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Monday, November 22, 2010

Tip: Turn off Adobe Air Auto Update

     I've been sort of struggling with Adobe Air and Ubuntu for some time now related to constant updates. Now that I understand what is happening it is really silly but it seemed that Adobe Air was constantly being updated. When I'd launch Tweetdeck Adobe Air would indicate that there was an Upgrade ready (no versions numbers displayed). Well I'd upgrade and everything would work fine until the next time Ubuntu's Update Manager ran when it would tell me there was an Update to Adobe Air as well. So I'd update again. This goes on and on in an endless circle of upgrading.

     Well I finally did some research on this strange behaviour and found that Adobe Air itself runs an Auto Update feature every time an Air application is launched, and Ubuntu does it's regular Update Manager checks and finds that the Version of Adobe Air doesn't match it's approved version so it wants to set it back calling it an upgrade.

     The two different versions here at the moment are that Adobe has released Version 2.5.1.17730 as it's latest and Ubuntu's authorized latest version is 2.0.4.13090. The good thing is that there is something you can do to stop this crazy Merry Go Round of Upgrades.

I'll start with How to Turn off the Adobe Air Auto Updater. There is no actual configuration interface for Adobe Air but they have provided an installable application that allows you to turn Off and On the Auto Update feature at will. It is a downloaded Air application that can be found at, http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/403/kb403175.html . The second question from the bottom asks,

Is it possible to disable Adobe AIR auto-updates? Yes it is.

     Click on the link in the questions answer and download the app called
SettingsManager.air. This process works for any Operating system Linux, Windows, Mac, etc because the app is an Adobe Air application and not an OS based native app.

     Install the app by double clicking on the file. You will see the following screen.



     Click "Install" to continue.

     You'll then get this:



     Click "Continue" ... to ... continue.

     You'll then get a progress bar for installation followed by a completed message.





     That's it then. The Settings Manager app is now installed and if you didn't de-select to place an icon on your Desktop you should now have one called "Adobe Air Settings Manager".

     Double click the shortcut to run the application. From there it is as simple as can be.



     Click "Disable Updates" to ...  Disable Updates. The option then changes to:



     In the future to re-enable the updates simply run the app again and choose "Enable Updates" to ... Enable Updates again.

     The end result of this is that the Automatic checking for Adobe Air updates will be disabled and the Merry GO Round of Updating will be broken. You will however, be left with the Ubuntu approved version of Adobe Air installed on your PC. While both seem to work just fine in my testing there are complications that could develop down the road from being too far behind the latest Adobe release version.

     I hope this tip was helpful and if you found it useful, let me know, leave a comment.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Running Netflix on Linux - It Can be Done! Sort Of...

     So after some extreme disappointment in finding out that Microsoft won't license the DRM on the Linux platform for Netflix I ran some experiments to see what could be done and I've got some good news and some bad news.

     The Bad news first, Even using Moonlight you cannot run Netflix on a Linux based machine.

     The Good news, You can run Netflix on Linux inside of a Virtual Box running Windows XP.

     While this is not an Ideal solution it is very workable. You will need a moderately higher end PC. I would recommend nothing under a Dual Core processor and at least 2 Gig's of Physical Ram in your system. Sata II compatible hard drives wouldn't hurt either, but are probably not essential.

     Now I won't go into detail on how to install Virtual Box on Linux. The simple solution in Ubuntu is to simply go to the Software Center and Search for Virtual Box and install it. You could also go to Oracle's Web site http://www.virtualbox.org if you want the latest version, however Oracle's Version isn't strictly speaking Open Source. Both do work and are Free Downloads though.

     The one catch here for all of this though is that you will need an Available (meaning unused) copy of Windows XP in order to install in the Virtual Box Guest, but if you are moving to Linux as your main operating system then you probably should have a copy of Windows XP that is no longer being used on a Physical PC.

     Now that we have everything lined up, you can open the Virtual Box interface and click on the "New" button in the Upper Right hand corner of the App. Walk through the Setup Wizard to create a New Virtual Machine Guest and Create a New Blank Hard Drive for Windows XP installation. Give the Virtual Machine at least 512mb of Ram and 1 Gb if you have enough on your physical PC. Enable 2D and 3D acceleration for your VM if possible based on your physical hardware setup.

     Put your Windows XP CD in your CD drive Start your VM by clicking on the "Start" button. It should come up and indicate that No Operating system found. Go to the Hosts Menu Options at the top of your screen where it says "Machine   Devices   Help". Select Devices then CD/DVD Devices and finally on the Popup menu Select "Host Drive". Then go to "Machine" and Select "Reset". Now your VM Guest will reboot and Start the Windows XP installer from the CD.

     I won't go into How to install Windows XP as that's way too much to include here. Just follow the installation Wizard and get XP installed. Again make sure that you have a Valid and Available License for this installation or you won't get very far with it.

     Once you have Windows XP installed and Updated on the VM Guest, Start it up and go to the Netflix website like you would normally do. Everything will load and and execute just like it was running on a dedicated Windows XP PC. You can make it Full screen, or watch in a Window.

     The only thing to watch out for here is again that you have a Valid/Available license for Windows XP and that your Physical PC has enough horsepower to run the setup. Performance of the Video will depend entirely on the Physical Specs of your PC running the Windows XP virtual machine. The faster the Physical PC, the better the performance.

     If you have enough horsepower though, you should be able to then Run Netflix on a Linux based PC. Alright, it's not exactly running directly in Linux, but until something can be worked out to get the DRM licensed for Linux this is the only way to make it work.

     I hope you found this useful. If you did, leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Show the Grub Loader Menu by default

     One of the things I wanted this blog to be about was a sort of online Archive of all of the Tips, Tricks and Ideas that I've come to find useful in one convenient location. If they've helped me, maybe they can help someone else as well.

     Since I began using Linux and Ubuntu I've really liked the Grub Boot Loader and how good it is at handling Multiple Operating system installs. I like it so much that I've come to want it as part of my startup procedure whether I have Multiple operating systems installed or not.

     So without further adieu here is How To force Grub to display on Boot up when Only One Operating System is installed.

     To do this you need to edit your Grub options file. This is found in Ubuntu under:

     /etc/default/Grub

     To Edit the file you must run Gedit as Root. Open a Terminal window and enter:

     sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

     Enter your password and the Grub option file will appear in your Gedit Editor.

     Below is my Grub options file. The Line highlighted in RED is the key here. When Grub_Hidden_Timeout=0 is Commented Out by starting the line with a # symbol, the Grub Boot Loader menu is forced to be displayed whether you have multiple Operating Systems installed or not. If the Grub_Hidden_Timeout=0 line does not have # symbol at the start, it is not displayed. It's that simple.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
# If you change this file, run 'update-grub' afterwards to update
# /boot/grub/grub.cfg.


GRUB_DEFAULT=0
# GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0
GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT_QUIET=true
GRUB_TIMEOUT=10
GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=""


# Uncomment to disable graphical terminal (grub-pc only)
#GRUB_TERMINAL=console
# The resolution used on graphical terminal
# note that you can use only modes which your graphic card supports via VBE
# you can see them in real GRUB with the command `vbeinfo'
#GRUB_GFXMODE=640x480
# Uncomment if you don't want GRUB to pass "root=UUID=xxx" parameter to Linux
#GRUB_DISABLE_LINUX_UUID=true
# Uncomment to disable generation of recovery mode menu entries
#GRUB_DISABLE_LINUX_RECOVERY="true"
# Uncomment to get a beep at grub start
#GRUB_INIT_TUNE="480 440 1"
----------------------------------------------------------------------


     The only thing remaining to do is Update the Grub config file to "Apply" the changes. You do that by entering the following at the Terminal command line.


    sudo update-grub


     Whenever you make a change to this file you need to run sudo update-grub in order for the changes to take effect.


     That's it. Reboot your machine and the Grub Boot Loader menu should now display. I've just grown to prefer this menu being Displayed over the years whether Multiple Operating Systems are installed or not. Personal preference. You may feel the same. Give it a try and see.