Archive for the ‘Ubuntu’ Category

Handbrake on Mint 12 / Ubuntu 11.10

Found out a couple days ago that there is a problem with the PPA for handbrake with MINT 12 and Ubuntu 11.10 (and probably others as well). There is an easy workaround for it though. That is to use the snapshots ppa instead:

apt-add-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-snapshots
apt-get update
apt-get install handbrake-gtk handbrake-cli

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Lost your Mint password?

First time this happened! A coworker asked me today how to get into his Linux Mint box after he forgot his password. Of course I rattled off the old GRUB way to get things done, but, what?? This is GRUB 2! No so fast there! Turns out it’s quite different.

You hold down the shift key while booting to get to the grub menu.
You hit ‘e’ to edit your boot options.
You change the kernel line options on the very end of the kernel line to read “rw init=/bin/bash”.
You press F10 to boot.

Once booted you are dropped immediately into a shell prompt where you can change your password with the “passwd username” command. Reboot and you’re home free!

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Mint 11 / Ubuntu 11.04 – vpnc+ssh issue

Linux Mint

Yes, I know.. Long time since a post, but I have been waiting ’till I had something interesting to comment on 🙂

You should all know by now that Ubuntu 11.04 and Mint 11 are now out in the wild, and both are very nice IMHO. I have been a “Minty” guy now for quite sometime but I thought it would behoove me to at least try the new Ubuntu 11.04 and it’s Unity interface, so I stuck it on a netbook to test it out and I can say this: It doesn’t suck at all! In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. Compared to Gnome 3 (more on that later), Unity is quite usable.

That brings me to Mint 11. A beautiful distribution as I have come to expect. Not too much to say about it for those familiar with Mint except it’s a worthy successor in a long line of great releases. If you haven’t yet tried Mint, you are really doing yourself a disservice.

There are of course problems with everything. Mine was with my vpn connection. I use vpnc to connect to my works’ cisco vpn, and I have been doing so successfully now for many years. In fact, vpnc is my preferred method of connecting over any other client including the cisco client itself. It just works. It’s very easy to configure and use and it stays out of my way. That is until recently.

After I installed Mint 11 on my daily carry, I eventually needed to vpn into work and fix something. Well, I immediately noticed that ssh through vpnc would not connect. I could ping, http, rdesktop, whathaveyou, but no ssh. I looked at the routes, I looked at the tunnel, I looked at the verbose messages from vpnc. Nothing worked. If, however, I walked over to my other laptop that is running Mint 10 with the very same vpnc config, I got right through. This was quite perplexing. I eventually tried connecting with the Ubuntu 11.04 install, and I got the exact same results. I was grasping at straws. Maybe all new distributions were broken in this manner? The horror actually forced me to install Fedora 15 (sorry Fedora folks) and test that. To my surprise, F15’s vpnc+ssh worked just fine. This also gave me an opportunity to find out how dysfunctional and horrible an interface Gnome 3 is (KDE and Unity are gonna become big real soon I guarantee it).

As a last ditch effort to narrow things down, I decided to try a different ssh client. I tried both putty and dropbear. THEY WORKED! YAY! This meant I could go back to running the new Mint on my netbook. I fully intend to just try my own compile of ssh sometime in the future, or perhaps the package maintainers will catch wind of this and fix it (I did send some emails to Clem). Until then, I am happy that I can still use my beloved Mint and I can live temporarily with dropbear and / or putty for ssh through my vpn when I need it. I just hope this post gets around a bit so the other guy that uses vpnc+ssh to connect to his cisco vpn doesn’t think he’s going crazy like I did 🙂

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

What’s with the Lemur?

System 76 Lemur

System 76 Lemur

Nope, I am not talking about the curious little Madagascan primate, I am talking about the one from System 76!

It has been a while since I have done a review, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working one up 🙂 At this past years Ohio Linux Fest I got to rub elbows with Carl Richell from System 76 who promised me the opportunity to review one of their masterpieces. After some killer anticipation, the unit arrived on my doorstep and it turned out to be their Lemur Ultra Thin laptop.

This lappy has a GORGEOUS 13″ display, a core-i3 proc, and the all the assorted (and working) ports, wifi, ethernet, sound, SUSPEND, etc., that you would come to expect. I did say working didn’t I? That’s important because, as retailer of Linux computers, it’s important to make the distinction that there is NO guesswork as to whether or not Linux will run on perfectly on it. It does 🙂

System 76 was nice enough to let me demo this thing for a long time, so it’s safe to say that I tested this thing out really well. I used it extensively at home to do my normal web surfing, video watching and music playing. I also used it for work where it was my portal for a bunch of system administration work, rdesktop and ssh sessions galore, plenty of terminals open with configuration scripts and php programming, connected through every kind of free and paid wifi you can think of, not to mention my work vpn. And a lot of that was all at the same time! This system performed more than admirably. I even used it at a work conference where I did splunk installs and testing without issue.

I am not sure what kinds of proprietary things that System 76 provides in its own packages, however everything in Ubuntu, the Linux distribution that System 76 ships with by default, runs perfectly. Then again, so did Mint 10, the other Linux distribution I installed and tested with. This left me with, literally, nothing whatsoever that didn’t meet my personal satisfaction 🙂

This laptop is very light, perfectly functional, very good looking and stunningly well designed and put together. It feels to me like a MacBook Air with a warp drive, and at literally half the price. In short, this is the laptop that I want to carry around (did I mention it’s light too)? I am hoping that Mrs. LincolnClaus is reading this. It would look great under the tree this year! I would gladly get rid of most of the rest of my laptop entourage to be able to carry one of these.

Hey, anyone want to buy a pristine condition used netbook? Or two? 🙂

Monday, December 20th, 2010

A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux 3rd Ed.

Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux, A (3rd Edition)

Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux, A (3rd Edition)

I have said before on several occasions that Sobell does really good work. Well, this holds true to my words. This is a big book with some 1250+ pages in it absolutely filled to the brim with useful information. The review on the front cover mentions that the book is “comprehensive” and that just might be understating it a little. This book has practically anything you might want to know about Ubuntu, and references a lot of really helpful general linux and userland program information and it’s put together in a very straight forward and understandable way. Having the word “Practical” in the name is also a really good fit as the book offers great walk-throughs on things people will want to do with their Ubuntu install from beginner things like configuring a printer all the way up to things like some perl programming and running your own web server. All in all, this book is not only worth a look, but a keeper. It’s a good read and great technical reference.

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Mark moves on…

In a morning press call on December 17th, 2009 Mark Shuttleworth announced that he was stepping down as head of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. In his place, Jane Silber, the current Chief Operating Officer who has been with Canonical since 2004 will take over as CEO………….
Read the rest here…

What will this really mean for Ubuntu? What do you think?

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 and Grub 2

Yes, another post about Ubuntu 9.10. I know I tried it out before, but I put it on this new (old) laptop and am giving it a little better run this time. I still believe 9.10 (Karmic) to be a fine running distribution and this time I got to test out my method of installing all the codecs I want on there, along with messing with Grub 2 a little bit.

When you are travelling abroad where it’s legal to do so, as i was just the other day, you might want to have access to all those codecs that make life worth living on a linux box. Things like listening to your mp3s and watching your dvds and miscellaneous media files are very dificult without them.

I realise that Ubuntu has, for some time now, been able to detect that you need so and so codec to play so and so media and ask you if you really want it installed, but I find that particularly irritating. I like to already have that functionality there when I want to use it. To do that, I have a little script that I use that generally takes care of that for me, along with installing most of the programs I need to make my day to day use hassle free.

sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mozilla-thunderbird php5-common php5-cli php-pear subversion openssh-server clusterssh imagemagick vim synergy smbfs curl vlc libdvdcss2 ubuntu-restricted-extras w32codecs mplayer mencoder build-essential sqlite dia expect mysql-client

Feel free to modify and use this, but basically I derived this from paying attention to the programs I need and use and making a list. It really does save a lot of time to do this.

The other thing I wanted to mention is Grub 2. For some reason, someone decided it was time to move from the original Grub to Grub 2. Time alone will tell whether that was a smart move or not. I know I certainly had a tough time of it for a day or two. Everything has moved and the methodology has changed as well. The short of it is you have some config files in /etc/grub.d that you can now manipulate, along with issuing a “update-grub”, that will build your /boot/grub/grub.cfg, which is pretty much the equivalent of the old /boot/grub/menu.lst file. The fun part is figuring out how all this works because, as it happens with open source many times, the documentation sucks.

What I needed to do was to add another linux distribution to grub so I could dual (or multi) boot it. This is accomplished in that /etc/grub.d directory. Now it’s worth mentioning here that if you do multiple OS installs on your machine and just issue a “update-grub” on your base Grub 2 enabled OS, it will (or at least mine did) auto detect this installation by default and add a boot option for it into the grub boot menu. The problem is, like mine, it probaly won’t boot your other OS.

The way to fix this is to go into /etc/grub.d and “chmod -x 30_os-prober”. After that you won’t be auto-genning entries. Next you can make a copy of the 40_custom file (I named mine 41_centos) and edit that file to have the correct boot parameters to boot your other OS. This is especially fun without having a good grasp of the correct syntax. For instance it took me hours to figure out that the “kernel” line that the old Grub used has been replaced with a “linux” line now. Other than that, though, just make sure that if you are booting another linux to use the correct root label and kernel and initrd image names and locations. My correct and working CentOS entry looks like this for reference:

exec tail -n +3 $0
# This file provides an easy way to add custom menu entries. Simply type the
# menu entries you want to add after this comment. Be careful not to change
# the ‘exec tail’ line above.
menuentry “CentOS 5.4” {
set root=(hd0,3)
linux /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.18-164.el5 ro root=LABEL=/ rhgb quiet
initrd /boot/initrd-2.6.18-164.el5.img

Have fun!

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Linux to the rescue again

I have to keep a windows xp vm kicking around that I use almost never for those nagging few windows apps that the smart developers didn’t make at least a web version for. Well, I needed to to some modifications to a project on MS Project server (Firefox/Linux compatibility in next release BTW) so I fired up the xp vm to find that it was effectively out of disk space. Back when I built it 2+ yrs ago I only made it an 8gb vm and with all the little proprietary apps over the years is has just gotten full.

A quick google search on the subject showed that I could, indeed, increase the drive space in the vmdk with the “vmware-vdiskmanager” command (vmware serer 1 – I told you this vm was old). I simply went to my virtual machines directory (where the vmdk files are stored) and issued “vmware-vdiskmanager -x 12gb -t 1 winxp.vmdk”. This says (-x) extend the volume to 12gb and that the volume type (-t 1) is split into the 2gb files. The command did it’s job in just a few seconds and presented me with a warning that I would need a third party program in the virtual machine to expand the partition there to get use of the new volume free space.

I learned from my favorite windows admin that there is a diskmanager utility in xp that *can* do this, however, not on the system partition, which is what I needed. I just happened to have an Ubuntu 9.10 iso handy and told the xp vm to boot that up instead. From there I started up GParted and quickly told it to extend the size of the partition to fill all the remaining free space on the volume. I clicked on the green checkmark to tell GParted to “Go” and off it went. The entire resize for GParted took only maybe 10 seconds. It’s just amazing to me. I remember when Linux couldn’t even figure out what an NTFS partition and here I was fixing one in mere seconds.

Needless to say, only a minute later I had my windows xp vm booting up and working in it’s newly extended NTFS partition. Once again, Linux saved the day!

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

What’s on your bookshelf?

The Official Ubuntu Server Book

Ahh, these are the kinds of books I really dig. As a systems administrator, I love to get books that detail setting up servers and services and this is exactly what this covers for Ubuntu. Here you can learn about things from what bind is and how to get it working to kickstarting, raid and a plethora of other server topics. Great reference material here, especially for those people who are thinking they want to get a server set up at home. You just can’t go wrong with this one.

Pro Ubuntu Server Administration

If you were going to really really get into Ubuntu server administration you would want this book, probably to go along with the Official Ubuntu Server book. Like the title suggests, this book is intended for those people who are in up to their neck in serious admin tasks. This book covers things like getting Nagios running so you can monitor things better, server performance analysis, iSCSI, LDAP and even a smattering of VPN. It’s the stuff the big boys play with, and it’s a great reference and tool for those kind of tasks on Ubuntu servers. I try and make it a policy to pass a lot of my books along so they can also benefit other people, but this one stays put on my bookshelf. I am keeping it 🙂

Monday, November 16th, 2009

What’s on your bookshelf?

The Official Ubuntu Book

For Ubuntu users, this one is a real gem. This is your “soup to nuts” type good starter book for Ubuntu users. It is great reference material for everything from the history and idea behind the Ubuntu distribution to more advanced topics like using Ubuntu as a server and even touches on different offshoots of Ubuntu like Kubuntu and Edubuntu. What will really make a difference to a newer Ubuntu user (or just a new Linux user) is the sections of this book which give detailed instructions on how to use different available pieces of software to accomplish tasks like getting your email going, drawing pictures with Gimp, finding your files and so fourth. There is also a great section of the book dealing with common issues and troubleshooting problems like fixing an incorrect screen resolution.

A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux

As great an Ubuntu book as the last one is for the desktop Ubuntu user, this one is that and more of it! Even though this book is for a little older version of Ubuntu, the information in it is absolutely expansive. If you cannot find a reference in here on how to get a certain task accomplished, I would really be surprised 🙂 This book goes through the general information like setup and install like most books do, and then gives you HUNDREDS of examples of how to get things done with your Ubuntu install. It’s really a pretty great book, and the one that I am going to pass on to a new Ubuntu user friend of mine.

Sunday, November 15th, 2009