Netflix – Not fit for purpose?

One of my family has a Netflix account. The account is accessible from any of the desktop and laptop computers in the house, whichever OS they are running.

Recently we bought a so-called ‘smart TV’ (an LG 40UF770V 4K Ultra HD TV, as it happens), and are pleased with it. It runs WebOS 2.0 (yay, Linux!) and the LG Content Store contains a Netflix app, which we promptly installed. The app worked perfectly for several weeks but then stopped being able to access Netflix. When the app was launched, the usual screen with the Netflix logo and the ‘Loading’ rotating indicator would appear but, after a minute or so, an error message would be displayed informing us that Netflix error ‘ui-113’ had occurred. One of the on-screen options then offered by the app was to check the network connection, which we tried, but everything was reported to be working correctly. Not to mention that all the other apps that require an Internet connection work fine. In order to watch a film using Netflix over the Christmas period we had to resort to connecting a laptop to the TV via an HDMI cable and accessing Netflix in a Web browser on the laptop. It is ridiculous to have to resort to such measures to view content on smart TVs which have Netflix apps.

I searched the Web and discovered that many, many people experience the same problem with Netflix and smart TVs. As in our case, they had no trouble accessing their Netflix account on their home network with other devices such as computers, tablets and smart phones. I came across reports by owners of smart TVs made by LG, Philips, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and other manufacturers. People who had contacted the relevant TV manufacturer were often told the problem is caused by Netflix, and people who had contacted Netflix were often told the problem is caused by the TV manufacturer.

Netflix has a Help page for this error message, but none of the steps Netflix listed worked, and neither did any of the remedies suggested by others on the Web (including in various YouTube videos). Resetting the TV did not solve the problem. Neither did cycling the mains power to the TV, broadband modem and router (however long the power was off). Nor did changing the TV’s setting for the IP address of the DNS server to one of the well-known public DNS servers such as Google’s. Nor did suggestions such as un-installing and re-installing the Netflix app. Nor did configuring the router to perform port forwarding for Netflix on the TV (not that this should be necessary, but I tried it anyway). Several people wrote that the parental lock in their routers caused the problem, but the parental lock is definitely not enabled in my router. I also tried to access Netflix via the TV’s Web browser; it can log-in to the Netflix account but cannot play content as it does not support the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in or HTML5 required by Netflix.

Nothing we tried solved the problem, and two weeks of this messing around was exasperating. Some people reported that changing the DNS server address in the TV to Google’s DNS servers worked, whereas others reported it didn’t. Even if some lucky person managed to get Netflix working on their smart TV using a certain procedure, other people in the same country with the same model of TV could not, even if they used the same procedure.

In addition to people in a given country trying to get the Netflix app in their smart TV to access their Netflix account in that country, I came across posts by people wanting to access Netflix in a different country (mostly people not in the USA wanting to access US Netflix because it offers a wider range of films and programmes, but also expatriates wanting to access Netflix for their home country with their home-country Netflix account). So I tried recommendations to configure the TV to use a DNS server in the US that some people in the UK had recently indicated would give the Netflix app access to US Netflix rather than UK Netflix (even though we wanted to access UK Netflix from the UK). But that didn’t work either.

However, I didn’t give up. I trawled the Web for lists of DNS servers that some people claimed would give access to Netflix in the UK. I found various Web sites listing IP addresses for DNS servers and tried several of them. Eventually I found one that actually enables the Netflix app in the TV to work, but it accesses US Netflix instead of UK Netflix. Given that the Netflix app has not worked for several weeks, I’m not complaining, but it is not what we were trying to achieve (US Netflix does not provide all the UK TV series available on UK Netflix). Furthermore, according to some of the posts I’ve read, periodically you have to change the DNS server address in the TV because Netflix stops working with the existing address.

Now, I’m a technically-oriented person and it took me several hours over a two-week period to find a solution (well, a work-around). Someone with little or no IT knowledge in the same situation would be at a complete loss as to how to get their Netfix account working. In order for streaming media services to become as ubiquitous as e.g. terrestrial TV, they have to be reliable and be accessible easily to paying customers. Use of Geolocation, GeoDNS and other complex techniques should not cause such a headache to bona fide users. Someone with a Netflix account in his/her country of residence and who simply wants to access Netflix on a smart TV should not have to jump through hoops or hit a brick wall. Clearly this is happening to many people.

On top of that, people such as myself who have to travel internationally frequently because of their work need to be certain that, if they subscribe to a streaming media service, it will work in whatever country they happen to be in at the time (except if blocked by Great Firewalls or content filters on proxy servers, of course) and not be purposely or inadvertently prevented from working by the media service provider’s network concept.

I myself had considered signing up for a Netflix account so that I could view films and TV programmes during my overseas work trips, but, after having to struggle for days to help a family member access a valid Netflix account on a smart TV in the country where the account was set up, will definitely not be giving Netflix my business. In this day and age it is ridiculous that users should have to try umpteen DNS server addresses and reset TVs, routers and modems in order to access their account with a media provider. Services such as Netflix will never have my business until their networking and DRM are sorted out properly and made to work reliably. Until Netflix changes its network delivery model, its service will remain a curate’s egg in my opinion.

NetworkManager: Failed to activate – The name org.freedesktop.NetworkManager was not provided by any .service files

Because I need to connect quickly and easily to numerous wired and wireless networks (DHCP or static IP addressing), I use NetworkManager in my Gentoo Linux amd64 installation running OpenRC and KDE 4. My Clevo W230SS laptop has an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 Plus Bluetooth adapter card, and my installation uses the iwlwifi module:

# lspci -knn | grep Net -A2
03:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Intel Corporation Wireless 7260 [8086:08b1] (rev bb)
        Subsystem: Intel Corporation Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 [8086:4070]
        Kernel driver in use: iwlwifi
# lsmod | grep iwl
iwlmvm                143919  0
iwlwifi                75747  1 iwlmvm

As I am using NetworkManager instead of netifrc, in accordance with the instructions in the Gentoo Wiki article on NetworkManager I do not have any net.* services enabled (not even net.lo):

# rc-update show -v
       NetworkManager |      default                 
                acpid |                              
            alsasound |                              
         avahi-daemon |                              
       avahi-dnsconfd |                              
               binfmt | boot                         
            bluetooth |      default                 
             bootmisc | boot                         
         busybox-ntpd |                              
     busybox-watchdog |                              
                clamd |                              
          consolefont |                              
           consolekit |      default                 
               cronie |      default                 
         cups-browsed |      default                 
                cupsd |      default                 
                 dbus |      default                 
                devfs |                       sysinit
               dhcpcd |                              
                dhcpd |                              
             dhcrelay |                              
            dhcrelay6 |                              
                dmesg |                       sysinit
              dropbox |                              
           fancontrol |                              
                 fsck | boot                         
                 fuse |                              
           git-daemon |                              
                  gpm |                              
              hddtemp |                              
             hostname | boot                         
              hwclock | boot                         
            ip6tables |                              
             iptables |                              
              keymaps | boot                         
            killprocs |              shutdown        
    kmod-static-nodes |                       sysinit
           lm_sensors |                              
                local |      default                 
           localmount | boot                         
             loopback | boot                         
      mit-krb5kadmind |                              
          mit-krb5kdc |                              
       mit-krb5kpropd |                              
              modules | boot                         
             mount-ro |              shutdown        
                 mtab | boot                         
                mysql |                              
                  nas |                              
         net.enp4s0f1 |                              
               net.lo |                              
             netmount |      default                 
           ntp-client |                              
                 ntpd |                              
           nullmailer |                              
              numlock |                              
  nvidia-persistenced |                              
           nvidia-smi |                              
              osclock |                              
              pciparm |                              
               procfs | boot                         
              pwcheck |                              
            pydoc-2.7 |                              
            pydoc-3.4 |                              
               rfcomm |                              
                 root | boot                         
               rsyncd |                              
            s6-svscan |                              
                samba |      default                 
                saned |                              
            saslauthd |                              
            savecache |              shutdown        
                 sntp |                              
                 sshd |      default                 
             svnserve |                              
                 swap | boot                         
            swapfiles | boot                         
              swclock |                              
               sysctl | boot                         
                sysfs |                       sysinit
            syslog-ng |      default                 
        teamviewerd10 |                              
         termencoding | boot                         
             timidity |                              
         tmpfiles.dev |                       sysinit
       tmpfiles.setup | boot                         
               twistd |                              
                 udev |                       sysinit
                  ufw | boot                         
              urandom | boot                         
       wpa_supplicant |                              
                  xdm |      default                 
            xdm-setup |

I have left the netmount service enabled in case I want to use network-attached file shares at home or in one of the various office locations where I work.

Networking works fine on my laptop with the many wired and wireless networks I have used except for one particular public wireless network (it is in an airport, has multiple Access Points, and its Access Points only support 802.11a/b/g, which may or may not be relevant) for which the following message would usually appear in a pop-up window when I tried to connect to the network from the KDE network management GUI after start-up:

Failed to activate
The name org.freedesktop.NetworkManager was not provided by any .service files

Error message displayed by KDE when trying to connect to one specific network

Error message displayed by KDE when trying to connect to one specific network


This occurred with both networkmanager-1.0.2-r1 and networkmanager-1.0.6, the two Stable Branch releases of NetworkManager currently available in Gentoo Linux.

The wireless network is not the only network at that particular location, and the ‘Failed to activate’ message occurred whichever network (wireless or wired) I tried to access at that location. When this problem occurred, it transpired that the NetworkManager service was not running (it had crashed):

$ nmcli d
Error: NetworkManager is not running.
$ rc-status
Runlevel: default
 dbus                   [  started  ]
 NetworkManager         [  crashed  ]
 netmount               [  started  ]
 syslog-ng              [  started  ]
 cupsd                  [  started  ]
 samba                  [  crashed  ]
 consolekit             [  started  ]
 cronie                 [  started  ]
 bluetooth              [  started  ]
 xdm                    [  started  ]
 cups-browsed           [  started  ]
 sshd                   [  started  ]
 local                  [  started  ]
Dynamic Runlevel: hotplugged
Dynamic Runlevel: needed
 xdm-setup              [  started  ]
 avahi-daemon           [  started  ]
Dynamic Runlevel: manual

(I am not bothered that Samba crashes in that particular location. It crashes even if a connection is established, because the public wireless network does not provide network file systems. Samba works fine when I connect the laptop to an office network or to my home network.)

Even if the ‘Failed to activate’ message occurred, sometimes (but not always) the laptop could still connect to networks after I restarted the NetworkManager service (albeit sometimes it was necessary to restart it more than once):

# /etc/init.d/NetworkManager restart

When it is possible to connect to networks, the NetworkManager service is of course running:

$ nmcli d
DEVICE    TYPE      STATE        CONNECTION           
sit0      sit       connected    sit0                 
wlp3s0    wifi      connected    Free_Airport_Internet
enp4s0f1  ethernet  unavailable  --                   
lo        loopback  unmanaged    --        
$ rc-status
Runlevel: default
 dbus                   [  started  ]
 NetworkManager         [  started  ]
 netmount               [  started  ]
 syslog-ng              [  started  ]
 cupsd                  [  started  ]
 samba                  [  crashed  ]
 consolekit             [  started  ]
 cronie                 [  started  ]
 bluetooth              [  started  ]
 xdm                    [  started  ]
 cups-browsed           [  started  ]
 sshd                   [  started  ]
 local                  [  started  ]
Dynamic Runlevel: hotplugged
Dynamic Runlevel: needed
 xdm-setup              [  started  ]
 avahi-daemon           [  started  ]
Dynamic Runlevel: manual

I searched the Web for the error message and, based on a recommendation on the Web page ‘nm-applet gives errors‘ claiming the problem is due to the iwlwifi driver when used with an Intel 7260 controller, I created a file /etc/modprobe.d/iwlwifi.conf containing the following line, and rebooted:

options iwlwifi power_save=0

However, the error message still occurred. So I changed the iwlwifi module options line to the following, as also recommended on that page, and rebooted:

options iwlwifi 11n_disable=1 power_save=0

However, the error message still occurred.

The default value for OpenRC’s rc_depend_strict variable is YES if rc_depend_strict is not declared in the file /etc/rc.conf, but I do not think that is the cause of the problem:

# Do we allow any started service in the runlevel to satisfy the dependency
# or do we want all of them regardless of state? For example, if net.eth0
# and net.eth1 are in the default runlevel then with rc_depend_strict="NO"
# both will be started, but services that depend on 'net' will work if either
# one comes up. With rc_depend_strict="YES" we would require them both to
# come up.
#rc_depend_strict="YES"

As already mentioned, sometimes just restarting the NetworkManager service once or more did enable the laptop to connect to the network. This made me wonder whether the problem had something to do either with the timing of the launch of the NetworkManager service or with the timing of the service establishing a connection. As netmount is the only other network-related service enabled at start-up, I checked the netmount service’s configuration file /etc/conf.d/netmount to see what it contained (it’s the same in both the latest stable openrc-0.17 and the latest testing openrc-0.18.2):

# You will need to set the dependencies in the netmount script to match
# the network configuration tools you are using. This should be done in
# this file by following the examples below, and not by changing the
# service script itself.
#
# Each of these examples is meant to be used separately. So, for
# example, do not set rc_need to something like "net.eth0 dhcpcd".
#
# If you are using newnet and configuring your interfaces with static
# addresses with the network script, you  should use this setting.
#
#rc_need="network"
#
# If you are using oldnet, you must list the specific net.* services you
# need.
#
# This example assumes all of your netmounts can be reached on
# eth0.
#
#rc_need="net.eth0"
#
# This example assumes some of your netmounts are on eth1 and some
# are on eth2.
#
#rc_need="net.eth1 net.eth2"
#
# If you are using a dynamic network management tool like
# networkmanager, dhcpcd in standalone mode, wicd, badvpn-ncd, etc, to
# manage the network interfaces with the routes to your netmounts, you
# should list that tool.
#
#rc_need="networkmanager"
#rc_need="dhcpcd"
#rc_need="wicd"
#
# The default setting is designed to be backward compatible with our
# current setup, but you are highly discouraged from using this. In
# other words, please change it to be more suited to your system.
#
rc_need="net"

As I am using NetworkManager rather than netifrc, I followed the instructions in the file’s comments and changed the file’s contents from:

rc_need="net"

to:

rc_need="networkmanager"

After making the above change, the console messages at boot-up included a new message:

* ERROR: netmount needs service(s) networkmanager

That message made sense: rc_need had been set to "networkmanager" and, obviously, netmount can only do its job if NetworkManager is running (AND a network connection has been established). However, notice that the name of the NetworkManager service initscript is /etc/init.d/NetworkManager, not /etc/init.d/networkmanager. In other words, the instructions in /etc/conf.d/netmount are wrong: the name of the service is actually ‘NetworkManager‘, not ‘networkmanager‘. So I changed /etc/conf.d/netmount to contain rc_need="NetworkManager" instead of rc_need="networkmanager" and, unsurprisingly, the above-mentioned error message no longer occurs. I have filed Gentoo Bugzilla Bug Report No. 564846 requesting that the comment in the configuration file be changed.

Nevertheless, the ‘Failed to activate’ message still occurred when I tried to connect to any network at that location by using the DE’s network management GUI, and therefore I still needed to restart the NetworkManager service manually in order to be able to connect to any network there. Although I am not yet sure of the root cause and solution, I have found a work-around which avoids me having to manually restart the NetworkManager service, as explained below.

Although OpenRC correctly launches the NetworkManager service, that service remains inactive until it actually establishes a network connection. This is not a bug, it is the way OpenRC and NetworkManager work (see the explanation in the Gentoo Forums thread NetworkManager has started, but is inactive). This is why the following console message appears during boot-up:

* WARNING: NetworkManager has already started, but is inactive

If you did not configure NetworkManager to connect automatically to a network, after logging-in to the DE you will need to use the DE’s network management GUI (plasma-nm in the case if KDE, nm-applet in the case of e.g. Xfce) to tell NetworkManager to connect to the desired network. However, I found that waiting that long before trying to connect is too late to avoid the ‘Failed to activate’ problem, i.e. NetworkManager crashes after a while. I do not know why this happens, but it usually happens only when I am at the location covered by one specific wireless network (which is why I wonder if the problem is a result of that network only supporting 802.11a/b/g). By configuring NetworkManager to connect automatically to the wireless network which seemed to trigger the problem, the NetworkManager service tries to connect earlier. It is possible to configure NetworkManager to do this either by using the DE network GUI and ticking ‘Automatically connect to this network when it is available’ for the relevant network connection, or by directly editing the relevant connection’s file in the directory /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/.

Of the various wired and wireless connections I had configured on the laptop, I had named the problematic wireless network’s connection ‘Free_Airport_Internet’. So I edited the file /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/Free_Airport_Internet and deleted the line ‘autoconnect=false‘ in the [connections] section of the file (the default value of the autoconnect variable is TRUE – see man nm-settings). I could instead have done this by using the DE’s network manager GUI and ticking ‘Automatically connect to this network when it is available’ for that network connection. Now, when the laptop boots, NetworkManager tries to connect to that network and the ‘Failed to activate’ problem is avoided. This works with or without the iwlwifi driver options I mentioned above, so, despite the claim on the Web page I referenced above, the root cause of the problem does not appear to be the iwlwifi driver. What I don’t understand is why the problem only seems to occur with one particular network (a public wireless network which happens to only support 802.11a/b/g), i.e. even if none of the NetworkManager connection files in my installation have been configured to try to establish a connection automatically, with all the other wireless networks I have used in other locations (I believe those all support at least 802.11a/b/g/n) I have been able to establish a connection manually by using the DE’s network management GUI.

The bottom line

If your installation uses NetworkManager and you experience the ‘Failed to activate’ message when trying to connect to networks from the DE’s network management GUI, check if the NetworkManager service is running. You can check by using the command ‘nmcli d‘ in a console. If it is not running, try to restart the NetworkManager service from the command line. If the connection is not already configured to start automatically, configure it to start automatically in order to try to make NetworkManager become active at an early stage.

POSTSCRIPT (November 6, 2015)

The two links below are to old bug reports regarding earlier versions of NetworkManager having trouble using wireless networks with multiple Access Points. I wonder if the problem I saw with NetworkManager crashing when not configured to connect automatically to the specific network I mentioned above is somehow related to those problems:

background scanning causes drivers to disassociate – WiFi roaming causes NetworkManager to lose routing

network-manager roams to (none) ((none)) – background scanning

Roaming to BSSID “(none)” certainly happens with this particular network too, as shown by the messages in the laptop’s system log from yesterday when I was using the laptop with that network (the laptop was stationary the whole time):

# cat /var/log/messages | grep "Nov  5 11" | grep NetworkManager | grep \(none\)
Nov  5 11:01:22 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID 04:C5:A4:C3:F9:EE (Free_Airport_Internet) to (none) ((none))
Nov  5 11:01:22 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID (none) ((none)) to B8:BE:BF:69:89:6E (Free_Airport_Internet)
Nov  5 11:13:23 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID B8:BE:BF:69:89:6E (Free_Airport_Internet) to (none) ((none))
Nov  5 11:13:23 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID (none) ((none)) to 04:C5:A4:C3:F9:EE (Free_Airport_Internet)
Nov  5 11:15:23 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID 04:C5:A4:C3:F9:EE (Free_Airport_Internet) to (none) ((none))
Nov  5 11:15:23 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID (none) ((none)) to B8:BE:BF:69:89:6E (Free_Airport_Internet)
Nov  5 11:19:22 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID B8:BE:BF:69:89:6E (Free_Airport_Internet) to (none) ((none))
Nov  5 11:19:23 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID (none) ((none)) to B8:BE:BF:69:89:6E (Free_Airport_Internet)
Nov  5 11:49:50 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID B8:BE:BF:69:89:6E (Free_Airport_Internet) to (none) ((none))
Nov  5 11:49:50 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID (none) ((none)) to 68:BC:0C:A1:3C:DE (Free_Airport_Internet)
Nov  5 11:51:51 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID 68:BC:0C:A1:3C:DE (Free_Airport_Internet) to (none) ((none))
Nov  5 11:51:51 clevow230ss NetworkManager[2459]:   (wlp3s0): roamed from BSSID (none) ((none)) to B8:BE:BF:69:89:6E (Free_Airport_Internet)

Today I’m using a hotel network in my hotel room, and that does not roam to BSSID “(none)”, but I don’t know if my room is within range of more than one Access Point:

# cat /var/log/messages | grep "Nov  6" | grep NetworkManager | grep \(none\)
#

Anyway, with the work-around described in this post I have not had any further trouble accessing the particular network, but it would be interesting to know the root cause.

Using a keyboard shortcut in Linux to add an e-mail signature giving current location and local time

In my previous post I showed how to find the current time at any town or city Worldwide from the command line in Gentoo Linux. My interest in a command to do this is not to use it on the command line per se, but to use the command in a keyboard shortcut to insert a signature at the end of my e-mails.

I have to travel internationally frequently because of my work, but I leave my laptop’s hardware clock set to UTC and the system clock set to the local time of my home town. This means that, irrespective of where I am in the World, the e-mail client (Thunderbird, in my case) uses the local time of my home town in e-mail headers and calenders. It is not practical to reconfigure Linux for each timezone I happen to be in (see my post Configuring the Linux clock), and, in any case, I want the file system’s timestamps to use one timezone only and all the timestamps in my e-mails and the e-mail client’s calender to use one timezone only, so there is less chance of me getting confused. I could have configured the installation to use UTC for the system clock, but I prefer the system clock to use the timezone of my home town. Of course, even though the system clock is always set to the timezone of my home town, on the Panel clock I select the timezone of the location where I happen to be, so that the Panel clock displays the local time in that timezone.

I wanted to be able to insert a signature at the end of each e-mail, stating my current location and the current time at that location, so that the person receiving the e-mail could tell from where in the World I sent the e-mail and the local time it was sent, as that local time could differ from the time shown in the e-mail header. For example, let us assume that Jane, who lives in the UK and whose system clock is configured for the timezone Europe/London, is making a brief visit to Perth, Australia and sends an e-mail to Dave in the UK at 06:36 on 11 October (Perth time). The e-mail below illustrates the type of signature I wanted to achieve.

Subject: Site visit
From: Jane <jane@acompany.com>
To: Dave <dave@acompany.com>
Date: Sat Oct 10 2015 23:36:40 GMT+0100 (BST)

Hello Dave,

This is to let you know that I have just arrived in Perth and will be
visiting site at 09:00 local time to speak to the client. Tomorrow p.m.
I have a meeting scheduled with our local project manager, so I would
appreciate it if you would e-mail the latest documentation to me. I will
not have spare time until I’m in my room at the hotel tonight but will
read the documents tomorrow a.m. in readiness for the meeting with
the local project manager. Thanks in advance.

Regards,
Jane
Current location: Perth (Australia)
Local time now: Sat Oct 11 06:36:31 2015 AWST

As you can see above, because the OS on Jane’s and Dave’s laptops is configured for the timezone Europe/London, the e-mail header shows the current time in the UK when the e-mail was sent, which was October 10, 23:36 British Summer Time (22:36 UTC), and the signature shows the corresponding local time in Perth, Australia, which was October 11, 06:36 Australian Western Standard Time. It becomes even more confusing if the computer of the person receiving the e-mail is configured for a third timezone. For example, let’s say Dave is based in Seattle, USA rather than the UK. His e-mail client would then display the time in that timezone when the e-mail was sent. This is usually my case, i.e. my Linux installation is configured for Timezone1 but I happen to be in Timezone2 when I send an e-mail to someone who is based in Timezone3 and whose OS is configured for that timezone.

I wanted to use a keyboard shortcut to add a signature to the end of my e-mails, as shown above. I therefore created the Bash script listed below, which I named timezone_signature_GeoNames.sh:

#!/bin/bash

location=$(kdialog --title "Current Location" --inputbox "Enter your location:")

localtime=$(perl /home/fitzcarraldo/now1.pl $location)
place=`echo $localtime | cut -d'|' -f1`
place=$place" "`echo $localtime | cut -d'|' -f2`
timezone=`echo $localtime | cut -d'|' -f4`

if [ $location != "" ]; then
  echo -n "Current location: "
  echo $place
  echo -n "Local time now:"
  /usr/sbin/zdump ${timezone} | cut -d' ' -f2-
fi
echo

Notice that the Bash script uses the GUI dialogues utility kdialog to display a pop-up window prompting me to enter the name of a town/city. As I am using KDE I opted to use a dialogues utility developed for use in KDE, but I could have used Zenity instead.

The Perl script now1.pl is a variant of the Perl script now.pl described in my previous post, modified very slightly in order to facilitate formatting of the output by the Bash script, and is listed below.

#!perl

use strict;
use warnings;

use DateTime;
use Geo::GeoNames;
use URI::Escape;
use Encode;

binmode STDOUT, ':encoding(UTF-8)';

my $city = decode("UTF-8", @ARGV ? shift : 'London');
# N.B. Replace London with your home town/city.

my $geo = Geo::GeoNames->new( username => '************' );
# N.B. Replace the asterisks with your GeoNames user name.

my $result = $geo->search(
q       => uri_escape_utf8($city),
maxRows => 1,
style   => 'FULL'
);

defined $result->[0] or die "Unrecognized city '$city'\n";

my $city_name    = $result->[0]->{name};
my $country_name = $result->[0]->{countryName};
my $time_zone    = $result->[0]->{timezone}{content};
my $time_now     = DateTime->now( time_zone => $time_zone );

#print "$city_name ($country_name) $time_now ($time_zone)\n";

print "$city_name|($country_name)|$time_now|$time_zone\n";

exit 0;

The only thing remaining was to configure a keyboard shortcut to launch the Bash script. I opted to use the key combination Ctrl-Alt-z for the shortcut. As I am using KDE I could have used KDE’s ‘System Settings’ > ‘Shortcuts and Gestures’> ‘Custom Shortcuts’ to specify the shortcut and the name of the script it launches. However, as I also use AutoKey for various shortcuts, I opted to use that instead, so I used the AutoKey GUI to create a shortcut named ‘Insert Current Time’ to use the following command:

output = system.exec_command("/home/fitzcarraldo/timezone_signature_GeoNames.sh")
keyboard.send_keys(output)

Use

I compose my e-mails as usual, and, after entering my name at the end of the e-mail, I press Ctrl-Alt-z. A window then pops up prompting me to enter my current location, which I do and then click on ‘OK’. The location and current time at that location are then added to the end of the e-mail, and it just remains for me to click on the ‘Send’ button in the e-mail client’s window. As the Perl script now1.pl uses the Internet to access the GeoNames database, my laptop must be connected to the Internet when I use the shortcut.

KDialog window that pops up when I use the keyboard shortcut

KDialog window that pops up when I use the keyboard shortcut

If the town/city name consists of more than one word (Rio de Janeiro, for example) then replace spaces with hyphens when you enter the location name in the pop-up window (Rio-de-Janeiro, for example) and then the keyboard shortcut will return the correct location and local time:

Current location: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Local time now: Fri Oct 16 09:28:19 2015 BRT

How to group the entries in the right-click menu of a KDE file manager

This is easier to explain by giving an example. I will use PeaZip as my example, but the principle applies whatever the menu entries.

Immediately after installing PeaZip Portable on my main laptop running Gentoo Linux by using the steps in one of my earlier posts, the resulting right-click menu in KDE Dolphin looks like the screenshot below. Notice that the PeaZip entries in the Actions sub-menu are not listed contiguously.

Actions sub-menu of right-click menu in KDE

But in KDE it is relatively easy to group menu entries tidily in a sub-menu, as shown in the screenshot below.

Sub-menu of Actions sub-menu for right-click menu in KDE

The peazip*.desktop files for the five PeaZip actions shown in the above screenshots are located in the directory ~/.kde4/share/kde4/services/ServiceMenus/ and each file includes the line ‘X-KDE-Submenu='.

All I had to do was edit each of the five peazip*.desktop files and change that line in each file to ‘X-KDE-Submenu=PeaZip‘.

That’s it!

Making the X Windows cursor theme the same for KDM and KDE

For a long time it irritated me that the X Windows cursor theme on the KDM log-in screen differed to the X Windows cursor theme on the KDE Desktop. The former was usually the old-fashioned core X Windows cursor theme (or perhaps the ‘KDE Classic’ theme, I’m not sure which), whereas the latter is the theme I selected via ‘System Settings’ > ‘Workspace Appearance’ > ‘Cursor Theme’. To confuse me further, when I upgraded X Windows recently the X Windows cursor theme on the KDM log-in screen was Adwaita when I next booted my laptop, but susequently reverted to the classic cursor theme.

Anyway, I had to do the following in order to make the KDM cursor theme the same as the KDE cursor theme:

1. Create a directory /usr/share/icons/default if it does not already exist (it did not in my case):

# mkdir /usr/share/icons/default

2. Check which X Windows cursor themes are currently installed:

# ls /usr/share/icons
Adwaita HighContrast Humanity KDE_Classic Oxygen_Black Oxygen_Blue Oxygen_White Oxygen_Yellow Oxygen_Zion default gnome hicolor locolor mono nuvola oxygen ubuntu-mono-dark ubuntu-mono-light

I also find the three X Windows cursor themes ‘handhelds’, ‘redglass’ and ‘whiteglass’, installed when I installed the package x11-themes/xcursor-themes using the Portage package manager, in a different directory:

# ls /usr/share/cursors/xorg-x11/
Adwaita handhelds redglass whiteglass

The ‘Adwaita’ cursor theme was already in /usr/share/cursors/xorg-x11/ before I installed the package x11-themes/xcursor-themes, and also in the directory /usr/share/icons/ but I do not know why only that specific cursor theme is in both directories.

3. Create a file /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme with the following contents (I opted to use the Oxygen_White cursor theme, but you can choose whichever you want from the list of installed cursor themes):

[Icon Theme]
Name = Oxygen_White
Comment = Default icon theme
Inherits = Oxygen_White

4. Make sure ‘System Settings’ > ‘Worskspace Appearance’ > ‘Cursor Theme’ has the theme selected that you want for the KDE Desktop (I opted to use the Oxygen_White cursor theme).

For example, if I had wanted the cursor theme to be Adwaita, I would have selected Adwaita in KDE using ‘System Settings’ > ‘Worskspace Appearance’ > ‘Cursor Theme’ and then I would have edited /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme to contain the following:

[Icon Theme]
Name = Adwaita
Comment = Default icon theme
Inherits = Adwaita

Easy when you know how.

According to the Arch Linux Wiki, for user-specific configuration you should create or edit the file ~/.icons/default/index.theme, whereas for system-wide configuration you should create or edit the file /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme but the latter file is owned by libXcursor and user changes to it will be overwritten on update. However, in Gentoo Linux it would be possible to get around that by creating a script file in the directory /etc/local.d/ to revert the file change. For example, I could make the file /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme contain the following:

[Icon Theme]
Name = Oxygen_White
Comment = Default icon theme
Inherits = Oxygen_White

Then copy that file to somewhere safe that will not be overwritten:

# cp /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme /home/fitzcarraldo/

Then create a script file named, say, 80-xcursor.start in /etc/local.d/ with the following contents:

#!/bin/bash
# Make sure X windows cursor theme on the KDM screen is the one I want:
cp /home/fitzcarraldo/index.theme /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme

and make the script file executable:

# chmod +x /etc/local.d/80-xcursor.start

Then, if something does overwrite or delete /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme in future, the script in /etc/local.d/ will restore it before the KDM log-in screen appears, so you would always see the cursor theme specified in /home/fitzcarraldo/index.theme.

Office 2007 mime-type problem in KDE

Although Microsoft Office 2007 file types are normally opened by the correct Office 2007 application (running with WINE) in my Gentoo Linux Stable amd64 installation, KDE 4.14.3 on my new Clevo notebook opened *.xlsm (Excel 2007 macro-enabled spreadsheet) files with Ark instead of Excel 2007. For some reason the *.xlsm filetype was registed in the xdg-mime database to use the Ark application:

$ file myspreadsheet.xlsm
myspreadsheet.xlsm: Microsoft Excel 2007+

$ xdg-mime query filetype myspreadsheet.xlsm
application/zip

On the other hand, as you can see below, *.docx documents are correctly registed in the xdg-mime database:

$ file myworddocument.docx
myworddocument.docx: Microsoft Word 2007+

$ xdg-mime query filetype myworddocument.docx
application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document

The Office 2007 mime types are listed on the Web page Office 2007 File Format MIME Types for HTTP Content Streaming. Notice the uppercase ‘E’ in the mime-type application/vnd.ms-excel.sheet.macroEnabled.12 for *.xlsm files.

I had already used ‘System Settings’ > ‘File Associations’ in KDE to configure the file association for *.xlsm files, but this made no difference.

I searched my installation and found the file /usr/share/mime/application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document.xml (for *.docx) and the file vnd.ms-excel.sheet.binary.macroenabled.12.xml (for *.xlsb), but the file vnd.ms-excel.sheet.macroenabled.12.xml (for *.xlsm) did not exist.

Then I found the freedesktop.org bug report ‘subclasses declared have wrong case‘ about the package shared-mime-info. One of the commenters stated the problem is in fact due to a bug in KDE.

I followed the work-around given in the bug report:

# mv /usr/share/mime/subclasses /usr/share/mime/subclasses.BAK
# sed -e 's/macroEnabled/macroenabled/' /usr/share/mime/subclasses.BAK > /usr/share/mime/subclasses

I then used KDE ‘System Settings’ > ‘File associations’ again, searched for .xlsm and removed Ark from the list of applications for application/vnd.ms-excel.sheet.macroenabled.12, then logged-out and back in to KDE. Double-clicking on *.xlsm files now opens them in Excel 2007 again, the file /usr/share/mime/application/vnd.ms-excel.sheet.macroenabled.12.xml now exists and the mime-type has been set correctly:

$ xdg-mime query filetype myspreadsheet.xlsm
application/vnd.ms-excel.sheet.macroenabled.12

(I don’t have this problem opening *.xlsm files on my Compal laptop, which also has Version 1.4 of shared-mime-info installed and is also running KDE 4.14.3, albeit under Gentoo Testing ~amd64 rather than Gentoo Stable amd64, so perhaps the KDE bug has already been fixed in the Testing branch.)

More tools for creating QR Codes in Linux

In my previous post I showed how to install CuterCode and Qreator, two simple GUI applications for producing QR Codes, in Gentoo Linux. I have now found a couple of other GUI applications, both of which offer more features than the aforementioned two, such as allowing you to specify the amount of error correction to be incorporated into the QR Code. QR Code codewords are 8 bits long and use the Reed–Solomon error correction algorithm, with four error correction levels possible in the case of QR Codes:

Level L (Low): 7% of codewords can be restored.
Level M (Medium): 15% of codewords can be restored.
Level Q (Quartile): 25% of codewords can be restored.
Level H (High): 30% of codewords can be restored.

The higher the level of error correction, the lower the storage capacity of the QR Code.

And now to the two applications …

Portable QR-Code Generator

This is a Java application, so first make sure you have installed a Java run-time environment (or Java Development Toolkit, which will include the JRE) via Portage.

Download to your home directory the archive qrcodegen_1.14.2.zip containing the compiled Java application, not the archive qrcodegen_1.14.2_src.zip with the source code (‘quellcode’ in German), from the application’s Web site. Unzip it to the directory ~/qrcodegen_1.14.2/ then enter the directory and launch the Java application from the command line as shown below:

$ cd ~/qrcodegen_1.14.2/qrcodegen
$ java -jar QRCodeGen.jar

Alternatively you can create a Desktop Configuration file QRCodeGen.desktop containing the following (change ‘fitzcarraldo’ to your own user name, of course):

[Desktop Entry]
Categories=Graphics
Comment[en_GB]=QR Code Generator is a program that lets you generate and print QR Codes easily.
Comment=QR Code Generator is a program that lets you generate and print QR Codes easily.
Exec=java -jar /home/fitzcarraldo/qrcodegen_1.14.2/qrcodegen/QRCodeGen.jar
GenericName[en_GB]=QRCodeGen
GenericName=QRCodeGen
Icon=/home/fitzcarraldo/qrcodegen_1.14.2/qrcodegen/icon.png
MimeType=
Name[en_GB]=QRCodeGen
Name=QRCodeGen
Path=/home/fitzcarraldo/qrcodegen_1.14.2/qrcodegen/
StartupNotify=true
Terminal=false
TerminalOptions=
Type=Application
X-DBUS-ServiceName=
X-DBUS-StartupType=
X-KDE-SubstituteUID=false
X-KDE-Username=

and make it executable:

$ chmod +x QRCodeGen.desktop

You can choose a nice PNG icon by using Google Images to search for ‘qr code icon png’ and save the image with the file name icon.png in the same directory. Then you can launch QR code Generator by double-clicking on the Desktop Configuration file.

QtQR – QR Code Generator

Download the tarball qr-tools-1.2.tar.gz from the application’s Web site, unpack it to the directory ~/qr-tools-1.2/ and make the Python scripts executable:

$ cd ~/qr-tools-1.2/qr-tools
$ chmod +x qtqr.py
$ chmod +x qrtools.py

Make sure you have installed the package media-gfx/zbar with the python USE flag set, so that the Python zbar module is also installed:

# USE="python" emerge zbar

(You may as well add the python USE flag in the line for media-gfx/zbar in the Portage package.use file so that ZBar’s Python module is installed if you upgrade or re-install ZBar via Portage in future).

Check if the Python Imaging Library (fork) dev-python/pillow is already installed:

# emerge --search pillow

If it is not already installed, install it:

# emerge pillow

Now you can launch QtQR from the command line as follows:

$ cd ~/qr-tools-1.2/qr-tools
$ LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l1compat.so PYTHONPATH=/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages:/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/PIL ./qtqr.py

Alternatively, you can create a Desktop Configuration file qtqr.desktop with the following contents (change ‘fitzcarraldo’ to your own user name, of course):

[Desktop Entry]
Categories=Graphics
Comment[en_GB]=QtQR is a Qt based software that lets you generate QR Codes easily, scan an image file for a QR Code and decode it or use your webcam to scan a printed one.
Comment=QtQR is a Qt based software that lets you generate QR Codes easily, scan an image file for a QR Code and decode it or use your webcam to scan a printed one.
Exec=LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l1compat.so PYTHONPATH=/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages:/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/PIL /home/fitzcarraldo/qr-tools-1.2/qr-tools/qtqr.py
GenericName[en_GB]=QtQR
GenericName=QtQR
Icon=/home/fitzcarraldo/qr-tools-1.2/qr-tools/icon.png
MimeType=
Name[en_GB]=QtQR
Name=QtQR
Path=/home/fitzcarraldo/qr-tools-1.2/qr-tools/
StartupNotify=true
Terminal=false
TerminalOptions=
Type=Application
X-DBUS-ServiceName=
X-DBUS-StartupType=
X-KDE-SubstituteUID=false
X-KDE-Username=

and make it executable:

$ chmod +x qtqr.desktop

Then you can launch QtQR by double-clicking on the Desktop Configuration file.

The QtQR GUI has a feature for decoding a QR Code in an image file and for decoding a printed QR Code held in front of a Webcam. If I select ‘Decode’ > ‘Decode from Webcam’, QtQR launches ZBar and, although it is a bit fiddly, I can successfully decode a printed QR Code. However, I cannot get QtQR to decode a QR Code in an image file that QtQR itself created (or to decode a QR Code in a file created by any other application, for that matter), so there is a bug in QtQR. Looking at the application’s bug reports this appears to be Bug No. 811576. It’s not a big deal, though, because the zbarimg command provided by ZBar can be used to decode QR Codes (see my post Installing and using ZBar in Linux to scan bar codes with your Webcam).

$ cd ~/qr-tools-1.2/qr-tools
$ LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l1compat.so PYTHONPATH=/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages:/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/PIL ./qtqr.py
/usr/lib64/python2.7/site-packages/gtk-2.0/gtk/__init__.py:127: RuntimeWarning: PyOS_InputHook is not available for interactive use of PyGTK
  set_interactive(1)
Object::connect: No such signal org::freedesktop::UPower::DeviceAdded(QDBusObjectPath)
Object::connect: No such signal org::freedesktop::UPower::DeviceRemoved(QDBusObjectPath)
kfilemodule(32309) KSambaSharePrivate::testparmParamValue: Running testparm ("-d0", "-s", "--parameter-name", "usershare path")
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "./qtqr.py", line 481, in decodeFile
    if qr.decode():
  File "/home/fitzcarraldo/qr-tools-1.2/qr-tools/qrtools.py", line 147, in decode
    pil = Image.open(self.filename).convert('L')
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/PIL/Image.py", line 2256, in open
    % (filename if filename else fp))
IOError: cannot identify image file u'/home/fitzcarraldo/qr-tools-1.2/qr-tools/test.png'

Linux Magazine has a good article on these and other QR Code tools: Generating QR Codes in Linux.

UPDATE (March 30, 2015): You can download an updated working revision (Revision 20) of the Python script qrtools.py, and an updated working revision (Revision 21) of the Python script qtqr.py, from the QtQR and QR Tools developers’ repository where they have been working on an as-yet unreleased Version 1.4 of QtQR and QR Tools:

http://bazaar.launchpad.net/~qr-tools-developers/qr-tools/trunk/files

I have briefly tested qrtools.py Revision 20 and qtqr.py Revision 21 with the other QR Tools Version 1.2 files I downloaded earlier. I simply downloaded the Revison 20 qrtools.py file and the Revision 21 qtqr.py file and overwrote the qrtools.py and qtqr.py files I had extracted earlier from qr-tools-1.2.tar.gz into the directory /home/fitzcarraldo/qr-tools-1.2/qr-tools/ (and made them executable). With the new qrtools.py and new qtqr.py it is now possible for QtQR to decode QR Codes in image files as well as QR Codes scanned via a Webcam, so the bug I mentioned above should be fixed in the next official release of QtQR/QR Tools. So you may as well skip the official Version 1.2 and download all the files from the above-mentioned developers’ repository for the future Version 1.4.

How to create QR Codes easily in Gentoo Linux

QR Codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can store a surprising amount of information. CuterCode and Qreator are two applications that are easy to install and use to produce QR Codes that can be saved as image files for use on labels, posters, Web sites, business cards, documents, etc. Here is how to install CuterCode and Qreator in Gentoo Linux.

Example of a QR Code

A QR Code created using Qreator. You can read it using the Android app Barcode Scanner by ZXing Team and several other Android apps, and also using a Linux app (see my post on ZBar).

CuterCode

This is a Python script and simple GUI.

https://github.com/mnagel/cutercode

First download the script itself:

$ wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/mnagel/cutercode/master/cutercode
$ wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/mnagel/cutercode/master/cutercode.ui

Make the Python script exectuable:

$ chmod +x cutercode

Then install the package media-gfx/qrencode-python (it will pull-in the package media-gfx/qrencode) on which it depends:

# emerge qrencode-python

To launch the application:

$ ./cutercode

Use the Print Scrn key on your keyboard to launch KSnapshot (or whatever screen capture tool it is you use) and capture the QR Code to a JPG or PNG file for use in you documents. That’s it!

Qreator

The UI of Qreator is more polished than CuterCode, and you have the options to save the QR Code as a PNG file, copy it to the clipboard, print it or edit its appearance.

https://launchpad.net/qreator

Either merge it from Portage overlay dev-zero using layman:

# layman -S
# layman -a dev-zero
# emerge qreator

or download the dev-zero files into your local overlay and install it from there:

# mkdir -p /usr/local/portage/app-office/qreator/files
# cd /usr/local/portage/app-office/qreator
# wget http://data.gpo.zugaina.org/dev-zero/app-office/qreator/qreator-13.05.3.ebuild
# cd files
# wget http://data.gpo.zugaina.org/dev-zero/app-office/qreator/files/13.05.3-python-imaging.patch
# cd ..
# ebuild qreator-13.05.3.ebuild manifest
# emerge qreator

If you happen to be a KDE user, you will find a menu entry for Qreator is installed under ‘Applications’ > ‘Graphics’ in the KDE launcher, or you can launch it from the command line:

$ qreator

Background reading

QR Code – Wikipedia
QRcode.com – Answers to your questions about the QR Code

Getting Google Earth in Gentoo Linux to display Panoramio photos

Well, I decided to get Panoramio photos working in Google Earth installed using the hacked ebuild I posted in April 2014 (see my post Work-around if 64-bit Google Earth crashes in Gentoo Linux).

The modification devised by user amirpli (see Comment #9 in Gentoo Bugzilla Bug Report No. 490066) does not work in my case, as explained in detail in the above-mentioned April 2014 post. I believe this is because I am using the FGLRX video driver, as I have successfully applied amirpli‘s modification in an installation on a PC that has an Intel GPU.

Here is how I got Panoramio photos to display on my main laptop running the FGLRX driver, although my fix is yet another hack: I use 32-bit libraries downloaded from the Web. It works for me, though!

Background

I am running Google Earth 7.1.2.2041 installed from a local overlay (see my above-mentioned April 2014 post) in KDE 4.14.3 under Gentoo Linux ~amd64 with the 3.17.1-gentoo-r1 kernel and FGLRX driver:

# eix ati-drivers
[I] x11-drivers/ati-drivers
     Available versions:
     (legacy) 13.1_pre897^td
     (1)    13.4^td 13.9^td 13.12^td 14.4_p1^td (~)14.6_beta2^td (~)14.9-r2^ftd (~)14.12-r2^td 14.12-r3^td
       {debug disable-watermark +modules multilib pax_kernel qt4 static-libs ABI_X86="32 64" KERNEL="linux"}
     Installed versions:  14.12-r3(1)^td(20:22:04 13/02/15)(modules qt4 -debug -pax_kernel -static-libs ABI_X86="32 64" KERNEL="linux")
     Homepage:            http://www.amd.com
     Description:         Ati precompiled drivers for Radeon Evergreen (HD5000 Series) and newer chipsets

Procedure

1. Download into ~/Downloads/ the following Ubuntu 32-bit packages from http://packages.ubuntu.com/utopic/i386/libs/

$ ls -la *.deb
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users  24060 Mar  1 23:59 libecore-imf1_1.8.6-2ubuntu1_i386.deb
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 274206 Mar  1 22:59 libfreeimage3_3.15.4-3build1_i386.deb
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users  52154 Mar  1 23:45 libilmbase6_1.0.1-6.1_i386.deb
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 135300 Mar  2 00:28 libjasper1_1.900.1-debian1-2ubuntu0.2_i386.deb
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 106868 Mar  1 23:00 libjpeg-turbo8_1.3.0-0ubuntu2_i386.deb
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users  98500 Mar  1 23:39 libopenjpeg5_1.5.2-2_i386.deb
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 189420 Mar  2 00:21 libraw10_0.16.0-6_i386.deb

2. Download into ~/Downloads/ the following 32-bit packages from http://rpmfind.net/linux/rpm2html/search.php and http://pkgs.org/

$ ls -la *.rpm
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users  57976 Mar  2 00:13 libilmbase6-1.0.2-11.1.2.i586.rpm
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 148379 Mar  2 00:03 libilmimf6-1.6.1-alt9.i586.rpm

3. Extract into ~/Downloads/ the following 32-bit libraries from the above-mentioned .deb and .rpm packages:

$ ls -la lib*.so*
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 644568 Apr 27  2014 libfreeimage-3.15.4.so
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 677340 Apr 27  2014 libfreeimageplus-3.15.4.so
-rwxr-xr-x 1 fitzcarraldo users 271780 Jul 15  2012 libHalf.so.6.0.0
-rwxr-xr-x 1 fitzcarraldo users 104044 Jul 15  2012 libIex.so.6.0.0
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 671896 Dec  3 15:06 libIlmImf.so.6.0.0
-rwxr-xr-x 1 fitzcarraldo users  22260 Jul 15  2012 libIlmThread.so.6.0.0
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 342116 Jan 22 18:46 libjasper.so.1.0.0
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 300776 Dec 19  2013 libjpeg.so.8.0.2
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 142604 Apr 26  2014 libopenjpeg.so.1.5.2
-rw-r--r-- 1 fitzcarraldo users 657336 Jul 22  2014 libraw.so.10.0.0

4. Merge the 32-bit Google Earth package from a local overlay, using the ebuild listed in my above-mentioned April 2014 post:

# emerge -C googleearth
# rm -rf /opt/googleearth/
# emerge googleearth::local_overlay

5. Delete the four bundled Qt libs, compile the shim devised by user amirpli (see Comment #9 in Gentoo Bugzilla Bug Report No. 490066) but compile it for 32 bits (‘-m32‘), and edit the googleearth script to use the 32-bit libfreeimage.so.3 that you will copy into /opt/googleearth/ later:

# cd /opt/googleearth
# rm libQt*
# touch baifaao.cpp
# nano baifaao.cpp
# cat baifaao.cpp
/* amirpli 2013/11/28 */
#include <QtCore/QAtomicInt>
extern "C" {
        int _Z34QBasicAtomicInt_fetchAndAddOrderedPVii(QAtomicInt* a, int b) {
                return a->fetchAndAddOrdered(b);
        }
}
# gcc -I/usr/include/qt4 -O3 -m32 -fPIC --shared baifaao.cpp -o baifaao.so
# nano googleearth
# tail googleearth
}

script_path=$(FindPath $0);

cd $script_path;

export LD_PRELOAD=/opt/googleearth/libfreeimage.so.3:/opt/googleearth/baifaao.so
export LC_NUMERIC=en_US.UTF-8 # Must do this if you are using non-US locale.

LD_LIBRARY_PATH=.:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH ./googleearth-bin "$@"

6. Copy into the Google Earth directory all the libraries downloaded and extracted in Steps 1 to 3 above, and create the necessary symlinks and permissions:

# cd /opt/googleearth
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/libfreeimage-3.15.4.so .
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/libfreeimageplus-3.15.4.so .
# ln -s libfreeimage-3.15.4.so libfreeimage.so.3
# ln -s libfreeimage.so.3 libfreeimage.so
# ln -s libfreeimageplus-3.15.4.so libfreeimageplus.so.3
# ln -s libfreeimageplus.so.3 libfreeimageplus.so
# chmod +x libfreeimage-3.15.4.so
# chmod +x libfreeimageplus-3.15.4.so
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/libjpeg.so.8.0.2 .
# ln -s libjpeg.so.8.0.2 libjpeg.so
# ln -s libjpeg.so libjpeg.so.8
# chmod +x libjpeg.so.8.0.2
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/libopenjpeg.so.1.5.2 .
# ln -s libopenjpeg.so.1.5.2 libopenjpeg.so
# ln -s libopenjpeg.so libopenjpeg.so.5
# chmod +x libopenjpeg.so.1.5.2
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/libIlmImf.so.6.0.0 .
# ln -s libIlmImf.so.6.0.0 libIlmImf.so
# ln -s libIlmImf.so libIlmImf.so.6
# chmod +x libIlmImf.so.6.0.0
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/libHalf.so.6.0.0 .
# ln -s libHalf.so.6.0.0 libHalf.so
# ln -s libHalf.so libHalf.so.6
# chmod +x libHalf.so.6.0.0
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/libIex.so.6.0.0 .
# ln -s libIex.so.6.0.0 libIex.so
# ln -s libIex.so libIex.so.6
# chmod +x libIex.so.6.0.0
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/libraw.so.10.0.0 .
# ln -s libraw.so.10.0.0 libraw.so
# ln -s libraw.so libraw.so.10
# chmod +x libraw.so.10.0.0
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/libIlmThread.so.6.0.0 .
# ln -s libIlmThread.so.6.0.0 libIlmThread.so
# ln -s libIlmThread.so libIlmThread.so.6
# chmod +x libIlmThread.so.6.0.0
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/libjasper.so.1.0.0 .
# ln -s libjasper.so.1.0.0 libjasper.so
# ln -s libjasper.so libjasper.so.1
# chmod +x libjasper.so.1.0.0

Finally, launch Google Earth from your user account, not the root user’s account:

$ googleearth

Clicking on any photo icon in Google Earth should now display Panoramio photos.

If you click on a photo icon and the frame that opens displays several thumbnails, clicking on a thumbnail may result in a white Panoramio frame without any photo and thumbnails displayed. According to user amirpli this problem occurs in KDE but not GNOME. If it does happen in your case, to view the other photos right-click on a thumbnail and select ‘Open in New Window’. This way you will be able to view any of the photos.

It’s nice to be able to see the Panoramio photos again in Linux with the FGLRX driver.

Using a Samsung Xpress C460FW with Gentoo Linux and Android KitKat for printing and scanning

INTRODUCTION

A work colleague has just received a Samsung Xpress C460FW MFP (laser printer, scanner, copier and fax machine) for small print jobs. It is possible to connect to it via USB, Direct USB, wired network, wireless network, Wi-Fi Direct and NFC; that’s impressive for a MFP that can be purchased for GBP 270 in the UK.

I wanted to use the C460FW to print and scan from my laptop running Gentoo Linux, and also to print and scan from my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 running Android KiKat. It turned out that I was able to do all of those, and it was not difficult to set up.

A technician from the IT Support department had already entered a static IP address, subnet mask and default gateway IP address via the C460FW’s control panel to connect it to the office’s wired network. So my options to connect to this particular C460FW are: the wired network for Linux; Wi-Fi Direct for Linux and Android; NFC for Android.

I had never used Wi-Fi Direct before, but it turned out to be easy in Gentoo Linux on my laptop, and also easy in Android KitKat on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I had never used NFC before either, and that also turned out to be easy on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Samsung has a series of videos on YouTube explaining how to use Wi-Fi Direct and NFC for printing, scanning and faxing with the C460FW from a Samsung smartphone; here are links to a few of them:

Samsung Smart Printing – 01 NFC Connect

Samsung Smart Printing – 02 Wi Fi Direct

Samsung Smart Printing – 03 Wi Fi

Samsung Smart Printing – 04 NFC Print

Samsung Smart Printing – 05 NFC Scan

Samsung Smart Printing – 06 NFC Fax

Samsung Smart Printing – 11 Samsung Mobile Print App(Printer Status)

PRINTING

Linux

Wired connection

I had installed the package net-print/samsung-unified-linux-driver Version 1.02 from a Portage local overlay back in March 2013 when I needed to print to a different model of Samsung MFP, so I thought I would see if that driver would work with the C460FW. I opened the CUPS Printer Manager in a browser window (http://localhost:631/) to configure my Gentoo installation to print to the device via the wired network. ‘Samsung C460 Series‘ was in the list of discovered network printers in the CUPS Printer Manager, and the driver ‘Samsung C460 Series PS‘ was displayed at the top of the list of models, so it was a piece of cake to set up the printer via CUPS, and I was able to print a test page in no time at all. My colleague uses a laptop running Windows 7, and he had to install the Windows driver from a Samsung CD that came with the C460FW.

Wireless connection

As the IT Support technician had configured the C460FW to print via the office wired network rather than the office wireless network, I decided to configure my laptop to print via Wi-Fi Direct, just to learn about Wi-Fi Direct, really. On the C460FW’s control panel I selected Network > Wireless > Wi-Fi Direct and enabled Wi-Fi Direct. Scrolling through the Wi-Fi Direct entries in the LCD I saw the following information:

Device Name: C460 Series
Network Key: <an 8-digit code>
IP address: 192.168.003.001

Two new networks were listed under ‘Available connections’ in plasma-nm (the KDE GUI front-end to NetworkManager) on my laptop: ‘DIRECT-HeC460 Series‘ and ‘DIRECT-SqC460 Series‘, both using WPA2-PSK encryption. I used the control panel of the C460FW to print a network configuration report in order to check which of the two SSIDs I should select, and it is ‘DIRECT-HeC460 Series‘ (I found out later that an adjacent room also has a C460FW and its Wi-Fi Direct SSID is ‘DIRECT-SqC460 Series‘). So I selected ‘DIRECT-HeC460 Series‘ and plasma-nm prompted me to enter a network password. I entered the 8-digit key I had found from the C460FW’s LCD panel (it’s also listed in the printed network configuration report), and NetworkManager connected to the printer.

In exactly the same way as I do when setting up any printer in Linux, I launched Firefox, opened the CUPS Printer Manager page, clicked on ‘Administration’ > ‘Add Printer’ and entered the user name ‘root’ and the password in the pop-up window. Again the ‘Add Printer’ page had ‘Samsung C460 Series‘ in the list of discovered network printers, so I just selected it and clicked on ‘Continue’. As I had already set up the printer in CUPS for the wired network connection and given it the name ‘Samsung_C460FW_office‘, I entered the name ‘Samsung_C460FW_office_WiFi_Direct‘ to distinguish it from the wired network entry, entered a Description and Location, and clicked on ‘Continue’. The next page had ‘Samsung C460 Series PS‘ first in the driver list so I selected that, clicked on ‘Add Printer’ and that was it. I was able to print a test page from the CUPS Printer Manager, and the printer is now included the list of printers in Linux applications’ print dialogues.

When I want to print using Wi-Fi Direct the only thing I need to remember to do first is select ‘DIRECT-HeC460 Series‘ in the network GUI on the KDE Panel, so that the connection is active when I click ‘Print’ in whichever application I want to print from.

Given the ease of printing via the wired network and Wi-Fi Direct, I have no doubts that printing would also work had the C460FW been configured for the office wireless network instead of the wired network.

Duplex printing

The only downside to the Samsung Xpress C460FW is that it only supports manual duplex printing. If you specify duplex printing when printing from Windows, Samsung’s Windows driver prints all the odd-numbered pages in reverse order and displays a message in Windows telling you what to do next (turn over the pile of paper and put it back in the paper tray!), but in Linux it’s not difficult to work out what you have to do: you simply have to print all the odd-numbered sides first, turn over the paper, then print all the even-numbered sides. The print dialogue in Linux applications gives you the option to print only odd-numbered pages or only even-numbered pages, so there is no problem. The print dialogue in some Linux applications allows you to print pages in reverse order as well but, if not, you have to reverse the order yourself before printing the even-numbered pages (i.e. put Page 1 face down at the top of the pile then Page 3 face down under it, and so on). It’s not a big deal unless the document has a large number of pages.

Android

As you would expect with devices from the same manufacturer, setting up my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to print with the Samsung Xpress C460FW via WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) was easy. When I selected ‘Print’ on the Galaxy Note 4, it gave me the option to print via wireless network or Wi-Fi Direct. I chose the latter and, as I had already enabled Wi-Fi Direct on the C460FW’s control panel, the printer name was displayed in the list of available devices. I selected it, a blue LED began flashing on the C460FW’s control panel and the LCD prompted me to press the WPS button (on the left of the control panel). As soon as I pressed that, the C460FW printed the document sent by my Galaxy Note 4. From then onwards, I just needed to select ‘Print’ on the Galaxy Note 4, select the printer from the list of available devices, and the document is printed. When I want to print using Wi-Fi Direct the only thing I need to remember to do first on the Galaxy Note 4 is select ‘DIRECT-HeC460 Series‘ as the Wi-Fi network.

NFC

I then decided to try to print using NFC. I placed the Galaxy Note 4, without Wi-Fi enabled and with the Home Screen displayed (not the Lock Screen), on the NFC label on top of the C460FW; Android launched Play Store and prompted me to install Samsung Mobile Print, which I did. Now when I place the Galaxy Note 4 on the NFC label, the Galaxy Note 4 automatically enables Wi-Fi, connects to the C460FW directly and displays the Mobile Print app showing the options Print, Scan and Fax, and a page of icons labelled: Gallery, Camera, Google Drive, E-mail, Web page, Document, Facebook, DropBox, Evernote, OneDrive and Box, as well as a Settings icon to configure the printer (paper size etc.). I am able to select a document, photograph, Web page, etc. on the Galaxy Note 4 and print it. It is also possible to launch the Mobile Print app first and then place the Galaxy Note 4 on the C460FW.

NFC is not entirely trouble-free, though. Sometimes the Galaxy Note 4 displays a ‘Device not found‘ message but I can still print. Sometimes the Galaxy Note 4 displays the message ‘Connecting printer. There was some error while connecting to this device. Check your printer and try again. If NFC Pin was changed then please enter new NFC Pin.‘ and the two devices will not connect. Powering off then on the C460FW solves that. Sometimes the Galaxy Note 4 connects to another wireless network instead of to the C460FW via Wi-Fi Direct and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 then has to disconnect automatically from the other network. Sometimes the C460FW prompts me to press its WPS button and the Galaxy Note 4 then connects via Wi-Fi Direct but the Mobile Print app then displays the error message ‘Device not found. To troubleshoot please check – C460 Series is powered on. – Wi-Fi direct is enabled on C460 Series. – C460 Series and Mobile are connected to the same network.‘. Again, powering off then on the C460FW solves that. Despite these hiccups, printing via NFC is still handy.

SCANNING

Linux

I found out how to get the C460FW scanner working by consulting the third-party Web site The Samsung Unified Linux Driver Repository which someone created to provide .deb packages for the Samsung driver as well as tips on how to get Samsung printers and scanners working in Linux. It turned out to be relatively straightforward to scan, both via the office wired network and via Wi-Fi Direct. I edited the file /etc/sane.d/xerox_mfp.conf and replaced the following:

#Samsung C460 Series
usb 0x04e8 0x3468

with the following in order to use the C460FW to scan via the office wired network:

#Samsung C460 Series
#usb 0x04e8 0x3468
#Wired network static address of this C460FW:
tcp 10.90.21.125

or with the following in order to use the C460FW to scan via Wi-Fi Direct:

#Samsung C460 Series
#usb 0x04e8 0x3468
#Wi-Fi Direct address of this C460FW:
tcp 192.168.3.1

I found the IP addresses from the network configuration report I printed earlier.

I was able to use the two Linux scanning applications I normally use, XSane and gscan2pdf, to scan via the wired network and via Wi-Fi Direct. The resulting scans were very good. Given the ease of scanning via the wired network and Wi-Fi Direct, I have no doubts that scanning would work via a wireless network had the C460FW been configured for the office wireless network instead of the wired network.

Android

To use NFC to scan a document I place the Galaxy Note 4, without Wi-Fi enabled and with the Home Screen displayed (not the Lock Screen), on the NFC label on top of the C460FW. The Galaxy Note 4 enables Wi-Fi, connects automatically to the C460FW directly and launches the Mobile Print app showing the options Print, Scan and Fax. It is also possible to launch the Mobile Print app first and then place the Galaxy Note 4 on the C460FW. In other words, the procedure is exactly the same as when wanting to print via NFC. If I select Scan, the Galaxy Note 4 displays buttons for previewing and scanning. Amongst other things, the app’s Settings menu allows you to select whether you want to save the scanned image as a JPEG, PNG or PDF file. The hiccups mentioned above when printing via NFC also apply to scanning. Nevertheless, scanning from the C460FW to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 via NFC is still handy.

CONCLUSION

As I am mainly interested in printing text documents I have only tried to print a few colour photographs on plain copier paper, and they look good. Text in documents looks crisp. Despite the lack of automatic duplex printing the C460FW is an excellent peripheral, especially for the price, although I don’t pay for the consumables so I have no idea of the operating costs. The ease with which I got it printing and scanning in Gentoo Linux (laptop) and Android KitKat (Samsung Galaxy Note 4) means that I would definitely consider purchasing this model for home use.

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