Call of Duty / Black Ops / Modern Warfare Disconnecting from Xbox Live on Start Up

Off beat post this.

My sons Xbox started misbehaving the other day, and refused to run the Call of Duty games connected to XBox Live. The games would start up Ok, but then disconnect from XBox Live – not good. Googled a lot but not much out there (a lot about it disconnecting during games but not on start up.)

General advice was to clear the system cache, or wait at the dashboard for a while, open ports on the router, reset the console, recover gamertag, but these didn’t work. Other games like Team Fortress would play OK, though.

Finally I tracked down the solution, which was to set a FIXED IP Address for the XBox on the router. It had been working fine previously on DHCP, but suddenly stopped working. The fixed IP address resolved all the issues on all the games.

I am an utter cult 🙂

Linux – Listen to Microphone on remote PC

Due to the festive season there was a need to contact relatives in far flung places. Of course I hadn’t done any preparation, so things didn’t work as I wanted. I plugged a PS2 Eyetoy into my htpc, and installed Skype. Was pleased to see the video worked off the bat, but when contacting my first relly, I could see and hear them, they could see me, but could not hear me. The mic on the Eyetoy wasn’t configured correctly. Due to my work with special needs kids, I put my sign language (Makaton) skills (limited!) to good use, and we had a fun conversation as I taught my rellies sign language using sign language 🙂

Anyway set about reconfiguring my htpc to get the mic working later that evening. It’s a Ubuntu 10.10 setup, so I removed pulse audio, and got back to a basic alsa setup. (Note: my main PC is set up the same way) I did all the setup via ssh from my main desktop. Needed a way to test my microphone was working:

arecord -l

gave the the number of my device:

card 1: Namtai [EyeToy USB camera Namtai], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

I then tracked down via google a command that with some modification allowed me to listen to the microphone on the speakers on my main PC (in a another room). I put my smartphone next to the eyetoy, and set it to play an audiobook I had on it. Ran back to my study and ssh’d into the htpc. Once there I had to run the command, which included ssh’ing back to my main PC (bet that would confuse 2 windows PCs if you tried it!) Command all on one line:

 arecord -f dat -D plughw:1,0 | ssh -C bimma@ aplay -f dat

and blow me, the sound of my audiobook being “listened to” by the microphone came through loud and clear on my main PC speakers

Key things: getting the device right, the arecord -l command gave the information of card 1 and device 0, which translates to plughw:1,0 (the -D option denotes the device for arecord to listen to), and -f dat indicates the format the sound will be recorded in and relayed to the remote PC. Have a good read of man aplay, for more info.

Now to try things out on a different relly tomorrow 😉

Windows 7 & Xubuntu (Dual Boot) & Samba File Server: Do’s and Dont’s

Been dual booting W7 and Ubuntu for some time using the RC version, but upon purchasing an Asus EB1012, which is now proudly bolted out of sight to the back of my 24″ Hanns.G screen, I found I had a proper licensed copy of W7 Home Premium to look after, alongside side my 9.10 Xubuntu install. With a linux samba server also on the Lan I needed everything to run smoothly, and after fiddling about for a few weeks, I believe I am finally there.


1. Dual boot W7 with Linux. It makes so much sense, as what you can do in Linux is what you can’t do in W7, and vice versa (although the latter has now almost dimished to zero :))

Setting Up for Samba Server File Access

2. The following to get your samba server working with W7 to stop it BSODing:

edit your /etc/samba/smb.conf on the server and ensure that:

  • Your workgroup name is listed
  • Your netbios name is listed, and is the same as your workgroup (OK, this means you can only have one samba server, but it helps
  • Ensure that your security entry is set to user

So in the [global] section of smb.conf you should have these entries (assumes workgroup of MYHOME)

workgroup = MYHOME
netbios name = MYHOME
security = user

3. Follow all the steps in this howto by stormbringer on ubuntuforums to setup your samba server and shares.

4. Follow all the steps for W7 in this howto by dmizer on ubuntuforums to setup W7 for samba access

5. Add a registry key to W7 for LmCompatibilityLevel=2 – see here

6. Make sure your W7 workgroup matches the one in your smb.conf file

7. Have a look at your Antivirus program. Crashes have bee experienced when using free versions of Avast, Avira and AVG. I have AVG 9 Free installed and have disabled the Resident Shield and Link Scanner (the latter of these is apparently the root cause). If this doesn’t fix things, uninstall your AV all together.

8. Add your linux file server to your lmhosts.sam file in Windows 7. You will need to open notepad as administrator to do this. Simply add the ip, followed by a space or tab, followed by the netbios name you chose:   MYHOME

Save and reboot to get it to take effect.

Sharing Files on the Dual Boot

9. Create an NTFS shared partition separate from Ubuntu or Windows. If you don’t have the space, keep your files on the windows partition somewhere. ntfs file access is facile under ubuntu and you can automount through fstab with a simple line like this:

UUID=05AAD3F54R0B9BDA                           /media/DATA     ntfs-3g defaults 0 0

And of course you would use a similar line for accessing the windows partition.

At the moment, you won’t easily be able to access your Ubuntu partition from windows, well, not with read/write access, but to get at least read access, you would need to do some work prior to installation. I’m not going to recommend this route, as I believe it leads to instability. So you will need to be strong, and always copy or move files to your shared partition when in ubuntu. If you really must have read access, look here


1. Try to use Ext2ifs or Ext2fsd to access your ext4 partition. It doesn’t work, (bar the workaround above) and can cause your W7 to crash.

2. Don’t use EXT3 as your file system for a shared partition. Although it “works”, its just asking for trouble, because you will need to run one of the two programs in 1. above, which can increase instability.

3. Use Samba as your file server when on the ubuntu side of the dual boot. Setup NFS on the server for linux file access. Much better.

As you can probably see, I have set out to keep things as native as possible; give W7 what it expects to find and it will work well, give Ubuntu what it expects to find and the same applies….

Observation, after a recent Windows update, or due to something unrelated to all the above, my Server disappeared from the Network section, so have found the need to create a persistent mapped network drive. Wonder if it will ever come back….? [EDIT] it did, following a cold reboot the next day.

Xubuntu 9.04 + Quick and Dirty VNC Remote Access

Xubuntu doesn’t come with the Remote Desktop screen you find in Ubuntu. All the VNC howtos (some which used to work) on the forums seem to come to nothing for me. I am happy to share directly via vnc over my LAN. Here is all I needed to do:

On the “remote” xubuntu machine

sudo apt-get install vino

vino-preferences (to get the screen – as mentioned above) up

Tick boxes as required, I tick the top two and then untick the next but require a password for access.

Add a startup item to Sessions and Startup -> Autostart


Reboot (or just start with the command above)

On the local “xubuntu” machine
(you may have other options here)

Install GRDC

sudo apt-get install grdc

Open up Grdc, enter the remote machine details and away you go. Response is a bit slow, but its the one that works!

I don’t need this very often, as I have become more adept at using ssh and ssh -X, but it is handy once in a while.

Two Servers Into One

For the last couple of years I have had two boxes running out in the garage providing up a variety of services to the rest of the house, and “the world”. Mostly used though for a storage repository.

Services running on Box1:

Ubuntu Fiesty
nfs sharing

Services running on Box 2

Ubuntu Fiesty
nfs sharing
virtualbox headless

I had eight hard drives in these two boxes, but some of the smaller ones were not in use, and also, due to not updating regularly Fiesty was now refusing to update on both machines.

Time for some rationalisation, so decided to cram everything into one box.

Box 2 seemed the one to go for, given that I had an IDE controller card in there, to allow for 4 x HDDs and a CDrom.

Did some fancy work on the partitions of the key drive in preparation for a fresh install of Jaunty, and shunted loads of data about (Music/Video and back ups from other PCs in the house). That which I could move immediately I saved for later to do across the network.

Jaunty Xubuntu install went fine (I do a full desktop install as this cuts down on dependency hell later on for things like virtualbox, but alos provides a desktop / vnc experience when I am feeling lazy! I usually log out of the desktop and kill gdm when not working on the server with gui)

Services installed:

gnump3d – just the best browser accessed music sharing server, now out of the Ubuntu repos, unbelievably!
nfs – the easiest way to share files on a linux network
samba – for my kids who won’t use linux ( I resisted samba like the plague for over two years, but this howto has redeemed it, IMHO!)
ssh – for command line access
screen – for running things when logged out
virtualbox – to run an XP for access via rdesktop
aria2 – command line file downloader
mplayer/mencoderfor encoding of TV programs as described here
moc – I have hooked up some speakers so I can listen to music in the garage when working on cars/boats etc
mc – command line file management
ushare – for upnp file sharing to GeexBox(this is brilliant!) and XBox(this is rubbish!)
vsftpd – ftp server for when I need one, directed at none media files 🙂
fail2ban – helps to cut down/protect ssh from outside attack
transmission – its there if I need a torrent/ want to seed, fortunately it runs in command line mode too, but aria2 can cope with torrents too

I have opened up a couple of ports on the router to allow external access, so I can get at things from work / elsewhere.

This was chugging away fine until we went away for a week. I switched the box off. On booting up when we came back, the IDE controller refused to work. So I had to unplug the cdrom, and go master/slave with the four drives. This is only annoying when its time to use a CD/DVD!

The Box?

Foxconn motherboard
AMD 1.4 mhz single core processor
RAM 1.5 gb
HDD Hitchi 500gb / Samsung 400gb / Samsung 250gb / Maxtor 160gb All PATA

NASLite-NFS revisited

I am a great fan of NFS, and having moved most of my PCs over to linux, use NFS exclusively on my ubuntu based servers. Found my open source floppy of NASLite-NFS yesterday and threw it at a virtual machine just for fun. The installation and setup reminded me just how easy it is to get going, and to end up with a fully fledged NFS file server on your LAN.

Security isn’t great, you’ll have to run behind a LAN and firewall to prevent unauthorised access, but I have found nothing much better for turning a cruddy old PC into something useful. Continue reading

How to Share from Linux using SSHFS on Windows with Dokan

Dokan, (meaning clay pipe) providing sshfs access to linux file shares (server) from Windows systems (client)

I am always looking for good ways of accessing linux file system shares from windows boxes, as I have to help my less technical windows users on my LAN gain access to everything being served up from my linux servers. If samba doesn’t float your boat, and getting nfs to work on Windows is just too hard, there is another way; dokan, which runs as an executable on Windows systems (W2K,XP, Vista) to provide mounted network style shares via ssh. Here’s how.

This howto is aimed at an internal LAN, so low security measures are followed. I am sure there are ways to lock things down as tight as you want (probably from the linux end), but this is beyond the scope of this howto, I just want to get you up and running! Continue reading

Ubuntu – Creating Host Interface Networking for VirtualBox

Now VirtualBox 2.1 is out host interface networking is a simple affair, however you can still set it up manually by following this howto if you wish

I have had a big struggle get host interface networking going on my main PC (Edgy), on a command line server (both wired) and for my laptop at work and home (wireless). Following the VirtualBox Help file example meant a borked Nautilus and other networking things dying, plus I had no two way connectivity and a lost connection for my host machine. Continue reading