Friday, November 2, 2007

Debian Etch With Backported 2.6.23 Kernel

On my production machines I'm running Debian Etch, because I prefer the stable Debian tree. It runs great, but there is just one problem: the 2.6.18 kernel is a bit outdated nowdays since it does not support all the latest hardware, like newest motherboards based on Intel P35 chipset.

ASUS P5K series is a good example. The problem with this board is that 2.6.18 kernel which comes with Debian Etch by default does not support both SATA controller and NIC of ICH9.

Of course, I can always download & compile the latest sources and install it on my Debian Etch box. But there is a better solution now, thanks to Kenshi Muto who has created and supports the archive of backported Debian-installer images.

The latest addition is Debian Etch with kernel and experimental e1000e driver. I've successfully installed it on my machine with ASUS P5KR motherboard and it runs great! Both ICH9 SATA controller and Attansic L1 NIC work well.

You can download the image here.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Better Firefox Web Form Widgets In Ubuntu

Some times ago I wrote about how to improve look&feel of web form widgets in Firefox which are rather ugly by default. There is another way to do this which works in Ubuntu.

First of all, you need to download bzipped tarball (you must be registered at to do this). At the moment of writing 2.7 is the latest package version. Then you have two options: either use graphical installer or run a text-based one (which is an ordinary bash script).

Graphical installer requires python-kiwi package. If it is not present in your system, you will be prompted to install the package. To run installer, unpack the archive and execute ./graphical_installer. You should see the following window:

Note, that you must specify correct Firefox directory! The default /usr/lib/firefox is fine for Ubuntu unless you are using Swiftfox or have very non-standard configuration. If you've chosen to install widgets by the means of text-based script, you may specify the path via -p or --path option (type ./installer --help for details).

The results are pretty much the same, as I have already described.

I should also mention that there is a backup forms.css file in the archive in case you mess anything up. This file is from a default 64-bit Firefox 2.0 installation. The forms.css file an be found in Firefox's "res" directory. You won't need it unless you accidently delete your's or the script malfunctions.

The author of this script also mentions that widgets may get restored after Firefox update. To avoid this try the following:
sudo dpkg-divert --add /res/forms.css
I have not tested it yet, so use at your own risk!
In case you decide to restore the default behavior, type:
sudo dpkg-divert --remove /res/forms.css

See this topic for more infomation.

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