09
Feb
2017

Ultrawide 21:9 on Linux – LG 29UM68-P Review

Well well it has been a long time! I should really be writing more on this blog… Anyway! On with the show…

I’ve become rather… fed up of my old 1440×900 monitor by Samsung. In fact, it was the Samsung 953bw. I liked it for a number of reasons:

  • It had a 75Hz refresh rate – nice for gaming
  • The input response time was very good – 2ms made it a decent gaming monitor
  • It was widescreen… okay yes this isn’t that big a deal, but the screen I had before that one was 1280×1024, so it was an upgrade!
  • It had VGA and DVI in – and I even could run it from a HDMI <> DVI cable
  • It was cheap. £50 off eBay. No worries.

That was a few years ago now. I have freed myself from the constraints of small PC monitors and resolutions…

…I got myself an LG 29UM68-P. Yah, badass.

This thing is nearly three feet wide. I had some concerns about the size – but it turns out that this fits perfectly on my new desk. There are some things about this that I immediately like:

  • It uses an IPS panel – the colours are so much better (>99% SRGB)
  • The backlight is actually even (a problem on my old monitor)
  • It has one DisplayPort input, and two HDMI inputs. This is great for me – I have a few Raspberry Pi’s kicking about and…
  • …I can use Picture-In-Picture (PIP) to have my PC on one side and the Pi on the other, with 1280×1080 resolution each.
  • It has FreeSync support – something I will be using in the future when I upgrade my GPU.
  • The menu is easy to use and quick to get at all the settings for things like Game Mode.
  • The 5ms input response rate is pretty good, though I can tell it is a tad slower than the old 2ms. Not by much though, only a tad. Not enough to put my somewhat mediocre gaming skills to the test.
  • So much room for activities!

Now I know what you’re all thinking… maan this is only 2560×1080! 3840×1440 is where it’s at for Ultrawide 21:9 ratios!

To that I say: nay nay! For I have some reasons:

  • At 2560×1080 on this size panel, the pixel ratio is ~96 DPI. More on this below…
  • I can actually run games on it with a modest GPU
  • I don’t have a 4K capable Blu-Ray player, – so as far as media consumption goes, the 1080p vertical resolution is spot on.

So, to elaborate on the 96 DPI – this lets me run Windows and Linux with no scaling. Though it is getting better, Windows DPI scaling has many issues. On the Linux side of things, I can only find scaling levels that are whole integer numbers (1x, 2x, 3x…) – this is a bit of a pain since 1x on a high-res monitor is too small and 2x is often too large. Forget about 3x unless you’re running like 8K or something…

More about Linux – I am running Linux Mint 17.3 “Rosa”, based off Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. I had my concerns since I am running a relatively older version of Linux, but I was surprised when I booted the PC for the first time that everything worked immediately. I mean, not even any X config file editing, no going into the Nvidia control panel – it just worked. And no scaling required!

Gaming was a great experience – though I did have one or two games flat out not even recognise the wide aspect ratio, the ones that did work were simply glorious. I mean, check out Civ V BE!

Looking good I think!

I am using DisplayPort to run the monitor, though to get 75Hz I had to “overclock” it using the Nvidia Control panel in Windows. Its unfortunate that the 75Hz option isn’t just available as any other resolution is. I don’t really game much on Linux so I have left it at 60Hz – maybe I should figure out how to get it to 75… if I manage it I will post how I did it!

I do have a couple of nit-picks about the monitor however:

  • Glossy black is nice and all, but a bit fingerprinty IMHO.
  • The stand is a bit basic. You only get tilt control, that is it. It has a VESA mount though so you can put a better stand on.
  • The menu is controlled by a joystick. It is also the power button. Why LG, why?
  • You don’t get a DisplayPort cable in the box. Seriously. You get bundled a HDMI cable instead.
  • The power brick uses one of these:

Image result for laptop power cord

That’s about all I can think about for this monitor. It’s simply a well priced, great performing panel for the average gamer and user. I love being able to actually use complex software like video editing packages with plenty of space to manage work. It’s not going to be fast enough for a professional CS:GO gamer who need sub 1ms response times, but that’s not what I got this panel for. I got it for everyday use, watching films at glorious 21:9 cinematic scale and playing games. It meets those expectations extremely well – I give it a solid 9/10. LG, good show!

29
Nov
2015

Phew, everything worked out!

So, in the last post, I whined about the stupid situation I had got myself into – with Windows plain straight-up refusing to boot if it wasn’t in the first partition on the drive. I was annoyed at this, because any decent OS should be able to be bootable no matter where it sits on a drive (in my opinion).

I re-imaged everything and let Windows be at the start, and it fired straight up! I didn’t have to do a boot-repair or anything, it just worked straight away. Excellent, that works just fine. Now, all I need to do is image Linux across and set up the boot loader. The image was very fast (going from SSD to SSD), but I couldn’t figure out how to update the bootloader on the new SSD easily, using boot-repair-disk Then, I realised I was making things hard for myself…

I had a working Linux copy on the old SSD! I just ran update-grub on that and let it find the Linux install on the new SSD! I set my BIOS to load the updated bootloader from the old SSD and booted into the new SSD from that! And, it worked like a charm! Once I was in the new SSD, I was able to run update-grub and voila, grub was installed properly and both Linux and Windows are fast and easy to boot.

I still have the problem where Windows will completely overwrite GRUB when it does something like a service pack update, so I’ll be needing to keep the old SSD around just in case, so I can use that with a SATA-USB adapter to boot into the Linux partition and redo the boot loader! Here is the current layout of my new Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD:

Screenshot_2015-11-29_22-26-01

This setup works just fine now – though it baffles me that Windows is such a picky b***ard about booting. Sigh…

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a picture of the new SSD! Cyber Monday is tomorrow, pray for my bank account!

Jpeg

26
Nov
2015

Rant time.

So I just got bitten by the Black Friday deals that are flooding the internet and I got myself a shiny new Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD for cheaps. It’s rather quick actually, I got the following speeds below:

Screenshot_2015-11-26_19-29-47

So yeah, half a gigabyte per second reads and writes! Noice. Sorry about the weird text issues, I have no idea why this happens when booting from a live USB (any ideas anybody?).

I thought, yay! Time to image over my OS’s and make them nice and fast. I thought to myself, 40GB for Linux and 200GB for Windows (I have a RAID5 array with Linux, and it doesn’t need as much room). So I used the article I made a short wile ago: Use Linux to move a Windows Installation to another drive! and got to work.

I started with Linux. I put Linux at the start of the drive and expanded it a bit from my 30GB SSD size to 40GB on the new SSD (just to make the numbers nice and round). I imaged it over and booted from the new SSD very easily (and much much quicker too). No problems thus far.

I shrunk my Windows 10 partition on my 500GB HDD down to something like 80GB so it wouldn’t take long to copy (and that it would fit on the SSD). It ended up taking sdd2 and sdd3 for the “Recovery” partition thing. Alright then, I’ll just boot the SSD again into Linux and do an update-grub! This seemed to work fine, with everything listed properly. I restarted and attempted to boot Windows 10.

…except it wasn’t to be. Just a white flashing bar and nothing else. I then remembered – ah, the Windows recovery thing needs to do a startup repair. Fair enough, I’ll boot my USB into the Windows 10 installer and chose to Repair my PC. All looked fine, went into Advanced and selected “Startup Repair”. It said it was “fixing issues” then got to about 30% then failed miserably, with nothing in the “log”. The next thing I tried was good old bootsect /fixmbr. Nope. All I did was kick GRUB out and make the entire drive unbootable. ARGH.

Back to the Linux install USB, run grub-install /dev/sda again. Except that wasn’t working either. It just said that it couldn’t find something to do with /cow. I figured it was a live USB thing, and remembered I still had a working copy of Linux on my 30GB SSD that I had unplugged.

I booted that up, and it loaded just fine, as if I had never touched it (and I hadn’t). I used that to fix the GRUB bootloader on the SSD, but I still could not get Windows 10 to start.

I did some poking around, and I discovered that Windows has to be at the start of the drive in order for it to boot properly.

What-the? WHY. There is no fathomable explanation why this should be the case. Linux works just fine no matter where the heck you plonk it on a disk. Why does Windows need to be so picky that it needs to be first in line once the disk is called up? I had a think – maybe it has something to do with Secure Boot? Oh no, that can’t be it. Linux works fine with Secure Boot and being on the disk anywhere. It’s times like these when I wonder why I bother with Windows anymore. I only use it for games really, and maybe a bit of programming.

So I’ve had to start over entirely from scratch. This time, I’ve put Windows 10 at the f***ing start of the drive. If it doesn’t work first time, it can rot on the hard drive where it was originally.

I’ll post back tomorrow with my conclusion. I’m not happy.

23
Oct
2015

Updating to 15.10

I’ve just updated the server to Ubuntu Server 15.10, and it seemed to update flawlessly! Wily Wearwolf – seems to be something Halloween related?

For the desktop version of xUbuntu (using XFCE4), the upgrade process went smoothly. This update doesn’t seem to have obviously changed anything to the end user – but there will have been a lot of under-the-hood updates.

15.10 for another 6 months, then on to the next one!

22
Oct
2015

Use Linux to move a Windows Installation to another drive!

So, you have a cranky old 2.5″ 160GB drive with Windows on it that just won’t do (yes, this is what I had for a long while). Its time for a drive upgrade! But you don’t want to reinstall Windows to the new drive! That’s just more work than it needs to be. Fortunately, there’s a better way.

You can use a Ubuntu Live USB stick for this, follow this guide on how to make one!

What this guide will show you how to do is directly transfer a Windows installation from one drive to another. You will need BOTH drives connected to the same PC for this to work (you could do it with some networking, but that’s beyond the scope of this tutorial).

The first thing you want to do is make sure that your Windows installation is smaller than the target disk. If you’re moving to a bigger drive you can skip this step. You’ll need to move some stuff off the Windows drive then shrink the partition using GParted:

Screenshot_2015-10-22_16-37-24

Once your Windows partition is small enough (I advise making it 2-5 GB smaller than the target drive), you can start to transfer the partitions over. It’s not entirely straightforward, however.

Above you can see that Windows creates multiple partitions for stuff like boot partitions. We need to mirror those partitions over to the new drive.

The first thing that you’ll need to check is that there is nothing on the new drive. Doing this will overwrite it. If you have a new drive, work away. If you have a used drive, it doesn’t hurt to scrub the drive first.

The next thing is to set the new drive up with identical partitioning. Use the following command to do this:

sfdisk -d /dev/sd<source> | sfdisk --force /dev/sd<target>
sfdisk --re-read /dev/sd<target>

The above commands use sfdisk to send over the partition structure to the new drive. Make sure you don’t get the labelling mixed up. If you do you will end up losing the partition structure to your current Windows drive. Your source drive could be /dev/sda and your target drive could be /dev/sdb – or it could be the other way around. Double check. Install gnome-disk-utility to help you.

Once it’s sent the partition structure over, you can use the following command to snapshot the partitions over:

dd if=/dev/sd<source>x of=/dev/sd<target>x

…where x is the partition number of each partition you are sending over. Again, make sure you get the labelling right or you’ll end up wiping your old drive. Start from /dev/sda1 and move upwards to /dev/sda2 etc. This will take a while depending on the size and speed of your drives.

Okay, you’ve made it this far. The good thing about this process is that you still have a working Windows drive, and a new drive with the same copy of Windows on it. The next thing we need to do is boot the new drive!

When I did this, I had a boot error (something to do with an inaccessible drive). You’ll need to fix this by booting the Windows install DVD/USB drive and doing a startup repair (it should find the problem straight away and fix it). This error might or might not happen to you, but if it does you can fix it easily enough.

The next thing you should notice is that the new Windows drive is the same size as your old drive/shrunk partition. You can expand the drive using the Disk Management console in Windows, or Gparted in Linux (I used Gparted and that worked fine).

The last thing:

lel

If  your old drive was full, do a defrag! If you’ve moved to an SSD, don’t bother doing this. You can see from above that my 160GB drive was horribly fragmented and all this had been moved to the new drive. You can see how the 160GB partition only sat at the top of the new 500GB drive. After Defragglering the new drive (which took 9 hours), your system should reap the benefits of getting a new drive! You could also defrag the drive before doing this process (best if you’re moving to an SSD), but it’s better to do it after to make use of the extra room.

Remember, if all goes south, you haven’t modified your old Windows drive in any way! You can still boot from it and use it the exact way as before (I’ve put mine away in a cupboard as a backup). This won’t mess up your Windows Activation since not enough components have been changed – only the boot drive, so as far as it’s concerned it’s in the same computer.

I hope this helps, post comments if you want help or if you have questions!

19
Oct
2015

GRUB: Editing the Boot Selection List

So whilst GRUB is great and all for easily selecting which OS to boot, it can be a bit confusing sometimes when you have a situation such as the one below:

  • Ubuntu Linux 15.04
  • Advanced Options for Ubuntu Linux 15.04
  • Windows 7 (sde1)
  • Windows 7 (sdf1)
  • Windows 7 (sdg1)
  • Windows 9001 (sd<googol>)

The issue I’m trying to make out is when you have multiple versions of the same Windows OS on the same machine. It’s not very useful to have all these OS’s only differentiated by their position in the drive tree – so whilst you could learn which OS is which, if you move any drives around it will mess up the ordering.

Normally  you can edit /boot/grub/grub.cfg but theres an issue with that:

Screenshot_2015-10-19_19-09-48

Waah. You can try to edit this file but it’ll be overwritten when you run sudo update-grub, and if you get the editing wrong you might not be able to boot! That will just simply not do. Fortunately this is Linux! There is a way: GRUB Customizer!

To get this package, run the following commands to add it’s repository and install:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

Once its installed, run it from your applications menu (you will need to enter your password since this program needs to edit system files).

Screenshot_2015-10-19_19-14-21

The interface is very nice! You can rearrange the OS’s, rename them, create menus and even get into directly editing their GRUB entries. In the other tabs you can change which position the GRUB interface starts at, and even set it to remember the last position it was in – very handy for restarts after updates!

Screenshot_2015-10-19_19-18-03

How cool is that?! This is something that has bugged me for a long time, and I have finally found a fix for it. Go into appearance settings and you can configure how the interface actually looks.

Here is my listing:

Screenshot_2015-10-19_19-59-40

Had to have a bit of fun! Of course, you would identify which Windows installation was which and name them accordingly.

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this useful! I certainly did.

06
Oct
2015

Ubuntu Linux Insurgency Dedicated Server: Workshop Content Working!

So I finally got workshop content working for Insurgency. This is what ended up working:

  • I added the -workshop flag:

./srcds_linux -game insurgency -console -port 27015 -stringtables -workshop +servercfgfile 'server.cfg' +map revolt_coop

  • Next, create a text file in the main insurgency install folder (could be ~/games/insurgency/insurgency) called subscribed_file_ids.txt (in the same folder as mapcycle_ files).

Next, you need some workshop content! Go to the Steam Workshop and browse for some mods you want to throw in. When you find one you want, look in the URL for ?id=xxxxxxxx:

Screenshot_2015-10-06_00-51-21

Highlight the number between ?id= and the & (in this case it would be 350747322) and just add it to subscribed_file_ids.txt:

Screenshot_2015-10-06_00-56-01

Just give each mod its own line and it should work:

Screenshot_2015-10-06_00-57-43

And thats it! The clients download the Workshop files by themselves, saving you precious upload bandwidth! Have fun!

26
Sep
2015

Insurgency Linux Dedicated Server fixed!

So after trying everything – redownloading files, trying to run the server on other machines, etc, I have finally got the server up and running again. Here is what I did:

  • I deleted the ./insurgency/bin folder and redownloaded the files after doing another full redownload. This gave a bunch more messages before eventually going into Segmentation fault.
  • I copied steamclient.so into the ./insurgency folder from the SteamCLI install. This got rid of all the previous errors I was having where it couldn’t find the file (for some stupid reason) and the server launched and ran normally.

Finally! It seems that the Linux version needs an additional install step involving this steamclient.so file. Weird! I hope this helps some of you out, I had a tough time finding anything online about this problem!

21
Sep
2015

Insurgency Dedicated Server for Linux: Segfault update 1

I still haven’t got this fixed. I have tried different kernel versions (I am running 4.1.6 and I have tried 3.19.0), redownloading the files, installing the dedicated server on another machine, installed the dedicated server on a clean install of Ubuntu Server, and it’s just the same old error:

Screenshot_2015-09-22_00-40-35

I am really starting to feel that they have borked this update. If I am missing something, please please please tell me what I am doing wrong. I haven’t found anything online (yet) about other people having the same issue.

GAH!

20
Sep
2015

Insurgency Linux Dedicated Server: Segmentation Fault!

So I just updated the Insurgency Decidated Server (srcds_linux) to the latest Embassy update, and now this is all I get when I try to run the server:

Segmentation fault (core dumped)

I have tried different kernel versions, messing about with libaries, reinstalling the game, revalidating, but even just running ./srcds_linux just crashes the same way as above.

I have tried using -debug in the command and it doesn’t change anything. No logs or anything are created. All I get is this in dmesg:

Screenshot_2015-09-20_23-25-03

I don’t think I can fix it. I will post this into the steam forums and see if anybody else is having the same issue. If you are, please tell me that you’re getting something similar just so I won’t have an aneurysm trying to find fixes!