Finally… I got around to researching a little issue that had been bothering me ever since I installed Ubuntu 12.04 back in April.  Watching videos, flash or otherwise would suffer from frequent skipping (or stuttering) of both the audio and video.  Previously I searched for a solution by searching for “video” stuttering, found some interesting articles that pointed to the nVidia graphics drivers.  But after a few hours of fiddling, nothing seemed to work.

Then, today, I finally got fed up enough to do another search.  This time I searched for stuttering “audio” and I found the holy grail, the fix!  As usual, the Ubuntu forums came to the rescue.

As it turns out, my Intel motherboard audio device may have been incorrectly recognized by Ubuntu and the audio driver may have been having issues.  So here’s how to fix it…

Open a terminal window and type:

sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

Scroll to the end of the file and then add the following:

options snd-hda-intel model=generic

Press “Ctrl-O” to write to the file then “Ctrl-X” to exit.

That’s about it.  I required a reboot to get it to work, but others mileage may vary.

Was this post helpful?
  • Thanks 
  • Sort-of 
  • Not Helpful 

It’s been a while, but I’ve finally come around to installing couch potato on my Ubuntu NAS box.  Thanks to my brother-in-law, who sent an e-mail to me that day regarding couch potato, I felt motivated to get it installed. However, what should have taken only maybe 30 minutes or so ended up stretching into two hours.

I had done a quick google search on installing couch potato on Ubuntu and come up with Ainer’s fine instructions and another page (on how-to-forge)on creating the ultimate NAS.  Both had great instructions, don’t get me wrong, but they were instructions for couch potato v1… which is unfortunately EOL’d.  As I happily attempted to install couch potato v1 using the instructions, I came across different instructions on the couch potato website which conflicted with what I was doing.  Needless to say I had burnt through an hour on this already.

Fortunately, I came across a wonderful site ( that explained everything for me and got me up and running in no time.  (thank you very much Anand, this helped me greatly)

And for those of you with short attention spans and just want the steps in raw form, then here they are:

sudo apt-get install git-core python
cd ~
git clone git:// .couchpotato
sudo cp ~/.couchpotato/init/ubuntu /etc/init.d/couchpotato


sudo nano /etc/init.d/couchpotato

Edit the following then save (CTRL-O) and exit (CTRL-X) (replace user with your username):

# path to app

# user

Then back at the terminal prompt, set the script to executable and add to the boot script.

sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/couchpotato
sudo update-rc.d couchpotato defaults

Now, the next time you boot couch potato server will auto-run.  Optionally you can manually start and stop the service by the following commands:

sudo /etc/init.d/couchpotato start
sudo /etc/init.d/couchpotato stop

And there you have it.  Navigate on over to (or whatever your NAS IP is with 5050 as the port) to start the configuration wizard. has a great guide for that too.  Happy downloading!


Was this post helpful?
  • Thanks 
  • Sort-of 
  • Not Helpful 

It happened over the weekend. I can’t precisely say when, but I know when I attempted to reboot my machine on Saturday morning, I was greeted with hard drive failure. The first sign that trouble was lurking was that my BIOS stalled for a moment, the screen went black and then printed “A problem has been detected with your Hard Drive. Press any key to continue.”. At this point, I was taken off guard and was still in denial. I pressed a key and the normal GRUB popped up and began the boot process. The familiar Ubuntu splash screen popped up and everything felt normal.

My confidence was almost restored, when the screen went to rapidly scrolling text with things like “Unable to find root inode”, etc. And so, it went. My OS was hosed. I downloaded the latest Western Digital Diagnostics CD, booted with this and discovered (through the SMART protocol) that my drive had finally given up. It had simply quit. As it turns out, as a drive begins to fail, it will attempt to remap the bad sectors to known good sectors on the disk that are allocated just for this purpose. But when you run out of good sectors to remap to, then catastrophic failures are eminent. My drive had reached this point… with really no warning whatsoever. Lesson learned – check the health of your drives regularly. Linux has some free tools to check the SMART attributes (smartmontools) that can even e-mail you when they detect a problem. And backup regularly.

On another subject, I do not “recycle” my hard drives. That is, I don’t ever re-distribute my old or broken hard drives back into the wild. Depending on the drive, I will not sell my old HD on e-bay or even give it away. There may be sensitive personal data on these drives that I don’t really want to get into the wrong hands. I have a “best-known-method” to dispose of my old and/or broken hard drives. Because I feel like sharing, I decided to film the process and post it here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

UPDATE 12/8/2007: This might be a less destructive and less satisfying method.

Was this post helpful?
  • Thanks 
  • Sort-of 
  • Not Helpful 

Another techie post folks. I promise I’ll post something more personal shortly after this.

UPDATE (12/4/07): There may be a simpler approach here using just VLC to encode the video. If someone has tried this, let me know if it actually works.

Again, I found a deficiency on the internets for information on how to encode movies for your ipod on ubuntu linux. Sure there are some tutorials out there, but for the noob it’s just too darn hard to figure it all out. So let me break it down simple style for ya.

Step 1: Medibuntu Repositories

Go here and add the repositories to your package manager. Since I have Feisty, I would technically use these commands in the terminal:

echo “deb feisty free non-free” | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add – && sudo apt-get update

After you add these repositories, you’ll want to go update your packages. There a number of packages that you’ll need to update specifically for this project. Make sure to update ffmpeg and libdvdcss (before updating this you’ll want to check the legal ramifications of this in your country) which are the key components of this process. You can either open the update manager or type: “sudo apt-get update” in terminal to get all of the updates. Your choice.

Step 2: Vive

Vive is an excellent graphical front-end for the ffmpeg utility which has the capability to convert tons of video formats to the ipod format (many thanks to for putting this great utility together – it is exactly what I have been searching for).

Download and install Vive from There are two ways to do this. You can either choose to download the source and build the thing yourself OR you can get the deb package which does all the hard work for you. For this article, I you should download both, but install with the deb package. (I personally downloaded version 2.0.0 – vive_2.0.0-0ubuntu1_i386.deb) Download the deb package to your desktop and double click it to run it. Follow the install instructions in the deb package manager. That’s it. Well, almost… I found that there is one more important item that you have to setup first.

Make sure you add the presets file (the file name is “preferences”) to your /home/user/.vive directory (open your home folder and press ctrl-h to display all your hidden folders). Unfortunately, the “preferences” file is not included in the deb install package. Not sure why this is, however this is why I suggest downloading the source files as well as the deb package, because the presets will be in the source archive under the examples directory. The presets will make it very simple to encode the video to the ipod format that you need – so it’s very important unless you plan on customizing everything yourself.

Step 3: Encode your Video in MP4 (iPod) format

Now onto the easy part. Start up Vive by going to “Applications > Sound & Video > Vive” which should exist after you install the deb package. You should get a screen that looks like this:


It’s pretty basic from here on out. Select your input movie (DVD, File or a directory of files) and output movie filename/type (obviously you’ll want to select the preset for ipod here). The preset should automatically populate the fields you see here. I set the number of passes to 1 and the aspect ratio to 4:3 prior to clicking “Encode”. If the AAC option isn’t popping up in your audio codec drop down, this probably means you haven’t installed the right version of ffmpeg. You’ll want to get that from medibuntu in step 1.

After clicking “Encode”, Vive shows the encoding progress in the terminal tab. This takes a good long time, especially if you have a long movie or a slow system.

Step 4: Transfer your MP4 movie to your iPod

If you’ve already got gtkpod, then you’re all set. Simply load your mp4 output file onto the ipod with the gtkpod tool. If you don’t have gtkpod, install it with this command:

sudo apt-get install gtkpod-aac

The aac version provides support for the MPEG-4 format. Not sure why this has to be built into the gtkpod utility, but it works for me. If you have a v1.1 firmware ipod, there may be some complications where the video will lose audio after a minute or so. This can be patched with the instructions from this page. It’s probably easier to upgrade your iPod to newer firmware.

That’s it! Rad.

Was this post helpful?
  • Thanks 
  • Sort-of 
  • Not Helpful