Ubuntu Dapper, Gateway MX3215, Sound Recording

Sound recording is one of those areas which Linux tends to lag behind on in terms of hardware support.  Tonight I managed to record some sound, both in GNOME’s sound recorder and in Audacity.  I’m gonna write down what I did in case I need to do it again.

It’s all about the Volume Control.  Double click, or right click, on the volume icon in the upper right part of the screen. I have two different “devices” to use with it, the VIA 8237 Alsa Mixer, and the Realtek ALC250 rev 2.  Also an obviously irrelevant modem device.  As far as I know, I only have one sound card in the machine, but it shows up as two devices, one using the old crusty OSS system and one with the new-spangled ALSA system.  I guess OSS is for backward compatibility with things like Audacity, which only uses OSS.  (These are found in the File/Change Device menu.)

In the OSS mixer, I go to the Capture tab, which has a “volume” and “microphone” slider.  (and CD, but who cares.)

OK, I just sat and stared at this and did some more fiddling and I just get more confused about how it all works as time goes on.  I thought I was going to lay down the law, and in fact all I can say is I fiddled with things a lot and eventually it started recording sound decently.

Here’s some clues — if you’re recording in Audacity and sound like Darth Vader, try unchecking the “software playthrough” and “play other tracks while recording new one” checkboxes in the preferences.  (Yes, the lack of ability to play other tracks while recording a new one makes Audacity useless for multitrack recording.  Cute huh?)
Try messing with both the oss and the alsa mixer.  Maybe one will help.  Maybe the other will.  Alsa seems to matter more.  The +20db mike boost switch you can get to via Edit/Preference may help.  Sometimes when you dink with one set of switches it seems to change things in other sets of switches and you have to go back and forth and see what happened.

OK, I’m signing off.  Um… to anyone arriving here hoping to get sound recording working in Dapper on a Gateway laptop…. it’s possible… but I’m damned if I know how I did it.
The alsa one seems to matter more.

Rigorous Intuition — Have The Illuminati Silenced Him?

Rigorous Intuition has been for a month or three my favorite foray into the twilight zone, moving between fascinating speculation on the factual and little-noticed, and completely freaky conspiracy wildness, with no obvious lines of demarcation between them.  It was updating very frequently for a while but stopped (so far) on June 2nd.  I hope it returns.  It was kind of addictive.

Scientists OK Gore’s movie for accuracy – Yahoo! News

Scientists OK Gore’s movie for accuracy – Yahoo! News

I haven’t seen it, but there are a lot of people repeating Republican talking points saying it’s full of crap — so I thought I’d publicize this article a bit.

UPDATE: Spin, Republican Senate Committee! Spin till you can spin no more! Listen for these rebuttals from a dittohead near you.

Notes On A Clean Ubuntu (Dapper Drake) Install on a Gateway Laptop

My work is virtually exclusively in my windows partition on my laptop (a Gateway MX3215) these days, so I can afford to take some risks with my linux partition.  It had been, previously, a Breezy Badger install that had been upgraded to Dapper; but I wanted to change something fundamental — I wanted to sidegrade the filesystem from ReiserFS to Ext3FS (at this point fans of those two filesystems are feeling their blood pressure increase at my counting them as equals) — something one can’t do without a total reinstall, cause the filesystem underlies everything…  So  I downloaded the ubuntu “Dapper Drake” release live/installer CD and went at it.
Here are the tweaks I needed to do to make things happy hardwarewise:

  • builtin wifi — this has often messed me up, but I’ve got the deal now — you need to blacklist the sketchy open-source “bcm43xx” driver, which tries to run it.  Add the line “blacklist bcm43xx” to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.
  • to replace that, I installed the “ndiswrapper” package and dug around in the windows system-restore partition to find the precise driver that was intended to run it on Windows: bcmwl5a.inf.   I did “ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5a.inf” and then “ndiswrapper -m” to make the magic happen.  (note that ethernet networking Just Worked and I used it to get this far.)
  • I edited /etc/X11/xorg.conf and added a line to the Synaptics section, setting “MaxTapTime” to “0” so I don’t keep accidentally selecting things by tapping the touchpad.
  • I also edited /etc/X11/xorg.conf to add “1280×768” to all the lists of resolutions.
  • I did the stupid GNOME sound dance.

You know, simple stuff everyone doesn’t mind doing, right?  Ah well.

I’ve been following with interest the Mark Pilgrim Apple->Free Software Switch.  Time for more bullet points!

  • Goodbye Apple
  • When The Bough Breaks (what drove him over the edge)
  • interlude: some stuff from Daring Fireball I can’t find in 10 seconds so who cares
  • Essentials 2006 where he tries and mostly but not entirely succeeds in finding acceptable or superior replacements for his favorite Mac apps.  Quite amusing in parts.

It’s all quite inspiring.  All via teh Michael.
I just thought I’d get the facts out there on the net so if someone googles around maybe they can find what they need.