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Make Webex work in Ubuntu 11.10 64 bit

Today I wanted to attend a webinar put together by the people in The European IPR Helpdesk about Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Rights. I plan to attend many others during the following weeks, because the topics are very interesting for companies exploring EU R&D funding programmes such as FP7. Here is the list of webinars for the first quarter of the year, have a look.

Igalia is currently involved in two FP7 project proposals submitted to the EC for evaluation and we plan to make part of a few more consortia for R&D projects soon. We are also looking for ways to start our own projects and get them accepted in national programmes and smaller European opportunities. We recently hired specialised staff and we seize training opportunities such as these IPR Helpdesk seminars.

The only drawback is that they are using Webex for these webinars. Webex is a solution for meetings that integrates chat, VoIP, VideoConferencing and desktop sharing. It is made by Cisco and it is not open source. There are some open source alternatives to Webex, like OpenMeetings and BigBlueButton, but they are not as popular.

Anyway, I was forced to use Webex and tried to enter the webinar only to find out that although I could join the event and chat to the host, I could not see the desktop that the speaker was sharing nor hear anything. I was stuck before the following error message:

“The Audio Device is Unaccessible Now”

After searching a bit on the web, I found dozens of posts and bug reports regarding this issue in different combinations of Ubuntu/Java/Firefox setups. None of them worked until I found this comment by someone called Steve on a blog post about making Webex work in Ubuntu 9.10 64 bit. The root of all problems is that Webex does not officially support 64 bit Linux. So part of the solution is having two separate Firefox/Java setups in your machine, one 64 bit and one 32 bit to use for Webex sessions. Even better, you can use Swiftfox for Webex and keep Firefox for your daily normal use.

Attending a webinar with Webex

So this is what I did:

  1. Install Swiftfox 32 bits
  2. Instal Java 32 bits
    • Go to http://www.java.com/
    • Download the self extracting file. The one that I got is: jre-6u31-linux-i586.bin
    • Grant execution permission for the file: chmod +x jre-6u31-linux-i586.bin
    • Execute it: sudo ./sh jre-6u31-linux-i586.bin
    • It will self-extract to a directory called: jre1.6.0_31
    • Copy that directory to an appropriate location, your home dir for example: cp  jre1.6.0_31 $HOME
  3. Make Swiftfox use the files in $HOME/jre1.6.0_31/
    • Go to /usr/lib/swiftfox/plugins/ and remove the following files if they exist: libjavaplugin_oji.so, libjavaplugin.so and libnpjp2.so
    • Create the following links to the matching files in $HOME/jre1.6.0_31/

With ln -s link_name $HOME/jre1.6.0_31/target_name:
libjavaplugin_oji.so -> /home/teo/jre1.6.0_31/plugin/i386/ns7-gcc29/libjavaplugin_oji.so
libjavaplugin.so -> /home/teo/jre1.6.0_31/lib/i386/libnpjp2.so
libnpjp2.so -> /home/teo/jre1.6.0_31/lib/i386/libnpjp2.so

Now you should have a Swiftfox/Java 32 bit setup (besides your normal Firefox 64 setup) that you can use to join Webex events. You can try that your setup by joining this test meeting. Be careful to actually launch Swiftfox when you need it and not just a new Firefox window, run it from the terminal with this command to make sure, as explained here:

swiftfox -P -no-remote

Software Libre Trabajo

New Beginnings: I am joining Igalia!

caras igalia
Some portrais of Igalian workers in the Coruña office

Finally my job search has come to an end! I am writing this from Coruña at the offices of my new company: Igalia.

I will not be working in Coruña. I just came here for a two day kick off meeting, signing the contract, setting up accounts and tools and meeting some of my co-workers. Tonight I will be back home and from now on I will be working from home where I already set up a nice office-like environment in one of my rooms.

Igalia is a very young company full of talented hackers coming from the open source software world. The principal work areas here are:

Obviously this is just a simplistic view. If I had to show you how neat the focus of the company is and how talented the people I meet here are, I would need more than a blog post 😉

My main duties here will be helping with R&D lines and subsidies, specially in National and European programmes and trying to help in the organisation of future editions of the Master on Free Software, as well as other training opportunities.

Since no one is too far from technology here at Igalia and I recently started playing around with Android, I am also joining a working group on Android strategies. Where we will explore business opportunities around it. And finally, I will also help with the communication side, elaborating
contents/news for the web site when needed.

I will be working remotely from home, but I will try to visit the offices often. And I hope I can make myself useful in the organisation, that is built around values and philosophies that I like and admire.