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If you’ve upgraded your Ubuntu system to 13.10 and found that you no longer have any sound, you may have noticed in your sound preferences you now only have an audio device called “Dummy Output“. And you can’t change the device to your actual sound card, as it is no longer there (in KDE’s sound preferences, it will probably be listed as a device, yet will be greyed out, meaning you can’t select it). The problem isn’t your sound card, or needing new drivers for it, but a problem with ALSA – and hopefully will be easily fixed with the info in this article.

First, you need to check that your sound card is recognised by running this command in a terminal:

sudo aplay -l

It will then list the devices it finds (in the case of the following output, it finds the built-in audio [which is disabled in the BIOS] as well as the actual sound card I use):

**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: Intel [HDA Intel], device 0: ALC883 Analog [ALC883 Analog]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: Intel [HDA Intel], device 1: ALC883 Digital [ALC883 Digital]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: Audigy2 [SB Audigy 2 ZS [SB0360]], device 0: emu10k1 [ADC Capture/Standard PCM Playback]
card 1: Audigy2 [SB Audigy 2 ZS [SB0360]], device 2: emu10k1 efx [Multichannel Capture/PT Playback]
card 1: Audigy2 [SB Audigy 2 ZS [SB0360]], device 3: emu10k1 [Multichannel Playback]
card 1: Audigy2 [SB Audigy 2 ZS [SB0360]], device 4: p16v [p16v]

If you see something like that, then all should be well, but if you want to make sure, copy and paste this rather lengthy command into the terminal:

echo "Sound cards recognized by the system:"; lspci -nn | grep --color=none '\[04[80][13]\]'; echo "Sound cards recognized by ALSA:"; lspci -nn | grep '\[04[80][13]\]' | while read line; do lspci -nnk | grep -A 3 '\[04[80][13]\]' | grep -e 'Kernel modules: ..*' -e '\[04[80][13]\]' | grep --color=none -F "$line"; done; echo "Sound cards recognized by ALSA, and activated:"; lspci -nn | grep '\[04[80][13]\]' | while read line; do lspci -nnk | grep -A 3 '\[04[80][13]\]' | grep -e 'Kernel drivers in use: ..*' -e '\[04[80][13]\]' | grep --color=none -F "$line"; done

The output should be something like:

Sound cards recognized by the system:
00:1b.0 Audio device [0403]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller [8086:293e] (rev 02)
05:01.0 Multimedia audio controller [0401]: Creative Labs SB Audigy [1102:0004] (rev 04)
Sound cards recognized by ALSA:
00:1b.0 Audio device [0403]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller [8086:293e] (rev 02)
05:01.0 Multimedia audio controller [0401]: Creative Labs SB Audigy [1102:0004] (rev 04)
Sound cards recognized by ALSA, and activated:
00:1b.0 Audio device [0403]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller [8086:293e] (rev 02)
05:01.0 Multimedia audio controller [0401]: Creative Labs SB Audigy [1102:0004] (rev 04)

Once again, everything seems fine, other than the fact you can’t enable your sound card as an audio device. Hopefully, the following command will rectify the situation:

sudo alsa force-reload

You will probably see no change until you reboot, so do so and when you login again, your sound should be back. If it isn’t, you may need to go back into the sound preferences and make the sound card the default audio device, after which all should be well.

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If the problem still persists, you can try the following command which has worked for some (replace “yourusername” with your actual username):

sudo usermod -aG audio,video,pulse,pulse-access yourusername

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Please note: this is an updated version of the guide for restoring the volume button in Ubuntu 10.04/Gnome 2, and is specifically for those using the Gnome 3 “Classic” (Fallback) desktop (though may be applicable for Gnome-Shell and Unity).

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If you’ve just upgraded to 12.04 “Precise Pangolin” and found that the volume icon/button is missing from the system tray (at the far-right of the top Gnome panel), you can choose between adding the newer indicator applet, or running the old stand-alone volume button like back in Gnome 2. With the indicator applet, it will load automatically with each boot, but it doesn’t take much to get the legacy volume button to do the same.

Volume Button:

Note: Those who’ve had to do this before in Ubuntu 10.04 through to 11.10 will have noted the package gnome-volume-control-applet no longer exists, but since it has just been renamed, all you need to do is change the command to gnome-sound-applet.

To run it for the current session, hit Alt+F2 to open the Run Application app, paste gnome-sound-applet into the text field, and click the Run button (you can also enter the command into a terminal, but the button will disappear if you close the terminal).

To get it to start automatically from the next reboot, click the cog in the top-right (in Unity) and open Startup Applications and add it as a new entry with a name like “Volume Button”. If you’re using Gnome Classic, your user menu in the top-right won’t include Startup Applications, so just run gnome-session-properties via Alt+F2 or in a terminal.

If for some reason the volume app is missing on your system, run sudo apt-get install gnome-sound-applet in the terminal.

Indicator Applet:

Alt+Right-click an empty area of the panel (if you have Compiz effects enabled, then you will need to hold Alt+Super/Windows while right-clicking), choose Add to Panel, then drag Indicator Applet Complete to next to the clock in the system tray, or wherever you want to put it instead. The volume button will be restored, but as part of the Indicator Applet which also has a mail/message notifier for Evolution and messaging apps, as well as showing when other apps like Rhythmbox music player are open.

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If you’ve attached an external hard drive to your system, then decided to use your partitioner to format it to EXT4 for greater efficiency (or just to match your Ubuntu system), you may have been shocked to find that your empty drive seemed to be missing a few gigabytes when mounted afterwards. And this has nothing to do with the good old binary (base-8) vs decimal (base-10) situation which would see your “750Gb” drive be more like 700Gb (in Windows and earlier versions of Ubuntu – now Mac OS X and Ubuntu have followed hardware manufacturers and use decimal, so that’s more like 738Gb).

This is because Ubuntu (and other Linux distributions) reserve typically around 5% of the space for the root user and system services, so should you run out of hard drive space, the administrator can still log in, and system services continue to run.

However, this is only really needed for your Ubuntu partition, so if you have an external EXT4 drive, or have an EXT4 partition on your internal drive (other than the one your system is on), you are needlessly wasting space (40Gb of the drive in the example). But you can free up that disk space quite easily, without having to re-partition the drive or anything. All it takes is a couple of commands pasted into the terminal.

In the following example, an external hard-drive will have the reserve set to 0 (zero), since this is what most people will need this for. First, we have to determine the device name, as using its mounted name – /media/700Gb Ext4 – won’t suffice. To do so, enter the following into the terminal:

mount|grep ^'/dev'

Look for the line containing your device:

/dev/sdc1 on /media/700Gb Ext4 type ext4 (rw,nosuid,nodev,uhelper=udisks)

… and you can see what it is named (/dev/sdc1 in this case). To free up reserved space, enter the following (replacing /dev/sdc1 with whatever the appropriate device name is, if need be – just make sure you don’t do it to your main drive!):

sudo tune2fs -m 0 /dev/sdc1

You should then be presented with the following message:

Setting reserved blocks percentage to 0% (0 blocks)

To confirm all has gone well, you can right-click an empty area of the folder window for the device and choose Properties, then compare the free space from before and after, or run the following command (once again replacing the device name with the correct one in your case):

sudo tune2fs -l /dev/sdc1 | grep 'Reserved block count'

You should be greeted with the following:

Reserved block count: 0

That’s it – you now have all of your drive to use.

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Note: if you receive the following error message:

tune2fs: Bad magic number in super-block while trying to open /dev/sdb1
Couldn’t find valid filesystem superblock.

… then the filesystem likely isn’t EXT4 – chances are the drive is actually formatted as NTFS or FAT for use on Windows systems (which would be the case if you’ve bought an external drive, and never did anything other than copy files to it). You would have needed to partition/format the drive to EXT4, so if you didn’t, then you actually don’t need this guide.

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Did this information make your day? Did it rescue you from hours of headache? Then please consider making a donation via PayPal, to buy me a donut, beer, or some fish’n’chips for my time and effort! Many thanks!

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If you’ve upgraded to Ubuntu 11.10, you may have noticed your movie files not looking as they should in the default Movie Player (Totem), and probably others like SMPlayer and MPlayer. For me, the clips actually looked fine first off, but only in Totem, as SMPlayer kept crashing. Then, after getting some updates, Totem started displaying the colours all mixed up (as did SMPlayer, which wasn’t crashing any more). I tested GNOME MPlayer, and that was fine, but all my other players were affected.

From the looks of comments I’ve seen around, updating/installing Medibuntu is a likely suspect, but whatever the cause, it should actually be quite easy to fix. Simply go to Edit > Preferences > Display in Totem, and adjust the Hue from the default 50% mark all the way up to 100%. If yours is all the way down at 0%, as some have reported, then you definitely need to do the same. You may need to do this with each player, but in my case changing the setting in Totem immediately rectified the problem in SMPlayer. If it doesn’t for you, however, then you know how to fix this easily.

Lastly, don’t be surprised if later on you go to play a vid and your colours are all mucked up again. This time, you’ll probably find the Hue is still at 100%, so you’ll need to drop it back to the default of 50%. It might be a bit of a hassle, but this should be fixed up at the development end soon enough, and at least it only takes a few seconds to get your movies looking as they should.

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Please note: if you are using Ubuntu 10.10 backwards, with Emerald supplying the window border themes for Compiz-Fusion (or have Emerald successfully running in 11.04 onwards), read this guide instead.

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If you occasionally find your title-bars or window borders missing from your programs and folder windows, it’s actually quite easy to fix, and there’s no need to reboot.

You will need to edit a Compiz-Fusion setting, so open System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager; if it isn’t installed, just run sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager in a terminal.

Once open, scroll down to the Effects section, where you will see Window Decoration is not enabled. Simply click the check box to the left of it, and you should see your window borders reappear.

Keep this in mind for the future, as certain things can upset Compiz-Fusion and you’ll likely be without title-bars again (especially if you’re playing around with settings, as enabling one Compiz plugin can disable another).

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Did this information make your day? Did it rescue you from hours of headache? Then please consider making a donation via PayPal, to buy me a donut, beer, or some fish’n’chips for my time and effort! Many thanks!

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If you’ve upgraded your system to Ubuntu 11.04, you may notice the handy Run Application dialog seems to be missing. Or you may be a total newbie with a fresh Natty Narwhal system who is wondering what’s this useless Alt+F2 key combination everyone keeps mentioning in forum posts.

Well, the handy way of running commands without opening a terminal – hitting Alt+F2 to open the Run Application dialog – is disabled in 11.04, but you can easily enable it again.

You will need to edit a Compiz-Fusion setting, so open System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager; if it isn’t installed, just run sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager in a terminal.

Once open, in the General section you will see Gnome Compatibility; if it isn’t already checked, then do so to enable this plugin.

When you click on it, you will see a couple of legacy options, one being Run Dialog, which you will notice is Disabled.

Click the Disabled button, and a box will appear letting you enable it.

As soon as you check Enabled, a box will appear to let you choose the key binding.

Rather than click on Shift, Super, Ctrl or Alt, click the Grab key combination button, and hit your key combo, which you’ll probably want as the familiar Alt+F2 (you can of course choose any available combo you like, but at least you won’t get confused if seeing guides and forum posts talking about Alt+F2).

Once the Edit Run Dialog box reappears, click OK to finalise the key binding.

You will see that all is as it should be, and can close the settings manager.

After that, you’ll be able to run commands quickly by hitting Alt+F2 and typing them in the Run Application dialog, or by choosing them from the menu of previous commands. The other benefit of this method of running commands is that you would usually need to keep a terminal window open for many commands, or else they’ll cease to run, whereas when invoked through the dialog they’ll continue to run once the Run Application dialog has disappeared.

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Please note: this guide is for Ubuntu 10.10 backwards, as Emerald is no longer supported by Ubuntu. If you have upgraded to 11.04, Emerald will still the there, but the themes will be useless unless you uninstall Emerald and reinstall a version compatible with the latest Compiz-Fusion. If you have Emerald running successfully in 11.04 onwards, then this guide will still apply to you. Otherwise, read the guide for restoring window borders in 11.04 onwards.

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Once in a while, you might find that when you boot to your desktop, the title-bars to all your windows are missing, along with the control buttons (Minimize, Maximize and Close).

While many wouldn’t know any way around this situation other than a reboot, others will be aware of the fusion-icon package that lets you reload your window manager. Once installed, it can be found in Applications > System Tools > Compiz Fusion Icon, and when launched you’ll find its icon in the system tray. Simply right-click it and choose the Reload Window Manager option, and Compiz-Fusion will be forced to restart, and your title-bars will reappear with the Emerald theme currently in use.

But there is actually a much easier way to go about this, and it is as simple as pasting the following command into a terminal or via Alt+F2:

emerald --replace

This just reloads Emerald, which is all that is needed to get your title-bars back. As you can see, this is much quicker than using the Compiz Fusion Icon, and means you don’t have to worry about installing the fusion-icon package if it’s not already on your system.

But there is an even easier way to do this, and that is create a launcher for it. You can put it anywhere you like, like the desktop or on the panel, but if you’re worried about clicking it accidentally, or just want it out of the way until needed, you can add a drawer to your panel and stick it in that.

The command for the launcher is exactly the same as for the terminal, and you can name it something like Reload Emerald/Compiz. Then all you have to do from then onwards is click your launcher and watch your title-bars bounce back.

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Did this information make your day? Did it rescue you from hours of headache? Then please consider making a donation via PayPal, to buy me a donut, beer, or some fish’n’chips for my time and effort! Many thanks!

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