Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

International Space Station

May 31, 2013

I stumbled across this story on ExtremeTech, “International Space Station switches from Windows to Linux, for improved reliability”

This is a partial re-post of that article:

The United Space Alliance, which manages the computers aboard the International Space Station in association with NASA, has announced that the Windows XP computers aboard the ISS have been switched to Linux. “We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable.”

In specific, the “dozens of laptops” will make the change to Debian 6. These laptops will join many other systems aboard the ISS that already run various flavors of Linux, such as RedHat and Scientific Linux. As far as we know, after this transition, there won’t be a single computer aboard the ISS that runs Windows. Beyond stability and reliability, Keith Chuvala of the United Space Alliance says they wanted an operating system that “would give us in-house control. So if we needed to patch, adjust or adapt, we could.” It’s worth noting that the ISS laptops used to run Windows XP, and we know they’ve been infected by at least one virus in their lifetime: in 2008, a Russian cosmonaut brought a laptop aboard with the W32.Gammima.AG worm, which quickly spread to the other laptops on board. Switching to Linux will essentially immunize the ISS against future infections.

The laptops that were upgraded belong to the station’s OpsLAN. The crew use the OpsLAN to perform day-to-day activities, such as viewing stock inventory, controlling scientific experiments, or checking their current location. Presumably the laptops used to run bespoke Win32 apps on Windows XP, and now those apps have been re-written to work on Linux — hopefully they’re not being emulated in WINE. To get the astronauts and cosmonauts up to speed, they will be trained by the Linux Foundation.

To be honest, we shouldn’t be too surprised at the ditching of Windows. Linux is the scientific community’s operating system of choice. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is controlled by Linux. NASA and SpaceX ground stations use Linux. DNA-sequencing lab technicians use Linux. Really, for applications that require absolute stability, which most scientific experiments are, Linux is the obvious choice. The fact that the entire OS is open source and can be easily customized for each experiment is obviously a very big draw, too.

WOW !!!

Good job Debian 🙂


Announcing OpenTeacher

December 14, 2011

Although this blog is mainly about Ampache I am taking this opportunity to let the community know about a recent piece of software that I have discovered and packaged for Debian/Ubuntu.

I would like to announce the availability of OpenTeacher in Precise, Oneiric-backports and Debian Wheezy.

So what is OpenTeacher you ask. Well it is an easy way to learn a foreign language. You feed it word lists (which you can find online), then choose one of three learning modes, ie think answer, shuffle answer, repeat answer. These modes determine how Openteacher will test you. Once the test is complete OpenTeacher will rate you on your performance.

Openteacher is in heavy development right now. If you would like to see where the development team is going with OpenTeacher have a look at their launchpad blueprints or if you would like to get involved have a look at their launchpad project page.

Authors: Milan Boers, Marten de Vries, Roel Huybrechts,Cas Widdershoven, David D. Lowe

In other news thanks to Adam Cecile, I have become the co-maintainer of Picard in Debian. The packaging for Picard has now moved to the Python Application Packaging Teams svn repo and Picard-0.16-1 has landed in unstable. Once Picard migrates to testing we will sync it over to Ubuntu, giving everyone a fresh new version to play with.

Best regards

Ampache Banshee, Amarok, and Viridian

April 13, 2011

With the coming release of Natty I would like to share with fellow Ampache users some neat changes that will be available in Natty.

First let me say, if it is within your means to support Ubuntu please use UbuntuOne to host your music. Sadly this is not an option for me, so I have chosen to use an alternative. To install Ampache simply do

sudo apt-get install ampache mysql-server

Now open your favorite web browser and point it to your Ampache installation usually http://localhost/ampache will do the trick. Follow the web installer instructions to complete the installation.

As we all know Banshee will be the default media player in Natty. There is an extension you can install that will allow you to access your Ampache server with Banshee.

sudo apt-get install banshee-extension-ampache

Now once this is finished installing launch Banshee and go to

Edit > Preferences > Extensions

Click the check box and highlight ampache.  Now go to the “Source Specific” tab and click on the “Source” drop down menu and select “Ampache”.

This will take you back to the main Banshee user interface. Now under the “Online Media” section click on “Ampache”. This part of the process may take a while depending on the size of your music collection.

As you can tell from the screenshot you now have Sound Indicator integration which I think is pretty cool.

Hang on KDE folks we have something for you to.  There is support for Ampache built right into Amarok, you don’t have to install anything. After launching Amarok, simply go to

Settings > Configure Amarok > Internet Services


Click on the check box, and then click on the little wrench. This will bring up the “Add Server” dialog box. Now you need to click on the “Add Server” button in the top left portion of the dialog box. This will bring up yet another dialog box for you to put your server information in.

After clicking “Ok” several times this should take you back to Amarok’s main user interface. Now you need to click on the “Internet” section in the left menu of Amarok.

Now click on “Ampache” in the left menu

Amarok will now connect to your server and index your music, this may take a while depending on the size of your music collection.

And for those folks that don’t like using a heavy player such as Banshee or Amarok, there is Viridian. Viridian is written in python and uses gstreamer for playback. I use it on the one Xubuntu box that I have setup and it seems to do ok. To install Viridian it is as simple as

sudo apt-get install viridian

Once it is finished installing launch Viridian. It will bring up a dialog box for you to put your server information in.

Once you enter your server information and click the save button Viridian will connect to your Ampache server and start indexing your music collection so again this may take a bit. Start making a playlist and enjoy.

Annoucing Viridian

November 13, 2010

There will be some exciting changes coming to Ampache in Natty.

Ampache has a new front-end called Viridian.  Viridian is a light weight player written in python that uses gstreamer for playback, making it capable of playing a wide variety of audio formats.   What I like most is that Viridian is simple, and it’s integration into Gnome and Unity.

This first screenshot shows Viridain on Unity, connected to my ampache server, with a playlist loaded, and changing songs.

Viridian will get out of your way and allows you to be doing other things while enjoying your music.

Note the album art in the notification area close to the clock. If you right click on the album art, controls will drop down in a nice menu.

To use Viridian you will need to have Ampache setup with a user account configured. To setup Viridian you will need to know the server address, username and password, which Vridian will prompt you for the first time you launch it.

Viridian was written by Dave Eddy and will be available in Natty. The source code can be found on launchpad

I’m also pleased to announce that in the next release of banshee there will be a new banshee-ampache-extension, This extension will allow you to access your Ampache server directly through banshee. John Moore has been the driving force behind this extension and we thank him for his efforts.

I have also just recently been made aware of the rb-ampache plugin project, which is developing a Rhythmbox plugin for ampache. This plugin will also allow you to access your ampache server directly through Rhythmbox. I have just made contact with Graham Grindlay the upstream author and will start working on getting this into Natty as soon as it is ready.

With the Natty release Ampache will play nice with Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, VLC, Viridian, Android, Palm Pre, iPhone, Blackberry, Icecast, MPD, Coherence, and more. Now that’s what I call flexible.

To all my fellow veterans I would like to say thank you for your service.

Dear Ubuntu One Hackers Team

September 23, 2010

If you cannot lease a constructive comment on my blog please stay off it.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind the Ubuntu One Hackers Team to please reread the Ubuntu Code Of Conduct and follow it.

Matt Griffin with regards to LP #646296 please have a look at:


Visit this site for licensing details

Scroll to the bottom of the page and I quote:

“For non-commercial use the JW Player 5 for Flash is licensed as open source software under a non-commercial variation of the Create Commons License. We encourage developers to download and modify the source as required.

For commercial use the JW Player 5 for Flash is licensed under a commercial license.”

Now if you or any of your team would like to help me in packaging Subsonic for Debian/Ubuntu users please contact me at  I have already filed and ITP bug in the Debian BTS.

Have a nice day

Alternative to Ubuntu One’s Music Streaming Solution

September 22, 2010

I found Martin Albisetti’s blog announcing the new music streaming features for Ubuntu One’s music store to be some what funny.

The streaming feature will be part of Ubuntu Ones payed plan. So I ask myself “Why would I want to pay for something I can do for free”. I personally prefer to use Ampache to stream my music collection to my desktop and laptops.

In Martins blog he mentions stream music to your phone:

In Ubuntu 10.04, we released the music store, and to compliment that, we will be allowing you to stream any music you have in your Ubuntu One account to your iPhone or Android mobile phone.”

So what’s the big deal? Ampache has been able to stream music to the android phone since the release of Karmic!

There is iAmpache for iPhones, Ampache Moble for the Palm Pre, Amdroid for the Android phone, and Ampacheberry for the blackberry. Not to mention if you want to run Ampache as a virtual appliance there is VMampache and ISOampache

There are also two lightweight players for Ampache Quickplay, and Viridian-player. The Viridian-player will hit the archives as soon as the upstream developer finishes the logo.

It is really easy to add your $HOME/Ubuntu One folder to your Ampache instance.  From the web UI go to Admin ->Add a Catalog and provide the path to your Ubuntu One music folder, then click create catalog. Done.

Ampache can also be used as a backend for ShoutCast, MPD. Amarok, and can be used with python-coherence to be the backend for rhythmbox

To install Ampache simply do:

sudo apt-get install mysql-server ampache


Chelsea School Uses Ubuntu To Create VMampache

March 30, 2010

Hi, everyone,

I have an awesome story that I would like to share, it involves Ampache,
Ubuntu, Chelsea School, and the use of FOSS in education.

I was made aware of a little project name VMampache during a IRC conversation
in freenode #ampache. Upon closer investigation, VMampache is actually a
school project, so I contacted Rick Goldman (the project leader) and asked him
to give me a small write up about the project so I could anounce it on the
Planet. To my suprise this is no ordinary school project.

Rick tells it best:

The Ampache virtual appliances available at were assembled
and configured by students at Chelsea School in suburban Maryland who are
taking an advanced technology sequence of courses called Information Systems
Management (ISM).

Chelsea School primarily serves students who learn differently; many of them
come from schools that have failed to serve their individual learning
styles [this is gingerly phrased – according to our website, we primarily
serve students with language-based learning disabilities; we are a school
providing specialized education. I thought perhaps some students might want
that obscured, although it is a compelling part of our story that probably
should be included; read relevant bits about Chelsea at
Chelsea School, meet Chelsea, and Chelsea Philosophy

We have three technology tracks at Chelsea School that are offered as
electives for some, and as substitutes for foreign languages for
others [].
We offer television and music production, graphic design and animation, and ISM.

ISM was originally imagined as preparation for A+ certification, and the
courses are structured around our students achieving that goal. The first year
of ISM focuses on software based administration, configuration,
troubleshooting, and maintenance. In the second year, we focus on
hardware: build PC-based machines for a variety of purposes, install new
hardware, troubleshoot and configure machines with hardware problems, etc.

The Ampache Virtual Appliance project came about after a sequence of events:
first the software students had an authentic assessment which charged them to
install Ubuntu 9.10 in a virtual machine, perform a list of typical OS tasks,
and configure the OS for a specific purpose. Without any prior exposure to
Ubuntu or Linux, students were able to perform all the tasks, with one
exception – they weren’t able to navigate independently to the package
manager (Synaptic was just not an intuitive name for these students). This
project helped me assess their understanding of GUI conventions, OS functions,
and to be sure they weren’t just learning rote mouse routines by rehearsing
solely in an XP VM.

They expressed enthusiasm working with Ubuntu, so I proposed another authentic
assessment: software would come up with a software solution that addresses a
real-world need; hardware would build a machine to specifications using
predominantly found objects. Given a list of possible solutions they could
provide, the software students chose to build a server that provides the
instructional accommodations and modifications that fit many of our students
learning styles: an Ampache streaming media server. Hardware relied on
documentation to build a suitable machine after testing the individual
components. Software followed customized documentation I provided to install
and configure the necessary software.

Having realized with them the potential of Ampache to positively affect
teaching and learning, I proposed that they create an Ampache solution that
we could distribute to other educators at conferences, colloquia, etc. We
decided to build virtual appliances that could be bundled with VirtualBox and
put on a thumb drive. I gave them guided technical instructions
(an incomplete outline), and demonstrated the process as they completed the
notes. They then took over; based on TurnKey Linux’s model and the TurnKey
Linux core, each class installed and configured a virtual appliance: the
hardware class built a VirtualBox appliance, while the software class built
the VMware appliance. Four of the six students committed to maintaining the
appliances as Ampache matures – even after they’ve left Chelsea School.

Clearly, the students have reacted strongly to working with Ubuntu and the FOSS
community. They are keenly interested in the next steps in the process and are
eager for feedback about the appliances. They have read and signed the Ubuntu
Code of Conduct, which they seemed to feel was common sense. They’ll be reading
some excerpts from Stallman today; I will then interview them about their
reactions to the Free Software movement and forward you what I’ve learned.

Both classes have asked to continue using Ubuntu for the rest of the academic
year, so I’ll be working out whether to scrap A+, how to creatively accomplish
A+ core objectives using Linux, or moving completely to an Linux+ or LPI model.

Our two hardware students are both asking us to create a third year ISM course.
Steven Robinson is currently a freshman in the hardware class. He’s the first
student to start ISM while only in middle school and has a strong memory
regarding hardware components and specifications. Steven has installed
Ubuntu 9.10 on his laptop,

Adrian Madison is a junior with a sincere interest in pursuing PC maintenance
and repair as a career. He’s at his happiest when he is learning new command
line arguments, whether in Windows or in Ubuntu, to accomplish tasks. He’s
running Ubuntu 9.10 at home on bare metal. Adrian is hoping for a summer
internship where he can put his skills to use.

Curtis Fawcett is a senior in the software class that is debating between a
major in English and a major in engineering. He’s an avid reader, has an
incredible memory; two of his many assets are critical thinking and
analysis/interpretation. He’s putting these assets to use by taking a college
class in CAD during his senior year. Curtis has installed Ubuntu 9.10 at home
on bare metal.

Jerel Moses, also in the software class, is enthusiastic about Ubuntu and the
possibilities it offers for customized distribution. Jerel is simultaneously
pursuing course work in web and graphic design. If he chooses to pursue a
career in technology, he may be a third generation technician. Jerel is
running Ubuntu 9.10 as a virtual machine at home.

Maurice Quarles is a junior whose at his best navigating a GUI efficiently to
perform OS tasks and maintenance. Maurice is interested in pursuing a career
in game design.

David Walton, a freshman, is also interested in pursuing a career in game
design. He keeps us laughing when we run into problems, and insists that when
Windows XP shuts down, it’s singing “have a nice day.” David, like Steven, is
an avid gamer. He is eager to start a career in game design.

My career has predominantly been as an English professor and English teacher.
However, I’ve also served as an instructional technologist, a database
designer, a web and graphic designer, and an administrator of Solaris and
Irix machines. I used Red Hat at home off and on since 1998. Neither linux
nor I were ready to adopt linux as my primary operating system. But I kept
returning to it until I tried out Ubuntu around 2005 or 2006. I kept it around
on laptops and virtual machines. This year, Adrian and Steven, the two
students in hardware, built a new machine for me with incredible speed and
power. The software students installed Ubuntu 9.10 on it, and I’ve never
looked back. I keep my XP system on a virtual machine to print, scan, and
backup my Iphone. As soon as budget allows, I’ll move to compatible hardware
and work out something for the iPhone. Otherwise, XP is just wasted space on
my drive.

My eyes were really opened to FOSS while I taught English and administered the
web at WVU. My frustration with closed-source and proprietary software hit
critical mass when I was a professor and instructional technologist at
Bethany College and I became aware of the licensing costs and other
expenditures resulting from vendor lock in.

Since then, my goal in relation to FOSS has been introducing free and
open-source solutions to educational institutions. I’ve configured and
deployed Moodle at Chelsea School; Tameka Jackson, our technology coordinator,
now administers Moodle and has added Elgg to our resources. Under our assistant
head of school’s guidance, a group of teachers are participating in research
on using Audacity to enhance teaching and learning. So adoption of FOSS has
increased and had a positive effect on what’s important to us: teaching and

What we need next for deploying Ampache at the school is guidance from an
authority on copyright and fair use. What we learn we’ll document and include
in whatever we can package for distribution to other schools.

ISM Students Respond to RMS’ free software definition.

ISM students have been exposed to fragments of free software culture and
open-source culture. They read some Stallman and liked what they heard. Adrian
liked that with free software, there are less restrictions on what one can
accomplish. By extension, more innovative projects can be realized than would
otherwise be possible. Steven agreed, but added that he’s attracted by the
idea of an individual releasing something into to the world for one purpose,
but which may ultimately fulfill myriad other purposes. With such a culture,
Steven suggests it would be easier find technologies that actually fit our
needs well, rather than relying on technologies that aren’t quite right but
are all that’s available.

Both Curtis and Jerel originally thought the “free” in free software referred
to cost. Curtis now sees free software as an opportunity to have your point of
view contribute to the marketplace of ideas. He feels strongly that it gives
everyone the same opportunity to use the same software and to have a voice.
Jerel is particularly moved by the friendliness he feels this model must
create in a community.

ROCK ON Chelsea School!!!


March 26, 2010

Hey everyone

There is now an ampache application available on 3 of the major smart phones, droid, palm pre and now iphone. Thanks to Bespin Corp there is now iampache for your iphone. iampache is available free from the iphone apps store.

I personally do not have an iphone so I have not had an opportunity to see the app in action, but I hear it works very well.


August 26, 2009

There are some exciting things happening in the Ampache community.

First there was Quickplay, a light weight frontend/player which uses Ampaches XML API to connect to your Ampache server. Quickplay has recently been accepted into Ubuntu Karmic and Debian Squeeze.

Quickplay was then ported as Amdroid for the Verison G1 phone, and has since been receiving some third party modifications . Hopefully these will be integrated by upstream soon.

And now Quickplay has been ported as AmpachPre for the Palm Pre phone. (thx fain)







So your asking “where is the iphone version” of Quickplay. There was an effort to port Quickplay to the iphone, but sadly this project has been abandoned. If someone in the community would like to pick up the project and continue, you can find the code here.

AmpachPre will not work with the current version of Ampache in Jaunty (ampache-3.4.4) due to changes in the XML API, sadly Ampache-3.5.1 is not a good SRU candidate so I have created a version of Ampache-3.5.1 for Jaunty in my PPA


Ampache on Slimserver

May 28, 2009

Finally found some time to do some blogging. It’s been a busy time as I have had new releases of Ampache, Ampache-themes, UPnP-inspector, and Coherence coming out at about the same time so not much time for blogging..  I have also switched Quickplay and UPnP-Inspector to debhelper 7 and python-support, joined PAPT and uploaded them to for sponsorship.

An Ampache plugin is now available for LogiTeck SqueezeCenter, which IMHO is pretty freakin cool.  This is straight from Ampache’s dev blog:

Give them an API and they will come… Robert (Flemming) just announced a plugin for directly interfacing Ampache with SqueezeCenter. He’s also found and helped fix numerous bugs in the API, so an all around good guy. You can find his original announcements on the ampache forums and the slimedevices forums. The plugin itself is located at for those too lazy to click through to his announcements.

For those who do own a SqueezeCenter, installation of the plugin is as follows:

Manual Installation

  • Remove any previous version of the plugin from the SqueezeCenter Plugins directory.
  • Download the latest version of the plugin from the Downloads page.
  • Unzip the plugin into the Plugins directory.
  • Restart SqueezeCenter
  • Configure the plugin

Using the Extension Downloader

  • Open up the Extension Downloader configuration in SqueezeCenter under Settings/Plugins/Extension Downloader/Settings
  • Add the repository:

  • Select the plugin for installation
  • Restart SqueezeCenter
  • Configure the plugin

Got to go. Enjoy

Charlie Smotherman