Archive for the ‘F/OSS’ Category

South East Linux Fest 2010

South East Linux Fest

Wow, what a trip. Allan and I drove to SC from my place in PA in the middle of the night, which took up 10 hours. It was a nice drive compared to last year where it was foggy and rainy the whole ride there.

The conference was great. It was 2 days long, and, contrary to what I heard from some people, I thought it was just right. During the talks/conferences there was hardly anyone in the hallways. This tells me that there was something interesting there for everyone. I, however, only got to see Dann’s talk about the linux boot process. It was quite good I thought. The only real downside there was the vendor/hallway track, which was spread out a little too much.

Mordancy made us some SELF ’10 TLLTS shirts, which turned out great and were a hit. We do have some left as well and will be announcing how you can get yours on the show. Gorkon brought cookies and chex mix which were also greatly appreciated. And, of course, there were the books by Prentice Hall (Pearson Ed), APress and the wickedly cool Neuros Link and Nexus One we had to give away. I had a great time talking to all of you who stopped at the booth and I even got the chance to install Linux on a visitors laptop! I also enjoyed visiting with the other vendors and dot org booths there. I still really enjoy being a part of this community. You all are a bunch of great folks!

Probably the best “conference track” there was one tat was totally unannounced and impromptu. On Sunday night, after all was quiet and we were relaxed, Dann, Allan and I had time for a good executive TLLTS meeting. It was really nice to go over a lot of TechShow information, ideas, problems and solutions, face to face, so we could all get on the same page. We are coming up on our second season and we have some interesting things in store.

All in all I had a great time, which was exactly what I expected. I cannot wait for OLF this year nor can I wait for SELF next year. They just keep getting better and better!

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Linux at the BBQ

Jimmys BBQ

Jimmys BBQ

How do you know that Linux is becoming main stream? You start running into it in the strangest places.

I just took my kid out to get some food at a BBQ place that I have passed several times. The place is called Jimmy’s BBQ in Malvern, PA. Man oh man, this place has got some good BBQ and the Mac-n-Cheese is to die for! While I was placing my order at the counter, the proprietor looked at my Official TLLTS T Shirt (buy one now) and says, “Hey, do you know Eric Raymond?” I said that in fact, I have met him before and he says that Eric likes to frequent the place as well. Well, after having some of the BBQ there I can see why (yummy).

Unfortunately, Eric didn’t show up while I was there or I would have bought him a sandwich, but my daughter and I enjoyed ourselves anyway. Perhaps sometime Eric will take me up on that sandwich offer (Whatcha think Eric?). Until then I will continue to go to Jimmy’s for some good BBQ, and continue to be impressed that not only did those guys know something about Linux, but were even familiar with Eric too (although I suspect he may have had something to do with the former) 🙂

Sunday, April 11th, 2010


Prey is a lightweight application that will help you track and find your laptop if it ever gets stolen. It works in all operating systems and not only is it Open Source but also completely free.

That’s what their website says anyway.

You have to admit that it sounds quite intriguing. There are a lot of utilities around that you can *pay* for that offer some reasonable facsimile of helping you track your stolen laptop and get it back, but this is the first open source one I have come across.

Further inspection shows this to be “the real deal”. At least as far as I am concerned. I cannot yet comment on the mac/win versions of the software, but the Linux version is pretty slick.

Essentially, Prey runs through cron every 10 minutes by default, completely in the background, hidden from view. It checks for the existence of a specific website and if it doesn’t find this website (gets a 404 message), it starts grabbing information from your machine like ip addresses, screenshots, pics from your webcam, etc., and sends them either to Prey’s website for you to view, or directly to your email account. This is all information designed to help you track down where your laptop is, and identify who might have it.

I tried it on my Ubuntu work laptop and the client is literally a drop-in dmg package. It installed and asked me to run a control panel applet for configuration. This only really asked me for 2 pieces of identifying information, the API key and the device key, both of which were available to me after I registered (for free) on Prey’s website at

Once you are registered and get your device (laptop) listed on the website, you can tell Prey, via the website anytime, that your laptop is missing by going to (and after logging in) clicking on the appropriate device listing (they let you have 3 for free btw), changing the “Missing” slide switch to “on” and hitting the update button at the bottom of the page. There are other options in there you can change as well to suit your needs. The next time your laptop can find an internet connection and check in, Prey will have it sending reports out so you can find it. I was pretty happy and impressed with how well it worked actually.

The only con I can think of with this program is the fact that I run Linux. Not that people won’t steal laptops with Linux on them, but that I imagine that anyone who would steal one of my laptops would immediately install windows on it, thus rendering Prey useless. If I were to employ the use of that auto-login stuff, that could perhaps stave off a would be thief long enough for Prey to do it’s job, but I do like having to log in to my machines (just makes me feel more secure). It’s something to think about, and I will look into what other people have to say on the subject in Prey’s forums. That being said, however, I am still putting the software on my laptops. Hey, it can’t hurt right?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Google Chrome

I have been using Google Chrome Unstable now for some time. It has been a pretty interesting browser and pretty quick. The only issues I ever had were no flash and java support. Well, recently I noticed that flash was working just fine, and after some digging, found that you have to have Java 6.10 to get Java working, although I honestly haven’t tested that yet.

On 12/8, Google released it’s Chrome browser for Linux in Beta (no longer unstable). I quickly uninstalled my Unstable version and added the Beta. WOW is it FAST! I thought it was fast before, however, it literally starts the browser now almost as fast as I can click on the icon. Other than that, it works exactly as you would expect it to, clean and quick. If you have been running Unstable as I have, the only difference I noticed is it is way faster. I don’t have a clue how you did it Google, but good job and I can’t wait to see what this is going to be like when it’s out of Beta!

Now if I could only convince Google to make a mail client to replace Thunderbird! 🙂

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009


WOW! Dann pulls through again!

I have had my Sansa Fuze for quite a while now and I completely dig it. It’s just simply one of the best “mp3 players” out there. Of course it does much much more than that . It plays Ogg natively and other formats too, and it’s not DRM magnet either. It also has a great fm radio tuner and does slot radio to boot.

The only thing I have not gotten it to do is video. It has some wacky format that it uses and no matter how many attempts I have made at it with ffmpeg or mencoder I get bupkis. That is, until last night.

You see, Dann broke his Sansa Clip a couple weeks back and for a replacement he ordered a Sansa Fuze. He received it and was reviewing it on the TechShow and mentioned that the video worked great. When I asked him how he got it working under Linux he pointed me to Absolutely Brilliant! I downloaded this software and tried it right away, and, just as Dann had said, it works flawlessly. This truly completes and rounds out the Sansa Fuze for OpenSource users.

There really is nothing bad I can say about this little player now. I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend trying out Video4Fuze to encode a couple videos for your new player.

Almost time for me to go watch a movie! 🙂

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Gparted rocks

I just wanted to write a quick note about gparted. This has got to be one of the most handy pieces of software on the planet.
As you know, I have been doing a lot of different distribution testing on my test laptop lately. Well, one thing that didn’t occur to me until too late was that I can only have 4 primary partitions on a drive. Yes, on the 5th OS I had one of those “DOH!” moments 🙂

livecd of Ubuntu because I cannot move around a partition I am actively using. I moved 2 primary partitions to the end of my hard drive’s free space. I then extended the size of my extended partition to encompass all the free space on my hard drive. With gparted, this was a simple drag and click procedure.

20 minutes later (hey, 30gb data to move around) and I was set with a pile of free space in my extended partition so I could continue doing installs 🙂

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

I did it!

One month ago I decided to take the challenge and see if I could blog all month long for November’s National Blog Posting Month. I was absolutely sure that I would fail.

Amazingly enough, I did not.

So, what does this mean? Does it mean that I will continue posting an entry every day? Not a chance. Does it mean that I have somehow fulfilled my childhood dream of being a writer? Nope. Did it even help to make me better at writing? Well, that is subjective. I believe that it proved to me that I can muster the discipline to write something down if I need to, if there is a goal involved. Whether my writing style or content was any good is really your call, as I am slightly biased and sometimes overly critical as well.

What I would love to see come out of this exercise is encouragement for other bloggers. If I can do this, surely anyone can, and I do enjoy seeing posts from my friends on My challenge is for my friends there and you who read this blog to pick up the torch and whip into a blogging frenzy! Seriously though, it can’t hurt for linuxy and geeky folk to flood the web with some interesting stuff. It’s good exposure and great entertainment.

So, who’s next? Who will take my challenge? Dann? Pat? Allan???? 🙂

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

National Blog Posting Month

Well, here it is, National Blog Posting Month again. I have decided to accept the challenge. I do, however,think that I am setting myself up for failure. Just curious as to how long that is going to take. 🙂

Do stay tuned, though, as I will attempt to interject a few interesting things, if possible, from my many times mundane sysadmin life!

I would like to take this opportunity to challenge the other Linuxish bloggers to do the same and perhaps we can flood the market (so to speak) with some interesting Linux/FOSS/BSD content this month! You can do it!

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

New Music Server



Some of you might remember that I used to run GnuMP3d as my home music server of choice. While this is still a great choice, after my recent new server install, I had an interesting choice to make.

The newest versions of GnuMP3d work fantastically like always, but they do not provide for any measure of security at all. You can use the music library as long as you can get to it. Now I know I can employ measures like iptables and hosts.deny, etc., but I decided I would still feel much more secure if I just ran my music server on a different VM that was only accessible from my intranet. I also did a little performance testing and found that GnuMP3d hogged up a lot of my system resources when it was starting up as well. All these factors and more sent me on a quest to once again look into some different streaming music servers.

There are really not very many of these available now that are current and full featured. There are, in fact, 4 that are hands down above the rest. The first was GnuMP3d, which, still, is a great piece of software. I just wanted something different for a while. I looked into Jinzora, which seemed to me to be completely overcomplicated and quite broken when not importing music collections via mp3 tags (stay away from this one). The one I almost settled on was Andromeda, a non-free software program, which works absolutely perfectly for what I wanted. For a measly $20 you can purchase the full version and I was *this* close to doing so until I decided I would give kPlaylist a spin.

kPlaylist is a LAMP app that is actually very easy and quick to get going, looks and works great and it’s strict OSS as well. It even provides the little bit of security I need to feel better about running it in my main server VM 🙂

If you are looking around for a nice way to access your personal music collection, you could surely do worse than kPlaylist. Do yourself a favor and hit the website and check it out today!

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Php Twitter Identica Laconica

A while back I wrote a little bash script called IdentiBash, which, oddly enough, let me post and read to/from my lacomica account via the bash command line. Well, as of late I decided that that script really didn’t work very well with the xml/rss style feeds. It needed updating. Instead of turning to bash again it occurred to me that php5 has simplexml built in now. Well, that makes things really easy! In just a few minutes I cranked out a command line php script that will let me grab posts from Twitter, Identica, and Laconica servers. It works like a top too. The script is not complete yet as I am not sure quite yet what else I really want it to do and how I want it to handle those things, but it is a great start to any such project and I thought I would share. Especially for those people still using IdentiBash, this reader works much better and it’s really easy to expand upon if you are at all familiar with php. So here you have it, “”..

By the way, if you do anything wonderful with it, let me know, I’d like to see!

$rss = simplexml_load_file("/tmp/tweet.tmp");
foreach ($rss->channel->item as $item)
echo "---------------------------------\n";
echo $item->pubDate."\n";
echo $item->title."\n";

You’ll notice 2 puburl lines in there. The first is how I access my account in laconica/identica and the second is for twitter. They are given as examples and you’ll have to replace with your own urls. Simply put your info on the appropriate spots, make it executable and run it from the command line.

Friday, August 14th, 2009