Archive for the ‘Ubuntu’ Category

Ubuntu 9.10

Yes, another in the junker series on my T23. I *finally* got around to playing a bit with the new Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. I know, based on the date of the posts, that it’ll look like I am doing a distribution a day (magic of dated publishing), but I have had this running a few days now and I really dig it.

The installer is very fancy looking now and I really like the new loading logo graphics. They have this cool little cylon slider that goes across the screen – much slicker than the big blocky one on previous versions. All my equipment was detected correctly and, I should add, this is the norm for any recent version of Ubuntu, and they should be praised for that. I have come to expect nothing less from them.

The default background is *still* brown. Ick. They *do* have a much better selection of other wallpapers to choose from though. Honestly, if the most you have to complain about is the default brown background, things are pretty good. And things here really are pretty good!

Ubuntu still comes with all the software it always has – the things you need to get the job done. And what is not there by default is only a click or two away. Ubuntu has come to be the go-to distribution for a nice workable desktop Linux. It’s clean, up to date, and perky too. What more would you expect? Well, maybe a different color wallpaper (I like the stones one). 🙂

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Call for Slackers

I had a little trouble on the last TechShow with my audio. You see, I use a CyberAudio USB headset on the show, and I recently upgraded my Ubuntu 8.04 to Ubuntu 9.04 and pulse audio makes a nice hum the entire time now with my headset. Obviously this irritates me and I decided to fix it by swapping distributions until this problem gets straightened out.

I decided I would try Fedora 11. It sure looked sweet at the South East Linux Fest I was recently at. I had heard that there was some issue with the installer and it’s handling of ext4 in the partitioner and I *thought* I heard it was better to install from dvd as opposed to the live cd. I grabbed them both to be sure. Well, neither of them worked and bombed during the install. I have heard many people going through the fixes for this and a host of apologetics, however, let me just say that this is really bad form for Fedora to issue media that you cannot install from. I can tell you for certain that I was not going to try and beat this on my laptop especially with so many other options out there. I suspect the same can be said for many many other people. Fedora folks, you’ll really have to get it together for your next release!

Next I decided to go for Slackware. 2 opposite ends of the same coin. I have run Slackware for a long long time, but mostly use it as a server. I haven’t used it in a desktop setting for quite a while and the thought of it sounded like fun. I even recently did a vm install and was thrilled with the results, giving sbopkg a whirl and really enjoying it! Well, as expected, the install went flawlessly. You just can’t beat Slackware’s text installer. The problems I had were after the install, but I’ll get to those later.

Since I actually had some work I needed to do that day, I decided to reach for a quick install that I knew would just do the right thing right away. That was Linux Mint 7. I popped in the cd (yes, you can still get a great linux OS on a CD – not DVD) and in a minute I was using the live cd. About 20 minutes later I was completely installed and working. There is definitely something to be said for that! I am still using it now, in fact, that’s what I am writing this post from, and I will probably continue to do so until something better seems to come along. As I have said before, if you haven’t tried Mint yet, you probably should.

All that being said, this post is really about Slackware. I said I had some problems with Slackware on my laptop, and probably, some of them are just related to using Slackware on a laptop. Things like wireless and widescreen displays are issues that I would expect to see, mostly… By this time, I figured Slackware could do a decent job of autodetecting your X configuration and making my laptop display work. Nope. I just put that on the mental “I need to address this” list and plod on. I add my user and startx, and find that I have no wireless. Now, it’s been a while since I have used KDE, but I was sure there was some program like networkmanager to get my wireless going. What I find out is that my Atheros is not even detected. Strike two for the laptop install. It was after that that I remembered the biggest barrier to using Slackware as a Desktop solution. There is no useful codec support in there. Can’t play any of my media files, watch flash video, etc., etc., etc..

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Slackware. It’s a fantastic distribution and I have long held that if you want to learn RedHat, you install RedHat, if you want to learn Ubuntu, you install Ubuntu and if you want to learn Linux, you install Slackware. Some of my problems, as I said before, I will just chalk up to the oddities of laptop installs, even though I think, at this point, that’s making excuses. I would, however, still like to get my main workstation at home running the Slack again. That being the case, I am going to want some things on there to make my life easier. After all, that’s the name of the game right? You have a computer to help make things easier for you and not more complicated.


Now, years ago there used to be a program called Automatix that did just this sort of thing for Ubuntu. Later it was replaced by Ultamatix, and recently, you can just pretty much install VLC and be done with it. What I would like to see is something similar for Slackware. I see that you can, fairly easily, get some of this done by using sbopkg and weeding through the menus and selecting the appropriate things, if you can find them, from the menus. I, personally, think this is still too cumbersome, How about an sbopkg like system, or even a simple script that does what automatix used to do, but does it for a modern Slackware? Anyone willing to bite? How about it Chess?Dann?Anyone?

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Neuros Link

(sung to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song)
Oh, this is a story ’bout a man named Joe.
He sent me an OSD a couple years ago.

An’ just the other day he said “You really should review…”
Then he boxed up and sent me a Neuros Link too…

OK, OK I know, but it was playing on continuous loop in my brain all last night. Don’t judge me! 🙂

Seriously though, Joe from sent me out a Neuros Link (snappy name a?) and I thought it only fair I talk about how great it is.

neuros link

For some reason I don’t quite understand, most companies are not like Neuros. Neuros “just gets it”. They have this mystical power which clues them in on what kinds of stuff we really want. They understand that we want “our media, our way” and they set out to make that possible with their fantastic line of products.

The Neuros Link (still love that name) is just such a gizmo. This is MORE than just a set-top pc, it’s the convergence of tv, computer and internet. What they have done is to take a very decently spec’d computer, remove most of the breakables (moving/spinning media), add the ability to display to your tv set, and throw in a robust OS, with some customizations that let you easily find video content you can play/watch for free, all for $300. Yes, really, I am serious.

I got this Link delivered yesterday and pulling it out of the box I noticed, first of all, how good looking it was. It’s smaller than I had pictured and has a sleek looking black pc case which would go well in any entertainment-center equipment stack. Included with this is the Neuros KeyMote, which is the wireless keyboard/tackball combo. I have to say I really like it. Nice tactile feel and it works quite well (apart from that nagging windows key).

Setup was a breeze. They include a little one page setup document and if you follow it you should be going in no time. Just make sure to pay attention to the “configuring your keyboard” section. Once the machine was running and my keyboard was connected, I configured my wireless connection (also in the setup docs). Once that was up and running, I had to make a quick adjustment to X. You see, in the docs, they say that the only “supported” video configuration is hdmi and if you use something else you may have to tweak your config. Well, unfortunately I don’t have anything with hdmi, and my other choices on the back of the machine were dvi and vga, so I pulled out my spare lcd monitor and used that. After booting the X config was stuck in some 16:9 setting which would be wonderful for hdmi, but looks a bit odd on vga, so I moved the xorg.conf file to another name, restarted and I was in business at 1280×1024, perfect for my monitor.

With everything set, you are left in the Link’s customized browser, which is pointing to Neuros TV, a page where the folks at Neuros aggregate and manage (and index) video content across the web for you. This was seriously fun and is where I spent the remainder of my evening. I watched some “A Team” and a bit of “Adam 12” too. No, I am not that old, just a child of the 70’s and was reliving some great TV moments of the past. I also noted that there is plenty of new content too like Fringe, Eleventh Hour, Heroes and the list goes on forever practically.

The rest of the computer runs a fairly standard, full featured Ubuntu, which means that you can do on there what you need to do. Things like IM, Email, Web surfing, etc., are all right there at your fingertips. In fact, the only thing I think this Neuros Link is missing is an internal Neuros OSD 🙂

Go and BUY ONE NOW! You’ll regret it if you don’t. And as I get more time to play on this one I will put more information here for you all to drool over.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

The Mothman Lives!



Many of you know that I am strangely fascinated by what sorts of things people name their servers after. I, personally, use cryptids. I have machines named things like Sasquatch, Nessie, Yeti, Chupacabras and the like.

Last night I had to do some work. One of the things I needed to take care of was getting some sort of development environment at home for me to be able to work on some work-related projects at home in a less confined atmosphere. A lot of those projects involve needing an rpm based machine, which I didn’t have.

I decided I would set up VMware Server, which I use all the time at work, but this time I would use the Server 2 product. I have been using the Server 1.6 for a long time and love it. It’s fast, easy to use, and reliable. Server 2 came out some time ago, but I haven’t had a need to upgrade, so this seemed to be the perfect time.

I used the tutorial over at HowtoForge which steps you through things really well. The only real problems I encountered were that I couldn’t get to the license page for vmware for some reason (I did happen to have a couple spares from a previous one though) and during the install I was prompted that my gcc version didn’t match my kernel version, but I chose to continue on anyhow and all was well.

My initial impressions were mixed. I kind of like having the interface be web based now, which is pretty convenient. It is, however, slower. The other bothersome thing was that running vmware server on my 3ghz machine with 3gb of ram used *all* of it’s resources and brought the machine to it’s knees. This really frustrated me until I decided to just reboot the machine…. For some reason this cleared up a lot of my problems with the resource utilization and things started behaving better. I am not sure why, but my advice to anyone trying a new install would be to reboot after the install before you actually start trying to use vmware 🙂

Once that was all taken care of, I set about to get a vm running. I picked CentOS, for obvious reasons. Unfortunately I only had a CentOS 5.1 dvd image available (usually try to get the greatest and latest) but I decided to use it anyhow rather than spend time downloading the newest one. I started setting up the new vm, which I called Mothman, and got to the installation media section and hit a small speed bump. I specified that I wanted to use an iso image, but the browse function directed me only to some strange volume where there was nothing. I couldn’t pick my home directory for the iso file. As it turns out, the default volume that VMware is looking in is the directory you picked during the install to hold your vm’s. In my case, it was the default /var/lib/vmware/Virtual Machines/. Once I dropped the iso there, I could find and use it.

The install went off without a hitch. The new popout console is pretty slick and works well. All in all, I liked it and would recommend it. I still think I need a way faster machine to host this stuff, but that’s another story altogether. Even so, with my host and vm both running, right now top reports my system usage as ” load average: 0.12, 0.14, 0.09″ and I haven’t used any swap either. Not too shabby!

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Folding At Home

Just thought I’d stop in to say that I checked the TLLTS Folding at Home Team Stats today and noticed that we are ranked 230th out of almost a million and a half other teams! Congratulations!

If you are not running FAH and on our team, it’s not too late to start!! Well, what are you waiting for?


Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Workin Great!

After a year at my new job I finally got a new computer to work on. This thing is absolutely smokin! It’s a Dell Latitude D630, Core2Duo 2.5ghz, 4gb ram, 120gb hdd and all the trimmings PLUS 2 20″ monitors to hook to the dock. That’s right, my desktop is 3360×1050. I have to say it’s pretty sweet to have some screen realestate to stretch those xterms across 🙂 It’s also great to have a computer that will let me use the USB and/or cdrom without rebooting the computer each time 😉

And yes, it runs Linux – Ubuntu 8.04.

Friday, October 17th, 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


Yes, I know, It’s about time. Last night I finally got around to upgrading my Ubuntu install on my mail workstation at home from 7.10 to 8.04. Well, I shouldn’t say upgraded, because it was a fresh install.

I used the default graphical install, which basically means that the new install took a long time. Well, to be fair, the initial install wasn’t too long, but the package upgrades took forever. Perhaps I should have installed closer to the release when there weren’t so many upgrades a? 🙂

One of my biggest concerns was getting my dual monitors running, and this was actually a breeze. All I had to do was enable the restricted nvidia drivers and then add the twinview stuff to my xorg.conf and I was up and running no problem.

Once that was running to my satisfaction, it was time to get all the packages on there that I need to be able to function. This is what I really wanted to mention here. Long ago I decided to start keeping track of what I installed (and actually used) so that I could replicate a usable install faster. What I did was just write it all up in a script. I thought I would share mine with you all, and perhaps you might find it useful yourself!

# Here is the general stuff I need:
sudo apt-get install mozilla-thunderbird sqlite rox-filer php5-common php5-cli php-pear subversion openssh-server clusterssh imagemagick alpine vim synergy smbfs curl
# This is what you would do if you were LEGALLY able to do so - thus giving you the codecs and utilities
# for you to actually watch/listen to the media you have legally purchased.
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 vlc libdvdcss2 ubuntu-restricted-extras w32codecs mplayer mencoder build-essential
# You want to install XMMS - it's just better than everything else, no matter what they say...
echo "install xmms_1.2.10%2B20070601-1build2_i386.deb package for xmms!"
#Installing stuff for work:
sudo apt-get install sqlite luma x3270 ldap-utils dia expect

And that’s it! I hope you enjoy! Make your own script, it’ll save you oodles of time getting things “just right” after your clean reinstall.

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Crazy Ubuntu and getting Openbox running

OK, I mentioned before that Dann convinced me to try Openbox. Well I have been digging it so far, but I have found a couple other issues with using it under Ubuntu.

I had been switching to it all along after having my laptops already running, so I didn’t notice until this weekend that when you switch to Openbox as your default windowmanager you lose your network connection. You see, normally Ubuntu has Gnome or KDE start network manager, which starts your network up. Well, being too smart for my own good, I decided that I would just slap the info I needed into the /etc/network/interfaces, where I know Debian and Ubuntu hides that stuff. I told it to start my wireless interface and get an address via dhcp, and I was off and working on the rest of my problems (but this is not the last time I would visit this one).

The next issue I ran into was without gnome or KDE beforehand, how do those Openbox guys get their background going. Well, after trying several programs like feh, etc., I decided I could just get gnome’s settings daemon to do it and then at least be able to keep my background between windowmanager switches more easily.

Then, I found that mysteriously my network connection would just drop. It was a random thing, but quite irritating. After mucking about with it for almost a day I decided that I didn’t remember having my connection go down under Gnome, but it was now under Openbox. I decided to reverse my prior network change and just have Gnome handle it for me.

I dig a bunch of digging into this to see what other people were doing, and they were doing the same as I. How do they get all this going? Well, they put it into the ~/.config/openbox/ file. This is, by the way, he file you would use to get anything to autostart in Openbox. So let’s take a look in mine:

gnome-settings-daemon &
gnome-power-manager &
nm-applet --sm-disable &
gnome-volume-manager --sm-disable &
$(sleep 20 ; conky 2>/dev/null 1>/dev/null) &

I put the Gnome settings daemon in there to control my background and screensaver, etc. The gnome power manager in there on recommendation of several websites. It manages suspending, hibernation and screen blanking, etc. The nm applet is the one that controls my networking. Putting this in here started my network right up and keeps it working too. The volume manager should control auto mounting, etc., but I have yet to get it to do anything when I insert a cd. Further research required there. And last but certainly not least, I start up Conky, which displays my date/time (and now battery status). You’ll notice the 20 second sleep command before starting Conky, and that is to allow the gnome-settings-daemon enough time to set the background before Conky starts. If it happens any other way, Conky and gnome have a battle royal over desktop background control and the background/Conky will blink on and off several times before one becomes the victor.

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008