Tag Archives: linux

Re-enable virtual terminals on Ubuntu 12.04

In the past month I’ve been getting accustomed to Ubuntu 12.04, and all of the changes it brings to the user interface of Ubuntu. One issue I’ve been especially bothered by is the lack of virtual terminals, at least of users of NVIDIA’s proprietary drivers (myself included). The issue seems to stem from the fact that Ubuntu 12.04 makes use of a hardware framebuffer to draw a splash screen on boot, which causes issues with the driver when attempting to switch virtual terminals. I had a hard time finding any solutions to my problem, until I found this post on AskUbuntu¬†which gives a couple suggestions. While the poster suggests going all out and completely disabling graphical boot, he also suggests a less drastic solution, adding a flag to the linux boot options that prevent loading framebuffer modes that interfere with virtual terminals.

To do this, open /etc/default/grub in a text editor and find the line that reads


and change it to read

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash vga=normal"

Rebooting your computer should leave the grub menu and boot splashscreen unchanged, while the virtual terminals work perfectly! Of course, your mileage may vary, depending on your system. This works for me on a fully updated install of Ubuntu 12.04, with an NVIDIA 9800 GT.

GPSd under OS X

Update 7-13-11: I’ve posted an updated set of instructions on getting GPSd to compile on OS X here; this post will remain for archival purposes. For information on installing GPSDrive, see this post.

So I recently picked up a cheap GPS module on Amazon. It was about $30 with shipping, and I got a neat little dongle which connects over USB to my computer and communicates with software. It didn’t come with support for OS X (although interestingly enough it shipped with Mac OS 8 and 9 drivers), but it promised to send generic NMEA-0183, so I wasn’t too worried.

When it showed up, some quick software probing revealed that it houses a usb to serial adaptor (a Prolific PL-2303, which I’ll get to in a bit) and a gps module that’s configured to send NMEA strings through the virtual serial port. This sort of information is compatible with a host of software, but most of it is commericial, and only available at a considerable price.

Luckily, there’s a wonderful open source project called gpsd which provides support for a wide raft of devices and protocols, and talks to an even wider assortment of software. Primarily, I wanted to be able to get my gps to talk to the network scanner Kismac, and Randall Munroe’s cyborg.py script. Both of these were built to take information from gpsd, so I was in business. However, gpsd, which is designed to play nicely with Linux, takes some coaxing under OS X. This is meant to describe how I got it all running. Continue reading