Linux, Teamspeak and a quest for something better than Skype for podcasting.

December 2, 2007

Well, I spent many hours today messing with Teamspeak.  I think I’m going to blog about this because while I failed miserably, I learned a great deal.  I had heard about Teamspeak from Linux Journal.  This is an outstanding magazine with lots of very technical and very informative articles.  The article in question was actually evaluating using three Linux distros to turn old laptops into servers.  The author reviewed Xubuntu, Vector Linux and Damn Small Linux.  In trying to get Teamspeak to work (as the author claimed he did) I used Ubuntu, Xubuntu and DSM.  This is what took many, many hours.

Ubuntu had a blocked port that I could not circumvent.  Xubuntu kept disagreeing with my graphics card and DSM is just fracking crazy.  So I’m kinda embarrassed to admit that I ended up using the Windows versions of both the terminal and server.  They just worked.  It took me two seconds after spending half the day with Linux.

Now here’s the fail part:  Teamspeak seems to be just for gaming or other applications where audio quality doesn’t have to be any better than a cell phone.  When it’s working, Skype is the best thing going by light years.

But again, it wasn’t a total waste of time.  When you can get things to work in Linux (like Wireshark for example or even Firefox) there is a great deal of satisfaction in that.  My flagship Ubuntu box is quite stable.  I am confident that I could have run Teamspeak on it if I could have figured out how to unblock the port.  Alas, I wasn’t willing to spend any more time on it.  Now I also want to learn more about Apache and Lighttpd and PHP.

I’m still looking for a Skype replacement for podcasting.  I doubt there is one at this point.

After watching the network traffic on my Ubuntu box, I think I may actually have activated Teamspeak as a server when I downloaded it with the Synaptic Package Manager and that’s why the port was blocked. It was already running. The weird thing is that, as far as I can tell, it didn’t show up as a running process in the System Monitor. There does not appear to be a GUI interface for the server software in Linux, however, (there is in Windows) so I’m going to have to do some digging to shut it off.

I was able to get Xubuntu working on the other box by putting an old NVidia graphics card in it that I had lying around.  Sometimes it pays to keep old junk! 😉

My friend Scott had this to say:

Yes, in Ubuntu when you install a package like apache, lighttpd, mysql, or teamspeak it is usually immediately turned on by default. I actually don’t agree with this functionality. I think it should ask you if you want to turn it on immediately or not.

Secondly, you should not use the graphical system monitor. Open a terminal and learn to use the ps command. Most often I use it one of two different ways.

ps aux | lessThis way allows me to see every process with lots of information such as CPU and memory usage. I use this when I’m trying to find a process, but I don’t know which one.

ps -eH | lessThis command shows a hierarchy of processes. This lets me see which processes spawned which other processes. I use this most often to just get a nice overview of what is going on in the system.

For more information, of course you should RTFM.
man ps
The top command is also useful in this way.
man top

He was right.  Teamspeak is running as a server on the Ubuntu box.  On a lark, I logged into it on the Windows box.  It was a lot better than the other machine at the maximum bandwidth.  Now I think I need to do more testing.


One Response to “Linux, Teamspeak and a quest for something better than Skype for podcasting.”

  1. dandin1 Says:

    Yhea, the problem with user interfaces is that you never get a grip of what’s going on under the hood, so when something goes wrong, you don’t know where to start troubleshooting. Another cool command is lsof -i, which lists open sockets (with that particular option)

    As for sound quality/codec, it can be changed when you log-in as administrator with the teamspeak client, and then go to a channel’s properties.

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