Mostly about my amusement

Tag: Linux (page 2 of 3)

Upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS

My Ubuntu T40 laptop is “only MOSTLY dead”.  The built in LCD display is too dark to read and I replaced it with a HP laptop running Vista Home Premium.

I feel slightly guilty about running Vista on it but it runs really well so ptthhhhppp.  I put the T40 onto it’s docking station and hooked it up in the basement with the other equipment.

The upgrade was easy as usual.  Just sudo su – and update-manager -d.  It took a while to download the files but a reboot later and I’m running.

This new Ubuntu feels faster.  It’s hard to really quantify that with old hardware, but it does.  So far the only issue I have is that the spell checker in Firefox 3 beta 5 is broken sometimes (I had to use the one built into WordPress for this post).

It’s like a refined version of 7.10.

An odd Easter Sunday

Today is not exactly how I intended to enjoy Easter Sunday. I’m baby sitting my main server in my basement right now. This morning at 6 AM I noticed my server in the basement was not passing traffic since 2 AM. So I rebooted the server and it came back.

I like to attend the 8 AM mass at St. Mathews because I don’t like crowds. Today we got the kids dressed up and went to church. Afterwards we went to Friendlies for breakfast. 9 AM Sunday is a great time to go; no crowds at all.

At 9:45 AM I received an e-mail on my Blackberry that my server was down again. I use the free service from Service Uptime. Yes I snmp monitor my cable modem, server CPU, server throughput, etc. and no I’m not an Uber Geek. We got home, we snapped some pictures (we were all dressed up after all) and I got to work rebooting my server.

Hard rebooting a Linux server is odd. I generally only run tested packages on my servers and I’ve had Linux boxes go for months until I had to reboot it for some kernel patch. So when this one started acting up I’m getting worried. One of my disks sounds like the fan from an old car so that might be a hint.

I pulled out a 300 GB from the Netgear SC-101 since I was not using it. I have a ton of data on the old drive so right now I have both drives mounted and am copying data from the lawn mower and onto the new 300 GB drive.

Going from one ATA bus to the other is about 8 MB/sec so it’s taking a long time. Copying data from your disk is like cleaning up your basement. If you have not looked at it for more than 6 months then you can probably lose it. Once I get what I want of the old drive, I’ll place it on the shelf and close up the server.

If it keeps happening then I’ll just get a Dell refurb PC.  In the meanwhile the kids are having a blast playing in the basement while their Dad waits for his server to finish.

openSUSE 10.3 server upgrade

I did not really mean to upgrade my home server today, it just worked out that way.

Weeks ago I cleaned up my basement computer room and Alek had dropped off an old PC for my use. It is a dual Pentium III 800 MHz machine with 700 odd megabytes of RAM. It does not work well with my old WinTV PVR-350, Windows Media Center Edition 2005, and can’t play most AVI or MPEG files.

My server is a 3GHz P4 with 1 GB of RAM and a okay Geforce 5600 FX in it. So I figured I’d swap the drives and just use the server as a workstation and vice versa. Just to be on the safe side I moved my blog to the backup server on my VPS.

The server hard disk would not boot on the PIII box. The initrd image did not have the drivers for the ide system in the new box. Getting the initrd updated would have required the openSUSE 10.1 which I could not find.

I did have a recently burned openSUSE 10.3 DVD lying around so after a couple of hours I was able to get my server working by upgrading from 10.1 to 10.3. The updated 10.3 YaST is faster than before and I’m going to start using zypper to keep my system up to date.

Once I get the system to a point where I am comfortable then I’ll move the blog back to my basement.

Ubuntu 7.10 on Virtual PC 2007

Installing Ubuntu on more time

Today it’s President’s Day, it’s raining, and the kids are off this week.  So naturally I am goofing around with my PC. I’ll head to the basement soon to play with the kids but first I want to setup something on my workstation.

My main workstation is a Dell 700 720 with a Core 2 Duo and a pair of nvidia GeForce 7900’s.

It’s a great machine and I am currently playing Call of Duty 4, Crysis, and a couple of others.  But I really enjoy working in Ubuntu. I just don’t want to give up the games.

I installed Virtual PC 2007 on my workstation and enabled hardware-assisted Virtualization.  I captured an Ubuntu 7.10 iso on my disk and began running the installation. I created a disk for the virtual PC and began the installation.

I knew that once the live CD booted up I would have problems with the X11 driver.  So I ctrl-alt-F1 and ran “sudo vi /etc/X11/xorg.conf”. I replaced the “Depth 24” with “Depth 16”, saved the file, did alt-F7 to switch back to the X11 screen and then alt-backspace to restart the X11 server.

The mouse still did not work.  Google is my friend and I learned that when I boot the CD press F6 and append the following to the kernel boot parameters ” i8042.noloop”.  The article suggested running the Virtual PC in safe graphics mode but that went very low resolution on me.

Wash, rinse, repeat the “Depth 16” portion.  I’m now installing on my Virtual PC 2007 Ubuntu with a color depth of 16 and a working mouse.  My system has only 2 GB of RAM but since I upgraded to the XPS 720 motherboard I can go nuts with the 800 Mhz stuff.

Vista 64 with 8 GBs of RAM, that sounds like a good upgrade.

After the install I modified the /boot/grub/menu.lst to add to the kopt line i8042.noloop as well as to the end of the kernel line.  That’s probably not the place to put it but it works for now and I’m going to continue working on it. I’ve just got the networking going and I’m putting on 187 updates since the iso image was created.

Upgraded the laptop to Gutsy Gibbon

Cool Ubuntu logo from www.linuxextremist.comLast night ran the command ‘sudo update-manager -c’ and after a few prompts left the laptop running the distribution upgrade to Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon. This morning I rebooted it at the prompt and poof I’m upgraded.

I usually don’t think that Linux has a real chance on the desktop; it’s just not the consumers choice. But seamless upgrades and making it so easy to use keeps me wondering. No way a Microsoft upgrade is this easy.

Ubuntu on a USB stick with XPS 720

Fixing the MBR on Vista 64 bit or how to remove GRUB from Vista. Keep this link handy, it saved me a lot of time.

Well running Ubuntu 7.10 beta did not work as well as I planned.

The 2 GB USB memory stick I had laying around was too small. This caused the installer to just stop and die around 70% or so. I printed out the coupons of the day and took them with me to BestBuy. I purchased a PNY 8 GB OPTIMA Pro Attache USB stick. It’s as no-frills as you can get and does not come with any software.

This time the installer ran, copied all the files, etc. It also installed GRUB into the MBR of my first hard drive.

Remember I thought that Vista would not play well with other operating systems? Oh, yeah that. My system could not boot off of the hard disk anymore.

This is how you can uninstall GRUB from a Vista partition:

I went to and read the whole page. I then downloaded and extracted MBRFIX.ZIP onto another USB stick. This stick was FAT32 formated and I put the contents into the directory called SAVED.

I booted off of my Vista 64 install DVD, ran the command prompt located the directory on that USB stick and ran

MbrFix64.exe /drive 0 fixmbr /vista

And all was right in the world. XP comes with FIXMBR but I could not find Microsoft’s equivalent for Vista 64.

After I booted up Vista a few times, I went back to the Ubuntu install CD. I mounted the 8 GB USB memory stick (it mounted it on /media/disk from /dev/sdc1) and ran

grub-install –recheck –root-directory=/media/disk –no-floppy /dev/sdc

On my system this put the root as (hd2,0) which just plain won’t work. While I was still on the live system I ran from a terminal window

sudo vi /media/disk/boot/grub/menu.lst

and located the entries I needed. All (hd2,0) had to be switched to (hd0,0) because in my BIOS when I select “Boot from USB device” that USB device gets treated like the first hard disk. I also removed the Vista section just because it makes sense.

I’m running that installation right now and doing a software update. On the 8 GB stick I have 4.4 GB free. Once I have it up to date the fun can really begin. Wonder if Compiz will like my setup?

Installing Ubuntu on a Dell XPS 720

Update 6/3/2009: Follow the instructions here at for Ubuntu 9.04, it works with the Dell XPS 720 very well. The only odd thing is that I have to re-enable the NVidia drivers between reboots. When you do enable it, don’t reboot. Just log out and let the auto login go and you can use the full Compiz effects.

Ubuntu 7.10 beta being installed

I run Vista 64 bit on my XPS 700 720. Looking at how it boots up, I am not sure that Microsoft will work with another operating system. And I do use this computer for work-ish *cough* games *cough* reasons.

I’ve just downloaded the 64 bit iso image for Ubuntu 7.10 beta and burnt it to CD. I’m installing the software but not on my hard drives, I’m installing it onto a 2 GB USB memory stick I have lying around.

This should let me install what I want to play with without me having to take the plunge exactly on this computer. I just have to remember to hit F12 when I boot up so the BIOS presents me with a boot menu.

As the install image booted up it played with my monitor settings and set it for 1680×1050. That’s not bad; last time it insisted on 1024×768. The sound card was not installed for the live session but that’s probably fine for now.

It’s installing right now as I enter this; I’m using Firefox in the live session. It’s going slow and I’m tailing /var/log/messages in another window to see if the drive suddenly dies.

Once I have it working off the USB drive entirely then I’ll mess with the drivers to see if I can get sound and Compiz working at 1920×1200 with full acceleration.

When SCO has to shoot, shoot don’t talk

SCO should have done more shooting and less talking.

I can’t wait to read SCO’s official response to them not being the owner of the UNIX copyrights.

If SCO had gone after IBM in a reasonable fashion and with actual proof (as opposed to just whining about what their selective experts claimed) then they may have come out ahead. Instead they tried to extort a really huge user base and alienated what could have been their customers.

Their claims were just silly. I am sure that SCO can now buy up some electric typewriter company and try to sell licenses for the QWERTY keyboard. Assuming they have any money left after this.

Ubuntu and Steam

So far so good. I have tried the following with my Ubuntu installation:

  1. Tried to get Compiz running on my laptop
  2. Updated Ubuntu 6.10 Edgy to 7.04 Fiesty Fawn
  3. Get Steam working on my laptop running Ubuntu

Compiz works badly. I think it’s the xserver I am using. I’ve un-installed it already; my laptop probably just lacks the horse power to drive the effects.

Ubuntu 7.04 will likely be better. But I fat fingered something and ended up putting back on 6.10 Edgy.

Steam works so far. In the past I purchased Transgaming’s Cedega cause I really like what they’re doing. But this time I’ve installed wine using

sudo apt-get install wine

Steam now installs via a .msi file. So to get it installed I downloaded SteamInstall.msi from and Googled to locate tahoma.ttf font file.

I moved the tahoma.ttf file to ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/fonts/ and ran

msiexec /a SteamInstall.msi

The mouse worked but I could not get the keyboard focused on the installer. Everything I typed ended up in the terminal I used to run wine. I ended up running winecfg and unchecking the “Allow window manager to control the windows” which was enough to get it installed.

Later on I put that option back and ran wine again with this on the command line:

WINEDEBUG="fixme-all" wine "C:Program FilesSteamsteam.exe"

This was lifted from a page. BTW I just pasted the snippet from the web page into the WordPress TinyMCE window. All formatting was taken care of, very cool. All I did was use the Code tab to adjust the width of the box.

The installation of a Steam game created a link on my desktop complete with icon. Later on I just double-clicked that link and the Steam app is installing my copy of Condition Zero.

The only problem I have is that the Steam window stays on top all the time. I will see if I can get that fixed.