GNU/Linux Software Projects
Listed below are some of the projects I have worked on or have packaged to make life a little easier. Debian/Ubuntu users may add the following APT repository to their sources.list if they wish:
- deb http://debian.knizefamily.net/ ./
deb-src http://debian.knizefamily.net/ ./
You may also browse the packages here.
- notifier-applet – display notfication messages from UDP packets on the GNOME panel.
- site-upload – quickly upload website changes from the command line.
- SimpleWXR – import posts into WordPress using a simplified WXR XML format.
- helper-scripts – a set of tools to help with the maintenance of Debian-based system.
- synctree – a tool to synchronize two directory trees based on a set of rules.
- bup – yet another easy to use backup tool.
- lirc-modules – updated LIRC modules packages.
- keyspan – kernel module Debian packages for Keyspan USB to serial converters.
- nedit – my preferred graphical text editor.
- xbox – packages for the Microsoft Xbox.
- misterhouse – a home automation program written in Perl.
- sorune – a tool used to manage the database on the Neuros Audio player.
- cats2procmailrc – a tool generate a procmail recipe from a simple, human readable mail categories file.
I had upgraded my MythTV back and front ends recently from version 0.24 and ran into some annoyances:
- The MediaMonitor has a new dependency on the udisks daemon, even if you don’t use the Media Monitor feature. Without it, Myth had very poor behavior when trying to eject optical media. The eject option in the menu would just display a dialog saying “No devices to eject.” Also, the physical eject button would get disabled after playing the disk even though I could eject it from a terminal with “eject” as the mythtv user. The fallback in MediaMonitor::ejectOpticalDisk() seems to be useless.
- My carefully-crafted channel lineup for Comcast became non-functional. This is such a tedious process that i still haven’t gotten around to fixing it. Right now, my digital tuners are recording programs that can’t actually be tuned.
While the merits of Comcast’s Digital Transport Adapters are debatable, there is one useful side effect to their existance. Because the are so cheap, they lack a POD tuner. This means that the channel tables are broadcast in-band, which in turn means that a normal QAM tuner can find them. There is a tool called scte65scan that can find these tables using a regular DVB tuner (it also supports the HDHomerun).
At some point we will become another victim of Comcast’s digital cable “upgrade” plans. We’ve been an analog cable customer of theirs for about 8 years. The only reason we’ve stuck with them is because they are the only provider that can give us good ol’ NTSC on our coax. That is the only way to have all of our cable programming on more than one TV without paying extra each month for each. In addition to the 3 TVs we also use MythTV for our DVR system, which has 3 NTSC and 2 ATSC/QAM tuners.
We are still getting the analog feed, but last week I finally installed the new digital equipment. Their marketing B.S. is confusing and intentionally misleading, but here is what I have learned from the experience:
“Extended Cable” customers are being migrated to the “Digital Starter” package. You get one standard digital cable box, which comes with their “On Demand” feature, and up to two “Digital Transport Adapters”. They give you the impression that the DTAs are you help make up for the loss of analog service on your other TVs, but this isn’t really true (more on this later). After the migration, you will supposedly be left with your primary local stations and a few other useless cable stations like QVC on analog channels 2-17. The rest are only available as digital QAM channels.
This is where it gets ugly. A subset of our old cable lineup is available as unencrypted QAM256 channels, but the others are all encrypted. Some are flagged as encrypted but are actually clear while the rest are fully encrypted. They also sit on random QAM channels/programs that don’t correspond to how they appear in the lineup on the cable box. Comcast is free to move the channels around and play with the encryption whenever they please because they can just reprogram the cable box and DTAs remotely. This makes using your own QAM tuner frustrating, especially since you can’t receive arbitrary basic cable stations due to encryption (like Discovery Channel in my case).
The DTAs are a joke. Comcast makes sure that the channel lineup is only a tiny subset of the lineup you are paying for. They want you to rent real cable boxes, which makes them no better than DirecTV or U-Verse. The DTA will mainly just tune in your “extra” local digital stations in standard definition, but they do NOT tune in your main local stations. For example, if you have a local broadcaster on channel 10, they transmit high-def over the air on channel 10.1 and also probably broadcast a few extra programs on channel 10.2 and 10.3 or more. The DTA will let you view channel 10.2 and 10.3 on your old NTSC TV, but it won’t tune the main channel 10! Comcast provides those as standard def analog stations, but the DTA can’t tune those and the DTA won’t act as a pass-though when it is off like a VCR would (in fact, you can’t turn DTAs off at all). So to watch channel 10, you need an A/B switch on your antenna to switch between the main cable feed and the output of the DTA. The other stations besides the locals that the DTA will receive are fairly useless (more QVC-like stations, Lifetime, and one or two others I’ve never heard of).
So unsurprisingly, Comcast continues to offer less for more. If they provided basic cable stations on unencrypted channels that would be one thing. The only good news in my eyes is that they offer nothing over what you can get from other communication carriers now. All I have to do is put an antenna on the roof.
Release a new CVS snapshot for nedit, mainly to ease installation on top of the snapshot that comes with Ubuntu 9.10.
Version 0.3-1 of notifier-applet has been released.
- Add length field to message format 1.
- Update notifier.pl example with message format 1 support.
Version 0.18-1 of helper-scripts has been released.
- Bundle debian-helper-scripts 0.12 and subversion-helper-scripts 0.6-1 and call it 0.18-1.
- Create ubuntu-helper-scripts to tune debian-helper-scripts for Ubuntu.
- Import cleaned-up versions of some scripts from rknize-tools and make it into a new package: rknize-helper-scripts.
Version 0.2-2 of notifier-applet has been released.
- Add README to explain the message parser.
- Add very primitive message parser to allow more control over notifcation.
- Fix bug with empty messages.
Version 0.6-1 of site-upload has been released.
- Only check the checksum if the modification time changed.
- Really fix stamp updates when there is an upload failure.
- More stamp updating/checking cleanups.
Version 0.6-1 of subversion-helper-scripts has been released.
- Fix naming convention of config files in tools versus documentation.
- Don’t use ‘source’ in non-bash scripts.
Version 0.5-1 of site-upload has been released.
- Add –checksum method of change detection.
- Add –force-stamp option to allow stamp file fix-ups.
- Major cleanup of how stamps get updated.
- Continue uploading if something goes wrong, but don’t update that stamp.