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Application Software Archives

Sendmail is a popular Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) and it is the default MTA on Red hat Linux Enterprise (RHEL). Typically, within enterprises, you will need a Mail User Agent (MUA), an MTA and an SMTP Relay to send emails (outbound) from the Linux command-line or shell scripts.

So, let’s assume that your Mail Administrator provides you IP addresses of primary (192.168.1.1) and secondary (192.168.2.2) SMTP Relay hosts. Given below are steps to configure sendmail (on RHEL 4) to use the SMTP relays to send email (you must use root user’s privileges):

STEP 1: Verify sendmail packages

In order to configure sendmail, you will require the sendmail and sendmail-cf packages. Given below is an example of how to check for these packages:

rpm -qa | grep sendmail

sendmail-8.13.1-3.3.el4
sendmail-cf-8.13.1-3.3.el4

STEP 2: Modify sendmail.mc

Do not edit /etc/mail/sendmail.cf. Instead, you must edit /etc/mail/sendmail.mc (more readable than sendmail.cf) and use the m4 macro processor to generate sendmail.cf.

Edit /etc/mail/sendmail.mc and add the following line:

define(`SMART_HOST',`[192.168.1.1]:[192.168.2.2]')

Note:

(1) Pay attention to the quotes. Do not prefix the above by the letters dnl as dnl (delete to new line) denotes a comment in sendmail.mc

(2) If you wish to configure only 1 SMTP relay host (e.g. 192.168.1.1), then add the following:

define(`SMART_HOST',`192.168.1.1')

STEP 3: Start/Restart sendmail

When sendmail is started (if not running) or restarted (if running), then the sendmail.mc file will be processed by the m4 macro processor and a corresponding sendmail.cf will be generated. On RHEL, you may start sendmail as follows:

/sbin/service sendmail start

STEP 4: Use an MUA to test outbound mail

In order to test your sendmail configuration and the SMTP relays, use an MUA to send emails. Given below is an example that uses mutt to send emails:

mutt -s "test email" test@abc.com < /dev/null
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Unlike the Oracle client which provides you with the required drivers and tools (e.g. sqlplus) to execute SQL statements against an Oracle database on a variety of platforms, Microsoft does not have such drivers and clients for non-Microsoft platforms. For example, there is no Microsoft driver which you can install on RHEL 4 to allow you configure an SQL interface to Microsoft’s SQL Server.

The goal of ODBC is to solve this very problem by providing a standard software interface for accessing a variety of database management systems on a variety of platforms.

Given below are steps to configure an SQL interface with MS SQL Server on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL 4) host:

STEP 1: Verify the installation of unixODBC

unixODBC is provided with Linux by default for recent versions of most Linux distributions. Refer the unixODBC home for more details on unixODBC

rpm -qa | grep unixODBC

If the unixODBC packages are not installed, then download them and install them using rpm

STEP 2: Install FreeTDS

Refer the FreeTDS home for more details on FreeTDS. Download the latest stable release and install it using rpm

STEP 3: Configure a DSN

In order for the unixODBC software to interface with MS SQL Server, the relevant database access details must be provided in a Database Source Name (DSN). To configure a DSN, edit /etc/odbc.ini and add the relevant details. Given below is a sample DSN in /etc/odbc.ini :

[MY_DSN]
Driver=/usr/lib64/libtdsodbc.so.0
Server=192.168.1.1
Port=1433
Database=TEST_DB
TDS_Version=7.0

In the sample DSN above, /usr/lib64/libtdsodbc.so.0 is the absolute path to the FreeTDS driver.

STEP 4: Use isql to interface with MS SQL Server

After successfully completing the 3 steps above, you are now ready to perform operations on the database. To do so, you may use the isql utility that is bundled with the unixODBC package. Given below are few examples on using isql :

# The examples below assume you have a DSN called MY_DSN
# configured in /etc/odbc.ini and the isql utility in your PATH.
#
# Example 1 : Open an interactive session
#
isql MY_DSN username password

+---------------------------------------+
| Connected!                            |
|                                       |
| sql-statement                         |
| help [tablename]                      |
| quit                                  |
|                                       |
+---------------------------------------+
SQL>
#
# Example 2 : Execute an SQL statement. Assume the statement is in a file
# called test.sql. The last line in test.sql must be a blank line.
#
cat test.sql | isql MY_DSN username password

Refer the isql man page for more details on using the isql utility.

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Inactive PuTTy sessions

Problem:

My PuTTY connection becomes inactive, thereby requiring me to reconnect to the server and login again.

Background & Analysis:

How to identify an inactive PuTTY connection? When you cannot type anything in your PuTTY window and you see "(inactive)" in your PuTTY window’s title bar, it means that your connection is inactive (has been dropped by the server).

Why does a PuTTY connection become inactive? Connections use resources like cpu and memory on the client and server. When a server determines that your session is idle (you have not used it for a pre-defined interval), it will drop your connection. This is done to protect the server (and network components) against a build-up of several redundant connections that could affect performance.

Solution:

In order to prevent the server from dropping your PuTTY connection and making it inactive, your PuTTY client must send packets to the server even when you’re not using it. Given below are steps to do this:

STEP 1: Modify Connection options

Go to PuTTY Configuration –> Connection and set the "seconds between keepalives" to a non-zero value. This ensures that your PuTTY client sends NULL packets to the server regularly. If you do not know the idle session timeout defined on your server, then choose a small value for the "seconds between keepalives". The value you select must be less than the idle session timeout of your server for PuTTY to keep your connection active. The default value is 0 which tells PuTTY not to bother about keeping the connection alive. Refer the picture below:

putty_inactive_fig1

STEP 2: Save your PuTTY configuration

Saving your PuTTY session is not the most obvious feature of PuTTY as there’s no SAVE button on every configuration window. So, after completing STEP 1, you must go to the Session window and click the "Save" button. refer the picture below:

putty_inactive_fig2

Root Cause:

My PuTTy connection became inactive because my PuTTY client was not sending "keepalive" packets to the server to prevent the connection from becoming idle and consequently, the server dropped the connection.

NOTE:

(1) The solution above describes a successful problem-solving experience and may not be applicable to other problems with similar symptoms.

(2) Your rating of this post will be much appreciated. Also, feel free to leave comments.

 

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How to join Xvid files (Microsoft Windows)?

Some movies may be distributed in more than one file (e.g. more than one CD). Recently, I purchased a movie in Xvid format which consisted of two parts (two Xvid files). So, here’s how I joined the files to generate one Xvid file and viewed the entire movie in one go:

STEP 1: Download and install an Xvid codec

Xvid is a video codec library for the MPEG-4 standard. I downloaded an Xvid codec here.

 

STEP 2: Download and install (extract) VirtualDub

VirtualDub is a free video capture/processing software for Microsoft Windows. You may download VirtualDub here.

 

STEP 3: Start VirtualDub and load the video files

Start VirtualDub ( VirtualDub  ) and load the video files as follows:

To load the first video file, click File –> Open video file on the Menu bar or type CTRL + O.

To load the remaining files, add them one at a time by clicking File –> Append AVI segment on the Menu bar.

 

STEP 4: Configure Audio and Video settings

For video, click Video –> Direct stream copy on the Menu bar.

For audio, click Audio –> Direct stream copy on the Menu bar.

 

STEP 5: Save the joined video file

To save all video files as one joined file, click File –> Save as AVI on the Menu bar, choose a filename and save.

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Problem:

HPjmeter 4.0 console does not launch after installation on Windows. When trying to launch it, the Command window briefly appears and then disappears without launching the console.

 

Background:

HPjmeter 4.0 console, a component of HPjmeter 4.0, is used to view performance data and analyze profiling and GC log files for a JVM. HPjmeter 4.0 console, being developed in java, can be executed on any platform supporting Java. However, the console is currently compatible with only JDK 5 and JDK 6. When you launch the installer (hpjmeter_console_4.0.00_windows_setup.exe), it will first scan your HDDs for installed JDKs and I guess it will pick up the first JDK it finds (see screenshot below).

hpjmeter_installer

I have both JDK 1.4.2_11 and JDK 6u17 on my HDD. Although only JDK 6u17 meets HPjmeter 4.0 console’s requirements, the installer selected JDK 1.4.2_11 (must have found this JDK first!) and completed the installation. Well, the installer will not even tell you which JDK it has found and used for the installation. You can determine this information only by checking the hpjmeter.bat file in the bin directory within the installation directory. The JDK used by the installer will be the value of the variable JM_JAVA_HOME in the hpjmeter.bat file. So, for my installation, JM_JAVA_HOME indicated that HPjmeter 4.0 console was using JDK 1.4.2_11, thereby not meeting the software requirements.

 

The HPjmeter 4.0 console installer should either search and select only a compatible JDK or prompt you for the location of a compatible JDK if it cannot find one. Although the installer isn’t too smart, the product (HPjmeter 4.0) is a very good and robust performance analysis tool for JVMs.

 Solution:

Ensure you have a working JDK 5 or JDK 6 installation. Ensure that the value of JM_JAVA_HOME in the hpjmeter.bat file is the location of the JDK 5 or JDK 6 installation.

 

Root Cause:

HPjmeter 4.0 console installer detected and used an incompatible JDK during installation. Currently, the HPjmeter 4.0 console is compatible with only JDK 5 and JDK 6.

 

NOTE:

(1) The solution above describes a successful problem-solving experience and may not be applicable to all problems with similar symptoms.

(2) Your rating of this post will be much appreciated. Also, feel free to leave comments.

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sconn : Socket Connectivity Monitoring

Today, most enterprise systems are complex, requiring several systems to implement services, thereby creating several system interfaces. A basic monitoring requirement is to check if the system stack is broken. i.e. whether system interfaces are broken. Although almost all software products have some sort of "health monitor" to test connectivity with an interfacing system, it can be handy to have a standard utility to test all interfaces. Well, there is the wonderful "netcat" utility which can easily meet this requirement. Unfortunately, netcat is not standard on all UNIX systems (e.g. Solaris) and you may have constraints (e.g. company policy) which prevent you from installing netcat.

sconn is a simple korn shell script which helps you monitor socket connectivity for system interfaces. It’s basically a wrapper around a perl script which tests the connectivity. A simple script in perl alone would have sufficed, but as I’m not familiar with perl, I used the korn shell to meet my requirements. More people will be familiar with shell scripting than with perl and so if others have similar requirements, sconn could be used as-is or tweaked.

How sconn works:

sconn.png

 

Screenshots:

(1) Configuration

Configuring sconn

(2) Execution

Executing sconn 

(3) Output

sconn output files

Recommendations:

  • Execute sconn regularly as a cron job for continual monitoring.
  • Feed sconn data and/or statusnow files to a dashboard or graphing program.

 

Version 1: Last updated – 22:56 GMT, 24th November 2009

Download sconn v1.0

 

NOTE:

(1) sconn has been scanned and is safe to download.

(2) sconn has been tested. If you wish to use sconn, I recommend you also test it before deploying it on a Production system.

(3) Your rating of this post/software will be greatly appreciated. Also, feel free to leave comments.

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Shmon : Basic Solaris Host Monitoring

Shmon is a bash script (which uses a teeny weeny bit of perl) that monitors a Solaris (versions 8,9 and 10) host. When executed as a cron job, Shmon provides basic, but vital monitoring of key system parameters.

 

How Shmon works:

 Shmon.png

 

Version 1: Last updated – 6:44 PM GMT, 2nd December 2009

Download Shmon v1.0 Download Shmon v1.0 User Guide

 

NOTE:

(1) Shmon is a basic bespoke software developed to meet my specific requirements.

(2) Shmon has been scanned and is safe to download.

(3) Shmon has been tested. If you wish to use Shmon, I recommend you also test it before deploying it on a Production system.

(4) Your rating of this post/software will be greatly appreciated. Also, feel free to leave comments.

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log4j: Could not find resource

Problem:

A software’s log4j framework could not find the log4j configuration file which I specified. Details with debug below:

 

Command:

java -Dlog4j.debug=true -Dlog4j.configuration=/mysoftware/config/mylog4j.properties ...

 

Debug Output:


log4j: Trying to find [mysoftware/config/mylog4j.properties] using context classloader sun.misc.Launcher$AppClassLoader@164b95.
log4j: Trying to find [mysoftware/config/mylog4j.properties] using sun.misc.Launcher$AppClassLoader@164b95 class loader.
log4j: Trying to find [mysoftware/config/mylog4j.properties] using ClassLoader.getSystemResource().
log4j: Could not find resource: [mysoftware/config/mylog4j.properties].

 

Background:

I did not want to use the default location for the log4j configuration file and wanted to be able to specify to a file with a name and location of my choice.

 

Solution:

The debug output indicates that the absolute path of the resource (log4j.properties) is missing a beginning “/”. That’s because the file:// protocol was not specified. So, the following worked and enabled log4j locate the properties file:

 

java -Dlog4j.debug=true -Dlog4j.configuration=file:///mysoftware/config/mylog4j.properties ...

NOTE: If your log4j configuration file is called log4j.xml or log4j.properties, then placing it in the application classpath will suffice and you will not need the -Dlog4j.configuration option.

 

 

Root Cause:

The file:// protocol was not used to specify the log4j configuration file.

 

Reference:

Short Introduction to log4j – Ceki Gülcü

 

NOTE:

(1) The solution above describes a successful problem-solving experience and may not be applicable to all problems with similar symptoms.

(2) Your rating of this post will be much appreciated. Also, feel free to leave comments.

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Problem:

When using WLShell 2.1.0.1 to connect to a WebLogic server, the connection fails and the following error is displayed:

couldn’t find or load connector class: wlshell.connect.jmx.weblogic.Connector for protocol: t3 check the libraries required by this connector are in the classpath. use the "ver" and "info -v" commands to display the current classpath.

 

Background:

In order for WLShell 2.1.0.1 to start properly and connect to a WebLogic server, the following must be present in the CLASSPATH: weblogic.jar, wlshell-2.1.0.1.jar, wlshell-2.1.0.jar and log4j-1.2.8.jar

My CLASSPATH had all the above jars, but I still received the error.

WebLogic was installed as a user called "bea" and I was running WLShell as my user (saturg). Both users were not part of the same group, but I ensured that weblogic.jar was accessible and readable by user saturg.

 

Solution:

As I did not have privileges to make both users bea and saturg part of the same group, I executed the following command as the bea user in the WebLogic installation root directory:

 

find . -type f | xargs -i chmod 744 {}

 

So, basically, I ensured that all files in the WebLogic installation were accessible and readable by all users on the host.

Note:The recommended method is to make both the weblogic installation user and WLShell user part of the same group, thereby restricting access to the WebLogic installation

 

Root Cause:

The error message is misleading as the class wlshell.connect.jmx.weblogic.Connector is available in wlshell-2.1.0.jar. The solution above indicates that WLShell requires to access other jars in the WebLogic installation (apart from weblogic.jar) or rather classes in weblogic.jar require to access other jars in the WebLogic installation.

 

NOTE:

(1) The solution above describes a successful problem-solving experience and may not be applicable to all problems with similar symptoms.

(2) Your rating of this post will be much appreciated. Also, feel free to leave comments.

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Switching domains for a WordPress blog

My blogs are hosted on hostmonster and run on the WordPress platform. About 8 months ago, before I started blogging (finally!), I researched the pros and cons of various blogging platforms and tried out a few before selecting WordPress. So far, it’s been a great experience blogging using WordPress.

When I first started blogging, I registered the domain www.mrkips.com for my blogs. A few days ago, I registered another domain www.cybergav.in (a domain name which relates more to  me and my ethnic roots). Yesterday, I finally switched my blogs from mrkips.com to cybergav.in and although the WordPress forums provide adequate information on how to do this task, I’m describing the process below which worked for me.

Let’s say you host your WordPress blog on hostmonster (process should be applicable to most hosting platforms) and wish to switch its domain from www.abc.com to www.xyz.com.

 

STEP 1: Register your domain and specify DNS servers

Register your new domain xyz.com after doing a bit of research and choosing an appropriate registrar (typical factors in choosing a registrar are cost, DNS management facility, Domain privacy (not available for all ccTLDs) and customer service – there are other goodies usually provided such as web forwarding, domain cloaking, etc.). When you select your registrar and register your domain, you must ensure that you use the registrar’s DNS management facility to configure the DNS servers belonging to your hosting platform. For example, for my domain, I configured my DNS servers as ns1.hostmonster.com and ns2.hostmonster.com. It is this DNS configuration that will ensure the required DNS A records are inserted in your hosting platform’s DNS servers to map your domain name with your hosting account (and consequently your website).

 

STEP 2: Verify your domain

My domain was registered in less than half an hour and I could verify its registration using a WHOIS search. If your domain name registrar and hosting provider are different companies, then ensure you inform your hosting provider after registering your domain. My hosting provider switched my primary domain to cybergav.in and I configured mrkips.com as a parked domain. Now before you migrate your website to your new domain, you must verify if your new domain is resolvable. To do this, you can either use any one of the myriad websites available (e.g. www.who.is ) or use the nslookup utility as follows:

#
# SYNTAX 1: nslookup <domain name>
#
c:\>nslookup cybergav.in
Server:  BeBox.config
Address:  192.168.1.130:53

Non-authoritative answer:
Name:    cybergav.in
Address:  66.147.240.162

#
# SYNTAX 2: nslookup <domain name> <dns server>
#
c:\>nslookup cybergav.in ns1.hostmonster.com
Server:  UnKnown
Address:  74.220.195.131:53

Name:    cybergav.in
Address:  66.147.240.162

STEP 3: Change your WordPress blog’s domain name

(i) Define the WP_HOMEand WP_SITEURLvariables: This is required in order to give your WordPress blog its new domain name and access its Administration console (wp-admin). You do this by adding the following in wp-config.php (in the root of your WordPress installation):

define('WP_HOME','http://www.xyz.com');
define('WP_SITEURL','http://www.xyz.com');

 

(ii) Update your blog’s WordPress database by ensuring that URLs containing your old domain reflect your new domain as per the following example :

UPDATE wp_posts SET guid = REPLACE (
guid,
'abc.com',
'xyz.com');

UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE (
post_content,
'abc.com',
'xyz.com');

 

STEP 4: Redirect all traffic from your old domain to your new domain

After getting your blog up and running with your new domain name, you must redirect all traffic arriving at your old domain to your new domain to ensure your users and search engines know that you’ve switched domains. You must use a HTTP 301 Redirect method (permanent move) so that search engines and browsers will recognize your blog’s new home. You can configure this redirect by either using your hosting provider’s management tools or configuring .htaccess (Apache web server) as per the following example:

 

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^abc.com$ [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.abc.com$
RewriteRule ^/?$ "http\:\/\/www\.xyz\.com\/" [R=301,L]
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Scanning jars with JarScan

JarScan is a handy utility (available as a client and online tool) which can help locate a java class or package within jars and zip files (libraries). This is especially useful when debugging java.lang.ClassNotFoundException and java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError exceptions.

For more details about JarScan (developed by Geoff Yaworski), click here. In case Geoff’s JarScan-hosting website (inetfeedback.com) isn’t available, you may download JarScan version 2.1 from here.

A screenshot of JarScan usage is given below:

jarscan_help

Refer this example which shows how JarScan was used to find the location of the MulticastTest class.

A while ago, when I had a requirement to locate a Java class file, I simply used jar –tvf and grep. Although that worked, I would henceforth prefer to use JarScan, as it provides a good output, it is fast and it is platform independent.

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WordPress: Fatal error : Allowed memory size exhausted

Problem:

When upgrading my blog to WordPress 2.8.4, the upgrade failed with the following error:

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 2357046 bytes) in xxx.php on line yyy

 

Background:

I wanted to upgrade my blog to the latest WordPress version (2.8.4). Also, I was using 10 plugins on my WordPress blog, the latest addition being GD Star Rating 1.6.4.

 

Solution:

I upgraded GD Star Rating to version 1.6.5 and this upgrade fixed the problem, thereby permitting me to upgrade WordPress to version 2.8.4. However, after both upgrades, my blog’s dashboard displayed the fatal error in 2 locations as shown in the screenshot below:

WP2.8_memoryissues

Such fatal errors occur when a PHP script hits the threshold for the maximum amount of memory it may consume. Some WordPress forums indicate that WordPress 2.8 is more memory-intensive than earlier wordpress versions. And my hosting provider defined a memory_limit of 32MB in php.ini.

 

In order to override my PHP system memory_limit of 32 MB and allow the WordPress application to use more memory, I edited the wp-config.php file (in server docroot) and added the following:

 

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '128M');

 

After I modified and saved wp-config.php, the fatal errors disappeared from my WordPress Dashboard.

 

Some more investigation revealed how WordPress sets its memory limit in wp-settings.php via the following code:

 

if ( !defined('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT') )
	define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '32M');

if ( function_exists('memory_get_usage') && ( (int) @ini_get('memory_limit') < abs(intval(WP_MEMORY_LIMIT)) ) )
	@ini_set('memory_limit', WP_MEMORY_LIMIT);

 

So, that’s why setting the WP_MEMORY_LIMIT variable in wp-config.php (you could set it in wp-settings.php also, but it’s recommended to consolidate all config in one file) increases the memory limit for the WordPress application.

 

Root Cause:

The PHP memory limit of 32MB was too low for the WordPress 2.8.4 application.

 

NOTE:

(1) The solution above describes a successful problem-solving experience and may not be applicable to other problems with similar symptoms.

(2) Your rating of this post will be much appreciated. Also, feel free to leave comments.

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WLhc : WebLogic CLI-based monitoring

WebLogic health checker is a basic CLI monitoring software that provides a quick and easy option to check the health of a WebLogic domain. It’s just a bunch of korn shell scripts which I developed, to wrap around the popular wlshell.

 

Download WLhc v1.2      Download WLhc v1.2 User Guide         

Earlier Versions:

Download WLhc v1.1      Download WLhc v1.1 User Guide         

 

Salient Features:

  • Monitors WebLogic Server versions 7.0, 8.1, 9.x and 10.x
  • Interactive and non-interactive modes of execution
  • Unintrusive, external monitoring: No application is required to be deployed on the WebLogic Server being monitored and no server restart required.
  • Interactive execution provides a well-formatted dashboard of current runtime values of monitored parameters
  • Non-interactive execution (e.g. cron) generates data files in csv format, thereby allowing graphing programs to generate graphs from the data. The data files are retained for 30 days by default and can be used for troubleshooting and trend analysis.
  • Quick and easy Re-configuration: An auxiliary script controlled by a template, facilitates rebuilding the configuration file for a monitored server. This script will come in handy when changes are made to a WebLogic Server and/or when you wish to monitor new parameters.
  • Auxiliary scripts obtain data on all runtime MBeans and their attributes for a specified WebLogic Server.
  • Traps can be easily configured using simple rules in configuration files
  • Traps may be enabled/disabled globally for one or more WebLogic Servers or for individual parameters
  • Clear and structured logging for alarms and errors, thereby facilitating the use of log scanners

 

System Requirements:

  • Korn Shell (/bin/ksh)
  • Perl
  • nawk/gawk or equivalent
  • /usr/ucb/ps (Solaris) or ps (Linux)

 

Screenshots:

(1) Installation

WLhc_v1.1_installation.png

 

(2) Interactive Execution

WLhc_v1.1_interactive.png

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How to create a DVD-Video from streaming videos

YouTube is arguably the most popular video streaming/sharing website in the world today. You can find pretty much any video you want, be it videos of the current music chart topper or those classic videos of yore. You may wish to download your favourite videos from video streaming websites and perhaps even burn the videos onto a DVD for playback on your DVD player (DVD Authoring). YouTube and other streaming video websites don’t provide options to download the streaming videos. However, there is a myriad of software tools out there (both free and paid) that make the download and burn tasks very straightforward. Given below are the steps I used to create a DVD-Video containing 30 of my favourite YouTube videos:

STEP 1: Install a Download Manager

In order to download streaming videos, you must install a download manager. I’ve tried the following download managers:

(1) Orbit Downloader: You may download and install Orbit Downloader from here. After installation of Orbit downloader, if you visit a streaming video website and hover your mouse over  the streaming video, you will see a drop-down as shown in the image below:

od_getit

Clicking on the GetIt button or using drop-down options like “With Grab++” will start downloading the streaming video.

 

(2) RealPlayer SP: You may download and install RealPlayer SP from here. After installation of RealPlayer SP, if you visit a streaming video website and hover your mouse over a streaming video, you will see a "Download This Video" drop-down on the upper right corner of the video, as shown in the image below:

rp_download

 

Click on the “Download This Video” button to start downloading the streaming video.

Which download manager do I use?: I used Orbit Downloader to download the 30 YouTube videos. However, having been introduced to RealPlayer SP recently, I recommend you use RealPlayer SP, because as per my observations, it has advantages over Orbit downloader in the following areas:

(1) Speed: RealPlayer SP downloads streaming videos faster than Orbit downloader, though not a significant difference.

(2) Compatibility: RealPlayer SP downloads streaming videos played in the popular browsers (Mozilla, IE, Chrome) whereas Orbit Downloader does not work with Chrome.

 

STEP 2: Install a DVD Authoring tool

In order to burn videos onto a DVD in DVD-Video format, you must install a DVD Authoring software. I used a free, easy-to-use DVD Authoring software called DVD Flick, which you may download from here and install.

 

STEP 3: Download streaming videos

Having installed the required software, you may now proceed with downloading your favourite streaming videos. To do so, play the streaming video and use the buttons (Orbit Downloader or RealPlayer SP) to download the streaming video. When saving the video, ensure you save it in an appropriate format. Visit here to check the video formats supported by DVD Flick for creating a DVD-Video. For example, on YouTube, videos are typically available in flv (flash video) and mov (QuickTime movie) formats, both of which are supported by DVD Flick. I downloaded standard quality (SQ) YouTube videos in flv format and high quality (HQ) YouTube videos in mov format (renaming .mov to .mp4, as Quicktime and MP4 are interchangeable).

 

STEP 4: Create a DVD-Video

After downloading your favourite videos, you can burn them onto a DVD for playback on both hardware and software DVD players, with features such as menus and subtitles. Here’s how you do it:

(1) Insert a blank recordable/rewritable DVD in your computer’s DVD drive and launch the DVD Flick software.

(2) Click on “Add Title” in the right-menu, select all the videos you wish to burn and then click the “Open” button. This will load all the selected videos into the project window. You may choose to save this project for later burning or just proceeding with the next step.

(3) Click on “Menu Settings”, choose a Menu and click “Accept”

(4) Click on “Project Settings”, set various options including “Burning” (which tells DVD Flick to burn the DVD after converting the video files into DVD-Video format).

(4) Click on “Create DVD” and select a project destination folder (if prompted).

After completing the steps above, DVD Flick should commence the process of encoding and burning your DVD-Video. A successful completion should resemble the image below:

 

dvdflickdone

It took 1 hour and 38 minutes to encode and burn my 30 favourite YouTube videos onto a 4.7 GB DVD. The resulting DVD-Video occupied 4.3 GB. The DVD played fine in my software DVD players such as Windows Media Player and VLC Media Player, but unfortunately exhibited sync issues (audio out of sync with video) when played on my hardware DVD player. However, until I test the DVD on another DVD  player, I will assume that the sync issues are caused by my cheap Alba DVD player.

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DVD Flick – Burn your videos onto DVDs

DVD Flick is an easy-to-use free DVD Authoring software that can burn videos in several formats onto a DVD for playback on your hardware and software DVD players.

I used DVD Flick to create a DVD video of some of my favourite music videos (mp4 and flv formats). My first attempt failed because the audio and video were out of sync when I played the DVD video using Windows Media Player or VLC Media Player. I presumed this sync problem occurred because the video files I burned onto the DVD were being read from a USB 2.0 memory stick. So, when I moved these video files to my HDD and burned them onto a DVD using DVD Flick, the DVD video played just fine in the software media players without any sync issues. When I played the burned DVD video on my DVD player, the sync problems returned to haunt me. However, until I test my DVD video with another DVD player, I will assume this issue is caused by my cheap DVD player (an Alba player which I bought for £20 a half a dozen years ago).

Overall, DVD Flick is very simple to use and makes DVD authoring a very straightforward task. It took 1.5 hours to burn 4.3 GB of music videos onto a 4.7 GB DVD at a speed of 4x (~5.28 MB/s).

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