
linux-desktop:~# apt-get install –yes timidity

Необходимо е да се изтеглят 0 B/580 kB архиви.
След тази операция ще бъде използвано 0 B допълнително дисково пространство.
(Reading database … 382981 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack …/timidity_2.13.2-40.5_amd64.deb …
Unpacking timidity (2.13.2-40.5) over (2.13.2-40.5) …
Processing triggers for menu (2.1.47+b1) …
Processing triggers for man-db (2.7.6.1-2) …
Setting up timidity (2.13.2-40.5) …
Processing triggers for menu (2.1.47+b1) …

 

To test your new MIDI Synthesizer tool and make the enjoyment full you can download Doom 2 extracted MIDI Soundtrack from here
 

Once you have downloaded above Metal MIDI DOOM old school arcade soundtrack and untarred it into your home directory be it ~/doom-midis

A remark to make here is timidity is quite CPU intensive, but on modern Dual and Quad-Core PC Notebooks, the CPU load is not of a big concern.

To test and play with timidity:
 

linux-desktop~$ timidity ~/mp3/midis/*


timidity-playing-doom-midi-bunny-song-on-debian-stretch-gnome-terminal-screenshot
 

hipo@jericho:~/mp3/midis$ aplaymidi -l
 Port    Client name                      Port name
 14:0    Midi Through                     Midi Through Port-0
128:0    TiMidity                         TiMidity port 0
128:1    TiMidity                         TiMidity port 1
128:2    TiMidity                         TiMidity port 2
128:3    TiMidity                         TiMidity port 3

 


We have also the playmidi  (simple midi text console terminal player), which historically was working quite decent and I use it to in the past on my RedHat 6.0 and RedHat 7.0 to listen to my .MID format files but unfortunately as of time of writting something is wrong with it, so when I try to play MIDIs with it instead of timidity I get this erro:

 

$ playmidi *.mid
Playmidi 2.4 Copyright (C) 1994-1997 Nathan I. Laredo, AWE32 by Takashi Iwai
This is free software with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
For details please see the file COPYING.
open /dev/sequencer: No such file or directory

Even though I tried hard to resolve that error by loading various midi related MIDI modules and following a lot of the suggestions online on how to  make /dev/sequencer work again it was all no luck.
 

Some people back in the distant year 2005, reported the problem was solved by simply loading snd-seq

But as of time of writting:

 

# modprobe snd-seq

 

Some people said in archlinux's Forum

/dev/sequencer sequencer: No such file or directory

 

is solved by loading snd-seq-oss kernel module, but on my Debian Linux 9.1 Stretch, this ain't work as well :

 

root@jericho:/home/hipo/mp3/midis# modprobe snd-seq-oss
modprobe: FATAL: Module snd-seq-oss not found in directory /lib/modules/4.9.0-3-amd64
root@jericho:/home/hipo/mp3/midis# uname -a;
Linux jericho 4.9.0-3-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 4.9.30-2+deb9u5 (2017-09-19) x86_64 GNU/Linux


Another invention of mine was to try to also link /dev/snd/seq to /dev/sequencer but this produced no positive result either:

 

# ln -sf /dev/snd/seq /dev/sequencer
# ls -al /dev/sequencer
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 12 окт  4 16:48 /dev/sequencer -> /dev/snd/seq


Note that after lining in that way I got following error with my attempt to play MIDIs with playmidi

# playmidi *.mid
Playmidi 2.4 Copyright (C) 1994-1997 Nathan I. Laredo, AWE32 by Takashi Iwai
This is free software with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
For details please see the file COPYING.
there is no soundcard


Anyhow on some other Linux distributions (especially with Older Kernel versions), some of the above 3 suggested Fix might work perfectly fine so if you have some time give it a try please and drop me  a comment on how it went, you will help the GNU / Linux community out there that way.

Well never mind the bollocks, so

Now back to where I started timidity even though it will play fine it will not give any indication on the lenght of the midi song (precious information such as how much time is left until the end is over).

Hence if you prefer a player that gives you an indicator on how much is left towards the end length of each of the played MIDI file you can give a try to wildmidi:

 

linux-desktop:~$ apt-cache show wildmidi|grep -i description -A 2

Description-en: software MIDI player
 Minimal MIDI player implementation based on the wildmidi library that
 can either dump to WAV or playback over ALSA. It is intended to

Description-md5: b4b34070ae88e73e3289b751230cfc89
Homepage: http://www.mindwerks.net/projects/wildmidi/
Tag: implemented-in::c, role::program, sound::midi, sound::player,

Description: software MIDI player
Description-md5: 4673a7051f104675c73eb344bb045607
Homepage: http://wildmidi.sourceforge.net/
Bugs: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+filebug


If yet not installed install it after becoming admin user:

 

linux-desktop:~$ su root
Password:

linux-desktop:~# apt-get install –yes wildmidi


wildmidi is much less CPU intensive (it uses gstreamer to play (Gstreamer – open source multimedia framework)

And next give it a try by running:

 

linux-desktop:~$ wildmidi ~/mp3/midis/*

 

wildmidi-midi-lenght-status-text-console-player-for-linux-ubuntu-debian-fedora-suse

 

 

4. Editting MIDI files with Free Software and Proprietary MIDI Editor Programs

 


If you want a professional software that can play Midi in a fuzzy interactive GUI way and have some extra possibilities to edit MIDIs and other format give a try to Muse Sequencer:
 

 

linux-desktop:~$ sudo apt-get install –yes muse

The following NEW packages will be installed:
  muse
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 38 not upgraded.
Need to get 5814 kB of archives.
After this operation, 21.0 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 http://deb.debian.org/debian stretch/main amd64 muse amd64 2.1.2-3+b1 [5814 kB]
Fetched 5814 kB in 2s (2205 kB/s)                             
    are supported and installed on your system.
Preconfiguring packages …
Selecting previously unselected package muse.
(Reading database … 382981 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack …/muse_2.1.2-3+b1_amd64.deb …
Unpacking muse (2.1.2-3+b1) …
Processing triggers for mime-support (3.60) …
Processing triggers for desktop-file-utils (0.23-1) …
Processing triggers for doc-base (0.10.7) …
Processing 1 added doc-base file…
Registering documents with scrollkeeper…
Processing triggers for man-db (2.7.6.1-2) …
Processing triggers for shared-mime-info (1.8-1) …
Unknown media type in type 'all/all'
Unknown media type in type 'all/allfiles'
Processing triggers for gnome-menus (3.13.3-9) …
Setting up muse (2.1.2-3+b1) …
Processing triggers for hicolor-icon-theme (0.15-1) …


 

Below is short description what Muse can do for you:

 

MusE is a MIDI/audio sequencer with recording and editing capabilities.
 Some Highlights:
 

  * Standard midifile (smf) import-/export.
  * Organizes songs in tracks and parts which you can arrange with
    the part editor.
  * MIDI editors: pianoroll, drum, list, controller.
  * Score editor with high quality postscript printer output.
  * Realtime: editing while playing.
  * Unlimited number of open editors.
  * Unlimited undo/redo.
  * Realtime and step-recording.
  * Multiple MIDI devices.
  * Unlimited number of tracks.
  * Sync to external devices: MTC/MMC, Midi Clock, Master/Slave.
  * Audio tracks, LADSPA host for master effects.
  * Multithreaded.
  * Uses raw MIDI devices.
  * XML project file.
  * Project file contains complete app state (session data).
  * Application spanning Cut/Paste Drag/Drop.

 

linux-desktop~:$ muse

muse-advanced-midi-editor-free-software-for-linux

 

Below is another non-free program that you might, try if MusE doesn't fit your needs (is not rich enough for editting capabilities is bitwig (though I don't recommend since it is not free software)

bitwig – Bitwig Studio is a multi-platform music-creation system for production, performance and DJing, with a focus on flexible editing tools and a super-fast workflow.
 


bitwig-midi-and-audio-non-free-software-advanced-useful-sound-editor-for-linx


 

5. Some examples for Text editing and MIDI Conversion to CSV and ABC file formats There is pretty much more

For the MIDI Extremists who or people that create MIDIs and want to learn how a MIDI is made (the content of it etc.), I suggest you take a look at these 3 command line MIDI editing / conversion tools
 

  • midi2abc – A little tool to create MIDI formats to ABC format
  • midi2csv – Conver tour Favourite MIDI files to CSV for educational purposes so see what Channels, Tracks and Time Intervals is a MIDI song mad
  • midicopy – Copy selected, track, channel, time interval of MIDI file to another MIDI file3

 

Well, that's all folks now enjoy your MIDIs and don't forget to donate, as I'm jobless at the moment and the only profit I make is just a few bucks out of advertisement on this blog.
 

Play Heroes of Might and Magic 3 on Android – Another great strategy game classic to play on Android mobile phone

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

heroes_of_might_and_magic_3_on_android_platform
Android mobile platform is awesome
as it resurrects the days of true gaming by enabling us to play ports of most influential computer games of our youth.
A short time after figuring out about existence of my favourite computer strategy game Heroes of Might and Magic 2 for Android mobiel devices.

heroes-of-might-and-magic-3-android-usual-game-play-among-best-strategy-games-for-android-platform

I got curious whether someone had ported also the successor verion of Heroes of Might and Magic II  strategy role play turn-based games sequels – Heroes of Might and Magic (HOMM) III.
And was striken even Heroes of Might and Magic 3 game port is already available!
To play HOMM 3 you need to install VCMI application on your android phone or tablet, if you search it directly from GooglePlayer Store you will notice 2 VCMI versions, be careful as one of the applications is already depreciated and is not working. VCMI app is based on the open source VCMI engine (check out VCMI wiki here) – attempt to rewrite entire Heroes of Might and Magic 3 from scratch!

To play Heroes 3 on your Android device you will need to have original HoMM3 files.
Once you run VCMI app for a first time you will be get a pop-up instructing you to follow Game files Android install instructions from this page.

heroes-of-might-and-magic-3-in-town-screenshot-android-phone-device

Heroes of Might and Magic 3's graphics and music (all stored in the modern for that time mp3 music format) was strikingly innovative for its release time (HOMM3 was published in y. 1999).

heroes_of_might_and_magic_iii-running-on-your-anroid-device

I still remember the many days and night spent together with friends and my sister playing maniacally Heroes 3. Though Heroes 3 doesn't make in imprint in my mind just like Heroes 2, from my gamer period years 1999 to 2001.

Heroes 3 was one of the games I and many of my friends (at that time aged 17 – 18 yeard old). The game plot is not that different from Heroes 3 – you command an army of mythical creatures from different nations mythologies and from various ages. Heroes are given a choice of skills to upgrade upon levelling up, as well as becoming better at combat or the use of magic. Yiou command the hero over a map with sources, you get the resources to build new structures and army. There are artifacts all around you can get to make your hero strength greater, there is level of wisdom and varios other skills you can raise. You can buy multiple heroes and build strong armies and fight other player armies. Each player has his own number of belongings (castles, villages, mines etc.). The game includes plenty of mystic beings. Just like Heroes 2, a different "races" / castles / armies exist, just to mention few you can play with: Castle, Rampant, Tower, Inferno, Necropolis, Dungeon, Stronghold, Fortress Conflux

heroes-of-mignt-and-magic-3-finally-on-android

Game Storyline

Heroes 3 story line unfolds across 7 playable campaigns all set upon the imaginery continent of Antagarich. During the campaigns, the story is told from alternating points of view, giving players the opportunity to play as each of the town alignments.

Following the disappearance of King Roland Ironfist of Enroth, his wife, Queen Catherine, is left to rule the realm. In the meantime, her father, King Gryphonheart of Erathia, is assassinated. Without their beloved King, the kingdom of Erathia falls to the dark forces of Nighon and Eeofol. Queen Catherine returns home to Antagarich seeking to rally the people of her homeland and lead them against the evil that has ravaged their nation.

Erathia's capital of Steadwick is sacked by the dungeon lords of Nighon and the Kreegans of Eeofol. Meanwhile, the nations of Tatalia and Krewlod skirmish at the western border, seizing the chance to expand their territory. Catherine's first task is to establish a foothold in the conquered kingdom by enlisting the aid of allies. The wizards of Bracada and the elves of AvLee answer her call, and together they push towards Steadwick and eventually retake it, quickly quelling the border war in the west. Soon after, Lucifer Kreegan, a commander in the Eeofol armies, sends an envoy to Erathia claiming that Roland Ironfist is captive within their territories. AvLee invades Eeofol, but fails to rescue Roland, who is transported to their northern holdings. Afterwards, Catherine invades Nighon, pushing the dungeon armies back to their island home.

In the meantime, the necromancers of Deyja, having been responsible for the assassination of King Gryphonheart, plot to revive his corpse as a lich. They plan to use his wisdom in leading their own armies of the undead. However, King Gryphonheart's will proves too much for the necromancers even in his corrupted state, and he becomes a rogue lich. Having little other recourse, Queen Catherine is forced to ally herself with the necromancers and together they set out to destroy the lich of King Gryphonheart before he becomes too powerful.

A final bonus campaign, accessible only after the main campaigns are complete, tells the story of separatists living in the Contested Lands, a war-torn border between Erathia and AvLee. Tired of the skirmishes that bring unrest to their homelands, they join together to fight for independence from the two large kingdoms. It is later implied that this rising was orchestrated by Archibald Ironfist, the antagonist of Heroes of Might and Magic II.

Heroes of Might and Magic 2: Best old-school turn based strategic game to play on your Android mobile phone

Monday, June 16th, 2014

heroes-of-might-and-magic-2-for-your-mobile-smartphone-android-screenshot

Probably many people which are my age (I'm aged 30 now), spent many days and sleepless nights being totally addicted playing probably one of the most addictive (and in my view greatest strategy game of all time) – Heroes of Might and Magic II (HOMM2).
In that thoughts it will be a great news for you if you're owning smartphone that you can turn-back some nice memories and play (for free) a port of Heroes 2 for Android.

Free Heroes 2 Android port is it is made to support multiple screened devices so game  version could be played on both Android Tablet a tiny screen smart phone or a middle sized mobile. Also Free Heroes 2 mobile port allows you to choose 'The Magnifying glass' option on first game boot, so if you're on a tiny screened mobile you can still zoom by pointing on a game object. Free Heroes 2 Android port is there thanks to Gerhard Stein who is also an author of OpenTyrian mobile phone port and the amazing old computer jump-and-run arcade Commander Keen. Game pointer controls of FHeroes2 are pretty convenient and playing the game is almost as confortable as played with a PC mouse.
Free Heroes 2 is port of Free Heroes 2 engineFree implementation of Heroes of the Might and Magic II engine in SDL and because SDL is platform independent Free Heroes is also available for both Windows / Linux. Maybe here is time too mention that Heroes2 original DOS game works perfectly on any modern Linux distribution when started through DOSBOX DOS emulator.

By default Free Heroes2  has no game campaign support yet. In order to enable campaing support into Free Heroes 2, download FULL Heroes 2 gameput data files to mobile SD card to dir app-data/net.sourceforge.fheroes2 and campaign option will be there too.

heroes_of_might_and_magic_ii_play-on-android-best-strategy-old-game-for-android

Heroes of Might and Magic 2 – The succession Wars (or HEROES2, as it is widely known in Gamers communities) is a turn based strategy game  from year 1996 developed by Jon Van Caneghem by his New World Computing company it was marketed under on the market under brand of 3DO Company. Heroes II was voted the sixth-best PC game of all time by PC Gamer in May 1997. Heroes2 has also a game expansion pack called the Price of Loyalty released in 1997 as well as Heroes of Might and Magic II – Gold – from 1998. The game graphic design looks very beautiful and combined with the soundtrack makes playing it an awesome and calming experience. The game is very notable especially for soundtrack which is all of a beautiful classical music.

Heroes-of-might-and-magic-2-best-games-of-all-time-screenshot-HOMM2
(Picture taken and copyrighted by Wikipedia)

Gameplay

The titular heroes (horse) are player characters who can recruit armies, move around the map, capture resources, and engage in combat. The heroes also incorporate some role-playing game elements; they possess a set of statistics that confer bonuses to an army, artifacts that enhance their powers, and knowledge of magical spells that can be used to attack enemies or produce strategic benefits. Also, heroes gain experience levels from battle, such that veteran heroes are significantly more powerful than inexperienced ones.

On a typical map, players begin a game with one town of a chosen alignment. Each town alignment hosts a unique selection of creatures from which the player can build an army. Town alignment also determines other unique traits such as native hero classes, special bonuses or abilities, and leanings toward certain skills or kinds of magic.

heroes-of-might-and-magic-town_castle-sorceress-screenshot

Towns play a central role in the games since they are the primary source of income and new recruits. A typical objective in each game is to capture all enemy towns. Maps may also start with neutral towns, which do not send out heroes but may still be captured by any player. It is therefore possible, and common, to have more towns than players on a map. When captured, a town retains its alignment type, allowing the new owner to create a mixed army. A player or team is eliminated when no towns or heroes are left under their control. Usually the last player or team remaining is the victor.

As heroes visit special locations called obelisks, pieces are removed from a jigsaw puzzle-like map, gradually revealing 'The Ultimate Artifact location to the player. Once found, it confers immense bonuses to the player capable of breaking a stalemate: the grail can be taken back to a town and used to build a special structure, while the ultimate artifact provides the bonuses directly through possession.

heroes-of-might-and-magic-2-battle-for-castle-screenshot

Whenever a player engages in battle

The game changes from the adventure map display to a combat screen, which is based on either a hexagonal or square grid. In this mode, the game mimics the turn-based tactics genre, as the engaged armies must carry through the battle without the opportunity to reinforce or gracefully retreat. With few exceptions, combat must end with the losing army deserting, being destroyed, or paying a heavy price in gold to surrender. Surrendering allows the player to keep the remaining units intact. Battles can be led army army to army or castles / villages can be fight and (captured) occupied. Owning a town gives your hero daily an income of money later used to buy and upgrade castle buildings.

heroes-of-might-and-magic-ii-the-succession-wars-wizard-castle-building-options-screenshot

Also you your moved heroes could overtake mines producing different goods like minerals, sulfur, gold, emeralds etc. Building different buildings and building war units for army usually cost gold and some kind of resource.

Game Story

Heroes II history continues after Heroes I. Ending of Heroes I results in Lord Morglin Ironfist's victory. In the following years, he has successfully unified the continent of Enroth and secured his rule as king. Upon the king's death, his two sons, Archibald and Roland, vie for the crown. Archibald orchestrates a series of events that lead to Roland's exile. Archibald is then declared the new king, while Roland organizes a resistance. Each alignment is represented by one of the game's two campaigns. Archibald's campaign features the three "evil" town alignments, while Roland's campaign features the three "good" town alignments.

If Archibald is victorious, Roland's rebellion is crushed, and Roland himself is imprisoned in Castle Ironfist, leaving Archibald the uncontested ruler of Enroth. The  ending, however, results in Roland's victory, with Archibald being turned to stone by Roland's court wizard, Tanir.

How to: Improve Adobe Flash Player Video speed on Debian / Ubuntu Linux

Friday, October 12th, 2012

How to improve Adobe Flash Player Video, accelerate Flash video speed on Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Debian, Fedora - ArchLinux

I have recently installed Xubuntu to a friend with an old computer hardware. The computer is used just for basic access to the Internet web browsing – (Firefox, Opera) and Skype. All runs smoothly but sometimes the Videos in Youtube are lagging. Hence I looked for a way to make the Adobe Flash Player run smoother on this (Ubuntu 12.04) based Linux.

After a bit of searching if there is something written on the topic of Optimizing Flash Player / Flash Videos speed on Linux, I’ve stumbled acrossed one flash variable, which if used could improve Video Speed; The variable is OverrideGPUValidation and should be turned on in Flash Player with:


OverrideGPUValidation=true

The Flash Player configuration, settings on Linux could be set either globally by using:

  • /etc/adobe/mms.cfg – (system-wide configuration file, set Flash player policy for all existing users)

or locally for individual users through:

  • ~/.adobe/mms.cfg – (user-local configuration file affecting only /home/sampleuser/ flash player settings)

For Desktop Linux purposes which are used as a home desk station it is quite rarely the host to be used than more than one single user, so if that’s the case with you there is no worth to set OverrideGPUValidation=true via /etc/adobe/mms.cfg

Well anyways if need to set Flash player setting globally you will have to create /etc/adobe (which is created on deb flash player package install):


root@xubuntu:~# mkdir /etc/adobe
root@xubuntu:~# echo 'OverrideGPUValidation=true' >> /etc/adobe/mms.cfg

The local user (hidden) directory ~/.adobe is created automatically on first time the Flash Player is used in browser, just like usual with rest of Linux programs. Inside are a few directories created used by flash player but mss.cfg is not created.
For local users hence to enable OverrideGPUValidation=true type in terminal:

Enabling

user@xubuntu:~$ echo "OverrideGPUValidation=true" >> ~/.adobe/mms.cfg

The option does accelerate a bit the Flash Videos, but don’t expect huge speed ups. Normally using this option on some hosts up to 10 to 20/ 30% in Video playing (overall) speed, could be improved. On some hosts it is possible using the variable does not have a significant impact at all.

The options should work equal on Linux hosts and only Debian based ones as it is a Flash Player it is however tested with latest Flash Player Linux version which of time of writing this post is v. (11.2.202.243)
Don’t know if the same option will work on earlier Flash Player versions, so it is up to testing it. I will be glad to hear from people who tested the value and can report a speed improvement. I will be glad to hear the Video Adapter and general hardware configuration on whom OverrideGPUValidation=true speed up Flash Player.
Hope this tip helps someone.

Editting binary files in console and GUI on FreeBSD and Linux

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

I’ve recently wanted to edit one binary file because there was compiled in the binary a text string with a word I didn’t liked and therefore I wanted to delete. I know I can dig in the source of the proggie with grep and directly substitute my “unwatned text” there but I wanted to experiment, and see what kind of hex binary text editors are for Free OSes.
All those who lived the DOS OS computer era should certainly remember the DOS hex editors was very enjoyable. It was not rare case, where in this good old days, one could simply use the hex editor to “hack” the game and add extra player lives or modify some vital game parameter like put himself first in the top scores list. I even remember some DOS programs and games was possible to be cracked with a text editor … Well it was times, now back to current situation as a Free Software user for the last 12 years it was interesting to see what is the DOS hexeditor like alternatives for FreeBSD and Linux and hence in this article I will present my findings:

A quick search in FreeBSD ports tree and Debian installable packages list, I’ve found a number of programs allowing one to edit in console and GUI binary files.

Here is a list of the hex editors I will in short review in this article:

  • hexedit
  • dhex
  • chexedit
  • hte
  • hexer
  • hexcurse
  • ghex
  • shed
  • okteta
  • bless
  • lfhex

1. hexedit on Linux and BSD – basic hex editor

I’ve used hexedit already on Linux so I’ve used it some long time ago.

My previou experience in using hexedit is not too pinky, I found it difficult to use on Redhat and Debian Linux back in the day. hexedit is definitely not a choice of people who are not “initiated” with hex editting.
Anyways if you want to give it a try you can install it on FreeBSD with:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/editors/hexedit
freebsd# make install clean

On Debian the hexedit, install package is named the same so installation is with apt:

debian:~# apt-get –yes install hexedit

hexedit screenshot Debian Linux Squeeze

2. Hex editting with chexedit

I’ve installed chexedit the usual way from ports:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/editors/chexedit
freebsd# make install clean

chexedit is using the ncurses text console library, so the interface is very similar to midnight commander (mc) as you see from below’s screenshot:

Chexeditor FreeBSD 7.2 OS Screenshot

Editting the binary compiled in string was an easy task with chexedit as most of the commands are clearly visible, anyways changing a certain text string contained within the binary file with some other is not easy with chexedit as you need to know the corresponding binary binary value representing each text string character.
I’m not a low level programmer, so I don’t know the binary values of each keyboard character and hence my competence came to the point where I can substitute the text string I wanted with some unreadable characters by simply filling all my text string with AA AA AA AA values…

chexedit on Debian is packaged under a deb ncurses-hexedit. Hence to install it on Deb run:

debian:~# apt-get –yes install ncurses-hexedit

Further on the binary to run chexedit on binary contained within ncurses-hexedit is:

debian:~# hexeeditor

3. Hex Editting on BSD and Linux with hte

Just after trying out chexedit, I’ve found about the existence of one even more sophisticated hexeditor console program available across both FreeBSD and Linux.
The program is called hte (sounds to me a bit like the Indian word for Elephant “Hatti” :))

hte is installable on Debian with cmd:

debian:~# apt-get install ht

On FreeBSD the port name is identical, so to install it I execed:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/editors/hte
freebsd# make install clean

hte is started on Debian Linux (and presumably other Linux distros) with:

$ hte

On FreeBSD you need to run it with ht command:

freebsd# ht

You see how hte looks like in below screenshot:

ht has the look & feel like midnight commander and I found it easier to use than chexedit and hexeditor
4. hexer VI like interface for Linux

As I was looking through the available packages ready to install, I’ve tried hexer

debian:~# apt-get install –yes hexer

hexer does follow the same standard commands like VIM, e.g. i for insert, a for append etc.

Hexer Debian Linux vim like binary editor screenshot

It was interesting to find out hexer was written by a Bulgarian fellow Petar Penchev 🙂
(Proud to be Bulgarian)

http://people.freebsd.org/~roam/ – Petar Penchev has his own page on FreeBSD.org

As a vim user I really liked the idea, the only thing I didn’t liked is there is no easy way to just substitute a string within the binary with another string.

5. hexcurse another ncurses library based hex editor

On Deb install and run via:

debian:~# apt-get –yes install hexcurse
debian:~# hexcurse /usr/bin/mc

Hexcurse Debian Linux text binary editor screenshot

hexcurse is also available on FreeBSD to install it use cmd:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/editors/hexcurse
freebsd# make install clean
….

To access the editor functions press CTRL+the first letter of the word in the bottom menu, CTRL+H, CTRL+S etc.
Something I disliked about it is the program search is always in hex, so I cannot look for a text string within the binaries with it.

6. ghex – Editting binary files in graphical environment

If you’re running a graphical environment, take a look at ghex. ghex is a gnome (graphical hex) editor.Installing ghex on Debian is with:

debian:~# apt-get –yes install ghex
….

To run ghex from terminal type:

debian:~# ghex2

GHex2 GNOME hex binary editor screenshot

To install ghex on FreeBSD (and I assume other BSDs), install via port:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/editors/ghex
freebsd# make install clean

Gnome hex editor have plenty of tools, useful for developers to debug binary files.

Some nice tools one can find are under the the menus:

Windows -> Character Table

This will show a complete list of each keyboard sent character in ASCII, Hex, Decimal, Octal and Binary

Screenshot ghex Character table Debian Linux

Another useful embedded tool in ghex is:

Windows -> Type Convertion Dialog

Ghex type convertion dialog screenshot

Note that if you want to use the Type Convertion Dialog tool to find the representing binary values of a text string you will have to type in the letters one by one and save the output within a text file and later you can go and use the same editor to edit the text string within the binary file you like.

I’m not a programmer but surely for programmers or people who want to learn some binary counting, this 2 ghex edmebbed tools are surely valuable.

To conclude even though there are plenty of softwares for hex editting in Linux and BSD, none of them is not so easy to use as the old DOS hexdedit tool, maybe it will be a nice idea if someone actually rewrites the DOS tool and they package it for various free operating systems, I’m sure many people will find it helpful to have a 1:1 equivalent to the DOS tool.

7. Shed pico like interfaced hex editor

For people, who use pico / nano as a default text editor in Linux shed will probably be the editor of choice as it follows the command shortcuts of picoOn Deb based distros to install it run:

debian:~# apt-get install –yes shed

shed pico like hex binary editor Linux

Shed has no BSD port as of time of writting.8. Okteta a KDE GUI hex editor

For KDE users, I found a program called okteta. It is available for Deb based Linuxes as deb to install it:

debian:~# apt-get –yes install okteta

Screenshot Okteta Debian GNU / Linux Squeeze

As of time of writting this article there is no okteta port for BSDs.
Okteta has plenty of functions and even has more of a functions than ghexedit. Something distinctive for it is it supports opening multiple files in tabs.

9. lfhex a large file text editor

lfhex is said to be a large (binary) file text editor, I have not tested it myself but just run it to see how it looks like. I don’t have a need to edit large binary files too, but I guess there are people with such requirements too 🙂

lfhex - Linux The Large file hex editor

To install lfhex on Debian:

debian:~# apt-get install –yes lfhex

lfhex has also a FreeBSD port installable via:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/editors/lfhex
freebsd# make install clean

10. Bless a GUI tool for editting large hex (binary) files

Here is the description directly taken from the BSD port /usr/ports/editors/bless

Bless is a binary (hex) editor, a program that enables you to edit files asa sequence of bytes. It is written in C# and uses the Gtk# bindings for theGTK+ toolkit.

To install and use ot on deb based Linuxes:

debian:~# apt-get install –yes bless
….

On BSD installation is again from port:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/editors/bless
freebsd# make install clean
….

Something that makes bless, maybe more desirable choice for GUI users than ghex is its availability of tabs. Opening multiple binaries in tabs will be useful only to few heavy debuggers.

Bless GUI hex editor Debian Linux tabs opened screenshot

11. Ghextris – an ultra hard hacker tetris game 🙂

For absolute, hacker / (geeks), there is a tetris game called ghextris. The game is the hardest tetris game I ever played in my life. It requires more than regular IQ and a lot of practice if you want to become really good in this game.

To enjoy it:

debian:~# apt-get –yes install ghextris

Ultra hrad hardcore hackers game ghextris screenshot

Unfortunately there is no native port of ghextris for BSD (yet). Anyhow, it can be probably run using the Linux emulation or even compiled from source.
Well that’s all I found for hexedit-ing, I’ll be happy to hear if someone can give me some feedback on his favourite editor.

Non-free packages to install to make Ubuntu Linux Multimedia ready / Post install packages for new Ubuntu installations

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

non-free-packages-to-install-make-ubuntu-linux-multimedia-ready

1. Add Medibuntu package repository

root@ubuntu:~# wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list \
http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_release -cs).list \
&& apt-get --quiet update \
&& apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring \
&& apt-get --quiet update

2. Enable Ubuntu to play Restricted DVD
root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install --yes libdvdread4
...
root@ubuntu:~# /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

After that VLC will be ready to play DVDs for some programs which was compiled without DVD, source rebuilt is required.

If DVDs hang you might need to set a Region Code with regionset:

# regionset

3. Install non-free codecs

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install non-free-codecs

4. Install Chromium ffmpeg nonfree codecs

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install chromium
root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-nonfree

5. Install w32codecs / w64codecs

Depending on the Ubuntu Linux installation architecture 32/64 bit install w32codecs or w64codecs

For 32 bit (x86) Ubuntu install w32codecs:

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install w32codecs

For 64 bit arch Ubuntu:

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install w64codecs

6. Install ubuntu-restricted-extras meta package

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

7. Install cheese for webcam picture/video snapshotting

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install cheese

8. Install GIMP, Inkscape, xsane,sane, shotwell etc.

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get --yes install sane xsane gimp inkscape gimp-data-extras gimp-plugin-registry \
blender gcolor2 showtwell bluefish kompozer

9. Install multimedia Sound & Video utilities

Install Subtitle editor, video editiking , sound editing, mp3 player, iso mounters, DVD/CD Burners

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install rhythmbox banshee smplayer mplayer \
realplayer audacity brasero jokosher istanbuk gtk-recordMyDesktop \acetoneisohexedit furiusisomount winff fala audacious dvdstyler lives hydrogen
subtitleeditor gnome-subtitles electricsheep k3b

10. Install CD / DVD RIP tools

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install acidrip sound-juicer ogmrip thoggen
11. Install chat messanger programs, Browsers, mail pop3 clients, torrent, emulators, ftp clients etc.

apt-get install seamonkey thunderbird transmission transmission-gtk gbgoffice kbedic \
pidgin openoffice.org gxine mozilla-plugin-vlc wine dosbox samba filezilla amsn ntp \epiphany-browser ntpdate desktop-webmail alltray chmsee gftp xchat-gnome ghex \gnome-genius bleachbit arista

12. Install Non-Free Flash Player

Unfortunately Gnash is not yet production ready and crashes in many websites …

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree flashplugin-nonfree-extrasound swfdec-gnome

13. Install Archive / Unarchive management programs

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install unace unrar zip unzip p7zip-full p7zip-rar sharutils rar uudeview \
mpack lha arj cabextract file-roller

15. Install VirtualBox and QEmu

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install qemu-launcher qemu-kvm-extras virtualbox virtualbox-ose \
virtualbox-ose-guest-dkms virtualbox-ose-guest-dkms

This should be enough to use Ubuntu normally for multimedia Desktop just as MS Windows for most of the daily activities.
Am I missing some important program?

How to play Audio music CDs in GNU/Linux and Free/Net/Open BSDs

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

If you still have some old dusty CDs left on the CD shelf, its quite cool to give it a ride in a rainy morning.

As I enjoy working in console so much, I thought it might be interesting to share how music audio CDs can be listened in plain text mode console.

For all console / terminal geeks Linux and BSDs can be equipped with a number of text/console audio cd console players.

There are plenty of free software console cd audio players on the net, however I found cdplay , cdcd and dcd to be the most popular ones.

On Debian and Ubuntu G*/Linuces cdplay and cdcd are installable via apt. To install cdtool:

root@xubuntu-desktop:~# apt-get install cdtool
...

cdtool package, contains a number of commands enabling you to listen/stop/shuffle/eject/get info about cd audio volumes. cdtool provides the following binaries:

cdeject
cdclose
cdir
cdinfo
cdpause
cdplay
cdstop
cdvolume
cdshuffle

Install cdcd on Debian and alike by typing:

root@xubuntu-desktop:~# apt-get install cdcd
...

cdcd has shell like interface the most basic use of it is with:

root@xubuntu-desktop:~# cdcd
cdcd> play

To play audiocds in console on FreeBSD , a command tool dcd is available and installable through ports.
To install it issue:

root@freebsd# cd /usr/ports/audio/dcd
root@freebsd# make install clean
...

dcd is also available for Linux but on most GNU/Linuxes it has to be built from source.

Lets say you'd like to Play the 5th song from audio CD:

freebsd# dcd 5

dcd has plenty of great arguments, to get some fun with it check the man page.

Another program that can be used to play audio CDs on both Linux and BSDs is the "classical" mplayer .

To play AUDIO CD with mplayer the command line to use is:

root@debian:~# mplayer -cdrom-device /dev/sr0 cdda:// -cache 5000
...

The argument -cache 5000 has to be passed to to work around choppy sound (if for example audio playback interruptions every few milliseconds).

For people who are keen on ncurses (Midnight Commander) like command line interfaces you might enjoy Herrie a minimalistic music player that supports plenty of sound formats, including audiocds.

Herrie is available for Debian and most deb based modern distros via apt, e.g.:

root@xubuntu-desktop:~# apt-get install herrie
...

Herrie Minimalistic Music player for Linux and BSD


Ports are also available for FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD.
To install on FreeBSD:

root@freebsd# cd /usr/ports/audio/herrie
root@freebsd# make install clean

I'll be happy to hear feedback and recommendations on any other console audio cd players I might forgot to mention.
Which is your favourite console text based cd audio player?

Pingus – A Lemmings like arcade game for GNU / Linux and FreeBSD (Free Lemmings Clone)

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Some might remember Psychosis Lemmings that we used to enjoy back in the glorious days of DOS 😉 I remember Lemmings used to be among the played game in one line with other top arcades like Dangerous Dave, Commander Keen, Xenon etc.
The game used to be quite unique for the time and it was quite cool that it worked on quite old machines lime my old 8086 XT with 640kb of memory. It even supported two player mode! 😉

Lemmings arcade screenshot

I was happy to find out actually Lemmings remake is available in the Free Software OS realm . These Lemmings clone game is called Pingus
Instead of governing a group of lemmings which had to move to an exit door by making a save path using various tools and combination of team member character skills, the main heroes in Pingus are cute little penguins 😉

Screenshot Pingus, Lemmings game clone for Linux and FreeBSD

Pingus is built on TOP of SDL libraries and has a combination of awesome graphics and enjoyable music soundtrack and as a game play is a way better than its original predecessor.
If i have to to rank this game I would put it among the best 20 free software games ever produced for Linux / BSD.

ScreenShot Pingus on Debian Linux

pingus is available for almost all kind of Linux distritubions as well as is included in the FreeBSD port tree:

On Debian its available as a package ready to be installed with aptitude or apt by issuing:

debian:~# aptitude install pingus

For FreeBSD pingus is installed via ports tree, by running cmds:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/games/pingus
freebsd# make install && make install clean

By default pingus will run in a Windowed mode, to run the game in fullscreen you will have to run it with the -f switch via terminal, or by pressing ALT+F2 in GNOME and typing:

$ pingus -f

The game is quite hard to complete in that resembling the lemmings. It has an embedded Mapeditor , by which new levels can be easily constructed and sent to the game developers (in that way helping the game development).

Pingus is also multi-platform, licensed under GPL2 and is also ported for Mac OSX and MS Windows, allowing others non free software users enjoy.
Pingus Windows and MacOS X binary as well as source can be downloaded here

Pingus Lemmings like Free Software Game for Linux BSD level screenshot

Playing Pingus has few benefits, one is it can be nice to kill some boredom (for sysadmins) or / and bring some good past gaming memories. It's also good for developing some elder people strategic thinking as well as very suitable for little children to help develop their intellectual (thinking) in solving complex consequential tasks. Pingus could also be beneficial for teens to develop organizational and math skills.

GPL Arcade Volleyball – DOS Volleyball oldschool game remake for GNU / Linux

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Do you remember that oldschool Arcade VolleyBall game which was so popular on 16 bit (8086 XT) computers.
I remember this game from the years I was 12 years old, back in the days where we the gamers distributed all the DOS games on 360 KB 5.25" diskettes

I was looking over the games available to install on my Debian GNU / Linux today just to be happily suprised to find GPL Arcade Volleyball an identical game remake of the old Arcade Volleyball 8086 classic freeware game.

I remember we spend many hours with friends playing on the old Manifactured in Bulgaria Pravetz 16! computers
During communism and post communism Pravetz was the only computer brand we could buy from the market, as there was limitations on the exported and imported tech equipment within the USSR union.
Pravetz computers are a literal remake of 16 bit IBM 8086 computers and the computer design and integrals was stolen from IBM 16 bit 8086 / 8088 PC architecture

Arcade Volleyball has set a mark on my generation and I believe many people will remember the times this game was a hit with a bit of Nostalgia 😉
In the Game GPL Arcade Volleyball Debian GNU / Linux

Besides being an identical remake of PC Arcade Volleyball , GPL Arcade Volleyball is even expanded as it includes extra features which the original game lacked. Game includes:

  • Network Volleyball client / server Game (up to 4 players)
  • 6 Game Themes which completely change the game look & feel to be modernistic

Here are few GAV screenshots of the different existing game Themes:

Screenshot GPL Arcade VolleyBall Yisus

GPL Arcade Volleyball Yisus theme gameplay GNU / Linux
Yisus GAV Theme gameplay screenshot

GPL Arcade Volleyball Unnamed Theme Screenshot

GPL Arcade Volleyball unnamed Gameplay Theme Debian
GAV – Unnamed Theme Gameplay

Screenshot GAV FABeach gameplay
GAV – FaBeach Theme Gameplay

GAV supports both Window and fullscreen modes. To enable Fullscreen mode, while inside the game use:

Extra -> Fullscreen (Yes)

Saving preferences is also something which I if I recall correctly the original game lacked. This is done by navigating to:

Extra -> Save Preferences

GAV is said to support Joystick in resemblance to the original DOS game, though I've never tested it with a joy.

One of the greatest GAV game (hacks) is the Inverted Theme. Selecting it inverts the order in the game, where the game player becomes the volleyball ball and the ball becomes the player 😉

GPL Arcade Volleyball Arcade Inverted Theme - remake of DOS Volleyball Arcade
GAV does not yet not have a Free / Open / Net BSD port as far as I currently see, anyways since the game is Free Software probably soon a port will be available for BSDs as well.
The default GAV game controls are a bit untraditional. By default the one player game starts you play Volleyball game player positioned on the left.

For left player the default control keys are:
 

  • z – move player left
  • c – move player right
  • left shift – jump

Right player controls are:
 

  • Left – left (arrow key)
  • right – right (arrow key)
  • jump – up cursor key

GAV supports also a shortcut key for switching between windowed and full screen game mode by pressing F10
Installing the game on Debian and Ubuntu Linuces is done with:

linux:~# apt-get --yes install gav

Unfortunately gav does not have a definition to be added to GNOME or KDE Applications menus, thus to start the game after installed one has to do it manually by typing either in gnome RUN (Alt+F2) or on command line:

linux:~$ gav

Happy playing 😉

How to fix multiple instance music streams with sound card (Intel 82801I ICH9 Family) alsa sound problems on Ubuntu 11.04 GNU / Linux

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Ubuntu Logo Sound / Pulseaudio multiple sound channel issues

The Ubuntu Linux installed previously on Acer ASPIRE 5736Z on my sisters notebook works quite fine. However today she complained about an issue with her sound. The explanation of the problem she faced is:

When she plays a movie file and pauses it and then switches to a music player, suddenly the notebook sound disappears completely until she restarts all the running programs using the sound server. The Acer Aspire is used with a GNOME Desktop, hence my bet was the issues are most probably caused by some kind of mess happening inside Pulseaudio or the way Alsa loaded kernel drivers handles the multiple sound channel streams.

I’m using GNU / Linux for more than 11 years now and I have faced the same sound issues so many times, so when I heard about the problem I thought its pretty normal.
Anyways, what was really irritating in these situation is that when her laptop sound disappears a video or sound files which are to be played by Mozilla Firefox Browser or Chrome are also loosing the sound.
This causes big issues, especially taking in consideration the fact that she had no idea about computers and is a GUI Desktop user, who have no idea how to restart the pulseaudio server to fix the problem etc.

As a good brother, I took the time to check about the issues related to the specific model of Audio Module Hardware / Sound Card, first I checked the exact model of audio the Acer Aspire 5736Z is equipped with:

stanimiraaaa@Ubuntu-Aspire-5736Z:~$ lspci |grep -i audio
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 03)

I checked about any reported other users issues on the net and I found a user somewhere (lost the link), complaining he is experiencing the same sound oddities on his Acer ASPIRE

The fix he suggested is actually quite simple and comes to adding a simple line to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf :

stanimiraaaa@Ubuntu-Aspire-5736Z:~$ sudo su -
[sudo] password for stanimiraaaa:
root@Ubuntu-Aspire-5736Z:~# echo 'options snd_hda_intel model=auto' >> /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

Next I restartarted to make the new settings take effect. Its also possible to do it without restart, by unloading and loading the alsa module but I’m a lazy kind of person and the machine is notablyunimportant so why should I bother 😉

One important note here is that I removed also an .asoundrc file, that I created some long time ago and this file might have been creating also some sound issues, the content of ~/.asoundrc, before I delete it in her home user, was like so:

stanimiraaaa@Ubuntu-Aspire-5736Z:~$ cat ~/.asoundrc
pcm.!default {
type hw
card 1
device 0
}
ctl.!default {type hw
card 1
device 0
}
stanimiraaaa@Ubuntu-Aspire-5736Z:~$ rm -f .asoundrc

Doing this minor changes to the Ubuntu system erradicated the sound problems and now the sound with simultaneous sound channel streams works just perfect! Thx God 😉