Category Archives: Computing

Windows 10 – Bash on Ubuntu on Windows

The latest versions of the Windows 10 Insider Preview have a nice new feature with a very odd name, I give you “Bash on Ubuntu on Windows” – Yes that really IS it’s name!

BoUoW

 

Although Microsoft showed this off with a bit of fanfair at the Build Conference, they have not really shown how to get it all up and running, so I’ll pop the steps down here.

Some things to note before we start,

  1. This is not a Hyper-V of Ubuntu! This is Bash Shell running inside a container inside Windows (Think of it like Wine on Linux, but the other way round)
  2. This will only work on Insider builds of Windows 10 after 14316
  3. x64 only
  4. Like I say this is NOT Linux, and the Linux Kernel is NOT running, as such not everything will work
  5. Canonical worked with Microsoft on this. MS did the Kernel mapper (maps Linux Kernel calls over to equivalent Windows Kernel calls) and Canonical created the run space (it’s 14.04LT at the moment, although 16.04LT is coming soon)
  6. Yes, it’s the NATIVE executable files running on Windows, not some re-compiled version, so even if you add other package repo you can install them with APT
  7. The Windows part of it is NOT open source, although there is a GitHub for the project

Right with all that out of the way, let’s get to the install.

  • Fire up features and settings, pop down towards the bottom and tick the Windows Subsystem for Linux optionFeatureAdd
    This will install all the stuff, and reboot the PC
  • Once your back up and running, click Start and type Bash and the bash installer will pop up, say Y to the prompt and it will download the Canonical package from the Windows Store
    install
  • Let that finish, it will unpack and close the window, now click start then type Bash and you will have the Canonical icon on the results, launch that. Hey presto, Bash Shell, running natively on Windows!
  • Paste the below script into the shell, this will fix some known issues with APT-GET
    cat > /usr/sbin/policy-rc.d <<EOF
    #!/bin/sh
    exit 101
    EOF
    chmod +x /usr/sbin/policy-rc.d
    dpkg-divert –local –rename –add /sbin/initctl
    ln -s /bin/true /sbin/initctl
  • type sudo apt-get update then sudo apt-get upgrade (make sure you create a /etc/apt/apt.conf file if you need proxy support, same as any other Debian based Linux)
  • Install anything you fancy having a play with.
    update

Some useful things

  • You can remove / re-install the Canonical part of the system without unchecking the feature etc. Just use LxRun.exe /uninstall and LxRun.exe /install to re-download the Canonical parts afresh.
  • X11 stuff is not working at the moment, so Shell only.
  • Some packages work out of the box, some require a little massaging as at the moment junctions are a bit squiffy (have a look on the GitHub bugs list for workarounds)

August EP650B Headphone Review

I’ve been using some in ear headphones at work for a while now, and although they worked just fine, the office has become a very noisy place as of recent so I decided to treat myself to some over ear headphones to get some of the noise isolation I wasn’t getting with the in ear ones.

I didn’t want to spend a fortune on them (and hence Active noise cancel was out) and prefered if they had BT4 / APTx support so at least over Bluetooth they would sound half decent. So I went looking for what was around.

I found a few that had decent writeups and the likes, but just then I had an email arrive, Amazon had these at a discount on one of their “Deal of the Day” offers. So thought “what’s the harm” and took the plunge.

SpecificationsIMG_20160427_140602

Bluetooth Specification: Bluetooth V4.0 (APTx and CSR support)
Operating Range: Up to 10m
Frequency Response: 60Hz – 20KHz
Speaker Output: 30mW
SNR: ≥85dB
Distortion: ≤1.0%
Battery: 3.7V/220mAh Built-in Li-ion Battery
Working Time: 10 Hours
Charging Time: 2 Hours
Standby Time: 30 Days
Weight: 235g
Dimensions: 176.6 x 188.6 x 71mm

IMG_20160427_140622Review

Now I know the specs don’t look outstanding, but remember these headphones were under £30 shipped, and had all the features I was looking for, at least on paper. The Frequency range is above average for the price and support BT4/APTx while adding a good level of noise isolation.

SOUND

OK, so they are headphones, so how do they sound? Answer… Pretty darn good! Now I will say straight away, they are bass heavy, but that is not necessarily a bad thing (depending on what you listen too obviously). I’ve tweaked this in the equaliser on my phone and PC, so they are less ‘boomy’ but if you are into metal/hard rock, I’m sure they would be just fine for you. Other frequency ranges are a lot more equalised, with mids and high’s representing themselves well, as long as not drowned out by bass that is. This could be read as a critical point, however other headphone hardware that cost’s a lot more (looking at you Beats) have the same sound representation, so it seems to be what all of the manufacturers are doing at the moment (only Sennheiser seem to have refrained at the moment), Sony started the ‘I can do Bass’ trend a while back. Hopefully it will move on at some point soon, as we all know that better magnets have allowed bigger bass, it’s like the whole blue LED thing, see them everywhere now, even on things that are designed for the bedroom, if the LED is on it’s like daylight in the room.

BUILD

IMG_20160427_140656The build quality on the headphones seems to be sound enough. the fit and finish looks pretty good, and I know the ‘B’ spec units have had some tweaks over the original because of issues with the plastics around the headphone cups. Only time will tell however, so if anything happens I’ll update this post. They fold to allow easier travel as well, which is nice. Pity they don’t come with some sort of case (although one is available on Amazon if you want one). They are packaged with a USB cable and a 3.5″ Headphone cable.

CONNECTIVITY

One of the main reasons for purchasing them was the BT4 support, allowing me to use them to listen and take calls on from my phone (Nexus 6P). And in this regard they work admirably.  I have been pleasantly surprised with how well they handle calls over the phone and Skype for Business, with no complaints from the people I’m speaking to about the noise/quality.

Bluetooth audio quality is great, yes it’s not the exact same as hardwired quality, but as long as your phone supports APTx it’s well within the margins of the flexibility over quality weighing up. They also have the standard BT controls on the Right earphone exterior, so volume, skip and play/pause all work. Just remember, the controls only work over BT, and not over 3.5″ or USB.

NFC pairing is supported, and worked just fine on the Nexus when tested.

The one thing that I didn’t realise, and is not well documented on the box or manual, the USB connectivity allows for more than just charging. When plugged into the PC (Windows 10IP) it registers as a media device with both Audio and Microphone support, and so can be used as a device on that as well. With the extremely useful ability to be connected to both the PC (USB) and the Phone (BT4) at the same time, and switches between the most recently used source. So if listening to the Phone, and then you press play on the PC it sends a Pause command to the phone, and audio on the PC takes over instantly, and vice versa, Very useful!

BATTERY

Battery life is rated at 10 hours+, and I have no reason to doubt that. It’s obviously dependent on how loud you drive them, and what source you use to do it, but I’ve not run out of charge yet through a complete working day, so that’s fine with me.

CONCLUSION

I was surprised by the abilities of these ‘cost effective’ headphones, I bought them on a whim to see if they would do until I found something that I could live with long term, and to be honest, I’ve stopped looking. These are much better than the price would make you believe. In fact one of the nicest things to be said for them is that after I purchased mine, two of my colleagues have also purchased some for the same reason. Not much higher praise really if you ask me than three ‘geeks’ in the same team owning them.

IMG_20160427_140710
Update : Got the travel pack for them and it’s perfectly functional, nothing special but hey, it’s only to hold them safe, so cant expect too much I suppose.

Buy now at Amazon.co.uk

OSX 10.6.7 on Hackintosh

Just for giggles (obviously)

Things you will need

  1. VirtualBox
  2. A copy of 10.6 (SL_10.6.6i_by_Hazard.iso is what I used)
  3. A PC With the VTX extensions
  4. Some time and patience
  • Install VirtualBox onto the PC, and install the extensions
  • Fire up VirtualBox, and create a new Virtual Machine by clicking new at the top
  • Name it MacOSX (or whatever, but use the word Mac and it will auto select Mac OSX as the OS, if mot make sure you select it) 
    1
  • Click next throught most of the rest of it, I’d say give it as much ram as you can, but my laptop chugs along quiet happily with 768mb, and create a new virtual disk.
  • Right click the new VM, and select Settings, pop to System and untick the enable EFI option (and floppy). I set the boot order to HDD then CD because I always forget to unmount the disk, but that’s upto you. Also check the Display option to make sure 3D Acceleration is enabled. 
    2
  • Mount the DVD into the virtual DVD Drive 
    3
  • Fire up the VM and it will load the Chameleon, press enter to load the OS Installer and wait for it to get into OSX. 
    4 5
  • Select your language, and agree to the licenses etc, now select Utilities, Disk Utility, Select the raw disk, click Partition, select 1 Partition, name the disk, and make sure the format is Extended (Journaled) and click Apply. 
     67
  • Click close on the Disk Utility and you will be back to the installer screen, don’t click install just yet, rather click Customize 
    8
  • From there expand Chameleon Boot loaders, select Chameleon RC5, and Chameleon Options and select Ethernet Builtin and Graphics Enabler, then scroll down to Patches and select USB Fix and NTFS (if you want to read Win formatted disks). Anything else you want installing (Fonts, X11, whatnot) now’s the time to pick it. 
    9
  • Ok out of that, and click install, go make a cup of tea, as it will take a few minutes to do it’s thing. After it finishes it will reboot, sometimes the reboot will fail with a kernel panic, don’t worry, just reset the VM (right CTRL-R) and make sure to either eject the CD, or change the boot order so the Hard disk boots, not the CD.
  • That will bring you into OSX, and have you go through the initial configuration. You don’t need to use an AppleID, but doesn’t seem to hurt if you do use one. Just make sure to give yourself a login with a password (makes that the SU password then)
  • Right, we now have 10.6 up and running, however that’s not the latest build, and there will be updates. DONT do them from the updater! it will overwrite the Kernel, then it wont boot properly (if doing this on Physical, most modern Intel CPU’s can do this, as the standard kernel will be fine). Right we need to download the update and do it manually, so pop to the Apple OSX 10.6.7 Combo Update page and download it to the machine (the OSX machine), and also before clicking anything, download the 10.6.7 Legacy Kernel Package
  • Right then, install the Combo update, but whatever you do leave it on the screen saying Restart, DONT RESTART Rather now run the Legacy Kernel 10.7 Package installer. Continue through, and select Legacy Kernel (if your on an AMD, then select that as well) and let it install. When finished select the restart option in the Combo update. When you see the Kernel Panic Press Right CTRL-R. 
    10 11
  • Well done, your successfully now running MacOSX 10.6.7, have fun with your ‘Mac’. 
    12

FSMO Roles and moving them

I wrote last week about my move from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007, and in that article I mentioned that I moved my Domain Controller over at the same time.

There has been questions about what and how, so I’ve knocked this together for anyone that needs to do likewise.

In this scenario we have our old server, and we have our new freshly Server 2003’d server, OLD and NEW.

  • Install DNS on the NEW server, however do not configure it. To do this just add the DNS role through Add Remove programs. You may also need WINS if you use legacy OS’s.
  • Configure the NEW server’s network with a static IP, and the primary DNS should point to the OLD server for DNS, with itself as a secondary.
  • Join the domain on the new server (through computer properties) and reboot.
  • DCPromo the server upto a DC, you should join this server as ‘Additional Domain Controller for an Existing Domain’. This will automatically configure the DNS to replicate the DNS of the domain. Use the defaults for all the settings, unless you have a good reason not to. Make sure you remember the recovery password that you enter.

Write after a reboot at this point you will have two DC servers on your LAN (NEW and OLD), the problem is however that OLD will still be the FSMO master for all the roles in the domain, seeming as we are decommissioning this box we need to move all the roles.

  • First off we need to make the NEW server a Global Catalogue server, to do this launch ‘Active Directory Sites and Services’, now expand your site, then expand servers, select the NEW server, then right click and properties of NTDS Settings (on the right pain). Select the ‘Global Catalogue check box, now ok out of this screen.
  • Now change the properties of the NEW server network to point to itself for DNS as primary and the OLD server as secondary.

Now that the server is a GC server we can assign it FSMO Roles, lets do that.

  • Launch the ‘Active Directory Users and Computers’ from Admin tools.
  • Select the Domain and right click, select ‘connect to domain controller’, select NEW then ok.
  • Right click the Domain, select ‘Operations Masters’.
  • You should now see a screen with three tabs, Select the change button on each tab to migrate that role to the connected server.
  • Domain Naming Master must now be transferred. Launch the ‘Active Directory Domains and Trusts’ tool from Admin Tools.
  • Right click the root level, and select the ‘Connect to Domain Controller and select the NEW server.
  • Right click the root level, and select ‘Operations Master’ then Change. This should move the Ops Master role over to NEW.

The last couple of roles can either be done through script (as can all of the above), or with an ‘unsupported but shipped’ tool. We will use the later as it’s easiest to describe without going into how to use the NTDSUTIL.EXE tool.

  • First register the Schema Management tool by typing regsvr32 schmmgmt.dll into the run box on the server.
  • Now run MMC and add the Active Directory Schema snapin to it.
  • Right click the Domain name, and select ‘Change Domain Controller, select NEW server.
  • Right click the Domain name, and select ‘Schema Master’, then change.
  • Now we need to change the Site Licensing Server, to do this open ‘Active Directory Sites and Services’, now select Sites, then your domain, then on the right pain right click ‘Licensing Site Settings’ and then Change on the Licensing Computer area.

Ok nearly done now. Reboot the NEW server, and wait, what we are looking for is an event type of 1869 (or 1119, but we should get an 1869) to show up in the NEW servers Directory Service log. Whatever you do don’t shutdown the OLD server until you get this, else nobody will be able to logon, as we will not have a GC server on the lan.

When we get that Event happen, we can remove the Global Catalog role from the OLD server, this is done in the same way as we added it to NEW earlier.

Now we do some checks and force the PDC role over, and for this we will use NTDSUTIL.

  • Launch a command prompt
  • type NTDSUTIL
  • You should see ntdsutil: at the prompt. Here we type Roles and press enter
  • fsmo maintenance: connections and enter
  • server connections: connect to server NEW (or servername here) and enter
  • Connected to NEW using credentials of locally logged on user.
    server connections:
    CTRL-Z and enter
  • fsmo maintenance: Seize PDC
  • This should result in the server attempting a nice transfer of the role (which should already be on the NEW server). The results will also tell you about the other roles. If any of the roles are still on the OLD server, then type the appropriate command from below to seize the role on the NEW server.

    Seize infrastructure master
    Seize domain naming master
    Seize RID master
    Seize schema master
    Select operation target

That should be it. You can now DCPromo out the OLD server, and use the new server as if the OLD one did not exist.

The only things left that may need to do are, setup the helper addresses in DNS so the server can lookup Internet DNS names. Setup your DHCP Scope and options.

If there is anything that I have missed, then please let me know.

Intel 2915ABG

I've recently done a rebuild of my IBM T43 Laptop and bumped into an issue.

The Intel 2915ABG network card that's in the device has a load of issues. It seems to be a driver incompatibility between a good number of wireless routers and the drivers. That said I KNOW there are some drivers arounf that worked, I know because they did before a rebuild.

I unfortunatly forgot to write down the version that I was using (mistake). So does anyone know what drivers / settings (I know to turn the advanced power off) that work with this family of card.

If so let me know. I'm OK to surf, because all traffic on the inside of my LAN works just fine (so connection to my proxy works just fine), it's only Internet traffic that's an issue. Very odd.

Terratec Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity

The Terratec Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity is one of the first Diversity devices to reach the market.

Diversity allows you to take the best parts of the signal from two aerial sources and combine them to create the best signal possible.

The box includes everything you will need to use the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity straight away.

There is the device itself, a USB extension cable, remote, remote sensor, two magnetic aerials, two suction bases, converters for the mini aerial sockets, and the software.

Installation is as simple as inserting the device into a USB 2 socket, popping the driver CD into the drive and installing the software. After plugging the aerials in and scanning for channels using the Terratec Home Cinema software you are free to watch.

The version of Terratec Home Cinema that comes with the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity includes the Diversity mode.

To test the diversity mode I decided to see if the included aerials were capable of holding a BBC1 signal whilst on the move in a car. I stuck the aerials to the two separate side windows of the car, turned on the Diversity mode, and tuned into BBC1.

I was not expecting the channel to remain watchable, but to my surprise the channel was rock solid whilst I was driving at 40Mph. Even going around corners and driving into built up areas did not disrupt the signal! Quite impressive.

After testing using my laptop – as if I was a mobile user – I decided to see if the little USB device was good enough to use in another of its likely locations, in the home.

The reason I class this as a likely location for use is because media center PCs are getting slimmer and slimmer, and most PCI/PCI-E dual DVB-T tuners are full height cards and won't fit in some of the smaller cases. This means that if you want a dual DVB-T tuner, the easiest way is to use an external one like the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity.

To test the device in these conditions, I connected it to the Vista Media Center PC that I have been building to replace my Sky+ installation.

I was looking for a USB or half height dual DVB-T tuner, and when I had the chance to test the Cinergy device I jumped on it. The device fills all my needs: it should be reliable and well performing based on my previous tests of the XS's big brother the Cinergy 2400i DT, it is also well built and includes all the necessary drivers for Vista Media Center.

After plugging the device into my digital aerial and scanning for channels in Media Center I had a full channel lineup, a good sign as Media Center can be picky with channel reception.

I scheduled some recordings, making sure that some of them overlapped so I could test the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity's abilities when recording two channels at once, as this usually shows up any issues that may exist with bandwidth on the device and between the device and the PC.

No issues located however; the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity records two channels without any issues, and there is no sign of skipping and stuttering in the recordings, even on the channels that are difficult for some tuners to receive (Sky3/UKTV History).

Conclusion

The Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity is a great USB receiver. It is well built with a nice design, it has some really good features with the dual aerial inputs and the Diversity functionality. The only issue that I can see is that at the moment the Diversity functionality is only available when using the Terratec software, however some third party applications will enable its use shortly.

I can recommend this card to any laptop user that travels and would like to take a TV with them. I will also heartily recommend the device to anyone who does not have space in their Media Center PC for a full height card. The USB device could also be used to add two more tuners to an existing dual tuner Media Center setup, therefore allowing you to record three channels whilst watching a fourth (registry hacking is required to enable this).

The device retails for around 75GBP (111Euro/144USD) and for that price it is more expensive than some of its competition, but the build quality and Diversity functionality more than make up for the small price difference. Support seems to be as good with this device as with the Cinergy 2400i DT in that there is already 32 and 64bit BDA drivers for Vista available.

It is also worth noting that Terratec also sell an Apple version of the device, so even OSX users need not feel left out.

Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT

The Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT is the first PCI-Express dual digital tuner TV card on the market.

Let's have a look at the card, for my test's I will be using Windows Vista Ultimate as my bench operating system. This is great for two reasons, Windows Vista will have a much larger Media Center exposure than XP MCE 2005 (as it's shipped as standard) and most importantly has native 64bit support in Media Center, this means that for the first time we will need 64bit drivers for Media Center.

The great news is, that even though Vista is not officially released yet Terratec have already got drivers available for the card, and even more importantly they have both 32 and 64 bit versions of them available.

Unboxing the card showed that Terratec have put some thought into the card, the box includes everything you may need, the card obviously, but there is also a USB infrared receiver and controller that will allow you to control Media Center as well as the included software.

Talking of which as well as the Windows XP drivers, there is also the Terratec Home Cinema software that has all the usual DVB-T features. There is however another great addition is the inclusion of Cyberlink's Power Cinema software, so even those that don't have XP Media Center or Vista can get the nice Media Center style 10 foot interface.

The card itself is a really nicely put together piece of equipment with it's white PCB. 

Both of the Micronas tuners are well shielded and the card only requires one antenna connection.

Installation into a spare PCI-Express slot was a brieze, and after downloading the latest drivers for vista installation went straight in.

To make sure all was working well I popped on the Terratec Home Cinema software and kicked off a scan for channels.

I was not expecting too much in the way of reception, as the antenna that the card was connected to was a standard analogue one, and I live in a class 2 antenna area. To my surprise the software brought back all of the major channels, and only a few of them had some partial stuttering. The Terratec software also had another bonus hidden, it includes a subscription to the TVTV program data service.

After all went so well with the Terratec software I decided to fire up the Vista Media Center interface.

On first coming up, and going into the TV settings Vista Media Center said that a new tuner had been found, so I clicked through the screens to set the card up. After the setup all the channels found with the Terratec software where available to me in Vista Media Center. Why was this so surprising? The card that I was previously using (a Hauppauge Nova T) struggled to get some of the channels, and just did not find some of the fringe channels using this antenna.

After setting a few recordings up in Vista Media Center so that the card would have to use both tuners at the same time, and inspecting the output video it seems that both tuners on the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT perform just as well as each other.

I have been using the card in this PC for a month now with no issues raising there head.

To benchmark the Terratec I popped the Hauppauge back into the box and disabled on of the Terratec tuners, this forced Vista Media Center to use the two different manufacturers of card to record dual channel recordings. Both cards were plugged into the same booster/splitter box and the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT clearly out performed the Hauppauge on every test, I even swapped the aerial cables round to make sure it was not a badly screened RF cable. This showed that the tuners on the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT are certainly more sensitive, and as such are more capable of holding a weak signal.

That said after plugging both cards into my DVB-T antenna they both received and recorded all channels available in my area, however even then the Hauppauge showed more dropout and stutter issues.

Conclusion

I would rate this card very highly indeed, everything that I have seen so far is good news. The card is relatively cheap (around 70GBP / 130USD / 100Euro), performs exceptionally well, and has great support (Hauppauge, who after all are the market leaders have very few 32Bit let alone 64Bit drivers at the moment).

I would highly recommend one of these cards for your Vista Media Center project at a drop of a hat. I'm very happy with the one I have, so much so that it has replaced my trusted Hauppauge card.