Archive for the 'Linux' Category

Snowed In.

March 8, 2008

It would be easy for me to waste the rest of the evening. We are snowed in. I have not seen this much snow since 1978. Our street is impassable. Our driveway was plowed three times earlier but is now also impassable.

For someone like me who enjoys being indoors, this is not entirely bad. I have spent the day reading or watching TV and of course playing with my computers.

The computer experience has not been entirely positive. One of my file servers went down. I think I’m going to keep it down. It was the first one I built and I don’t really need it any more. I am fairly certain that I identified what was causing problems. It doesn’t seem to be playing nicely with the external drive I attached to it. Additionally, my Linux box is acting up. It won’t open a terminal. Instead, it crashes back to the login screen. Useless!

I have been playing with the Python programming language. Every now and then I get the urge to learn something completely new. This is definitely in that category. The book I have is on version 2.4. It relies on software accessories that do not seem to be compatible with the current version of Python which is 2.5.2. It figures. So I am bumbling through the book trying to figure this out as best I can.

In other computer-related activities, I spent some time looking at laptops online today. I know that I am very much used to having the flexibility of a laptop all the time. Because of the snow, I ended up leaving work early and not going back on Friday. This caused me to leave my laptop at work. It is my work laptop anyway but because I currently do not have a personal laptop it’s the only thing I have for portable computing. I want a new personal laptop. I looked at the Macbook Air and a host of other laptops including Dells and Fujitsus. I definitely think I want something light but useful. The Air is beautiful. I wonder how useful it is, though.

Otherwise, I am enjoying a weekend where I do not have a lot of structured and planned activities. It is rare for me. Strangely, I still have no desire to do any gaming. This is really odd.

NAS Nightmare.

December 12, 2007

Having smelled a wiff of success with FreeNAS, I’ve now spent the last few nights trying to build my own RAID 5 Server with Linux.  Linux comes in so many flavors.  I’m playing with Fedora now in my vision quest.  I’ve grown quite familiar with Ubuntu and Fedora is kind of alien.  Yet, in some ways it is more powerful.  The primary way this is true is that Fedora lets you set up a software RAID 5.  Ubuntu does not (at least as far as I can tell).

As of right now, I have the Fedora machine set up with a functioning RAID 5 with three 250 GB drives.  I’ve been stalled for hours, however, in something as simple as getting Samba to work.  Samba is what lets the windows machines talk to the Fedora box.

After many hours of head banging and googling, I think I have it figured out.  It seems Fedora comes with it’s own security software called SELinux.  This software doesn’t let Samba or windbind do anything.  Yet disabling this security did nothing.  The Windows machines still can’t see the Fedora box at all.

The next night…
I changed one setting in samba from workgroup to mshome and the shares were recognized by the other machines, ironically in the workgroup folder.  I thought I had finally had my cheap and easy server.  Nope.  I could see the shares with the other machines, but I could not write to them.  I file server that doesn’t let you see the files or write to the files does not do much good I’m afraid.  I am now down to editing the smb.conf file.  This is not where I want to be.  A friend of mine has suggested that he might have an old RAID card lying around that he can give me.  Certainly, that would make things much easier.  In fact, I could probably go back to FreeNAS at that point.

But I press on, continuing to try new things.  I may go with the RAID card though.  We’ll see.

Linux, Teamspeak and a quest for something better than Skype for podcasting.

December 2, 2007

Well, I spent many hours today messing with Teamspeak.  I think I’m going to blog about this because while I failed miserably, I learned a great deal.  I had heard about Teamspeak from Linux Journal.  This is an outstanding magazine with lots of very technical and very informative articles.  The article in question was actually evaluating using three Linux distros to turn old laptops into servers.  The author reviewed Xubuntu, Vector Linux and Damn Small Linux.  In trying to get Teamspeak to work (as the author claimed he did) I used Ubuntu, Xubuntu and DSM.  This is what took many, many hours.

Ubuntu had a blocked port that I could not circumvent.  Xubuntu kept disagreeing with my graphics card and DSM is just fracking crazy.  So I’m kinda embarrassed to admit that I ended up using the Windows versions of both the terminal and server.  They just worked.  It took me two seconds after spending half the day with Linux.

Now here’s the fail part:  Teamspeak seems to be just for gaming or other applications where audio quality doesn’t have to be any better than a cell phone.  When it’s working, Skype is the best thing going by light years.

But again, it wasn’t a total waste of time.  When you can get things to work in Linux (like Wireshark for example or even Firefox) there is a great deal of satisfaction in that.  My flagship Ubuntu box is quite stable.  I am confident that I could have run Teamspeak on it if I could have figured out how to unblock the port.  Alas, I wasn’t willing to spend any more time on it.  Now I also want to learn more about Apache and Lighttpd and PHP.

I’m still looking for a Skype replacement for podcasting.  I doubt there is one at this point.

After watching the network traffic on my Ubuntu box, I think I may actually have activated Teamspeak as a server when I downloaded it with the Synaptic Package Manager and that’s why the port was blocked. It was already running. The weird thing is that, as far as I can tell, it didn’t show up as a running process in the System Monitor. There does not appear to be a GUI interface for the server software in Linux, however, (there is in Windows) so I’m going to have to do some digging to shut it off.

I was able to get Xubuntu working on the other box by putting an old NVidia graphics card in it that I had lying around.  Sometimes it pays to keep old junk! 😉

My friend Scott had this to say:

Yes, in Ubuntu when you install a package like apache, lighttpd, mysql, or teamspeak it is usually immediately turned on by default. I actually don’t agree with this functionality. I think it should ask you if you want to turn it on immediately or not.

Secondly, you should not use the graphical system monitor. Open a terminal and learn to use the ps command. Most often I use it one of two different ways.

ps aux | lessThis way allows me to see every process with lots of information such as CPU and memory usage. I use this when I’m trying to find a process, but I don’t know which one.

ps -eH | lessThis command shows a hierarchy of processes. This lets me see which processes spawned which other processes. I use this most often to just get a nice overview of what is going on in the system.

For more information, of course you should RTFM.
man ps
The top command is also useful in this way.
man top

He was right.  Teamspeak is running as a server on the Ubuntu box.  On a lark, I logged into it on the Windows box.  It was a lot better than the other machine at the maximum bandwidth.  Now I think I need to do more testing.

Saying goodbye to old computers.

August 28, 2007

I’m giving away my old Pentium 4.  Right now I’m pulling all the data off the 120 gig drive I’m putting in it for it’s new owner.  The bios is so old in this thing, I don’t even think it will take a 250 GB drive.  I don’t have any Microsoft licenses that I’m not using right now (the win2k that was on this box is going on another one here).  So the new owner gets to play with Ubuntu.  I don’t know what the level of sophistication will be, but I’ll get everything working ahead of time as much as possible.  I’m told that people who don’t use computers much have a hard time telling Ubuntu apart from Windows.  That’s hard for me to believe.  I’m going to bundle in an old CRT monitor and an old printer too (if I can get it to work in Linux).  The whole thing should be ready for it’s new home by Friday.  Sigh.

AMD: Never Again.

October 15, 2006

I just put to rest my second AMD machine in 3 months. I’ll grant you that I had both machines for more than 3 years. However, I have Intel machines that are far, far older (including my original IBM XT) that still work. I believe both motherboards were ASUS. Both machines have the same problem. They won’t boot no matter what I swap out of them. I’ve spent the entire day dealing with these shenanigans. I’m done with AMD.

Thank God Intel has it’s act together on speed again. When the quad core chips come out later this year, I’m going to build a flagship machine around one. I think I’m also going to get a 30” monitor to go with it. I’m not even going to keep it on the KVM. It’s going to be all on it’s own.

Speaking of the KVM, despite the casualties, it’s rocking more than ever. I’ve added a machine that dual boots Linux and Win2k in the mix. It’s also sporting an old All-in-One-Wonder from many years ago. It has a DVD drive and a CD burner and access to 800 GB of hard drive space. It’s also my music server. All this is packed into a 1GHz PIII. This is why people say they don’t need new computers.

So in the KVM I now have all Intel machines: 1 Pentium D, 1 2GHz Pentium 4, and 2 PIIIs. Life is good. One thing the PIIIs won’t do is play Oblivion (not that I have time to play Oblivion). But I still have my Pentium D machine if I ever get any time. In 2007, it’s going to be all about Spore.

Microsoft Rebooted My Computer While I Was Away.

July 13, 2006

Before my trip this week, I wanted to do some work on my computer that required overnight processing.  Before I set everything up, I clicked on install updates because it was flashing.  It did its thing and then told me it needed a restart.  I put it off because it was late at night.  I figured I would restart it the next day.  Normally, it just pesters me until I click ok, but it’s always required my assent to reboot.

The next morning, I came downstairs to find that my project was trashed.  There was a little message on the bottom right of my screen that said that an installation had taken place that required that my computer be rebooted.  In other words, it did it by itself.  I’ve never had that happen before and it really irritated me.

Like most computer users, I want to have 100% control over my computer.  In hindsight, I wished I’d taken the time to reboot the machine, but again, it was late and I wanted to go to bed.  Microsoft seems to be trying exercise more control over the machines that run it’s operating system.  It’s had a lot of scrutiny recently with it’s verification program that frequently calls home.  This is heavy handed.

It’s not going to take much of a heavy hand from Microsoft for me to switch to other operating systems.  I have an iMac and I have a machine running Ubuntu.  I’ll grant you that neither of those operating systems do everything I need them to do right now.  But it’s things like this that gives me the incentive to learn how to make the other operating systems do what I need to do.  I own many copies of Windows, but I’ll migrate away from it if it starts getting in the way of the work I need to do.

Topics for Friday Night Party Line for July 7, 2006

July 4, 2006

Here are the topics for this week’s FNPL.  We didn’t get to two of the topics last week, so we’ll try to work them in on Friday.  It looks like we might have a big crowd this week, I hope you’ll join us!

–What is the hardest physical labor job you’ve ever done?  Did you enjoy it?  How did you get the job?  Why did you leave?

–What is the nature of motivation?  Is it genetic?  Does the environment cause it?  Why do we like to do the things we like to do? Why do we like to do some things and then move away from them and on to other things?

–Schadefreude means taking delight in the misery of others.  Have you had this experience lately?  Tell us about it.

–Planes, trains and automobiles (and also bicycles, snow mobiles, etc.)  Given all the time in the world, what’s you’re favorite mode of transportation and why?

–Speaking of transportation, China launched it’s Sky train this week connecting Bejing to Tibet.  At some points, it is 16,000 feet above sea-level and rests on permafrost.  What great engineering projects would you like to see the U.S. government undertake?

–Did you see fireworks on the 4th of July?  Did you light your own fireworks?  Do you like fireworks?  What’s you’re favorite?

–According to O’Reilly radar People like Mark Pilgrim and Cory Doctorow are switching from OSX to Ubuntu.  Is Ubuntu the operating system to rule them all?  Will security threats to Windows drive everyone to Ubuntu?  (Co-incidentally, I’m setting up an Ubuntu box this week).

–YouTube = star maker?  I heard on Cranky Geeks that NBC gave a consulting deal to a girl they found on YouTube that recorded herself doing the Numa Numa dance.  Is this the new reality tv?  If you want to be a star, should you just put yourself on YouTube?  Should we all shoot ourselves now?

–Home improvements revisited:  If you could do one thing to your house or property (or apartment) and you had a $150,000 budget, what would you do?  Why?  Would you do it yourself or hire people to do it?

–Poolside reading (or just summer reading in general).  What’s on your list?  How are you making time to keep up on your reading?  What have you read so far?

Ubuntu Part Two.

July 3, 2006

A few months ago, I downloaded Ubuntu and I had trouble with the download right off the bat.  I ended up going with a Debian distro.  I played around with that for a while, but it really didn’t give me what I was looking for at the time.

Last week, I picked up a book on Ubuntu that came with a distro disk.  I’m going to install it on a computer and since I have entirely different reasons this time for using Linux, I suspect I will stick with it for a while.

You see, I’m having security problems with my Windows machines.  I’ve had two worm attacks in the last two months.  I took care of both worms, but the last one has damaged the infected operating system so badly, that I’m going to have to nuke the drive and do a fresh install.  I should have no data loss though, just time. 

This brings me back to Linux.  If I can get proficient enough with it, I’ll try to set up a box as a firewall coming into my network.  In the meantime, though, I just want to have a box I can use in case I have some sort of Windows Armageddon where all of my Windows boxes go down at once.  That would be crazy bad.  At least if I have one Linux box and my iMac upstairs, life will go on.  For example, I could still do Friday Night Party Line by hosting Skype on OSX and recording it the Linux box in Audacity.  Email, word processing and everything else is a piece of cake!

Of course it probably won’t play Oblivion.  Curse my moment of weakness in picking up this beautiful game. 

Gigabyte’s iRam Card.

March 16, 2006

I thought this was kinda cool:

It’s a PCI card that hooks up to your SATA input and acts like a hard drive. You can boot off it too. You use normal memory in it and it has a lithium ion battery that will keep what you have on it for 10 hours if the power goes out. It keeps itself charged even when your computer is off (but your power supply is on).

This review had some great benchmarks for the card. It’s SATA controller is limited to 150MB/s transfer rates so that makes it slower than it could be, but it’s still sweet!

This is one of those gadgets that makes me want to get one and put it in a box just because I can. The idea of booting off one of these suckers is arousing, even if it is only a little more than 3 seconds faster to boot than a Raptor WD SATA drive. I’m still drooling though. Watch me. I’ll probably buy one and stick it in a 1 GHz Pentium III… as its only hard drive… running linux… MMMmmm.

Linux Hates Me.

March 5, 2006

I have always wanted a Linux file server.  I just want a place where my 9 computers can dump files and maybe share another printer.  I have tried Mandrake and two versions of Red Hat and failed.

About a year and a half ago, I bought an Asus A7V400-MX mobo, an AMD 2800xp chip and 512 meg of RAM for $301.00. My parents had given me back a p2 400 that was a hand-me-down to them from me that finally died (My sister hooked them up with a laptop, so they are happy). I transplanted the mobo and threw in one of the old Samsung drives that crapped out on my first TiVo upgrade (the other one is in one of my win2k boxes. They work fine in computers, but pixelate like hell in a TiVo). I then installed Red Hat Linux 9 and attempted making the machine into a file server.

I’ve worked with Samba and could not get it to talk to Win2k. I also looked into the idea of the HMO server. I also found some bad advice on changing the localhost.localdomain name in the dns screen to something else. This cause a nifty crash and when I changed it back, win2k now didn’t even recognize that the box existed. I never even got to the password screen, rather, I got the “network not accessible” screen.

You would think there would be a better Linux server program out there that would be plug and play with Win2k. I guess I’m asking a lot for free software.  I ended up just going back to Win2k on all my machines.

Lately, I had heard a lot of good things about Ubuntu.  Because of woot, I’ve got some extra hard drives to play with, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I’ve spent my free time this weekend flashing the bios on an old PIII and dropping in 2 250 Gig drives. I tried installing Ubuntu and it went half way through the installation and told me that it could not continue.  It said to reburn the ISO disk at a slower speed!  It seemed absurd to me, but a friend of mine tells me that’s common.  No matter, I lost patience and downloaded a Debian ISO and burned to a CD.

I’m flying through the Debian installation right now.  We’ll see.

All this just for a file server.  However, one day I’ll succeed with it and that day will be sweet indeed.