Mike’s Linux Desktop Experiences

March 23, 2008

Video Stablizing Filters, Advocacy and Feature Lists

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Mike @ 10:45 am

I was just experimenting with Premiere’s capabilities and I’m quite disappointed with the stabilizer. It’s crap.

  • Top Left: Adobe Premiere Elements (filling using background), 45 Minutes to process
  • Top Right: Deshaker through Virtualdub and AVI Synth: about 50 minutes to process (2×25 minute passes)
  • Bottom Left: Power Director (hey, some website with a probably fake review suggested it), 3 minutes (!)
  • Bottom Right: Unfiltered (as I say in the video, I think I was dehydrated)

(The 4-way image was produced using AVI Synth… awesome program. )

It seems my expectations are set way too high by Deshaker. As an example of when FOSS beats out the commercial apps, VirtualDub and AVISynth are GPL, although the filter appears to be closed but free for distribution and use. For the Linux zelots, VirtualDub and AviSynth (2.x) are good examples of FOSS packages not available on Linux.

However… it seems that Cinelerra may have the Depan filter which can be used to track a fixed object and alter the borders of the image in order to remove motion from a clip.


From the website, Depan is a half implementation of Deshake. DePanEstimate is required to figure out how DePan will move the panning. It’s unclear to me that Cinelerra has this aspect of the filter, but there’s an awesome demo out there of something slightly related:

Now that’s good advocacy. Good documentation would be more useful, but good advocacy gives me some hope.. better than “do it yourself freeloader” or “try a 5-figure commercial package”

Unfortunately, this means means trying to install Cinelerra again. I have to install Ubuntu on my notebook anyway, I may have to have a peek at this silly Ubuntu Studio distribution.

March 21, 2008

The Promise of Ubuntu 8.04, Data Recovery and Video Editing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Mike @ 10:37 am

There are some promising improvements in Ubuntu 8.04. I’ll have to try an upgrade, maybe even to fix the boot sequence of my Linux drive (after my repairs, it is reporting Error 17 on boot). Simplified X11 configuration, support for multiple monitors of differing sizes, and that new audio system are all promising.

I might just need to fire it up today just so that I can try taking a binary dump of a flash card to try to recover all the photos and videos I lost. The data recovery worked partially. I lost all my MP3s. Most were truncated, all the file names were lost and the organization of them. The same unfortunately applies for a detailed set of films and photos I took of some archaeological sites in Crete, and a hiking trip through the Samarian Gorge.

I’m still very bitter about that.

In the meantime, I’m downloading Adobe Premiere elements. Can somebody explain to me why I might want to consider comparing it to Broadcast2000/Cinelerra/Open Movie Editor

You can watch the history of Linux video editing unfold with these three apps:




Of course I can’t actually get it to work, and nothing in Linux seems to have a deshake filter, so while it is almost there, it took 8 years to get there, and there are free tools in Windows that get most of the job done, but still leave me quite willing to fork out $100 for a reasonable tool. Wine doesn’t seem to cut it for the free Windows tools.

Film Gimp/Cinepaint and Open Movie Editor might help me in 2012.  In 2008, I just don’t have time to think about it.

Time to take the Richard Stallman Philosophy. I think it was Richard Stallman, the idea that if there is no free software available to do what you need to do, then it’s reasonable to use commercial software.

March 18, 2008

…48 hours later, the horror of GPM

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Mike @ 7:40 pm

From past experience, I unplugged the keyboard so that I wouldn’t accidentally hit enter.  Photorec stops the process without asking for confirmation.

When I got home, I decided to jiggle the mouse so that the screen blanking would clear.  I accidentally touched the right-mouse-button.

Right-click to paste is demented.  Ditto for middle-click to paste.  It seems I highlighted a CR at some point.  BAM.  Quit.  No prompt.  Process over.

I guess before I restart the process, I’ll manually sift through the smoldering heap of 15,783 unnamed jpg files, 2,396 mp3s, 248 oggs and 95 movs to find out if my vacation photos and MP3 collection were recoverable or not.

…40 Hours Later, the Joy of NFS

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Mike @ 2:24 pm

For the past 40 hours or so, my little notebook has been serving an NFS volume to my desktop.  Both of them are running recovery CDs.  The desktop is running Photorec, the notebook is running an NFS server.

This morning, when I was looking for the power supply for my workstation, I pulled the cord and saw the little notebook turn off.

Unfortunately, the little notebook has no battery in it.  The existing battery got toasted ages ago.   40 hours into scouring a drive with that utility could be lost… if not for the fact that NFS and EXT3 are so absurdly robust.

I powered on the notebook, mounted the ext3 FS, edited the exports file, ran dhcpcd, and poof.  The NFS mount was restored to its former glory.

15 hours or so to go before I get to see what kind of images come out of a data recovery attempt on that mostly virgin drive.

March 16, 2008

a bad day.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Mike @ 7:32 pm

So I backed everything up, rebuilt the OS and restored what I could.

What I could?


For some reason my tar command got the first 40GB of my data, but stopped thereafter.  I don’t care so much about the recoverable stuff, and I got most of the unrecoverable stuff, but a complete, organized set of photos from Greece, my entire MP3 collection and a few other things are missing.

The photos tick me off the most.  I only have a copy of half of them on a drive that I originally unloaded a lot of them from and a few others on an SD card.  Burning this to disk was on the to-do-list 😦

I’m experimenting with PhotoRec to scour my drive for jpg and mov files.  Yeah, a new OS was loaded on there, but we’ll see what I can get.   This thing is interesting from a forensic perspective.  Awesome tool.


March 14, 2008

There are Two Copies…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Mike @ 7:45 am

… of the NTFS boot record. One at the beginning of the NTFS volume, one at the end.


“Could not find a valid backup boot sector”


I found a recovery boot disk, it came with TestDisk 6.6.

  • Recover boot sector
  • search mft
  • Rebuild Boot Sector

No go.  hmmm…

Downloaded 6.9


executable binary. Nice.

An exhaustive search using the tool found the second file table.  I was able to write out the partition table, although the machine still won’t boot.  Given this machine evolved from chaos more than being intelligently partitioned, and the resulting partition table doesn’t look quite right, I’m going to back up the contents of the drive onto that little 250GB notebook drive I just picked up before I go any further.*

This’ll take a while.

* yes, I know I should have taken a dd of the drive before doing anything…

March 13, 2008

Windows has Betrayed Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Mike @ 6:49 pm

I was getting so tired of fighting, that I simply had to try reactivating Windows. Something changed at the MS end, so the automated line worked just fine.

It was a breath of fresh air to be able to adjust my monitors to reflect my physical desktop layout, to hear more than one sound being played at a time, etc, etc, you’ve heard it all.

Anyway, for some reason, Windows tagged my Linux disk as a FAT12 disk and called it “C:”. This shifted all my Windows drive letters and trashed all my apps. Annoying. A bit of finagling, and a touch in the registry later, I managed to get it back to C:, but it would not boot properly.

Now while it is nice that Ubuntu gave me the option to boot Windows, it did not direct it to the Windows boot loader, it directed it to the OS boot. This means I’m SOL if I’m trying to get to the recovery console or safe mode.

So I pull out my grey-market DVD to try to get a recovery console together for Windows. Then I make a…. mistake.

fixboot. I’ve got to look into this. FAT12 encoded bits were vomited on to my pristine NTFS and EXT3 partitions. Stupid underdocumented Microsoft command line utils.

This includes a lot of personal data (there’s plenty backed up, but given that I was fighting with Linux to play sound properly and meet my basic needs for a month, backup was unfortunately not on the top of my mind. After all, do you *see* anything about backups in this blog?

The good news is that I merely toasted what I think would be the boot record, partition table and boot block. Most of NTFS and hopefully EXT3 is kept in the “middle” of the disk. Both my Windows boot partition and my Ubuntu partition are trashed. The partition table on the Ubuntu side is truly jibberish, but I have trouble imagining how Windows vomiting some FAT12 data on to a EXT3 and NTFS volume would result in *real* data loss. I’ll probably have to rebuild the OSes, but the data should be fine. It’ll just be a trick to figure out how exactly to extract it.

Playing an AVI

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Mike @ 7:11 am

Okay. I did some flirting with the dark side again.

Somebody told me that I should see the film “Wickerman” but under no circumstances should I pay for it to contribute to the rottenness and depravity that is the film. It would be unethical, so I was directed to leech it through a torrent.

So, I leeched a nice 700MB AVI through a Torrent.

To play the AVI, I had a problem. There was a luminous multihued ghost image appearing on screen. I tried to manually adjust the video modes, but regardless of the app or the mode either it would show me nothing but a small rectangle of a letterbox in the middle of my screen, it would show me an image with a luminous multihued ghost image a few inches off to the left, or it would play back so slowly and unstable, that it was absurd. To top it all off, the audio would also play with that weird crackle or snap every minute or so.

I was frustrated. Very frustrated. I didn’t want to spend the night hacking with my machine, I just wanted to watch the fricking film so that I could see the horror which is a bad film.

So here’s how I watched the film. Something Linux just was utterly unable to do for me:

  1. I copied the film to a USB key
  2. I plugged the USB key into my circa 2002 X24 laptop
  3. I plugged the 24″ monitor into my circa 2002 X24 laptop
  4. I plugged my USB speakers into my circa 2002 X24 laptop
  5. I installed Virtualdub, by clicking, downloading and running it

The machine doesn’t do USB 2.0 (it’s too old!), so I didn’t want to wait for it to copy back to the little notebook.

To top it off, when Linux copied the film TO the USB key, it didn’t close the device. Yeah, I was frustrated, but even after the LED on the drive stopped flashing, I was surprised that it didn’t actively try to sync removable devices. Maybe Windows does it by eliminating or continuously flushing the write cache. A write cache on a device which wasn’t around at boot time like that is a bit silly. It didn’t warn me about “unsafe device removal” nor did it offer a method obvious to me to flush the cache. The closest I could find was to right-click the drive icon and unmount it. I had to wait a fair while after the copying “completed” to be able to unmount it without a nebulous “this is in use” error.

Anyway. No word of a lie. Windows automatically set the USB speakers to my default, automatically set up mixing, automatically detected and started using my external monitor, warned me that I was using a USB 1.1 port for a 4GB USB key, and allowed me to install and run Virtualdub, all without even thinking about asking me to reboot.

The video played flawlessly right from the key. Flawlessly. Simultaneously driving a pair of USB speakers and reading the video driectly from the flash key. This machine has 1/4 the computing power, 1/100th the video computing power, yet it completely floored my modern Linux box for ease of use and performance.

I won’t conclude that Linux itself is crap. None of this has anything to do with anything I use Linux for on a regular basis professionally. As a server OS, it is awesome. As a server OS, you don’t touch ATI drivers, you don’t touch USB speakers, plug and play is not an issue, audio mixing is not an issue. You want simple, stable and reproducable. While Package managemnt and stupid config scripts have challenged that, for the mostpart, Linux still kicks ass there.

However, for the desktop, I’m deeply disappointed.

March 3, 2008

Searching for the OO doc I wrote on speedcontrol.c

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Mike @ 11:13 am

Last month, I wrote some blurb about the program speedcontrol.c. I won’t get in to what it does here, hopefully I can find that article.

It’s not obvious to me that Nautilus will let me do this. So I’m trying the command line.

    mike@whitetower:~/Documents/lotd$ grep -r speedcontrol.c *

    mike@whitetower:~/Documents/lotd$ grep -r -i vlc *
    Binary file day 1/sound-daemon.odt matches
    Binary file day 4/dmix.odt matches

Well, that’s wrong. I forgot, odt files are zipped XML.

    mike@whitetower:~/Documents/lotd$ find ./ -name *.odt -exec zgrep -i vlc '{}' \;

Must not be searching all the contents

    mike@whitetower:~/Documents/lotd$ zcat "./day 1/vlc.odt"
    application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.textgzip: ./day 1/vlc.odt has more than one entry--rest ignored

Uh huh.

There must be an easier way.

    mike@whitetower:~/Documents/lotd$ OFS=$IFS; IFS='
    ' ; for i in `find ./ -name *.odt `; do unzip -p "$i" content.xml | grep -i vlc > /tmp/$$.find ; if [ -s /tmp/$$.find ]; then echo "$i"; fi; done; IFS=$OFS; rm /tmp/$$.find
    ./day 3/flash.odt
    ./day 4/moresound.odt
    ./day 1/vlc.odt
    ./day 1/morestuff.odt
    ./day 1/sound-daemon.odt
    ./published/day 0/linux-on-the-desktop2.odt

So a search on “vlc” works.

    mike@whitetower:~/Documents/lotd$ OFS=$IFS; IFS='
    ' ; for i in `find ./ -name *.odt `; do unzip -p "$i" content.xml | grep -i speedcontrol > /tmp/$$.find ; if [ -s /tmp/$$.find ]; then echo "$i"; fi; done; IFS=$OFS; rm /tmp/$$.find

ok. No reference to it. Meh. I should be able to recall most of it and re-write.

February 29, 2008

I Miss Windows

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Mike @ 3:07 pm

I’m having a moment of weakness. I miss Windows. My video is faster, my Youtube can run full screen, my DVDs play smoothly, my sound… works, I can run video smoothing filters, the clipboard isn’t crap, keystrokes are consistent, fonts are better, the machine doesn’t crash when suspended. Honestly, for my Desktop, there is nothing I can do in Linux that I can’t do in Windows, and there are plenty of things in Windows that I can’t do in Linux.

In the next few months, I’m going to be going on a year-long trip, so this desktop machine I’m working with will be hidden in storage for a while. In the meantime, I have a small X24 notebook which will need a bit of touching up to make it good for travel. The battery is toasted on it, I’m not sure if I’ll replace that. It’s got an honest-to-goodness valid Windows XP license on it.

That said, I’m going to pick up a USB memory key, a 160GB drive and probably load Ubuntu on to a main partition. I’m going to do a dual-boot with probably 100GB of shared ext3 disk (Windows XP can load ext3 drivers). In theory, I should be able to use the Windows drive for video filters and all that.

Given that the machine has less exotic video and less exotic sound hardware, it should work fairly smoothly out-of-box.

Dual-boot is partially to get out of potential airport security issues. For those that don’t know, the airports have been asking people to boot their machines to search them for porn. It will allow me to apply Truecrypt, and the command line will be handy for remote backups. In the event that airport security demands to search my machine, I can help them by booting Windows. Given that I won’t use it for my personal finances, email or MP3s, I won’t have to worry about them freaking out because I won’t give them my banking info, email, MPAA/RIAA/SOCAN/Whatever collusion etc. I figure the worst they should do is confiscate my machine, the worst they might do at a U.S. border is to send me to Guantanamo to get my password.

I might have to set it to use the Windows boot loader and set Linux to boot from a seemingly uninteresting menu item. I’ll have to remember to shut down and not hibernate when crossing the border.

A tech with an iota of knowledge would know something’s not quite right. But the border guards don’t have an iota of knowledge, and the forensic analysis by back-room customs officials should be thwarted by reaonsable encryption… all that and I’m not doing anything wrong.

I guess I’ll be fighting with Linux a bit longer.  Truecrypt might actually be a killer app.

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