Skype - please re-enable ALSA support!

I use Skype. Not because I'm a fan of it (after all, I wrote PSIP, but by necessity.

Recently I've got an email from Skype that they are terminating access from all Skype clients prior to 4.3 - so if I haven't upgraded to the latest and greatest, I'd better do it, or else no connection.

Which is generally fine and dandy except that Skype 4.3 drops support for ALSA. ALSA is the *native* audio system in Linux. Skype does, however, chooses to support PulseAudio instead. I don't have a problem with them supporting PulseAudio, but why the need to drop support for ALSA, which has been working for years and years?

I don't want to discuss the merits (of the lack thereof) of PulseAudio here - I'd just point out that not all of us Linux users run (or can run, or want to run) PulseAudio.

Since the ALSA back-end used to work beautifully (ALSA was supported in version 4.2 - one version before 4.3), and since PulseAudio usage is clearly optional (one can run Skype even without PulseAudio installed - but you don't get voice services (call/talk) - you can still send text and files) - I don't think it's that difficult to get ALSA support back in the next updates.

Skype - if you're listening, please, enable back ALSA support in your next update.

Posted on 17 Aug 2014, 4:51 - Categories: General
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Xscreenshot is a simple program to take a screenshot of a selected area in your desktop.

You can run it in single-shot for multiple-shot mode; in multiple-shot mode you can use it to take successive screenshots of different area of the screen - very useful when capturing screenshots for documentation.

Xscreenshot is packaged as part of Xannotate.

Posted on 28 Jul 2014, 6:16 - Categories: Linux General
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Xannotate updated

If you've got the first released version of xannotate yesterday, you should get it again.

The new version (dated 2014-07-27) now supports three pens, eraser, and support for alpha transparency (if you're running a compositing manager) which makes it run faster.

Posted on 27 Jul 2014, 5:42 - Categories: Linux General
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Xannotate, a desktop annotation tool

I like gromit, but unfortunately it is not working for me. The code itself is good, the bug is probably due to the subtle changes of GDK/GTK behaviour over the years.

Anyway, I decided to write my own, and call it xannotate; because it does "annotation" and it only depends on Xlib.

Here's a shot:

More details (with download links) here.

Posted on 26 Jul 2014, 5:05 - Categories: Linux General
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Alternative URL for this site

Recently there was a fiasco between No-IP and Microsoft. You can google that yourself. The end result is, this blog went down for a couple of days.

To avoid that in the future, I'm planning to get my own domain; but for the time being if this site is down again, you can try to access it from instead.

Posted on 8 Jul 2014, 3:24 - Categories: General
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Updated links

I have updated my links with some of the projects that I maintain. They are mainly small, old projects that use GTK2. Some of them have disappeared completely from the web, so I suppose I just publish them so people can grab the source if needed.

The one I've just worked on recently is Xarchiver. I have fixed on the bugs that cause crashing when command line parameters are used, I've also updated the rar module to work with the new unrar 5.x.

Posted on 12 Jun 2014, 4:37 - Categories: Linux General
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Running new application on older glibc

New article on running new applications on older glibc here; and patch for yaf-splash enable support for UTF-8, here.

Posted on 30 Apr 2014, 6:11 - Categories: Linux General
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Happy Easter

Easter is just around the corner. Happy Easter everyone

Posted on 18 Apr 2014, 4:30 - Categories: General
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Musl Libc 1.0 is released

musl libc is a new system library for Linux systems which features small, correct, and clean code; with full-support for static linking, and still being reasonably fast (in that order).

Because of its size, it can easily acts as a replacement for uclibc or even dietlibc, because of its completeness and compatibility it can even replace GNU libc (glibc) for many purposes.

After being in development for over three (3) years, musl has finally hit its 1.0 release.

Musl libc is included as part of Fatdog64 development package (devx.sfs) mainly for building small static executables; musl took over this role from dietlibc two years ago.

Go musl!

Posted on 24 Mar 2014, 17:06 - Categories: Linux General
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Beware of dud flash drives

I just found about this last week.

TL;DR: Sandisk changed their their USB flash drives to identify themselves as fixed disks instead of the more reasonable, and historical-standard, removable disks.

And what for? To meet Windows 8 certification.

And why is that? Because as everyone knows, Windows *even in its latest incarnation* is unable to read a USB removable flash drive that has more than one partition; but it has no problem reading *fixed disk* with multiple partitions.

So what is easier: change the code to enable reading multiple partition off removable flash drive (the code is already there anyway for "fixed disk", just the pathway to recognise or not recognise the partitions); or tell everyone else to mark their "removable" hardware as "fixed disk" so I don't have to do anything and it will just work - even if as the consequence that hardware would cause things to subtly break, including its usage on my own prior operating system?

Of course. Writing certification requirements is easier than digging through decades-old code, buried several layers deep, written by perhaps unrelated groups of persons. Better not upset the house of cards.

Funny thing is, practically any other operating system has accepted that USB flash drive can have multiple partitions for many years (regardless of how they are marked); it has become a standard trick that to hide data from windows we just create a second partition on the flash drive and put our data there. What does this tell you?

Good thing that, according to the link above (see last comment), Sandisk regained its sanity (no doubt provoked by market feedback) and restored marking removable devices as "removable". Just make sure you don't get those dud ones (marked ominously as "Windows-8 certified" or "Windows-8 compatible").

Posted on 6 Mar 2014, 16:55 - Categories: General
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