This last year I started to collaborate more with the local Catalan Ubuntu team. These are teams formed in different parts of the world that collaborate with the Ubuntu project. The Catalan LOCO team is special because it is not associated to a particular state but to the Catalan language and its variants which spread across different states.

This year I participated in the release parties of Ubuntu 10.04 in València and 10.10 in Granollers. In València I lead a session on GPG signatures. I also had an active participation in the team support forum, where I accumulated about 400 posts, and I submitted 10 bugs to Launchpad, three of which triggered patches and fixes for Ubuntu Lucid and Maverick. 

I also prepared the Catalan customized version of Ubuntu releases, this year I prepared the Ubuntu and Xubuntu versions of Ubuntu Lucid and Maverick.

My daughter asked me recently to convert an audio file that a classmate of hers had created with an Ipad. It was a recording of a class. I looked around for converters and was pointed to Audacity, but it didn't work (it asked me to upload it as raw data, but once uploaded there was no reproducible audio). Other solutions such as "sox" where failing saying that it could not decode the source.

Reading further I seem to have understood that there is still no codec for Linux. I also looked to some free solutions in Windows and I found some, tried one and was also failing.

Then I found out that there is an open code program for the Mac that can be compiled in Ubuntu and that manages to convert the CAF file into a WAV file. THe WAV file can the be converted further to a more compressed format such as ogg or mp3 or anything else. The source for this is:

I just copy from that post, it has worked for me:

Install first the required tools to do the compilation

1. Install some build dependencies:

sudo apt-get install build-essential checkinstall subversion

2. Get the source files with subversion:

svn co alacconvert

3. Get a patch and apply it:

tar xzvf alacconvert.tar.gz
cd alacconvert/convert-utility
patch -Np0 -i ../move-lflags.patch

4. Compile and install:

The following steps have allowed me to configure the UPF digital card and the card reader.

1) Install some programs that are needed for electronic certification:

sudo apt-get install pcscd pinentry-qt4 opensc  pcsc-tools

2) Follow the steps explained in:

Note: The library mentioned in the document (with .so extension) can be found in /usr/lib.

3) Edit the file /etc/opensc/opensc.conf and uncomment the line starting with "provider_library".

4) Verify that your system sees the reader and the card: Plug the reader and put the card, it has to be put with the face up on the main face of the reader. Go now to Firefox to the menu Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Security devices (same menu that you used to configure in step 3) and look under the new module that you have added in step 3 and in the first line you should see "UPF".

5) Restart the computer

6) Everything should work now, navigate to:

where you can download your Social Security record. Click over "Acceso al servicio" and keep accepting the certificates, I was able to download my Social Security record.

(UPDATE on November 26, 2011: the site has changed and  I have updated my scripts so that they still work)

Conky is a free, light-weight system monitor for X, that displays any information on your desktop. Yesterday, after a question I got in an Ubuntu forum, I decided to install it in my Ubuntu 10.10 desktop and laptop computer. It was not easy and I had to go to different forums posts and links, so I decided to write this post on what I did.

My conky setup involves two different sections and occupies quite a bit of the desktop. In the the two monitor setup of my desktop this is not a problem, but in the laptop it has the problem that Conky, despite sitting always below any windows, sits over desktop iconcs, so any icon that you have in the desktop area where conky sits will be hidden by it. I don't use desktop icons too much and the icons can still be accessed by hovering over the conky window with the mouse, but be aware of this if you want to install it.

In my desktop computer I'm using two monitors and I have configured Conky to show in the upper right corner, and it shows in the second screen. In the laptop it's also defined to show up in the upper right corner. I also installed conkyForecast which is a python script to access weather information for conky fed from, an online weather service.

This is how nice it looks in the laptop, with the "comet" background that can be found in /usr/share/backgrounds/cosmos/comet.jpg:


The first thing to do is to install conky itself:

sudo apt-get install conky

We will wait to configure conky until we have installed everything for the weather forecast.

Since about a year ago I've lost my open IP in the University network and they forced me to move behind a VPN, with a lot of issues on how to maintain my workflow. But one of the most annoying things of this is that even the most basic things like using ssh or sftp may have new issues that are very hard to debug and for which I don't have any support whatsoever by the IT support staff.

The most recent one that I noticed is that sftp stalls for large files (sometimes after transmitting 10MB, some other times at other places). It took me a while to identify that this was due to the VPN, and then more time to find out what to do while trying different things until I found the solution in this link:

Basically the problem is that the TCP variable tcp_sack ("tcp selective acknowledgements") has to be disabled in my server behind the VPN. This is done for one session with:

sysctl -w net.ipv4.tcp_sack=0

To disable it permanently edit /etc/sysctl.conf and add the following:


It seems that talk has been started around the unification of packaging systems for various Linux distributions. There are currently different systems. Maybe the main ones are the Debian system (files with  .deb extension being used among others by Debian, Ubuntu or Mint) and the RPM system (with .rpm extension, being used by RedHat, Fedora, OpenSuse and others), but there are more, for instance the  Pacman system used by Arch Linux.

This creates a big duplication of efforts for packages which at the programming level are in most of the cases developed in an unified way and not separately for each distribution. This also generates an added difficulty for new users since they have to face different styles and formats depending on the distribution they want to try or use.

Therefore the unification around a single packaging system would be a big thing, both for the developers as well as for the users and for Linux in general. There will be always obviously the possibility to continue with alternative packaging systems if any distribution prefers to have its own system, since the disadvantage of unifying the packaging systems is that one of the variety aspects that make Linux attractive would be lost. Now, the conflict arises between the advantages of standardization against the disadvantages of the loss of variation.

It seems also that the Ubuntu Software Center interface is also liked by people of other distributions and they would be thinking of adopting it as the interface of the unified packaging system. Here the problem is the Contributor License Agreement that Canonical (sponsoring firm for Ubuntu) asks all contributors to packages developed by Canonical to sign. This would be an obstacle for this interface to become the common interface, and Canonical would have to detach this package from this license agreement so that it could be considered as a the common interface.

I have a couple of Drupal 6 sites using the Webfm module ( This module was never migrated to Drupal 7 because in this last version of Drupal the file API changed completely, and the module would have to have been rewritten completely, and nobody did it.

My solution was to substitute the webfm module  by the "Elfinder" file manager and corresponding Drupal module ( This does not substitute all the document manager features of webfm, it is just a file manager and has no database management of the documents, but on the other hand it is really good as an editor. So maybe I will complement it in the future with some "knowledge base" module to search and put metatags to my documents.

First of course you have to migrate your Drupal 6 site to Drupal 7. Enable all the modules in Drupal 7, you will not be able to enable webfm because there is no Drupal 7 version, but the tables of webfm will be in your migrated database.

Installing and configuring Elfinder in your migrated Drupal 7 site is easy, and it can use exactly the same file struture left over by webfm. You will also have to link it to your editor, in my case CKEditor, that was also easy.

The problem comes with the links that webfm created (of the type "/webfm_send/#" where # is an arbitrary number assigned by webfm.) If you don't want to end up with zillions of broken links in your site you have to fix those. If you have few nodes you can fix the broken links by hand, but then it's unlikely that you were using the webfm module at all, as a small site can work perfectly with a flat file system without any special document management.

unity.jpgAs it is quite well known, Canonical decided to drop support for the desktop it had created and adopted in 2010, called Unity. The current version, number 7, is quite stable, but it has not received substantial update in the last few years, when Canonical and its community were waiting for a major update, Unity 8, which would allow for convergence with phones and tablets. Since I have quite a good workflow with Unity, I decided to keep using it until it is is possible.

Installing Unity 7 in the new Ubuntu 18.04, which is going to be released at the end of April, is quite simple. It is only a command away:

sudo apt install ubuntu-unity-desktop

All files are still available and maintained in the universe repository. There is actually also a respin of Ubuntu with this desktop, and a community behind it, as shown in a community portal and a Trello bug-tracker.
My hope is that the UBports community, which has already an initial version of Unity 8 that runs on Ubuntu 18.04, will provide an update for this desktop to go into convergence with the phones and tablets using Ubuntu Touch.

I use Emacs as edemacs.pngitor, but in my new laptop it opens always fullscreen and maximized. I tried everything suggested in this thread:
but nothing  worked. The laptop has a very high resolution screen, I run it with a  3840x2160 (16:9) resolution and 2.12 scale, and so emacs thinks it would go over the screen and starts maximized no matter what.

I could finally find out how to do it. I actually am starting emacs with this alias:

emacsclient --alternate-editor="" -c

Adding the following lines to my emacs start file (.emacs) solved it:

 (add-to-list 'default-frame-alist '(width  . 20))
 (add-to-list 'default-frame-alist '(height . 10))

Image removed.The Linux console is where all messages from the kernel are received, but it allows also user interface as in dektop terminal.
Another thing that happened to me with my new Laptop with high screen resolution is that the font size of the console is tiny, and almost impossible to read. Here are some instructions to increase the font size of the console in Ubuntu.
Enter the following command:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-setup

The options to choose are the following:

  •     Encoding to use on the console: UTF-8
  •     Character set to support: Guess optimal character set
  •     Font for the console: Terminus
  •     Font size: 16x32 (framebuffer only)

Then just switch to a TTY (CTRL+ALT+F1), login, and type setupcon. Repeat the process if you want to see which PSF (PC Screen Font) and font size you prefer (although the options are rather limited).

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