Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hey, It's a Post!

Just cracked open the old blog and noticed that I haven't posted since Sept (!) and I wanted to post something, so here it is.

I bought a house last month so I've been a bit busy with all of that. In fact, my "me" time that I used to use to play around with all the new technology out there has been significantly reduced.

I will say that I have spent a few days playing around with Tomcat6, Spring tc Server, and more than a handful of various .WAR files. I have to say I'm impressed. Incredibly powerful, simple, and useful technologies don't always find their way to the masses, but this is definitely a win. I'm still torn as to whether or not this makes more or less sense than a Python-based solution, but so far, I'm up for further investigation.

What do you think? What's your favorite webapp platform and why? What languages do you tend to go to when it's "your program" and not someone else's?

And for the million-dollar follow-up question: If you're doing scrums/xp/agile development, what tool(s) would you recommend for project management of distributed teams?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ubuntu 10.10: Maverick Meerkat

We're rapidly approaching the release date of the next Ubuntu release: 10/10/2010 (whoa, how's that for an epic release date?). I'm still on the fence about "upgrading" because I like the idea of stability for a while (at least on my work computer). I'll definitely be tossing this on a test machine once it releases. I'll use it to show off the next gen of features if nothing else.

For the uninitiated, the features list can be found here.

My understanding of this release is that it'll be a playground for many cutting edge features. Stability is definitely not one of the key goals. What are your plans for this release? Production? Playground? Testing? Skip it? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Restore Grub After Installing Windows 7

Dual booting. It can be a wonderful thing or a horrible nightmare. With Windows 7, users may have more than one reason to want the ability on their HTPC machines. Especially if several pieces of hardware just don't work as they should in Ubuntu.

The trick is, Windows 7, by default, wants to be the ONLY OS on your computer, even if you've already installed other OSes. My recommendation? Install Windows 7 first, in a carefully planned partition (create using Ubuntu LiveCD and GParted, of course), and then install Ubuntu.

But what if you just HAD to install Ubuntu first in that secondary partition and now need to install Windows? Windows will erase your Grub settings from the boot sector. This means no more ability to boot into Ubuntu. Oh No!

Not to worry, there's an easy way to recover from said disaster. I found this excellent post and here are the details for archival purposes:

This post discusses the easy way of restoring Grub2 using Ubuntu Live CD. First, boot with the Ubuntu Live CD. Now mount the partition, which has Ubuntu installed on it. If you had a separate partition for /boot, then you would have to mount that too. Mounting the partitions is super easy. Just go to Places in the top Gnome menu and try browsing to your corresponding partition by clicking on it. It would automatically get mounted and open in nautilus.

Now just run the following command to install Grub2 in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of your first booting hard drive.

sudo grub-setup -d /media/XXXXX/boot/grub -m /media/YYYYY/boot/grub/ /dev/sda

Where XXXXX represents the name or UUID of the partition that you have mounted. If your /boot partition is separate from your / partition then YYYYY above would be different from XXXXX, else both of them would be identical. The command above assumes that /dev/sda is your primary or first device in hard disk boot order. If not then replace it with /dev/sdb or sd_ fill the blank with appropriate letter.

After you have run the command, reboot and you should be able to boot in Ubuntu but not in Windows, to fix it run the following command in a terminal and Grub boot list would be updated to include Windows in it. Also if you want to change boot order read this.

sudo update-grub

Now reboot and you should have the choice to boot in both Windows and Ubuntu.

Getting the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 to work in Ubuntu 10.04

Really just posting this for my own reference later, but here's the link and the details:

Enter this into your Terminal it is the code for the firmware and to install it
sh;sudo cp *fw /lib/firmware
you need to install mercurial and build essential for the next steps
sudo apt-get install mercurial libncurses5-dev
then we need the driver using this command to fetch
hg clone
now change to the directory
cd saa7164-stable
then run make
that will take some time, go grab a drink and wait it out, when it completes run this command
sudo make install
wait for that to complete and reboot
from the command line
sudo reboot
Note that an application like TVtime will not work, TVtime only works on Analog signals, and so far this driver only gets the digital stuff working.

then install MythTV using whatever method you like, I personally went into synaptic and installed the frontend and backend and extra plug-ins

once installed and you set up your passwords go to
System> administration> MythTV backend setup

once there go to Capture Cards, Should be choice #2
choose new capture card, you will ave to do this step twice (this card has two tuners)
At card Type, pick DTB DTV
the first will be device number 0,
repeats choosing capture card to add the second tuner
the second device will be #1 (Linux starts counting at 0, good thing to know, especially for hard drives)

then go to video sources, pick your options, will vary so mine will not work with yours most likely, so I dont want to post something I dont know)

then go to Input Connections, again you will have 0 and 1, configure both

then edit channels and directories as needed.

close let it fill database, for some reason mine keeps running in a loop, just exit after you see it finish the first or second time

now go to Applications > Sound & Video > MythTV Frontend

And you should be able to watch TV

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Black Cursors on Win7/2008 R2 Using rdesktop for Ubuntu 10.04

I recently setup a Win 2008 R2 VM and proceeded to remote connect to it from Ubuntu 10.04. Everything worked perfectly except the mouse cursors were black (and some were corrupt). Solution? Use a newer version of rdesktop that doesn't ship with Ubuntu. There is a handy PPA that can be added using the following command:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ricolai/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install rdesktop

It appears ricolai may have removed the package from his PPA. To remedy the situation, I've uploaded the working binaries for x64. Sorry, I don't have the x86 any longer.

More information on the bug can be found here:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Internal Microphone Fix for Ubuntu 10.04 on Dell E6410

The internal microphone does not work after a default install. Append the line "options snd-hda-intel model=dell-s14" to file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf, reboot and adjust the mixer levels.

Dell E6410 + Ubuntu 10.04 Issues List

Here is the fairly well done test results for a Dell E6410 Laptop running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. I've seen all of the issues reported so far on my laptop and can confirm that the workarounds do actually work.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Laptop, New Challenges for Ubuntu 10.04

On my newly purchased work laptop (Dell E6410 with nVidia GPU), the system would boot to a blank screen when attempting to install, run from CD, or after installation. Here's the workaround.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Installing SopCast Live-TV Streaming (P2PTV) on Ubuntu 10.04

Many channels provide near-instant downloads of their content, but it isn't quite the same as having a fully-functioning live version of the programming. Enter P2PTV. While somewhat shady in legal terms (try at your own risk), it might prove useful for some wishing to experiment in this area. Here are the steps for installing SopCast (one of the more popular versions) on Ubuntu 10.04:

echo "deb `lsb_release -cs` main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list && sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys CD30EE56

Now install SopCast with

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install sopcast-player sp-auth

Run with Alt+F2 -> sopcast-player or get it at Applications -> Sound & Video -> SopCast Player.

For more US based channels, try Justin.TV instead. It even has the option of pausing a show and coming back to it later.


First Impressions: Gnome-Shell

While still in active development with many features not yet ready for everyday use, Gnome-Shell is showing a lot of potential. I recently installed the current version available through the Ubuntu 10.04 repositories to give it a test drive. It's not ready for primetime, that's for sure, but it does have some features that I find compelling.

Overview Mode

I use Compiz' multiple desktops using the rotating desktop on all my machines that support 3D acceleration. I typically mentally map where all my apps are in relation to each other so that I can quickly switch to the workspace I need to perform a task. However, I sometimes find myself wondering where I left Firefox open, for instance. Having the option to blow up the whole cube on the desktop is nice, but I found the Overview display of Gnome-Shell to be even better.

Simpler Navigation

For me, anything that reduces clicks is a good thing. The overall interaction with Gnome-Shell as compared to Gnome is just that; simpler. I don't know how to explain this other than to say I was making fewer clicks and finding things much faster than before. I don't understand why people bash this as much as they do. It really did make me work more efficiently than before.


If you have a test system you can do it on, I recommend giving it a try. I have a feeling it will be integrated more fully at some point in the future for Ubuntu, but for now, I only recommend it for testing or messing around with. I'm sure the community would love to hear your feedback as well, so please feel free to post in the comments!

You can read another user's post here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Ultimate Python IDE: Eclipse + pyDev

I posted awhile ago about my recommendation for an IDE (Wingware's IDE). I'd like to retract that recommendation in favor of one I've been experimenting with lately: Eclipse + pyDev. First off, the IDE is open source and is one of the most popular IDEs on the market today. I wasn't aware of how Aptana had fully integrated Python as a plugin until yesterday. I can only say that I am extremely pleased with the result. They did it right, no doubt about it. Check it out on your favorite OS today. For Ubuntu 10.04 users, simply add Eclipse to your system through the Software Center and then follow the instructions on to add it as a plugin. Make sure you follow the instructions for adding it as a plugin.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Compiz: Plugin "Grid" Gone in 10.04 and Rotating Cube With Mouse Wheel

Well, not really gone, just not installed by default. You can get it again by installing the package "compiz-fusion-plugins-extra".

See more information on this here.

Also, to enable rotating the desktop cube with the mouse wheel, set rotate left to button 4 and rotate right to button 5 in the bindings for the mouse.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Top 10 Things *I* Do After Installing Ubuntu 10.04

There are a lot of these lists out there. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I'll just link to some of my favorites and add the pieces that might be missing:

Before I do anything:
*Update the system! I use a mirror close to me, such as UC Davis' math dept.
*Install the proprietary drivers for my system (for my Dell D630, it's the Wireless STA driver and the latest Nvidia driver).
*Run this script and install the pieces I want (adds repos automatically - nice!).

Some others suggestions:
Install ubuntu-restricted-extras. Should give you the default Sun Java stuff as well as Flash (though, if you're using the 64bit distro, you'll end up reinstalling it using the proper build. See my earlier post on this).
Need games? Try PlayDeb.
To play encrypted DVDs, the libdvdcss2 package is essential. libdvdcss is a simple library designed for accessing DVDs like a block device without having to bother about the decryption. Once you have Medibuntu repo available, just install it from there.
Use Google? Try googsystray - an all-in-one notifier and useful app.

Ubuntu 10.04 64bit Flash Plugin Issues


I've found that the Flash plugin for 10.04 is less than spectacular out of the box. I suspect it has something to do with the 64bit OS and found this article explaining how to fix things up.

Basically, here are the steps:
  1. Download 64bit installer.
  2. Close browsers
  3. Make installer executable, run it.
  4. "Remove Flash"
  5. Add 64bit Flash
That's it.


With the release of 10.2, we're basically back to square one again. However, I found a slightly better method of getting the latest version installed this time around. Since it relies on someone's PPA, it may or may not work for forever, but here's what I did *this time*.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sevenmachines/flash && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install flashplugin64-installer

After that, if you want 10.3 or later, you need to download the .tar.gz from Adobe Labs (64bit version, that is), extract the .so and replace every same-named .so on your system.

Medibuntu Servers Down

After upgrading to 10.04, I discovered that the medibuntu (extra storage for things like ffmpeg, restricted extras, etc.) is down. I don't know how long it will be this way, but here's the workaround for connecting to the mirror:

Add these lines to the end of /etc/apt/sources.list

deb hardy free non-free
deb-src hardy free non-free

run the following:

wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add

then run the following:

sudo apt-get update

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Connecting to Juniper VPN with Ubuntu 10.04 64bit

Ran into my first snag. Apparently the Juniper Network Connect client for Linux doesn't like 2 things about the defaults installed on Ubuntu 10.04 64bit:
  1. Requires the Sun JRE/JDK, not the OpenJRE/OpenJDK installed by default.
  2. Requires the 32bit JRE, not the 64bit JRE
Obviously frustrating. I found the following resources to overcome this problem:

Switching from OpenJRE/JDK to Sun's version (without uninstalling, due to dependency issues).
Setup the 32bit JRE to run alongside the 64bit, and Download and modify the junipernc script by pointing it to the 32bit version. To do this, add this line after the # lines at the beginning:
export JDK_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/ia32-java-6-sun

Test your setup here when you're done.

To reconnect after disconnecting, you might need to relogin to the vpn website and then run the connection script again. The session doesn't always exit nicely.

The big downside to all this is that you'll now have 3 different Java environments installed on your machine. Figuring out which one is running for what can be a bit tricky. It would be ideal for Ubuntu to allow either environ to begin with, but I understand why they can't do that.

New to Ubuntu 10.04? Here's My Favorites So Far

A lot of these were supported in 9.10 but I skipped that update in anticipation of 10.04. Here are some of the big wins I've encountered so far:

  • Eclipse 3.5.2 is finally in the repo! Finally, we're getting some love from the guys at Ubuntu on this. No need to install from source any more.
  • Boot time/Login time. MUCH faster than my ext3 based 9.04 was.
  • Nvidia driver support. Multi-monitor setup is much more stable than before. Seems to even remember that I have 2 monitors attached to the laptop. Very slick compared to 9.04.
  • Software center. I didn't think I'd like this because they tossed out the ratings system for now, but actually, I really like it. It displays any newly added repos I grab from Launchpad in the same area as the defaults. I can even view apps available in one repo vs. the others.
  • Stability. I can't emphasize this enough - bells and whistles are nice and all, but this version is just rock-solid so far. Love it on my laptop.
I've only had it installed a couple of days now, but I'm loving every minute of it so far. I'll post more when I get a chance.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Unable to Install Eclipse Plugins in Ubuntu 10.04

I wanted to give pyDev a spin after installing a new copy of Ubuntu 10.04 with Eclipse. Turns out it needs one additional package to install Eclipse plugins correctly.

I kept getting this error:
The artifact file for osgi.bundle,org.eclipse.cvs,1.0.400.v201002111343 was not found.

Here's the fix:

sudo apt-get install eclipse-pde

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Ultimate Linux Distribution: Ubuntu

I've now been using Ubuntu for about 2 years. I'm certainly happy with it and would never consider going back to Windows or paying the premium for an essentially equivalent OS (Mac OS X). I, like many users, have come to appreciate Ubuntu as not only a solid replacement OS for Windows or Mac, but for what it truly is: The Ultimate Linux Distribution.

That's a big claim. How can I say such a thing? Aren't all Linux distros essentially built on the same foundation? Well, yes, they are. But then again, all cars run on four wheels. What sets Ubuntu apart isn't the fact that it's Linux or even that it's Debian-based, it's the people behind the effort. Ubuntu's core team, Canonical, is doing something no other Linux distro has been able to do. It's giving guidance on and meeting the expectations of the average user. And it's doing it at a rate that's significantly outpacing all of its competitors.

Ubuntu has been the #1 distribution on DistroWatch since 2005 with its closest competitor being Fedora (which it consistently leads by a 30 to 50 percent margin). To find out more about why it's been able to hold this position and gain ground from both the Windows and Mac markets, read this article: Ubuntu, the Ultimate Linux Distribution. And a further clarification here.

With Lucid Lynx just 6 days away, the soon-to-be 20M users worldwide have again turned to Canonical for direction on the next big thing. And they haven't been disappointed. Read more about the recently announced 10.10, Monstrous Moose Maverick Meercat. While I won't be upgrading from 10.10 for a while on my work laptop, I will be pleased to see more radical changes coming down the pipeline and look forward to testing them out on my non-essential systems.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What's New in Ubuntu 10.04

Wondering what you'll get with that shiny new system when you switch in 20 days to Ubuntu 10.04? Besides the guaranteed stability that comes with a long-term support release (LTS), here's a rundown taken from Ubuntu's website of the new features added in 10.04:

New features since Ubuntu 9.10

These features are showcased for your attention. Please test them and report any bugs you find:


Ubuntu 10.04 Beta 2 includes the latest GNOME desktop environment with a number of great new features.

Mozilla Firefox

Default search engine has been changed to Yahoo! The default Home Page will use either Google or Yahoo! depending on user setting.

Linux kernel 2.6.32

Ubuntu 10.04 Beta 2 includes the 2.6.32-16.25 kernel based on

KDE SC 4.4

Kubuntu 10.04 Beta 2 features the new KDE SC 4.4. For more information about new features in Kubuntu, see the Kubuntu technical overview.

HAL removal

This beta sports full removal of HAL from the boot process, making Ubuntu faster to boot and faster to resume from suspend.

Major new version of likewise-open

The likewise-open package, which provides Active Directory authentication and server support for Linux, has been updated to version 5.4. The package supports upgrades from both the officially supported versions 4.0 (Ubuntu 8.04 LTS) and 4.1 (Ubuntu 9.10), as well as the likewise-open5 packages from universe.

Since this upgrade involves a lot of configuration file changes and in-place database upgrades, testing and feedback is appreciated.

New default open source driver for nVidia hardware

The Nouveau video driver is now the default for nVidia hardware. This driver provides kernel mode setting, which will give improved resolution detection. This driver provides hardware accelerated 2D functionality, like the -nv driver it replaces. The nouveau driver is being actively developed upstream and we anticipate this will enable faster bug fixes for problems encountered.

Improved support for nVidia proprietary graphics drivers

Three different NVIDIA proprietary drivers are currently available: nvidia-current (190.53), nvidia-173, andnvidia-96. Thanks to a new alternatives system, it is now possible to install all three of these packages at the same time (although it is only possible to have one configured for use at a time).

Social from the Start

We now feature built-in integration with Twitter,, Facebook, and other social networks with theMeMenu in the panel, which is built upon the Gwibber project, which has a completely new, more reliable backend built on top of desktopcouch. Gwibber now also supports a multi-column view for monitoring multiple feeds simultaneously.

New boot experience

Multiple changes to look, feel and speed of the boot experience have been included in the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS beta.

New Indicators

The notification area now features more consistent user experience and design for communication, session management, and many other tasks. See the application indicators page for information on this change.

New Themes

The desktop has been beautified with the addition of two brand new themes, Ambiance and Radiance. New wallpaper and icons are also included.

Ubuntu One File Syncing

Select any folder in your home directory for sync, pick from your existing contacts when sharing folders. An updated preferences application has been added, with more features.

Ubuntu One Music Store

Millions of songs are available for purchase from your Ubuntu desktop, integrated with the Rhythmbox Music Player and using Ubuntu One cloud storage for backup and easy sync. Watch for the public beta launch.

New features for Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC)

The Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud installer has been vastly improved in order to support alternative installation topologies. UEC components are now automatically discovered and registered, including for complex topologies. Finally, UEC is now powered by Eucalyptus 1.6.2 codebase.