Archives for category: Ubuntu

The action buttons on Ubuntu 10.04 has moved from the classical Windows inspired top-right corner to OSX inspired top-left.

Personally, using Chrome, which has it’s own action buttons on the right, it tend to get confusing. I also dual boot Win and Ubuntu so I’d like the same behaviour for the standard tasks, albeit I tend to use keyboard shortcuts.

Anyway – gconf-editor is the key! All applications are configurable, and so is this. It allows you to personally arrange the title buttons to your liking.

Run gconf-editor, and find apps/metacity/general/button_layout. Experiment! Allowed settings are: ‘menu’,’:’,’close’,’maximum’ and ‘minimum. Note the ‘:’ is the title and ‘menu’ is the window menu ( you know ALT-Spacebar ). Any combination is allowed.

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The cloud service that Ubuntu offers pre-installed in their latest 10.04 Lucid works as it should. It works.

But – what the heck – they do NOT encrypt the data stored in the cloud!? In reality, that means that who ever has access to the server may read my plain non-encrypted files. Ugh – what a show stopper!

Dropbox did offer encryption on their service. Well, I don’t think you could chose not to use it, but even so, several of us did not feel 100% safe. I have written about this earlier:

https://firmit.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/encfs-mount-over-nonempty-mount-point/
https://firmit.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/truecrypt-virtual-encrypted/
https://firmit.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/dropbox-without-nautilusgnome/

In reality that was double security – and that felt good! Making an encrypted folder to sync to the cloud have even more merit together with Ubuntu One! Yes, you will loose the option of publishing your files for easy sharing and access to your friends… or?

With Lucid, Ubuntu One allows you to specify which folders to sync to your cloud account. So it should be fairly straight forward to keep one folder encrypted with highly personal data and one folder for sharing data – why not just use the default Public folder?! I am rather amazed that Ubuntu One does not support encryption by default.

At least I feel a lot more calm knowing my files are encrypted.

My first distro I installed two years ago was Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn; It simply rocked! Then came Gutys, which surpassed it. It was downhill from there.

Now, I am running Jaunty, and so far, I have no complains. Sound is a bit akward – I have no sound at about 60% sound level. Also, the huge memory usage is a bit unneccessary if you ask my, but I have more than enough of it! I feel it is way to heavy for my P4 1.8GHz, though Xubuntu 7.10 ran quite well on it.

Ah well – it’s fun to visit old friends 🙂

I recieved my new laptop from work yesterday. I did not have time to install Linux the first day. This was basically because I wanted to resize the pre-installed Vista partition, but the built in limitations in Vista prevented me from shrinking it to a wanted size.

I ended up reinstalling Vista and learn to find may way around. To the best of my knowledge, being a full-time Linux convert for two years, I must say that Vista suprised me. It is actually quite nice. The Sleep functionality is very good. The GUI is a big leap from XP, but the seeing the old icons from the Win95 days in the administrative windows was a real turn-off. All in all – I might just keep my Vista for connecting via Citrix to work. I have been able to do this on my Debian installation, but some keys are not functioning correctly.

Mint 7

SO – Linux – which distro to choose from… Mint 7 was on the dvd from LXF127 with the VERY COOL ECO-DISC. You can actually bend the dvd 180 degrees! Awesome! So I ended up installing Mint for the first time. I have noticed the increased popularity on Distrowatch for the last year, but I have ignored it. Mostly because I did not understand how a spinoff of the most popular linux distro of all time (Debian) could result in the currently most populare distro (Ubuntu) which again has resulted in the currently fifth most populare distro (Mint).

But to my surprise – it is actually quite nice! It is basically Ubuntu in a new look. The webpage is different too, with is glowing green color. But a second look inspired me – this may actually become the best alternative to future Windows converts!

On my new Dell Latitude E5400 everything worked out of the box. I had some flickering with X when loging out, but that’s not a big deal. Kudos to the team behind Mint!

I don’t know if it’ll remain my default distro, but maybe the GTD distro. I really like Slitaz and I’m beginning to fall in love with Arch. So time will show.

Ubuntu 7.04 was my first experience ever with a personal distribution running on a personal computer. My only experience was work related, using ssh connecting to a server, thus learning the basic cli-commands.

Summer of 2007 I ordered some computer hardware, and put together a custom computer. Naturally(!?), or more out of habit, I inserted the Winxxxs XP cd. It installed, ran pretty good for a few days, but with one intention only – to find my first GNU/Linux distribution – I found Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn!

« My first GNU/Linux experience was very good! »

The Feisty Fawn amazed me – it was fast, nice to look at, and came with a bundle of software. Finding and installing my favorite appz took seconds! Excellent. The only thing I can remember, which I still have some issues with, are the proprietary nvidia-driver.

Then came Gutsy! It was even better! Some improvements on central parts, mainly gnome and the menu. I was loving it! The GNU/Linux is just fantastic.

« The fact that Microxxxt and Axxle get away with their non-free OS’s, is beyond me! »

After getting comfortable with Ubuntu, joining the community posting on forums and such, I began experimenting with lightweight distros. Xubuntu was the winner. I also tried out a few window managers and other DE, which led me to the LXDE. I was sold! Gnome – go home!

But, I still loved the Ubuntu-way! So, when the Hardy Heron came out, I was the first one to install it. Now came my first bad experience with Ubuntu – it simply sucked! It was slow, boot-time increased, gnome was traveling in mud, the distro was bloated, and seemed immature. Canoncial did not delievere a product Ubuntu worthy!

Updates came, and 8.04.2 saw its dawn. Rumours says this fixed a few things, but I was long gone. Ubuntu is built upon Debian – they take Debian snapshots from their development branch(ref). So, why not try Debian, I thought. I installed a basic core using Debian Lenny, adding the repo’s to LXDE, and everything has been working perfectly! The LXDE is under development, and a few components contain a few bugs, but the gain of having a lightweight desktop, customized to my needs, out-weight all of the issues I was and still am experimenting.

« Debian Lenny with LXDE is simple, easy on the eye – and a perfect solution to first time Linux’ers! »

In fact, I have introduced and installed this system, on and old Tecra for my father, and on an old Dell Inspiron 8600 for my cousin.

Yesterday, not a day early given their release cycle, the Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex came out. I was tempted again. So, I had to install. First I tried the CLI only. Maybe, maybe not – it took about 10 minutes – a CLI environment was up! Excellent! A basic core for any lightweight or custom GNU/Linux distribution, which I am going to look more into!

Okei – so I managed to install a second linux distro along side with my Lenny install. Grub messed things up a litte – Lenny was no longer handling GRUB – my new install was! I need to fix this!

Now, I installed Ubuntu 8.10 standard using the alternate disc. I am impressed!

« It seems as if Ubuntu is on top of its game again! »

I am going to use it for a few days, but I believe I can strongly recommend the latest Ubuntu build as a first time distribution to anyone again! When I installed, a notification about some updates came, and how to activate nVidia. The latter did not work. I will be looking into that. Also some broken language-packages-notification which needed repair. Adding the repo’s main universe multiverse may help fix this 🙂

Update: yes – adding the repositories worked flawlessly! Not only did nvidia driver got installed correctly – but my Acer AL1916W got recognized for the first time in Ubuntu’s history – with the correct screen resolution! The reason for me not configuring the repositories at install, was that the first attempt failed. It hanged at 45% for about 5 min, then at 86% for 15 min until I gave up, reinstalled with no mirror and thun no apt configuration.

Albeit, Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex looks good!

On my 2.0GHz Dual Core 2 Duo 2GB ram, I am looking at a 165 MB memory usage when firing up, which takes about 55 seconds – that’s what Conky says. As a comparison, Debian Lenny using LXDE, uses roughly 38 seconds, and 52 MB ram. That’s quite a difference!

encfs – is a tool for encrypting a filesystem, i.e. a folder. It is very easy to use.

The debian package should be available in Debian and Ubuntu. Simply

$ sudo aptitude install encfs

encfs uses FUSE works perfectly for this kind of task. If you don’t have it installed, it should be installed with encfs. Remember to add yourself to the FUSE group.

$ sudo usermod -a -G fuse username

Now, there is mainly two commands you need to focus on. The one which mounts and creates the encrypted folder, and the one that unmounts it.

Create and mount

$ encfs /fullpath/.cryptic /fullpath/readable

You now answer a few question, and voila – good to go! Next time you simply issue the same command to mount an existing encrypted folder.

Unmount

$ fusermount -u /fullpath/readable

How hard can that be, right!

Applications of encfs

You may use this in several ways. One and maybe the obvious, is to have your own personal folder with encrypted data – just for fun, or to avoid your girlfriend/boyfriend finding out about your deepest secrets! It sure is an easy way of keeping a diary.

You may also use this to make your home-folder encrypted. I have read somewhere that Ubuntu is planning to make encrypted-home as an option sometime. And I believe encfs is the candidate to use. There exists another package which uses the PAM for authorizing. This way, you may automount your folder when you login, making it ideal for home-folder encryption. Follow the links below for further information.

Links:
A howto is located at ubuntu’s help.

http://www.linux.com/feature/52820

Alternatives:
http://www.debianadmin.com/filesystem-encryption-tools-for-linux.html

Updated 12th May 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 ships with Ubuntu One pre installed. It does not take much effort to sync your files to the cloud. It’s even more easy to share your files on the cloud. You right click on a file that you have on your cloud ( read Ubuntu One folder ), and publish it. Then you may send the link to this published file via email.

Security on the other hand is somewhat sparse. Yes, they do use SSL to sync the files from your computer to your storage place in the cloud. But your data is not encrypted on the server – anyone with access may read it. This is not so good!

This old post is now more valid than ever. Use encFS and sync your encrypted folder – keep the decrypted folder on your local machine. Trying to sync the actual encrypted folder did not work for me – Nautilus simply closed down. I believe this is an implementation issue with encFS as it uses fuse. The solution is to have one extra layer – sync the folder of which the encrypted folder resides.

I created a folder ~/cloud which I’d like to keep synced. The idea is as follows; you store the files you’d like on the cloud in this folder. But these files themselves are not encrypted, so this folder will not be synced. The paralleled encrypted folder, you should store on the existing Ubuntu One folder or in some other folder were you keep encrypted stuff.

Suggested setup:

$ mkdir ~/cloud
$ mkdir ~/Ubuntu One/clouded

Thus my mount command:

$ encfs ~/Ubuntu One/clouded ~/cloud

First time you execute this command, you must provide a password. Note the folders must exist. Now, I save all the files I am working on inside the non-encrypted ~/cloud folder. The encrypted folder ~/Ubuntu One/clouded is synced.

I thought maybe I would be satisfied with Decibel, and I am quite satisfied. But you got to love the idea of MPD! Along side the required MPC, the command line player, you have everything you would ever need from a simple audio-player.

Setting it up was not straight forward. It is not enough to install the .debs and expect everything to work. You need to edit text-files – configuration files. There is a good Getting Started page on their community wiki. I went for the global option; you may choose to edit and start the daemon as the logged in user or globally. This meant that I edited the /etc/mpd.conf.

How it works

MPD is a daemon, and is a server running on your computer. It runs in the background and does whatever you tell it to. To control it, you’ll need a clientmpd-clients. The simplest one, and really all you’ll ever need, is MPC. You should, however, be familiar with the command-line if you plan to rely on it.

For a GUI-client, I got a tip from Vincent about Sonata. It is lightweight, shows album-artwork, and let’s you easily change the current playlist etc. This might be preferred so that you get visual feedback of what is going on with the music player daemon. It’s your choice.

Of course, you can easily connect to a MPD on a different computer anywhere in the world – maybe I’ll look into that option later.

The first thing you do is define the root of your library – where your music is located. This will be the “/” of your library. Then you create your database – and you’re up!

MPC

CLI MPD-client – Command-line Music Player Daemon-client. All you need! Here are the most common commands:

Add your library to the playlist

$ mpd add /

General operations

$ mpc play|stop|pause|next|prev|volume <0-100>/+/-

Clear the current playlist

$ mpc clear

List your directories – this means artists in my case

$ mpc ls

Now, to list different albums from one artist

$ mpc ls Coldplay

Note: Here you have “tab”-autocompletion, which is very useful! Start writing $ mpc ls Cold and press tab.

Note2: Ben Harper – $ mpc ls Ben_Harper

Now, to add a specific album from an artist, you simply pipe

$ mpc ls James_Morrison/Undiscovered | mpc add && mpc play

Update your MPD database

$ mpc update

Sonata

Pretty straightforward – a graphical client to control your MPD. Quite simple with the most common features.

Keyboard binding

This is maybe the most beautiful thing about a CLI-client – by assigning commands to keyboard-bindings, you can control your MPD with the keyboard. I use LXDE/Openbox, so I only need to add a few lines in my ~/.config/openbox/lxde-rc.xml (rc.xml for openbox) in the <keyboard>-section ( I have used the Win-key ):

<keybind key="W-P">
 <action name="Execute"><command>mpc play</command>
 </action></keybind>
<keybind key="W-S">
 <action name="Execute"><command>mpc stop</command>
 </action></keybind>
<keybind key="W-N">
 <action name="Execute"><command>mpc next</command>
 </action></keybind>
<keybind key="W-B">
 <action name="Execute"><command>mpc prev</command>
 </action></keybind>
<keybind key="W-L">
 <action name="Execute"><command>sonata</command>
 </action></keybind>

Conky

Of course, Conky has built-in support for MPD! Mine looks like this:

${if_running mpd}$hr
MPD $mpd_status
$mpd_artist
$mpd_track $mpd_title
$mpd_elapsed $alignr $mpd_length
$mpd_bar
${endif}

Conclusion

It rocks! Once you have it up and running. I did encounter a few minor problems during setup, and also identified a bug, but I don’t know where the bug comes from. See this post for details.

I installed update-manager on my Debian Lenny today. This installed an update-notifier daemon. I noticed a sudden jump in ram usage.

Top reports of a shared-memory-usage of 8.5 MB,and a total of 11 MB. For a new computer with sufficient resources, this is acceptable. Also on my current laptop ( Dell Latitude 1.8GHz 1MB ram ) this is acceptable on my Debian Lenny install, given that my memory usage is still below 50 MB when no other applications are running besides Conky and Update-notifier-daemon.

The only real gain using the ubuntu or debian update-notifier, is that you get notified whenever there is a repository update on installed packages on your system. Also, the daemon is generally shown in the system-tray whenever an apt-get or update-manager is running (it does so on Hardy Heron, but no so much on my Debian Lenny – go figure…).

On old computers or systems where you wish to save booting time and resources, specifically ram-usage, I recommend running apt-get update as a cron-job or manually, rather than installing the over-resource-hungry update-notifier/update-manager. Synaptic does the same job manually together with apt-get. Notice that you can simply disable the update-notifier-daemon.

Updated

When killing update-manager, and checking memory usage with free before and after, I only free up roughly 3 MB of memory. Not that much. However, I suspect the memory usage will go further down if I remove the installed daemon completely.

I like the update-manager using Debian. This is default in any *buntu install, so you probably have no problem with this.

My problem occurred last night when I tried to launch the update-manager. True enough, the gksudo app was loaded, but nothing happened. I was asked to type in my password again, and again….

Fix

gksu and gksudo needs to look at the same /etc/sudoers as sudo does – you need to initialize gksu to do so. Run

$ gksu-properties

and choose Authentication mode: sudo.

Save, and your gksudo should work.

I am sold – there is no way I am going back! The LXDE is just amazing!

LXDE is a full desktop environment with OpenBox as window-manager. And believe me – it’s fast! My first run was under Xubuntu 8.04 on a Dell Latitude P4 1.8GHz 1GB ram. It handles Gnome, KDE, Xfce pretty well with its respective wm’s. Openbox is known to be fast, and with a minimalistic DE, I believe my choice is made!

Update:

LXDE is now in the official Debian repository. Just apt-get LXDE!

Also, a new wiki is on the horizon – http://wiki.lxde.org and http://forum.lxde.org.