Archive for the ‘Apple/Mac’ Category

New Laptop

Ahh, there heresy! Yup, I finally got off my butt and bought a new laptop and IT’S A MAC! A Macbook 5,2, dual core 2ghz, initially with 2gb of ram.

How can this be, you may ask. I thought you are a Linux guy! Well, rest assured, I still am.

Although I am no Apple fanboy, you know the kind that wears turtlenecks with their suit, I do admire the hardware and have for sometime. They make a nice looking machine. Their machines also retain their value more than any other manufacturer, which is a big bonus.

The other thing that helped me make this decision is I am trying hard to leverage myself into doing some Apple server support at work as well. You know the drill, the more I can offer my employer, the longer, easier and more lucrative my stay there will be. That’s how I stayed 13 years at my last job. I was the go-to-guy.

My first impressions after having this almost a week? It’s pretty fast. In fact there was some wow factor there the first time I loaded my intranet page. It popped up so fast it was as if it was a local document! I also think OS 10.5mumble is better than 10.2, 3, or 4. It just seems a little slicker – it’s hard to quantify, it just does.

Of course, the first thing I did was to install the apps on OS X that make it livable for me. The short list is Firefox (Safari? Ick, although it’s MUCH better now than under 10.4), Thunderbird (Mail App can’t hold a candle), OpenOffice (best office suit out there), Vlc (hey, guy has gotta be able to watch his vids and quicktime doesn’t cut the mustard), and Cisco VPN (gotta be able to work). After those, things started to get livable on the machine.

My future plans, of course, involve installing a dual boot of Linux on this machine, and this is where I can use your help. I am looking for opinions and up-to-date howtos on different Distributions to try on here. Everyone always jumps right on the Ubuntu bandwagon, but perhaps there might be some other fun ones out there to try as well 🙂 Just shoot me an email and let me know what you are using and how it works!

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Check Your Mail

I keep forgetting to publish this post, so I had better do it now before I forget again 🙂

Many of you know that I dig using (al)pine for reading my email. This is especially true on my Acer Aspire One netbook. I like to have fast access to my email and save space on that tiny flash drive and alpine rolls in around 80someodd k. Anyhow, I also mentioned, I think, that I have several email accounts to keep track of that way, in fact 5 for todays purposes, and I use screen sessions to jump between alpine email sessions on the different accounts.

The trouble with all that is, how do you know when or how many emails you have unread on any of the accounts without jumping through them all, all day long? Well, I decided to go to an old standby for a solution…. Fetchmail.

Fetchmail has the ability to poll your email accounts with a “-c” option which means to just get a count and not download anything. This is just what I need and want!

To start off, you need to configure fetchmail. This is done in your .fetchmailrc file or, in my case, from the command line. I set up all my polling connections in a little script we’ll call “chkmail” like so:

fetchmail -c -u lxxxxx -p imap
fetchmail -c -u lxxxxxxxx -p imap
fetchmail -c -u linc -p imap
fetchmail -c -u lxx -p imap
fetchmail -c -u linc.fessenden -p imap --ssl

Simply put, I call fetchmail, tell it to only count “-c” use the protocol imap “-p” and point it at my imap server’s address. You’ll notice on the gmail entry there is an added “–ssl”. That’s because that imap server uses, you guessed it, ssl authentication. No brainer.

Now the only real stumbling point here is you’ll notice I didn’t pass any passwords. Well, fetchmail doesn’t accept passwords when running from the comand line, it always prompts you for them for security reasons. So, in order to get around that, you’ll need to use a .netrc file, where you can specify your login/password information for the different systems. Your fetchmail program will check your .netrc file before prompting you for a password, so that will make our script runnable without human intervention. My .netrc file looks like so:

login linc
password ubersupersecret
login linc.fessenden
password ohnoyoudidnt

Now with all that done, you can just run that little chkmail script and get an output of your current mail situation any time you want. Or, if you’re like me, I like to have that info on hand throughout the day, so I call that script in a watch command “watch -n 180 ./chkmail”. This will rerun that chkmail command every 3 minutes and put the output in the current terminal. Works like a champ.

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Linux PPC and WPA

Crap. That’s my final thought on the subject.

Last night I decided to finally update my wireless infrastructure and start using WPA instead of just using mac filtering. It’s not that I am uber concerned about the security aspect of it because, let’s face it, the only way to really have a secure box and network it to shut it off. What drove me to this is my cheap router only has 25 slots for mac addresses to filter and I had them filled up. I decided if I couldn’t do that then I ought to bring things up to speed with the WPA instead (plus it’s much easier to remember a passphrase than bunches of hexidecimal octets.

I had no problem with my Mac Mini, my Ubuntu 8.04 laptop, my wife’s Ubuntu laptop, my kid’s eMac, or my new Linpus laptop. I ran into serious issues with LinuxPPC though. I was running Slackintosh on my iBook but after researching the net a bit I was disappointed to find that WPA has been an issue for a long time on the airport card. I thought, well maybe Ubuntu has it better, so I installed Ubuntu 8.04 for PPC and, although the desktop was quite nice, there was no support for WPA there either. My only option at that point was to put OS X back on the iBook. What a bummer.

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Installing elegance, Slackintosh 12.1

Long have I been a fan of Slackware. It’s a wonderful distribution, fast, clean and free of much of the bulk and cruft that plagues other Linux distributions. Lately, though, I have not had a Slackware box on which to play, and that has bothered me. My main server currently runs Ubuntu server edition 7.04 (yeah, I know, old), my main laptop runs Ubuntu 8.04, my home workstation runs Ubuntu 7.10, my wife’s laptop runs Ubuntu 8.04, my picture frame runs Ubuntu 7.10, my kids eMac runs MacOS 10.4.something as does my iMac. Notice a pattern here? The only thing I currently had running different was one of my test machines running CentOS 5.2 and another running RHEL 5.1, both leftovers from my semi-recent RHEL exams. Well, that and I keep telling myself I would like to run something similar at home to what I need to support at work in order to help keep my skillset sharp. Speaking of work, other than running all my servers on RHEL, I even run Ubuntu 8.04 there on my workstation. As you can see, I certainly need my Slackware fix!

Enter this weekend when I was staring at my iBook G3 500. I bought this iBook used, broken, and cheap. I fixed it up and use it frequently to mostly check my email and rss feeds from bed. It did the job adequately, however, a little on the slow side with MacOS X. I grabbed up the iBook and surfed over to Slackintosh’s Website. I had run Slackintosh years earlier on an oldworld PPC along with Debian, both with great results. Since Slackware, as a distribution, ranks very high on my list, and I already have my fill of Debian based machines, I decided then and there that Slackintosh was going to be my new OS on my iBook. I also must say that I think the translucent snow iBook is probably one of the best looking laptops that was ever made. That + Slackware, one of the best operating systems ever made, is elegance if I ever heard of it.

Installation, if you have ever done a Slackware install, is the usual business except for the partitioning. To partition a macintosh, you use mac-fdisk (suprise)! There is a decent document about using mac-fdisk at which is very well written. The short and quick version is do an “i” for initialize the drive (I am not running OS X, just Linux). Do a “b” to create a mac boot partition. Then, create your linux partitions with “c”. I made a partition named “swap” and a really big one named “root” then saved the whole shebang. When I ran setup afterwards to do the actual OS install, the setup program detected the swap and root partitions correctly and did what it was supposed to with them.

Once that was all taken care of, the install completed normally. I found only 2 small problems post install that I had to correct to get things really moving the way I liked. The first was that X would not start. This had to do with an incorrect config. To fix, I simply needed to add:
HorizSync 28-51
VertRefresh 43-60
to the Section “Monitor” and make sure that the default display depth was 16 and set to 1024×768. After that X started right up into a nice fast KDE session. The last problem was I had no right mouse button. Of course, the iBook has only 1 mouse button, so right-clicking is problematic. I remember long ago there was a function key that served as the right button on a Yellowdog install, so I tried them all to no avail. After a little digging I found that adding this:
dev.mac_hid.mouse_button_emulation = 1
dev.mac_hid.mouse_button2_keycode = 125
dev.mac_hid.mouse_button3_keycode = 96
to your /etc/sysctl.conf file would do the trick. These will map your middle mouse button to the right apple key and the right mouse button to the enter key right next to the right apple key.

Once all that was going I was in great shape with KDE chugging along, sound, networking and all. I am sure I’ll have more to say about this as I go along, but that’s all for now. If you have an old PPC laying around, you sure couldn’t do better than to give Slackintosh a try!

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Lotsa Money

I finally found my OS X 10.4 media, so today I decided that I was going to upgrade my new/old iBook. I have a usb dvd drive that I have done OS X installs form before, so I hook it up and give it a shot. No matter what I tried, I could not install from my external drive. It would regognise it while the OS was running just fine, but just would not boot from it. After doing a bit of searching I saw people talking about doing a fireware install. Basically, this is using your mac as an external fireware drive and installing to that. Well, I have never tried to do that before, so I decided to give it a try.

The first thing I had to do was find a fireware cable. Now I could swear that I had one somewhere, but after a lengthy search, I could not find it. So, I headed off to the local Staples. I bought the only cable I could find there – $31!!! $31 for a CABLE! And only 6 feet long at that. I checked all over and nowhere on this thing does it say it’s made of 24 ct gold or platinum. I also take note that the ends are not encrusted with any precious jewels either.

Anyhow, the actual install via firewire is actually quite easy. I put my iBook into storage mode by holding down the ‘t’ key after start chime. I then connected it via firewire cable to another mac I had (with a dvd drive in it). I was then able to install OSX on the other machine, but point it to the firewire drive (which is actually my iBook). It was pretty nifty actually. As soon as the install was complete and the installer asked for a reboot, I just unplugged the laptop and rebooted and was prompted with a new install of 10.4. It was really easy, just unfortunate that I had to dig out another mac to get this done.

Sunday, December 9th, 2007


While most people are getting a new Nokia N810 or a EeePC, I opted for a much cheaper techie gift. I have been wanting a beater laptop to lug around when I needed to. Something I could afford to break or lose or whathaveyou. Well, a friend was selling off his old 12 inch iBook G3 500 very inexpensively, so I picked it up. Now I have a little mac to thump around on the train and whatnot when I want to. Right now I have OS X 10.3 running on it but will soon upgrade it to 10.4 and see if and how that works on there. I also want to repartition and install some form of Linux. Anyone have any advice as to which distribution would work best on there?

Oh, and does anyone know if Linux will run an airport car yet?

Friday, December 7th, 2007


Integrity: n. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.

Why did I need the dictionary entry? Well, because it’s so very rare that most people have no idea what it is anymore. The reason I am bringing this up is that I happened to find a man with some integrity. And believe it or not, he’s a online seller.

Richard sells mac equipment, and I have purchased some from him in the past. This time I needed some replacement machines here at the house and bought some from Richard. They arrived quickly, however, to my dismay, one was not in “as advertised” condition. I made simple mention to Richard and he instructed me that he would replace it on his dime by the end of the week, and that was followed by UPS shipping notification/confirmation. I just think it’s great to find someone you can purchase things from and not feel ripped off all the time. So if you are in the market for a mac, you just let me know and I’ll get you in touch with Richard, an actual honest man!

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Computer Pron

Now I know most of you have seen one of my old computer setups at home, but since moving and all I have had to severely downsize. I figured there would be at least a few of you who were interested in what I am running now.

Things have been whittled down a lot! I am running my 3ghz workstation (Ubuntu) with a dual head setup. Right next to that is my Mac Mini with a 19″ widescreen display. For servers I run 2 1ghz+ laptops with broken displays. One of them is underneath the printer and the other is currently being guarded by the ferocious “Stinky”, who is showing his butt for the picture.

You also can see my humongous but very nice HP Lazerjet 5 printer, my IP Phone (no analog phones/lines here my friend), my wireless router, and hanging out on an old PeeCee carcass is my 500gb NAS. And the critter on the UPS is my computer guard cat, Rescue.

I showed ya mine, now you show me yours! 🙂

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Here I come to save the day!

mighty mouse
Or does it?

Many of you may remember me reviewing the Apple keyboard I got with my Mini a while back. At that time I didn’t pick up a Mighty Mouse, although I did want one – they were just too expensive. Well, a kind hearted listener of TLLTS sent one to me recently on the condition that I review it. Well, you bet I will! I’ll even let you in on a little secret. It’s already plugged into my *linux* box 😉

Make sure to tune on to the show on the 11th to hear how things went!

Friday, June 29th, 2007

More productive

I know I have mentioned before that I believe people (computer workers) are more productive with more screen realestate. Well, I am more productive for sure. I like being able to visually keep track of a lot of things at one time and you just can’t do that efficiently with one screen and several virtual desktops (not that they aren’t useful in their own respect). To that end I started looking at my desktop where I have 2 lcd screens, disjoined and each connected to it’s own computer. I figured it would be much more efficient to control both with one kb/mouse combo.

Many moons ago, I had reviewed a fairly new (then) piece of software called Synergy2, which allows you to control multiple desktops with one set of kb/mice, just like I was interested in doing now. However, I have already used that before. I have also used a great program called X2x, which accomplishes the same thing between 2 X displays. I decided I would try yet another program, X2vnc, which is another program to accomplish the same task, except it works between and X session and a vnc session (like the name suggests). Now this is a great thing to have around for me because I tend to have vnc installed on my systems, so I only had to install this program on the machine that I wanted to use the kb/mouse on. A quick install and a “x2vnc -west machine_name:0” and I was easilly moving between my mac and linux box lcd’s and even cutting/pasting text, links, etc./ as well. In fact, I am posting this now on the opposite machine that I am typing from. It’s fantastic! I feel like I have almost gained a second monitor, but it’s even better, because it’s attached to it’s own computer!

Sunday, June 24th, 2007