Archive for the ‘F/OSS’ Category

FreeLinuxBox.Org Launches!



Free Linux Box is a website that tries to connect individuals who want to give away fully functional computers running open source software to individuals who need a computer, free of cost.

The website showcases computers that are in need of homes. In order to qualify for listing the computer must fit the following qualifications:

1. An open source operating system must be installed such as Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, or FreeDOS.
2. No funds other than reasonable shipping costs may be paid by either the donor or the recipient. Free Linux Box does not fund the shipping. This detail will be worked out directly between the donor and the recipient. If the donor does not want to ship, the donor should state in the post that the computer is for pickup only.
3. The computer must be functional and complete. Computers without monitors, keyboards, mice, or power cables are acceptable if, and only if, they take standard monitors, keyboards, mice and power cables.
4. It is up to the donor as to who is the lucky recipient. Free Linux Box is not part of this decision.
5. The root password will be given to the recipient when the computer is received. It is up to the donor to make sure there is no personal data left on the system.
6. When the computer is no longer available, it is the donors responsibility to remove the listing.
7. If the computer is still homeless after 90 days the listing will be removed.

Go to FreeLinuxBox.Org today to register and list YOUR free Linux box and help others that are less fortunate than yourself.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

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

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

RPM help

OK, I must be doing something wrong here, so if you are familiar with building rpms and can help me out, please do!

I am trying to build an rpm which has (for the sake of discussion) a script file in it that I want to install. The first thing I did was to install the rpm-build package so I had the correct tools. Afterwards I made an rpm directory to contain my rpm build trials, and under that dir, other dirs of BUILD, RPMS, SOURCES, SPECS and SRPMS to house my code, etc., as required by the “rpmbuild” program.

I go to ~/rpm/SOURCES and make a dir myscript-1 and in that dir I place my script “myscript”. Back in ~/rpm/SOURCES I create the requisite tar file “tar czvf myfile-1.tar.gz myfile-1”.

Now, I flip over to ~/rpm/SPECS to create the spec file myscript.spec, which looks like so:

Summary: Lincs Myscript
Name: myscript
Version: 1
Release: 1
Source0: myscript-1.tar.gz
License: GPL
Group: LINC
This script does things.
%setup -q
install -m 0755 myscript /usr/local/bin/myscript
echo "HA, yur dun!"

Now I can go to ~/rpm and actually create the rpm by doing:
sudo rpmbuild -ba –target noarch SPECS/myscript.spec
and this will indeed make an installable rpm file of myscript-1-1.noarch.rpm in the ~/rpm/RPMS/noarch/ directory. All this is fine and what I want EXCEPT:

While building the rpm, the process seems to BUILD/INSTALL everything on the local system as well. This means that after the build, I end up with an /usr/local/bin/myscript even though the package has not been installed on my system. Now for my purposes now, it’s not that big of a deal, however, I am sure there are times that I will NOT want to have the package I am building installed on the same machine. There just has to be a way around this that I cannot find so far and it’s annoying me to no end. HELP! 🙂

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009


I mentioned previously that I was thinking of adding some new functionality to my BashPodder pages. I wanted something to help me keep track of information and new user contrib scripts there instead of me manually taking care of it all. The best solution I could think of was a forum. Then, I got thinking that I might just e able to use that forum to help me manage multiple software projects. A good idea was forming when Dann started to demand that I set everything up that way. Enough procrastination, he insisted. He wanted to jump right in and be the first to post HIS BashPodder modifications. I couldn’t go fast enough. If you know Dann like I know Dann, you realize you just don’t tell him no or “bad things may happen”.

I conceded and set everything up for Dann. The results can be found at

Seriously though, I set up a nice forum for a few projects that I work on regularly. You will be able to find information there for BashPodder, OSM, Rackspace and TivoGrab as well as others. Please wander over there and register if you use any of those projects. It will be a lot easier to keep things straight this way, not to mention being able to easily share information with not only me, but eachother as well.

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Catch up

I know I haven’t posted in a while again. It’s getting to be one of those things where I have so much going on I don’t know where to start 🙂

I have been working on my RackSpace application a bit. Well, enough to get it registered on Sourceforge. Not sure what else to do with it there yet as it’s my first time on Sourceforge with anything and I haven’t had a lot of time to investigate.

I have been playing with my New Ferrets. Cute little fuzzies, they are. Puff is absolutely full of energy all the time. I also think he *may* be deaf – or at least hard of hearing. Teddy is very lovie, however, he has taken to play biting your arm if you hold him long enough. He thinks it’s playing, but he occasionally draws blood. Those fuzzies have darn sharp teeth!

I have been working on my OpenServerMon program a bit lately. Again, this is more of a monitoring framework that takes advantage of the telnet command for tcp port checks and takes advantage of the great bash scripting language. It’s amazing what you can do with a few bash modules! I am so lucky to be able to work on this at work as well. That just means that I will actually have something more substantial (and tested/vetted) to offer here. It’s also monitoring my personal servers just fine so far.

Finally got all my hardware here at the homestead running that way it should. I recently replaced both my router and then my cable modem. Installed Ubuntu Intrepid on my wife’s laptop as she really needed a clean install. Just how *do* people get their systems crudded up like that? Anyhow, it looks like it runs really nice and I would like to do that same on my main systems, but no time yet.

I wrote some backup scripts that will help me get my backups automated. Of course I didn’t add them into cron yet because I am stupid and a glutton for punishment, but they are written and work. Here’s your friendly reminder to do YOUR backups before you lose all your important stuff like I will.

Had to run to Staples tooday to buy a labeler. $20, ya can’t beat it and it seems to do the job, although I haven’t had a lot of time to play with it yet. While I was there I picked up a Cyber Acoustics USB headset/microphone. I picked it up hoping that there would be some info somewhere that let me know if it worked with Linux. There wasn’t. I took the dive anyhow and opened it up to test and it appears to work just fine. Of course I thought this would be a great thing for the TechShow since everybody pisses about our audio, and mine always seems to be the worst. Of course, there were immediate complaints about how crappy I sounded while I was on the show using the headset, however, I *think* I may have that nailed down to the codec I was using by default. No time to test again tonight so it’ll have to be next time.

Lastly (for right now anyhow) I have been working on my timelogger program. It’s been a long time since I have touched it, but I have been using it literally for over a year every day. Basically it’s a project/time tracker program written, of course, in bash. I am such a command line junkie. It also uses sqlite, which is a nice little DB that I think I will wrap into some logging on the OpenServerMon. And that’s how I tie all this together.

OH, and I also have a book or two from my friends at APRESS to review. Stay tuned for that too!

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

New Modem

I wrote a little bit ago about my writing a little service monitor script, OpenServerMon, yes, I know the name has changed already. Well, the reason I wrote the script initially is I wanted to be notified when my home internet service went down. Wouldn’t you know it, it worked…. A LOT!

Apparently, I put this thing into place right at the right time because my cable modem started to go on the fritz. My service shut off sometimes several times a day, and each time I was paged. Obviously, this means my script works great, however, I became quickly annoyed about my crappy cable modem, and it was only a year and half old. Well, tonight after resetting it twice, I finally hit Walmart, where I bought a nice Linksys cable modem.

To my amazement, this is the very first time I called Comcast and dealt with someone who wasn’t a complete idiot. I got a nice fellow in the phone who simply added my mac address and I was up and running. Now hopefully this will be the end to my home internet problems, and the annoying 3am pages about my service going down too!

Now as far as the OpenServerMon, I promise, I will be putting that up to share as well soon 🙂 I would really like to see someone else use/test it before I make it available to the masses though (if you want to beta for me, shoot me an email).

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

TivoGrab Howto:

For those of you who are following the whole TivoGrab script, a friend, Russ Wenner, wrote a nice howto for the program:

A Step-by-Step How-To on using the “TivoGrab” PHP script by Linc Fessenden (by Russ Wenner 8/14/08)

1. A few things you will need before you begin:
a. You will need to make sure your TiVo is “Network Enabled”.
b. You will need to know the IP address of your TiVo.
c. You will need to know the MAK (Media Access Key) for your TiVo.
d. You will need PHP v5.2.x or newer on your Linux box. It may work with an older version but this is recommend by the author of TivoGrab.
e. You will need ‘curl’ installed on your Linux box.
f. Depending on how many shows you download from your TiVo to your PC you may need a fair amount of free space on you hard disk or /home partition. Just make sure you have several free GB’s first.

2. Download TivoGrab from

3. Move tivograb.tgz to a location you want to store you converted files. I recommend you make a directory somewhere under /home.

4. Extract tivograb.tgz (Most GUI versions of Linux allow you to right click on the file and choose ‘Extract’)

5. Next, using a text editor open tivograb.php

6. At the top of tivograb.php inside the empty quotes ” ” you will need to insert the IP address and MAK for your Tivo.

// The IP address of your web enabled Tivo
// The MAK of your Tivo

7. Now, save the changes to tivograb.php.

8. Open a terminal window and navigate to the location you have the extracted files and type ‘php tivograb.php’

9. This will automatically create some additional files in the directory

10. Using a text editor open the file ‘’ and remove the shows you DO NOT want convert for use on your Tablet. You do this by high light everything between the #———————————————————— and hit the delete key.

11. Next you will need to make the file executable using the following command. At your terminal prompt type the following chmod +x (In most GUI Linux distros you can right click on the file and choose Properties>Permissions>check “execute file as a program”)

12. Note: This next part can take a long time (i.e. over night) depending on the speed of your network, CPU, and the number of shows you are downloading from your TiVo. You now need execute to download the shows from the Tivo. At the prompt type the following command (don’t miss the beginning dot)

13. You may now copy completed .avi files to you Nokia Internet Tablet

14. Last step…Enjoy!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. Especially since I, like most OSS coders suffer from the condition known as Bad Documentationitis. This was a great idea on his part and I wish more people would take his queue and offer to do some documentation (or even revise/update what is already existing) for their favorite OSS project!

Since we’re on the subject and I have had, I guess, at least a few people who have contacted me saying they are running/using this script (and please let me know if you are), I think I ought to make a legitimate project out of it with a webpage, etc. The problem is, I just don’t dig the name, not to mention I am concerned about using “tivo” in the name due to this litigious society we live in. So, please do me the favor of sending me name suggestions, and if you have any ideas about logos, etc., too, that would be extra fantastic!

Saturday, August 16th, 2008