What to do when the GETDEB repository is down

Logo Linux Mint
Logo Linux Mint (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If during an update in either Linux Mint or Ubuntu you get error messages from apt, about failing to fetch data from the GETDEB repository (which happens a lot, I’m afraid), here’s a brilliant solution I found at askubuntu.com. Use a mirror!

Here are the steps:

  1. Comment out your existing sources for GETDEB
  2. Add the following sources instead:

deb http://mirrors.dotsrc.org/getdeb/ubuntu quantal-getdeb apps
deb-src http://mirrors.dotsrc.org/getdeb/ubuntu quantal-getdeb apps

Replace «quantal» with your edition if necessary; also, you can add the games repo just by repeating the above two lines with «games» in the end instead of «apps».

  1. Import the mirror’s security key:

sudo apt-key adv –recv-keys –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com A8A515F046D7E7CF

  1. Refresh your sources and you’re done:

sudo apt-get update

Linux Mint Debian is now usable by almost anyone!

Linux Mint
Image via Wikipedia

After I tried the December 2010 edition of Linux Mint Debian 64-bit, I had come to the conclusion that it was not for me, as it was, and that I would rather stick with the Main edition of Linux Mint, built on the current Ubuntu base distribution.

Two things made me change my mind and try it again: First, I tried Ubuntu 11.04 and I really did not like the new launcher! Second, I really could not put up with Mint’s Main Edition requirement, to have to back up and re-install from scratch with every new version…

So, I thought I should give LMDE 64-bit another try; and I’m glad I did!

Continue reading «Linux Mint Debian is now usable by almost anyone!»

Fine-tuning Linux Mint Debian 201012 64-bit

Updated, November 2011.

My LMDE desktop
My LMDE desktop

Although I thought I had come to terms with the fact that I wanted to use Ubuntu-based Mint, instead of Debian-based Mint, I finally could not resist the temptation of installing Linux Mint Debian 201012. One of the reasons was that a 64-bit version was available for the first time. Another reason was that I had used Mint 10 for over two months, I had finished polishing it, it was pretty stable and… I was getting itchy again!

In this post, I will focus on how I fine-tuned the installed system, in order to resemble Mint Main Edition, as much as possible.


Unlike the issues I encountered in my previous post, with the first incarnation of LMDE, this time the installation went pretty smooth; the installer had evolved quite a bit. However, I did not see an option to encrypt the home folder. Did I miss it? Maybe.

Update, Oct. 8, 2011: You should now download the latest (at this time) LMDE 201109

Continue reading «Fine-tuning Linux Mint Debian 201012 64-bit»

Linux Mint Debian v1.0 (LMDE 201009) is out!!!

Linux Mint Debian

(Update, Dec 29: Fine-tuning LMDE 201012 64-bit)

This article comes a few days after the original release of Linux Mint Debian edition, but the actual testing was made on the day it was released… 10 minutes after the iso image was posted online, actually. I happened to browse Linux Mint‘s blog just when the image was released.

Installing the image on a usb stick via unetbootin was pretty smooth! I booted right afterwards and then tried to install on a usb hard drive, so as to leave the computer I was using at that time intact. That was not particularly smooth…

Continue reading «Linux Mint Debian v1.0 (LMDE 201009) is out!!!»

The perfect linux desktop (part 2): Multimedia support

In this post I’ll list and give installation instructions for the media applications that I have found most useful on my Linux Mint desktop. That should cover photo management, video and music.

1. Photo Organizer


Shotwell photo organizer

OK, this may come as a surprise to some, but if I were you… I’d ditch F-Spot! Really, just uninstall it. There’s a much better application that actually works, and it’s called Shotwell!! It is the default photo organizer in Fedora 13.

I really like the Shotwell project, it does what it’s supposed to do, and it does it well. There’s also a very helpful on-line manual.

The fastest way to install it, is either via the package manager, or by firing up a console and typing:

$ sudo apt-get install shotwell

If, however, you want to make sure that you’ll always have the latest version for your distribution, follow the instructions at their website (check the option for Ubuntu), which are, in short, to fire up a console and enter the code below (you can also drag-n-drop the code, from here to the terminal, line by line!!)

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yorba/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install shotwell

2. Video Editing


PiTiVi video editor

To quote their website, PiTiVi is a free, intuitive and featureful movie editor for the Linux desktop.

For a list of features, take a look at this page. It is a fairly new project, but it shows great potential and it is already full featured and fully usable.

In order to install it, you can use the package manager, or just fire up a console and enter:

$ sudo apt-get install pitivi

In case that you want to use the latest beta version (beware, this may break things), you can add the development repository:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwibber-daily/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install pitivi

3. Video Transcoding & Converting


WinFF 1.1.1 for Ubuntu

When it comes to video transcoding, there’s only one choice on my mind – WinFF. To quote their website:

WinFF is a GUI for the command line video converter, FFMPEG. It will convert most any video file that FFmpeg will convert. WinFF does multiple files in multiple formats at one time. You can for example convert mpeg’s, flv’s, and mov’s, all into avi’s all at once.

WinFF has many presets for output targets and it keeps getting better. You can install it using the package manager, but I recommend getting the latest version, following the procedure below (in a terminal):

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:paul-climbing/ppa
$ sudo apt-get install winff

This will work just fine for almost everybody. However, in order to get the absolute maximum out of this program, you may need to get the unstripped versions of ffmpeg. These libraries are available at the medibuntu repository (Multimedia, Entertainment & Distractions In Ubuntu). Please note the disclaimer from their website:

Medibuntu is a repository of packages that cannot be included into the Ubuntu distribution for legal reasons (copyright, license, patent, etc), related to geographical variations in legislation regarding intellectual property, security and other issues.

Patent and copyright laws operate differently depending on which country you are in. Please obtain legal advice if you are unsure whether a particular patent or restriction applies to a media format you wish to use in your country.

See Ubuntu’s Free Software Philosophy and the FreeFormats page for a more comprehensive discussion of these issues.

If you decide to add this repository to your system, give the following commands at a terminal and then do a [code]sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade[/code]

Replace $(lsb_release -sc) by the corresponding release of Ubuntu in Linux Mint (click here for the Mint name corresponding to each Ubuntu release). For example, if you are using Linux Mint Isadora, replace «$(lsb_release -sc)» with «lucid»:

$ sudo wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get --quiet update && sudo apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get --quiet update

$ sudo apt-get --yes install app-install-data-medibuntu apport-hooks-medibuntu

4. DVD Ripping

There are three apps that I like for the task of DVD ripping: AcidRip, DVD::Rip and K9Copy!



For AcidRip, just go to the package manager and install it, pretty straightforward.

To quote SourceForge:

AcidRip is an automated front end for MPlayer/Mencoder written in Perl, using Gtk2::Perl for a graphical interface. Makes encoding a DVD just one button click!

AcidRip is by far the easiest app for ripping DVDs. It’s main advantage is that, most of the times, in order to encode a DVD into avi, it really only takes one click!



DVD::Rip is an old-school application, at least as far as appearances go. A newbie may easily be intimidated by the user interface, but all in all, it is the most capable ripper. Anything you can imagine that a DVD ripper should do, it does it. You can install it from the package manager.

Just for the fun of it, check out the features list at their website. It’s quite long!!

One final note: in order to get maximum results when handling encrypted DVDs that you have bought and wish to back up, it may do better after you install the library libdvdcss2.

This is a library that you may find at medibuntu, so read the disclaimer and the relevant info further up in the post. You will be able to install libdvdcss2 after you have activated the medibuntu repository.



Another great application for backing up your DVDs is K9Copy. It is very similar in functionality to the windows program DVDShrink.

You can compress a 9gb DVD so that it will fit on a 4.7gb disk, preserve original menus and even choose which languages or subtitles to back up or leave out. You can also set the output to be an avi or an iso file.

5. CD Ripping


GRip in action

There’s only one app that I like here: GRip! This is the best app I’ve ever used in order to back up my CDs.

Features list:

  • Full-featured CD player with a small screen footprint in «condensed» mode
  • Database lookup/submission to share track information over the net
  • HTTP proxy support for those behind firewalls
  • Loop, shuffle, and playlist modes
  • Ripping of single, multiple, or partial tracks
  • Encoding of ripped .wav files into MP3 files (as well support for OGG and FLAC)
  • Simultaneous rip and encode
  • Support for multiple encode processes on SMP machines
  • Adding ID3v1/v2 tags to MP3 files
  • Cooperating with DigitalDJ, my SQL-based MP3 jukebox

6. Audio Editing



In my experience, there is no sound editor with so many features, that is so easy to use, at the same time, as is Audacity.

The features list is too long to post!!

7. Music Player & Organizer



For a long time, Amarok («Wolf» in Native American) had been the only reason for which I had KDE libraries installed on my Gnome machine. Up until 2008. That’s when version 2.0 came out, which I then thought was the worst thing that could happen to the project. Partly because it was completely unusable, partly because I could really not see where the poet was going with it (coding is poetry, right?).

I then tried several other solutions, among which I have to say that Exaile was the next best thing.

Over time, however, Amarok got back on track, and it is now, once again, the only reason for which I keep KDE libraries installed on my Gnome machine.

With Amarok, you will really rediscover your music. Really.

Oh, and by the way, it also has a built-in equalizer!!!

You can install it from the package manager and you’re good to go. However, what kind of geek would you be, if you did not follow the instructions below?

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install amarok
$ sudo aptitude install phonon-backend-xine

In case you have a «need for expeditious velocity», you can follow the instructions from this excellent post, in order to have Amarok use MySQL as a back-end database. Combined with the embedded help from Amarok itself (in database settings), you get the following example. Replace with your own data and run in a terminal:

[code]sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client[/code]

This will install the database. Make sure you set an administrator password when asked. Then, enter these commands (don’t you just love how efficient the terminal is? :P)

[code]mysql -p -u root
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON amarokdb.* TO ‘amarokuser’ IDENTIFIED BY ‘password’;

Finally, fill in the same data in Amarok’s database settings, restart MySQL, then restart Amarok set it to completely rescan the music folder.

Amarok’s functionality can be expanded by scripts. For example, in order to have a nice list of Greek radio stations streaming through Amarok, you can install this script. Just go download and then install through Amarok’s script manager.

Update, November 2010

8. MKV muxer

MKVToolnix — Cross-platform tools for Matroska

Just found out about it, you can follow the instructions here to set it up!!

  • Unlimited video/audio track layers
  • Full undo/redo history
  • Basic clip manipulation
    • Trimming
    • Snapping
    • Splitting/cutting
    • Ripple edits/roll edits
  • Frame stepping, keyboard controls and shortcuts
  • Audio editing
    • Sound mixing of multiple concurrent audio layers
    • Trimming, splitting/cutting
    • Volume keyframe curves
    • Fast audio waveforms
  • Video thumbnails
  • Fast, playhead-centered zooming
  • Mousewheel integration with modifier keys for timeline navigation
  • Scrubbing

Linking/grouping of clips

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The perfect linux desktop (part 1): Distribution & Task Bar

It's been a few many years since I started using Linux exclusively, as a desktop OS at home. I started out with the legendary InfoMagic 5-CD set in December 1995. It included Redhat 2.5 and a version of Debian dubbed 1.0 (evidently prematurely so, resulting in the first official Debian project release to be named 1.1 instead of 1.0).

I first used Redhat, then Redhat with Enlightenment, then Mandrake (because it was Redhat with KDE), then Mandriva. I  started using KDE as soon as it came out and stayed with it, but that changed with Ubuntu. I have consistently used Ubuntu with Gnome since 2006, actively participating in user support groups and mailing lists. And then, in 2010, I switched to Linux Mint, for which I also participated in the Greek translation project for release 9, code named Isadora (based on Ubuntu 10.04).

Linux Mint uses Ubuntu's repositories as a base, but it has some unique characteristics, which make it special. MintMenu is one, the package manager and also the Control Center are a couple others… add to that the look & feel, the choice of pre-installed apps,  and the magic of the first impression you get when you boot this OS… Everything just works, and with a lot of finesse, at that! During the first half hour of use, I don't remember how many times I went "ah, at last, someone thought of that"! As an added bonus, you get a very involved and enthusiastic community of users. When you log on to the desktop, you get a pop up window with support links. One of them is on-line support. I only had to use it once, but still I was thoroughly impressed when I got a definitive reply in under 60 seconds!! Maybe it was just luck, but that sealed the deal for me…

So, this first post is going to be very simple. It's just about how to come to this starting desktop screen (click to enlarge):

Stratos' Isadora desktop

First of all, go to the Linux Mint download page and download the version that best suits your system. If your system's memory is 4gb or more, then you may be better off with the 64bit version. Otherwise, go with the 32bit one, usually it runs more smoothly. Mind you, that goes for all distributions and it has to do with 3rd party vendor 64bit support, not Linux itself. And, just to be on the safe side, run the live version on your machine, before actually installing it. That way you'll know beforehand that everything will work after installation.

You'll notice that Linux Mint only has one taskbar, on the bottom of the page, with the amazing MintMenu embedded, which is a good thing. Having only one main taskbar saves some precious vertical space on wide-screen laptops, which is also a good thing. MintMenu is an intuitive, advanced, well organized, feature-rich and easy to use main menu, and you'll never go back once you've tried it  (originally forked from SLAB, the Gnome main menu developed by Novell for Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop). As you can see, I have added a few items to the taskbar, such as "language indicator", "force quit", "tomboy notes", "system monitor", etc. I also removed the window list, since it is embedded in… what comes next:

Now, I do like how streamlined and smooth Linux Mint is, but I also I like my desktop to be just a little bit fancy, so I can't go without Cairo-Dock!! Cairo-Dock, or GLX-Dock, is the king of Linux docks. It started out along with all other similar projects in Linux, which imitated the functionality of… yes, the Mac OS X Dock! And why not? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! However, this one really surpassed them all, but that's just my own humble opinion.

So, we want both Mint's taskbar and GLX-Dock, together. GLX-Dock will not waste vertical space, since it auto-hides itself if the active window overlaps it. In the screenshot above, you see the Mint main taskbar on top and GLX-Dock on the bottom.

Second (group of) step(s) is:

Right click on Mint taskbar, hit "properties" and change its position to "top". That was easy.

Now, you can go to the GLX-Dock installation instructions page, on which you will also find some very helpful usage advice. You can spend hours and hours of experimentation and joy, fine tuning GLX-Dock and its plugins, themes and modules, using the very helpful in-line instructions. However, as I have come to realize, the standard setup is just fine. So, you can just follow the instructions to install it from the package manager, and you're good to go!

However, if you are, as I am, an upgrade freak, you can use the weekly repository, which is quite stable, but still cutting edge, so beware (use the instructions for Ubuntu and mind the note for Linux Mint).


Update November 2010

Linux Mint 10, codenamed Julia is out. Mint continues to be my favorite distribution and Julia has been improved quite a lot. So, the post still holds true.!

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Don’t you just love geeks?

Casually searching my name in Google, like any other normal person would do, I bumped into a post of mine at a Mandrake Linux support forum from almost exactly seven years ago… Couldn’t help smiling…

Linux has come a long way, back then it was not as user friendly as it is now…

sound from cdrom ML91

Hello there.

I’m using ML91. I just tried to listen to a cd. KsCD starts up, sound is
at 50%, sound mixer is at 100% for CD, the track seems to be played
(counter works) but no sound comes out.

The audio cable is connected from the Creative PCDVD drive to CD-In of
Audigy2, but …

Otherwise, sound works fine.

Any ideas/hints?



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