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Old Androids Never Die, They Just Have A Few Screws Loose

Ubuntu 22.10 on the Asus ROG Strix G15

November 6, 2022

Upgrading my laptop to the new Ubuntu release broke the audio, but that isn't really news - the sound system in many ASUS laptops, specifically the ALC294 chip in these machines tends to be a real pain to get working. This guide is mainly for myself, but I figured other people might appreciate it.

These steps worked for me, on an ASUS ROG Strix G15, and I've used them on other ASUS laptops as well. YMMV.

First, you'll need to add a line to the file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf. You'll need to be root to modify the file, and you only want to add this line to the bottom, do not change anything else:

options snd-hda-intel model=asus-zenbook

You may need to reinstall the pipewire-alsa package - when I upgraded, it had gone missing - which you can do using apt from the command line, or synaptic if you prefer the GUI.

Restart the system and see if the sound is working. Depending on your system, the sound may be "working" but only allow you to mute, or have full volume (a.k.a. the 100 or 0 problem). For this, you'll need to change some pulseaudio settings, but these have moved in 22.10, as the system now uses pipewire instead of pulse.

Edit the file /usr/share/alsa-card-profile/mixer/paths/analog-output.conf.common, and find the section that looks like this:

[Element PCM]
switch = mute
volume = merge
override-map.1 = all
override-map.2 = all-left,all-right

Modify the section to look like this:

[Element Master]
switch = mute
volume = ignore

[Element PCM]
switch = mute
volume = merge
override-map.1 = all
override-map.2 = all-left,all-right

[Element LFE]
switch = mute
volume = ignore

Restart pipewire, or reboot, and your volume sliders should start working correctly again.


October 27, 2022

I don't think I'll be moving to any other social media site if/when Twitter catches fire, and I'm not really all that interested in being "followed" - if you like reading the things I write sometimes, consider installing an RSS reader and subscribing to the CC feed. Feel free to register and leave comments if you like; I only ever delete spam.

My personal recommendation is Liferea, easily available from Ubuntu's Software installer, or you can just click here to install it with apt.

Twitter Quitter?

October 27, 2022

Twitter has been acquired by a billionaire centrist, who many right-wingers think will "clean up" the place. Good for them, I say. The quicker people come to realize that social media run by the wealthy and corporations is by definition going to be a propaganda center, the better.

When Elon Musk first tried to purchase Twitter, there was a migration to distributed social media systems like Mastodon and Diaspora* - but as users, not as nodes, so these admittedly small networks had trouble handling it, which created a lot of bounceback.

I have some hope that the finalization of Musk's acquisition, and the change from liberal to centrist doctrines on Twitter, will finally be the big push that gets people to start thinking "hey, I'm sick of moving my shit around and being beholden to some rich prick's politics, how come I can't just keep it all on my own system?" But it probably won't.

It's hard to be an influencer on a distributed system where you don't get paid by the click.

Why we’re leaving the cloud

October 19, 2022

It strikes me as downright tragic that this decentralized wonder of the world is now largely operating on computers owned by a handful of mega corporations. If one of the primary AWS regions go down, seemingly half the internet is offline along with it. This is not what DARPA designed!

Source: Why we're leaving the cloud

This is a brilliant write-up and I hope many, many other people and companies follow suit.

Lucky you: An X11 Apologist Tries Wayland

September 22, 2022

I think it's only fair to call me an X apologist. I get incredibly frustrated when people talk about dropping support for X11. I fight back against the notion that some day X11 will be dead and unmaintained, a curiosity of a time before. I've spoken to people in my circles at-length about the accessibility tools that Wayland simply hasn't been capable of supporting that X11 has. A lot of times, I've ended this conversation with "Maybe 5 years from now it'll be good". Well it's 5 years in since I first said those words, and you know what, I'm actually pleasantly surprised.

Source: An X11 Apologist Tries Wayland

That's funny, because my experience hasn't changed at all: Wayland doesn't work well for most of what I do, and it's the same problems it's always had.

My main computer is a portable, powerful gaming laptop with an Intel integrated GPU, a discrete NVidia GPU, and the ability to switch between them to limit power consumption - a feature called NVidia PRIME. It's great, under X11 - I can run my entire desktop on the Intel chip, leaving the Geforce 2070 Super powered down for maximum battery life, or, if I'm connected to the wall outlet, run the system full-blast, for running graphically-intensive games or stable-diffusion on the CUDA cores. I can run Slic3r and generate 3D prints visually, and I can use hardware video decoding to watch Twitch via Streamlink. Best of all, if I've ssh'd into a work server and want to run a graphical app, all it takes is a single extra parameter.

(X11 WAS the original cloud-server remote access mechanism, by the way. You'd have a cheaper workstation on your desk, ssh into a big muscular server usually shared by several people, and run your GUI over the network, for doing things like designing microchips, or accessing mainframe databases.)

Under Wayland, NONE of that works correctly.

First off, there's no simple way to tell Wayland not to use the Intel for the desktop. If I want maximum performance, I'm screwed there. The Wayland devs say this is the compositor's problem, the compositor devs don't really care, so it's left to the interested student to figure out the correct udev incantation to move the window server to the NVidia card, and I'm not interested. :P

Secondly, quite a few apps don't actually work at all under Wayland - Slic3r, for instance, uses a component that does not support Wayland's protocol - and you're forced to run them explicitly under xwayland, because the app isn't smart enough to figure that out itself. Then there's mpv - which has had an annoying bug on Wayland for a while now, and it simply crashes if you try to render video with the discrete GPU.

Then there's games. Oh my god, the gaming situation on Wayland is horrific. Some games have issues with misrendering frames and leaving garbage from the previous frame behind; others pipe themselves into Xwayland, which has a massive diagonal tear right across the center of the screen. You can try to use gamescope, but given that you'd have to add it as an option to literally EVERY game, there's no point.

Sorry, but Wayland is not good enough for daily use, and you can blame NVidia for part of it, but not ALL of it. The lack of simple configuration on Wayland is a major problem and, until the documentation catches up with X (or better, they create a configurator tool like X has for setting things up), it's just not worth switching.

Stable Stranding

September 7, 2022

Oh don't mind me, I'm just dicking around with Stable Diffusion and getting it to generate a Death Stranding 2 cast pulled directly out of my butt

This AI is simply amazing - turning out fully-rendered realistic 3D artwork off nothing but my laptop's NVidia GPU, based on prompting. And it KNOWS things, like what these actors look like, what games are - and it's good at it, too.

So, plot... do I have a plot........ uh. Adam, Lilly, and Zendaya are porters each with different DOOMS - one can see BTs, one can hear them, and one can speak to them. Bruce and Debby are angry Unger-level resurrected people, and Timothee is a Heartman-level but evil scientist who wants to bring the EE back.

Again, this is completely pulled from my ass, so don't post it anywhere and say it's a plot leak, because it's not. :P I'm just messing with the art AI.

Genshin Security Impact

August 30, 2022

Genshin Impact is a huge money-maker, but their kernel-based anticheat system has a vulnerability that's being used to spread malware. Taking the game down, especially right after a new release with added playable characters would cost Hoyoverse millions of dollars, and Microsoft has not revoked the certificate for the kernel anti-cheat driver.

When corporations weigh your security against their profitability, your security always loses.

An MMORPG with cute anime-style characters and maybe a bit too much inspiration taken from another classic Nintento franchise, Genshin Impact is a relatively popular game across the PlayStation, iO...

Source: Genshin Security Impact

Preliminary Testing Ubuntu on the Steam Deck

August 16, 2022

Ubuntu 22.04 runs on Steam Deck fairly well right off the USB. Booting from the drive and getting to a desktop is no big deal, and the "Try Ubuntu" desktop mode starts up and runs. The things that seem to work were:

  • The graphics stack - video is accelerated properly, and the GPU seems active.
  • WIFI worked out of the box, no weird driver setups required.
  • The screen is correctly oriented.
  • The Steam Deck gamepad controls function similarly to how they did in SteamOS desktop mode - the right pad emulates a mouse, while the triggers are left and right click and the D-Pad is arrow keys.
  • The USB hub was properly recognized and both internal and external displays worked.

There are some things that do not work:

  • The touch screen seemed to register touches, but was not properly calibrated or aligned. All touches seemed to click on the top right corner.
  • There is no internal sound support. Sound via USB worked.

I did not try bluetooth.

As far as I am aware, the 5.17 kernel has a bunch of Steam Deck changes merged, most importantly the AMD P-state governor. I don't know if the sound card is supported, but that will be one of the most important things to fix, given that USB sound would use the USB-C port (so you couldn't listen and charge at the same time).

It may seem odd to replace SteamOS with Ubuntu, but for someone used to Linux (like me) SteamOS is very, very limiting, and there's quite a bit more I'd like to do with the Deck - for instance, trying to get Anbox to run, which might enable playing some Android games, and having the ability to run background applications (like Discord, IRC, or Caprine).