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Audio "too loud" and volume switch not working in Ubuntu

Installed my new laptop, and everything seemed to work, out of the box. Almost everything.

The audio was quite annoying. First of all, every application got it's own volume setting. In theory that is a nice idea, and you can control and manage the volume for every application separately. In practice, this is a nightmare: try changing the volume of an application which only once in a while sends a short notification. Or try changing the volume of the sound when you close the laptop lid. On top of that, the volume for applications like Chome and Firefox seem to be stuck at 100%. Every time I change the volume, the setting is back on "loud" the next time the browser plays something.

Second the global volume settings (Fn+"Volume up" or Fn+"Volume down") seem to have no effect at all.



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Upgrade from Ubuntu 16.10 (yakkety) to 17.10 (artful)

Sometimes old computers are not updated quickly enough, or just kept running ...

root@system ~ # lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu 16.10
Release:        16.10
Codename:       yakkety

And so it happens that the support for Ubuntu 16.10 (codename: yakkety) came to an end, and the packages were removed from the regular Ubuntu servers. Trying to run an upgrade (do-release-upgrade) ended in the following message:


Reading cache

Checking package manager

Can not upgrade 

An upgrade from 'yakkety' to 'artful' is not supported with this tool.


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Outdated and dispensable initrd images in /boot

Sometimes update-initramfs leaves old initrd images around in /boot, even when the kernel package is deinstalled. Deleting the file does not help, the next run of update-initramfs will recreate the file.

The solution is simple: all kernels which need to be rebuild are in /var/lib/initramfs-tools/ - just delete the old ones, and the images in /boot, and they will not be recreated.

Configuring "locales" in Debian and Ubuntu, using Ansible - Reloaded

Last year I posted about how to configure "locales" in Debian or Ubuntu, using Ansible. Back then I did not know that there is an Ansible "debconf" module available, and I have no idea how I could miss it. Anyway, this makes things a bit easier, but not much.

First of all, the module let's you both set and query values. However because the "locales" package does not use debconf for the list of locales, but stores this list in /etc/locale.gen, things are still unnecessary complicated. But I managed to get it working without having to use an additional file as flag if this step was completed before.


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Ansible and LXC Containers

LXC is one of many available containerization solutions for Linux. Ansible has basic support for LXC integrated, which is fine if you do not intend to do much inside of the container (aka: fire & forget). My goal however is to start a full flavored container, and manage this container with Ansible as well. That's where things get a bit tricky, and looking around I couldn't find much documentation how to do this.

This posting describes my approach.


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Execute a required reboot, with Ansible (Debian/Ubuntu)

After updating Linux packages, it sometimes is required to reboot the host. Debian and Ubuntu provide this information by the presence of a special file: /var/run/reboot-required. Ansible makes it easy to reboot a host, but there are a few aspects which need attention.


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Configuring "locales" in Debian and Ubuntu, using Ansible

Missing locale settings will result in error messages like:

ads@ansible-ubuntu-03:~$ perl --version
perl: warning: Setting locale failed.
perl: warning: Please check that your locale settings:
        LANGUAGE = "en_US:en",
        LC_ALL = (unset),
        LC_PAPER = "de_DE.UTF-8",
        LC_ADDRESS = "de_DE.UTF-8",
        LC_MONETARY = "de_DE.UTF-8",
        LC_NUMERIC = "de_DE.UTF-8",
        LC_TELEPHONE = "de_DE.UTF-8",
        LC_IDENTIFICATION = "de_DE.UTF-8",
        LC_MEASUREMENT = "de_DE.UTF-8",
        LC_TIME = "de_DE.UTF-8",
        LC_NAME = "de_DE.UTF-8",
        LANG = "en_US.UTF-8"
    are supported and installed on your system.
perl: warning: Falling back to a fallback locale ("en_US.UTF-8").

This can be configured, but unfortunately the "locale" package does not use the debconf database. This makes it more complicated to configure the locales settings using Ansible.


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Autostart XEN Domains

When using XEN you can start virtual machines using "xm create". However after rebooting the host machine, the virtual machines are not started automatically. This minor problem is easy to solve. Let's say the configuration for the virtual machine is in /etc/xen/pluto.cfg:

mkdir -p /etc/xen/auto
cd /etc/xen/auto
ln -s /etc/xen/pluto.cfg .
cd -

This creates a link to autostart the virtual machine. The source of the symlink must be an absolute path.

In addition to the symlink, the "pluto.cfg" file must contain the following entries:

on_xend_stop  = 'shutdown'
on_xend_start = 'start'

If you are using the "xm" toolkit, you can add these two lines to the template in /etc/xen-tools/xm.tmpl. After these changes, "pluto" starts when the host system starts.

Thunderbird Lightning: cannot add new calendar

If the calendar plugin Thunderbird Lightning stops working after a system upgrade (Ubuntu 8.04 -> 9.10 in my case), just reinstall the libstdc++5 library. Before installing the library you have to deinstall the plugin from thunderbird and reinstall it afterwards.

The Thunderbird behaviour is a bit curious: the calendar and todo tabs are shown, but all previously defined calendars are missing. In addition it is not possible to add new calendars, these options are greyed out.

Papierformat (A4 oder Letter) in einer Ubuntu Installation

Eine standardmäßige Ubuntu Installation ist der Meinung, als Papierformat "Letter" nutzen zu wollen.

Dies lässt sich folgendermaßen umstellen:

 sudo dpkg-reconfigure libpaper1

Und dann A4 als Papierformat auswählen. Danach ist der Cups Printservice noch neu zu starten:

sudo /etc/init.d/cups restart