Update to my linux on the desktop plan …

Well Ubuntu 7.04 ran great for me right up until the day before it was released. There was an update to NetworkManager the day before the final release and it hammered my networking. After installing the update I lost both my wired and wireless networking. A couple of days after the final release I downloaded the final release ISO and installed it. Still no networking on my notebook. That was the end of Linux on my notebook. Without networking computers are not very useful. It looks like I will be running Windows on my notebook for awhile. I have not decided when I will download a new distro and give Linux another try.

At work I have been trying to replace some Windows boxes with Linux without much luck. We have too many custom applications that I have not been able to get running under Linux. Something that I have been able to replace with good success has been servers. I contacted RedHat about getting an evaluation copy of their Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 to test for replacing some file and print servers. I was stunned after filling out their online form and getting an email telling me that someone would contact me within the next five business days about the evaluation. That was it, no link to download an ISO or anything. It ended up being three weeks before someone contacted me to see if I was still interested in evaluating Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. By that point I had decided to go with Ubuntu 6.06 LTS. I do not know how Red Hat plans to grow things if it takes that long to get evaluation copies of their software.

One of the bad things as far as Linux is concerned is that is nice for everything on my notebook to just work. There are some things that I have never been able to get working under Ubuntu or SuSE. I guess that covers most of what has going on in this area.

Feisty Fawn Update …

Well as I continue to use Feisty I am running into the standard problems with using beta software. The day after my last post there was an update to killed Beryl. It took about four days before there was an update that fixed the problem with Beryl, so all is good again in the 3D desktop world. There where 119 updates today, and one of them is a rather exciting update. I did not have Compiz installed before the update, but it was installed with the update along with the desktop-effects package that is included with SLED 10. It look like Compiz may be installed with Feisty after all in the finally release. Mark Shuttleworth posted in a recent blog posting that nether Compiz or Beryl where ready to be included in the final release. I don’t know what this means to the debate about including proprietary video drivers by default in the next release, but if it make things work better and easier to setup, than I am all for it.

General Update …

Well it has been a little too long since my last post, so here is a quick update. I have been testing SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop for the last couple of weeks on my work notebook. We are trying to move some of our Windows desktops to Linux to reduce cost. We are already using NetWare so we do have support from Novell. The problem is, I am a Linux user and I find SLED 10 to be difficult to work with at times. There are still too many hardware issues with SLED that are not there with other Linux distributions. I added a second hard drive to my home notebook to see if SLED would work with that hardware better, but still had problems with sound cards and the battery meter. These things have just work for the last two Ubuntu releases, so it looks like I may go that route at work.

I upgraded my home notebook the Feisty Fawn two weeks ago, and I have two say that I love it. I also installed Beryl and it has worked very good. That project has come a long way since the last time I tried it. I did run into two small problems with Feisty. I could not get VMware Workstation 5.5 to install and every time I tried to install anything with CrossOver Office the install would fail. I upgraded both applications and that seems to have fixed the problems.

Well that is all for now, but there should be something else this week. We have a full dance card this week. We are replacing one server and twenty-eight workstations in three days. That should be fun …

Simple Linux Backup with SCP and TAR

I ran into a problem this week when I tried to pull a file off of a backup and found out that I could not read any of the backup tapes that I had. I was using Dump to create the backups and when I tried to access them with Restore I got the error message that the tape was not a dump tape. I had tested this before I put the server into place, but something has changed in the last two months. I decided to change to a different method of creating backups. I am now going to tar the server and then use scp to move the tar file to a second server that is located off site.

Lets start with setting the machines up so that we can transfer files between the two servers without being prompted for a password. For this posting server1 will be the server that is being backed up and server2 will be the server that we are sending the backup to.

Configure the Client (server1)
Create the client key without a password:
[root@server1 /]# ssh-keygen -t dsa
Generating public/private dsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key [/root/.ssh/id_dsa]:
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
Enter same passphrase again:
Your identification has been saved in /root/.ssh/id_dsa
Your public key has been saved in /root/.ssh/id_dsa.pub
The key fingerprint is 00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:root@server1

Lets take a look at the key:
[root@server1 /]# cd ~/.shh
[root@server1 /]# ls
id_dsa id_dsa.pub known_hosts

Copy the key to the server that we are going to copy the backup to:
[root@server1 /]# scp -r id_dsa.pub root@server1:key-temp.pub

Configure the server (server2)
Lets make a .ssh directory if the directory does not exist:
[root@server2:~#] mkdir .ssh
[root@server2:~#] chmod 700 .ssh
[root@server2:~#] cd .ssh

Add the key for the client to the authorized keys:
[root@server2:~#] cat ~/key-temp.pub >> authorized_keys
[root@server2:~#] rm ~/key-temp.pub

You should now be able to use ssh and scp from serve1 to server2 without being prompted for a password.

From here I had to create the script for creating the tar file of server1 and then copying it to server2. I created a directory called backup to hold my script and the MySQL backups. So on server1 we are going to create the directory and the script:
[root@server1: /#] cd /
[root@server1: /#] mkdir /backup
[root@server1: /#] cd /backup
[root@server1: /#] nano backup.sh

Now the script:

# Define the variables for later use:
BACKUPFILE=backup-$(date +%Y%m%d)
OLDFILE=backup-$(date --date='7 day ago' +%Y%m%d) # We are keeping 7 days of databases dumps.
EXCLUDES="--exclude=/proc --exclude=/lost+found --exclude=/sys --exclude=/media --exclude=$BACKUPFILE.tgz"

# Backup the MySQL Databases:
mysqldump -uroot --opt databasename1 > /backup/databasename1-$BACKUPFILE.sql
mysqldump -uroot --opt databasename2 > /backup/databasename2-$BACKUPFILE.sql

# Create the tar file:

# Upload the tar file:

# Remove the backup file:
rm /backup/databasename1-$OLDFILE.sql
rm /backup/databasename2-$OLDFILE.sql

You should now be able to backup server1 with the command:
[root@server1: /#] sh /backup/backup.sh

Just want to say thanks to David for his demo at the last ECLUG meeting, because it gave me the point to jump off at.

ECLUG Meeting for December

David Desrosiers did a pair of presentations for this months meeting. His first presentation was a short demonstration on Bash hacks and tips. Some of the things that can be done with Bash are:

  • Integer math
  • Scripting, functions, loops
    • Download sequential files remotely
    • Rename local files sequentially
    • Repeat a process ‘n’ times until completed

  • Regular expressions
    • Character classes
      • [:alnum:], [:alpha:], [:blank:], [:digit:], [:lower:] and so on.

    • Globbing

  • I/O redirection
  • vi! (no, seriously)
  • Subshells and restricted shells
  • Aliases and variables

The second presentation was about Firefox and its extensions. So what makes Firefox different?

  • Support for enhanced “Tabbed Browsing”
    • Makes surfing the web faster

  • Advanced Privacy and Annoyance features
    • Pop-up blocking
    • Form and password management
    • Cookie preferences/expiration

  • Faster searching, find things easier
  • Better Bookmarks and History support
  • Does not directly support ActiveX
  • Customizable and extendable, thousands of extensions and themes available
  • Smart Download Manager
  • Standards compliant
  • Faster than other browsers out there
  • Fully Open Source

Why not just use Internet Explorer?

  • Slow, implements many hacks and workarounds to achieve speed, breaks RFC standards
  • Insecure, source of many hijacked Windows machines (thousands of open security issues)
  • No updates in 4+ years (MSIE 7.x has recently been released in betas, not available for all Windows versions as yet), “long in the tooth”
  • No support for PNG images
  • Not standards-compliant, renders HTML horribly, no support for XHTML or CSS2/CSS3

What are “Extensions” and how do I get them?

  • Used to add features not in the core browser. Find something lacking? Add an extension!
  • Used to replace features that you may not like. Changes how you interact with the browser
  • Change the way the browser “looks & feels” to make it easier for you to use it
  • Tools -> Extensions -> Get More Extensions
  • Point your browser to https://addons.mozilla.org/

What extensions are available?

  • Blogging
  • Bookmarks
  • Contacts
  • Developer Tools
    • Greasemonkey – http://www.diveintogreasemonkey.org/
      • Allows you to write scripts that alter the web pages you visit, thousands of “user scripts” to start with

    • Timestamp Converter
      • Context menu option to convert the selected timestamp into a date.

    • Total Validator
      • Perform multiple validations and take screen shots in one go rather than using separate tools.

    • Prefbar
      • Gives the user more control over the pages viewed

    • Tamper Data
      • Use tamperdata to view and modify HTTP/HTTPS headers and post parameters.

    • Web Developer
      • Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools.

    • RankQuest SEO Toolbar
      • Quick access to more than 30 intuitive SEO tools

    • Google PageRank Status
      • Display the google pagerank in your browser’s status bar.

    • SearchStatus
      • Allows you to see how any and every website is performing (for SEM/SEOs)

    • Live HTTP Headers
      • Detailed information about HTTP request/response headers

    • FireBug
      • All of the tools you need to poke, prod, and monitor your JavaScript, CSS, HTML and Ajax are brought together

    • Leak Monitor
      • Pops up an alert dialog to warn chrome and extension developers about one particular type of leak (errant Javascript objects).

  • Dictionaries
  • Download Tools
    • Torrent Search
      • Search for torrents on the top 29 top torrent search engines

    • FlashGot
      • Download just one link, selected links or all the links of a page together at maximum speed with a single click

    • Linky
      • Open/download/validate links and pictures in tabs or windows.

    • DownThemAll
      • Lets you download all the links or images contained in a webpage directly or via advanced filters

    • Gmail Space
      • This extension allows you to use your Gmail Space (2 GB) for file storage. It acts as a remote machine.

  • Editing and Forms
  • Entertainment
  • Humor
  • Image Browsing
  • Kiosk Browsing
  • Languages
  • Message Reading
  • Miscellaneous
  • Navigation
  • News Reading
  • Privacy and Security
    • Adblock Plus/Adblock Filterset.G
      • Block annoying banner ads and other distracting page elements in a few clicks and automated updates of the latest filter lists

    • SwitchProxy Tool
      • lets you manage and switch between multiple proxy configurations quickly and easily, also acts as an anonymizer

    • CustomizeGoogle
      • Enhance Google search results by adding extra information (like links to Yahoo, Ask.com, MSN etc) and removing unwanted information (like ads and spam).

    • NoScript
      • NoScript allows JavaScript, Java and other executable content only for trusted domains of your choice, e.g. your home-banking web site.

    • DiggiDig
      • Adds a menu button next to the address bar with actions relevant to the current URL, for example to step out to the parent directory, or to visit the equivalent ftp URL, or to visit the site in archive.org and more

  • Search Tools
    • Free eBook Search
      • Search with the highlighted text for your favorite free ebooks in www.freebookzone.com by title, author, description, ISBN and other terms

    • Hyperwords
      • Click on text for searches, references, email, blogging, translation, shopping, maps & more

    • Cache View
      • Displays Google’s Cache, Coral’s Cache, Wayback Machine’s Cache, Dot Cache, and Tech Guru’s Cache of the current tab open via right-click or Tools menu

    • Enhanced History Manager
      • Flexible history management

    • Enhanced Bookmark Search
      • Search by Title, Location, description or keyword including more subsets
        (contains, starts/ends with, is/is not, doesn’t contain)

    • GooglePedia
      • Shows you a relevant Wikipedia article along with your search results. Clicking links in the article will trigger new Google searches; a very useful research tool.

    • Google Advanced Operations Toolbar
      • This toolbar provides a shortcut to some of Google’s advanced search functions

  • Tabbed Browsing
    • Tab Mix Plus
      • Includes such features as duplicating tabs, controlling tab focus, tab clicking options, undo closed tabs and windows, restoring tabs after a crash and more

    • Sage RSS Reader
      • Sage is a lightweight RSS and Atom feed aggregator extension for Mozilla Firefox

    • Sidebar on Right
      • Moves sidebar to the right side of the browser

    • Firefox Showcase
      • Showcase provides a new way to manage your Firefox tabs and windows by showing them as thumbnails in a single window, tab or sidebar

  • Web Annoyances
  • Website Integration
  • XUL Applications
  • Miscellaneous Extensions
    • ForecastFox
      • Get international weather forecasts from AccuWeather.com, and display it in any toolbar or statusbar with this highly customizable extension.

    • Blogger Web Comments
      • Makes it easy to see what bloggers are saying about a web page you’re viewing in Firefox and even write your own blog post about it, all without leaving the page itself.

    • FasterFox
      • Allows you to tweak many network and rendering settings such as simultaneous connections, pipelining, cache, DNS cache, and initial paint delay.

    • Shazou
      • Enables the user with one-ckick to map and geo-locate any website they are currently viewing.

What is in Firefox 2.0 and Beyond

  • Visual changes to the Firefox interface
  • Built-in phishing protection
  • Enhanced search capabilities
  • Improved tabbed browsing
  • Resuming your browsing session
  • Previewing and subscribing to Web feeds
  • Inline spell checking
  • Live Titles
  • Improved Add-ons manager
  • JavaScript 1.7
  • Extended search plugin format
  • Updates to the extension system
  • Client-side session and persistent storage
  • SVG text
  • New Windows installer

All of the information here was taken from a pair of Impress presentations that David had made for the presentation.

The next meeting is scheduled for January 4th at 7PM at NFA. At this meeting Dave is going to be doing a presentation on Bash. The pre-meeting dinner will most likely be at Dillans in Norwich starting at 6PM.

SUSE Linux 10 vs. Ubuntu Edgy 6.10

Well I have spent the last week playing with both SLED 10 and Edgy. Both of these distributions are excellent and will make any user happy, however they are not without faults.

SLED 10: The first thing that you see is WOW, this is an incredible looking distribution. It would seem that Novell has spend lots of time making SLED look great. The default software that is installed is good and for most users it will have everything that you need. I like the way that they have done the start panel, although it took some getting used to. I was not so crazy about the new layout that they used for GNOME. The first thing I did was change GNOME back to the more standard layout. It would have been nice if there had been an option during the install for the new or old layout. The install did not have any problems with me hardware, other than the standard problem with sound capture with my sound card, which is an HDA Intel card that has not worked with anything yet. Novell really needs to remove that bastard of a configuration mess called YAST. This has got to be the worst configuration tools every used. It can do just about anything, if you have the four hours needed to find what you are looking for. The package management tools within YAST are not as good as apt or yum, and should be replaced with one of them as the default package manager.

Ubuntu Edgy: Mark Shuttleworth made a posting in his blog recently that “Pretty” is a feature. Well they are still off the mark with this release on that count. For all the changes and growth that Ubuntu has made in the short amount of time that it has been around, the looks just have not kept up with the rest of the changes. The color scheme is starting to get dated, and the graphics have not changed much. After spending some time on the GNOME art site things started to look much better. The default install includes an excellent selection of software for a distribution that comes on one CD. The time between Edgy and Dapper was rather short so as one would expect there are no major changes. Most of the packages are simple updated from the previous release. There where really only two big changes that I have found. Edgy is now using a generic kernel that replaces the K7 and i686 kernel from past distributions. The other change is with Nautilus, it is not nearly as stable as in past releases. Edgy uses apt for its package management, and after making a few changes to the source list there is pretty much nothing that can not be install quick and easy.

Conclusion: Both of these distribution are excellent and will make the user glad they are not using Windows. It really comes down to personnel preference. I personally have come to prefer Ubuntu because of its excellent package management tools and general ease of use. I started out using SUSE and never did learn to like YAST, although I did come to a basic understanding with it. In the end I would have to give Ubuntu the edge in both community and pace of change.

ECLUG Meeting for November

At last nights LUG meeting I did a presentation on setting up and configuring OpenVPN server. We did a Linux server and then setup both a Linux and Windows client. There were a couple of problems that came up which then let us do some trouble shooting of the server. That was pretty much it for the meeting as the presentation was a little over and hour and a half long.

The next meeting is scheduled for December 6th at 7PM at NFA. At this meeting Dave is going to be doing a presentation on Bash. The pre-meeting dinner will most likely be at Dillans in Norwich starting at 6PM.

ECLUG Meeting for September

Dave Desrosiers had some goods to hand out before starting his presentation on installing Linux on a USB key. We spent about one and a half hours going over some of the distributions designed to run from USB keys and what they can be used for. It was a very good demo, and we found out that my Alienware notebook was totally useless. Any time I tried to boot from a USB key the notebook locks on of all things, scanning for USB devices. The presentation has been posted as a PDF file.

Some of the distributions talked about were:

Also displayed during the meeting where some options for how to encrypt your USB key so that is still accessible from Linux and Windows with TrueCrypt. Dave showed us a USB key that he has for everyday use that is protected with TrueCrypt. When it is used inserted into a Windows box it autoruns to display the login for TrueCrypt, and then displays a menu with any Portable Apps that are installed on the key. Many of the Portable Apps are packaged in a way that allows them to also run under Linux.

Before ending the meeting Devin Duval talked about XGL and compiz eye candy. He is going to be doing a demo of this at the next meeting. I am not sure if he will be covering installation and configuration.

When the floor was opened at the end of the meeting there was some discussion about the Ultimate Boot CD and some of the software packages that could be useful for a public Library. We have someone who is looking a setting up three stations a his public library and they have no real budget for the project, so he is looking at what can be done using Linux.

The next meeting is scheduled for October 4th at 7PM at NFA. The pre-meeting dinner will most likely be at Dillans in Norwich starting at 6PM.

NASlite Boot Disk

I was playing with NASlite the other day and could not create the boot disk by the method explained on their web site. The bootable disk is a 1722k disk. After some digging I found some something that worked. Note: This was only tested on Ubuntu 6.06.

setfdprm /dev/fd0 1722/1440
fdformat -n /dev/fd0
dd if="image name here" of=/dev/fd0

ECLUG Meeting for July

The July Lug meeting was last night. The main topic of discussion for tonight had to do with printers and trouble shooting them. There were a couple of problems that members were having so this was a good time to talk about ways of correcting some of the more common printing problems.

The second part of the meeting was about server configuration, and if you need, or should, install a GUI on a server. I have to say I am on the side that can not see why you would, or should install a GUI on a server. The problem with that is you might as well try to get everyone to say ether Gnome or KDE is the better GUI. Reality is that they both have there own strong points and weak points.

We did start to talk about holding elections, but that was tabled pretty quick. There was a general discussion about updating the bylaws before holding elections.

For anyone interested the ECLUG, Eastern Connecticut Linux User Group, meets the first Wednesday of each month in Norwich, CT at NFA.