Old Ubuntu-releases in APT / etc.

We have an old VM (Ubuntu 14.10) that we just have running – it does a very specific job, isn’t connected to anything important and just shugs along. But because of a dependency issue with external software, we needed to install a new library to it – and because of dependencies when we first set up the VM, Ubuntu was the distro selected.

Sadly all the old URLs for apt-get in sources.list had stopped working, as the mirrors no longer had that specific Ubuntu (utopic) version available.

Luckily – after a bit of using our old friend Google – I found old-releases.ubuntu.com. This is also available as an archive for content through APT, so if you prefix your old addresses with old-releases.ubuntu.com instead of whatever mirror you’re used to fetching images from, you can get last version of the packages made available when you first set up your distro.

Saved the day!

Enabling OpenVPN configuration / autostart on Ubuntu

This assumes that you’ve already made sure that your configuration is valid and is able to connect (you can do this by calling openvpn --config /etc/openvpn/FILENAME.conf directly. It won’t be daemonized, but it will give you any errors on the console directly).

There’s a few details you’ll have to get right before the openvpn daemon starts your configuration automagically under Ubuntu:

  1. Your configuration has to be under /etc/openvpn/FILENAME.conf. The .conf part is important. If it ends with .ovpn or anything else, it won't be loaded.
  2. Ubuntu isn't set to start all configurations by default. You can change this by editing /etc/default/openvpn. Change the AUTOSTART variable to the configurations you want to start when the daemon starts. The example in the file says "all", which means that all defined configurations will start. This is OK if you want to keep openvpn up at all times.
  3. You have to tell systemd that you've changed the default file. If you don't do this, nothing will have appeared to change for openvpn - unless you restart the OS. And you don't want to restart your server just to make a setting visible. Do systemctl daemon-reload to make systemd reload the settings (this is also in the comments in the file, but hey, you don't have time to read those, so now you're searching Google instead).
  4. Restart openvpn: service openvpn restart
  5. Confirm that everything went OK by looking in /var/log/syslog

slice2php and Ubuntu: /usr/share/slice/Murmur.ice:9: error: Can’t open include file “Ice/SliceChecksumDict.ice”

Trying to generate Murmur.php for the server component of Mumble (named Murmur (which is the only place I’ve ever encountered Ice)), slice2php gave the error:

/usr/share/slice/Murmur.ice:9: error: Can't open include file "Ice/SliceChecksumDict.ice"
1 error in preprocessor.

To fix this I had to run slice2php with a -I statement, to tell it where to find the SliceChecksumDict file (which you can locate using locate or find or the packages search):

slice2php -I/usr/share/Ice-3.4.2/slice /usr/share/slice/Murmur.ice

Evolution & Exchange: Unable to retrieve message

Some time after upgrading to Ubuntu 11.10 I ended up with the dreaded “Unable to retrieve message” in Evolution (which I use for Exchange connectivity). This has usually corrected itself by simply restarting Evolution, but this time nothing would help. I stumbled across a thread that provided a few ways to possibly solve the issue, but the .evolution directory didn’t contain any live installation in Ubuntu.

Turns out the directory is:


As both my mailstore and address book lives on the Exchange server, I decided to just move the evolution directory to a new name and recreate the evolution directory from scratch. This takes a bit of time while Evolution indexes everything, but after a while everything were back to normal.

E:Error, pkgProblemResolver::Resolve generated breaks

While attempting to upgrade to Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric) from 11.04, do-release-upgrade refused to do anything useful. The only message it felt like delivering was “E:Error, pkgProblemResolver::Resolve generated breaks”. Googling didn’t turn up much, but a forum thread (which I seem to have lost now) suggested (among other attempts) to remove any references to external (3rd party) APT repositories. I thought do-release-upgrade did this by itself, but apparently not …

Commenting out the external repositories in /etc/apt/sources.list and in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/* solved the problem (I had spotify, dropbox and Google Chrome there), allowing do-release-upgrade to do its thing.

Getting Mac OS X-fonts to Work on Windows (Through Ubuntu)

This will be a fairly technical post, so if you’re not in the mood or don’t know what a bash script or Ubuntu is, this might not be the post for you.

Useful Ubuntu packages: fontforge (install with apt-get install fontforge)
Useful PERL Libraries: Mac::AppleSingleDouble (install with cpan install Mac::AppleSingleDouble)

First; Mac OS X stores the actual font data as a secondary data stream / file that’s attached to the actual font that the user can see. This requires the user sending the font to zip the contents before sending, so that both files can be included. The interesting files will be located in the __MACOSX folder and not in the actual folder containing the font (this folder will only contain the files with a 0 byte size). These files in __MACOSX will be the ones we’re going to town with.

Doing “file” on any file from this directory will probably yield “AppleDouble encoded Macintosh file”.

You can extract the actual contents of these files with the following awesome PERL snippet from a post at superuser:

perl -MMac::AppleSingleDouble -e 'for(@ARGV) {
    $a = new Mac::AppleSingleDouble($_);
    if(open $f, ">", $_.".rsrc") {
        binmode $f;
        print $f $a->get_entry(2);
        close $f;

This will create a FILENAME_HERE.rsrc file in the current directory. This is the actual file that were stored as side channel data, without the other metadata associated with it.

In my case the resulting file was indicated to be a “Mac OSX datafork font, PostScript” by “file”, and after this I tried two things – one worked, one failed.

The first that failed:
In the archive there was also two other small datafiles. I tried extracting these and renaming the files to .pfb and .pfm (to use them as PostScript Type 1 fonts on Windows). This did not work. I’m not really sure where this failed at the moment, as I didn’t really feel like digging myself further down into the Windows Font subsystem. I also tried running the files through fondu, but didn’t get anywhere (it seems I really should run this under Mac OS X to be able to generate the proper .pfb and .afm files).

The second that worked (sort of):
fontforge is able to import a PostScript/dfont file without the associated metadata file. This might break kerning and a few other issues (fontforge will guess, so it won’t be half-bad), but will give you a resulting TTF file that actually works and can be used for most of the things that you’d use the font for. It was good enough for our use. Simply start fontforge, open the file and select file -> Generate Font afterwards.

Hopefully I won’t have to do this any time soon again. Fonts. Prrffftttt.

Ubuntu Natty and Native Linux Spotify – “There is a problem with your sound card”

After updating to the most recent version of Ubuntu, The Natty Narwhal, Spotify decided it didn’t want to play music any longer. The only message in the UI itself was the usual “There is a problem with your sound card”, which isn’t very helpful if you want to actually try to find a solution.

Starting Spotify from the command line gave a few new messages, ending with:

E [snd:298] playbackError(12)

According to a a thread on getsatisfaction, this seems to be caused by a mismatch in different versions of the offline file cache (My naive guess is that Spotify uses the kernel identificator or some other settings about the machine in deciding the key to use for encrypting the offline storage – when this suddenly doesn’t match any longer, it refuses to play any music).

Closing Spotify, deleting the ~/.cache/spotify/offline.bnk file (~ expands to your home directory), solves the issue and allows Spotify to fill your ears yet again.

Update: This also seem to fix any issue where Spotify fails to get the external IP through upnp (at least that’s one of the error messages):

E [upnp:521] ip: error getting external ip 0
I [http:840] Result 404 Not Found

Fixing dpkg / apt-get Problem With Python2.6

While trying to upgrade to Python 2.6 on one of my development machines tonight I was faced by an error message after running apt-get install python2.6:

After unpacking 0B of additional disk space will be used.
Setting up python2.6-minimal (2.6.4-4) ...
Linking and byte-compiling packages for runtime python2.6...
pycentral: pycentral rtinstall: installed runtime python2.6 not found
pycentral rtinstall: installed runtime python2.6 not found
dpkg: error processing python2.6-minimal (--configure):
 subprocess post-installation script returned error exit status 1
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of python2.6:
 python2.6 depends on python2.6-minimal (= 2.6.4-4); however:
  Package python2.6-minimal is not configured yet.
dpkg: error processing python2.6 (--configure):
 dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
Errors were encountered while processing:
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

Attempting to install python2.6-minimal wouldn’t work, attempting to install python2.6 proved to have the same problem.

Luckily the Launchpad thread for python-central provided the answer: Upgrade python-central first!

:~# apt-get install python-central
Setting up python2.6 (2.6.4-4) ...
Setting up python-central (0.6.14+nmu2) ...

Making Spotify, Wine and PulseAudio Play Together

In what has now become a series on this marvellous blog, we’re diving into how to make PulseAudio play nice with Spotify running under Wine. After yesterday’s article about getting any sound through PulseAudio at all, the next issue that surfaced was that the output from Spotify running under Wine were just garbled noise. This worked with the previous ALSA or OSS setup, but with PulseAudio everything went haywire!

Luckily the massive wisdom of teh intarwebs came to the rescue again, this time through an almost three year old post by Paul Betts: “Make Wine and PulseAudio Get Along“.

The solution is to first use padsp winecfg to configure padsp for a specific process, then use padsp to redirect any access to /dev/dsp while the provided application runs.

First run:

padsp winecfg

Then add padsp to your spotify startup script (or if you do this manually, just .. remember to type it. OK?):

padsp wine "C:\program files\spotify\spotify.exe"

Restart Spotify and enjoy the massive collection of great music!

Missing Devices or Sound Card in Pulse Audio

After getting the missing sound control panel in Ubuntu back yesterday, the next problem that turned up was that no actual applications would play any sound – other than the annoying beep! beep! beep!

The reason is that after the pulseaudio configuration has been installed, pulseaudio it self may be missing all it device drivers and other packages.

The solution for this issue can be found at the page for PulseAudio at the Ubuntu Wiki.

Install the missing PulseAudio packages through APT:

sudo apt-get install libasound2-plugins "pulseaudio-*" paman padevchooser paprefs pavucontrol pavumeter

Restart the application that needs sound support and everything should work. If you’re still not getting any sound, check the PulseAudio device configuration (by default installed under Applications, Sound and Video, PulseAudio Device Chooser) and that your device shows up there (mine didn’t before installing the above packages).