Oovoo finally works with Ubuntu 11.04 Beta and VMWare Workstation 7.1.4

Nice performance upgrade in Ubuntu 11.04 enables smooth video chats with Oovoo in Windows VM.

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I’ve been running Ubuntu 11.04 since Alpha 3 was released last month. As usual when running Alpha and Beta codes there were some rough edges. Nonetheless, I can say that this version of Ubuntu is, for me at least, a big improvement over the previous versions.

Much of this improvement comes from the new 2.6.38.x Linux kernel. This incarnation includes among other things the famous “200 line patch” that dramatically improves process scheduling on multicore CPUs.

Prior to 11.04 I was unable to run the popular Windows based video chatting called Oovoo  from within VMWare Virtual Machines. No matter what I tried the video and audio with Oovoo on an XP guest was very choppy and froze regularly even with 4 Xeon cores allocated to the VM. Worse, it was even possible to crash the VM or even lockup the whole system if you weren’t careful to disable the USB webcam audio device from within Linux prior to connecting it to the Windows guest.

I’m happy to report that all of these problems are now resolved with the Ubuntu 11.04 Beta and VMWare Workstation 7.1.4 (or VMWare Player 3.1.4). Oovoo now runs smoothly with as many as 5 participants on a video call and I have yet to see any freezes or crashes relating to the USB web cam connection to the VMware guest.

I have also noticed a dramatic improvement in USB disk performance. The backuppc software now runs smoothly in the background streaming backups to a Terabyte USB HD with no noticable load on my 8-core Xeon system. Previously, there was a definite lag in response time during system backups.

The only rough patch for me was that the VMWare install on one of my systems failed to properly set the kernel yield function. This caused high load spikes and system instability whenever a VMware guest was started. I eventually solved the problem by putting this line:

kernel.sched_compat_yield=1

in the file /etc/sysctl.conf and rebooting. With that simple change everything was smooth sailing.

Ubuntu 11.04 is still in Beta right now so don’t rush to upgrade unless you’re willing to get a few paper cuts. On the other hand, if you’re in need of a nice performance upgrade for some of your demanding applications you may feel, as I did, that its worth the risk to upgrade a few weeks early.


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9 comments

  1. Jacky Alcine

    I’m eager to test this out on my Natty build, apparently this works because of the updated kernel, right?

    And I plan on reporting this on my blog. 🙂

  2. John Ross

    Yes, it appears that the kernel changes are responsible. Oovoo and Windows Skype were unusable in Virtual Machines on prior versions of Ubuntu. The video is not quite as smooth as when running natively but its still quite usable however.

    1. Jacky Alcine

      Hmm, so would it be only within a virtual machine that Oovoo operates properly? I can start the application; but I can’t sign in; the button fails to operate.

      Running ‘uname -a’ gives me: Linux jacky-usb 2.6.38-8-generic #42-Ubuntu SMP Mon Apr 11 03:31:50 UTC 2011 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

      If you’re curious about my system’s specs.

      1. John Ross

        My testing has only been with Ubuntu 11.0464-bit host. I’ve not tried it with 32-bit version. Insofar as I know Oovoo won’t run in Wine so you must use a VM with something like VMWare or VirtualBox. My testing has only been VMWare Player 3.1.4 and Workstation 7.1.4 with Windows XP 32-bit guest. Hope that helps.

  3. Ian

    I have Ubuntu 11.10 can some one tell me where I can get a copy of oovoo that I can use with my system and if I have to use wine can you please tell me what config you used ?

    1. John Ross

      At this time there are versions of Oovoo available for Windows and Mac computers as well as Android and iOs mobile phones. Some years ago it was rumored that a native Linux version was being developed but nothing has ever been released. Given the market forces at work here I expect Linux native Oovoo will remain vaporware some time to come.

      The good news however is that I have found that the Windows version of Oovoo can be run under Linux using a VMWare Virtual Machine with Windows XP as the guest OS. To do this you will need to have a reasonably fast system and use a Linux host OS with kernel 2.6.38 or later. The first version of Ubuntu to use kernel 2.6.38 was Natty Narwhal (11.04) released in April of this year. Ubuntu 11.10 released in October has an even later kernel and should work fine. It is my understanding that the LTS release Lucid Lynx (10.04) can be upgraded to kernel 2.6.38 manually but I have not tried this myself. Unless you’re really comfortable doing manual package installations you may be better off upgrading to 11.04 or 11.10 to get the newer kernel.

  4. John Ross

    I have tried the backport for kernel 2.6.38 on Lucid 10.04.3 and can confirm that it works. If you are still on Lucid there is no need to upgrade to 11.04 or 11.10 to get Oovoo working in your XP VM.

  5. Marquel

    When I try to download oovoo I get an error message with my Archive Manager, something about the zip file. I’m not all that computer savy so if someone could help with a simple solution it would be greatly appreciated. I have 11.04 by the way

    1. John Ross

      I downloaded Oovoo just fine with Firefox 7.01 on Ubuntu 11.04. Try downloading it from within your Windows VM. You can’t install it directly in Ubuntu anyway…