Another Reason, for me Not To Set Up JACK as the Back-End For PulseAudio

According to This Posting, I had written that hypothetically, it might make some sense for me to set up ‘JACK‘ as the back-end, by which ‘PulseAudio‘ sends its sound output, full-time. As opposed to the notion not making sense, to allow a few scripts to do so temporarily, that are being run by the ‘QJackCtl‘ GUI.

Well there is still a reason, why this might not be so. Doing so would be consistent, with setting up a Debian system completely according to our own preferences, and then if something does not work, we are up to our own devices to fix it.

My laptop ‘Klystron’ is a Kanotix / Spitfire system, which is also Debian-based, but in which the exact configuration has been done for me, by the Kanotix team, from their Live Disk (which can actually be written onto a USB-Key). This means that there is an advantage to me, in keeping certain configuration details conform to what the Kanotix people prescribed. If I did run into trouble with it, they would have some chance of maybe suggesting solutions, but only on the assumption that mine is still functioning within their parameters.

The way those parameters are, the current back-end to the PulseAudio sound server is displayed in the GUI as being “gstreamer“, and yet good compatibility with all things ALSA is maintained…

If I was to reconfigure my computers completely, for example because I wanted to change them to use the ‘GNOME desktop manager’ for instance, instead of ‘KDE‘, then the Kanotix team would say ‘Sorry, we are not familiar with the details of your system anymore. Therefore, we cannot help you.’

Yet, more generally, Debian allows deep changes to a configuration.

Dirk

Continue reading Another Reason, for me Not To Set Up JACK as the Back-End For PulseAudio

Klystron Kernel Update

My Linux laptop named ‘Klystron‘ is still fully subscribed to the “Kanotix” repositories. As the reader may recall, Kanotix is a slightly customized version of Debian Linux, that is KDE-based, and that is maintained by a group of developer-experts who I trust implicitly.

Being subscribed to their specific repositories and configuration details has as one advantage, that periodic kernel updates are fed to me, via package manager.

As I came home from camping yesterday, on July 7, I also rebooted this laptop, and saw that indeed, a kernel update was being offered, which I immediately installed. So that laptop now has kernel version ‘4.4.0-30-generic‘, or so my /boot directory would seem to say.

One problem that I was experiencing with that laptop since before camping, was some subtle WiFi issue which I could no longer pinpoint. I had written, that its ability to use the hardware encryption offered by the (kernel module ‘RTL8723BE’) chip-set seemed to work fine. But there were some other problems with the WiFi.

I would like to be able to report, when and if that issue has been resolved completely. But since Klystron has only been running on kernel version 4.4.0-30-generic for one day, it is still far too soon to call out a victory. I will continue to observe the behavior of that laptop for the next little while, and give further comment on it later. So far its behavior looks good.

Dirk

 

One main reason for Choosing Kanotix

A question which many people have asked me, was ‘What is the advantage of choosing Kanotix, over choosing just any generic Debian / Linux OS?’

And an important area in Linux, is hardware recognition. We tend to appreciate it, if we can install a Linux system with little or no mess. And Kanotix users are of the variety, who want to be able to plug in all the latest hardware, and just have it play.

Kanotix does not always ship with the generic, stock Debian kernel, but with a special Kanotix kernel build, that has all the latest drivers in-tree. And it is a bit of a joke which we sometimes make, that even though Windows introduced the concept first, in many cases, Linux can be more plug-and-play than Windows is.

This is especially true for Kanotix.

Dirk

 

Whether It Is Easy To Debian-ize A Kanotix Installation

One question which people often ask me, is “What is the advantage of Kanotix over Debian?” Kanotix is in fact a Debian-based distribution, but has been bundled to include advantages over straight Debian, including the ease with which certain features recognize our hardware and install.

The next question people typically ask me is, “Suppose I had installed Kanotix. What would I do if I no longer want it to be Kanotix, but rather want to revert it to a standard Debian installation?”

The answer to that question is twofold. Firstly, it is easy to remove the specific Kanotix repositories from our Debian Sources list, which ‘apt-get’ queries, to download packages. But there is a slightly more subtle side to this question, which is best answered with a concrete example.

As an example, Kanotix / Spitfire, which is based on Debian / Jessie, currently comes with LibreOffice 5.1.3.2-2. I just updated mine tonight. This differs from standard Debian / Jessie, which is only supposed to come with LibreOffice 4.4.4.3-3. The LibreOffice version that comes with Kanotix works 100%, even though it is a higher version number than what is standard.

But from time to time, both the Kanotix distribution and the Debian distribution will update the LibreOffice version we have installed, either way. This could be because certain security-related flaws have been discovered, as if we had not heard of enough zero-days yet. But if what we had was Kanotix, and if we had installed the version of LibreOffice that it offers as an advantage, then the version number would stay at 5.1.3.2-2 in my case. Any subsequent, incremental updates to LibreOffice, which standard Debian had to offer, would come as slight version increases over 4.4.3-3 – for example, standard Debian might come up with a LibreOffice 4.4.4.4 . In this case our problem would be, that our package manager would see that we have version 5.1.3.2-2 installed, and would not offer us the (slightly newer) version 4.4.4.4 , because that updated version would still be lower, than 5.1.3… So our version would stay frozen for some time, at least until the Debian team started to publish a version higher than 5.1.3.2-2 . Which would be, effectively never for Debian 8.

So in order really to get Kanotix off our system, we would next also have to uninstall LibreOffice 5.1.3.2-2 completely, which consists of numerous packages. And then we could reinstall OpenOffice 4.4.3-3 from the standard Debian repositories.

Doing so might also mean, that we had LibreOffice documents in our home partitions (user data), which happened to take advantage of LibreOffice 5.1.3 features, and which LibreOffice 4.4.3-3 does not know how to display correctly… And so what some of us might do, is just keep the LibreOffice version installed, that was once installed.

Something similar happens with VirtualBox, which is a GUI-oriented Virtual Machine, on which some of us will install Windows… Kanotix bundles a version of it, which combines all the features in one package, that package being of a higher version-number than standard Debian. Standard Debian will publish VirtualBox as a set of packages, but typically with a lower version number. In theory, the question could be more urgent here, of having to revert the version to the standard Debian version, before we install our virtual Windows, because major version mismatches here can stop our “Guest Machine” (that again being user data in its entirety) from running outright.

Dirk