Friday, November 23, 2012

Windows as Guest in Linux with minimal Software

You have Linux (any distribution, commands below for Debian/Ubuntu) and need to do just one tiny thing with Windows? Therefore you don't want to install thousands of packages and third party packages?
Then follow this quick guide made out of 4 steps and one package you need to install!

Fist install the kvm engine typing this into a terminal:

$ apt-get install kvm

Afterwards change into the directory where you want your virtual harddrive image to be created. The next command will create a *.img file with a size of 8GB.

$ dd if=/dev/zero of=vm_disc.img bs=1024k count=8000

Once this is done, you can boot up your virtual "machine" for the first time - of course with the Windows Install CD "inserted" into your device:

$ kvm -m 2048 -cdrom Windows_XP.iso -boot d vm_disc.img

Remember that you might have to exchange the name of your install-cd image.
Reading the manual of kvm (terminal command: man kvm) I found some nice features like graphical output to a vnc stream, using a specific sound-card, forwarding usb devices,... I am always using following command to start my virtual machine:

$ kvm -m 2048 -hda vm_disc.img -vga std -soundhw ac97 -usb -usbdevice tablet -smp 2 -vnc :0

Afterwards I connect to the vnc stream (localhost) using the "Remote Desktop Viewer" application.

Have Fun!

VLC as DLNA Client on Linux

Since version 2.0 VLC is able to play content from a DLNA Server.
On Ubuntu it seems not to be working out of the box. The first challenge is to realize, that a probably installed firewall (eg. ufw) is blocking all incomming traffic, meaning the broadcast of the DLNA server is not seen.

Add a rule to the firewall, to enable incoming traffic on port 1900 UDP for your media-server IP.
Therefore you might want to use a graphical user interface like gufw installable either in the Software Center, or with the terminal: 

$ sudo apt-get install gufw

Afterwards VLC should be able to see your DLNA server, but when double clicking, it seems that nothing happens. But this is not true - if you look more closely, you will realize that you suddenly have a lot of wlan/lan traffic. VLC is syncing the database without any graphical feedback. This is not really user-friendly.
After some time (depended on the size of your database, so be patient...) a folder icon appears, double clicking on it takes a looong time again. This process without graphical feedback (again!) is finished when you see a triangle in front of the folder... YAY! 

Now you can browse your database and start a movie, songs and even look at images!

Have fun!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Save the environment AND your eyesight!

I have to read a lot lately and therefore I print out everything. I don't like to read publications, papers and other scientific stuff on the screen, as there is no easy possibility to take down notes, mark some lines and interact with this thing. I just like to work with paper and pencil!

To save the environment a little bit, I always print two pdf pages onto one sheet - double-sided of course - leading to 4 virtual pdf pages being printed onto one single sheet of paper.
This is awesome, but my eyes start to hurt after some time, because the text is so unbelievably small. However, I realised that there is a lot of white space on these sheets and somehow it should be possible to remove the white space and "zoom" the pages a little bit for a better readability.

Exactly this is done by pdfcrop (!
You just type something like

$ pdfcrop --margins 5 input.pdf output.pdf

into your terminal and then print the output.pdf as usual. You will realise that the font size has almost doubled (or sometimes even more), only with removing the white borders. Happy reading!