FAQforge provides answers for frequently asked questions for the Linux-, MAC and Windows operating systems.

Install VLC 2.0.0 on Linux Mint 12, Ubuntu 11.10 and OpenSUSE 12.1

Thursday, February 23, 2012 - posted by CSch

A few days ago version 2.0 of the popular VLC media player was released, called Twoflower. Since it is not yet in the repositories, you have to add a repository if you want to update your present version.

Independent of your distribution, first log in as root:

su

On Linux Mint 12 and Ubuntu 11.10, add following repository:

add-apt-repository ppa:n-muench/vlc

Afterwards, update your sources list:

apt-get update

Finally, install VLC 2.0:

apt-get install vlc

On openSuSE 12.1, add following repository:

zypper ar http://download.videolan.org/pub/vlc/SuSE/12.1 VLC

Then refresh your sources:

zypper refresh

And finally install VLC:

zypper in vlc

You can find the release notes for the new version on the VLC homepage: http://www.videolan.org/

Tweak Opera For Better Usability

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - posted by CSch

Like any other browser Opera has many options to let it be configured precisely to your likings. This is done through the usual interface as well as through a configuration page just like Firefox' about:config.

A great deal of options is already offered in the preferences accessible by going to Opera > Settings > Preferences.... Apart from the usual actions such as form premades, text formating and search engines I'd like to point out a few that might come handy:

In Preferences, go to History on the left pane and set Check images to 24 hours. This lengthens the time span that images are stored in the cache, so they don't need to be reloaded from the page if you reaccess it.
Afterwards, go to Browsing on the left pane. The option Smooth scrolling gives you a better feel about scrolling, but will most likely cause speed issues with some sites. It's up to you what you prefer but if you go for performance better disable it.
Close Preferences now. If you need more space for tabs, you may consider right-clicking the tab bar and choosing Customize > Appearance.... Go to the Toolbars tab and set Wrapping to Wrap to multiple lines. This will expand the space you have for tabs vertically.

If you want more options, enter opera:config into the browser's url bar. This will give you a long list of them which, howeverm want to be handled with care.
If you don't like Opera's mouse gestures for example which appear on holding the right mouse button, simply go to User Prefs > Enable Gesture and untick the box.

Documentation for most of the values can be found here: http://www.opera.com/support/usingopera/operaini/

Jump to Page by Entering Keyword Into URL Bar on Firefox

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - posted by CSch

If you like being lazy and want to browse sites you don't have in your bookmarks already in the fastest possible way, there is a Firefox option that lets you determine what happens with expressions entered into the url bar.
There, you can enter the Google url that will open the correct search result for the keyword you entered into the url bar without having to enter those nasty "http://"s and "www."s and ".com"s. Meaning, if you just type faqforge, it will open this site right away.
To enable this feature, enter about:config into your Firefox url bar to access the configuration. In the filter field, type keyword.url. Double-click the only remaining entry to change its value and set it to

http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=

Close the configuration afterwards and test the settings by entering some sitename into the url bar.

How to Manually Install New Cinnamon Themes (Linux Mint/Ubuntu)

Monday, February 20, 2012 - posted by CSch

To manually install new themes for cinnamon from the page provided by Cinnamon Settings, first backup the data of the original theme by opening a terminal and entering

sudo cp -R /usr/share/cinnamon/theme /usr/share/cinnamon/theme_backup

Then download and unpack another theme from http://cinnamon-spices.linuxmint.com/themes, save the files to some location - I will save them on my desktop.

Then you have to copy the data from the unpacked folder to the theme folder of cinnamon:

sudo cp -f /home/howtoforge/Desktop/unpackedfolder/cinnamon/* /usr/share/cinnamon/theme

The new data has then replaced the old. To restore the default theme, copy back the backed up data.

Change Log-In Screen Background Image on Ubuntu Linux

Friday, February 17, 2012 - posted by CSch

If you want to make your Ubuntu installation a little less purple and orange, but don't see a solution that covers the change of log-in screen background picture change, try Simple Lightdm Manager. It is a tool that lets you turn the log-in screen into any image you have on your computer. To install, open a terminal and enter the following commands (adding repository, updating sources, installation):

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:claudiocn/slm

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install simple-lightdm-manager

Afterwards open SLM and browse for an image you want to use:

Additionally you can alter the logo that is displayed on the log-in screen's bottom left corner.
Be aware though, that this does not work with images which are located in encrypted file systems!

Remove Driver Filters to Resolve Device Manager Errors on Windows 7

Thursday, February 16, 2012 - posted by CSch

Sometimes the situation might come up where a device that was working flawlessly before will stop doing so, even if you try everything - replugging it, reinstalling its drivers, rebooting the computer - but nothing will help.

A possible cause for this is a driver filter that was either installed by any third party software or simply was corrupted. These can be part of any hardware driver and can intercept requests between software and driver (UpperFilter) or between hardware and driver (LowerFilter). Furthermore, there are two types of filter for each relation - device filters and class filters, where device filters work only for specific devices and class filters work for every device of a specific type, for example every bluetooth radio or every USB device attached to your computer. Those class drivers are the ones that usually cause the issues (if it is a filter issue) because on the software's side, it makes more sense to address those to alter specific behaviours.

If you experience such an issue (which is commonly recognized by the Device Manager errors 19, 31, 32, 37, 39 and 41) it is possible to delete class filters in the registry. Before you make any changes there, it is highly recommendable to back it up. To do so, enter the registry by entering regedit into a Run... prompt and on the left pane, right-click the topmost key (Computer). Click Export and save the file to any location. The file you just created is a .reg file and can be imported into the registry again by simply double-clicking it.

To find the correct filters in the registry, navigate to the Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class key. This will have many subkeys all named like this: {36FC9E60-C465-11CF-8056-444553540000}. These represent the different classes of hardware, you can sport their type by the (Default) or Class values. The one above is for all USB devices:

Along with the other values, those keys contain the class filters if any are present. They are named UpperFilters and LowerFilters. If you have backed up your registry, look for the device giving you headaches and remove the class filters by right-clicking and deleting them.
This guide is only a solution to a possible source of errors and does not cover the whole range - if the problem persists, the source most likely lies somewhere else.

Change Drive Letter on Windows 7 to Resolve Conflicts

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - posted by CSch

By working with different drives it sometimes may occur that two drives are given the same drive letter - usually this is not the case but it may always happen due to bugs. It is also possible that a drive loses its letter "spontaneously". What results is that one or both of them is/are not shown on Computer anymore. To resolve this error, a new letter has to be assigned to the drive with the help of the Disk Management. Right-click Computer and choose Manage. On the left pane, select Storage > Disk Management and you will see the connected drives listed in the main screen.

To change or assign a drive letter, right-click target drive and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.... On the window that pops up choose Add... or Change.... Afterwards select a new drive letter from the drop-down menu:

Remember that you choose a letter that is not already used by another drive - to ensure that, choose one on the end of the alphabet. Your computer won't have had the chance to fill all the letters up to there already. Usually it should not be possible to choose a letter that is already in use anyway, but it is good to always double-check things like these if the above error should occur.

Uninstall USB Drivers on Windows 7

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - posted by CSch

In the time you used your current Windows 7 system you undoubtly have plugged in a lot of different USB devices into your computer, most of them never to be used on it again. You will have notices that for every different device, Windows comes up with a message telling you that it automatically installs all drivers needed to use it.

That is perfectly alright, but what if you won't use the device ever again? The drivers will remain on your hard disk in case you still need it. This is not optimal for two reasons - first: in no time, you will have a massive amount of drivers for different USB devices installed; second: drivers may be out of date the time you use your device again, even if you use it frequently.

Therefore, there is an option to uninstall or update your USB device drivers manually. Open a command prompt by searching for cmd and enter:

set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1

This will set an environmental variable which can also be seen in Control Panel > System and Security > System > Advanced system settings > Environment Variables.... Afterwards, enter

devmgmt.msc

to open the device manager. This can also be done by right clicking Computer and choosing Manage, the device manager will be in the left column.

In the device manager menu, click View and enable Show hidden devices. If you now expand Universal Serial Bus controllers (USB) you will most likely have a bunch of transparent entries, which are all non present and/or hidden devices.

By right-clicking them, you can remove or upgrade their drivers if you need to. This can also be done will any other driver on the device manager and is rather useful for corrupted drivers, is to be handled with care however. If you don't precisely know if you just selected a system component for uninstallment, better don't do it.

Windows Powershell Script to Export and Import Sound Schemes

Monday, February 13, 2012 - posted by CSch

Windows 7 offers the possibility to switch between preinstalled sound schemes and also create new ones and delete those again. What it does not provide however is a way to export and import those schemes to use them on other systems. There is a way to do this but it involves copying over all the custom sound files as well as exporting and importing specific registry keys. This might be a bit too complicated for someone who just wants all their Windows systems to play some nice bird chirp at logon.

Luckily, what is possible on Windows is also scriptable in PowerShell. Therefore the following script is able to export custom sound schemes into a zipped package, including all sound files and needed registry items and also import them onto another system. All the audio files used for the custom scheme to export need to be in the C:\Windows\Media directory - on import, they are all unpacked back there and will not be found if the registry points somewhere else.

$x = "nil"

function SelectFileDialog
{
param([string]$Title,[string]$Directory,[string]$Filter="Zip archives (*.zip) |*.zip")
[System.Reflection.Assembly]::LoadWithPartialName("System.Windows.Forms") | Out-Null
$bFile = New-Object System.Windows.Forms.OpenFileDialog
$bFile.ShowHelp = $true
$bFile.Title = $Title
$bFile.InitialDirectory = $Directory
$bFile.Filter = $Filter
$Show = $bFile.ShowDialog()
If ($Show -eq "OK")
{
Return $bFile.FileName
}
Else
{
Write-Error "Cancelled by user."
}
}

function NewZip
{
param([string]$zipFilename)
$l = $zipFilename.length-4
$iszip = $zipFilename.substring($l)
if ( $iszip -ne ".zip")
{
$zipFilename = $zipFilename + ".zip"
}
set-content $zipFilename ("PK" + [char]5 + [char]6 + ("$([char]0)" * 18))
(dir $zipFilename).IsReadOnly = $false
}

function AddZip
{
param([string]$zipFilename)
$l = $zipFilename.length-4
$iszip = $zipFilename.substring($l)
if ( $iszip -ne ".zip")
{
$zipFilename = $zipFilename + ".zip"
}$l = $zipFilename.length-4
$iszip = $zipFilename.substring($l)
if ( $iszip -ne ".zip")
{
$zipFilename = $zipFilename + ".zip"
}
$shellApplication = new-object -com shell.Application
$zipPackage = $shellApplication.NameSpace($zipFilename)

foreach($file in $input)
{
$zipPackage.CopyHere($file.FullName)
Start-sleep -milliseconds 500
}
}

function ExtractZip
{
param([string]$zipFilename, [string] $destination)

if(test-path($zipFilename))
{
$shellApplication = new-object -com shell.Application
$zipPackage = $shellApplication.NameSpace($zipFilename)
$destinationFolder = $shellApplication.NameSpace($destination)
$destinationFolder.CopyHere($zipPackage.Items())
}
}

$objshell = New-Object -ComObject Shell.Application
[void] [System.Reflection.Assembly]::LoadWithPartialName(“System.Drawing”)
[void] [System.Reflection.Assembly]::LoadWithPartialName(“System.Windows.Forms”)

$objform = New-Object System.Windows.Forms.Form
$objform.Text = “Export Windows 7 Sound Scheme”
$objform.Size = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(330,160)
$objform.StartPosition = “CenterScreen”

$objform.KeyPreview = $True
$objform.Add_KeyDown({if ($_.KeyCode -eq “Escape”) {$objform.Close()}})

$exportButton = New-Object System.Windows.Forms.Button
$exportButton.Location = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(20,70)
$exportButton.Size = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(75,23)
$exportButton.Text = “Export”
$exportButton.Add_Click({$x=”exp”;$objform.Close()})
$objform.Controls.Add($exportButton)

$importButton = New-Object System.Windows.Forms.Button
$importButton.Location = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(100,70)
$importButton.Size = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(75,23)
$importButton.Text = “Import”
$importButton.Add_Click({$x=”imp”; $objform.Close()})
$objform.Controls.Add($importButton)

$cancelButton = New-Object System.Windows.Forms.Button
$cancelButton.Location = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(180,70)
$cancelButton.Size = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(75,23)
$cancelButton.Text = “Cancel”
$cancelButton.Add_Click({$x=”nil”;$objform.Close()})
$objform.Controls.Add($cancelButton)

$objlabel = New-Object System.Windows.Forms.Label
$objlabel.Location = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(10,20)
$objlabel.Size = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(280,40)
$objlabel.Text = “Do you want to export your current theme or import a new theme?”
$objform.Controls.Add($objlabel)

$objform.Add_Shown({$objform.Activate()})
[void] $objform.ShowDialog()

if($x -eq "nil") {exit}

if($x -eq "exp")
{
cd C:\Users\howtoforge\Desktop
$ts = (get-itemproperty (get-item HKCU:\AppEvents\Schemes).PSPath)."(default)"
$a = @()
$b = @()
newzip $ts
Get-ChildItem HKCU:\AppEvents\Schemes\Apps\ | Get-ChildItem | Get-ChildItem |
Foreach-Object {if ((get-itemproperty $_.PSPath)."(default)" -notlike "C:\Windows\Media\*\*"){($efg = ((get-itemproperty $_.PSPath).PSChildName));
if ($efg -eq $ts) { $a += ((get-itemproperty $_.PSPath)."(default)")
}}}
foreach ($i in $a){ if ($i) {$b += get-item $i}}
$b = $b | select -uniq
get-item $b | addzip $ts
reg export HKCU\AppEvents ($ts + ".reg")
get-item ($ts + ".reg") | addzip $ts
remove-item ($ts + ".reg")
}

if($x -eq "imp")
{
$p = SelectFileDialog
if ($p)
{
$ppp = (gci $p | select -expandproperty name)
$ps = $ppp.substring(0,$ppp.length-4)
extractzip $p C:\Windows\Media
regedit ("C:\Windows\Media\" + $ps + ".reg")
Start-sleep -milliseconds 10000
remove-item ("C:\Windows\Media\" + $ps + ".reg")
$p.remove
}
}

In order to be able to run the script, you need to enable running PowerShell scripts on your systems. Therefore, open a PowerShell as administrator and type in:

set-executionpolicy remotesigned

Now you can run selfmade or signed scripts. Copy and paste the script above into a notepad and find the line that was printed bold here - change my username in the path ("howtoforge") to yours. Then save it as .ps1 file.

Afterwards you can run the script by right-clicking it and running it in PowerShell or setting that as the default program to open ps1 scripts with. A prompt will pop up that will ask you if you want to ex- or import. Exporting will automatically export your current sound scheme to a zip file on your desktop (but only with the audio files lying in the said folder - exporting any schemes with files in a subfolder such as the Windows schemes will result in missing paths).

Copy the zipped package to the target system and run the script from there, choosing Import this time. Browse for the package and open it. The script will then put all the audio files to the C:\Windows\Media folder and import the registry file (a few pop ups will come up upon importing stuff into the registry, just accept them and everything should be fine).

If any issues should occur, make sure the zipped package is saved to a folder you have writing-permissions and everything for - if you changed it to something else than your desktop, this may easily happen.
If you are told that the registry file does not exist, this is because you waited too long to accept the import - after ten seconds, the .reg file is deleted to not clutter the Media folder. Just import again to solve it.

Remove Arrows From Shortcut Icons on Windows 7

Friday, February 10, 2012 - posted by CSch

Upon creating shortcuts on Windows, the icons used for them are always tagged with an additional small arrow icon to indicate that the thing you have there is only a pointer to another file, not the file itself.

If, for esthetical or other reasons, you want remove those arrow icons, you can do that by choosing a transparent icon instead of the arrow to be displayed as indicator so that it won't be visible anymore. To do that you have to apply a simple registry tweak:
Open the Windows registry by entering regedit into a Run... prompt and browse the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons

If the Shell Icons key does not exist, create it by right-clicking the Explorer key. Next, select the created Icons key and right-click the right pane to create a new String value. Name it 29 and assign the value C:\Windows\System32\shell32.dll,50 to it.
Afterwards close the registry and open a command line by searching for cmd. Enter the following commands one after another (Please note: the first one will close your explorer which means that your windows and taskbar will disappear. The last one is the command to restart your computer, which you need to do to apply all changes):

taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F
cd /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local
del IconCache.db /a
shutdown /r

After rebooting, the icons will be replaced. To revert the changes, simply remove the registry value and execute the commands again.