How To: Configure Dual Display with ATI Radeon (fglrx)

As promised in my last post (News: ATI Catalyst Display Drivers 9.9 Released), I am back with a post on configuring dual display with ATI Radeon HD Graphics Card and proprietary catalyst (fglrx) drivers from ATI.

Hardware Used

Graphics Card: ATI Radeon HD 3200 (256MB, onboard)
Monitor 0: ViewSonic VG1930WM 1440×900 (19″ LCD, Connected via DVI port)
Monitor 1: Samsung SyncMaster 793S 1280×1024 (17″ CRT, Connected via VGA port)

Types of Dual Display

  • Mirror: Both screens have same content, identical refresh rate and resolution.
  • Clone: Both screens have same content but refresh rates and resolutions can be different.
  • Horizontal: Both screens can have different content, refresh rates and resolution. Screen 1 is left or right of Screen2.
  • Vertical: Same as horizontal. The only difference is that Screen1 is above or below Screen2.

In this post, we are interested in Horizontal setup with xinerama on. This way we can have two desktops allowing full screen modes on both of them and allowing us to drag and drop windows from one screen to the other.

Install ATI Drivers

If you don’t have ATI drivers installed already, follow this How To: Install ATI Catalyst (fglrx) Drivers on Fedora 11 (works for any version of ATI Catalyst drivers).

Generate xorg.conf file

If you don’t see the xorg.conf file at /etc/X11/xorg.conf, then you need to generate it to proceed to next step. Use the following command as root to generate one

[root@fedora ~]$ Xorg -configure

This command will generate the default xorg.conf file at /root/ Copy it to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.

[root@fedora ~]$ cp /root/ /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Backup xorg.conf file

Backup your original xorg.conf file so that you can restore it in case the configuration doesn’t work the way you expected.

[root@fedora ~]$ cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.backup

Generate Configuration for Dual Display

Now we are ready to generate the configuration for dual display. Use the following command with appropriate arguments (in accordance with your hardware configuration)

# --screen-layout will place second screen on left of your first screen. Other possible values are right,above,below.
# --xinerama=on option enables you to have two different desktops and one of them being passive.
# You can drag and drop windows from one desktop to the other. Task bars appear only on one of the desktops.
[root@fedora ~]$ aticonfig --initial=dual-head --screen-layout=left --xinerama=on
# --resolution=_screen_number_,widthxheight
[root@fedora ~]$ aticonfig --resolution=0,1440x900 --resolution=1,1280x1024
# Set horizontal sync and vertical refresh rates for both monitors.
[root@fedora ~]$ aticonfig --hsync=0,30-60 --hsync=1,30-60 --vrefresh=0,30-60 --vrefresh=1,30-60

You can download my xorg.conf file via this link.

Reboot or Logout and Login Again

If you just setup your ATI drivers and configured the dual display, you need to reboot so that fglrx module can be loaded properly. If you rebooted after setting up the drivers, just logout and login again to checkout your dual display πŸ™‚ If everything works fine, say thanks to me and if not blame ATI πŸ˜›

Adjust DPI for Normal Font Size

I faced a problem with my font sizes being too big while using xinerama. It was easy to fix by adjusting DPI. Go to System -> Preferences -> Appearance. Go to Fonts tab. Click Details located near the bottom right corner. On that window, try descreasing the “Dots Per Inch” value. Mine worked fine with 85 DPI.

Below is an image of my dual display setup. Click to enlarge.

Dual Display Configuration ViewSonic Samsung Using ATI Radeon Catalyst (fglrx)


News: ATI Catalyst Display Drivers 9.9 Released

AMD has released the next version 9.9 of its ATI Catalyst display drivers for Linux. The drivers can be download from ATI Catalystβ„’Β 9.9 Proprietary Linux x86 Display Driver Page. I have already tried them with kernel and they seem to work fine without SWCursor hack. But I still see corruptions around cursor while moving cursor in a playing video or in Compiz. BTW I got dual display working with Xinerama turned on with this version. I’ll post a HowTo about the same very soon. I think it’ll take some more time before the drivers are completely stable. AMD has been doing a really good job in rolling out drivers at regular intervals.

Note : The installation process is same as version 9.8 and can be access at How To: Install ATI Catalyst (fglrx) 9.8 Drivers on Fedora 11.


News: Memepress (Yahoo! Meme) WordPress Plugin is out!

Yahoo! Meme is a new Twitter like service in testing by Yahoo!. But its much better than Twitter. It has got facility to post text, photos, video and music. The best thing about Meme is the user interface. I am just loving it. Such a clean interface πŸ™‚ I liked twitter’s web interface very much because it was not cluttered like facebook and others. But meme’s interface is much better than twitter’s interface.

As I felt hooked to it, I thought it’ll be a good idea to have wordpress widget to display latest posts from Yahoo! Meme. I took Twitter for WordPress plugin’s source code and started modifying it to work for Yahoo! Meme and in a few hours, I managed to get a full fledged plugin for Yahoo! Meme and a few extra features and minor bug fixes as well πŸ™‚

I have named it Memepress. For more details and latest updates about the plugin, please visit plugin homepage on wordpress. The plugin is really easy to setup and doesn’t have any dependencies and doesn’t even need to authenticate with Yahoo! Meme.


Note: Yahoo! Meme is still invite only. If you need an account, send me an email using this contact form.


How To: GNOME GMail Notifier

GNOME GMail (Google GMail) Notifier is an awesome tool for GNOME/Linux users if you are addicted to checking mails every few minutes. GMail Notifier solves a bit of your problems by notifying about multiple gmail accounts. One more plus point is that it can display GMail Notifications for new mails in accounts for which you are using Google Apps. Below is a step by step howto on installing and configuring GMail Notifier in Fedora (may apply to other distros as well).

Install GNOME GMail Notifier

You can download and install it from GNOME GMail notifier home page or just use yum

[root@fedora ~]$ yum install gnome-gmail-notifier

Launch Gmail Notifier

If installation was successful, go to Applications -> Internet -> Gmail Notifier.

GNOME Gmail Notifier

Open Preferences

Right click on Email icon in taskbar and click Preferences.

GNOME Gmail Notifier Select Prefreneces

Select Preferences

Set inbox update time to 1 minute. Check display notifications for new messages and errors. Also select a sound to play for new mails.

GNOME Gmail Notifier Prefreneces

Add GMail Account

Click Add on preferences window and add your GMail account.

GNOME Gmail Notifier Add GMail Account

Add Mail Account (Google Apps) (Optional)

If you don’t know what Google Apps is, leave this step. If you do know, then add your mail account.

GNOME Gmail Notifier Add Google Apps Account

Check Mail

If you can’t wait for 1 minutes to see GMail Notifier in action, just right click on email icon in taskbar and click Check Mail.

GNOME Gmail Notifier Check New Mails

Mail Notifications

Whenever you get a new mail, you’ll have bubble like the one in image below and a sound will also be played.

GNOME Gmail Notifier New Mail Notification

Enjoy the notifications πŸ™‚


How To: Install and Use Twython (Python Wrapper for Twitter API)

As promised in my previous post, here is a brief howto on getting started with twython. The main advantage of Twython over several other python (or any other language) wrappers for Twitter API is that it works even when you are behind your organizations proxy.

Download Twython

You can download latest version of twython from twython page on github. You can either clone using git (if you have git installed) or can click the download button.

Install Twython

Once you are done with extracting the downloaded tar file. Change directory to twython and run these command as root.

[root@fedora ~]$ git clone git://
[root@fedora ~]$ cd twython/dist
[root@fedora dist]$ tar -xvzf twython-0.8.tar.gz
[root@fedora dist]$ cd twython-0.8/
[root@fedora dist]$ python build
[root@fedora dist]$ python install

Use Twython from Python Interpreter

Below is a direct copy paste lines from my interpreter. See how things are working (learning by doing).

[saini@bordeaux ~]$ python
Python 2.6 (r26:66714, Mar 17 2009, 11:44:21) 
[GCC 4.4.0 20090313 (Red Hat 4.4.0-0.26)] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> # first of all, import twython module
>>> import twython
>>> # Authenticate your twitter account with your twitter username
... # and password with twitter.setup method.
>>> client = twython.setup('Basic','myusername','mypassword')
>>> client.authenticated
>>> #Lets update our current status on twitter with some cool message.
>>> client.updateStatus('Testing #twython. The coolest #TwitterAPI :)')
>>> # Now go and check your current status on twitter. Surprised!!!
>>> # Get your or anyone's followers
>>> client.getFollowersIDs(screen_name='gofedora')
>>> # Output truncated.
>>> # Get help for any function.
>>> print client.createFriendship.__doc__
createFriendship(id = None, user_id = None, screen_name = None, follow = "false")
	Allows the authenticating users to follow the user specified in the ID parameter.
	Returns the befriended user in the requested format when successful. Returns a
	string describing the failure condition when unsuccessful. If you are already
	friends with the user an HTTP 403 will be returned.
		** Note: One of the following is required. (id, user_id, screen_name)
		id - Required. The ID or screen name of the user to befriend.
		user_id - Required. Specfies the ID of the user to befriend. Helpful for disambiguating when a valid user ID is also a valid screen name. 
		screen_name - Required. Specfies the screen name of the user to befriend. Helpful for disambiguating when a valid screen name is also a user ID. 
		follow - Optional. Enable notifications for the target user in addition to becoming friends. 

So now you are ready to do wonders with twython. Write your own code and blog/brag about it πŸ™‚


I Love Twitter, I Love Python = I Love Twython

I was really late to join Twitter. As soon as I joined Twitter, I started exploring various aspects of Twitter and hence the Twitter API. While searching for a wrapper for Twitter API in python, I came across python-twitter which was good and tweepy which was ok and I finally found twython. Twython is awesome and more importantly upto date with Twitter API.

While I was using twython, I found one fact very irritating. It didn’t have docstrings. And I had to go to Twitter API Wiki for description of every single function πŸ™ I talked to Ryan (Twython developer, who works all day long at his day job with and develops twython when everybody sleeps πŸ˜› ) about the same and offered to write docstrings for twython.

I spent a few hours and sent a patch with docstrings for all the functions. Now twython has complete documentation. Also Ryan is trying his best to implement wrappers for the newly introduced functions in Twitter API. So, currently Twython is THE best wrapper available in python for Twitter API.

PS : Next post will be “How to use twython”.


How To: Recover Deleted Files in Linux Using Photorec

Frequently I get messages like “I have accidentally deleted my project. Is there any way to recover it in Linux?” or “I worked really hard on that program and managed to deleted it right before submission πŸ™ How do I recover?”. Well I didn’t really have any idea on “How to actually recover deleted files in Linux”.

A few days back I was designing the new logo for Videocache in Inkscape. After finishing the design, I saved the svg file carefully. And deleted other images which I embedded in the logo. A few moments later I realized that I just screwed up myself by deleting all those files as the svg file is now good for nothing.

I searched a lot on recovering files in Linux but in vain. Then a friend (bitgeek) told me about Photorec. I managed to recover all the files using photorec. I thought it would be a good idea to let others know and spread a good word about Photorec. Below is a step by step howto on using Photorec to recover your files.

What is Photorec?

From Photorec website,

PhotoRec is file data recovery software designed to recover lost files including video, documents and archives from Hard Disks and CDRom and lost pictures (thus, its ‘Photo Recovery’ name) from digital camera memory. PhotoRec ignores the filesystem and goes after the underlying data, so it will still work even if your media’s filesystem has been severely damaged or re-formatted.

For This HowTo

Lets say I had a file download_arrow.png in /home/saini/Desktop which I have removed accidentally. Login as root and create a directory recover which will be used to store all the recovered files.

Install testdisk/PhotoRec

Photorec comes as a part of testdisk package in Fedora (I hope its same for other distributions as well). Use yum to install testdisk.

[root@fedora-tips ~]$ yum install testdisk

Launch Photorec

Once you are done with installation. Open a terminal and launch photorec (as root).

[root@fedora-tips recover]$ photorec

Select Hard Disk

If you have more than one hard disk in your system, select the one from which you have deleted the file(s).

PhotoRec Hard Disk Selection

Select Partition Type

If your hard disk has Linux partitions, then select [Intel].

PhotoRec Partition Selection

Select Filetype Option

Move to [File Opt] and press enter. Here you can disable all file types by pressing ‘s’ . Use space to toggle the check button. Now since we removed a png file, we are going to check only png file type.

PhotoRec Filetype Selection

Select Options

Photorec also has a list of different options. Under normal circumstances you don’t need to modify them

PhotoRec Option Selection

Select Partition

Move the selector to the partition from which you have removed the file. Then press enter on search.

PhotoRec Partition Selection

Select Filesystem Type

If you are using Linux, its going to be ext2/ext3/ext4. So the default selection is file.

PhotoRec Partition Selection

Select Space for Analysis

Select free if you didn’t write to that partition after removing the particular file otherwise select whole.

PhotoRec Space Selection

Select a Directory to Recover Files

Now select the path where the recovered files will be stored. Then press ‘Y’.

PhotoRec Recovery Directory Selection

Recovery Progress

Photorec will show how many files it has recovered.

PhotoRec Recovery Progress

All recovered file will be stored in the directory selected above. Open them in a file browser and you’ll get the removed file there. I hope this howto will help you recovering files you accidentally delete πŸ™‚


How To: Install ATI Catalyst (fglrx) Drivers

Note: This How To is valid up to Catalyst Driver version 10.1.
Note: With minor changes this How To may work for other Linux distributions like Mandriva, Suse, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Cent OS etc.

Following the suggestions in comments on my last post about ATI Catalyst (fglrx), I tried to reinstall ATI drivers version 9.8 and finally it worked. I thought of noting down the the process in few simple steps which anyone can follow and get the drivers working on Fedora 11 with latest kernel versions.

Step 1 : Update Kernel, Install kernel-devel

Huge thanks to Richard Lloyd and mxyzptlk2063 for pointing this out.
This step is not necessary. You may like to stick to the kernel version you already have. In case you want the latest kernel, just use yum to get the latest kernel.

Note: Do not forget to update the kernel-devel package as well as its needed to compile the fglrx kernel module.

DONT UPDATE THE KERNEL. Instead stick to whatever kernel version you have. If you have 2.6.30.*, you are unlucky πŸ™ Get a kernel version 2.6.29.* and install the kernel-devel for the same.

With Catalyst Driver version 9.10 you can update kernel to latest version before installing the Drivers.

[root@fedora ~]$ yum update kernel
[root@fedora ~]$ yum install kernel-devel

Step 2 : Download Drivers

Download the ATI Catalystβ„’ 9.8 Proprietary Linux x86 Display Driver from ATI/AMD website.

Step 3 : Install Drivers

Install the drivers that you have downloaded using the following command.

[root@fedora ~]$ bash ./

Step 4 : Check Installation Result

Check the /usr/share/ati/fglrx-install.log file for result of installation. If there are no errors, proceed to the next step.

Note: You may see lines like this at the end of file

You must change your working directory to /lib/modules/fglrx
and then call ./ in order to install the built module.
– recreating module dependency list
– trying a sample load of the kernel modules

You can ignore these lines happily if they don’t contain any error message. You don’t really need to execute the command mentioned in those lines.

Step 5 : Blacklist radeon and radeonhd kernel modules

Add these lines to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf.

blacklist radeon
blacklist radeonhd

Step 6 : Generate initial Xorg configuration file

Note: This step is optional with Catalyst Driver version 9.10, but it wont harm even if you execute this.

You have to generate the initial xorg.conf file which will use fglrx as display device.

[root@fedora ~]$ aticonfig --initial

Step 7 : Modify xorg.conf

Open your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file and add the following line to “Device” section (the one with fglrx as driver)

Option "SWCursor" "true"

Step 8 : Reboot

Reboot your machine. And you’ll have the latest ATI Catalyst drivers working on your Fedora 11 πŸ™‚

Step 9 : Testing

You can test your newly installed drivers and get the performance benchmarks for your graphics card using the commands below.

[saini@fedora ~]$ glxgears
[saini@fedora ~]$ fgl_glxgears

My graphics card is ATI Radeon HD 3200 (256MB, Onboard) and I get 1500FPS with glxgears and 300FPS with fgl_glxgears.

In case you messup things somewhere, you can uninstall the fglrx drivers using the following command

[root@fedora ~]$ /usr/share/ati/

Info: ATI Drivers 9.8 Doesnt Work with Fedora 11 (2.6.29+)

After a night out I was about to go to bed when I saw the news that ATI has released a new version of ATI Catalystβ„’ 9.8 Proprietary Linux x86 Display Driver, its proprietary display drivers for Linux. I immediately downloaded the drivers to test with my Fedora 11 as I am getting more and more desperate to watch HD Movies 😐 Installed them on a manually compiled kernel 2.6.27 and the build failed πŸ™ Installed the latest kernel version (for fedora 11) and build failed yet another time. Switched back to 2.6.27 and tried to build again. This time build was successful. Everything worked as expected. I was getting 1500FPS with glxgears and 300FPS with fgl_glxgears. But after sometime display hanged inturn freezing the system. Hard reboot was the only solution and then this happened for a few times in a row. Now, I am back to radeonhd, waiting for yet another release of ATI drivers so that I can try them yet another time to see yet another failure πŸ™

Update : Drivers are working now. Move on to How To: Install ATI Catalyst (fglrx) 9.8 Drivers on Fedora 11.


TIP: Simple Regular Expression for Email Validation

I was playing around with Ruby on Rails and needed an email field for some application. I thought of validating the email address before actually saving it. Googled for same and got tons of results, but none of them was perfect. Few were somewhat exhaustive but horribly difficult to understand and those which were simple wereΒ  not exhaustive enough for practical use. I thought I’ll just write the regex myself and came up with the following. I have tested it for few weird cases like an email hosted on (a subdomain deep down the hierarchy) etc.


I hope it’ll be of help. And don’t forget to pen down your suggestions via comments.