Quick Tip – Legacy Skype on Debian Squeeze

Feb 28 2013 Published by under howto, linux

The trick to making the webcam work:

 LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib32/libv4l/v4l1compat.so /usr/bin/skype

This assumes of course you have the various ia32- and lib32- packages installed.

This is with a skype deb I made a couple of computer builds ago, so YMMV.

With thanks to: http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/219


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Using EnigMail with Thunderbird Icedove 10 from Debian Squeeze Backports

Aug 08 2012 Published by under howto

I keep Firefox I mean Iceweasel up to date in Debian Squeeze by tracking the mozilla.debian.net squeeze-backports apt repository. However I recently realised I was not maintaining my Thunderbird I mean Icedove email client, which was stuck back at version 3.1.16 via the routine backports.debian.org repository!

This was easily fixed by setting up apt.sources to track the trailing edge 10.x series, such that now:

However, I discovered Enigmail, which integrates OpenPGP into Thunderbird, was now broken. I was getting the following message:

Unable to locate GnuPG executable in the PATH

This was also visible in the Enigmail Addon Preferences dialog box. This error stubbornly refused to go away even if I entered the full path to /usr/bin/gpg – after a search and perusal of several forums and mailing lists it soon appeared this is an error which is infamous for having an elusive solution.

First realising I had Enigmail installed from Debian stable, I uninstalled via apt the enigmail package. This was after unsuccessfully attempting removal via the Addon manager, which failed no doubt because as a Debian package the addon was installed in a different location with different filesystem privileges.

However, subsequently installing Engimail via the Addon Manager download XPI also failed to resolve the problem.

Eventually I resolved the problem by making a local source build of Enigmail 1.4 from sources downloaded from Debian Wheezy (testing) Along the way I had to deal with some minor dependency issues: apt-get refused to pick out the correct version in some cases until manually overridden; I also had a long forgotten .mozconfig file in my home directory which conflicted the build script until I removed it.

Restart Icedove, and all is now good again.

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Fixing my annoying kernel bug(s) – Part 2

May 01 2012 Published by under linux

This blog entry details some of the problem outlined in these posts.

This is a lengthy technical post:
There is a detailed manual for building a Debian kernel at http://users.wowway.com/~zlinuxman/Kernel.htm. I was familiar with much of the content already but it was still a very helpful reference; for example, using the ‘src’ group to avoid root was a useful thing to learn.

The information on patching the Kernel for Phenom was cobbled together from various websites including the Gentoo forums.

My system is currently built from Debian squeeze with a bunch of packages from various other repositories including the Debian backports and packages I manually backported from Wheezy (testing).

I could have applied the necessary patch to this kernel but I decided at the same time to have another go at getting to the latest 3-series kernel.

For a long time I was stuck on a 2.6.39 kernel as I wasn’t able to successfully simply build a later kernel package from the Debian sources that were in testing. I could have tried to build from the kernel.org sources but I have tried where possible to maintain my system using .deb packages as far as possible. In the intervening year however it seems 3.2 has been released in backports, so that saved me a lot of potential problems.

So I upgraded my kernel and applied the patch. Here is Yet Another Tutorial on building a kernel the ‘Debian Way’. This will yield a DPKG file that you can install without clobbering any other kernels.


  • Install various pre-requisites – this will vary depending on your system.
    A fresh system will need many others, I needed these for LZ compression and for ‘make xconfig’
  • You need to have the Debian backports in your APT sources.list file.

    Having added this, do a sudo apt-get update.
  • The ideal method these days is to be able to do most of the work without dropping to root or using sudo. To achieve this add your account to the ‘src’ group and setup permissions accordingly.

    At this point you will need to log out and log in (although you could ssh back in as yourself, and I read somewhere recently that this may not be strictly necessary with the right ‘magic’ incantations any more…)
  • I like to experiment with virtualisation so along the way I downloaded a patch that may be necessary for this from http://users.wowway.com/~zlinuxman/kernel-package/linuxv3.diff (This is also an attachment to this post)
    Apply like:
  • I also made my own patches to do an optimized build for my AMD64 Phenom:
    File phenom_1.patch:

    File phenom_2.patch:

    File phenom_3.patch:
  • And of course, the patch to fix my Firewire subsystem crash as described in the previous post:


  1. Install the Debian source package and unpack the tree:
  2. Note – it turns out that this is in fact a 3.2.9 kernel. For some reason the Debian version is 3.2.4-1~bpo60+1 ; go figure…

  3. Apply patches: assumes the patch files are in /usr/src :
  4. Configure the kernel build:
    I started by copying the default config from the binary backports kernel, and tweaking it for my own purposes (not shown here)
  5. Finally, build the Debian packages.

    Here, CONCURRENCY_LEVEL=4 sets the number of concurrent make processes used, for taking advantage of a multi-core system.
    From the above settings, the actual package will become ‘linux-image-3.2.9-xxx-preempt-amd64’ with a Debian version of ‘1~yyy.00.00’ and cat /proc/version output of ‘3.2.9-xxx-preempt-amd64’
    Using this mechanism means you can have concurrent ‘flavours’ of a kernel installed but still being upgradable within that flavour.
  6. Installation:

    This should also trigger any DKMS modules to rebuild if present.
    My NVidia 280.13 driver rebuilds fine with this version.


Of course the proof is in the pudding.

After rebooting, I repeated the sequence necessary to trigger the fault: and it did not recur. Woot!


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Patching and Building a custom Linux Kernel in Debian

Apr 10 2012 Published by under linux

These posts cover a topic which seems to be documented to varying degrees across the net, but nothing quite exactly matched what I wanted to do. In the end this is a result of multiple sources of information and inspiration (and perspiration…)

For some time I had been getting a Kernel fault report popup with irritating regularity. In the end I isolated it to something going wrong with my external Firewire drive after my computer was resuming from suspend (specifically Suspend to RAM.)
In the end chasing this down required working through the following tasks:

  1. Disabling the proprietary NVidia driver and activating ‘nv’ ( I was unable to successfully configure nouveau to work with my particular dual head configuration), so that my kernel was no longer ‘TAINTED’, which would have led me into a brick wall if I had been required to report a kernel bug.
  2. Consistently replicating the fault, which included learning about a bunch of stuff in the Linux /sys filesystem.
  3. Finally getting a 3-series kernel to work on Debian Squeeze – it turns out by now 3.2 has been packaged into Debian backports, which gets me past an earlier roadblock with kernel upgraded. Upgrading to the latest kernel would eliminate if the problem had been resolved (which is was not at least of 3.2.9)
  4. Rebuilding the kernel from source – (something I have done this many times before, but it doesn’t hurt to recap) and applying the patches needed
  5. Re-enabling NVidia – which involved verifying my DKMS setup was still working.

I haven’t blogged recently due to various family mini-crises to do with pets, sickness and other issues, as well as extra busyness at work.

As it is getting late this post will conclude with the command line used to build and install my kernel, and I will expand on this in the next post.

Things to note:

  • The above will build a kernel using the same configuration as an installed Debian backports 3.2 kernel, assuming the backports kernel an source packages have been installed. There are no changes or patches yet
  • Your user must be in the ‘src’ group for the make-kpkg command to work as-is.
  • The 3.2 kernel in backports (as of March 2012) was in fact version 3.2.9 although this is not indicated in the Debian version for some reason.

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Having a go at contributing back

Jan 26 2012 Published by under linux

Feeling somewhat inspired by LCA2012 I have a large list of possible things to try, although I am mindful of not committing to too many projects as was pointed out by Rusty in the newcomer session (which I missed but managed to catch on YouTube after getting home)

Then today whilst performing a diagnostic on my home wifi I actually hit a bug, and this time found myself in a position to not only report the problem but actually submit a patch for the first time ever!

Using a tool called bing to try and measure bandwidth I noticed weird output when for kicks I pointed it at a site on the Internet. Further digging uncovered a bug filed against the package in the Debian bug system. To cut a long story short I worked out the problem (ICMP message timeouts do not always get reported properly) and made a short patch and submitted this by email to the bug tracker.

Actually I sent that 15 minutes ago but haven’t yet seen it on the web page for the bug, or received any automated reply, so I am currently wondering if my email got through… I guess I have a learning curve ahead of me


my bug report and patch is up at bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=464257, woot!

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