Sunday, July 6, 2014

NSA: Linux Journal is an "extremist forum" and its readers get flagged for extra surveillance

This is just unbelievable. The people within the NSA are nuts.

One of the biggest questions these new revelations raise is why. Up until this point, I would imagine most Linux Journal readers had considered the NSA revelations as troubling but figured the NSA would never be interested in them personally. Now we know that just visiting this site makes you a target. While we may never know for sure what it is about Linux Journal in particular, the Boing Boing article speculates that it might be to separate out people on the Internet who know how to be private from those who don't so it can capture communications from everyone with privacy know-how. If that's true, it seems to go much further to target anyone with Linux know-how.

Linux Journal

Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's funny, I started this blog because I bought a new computer a few years back and wanted to share my results with regards to installing Linux on it.

Since I installed Ubuntu 12.04 I have had almost no issue. So I've not posted in a long time. Nothing to figure out means nothing to share.

My laptop is slowing coming to it's end of life.  Expect more from this blog soon. I'll have something to write about once I figure out which laptop to get :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

8 Linux terminal tricks

Over at the How-To-Geek, they have a great set of terminal tricks to help new users work with the terminal easier:

There’s more to using the Linux terminal than just typing commands into it. Learn these basic tricks and you’ll be well on your way to mastering the Bash shell, used by default on most Linux distributions.
This one’s for the less experienced users – I’m sure that many of you advanced users out there already know all these tricks. Still, take a look – maybe there’s something you missed along the way.

Tab Completion

Tab completion is an essential trick. It’s a great time saver and it’s also useful if you’re not sure of a file or command’s exact name.
For example, let’s say you have a file named “really long file name” in the current directory and you want to delete it. You could type the entire file name, but you’d have to escape the space characters properly (in other words, add the \ character before each space) and might make a mistake. If you type rm r and press Tab, Bash will automatically fill the file’s name in for you.
Of course, if you have multiple files in the current directory that begin with the letter r, Bash won’t know which one you want. Let’s say you have another file named “really very long file name” in the current directory. When you hit Tab, Bash will fill in the “really\ “ part, since the files both begin with that. After it does, press Tab again and you’ll see a list of matching file names.

jump to the rest of the article at HTG

Ubuntu 12.04 Tweak and Hack round up

Since switching from 11.04 to 12.04 (it's really that good that I would switch during beta) I've been applying numerous tweaks which make the experience better for me.

Allow Minimize/Maximize in Unity

A big annoyance of unity is the inability to minimize an application when clicking on the icon in the Unity Panel. This patch will allow you to do it. One thing to be aware of is that if there is an Unity update, you'll likely have to reapply the patch as it will be overwritten (at least it was for me).

"The Patch is only available for Ubuntu 12.04 users, and it’s not supported by Ubuntu.
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ojno/unity-minimize-on-click
  • sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
After installing you will need to log out and back in for the change to become effective."
For the full article, jump to OMG!Ubuntu

Switch Off the Global Menu

This has been a major annoyance for me. If I wanted a 'global menu' I'de buy a Mac.

In the next release of Ubuntu (12.10) this will be optional. In the meantime you can just uninstall it:
sudo apt-get remove indicator-appmenu

Add Virtualbox PPA for Ubuntu 12.04

Webupd8 posted how to install the latest 12.04 virtualbox PPA (currently it's not on their site).

From Webupd8

To add the VirtualBox repository (which now supports Ubuntu 12.04 too) and install the latest VirtualBox 4.1.12 in Ubuntu, use the commands below:
echo "deb $(lsb_release -sc) contrib" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/virtualbox.list
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install virtualbox-4.1

Monday, April 2, 2012

Acer TimelineX Configuration on Ubuntu 12.04

Since I've recently upgraded from 11.04 to 12.04 I thought it would be good to share my experience with other Acer TimelineX 3820tg owners. 

Fixes from the kernel: 
  • All of the 'atom bios' video issues appear to be gone
  • You'll no longer need to tweak the trackpad
Screen Brightness Configuration
Fix the screen brightness - unless you apply this, you will not be able to increase/decrease brightness on this computer (thus sucking battery life):
  • As root navigate to (you can do this by entering "gksu nautilus") and edit : /etc/default/grub
  • Change the line GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="" to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="acpi_osi=Linux"
  • save the file
  • and then (in a terminal): sudo update-grub
  • reboot 
Radeon blacklisting
First, open /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf as root (I always use "gksu nautilus" to open the file manager as root and then navigate there). Once you have opened it with a text editor add the following line add the end:
blacklist radeon
Once you have done that, save the file and close the text editor. When you reboot, the system will no longer try to use the radeon card.

Note: If you plan on using the Radeon card, don't perform the blacklist step. 

Using Switcheroo
You'll need to do this in order to tell your system to use the Intel chipset instead of the radeon (blacklisting is not enough).
Now open /etc/rc.local (still as root) and add the following lines BEFORE 'exit 0'

modprobe radeon
echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch
Again, save the file. Now the radeon module will be re-loaded, vgaswitcheroo will be reenabled and the ATI card will be turned off. Cooler, quieter and better battery life.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 and my conversion to Unity

I've been a pretty strong opponent of the Unity interface since it officially replaced the Gnome desktop in 11.04.  My dislike of Unity had nothing to do with the supposed issue of Ubuntu abandoning Gnome.  

No, my issue was simple -- I did not want to have a mobile experience on the desktop.  I especially did not want a half baked mobile experience shoehorned into a desktop environment, and for me, Unity was such an environment. 

Unity sparked a huge debate in the GNU/Linux community. Many began questioning the motives behind Canonical  (the sponsor of Ubuntu). Their relationship with the community became questionable -- and the tech media had some sensational stories they could produce to increase their ad clicks.  One could argue that the subject of Unity re-started the debate of the 'Death of the Linux desktop".  

Mark Shuttleworth, more than once, pissed me off with some of his statements. The worst was the statement that users who do not contribute code to Ubuntu have no stake in the future of Ubuntu - I'm paraphrasing here, but I got the message.  As a true 'user' of Ubuntu (I'm not  developer in any way, shape or form), I was very much offended. 

I, like many others, began searching for alternatives to Ubuntu. I tried, Mint (including the Debian build), Arch, Slackware, Fedora and SuSE. 

In the end, I stuck with my Ubuntu 11.04 desktop using Classic Gnome desktop. Why? Because, in my opinion:
  • It's still the best end user distribution
  • it's still got an excellent community
  • There are more pre-packaged binaries than the other distributions (either official or private ppa).
  • I could continue to use another window manager
Over the past week, Ubuntu 12.04 beta 2 was released. I decided to try it out, as my Natty desktop was starting to feel old. So I installed it onto an external USB HDD and gave it a spin. 

I wrote about my impression on the webupd8 blog:
I've been very vocal in the past with regards to Unity. It now looks like I will have to eat my own words. Without a doubt, this is the best release of Ubuntu I have seen -- even with Unity -- and it's just a beta!  
I finally retired my Natty machine last night and upgraded to Beta 2. It has far fewer bugs (loads of things fixed in the 3.2 kernel), the fonts look far better, I don't keep losing my panel settings and best of all, I can configure quite a bit of the Unity functionality. 
Mind you I still hate the buttons to the left but the advantages of this release far outweigh the annoyance. 
It's nice to be excited about an Ubuntu release again :)
So, after a year of complaining about Unity, I now find myself loving it. As 12.04 is an LTS, It won't be long before some provides a hack for the few remaining annoyances.

I'll be writing more soon about configuring the TimelineX 3820tg for 12.04. Overall, it's much better supported now (with the exception of switchable graphics). 

P.S. I just realized it's April 1st. The post is not a joke, Ubuntu 12.04 is really that good. :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How To Resolve Dependencies While Compiling Software on Ubuntu

HTG has a great tutorial for resolving dependencies with apt. Here's a clip:

The hardest part of compiling software on Linux is locating its dependencies and installing them. Ubuntu has apt commands that automatically detect, locate and install dependencies, doing the hard work for you.
We recently covered the basics of compiling software from source on Ubuntu, so check out our original article if you’re just getting started.


Auto-apt watches and waits when you run the ./configure command through it. When ./configure tries to access a file that doesn’t exist, auto-apt puts the ./configure process on hold, installs the appropriate package and lets the ./configure process continue.
First, install auto-apt with the following command:
sudo apt-get install auto-apt

Read the rest at HTG.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Command Line Quickie: see processes running using 'top'

In Linux, if you need to quickly see what processes are running, you have numerous options. If you prefer the gui (and are using Gnome) you could always run System Monitor. The fastest way however is using the command line.

The 'top' command is part of the procps application installed by default in most desktop linux systems.

It's very useful when you want to quickly check which processes are running in the background. 

Open a terminal (if you're using guake just click f12) and type:
That was easy, right?

The command above will continue to refresh unless you stop it (ctrl-c). If you don't want to refresh behavior you can use:
top -n 1

This will tell top to refresh only once.

Learn more about the top command here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Humble Indie Bundle 4 now available

OK Linux gamers, not's it time for another Humble Bundle. You have 14 days to choose your price :)

Head over now...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

WebOS will be open sourced

For those of us who were Palm fans way back when there was no Android or iPhone, you may be interested to know that WebOS will be made open source.

WebOS is a Linux based mobile OS that was developed by Palm, poorly marketed, sold to HP and then poorly marketed again before they gave up.

Well, you’ve been waiting for the big webOS announcement, and today we’ve made it. This morning, HP announced that webOS will be going open source with the resources of HP behind it. The Developer Relations team is very excited by this announcement and what it means for the future of webOS, and for you, our developer community.
With this announcement, Meg Whitman has reiterated HP’s commitment to webOS as a cloud-connected, scalable platform, while opening up new possibilities for platform expansion and improvement. She has also committed HP to a course of continued improvement to webOS, which means we’re in it for the long haul. Finally, we are committed to good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation of the platform.
Here in Developer Relations, we have the deepest appreciation for you, our developer community. You have helped to bring this announcement about through your passion and commitment, through periods of both promise and uncertainty.
We are committed to you as not only contributors to our app ecosystem, but now to webOS itself. We recognize that there’s a larger open source community of which we will now be a part, and are excited by the future now open to us.
We also know you’ll have a lot of questions, and we don’t have all the answers right now. We will keep you up-to-date on the latest developments, both in the forums and here on the developer blog.
We hope you’ll join us for the next leg of this journey!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Occupy Linux: Ubuntu Unity and making a Linux for more than the 1%

ClarifyLinux  Note: Even though I was pretty pissed off with Canonical for the Unity crap, I still support them. I've calmed down a bit and have even tried to use Unity as well as Gnome Shell. I'll stick with my Natty install for now until 12.04, but I will still stay with Ubuntu. 

Anyway... I liked this article. He's right... Canonical is trying to get the 99%.

The most recent release of Ubuntu Linux, Ubuntu 11.10, included a big change — a shift from the standard GNOME desktop environment to a new one, called Unity. (If you’re not familiar with it, you can take it for a test drive here without needing to download or install anything.)
I had my reservations about Unity, but after using it for a while I can report that I’ve been pleasantly surprised; it’s easy to use and really does make some common tasks easier.
If you listen to some corners of the Linux community, though, you’d think that Unity was the worst thing since Nickelback. Here’s a representative sample, helpfully titled “Why Ubuntu 11.10 fills me with rage” so you know immediately that it’s Serious Business:
Look, I’ve been using Unity for the last six months, which is almost as long as I have been using Mac OS X, and I’m still completely disoriented.
I understand fully what Canonical is trying to do with the user interface, which is to make it palatable to Joe Average End User. I dig that, really. But there’s no way to really customize your desktop and make it optimized for the way you work.
With all due respect to Jason Perlow, the guy who wrote that piece for ZDNet: no, you don’t get what Canonical is trying to do.

read more at the source:

Simple Fixes: Virtualbox heavy Disk and CPU usage

As I have mentioned before, I keep my /home folder on a separate partition. After many upgrades (and recently some downgrades) of Linux I've had serious issues with getting virtualbox to run properly. 

The Symptom: 
Whenever I started Virtualbox, the HDD activity was so high, that it took about 5 minutes to start the vm. No other application could be used at that time (on the host OS) as the whole system became extremely sluggish - even flipping to a console (ctrl-alt-f1) took about a minute or two. 

Where are you VMs? 
The first thing you need to do is find out where you VMs are. If you are not sure, open up the virtualbox application and naviagate to 'File>Virtual Media Manager'.
This will open a window listing all of the installed VMs. 

Select one of the VM's and you willl see at the bottom of the screen where it is. Make sure it's not in the '.Virtalbox' folder. If your VM's are in this folder, move them somewhere else.  In my case, they are located in in a folder called "Virtualbox VMs" in my home directory. 

The Fix:
  • First make sure you don't have any VMs running!
  • Navigate to your home folder
  • Make sure your file manager is configured to show hidden files (in nautilus just use ctrl-h on you keyboard)
  • find the .Virtualbox folder
  • Delete the folder
  • Run virtualbox - you will now notice your VMs are no longer visible 
  • Click the 'Machine>Add' from the menu and navigate to your VMs. Add each of them. 
  • Done. Now start Virtualbox and things should run normally now :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Linux Gaming: Your mileage may vary

NOTE: Yet another transferred article from my dead tumblr blog

Clarify Ubuntu Linux aims to be a reliable source of information for it’s readers. In order to do that, CU provides it’s users with a balanced view of the Ubuntu (and Linux in General) experience. All to often on Linux blogs, the writers seem to be completely out of touch with the end user experience. They will tell you that you can do anything in Linux that you can do on Windows or Mac - in theory this is true but in reality it doesn’t always hold up.

Gaming in Linux can sometimes be VERY frustrating as there is a lack of support on many commercial games. This is not an issue with Linux but by the fact that developers are not providing Linux versions. For those developers who actually do port their games to Linux they face an extremely difficult supporting Linux users simply because their are so many variations of Linux (Ubuntu, Redhat, Arch, Debian, etc, etc, Ad Nauseam) and so many different combinations of hardware — a positive of point Linux, the fact that it can be run on all types of hardware, is a disadvantage on this point.

This is further complicated by the fact that many of the video drivers, though often working well out of box, are not always supporting the full capabilities of the hardware (my ATI HD 5650 is a perfect example). This is because many of the drivers were written by the Linux community who don’t have the full hardware documentation needed in order to take full advantage of the video cards. Again, this is not an issue with Linux itself (or the developers for that matter).

Just remember, until recently, even Apple didn’t have a lot of gaming support. We Linux users need to increase in numbers — which is why I fully support Canonicals goal of on-boarding 200 million new users.

If you are a heavy gamer on Windows and thinking about moving to Linux, you should take all I’ve just said into consideration before making the leap.
Having said that, I would like to talk a little bit about gaming on Linux.

There are many games available in Ubuntu. Many of these games have been developed for free by the Linux community as well as some commercial games (the Quake series comes to mind first).

The first place you will want to look for games (once you have installed Ubuntu of course) is Ubuntu Software Center which can be found in the main menu (or in the Unity side bar if you are using the latest version of Ubuntu). Simply click on the games link (see image below) to get the listings.

At the time of writing this there are 516 free games in the Ubuntu Software Center. The games range from the simple to 3D First person shooters.

You can also find a few commercial games in the Ubuntu Software Center by going into the “For Purchase” section located to the left navigation pane. World of Goo is there for example.

Online Games

Another option for Linux gamers is the increasingly complex gaming experience one can get through the web browser. As “the cloud” slowly takes over every aspect of our lives, more nad more games are moving to the cloud. Two good examples of this are:

  • Quake Live - This is pretty amazing considering you are running it through a browser. It currently only supports Firefox 3.6 on Linux but you can download the modified version of the plugin here (which just version bumps the extension) to make it work flawlessly on firefox 4. UPDATE: Tested and works on Firefox 8
  • Angry Birds - I don’t need to bother telling you what this is. You know. It requires the chrome (or Chromium) browser.

There *are* other options for gaming in Linux (using Wine, crossover or emulators for example) but I intentionally did not cover them as I do not think they are suitable for end users. 

Since I wrote this, Desura (an Alternative to Steam) now offers a Linux client and provides many Linux games

You may also want to try humble bundle - they offer many games which you decide how much you will pay for. All of their games run ob Linux (as well as Windows and Mac)

If you want more information on Linux gaming, have a look at the following links. 

Linux Gaming Sites:

terminal basics: installing 'Guake' via terminal

The other day I mentioned an application called Guake. I thought I would share this app with you as it’s very useful for users just getting used to the terminal.

First - What is a terminal?
from the Ubuntu Manual:
Most operating systems, including Ubuntu, have two types of user interfaces.
The first is a graphical user interface (GUI). This is the desktop, windows, menus, and toolbars that you click to get things done. The second, and much older, type of interface is the command-line interface (CLI).
The terminal is Ubuntu’s command-line interface. It is a method of controlling some aspects of Ubuntu using only commands that you type on the keyboard.
In Windows, the program “cmd.exe” will provide the user with command Line Interface:
Why would I want to use the terminal?
For the average Ubuntu user, most day-to-day activities can be completed without ever needing to open the terminal. However, the terminal is a powerful and invaluable tool that can be used to perform many useful tasks. For example:
‣ Troubleshooting any difficulties that may arise when using Ubuntu some-
times requires you to use the terminal.
‣ A command-line interface is sometimes a faster way to accomplish a task.
For example, it is often easier to perform operations on many files at once using the terminal.
‣ Learning the command-line interface is the first step towards more advanced troubleshooting, system administration, and software development skills. If you are interested in becoming a developer or an advanced Ubuntu user, knowledge of the command-line will be essential.
For me, the most frequent reason for using the terminal is when I want to try out a new program that I found (on great blogs like WebUpd8). Also, I sometimes need to enter a command in order to resolve an issue I have (usually found through the Ubuntu forums). In either case you might see a command like this which you will need to enter into a terminal:

Guake - Any easy to use terminal

Guake is a terminal that’s always available when you need it. By clicking on the “F12” key on your keyboard the terminal automatically drops down from the top of your screen like a HUD. You can also click on the indicator icon in the system tray if you prefer.

To install Guake open a terminal (this is your first test :) by going to the main menu (in Ubuntu Classic) and selecting “Accessories>Terminal”. and then cut & past this command:

sudo apt-get install guake
You will be asked to enter the Administrator password (which I hope you remembered from when you installed Ubuntu). End the password and press enter.

This does require you to be connected to the internet so make sure your connection is up.

If you prefer not using the CLI just yet but still want to install Guake, you can do it the other way by going into the Ubuntu Software Center and searching for the application ‘Guake”. From there just click on install and follow any instructions.

For more info on the terminal (with a simple example you can follow) and Ubuntu in general, please check out the Ubuntu Manual.


Assuming your main filesystems are ext4 …
enter this command in a terminal  to see your drive space: df -h -t ext4 --total

$ df -h -t ext4 --total
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1             8.5G  5.8G  2.2G  73% /
/dev/sdb1             187G   29G  149G  17% /home
total                 196G   35G  152G  19%

Enable Google Cloud Print in Linux with Chrome flags

Repost: this if from the Tumblr account, just transferring some of my old posts.

UPDATE: This is no longer needed starting from Chrome version 16 on. Cloud printing is now a standard feature. Still no support for chromium though :(

If you are using Google chrome Beta or Developer builds (possibly stable but I haven't checked) you can enable Google cloud print for printing Google Docs.
To do this simply enter "About:flags" in the URL bar and click enter.  Scroll down and enable both the "Print Preview" and "Google Cloud Print". At the bottom of the page you will save the settings.

NOTE: This will not work on Chromium because the is closed source and not packaged with chromium.  You can try to extract it from the chrome archive and install it manually if you like -- it didn't work for me. 

Now, in a document, when you click on the print button

You will be shown a print preview of the document

Notice the "destination" drop-down menu. If you have already set-up Google cloud printing you should have "cloud printers" as a destination. 
Now, just select the right one and happy printing :)
UPDATE: I just realized, with both flags enabled, it allows cloud printing from *any* print job from the browser (not just from Docs). Cool :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shift Nautilus Back And Forward Buttons To Left In Ubuntu have posted a nice tweak on moving the back/forward button on the newest versions of nautilus delivered in Ubuntu.

to help you understand - here are the before and after screens:

To get started, enable the “Source code” repository by pressing the Super (Windows) key and typing “Source”. Now, open “Software Sources”, check the box before “Source code” and click close. Once done, enter the following commands in Terminal:
mkdir ~/Desktop/nautilus-mod

cd ~/Desktop/nautilus-mod

sudo apt-get update

apt-get source nautilus

sudo apt-get build-dep nautilus

cd ~/Desktop/nautilus-mod/nautilus-3*

gedit src/nautilus-toolbar.c
Scroll down to line 132, or do a “find” for “gtk_toolbar_insert (GTK_TOOLBAR (self->priv->toolbar), item, 0)“, and change the value “0″ to a “2″. This means that you will have to change the original line

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fix touchpad scrolling on Acer 3820tg with patched driver

After reinstalling Natty (botched attempt at moving to Oneiric Unity/Gnome3) I was reconfiguring my system. while looking up the imps mouse fix I found a post on the Ubuntu forums which referred to a synaptic bug with a patched driver.

With the patched driver the touchpad indicator finally works on my TimelineX 3820tg! Yippeee!

Here's the bug:

Here's the link to the driver:

An updated driver can be found here:
This version appears to be the one that will be added to the 3.3 Linux Kernel.

Official Gnome Extensions site now live

Well we finally have a place to go for gnome extensions

For me, it's useless. After a week of struggling to use Gnome Shell I gave up.  It's simply not fit for the business desktop.  Just try running Virtualbox with Dual Screens and you'll see what I mean. Task oriented computing is for mobile phones -- not the desktop.