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Ubuntu 9.10 - GRUB Bootloader Changes Coming

I have been testing Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) Alpha 3 for the past few days.  I like it, a lot.  It has a lot of really good changes, improvements and fixes.  One of the biggest, though, needs to be handled with care - they are changing from the original (legacy) GRUB bootloader to the new GRUB 2 (aka grub-pc).  There is always a certain amount of risk involved when changing such a fundamental piece of software, but I have installed Karmic, with GRUB 2, on all of my systems now, and none of them had a problem with it.  However, users who have multi-boot systems, and those who are accustomed to editing their GRUB configurations, are in for some surprises, and some adjustment.

I don't intend to go into a lot of detail here about using or configuring GRUB - that is covered adequately on the <a href="http://www.ubuntu.com/testing/karmic/alpha2">Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 2</a> announcement and related pages.  What I want to describe here, briefly, is how I have set up my multi-boot systems to have both Januty and Karmic installed, retain legacy GRUB for Jaunty (and other multi-boot use) and use GRUB 2 for Karmic.

The first step is simple.  Install Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 2 to a separate partition on your disk.  I did this, and didn't pay any attention to GRUB installation, and what I ended up with was GRUB 2 in the MBR of the disk, which makes it the default bootloader.  Because I multi-boot a LOT of other Linux distros and XP Professional on this netbook, and I am totally clueless about configuring GRUB 2, I wasn't too happy with that.  I restored legacy GRUB after booting the existing Jaunty partition, but then I couldn't use the standard configfile notation in the Jaunty GRUB configuration to boot Karmic.  Ugh.

The Karmic Alpha release mentions that GRUB 2 can be chainloaded from a legacy GRUB installation.  The instructions there describe installing GRUB 2 into the existing Jaunty system, and then chainloading to run it.  Also not what I wanted to do.  Knowing that chainloading is not terribly complex, I decided to try to set up what I really wanted myself.  It turned out to be even easier than I expected.

I booted the Karmic installation again, and used grub-install /dev/sda14 to get GRUB copied into the header of the Karmic partition.   After a little bit of whinging from GRUB about this not being a good idea, it copied in just fine.  Then I booted back to the Januty installation, and editied the legacy GRUB config file /boot/grub/menu.lst.  All I did was add this:

title Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) Alpha 3

root (hd0,13)

chainloader +1

 

Then I rebooted, chose the new Karmic boot option, closed my eyes and... it worked!  GRUB 2 came right up, I booted Karmic from there, and life is wonderful.

There are obviously a number of other ways to approach this problem.  The best is probably to learn enough about GRUB 2 to be able to configure it the way I want for multibooting, but I'm a bit short on time right now, and I would really rather not be under pressure when I set about learning that.  So this got what I needed done, and gives me a GRUB 2 bootloader installation that I can use to learn the new GRUB configuration.

One last warning.  Changing something as critical as the bootloader is risky business.  Make sure that you know how to recover from whatever errors you might make, BEFORE you start.  Your mileage may vary.

jw 2/8/2009

 

openSuSE 11.2 Milestone 4 - X Display Server Quirk

I have been loading openSuSE 11.2 Milestone 4 on various computers around here, and I have come across an odd problem.  The good news is, it is relatively easy to work around.

On my Fujitsu Lifebook S6510, which is an Intel Core2Duo system with a Mobile 965GM graphic chipset and a 1280x800 resolution display, the installation process itself looks ok, the display resolution is correct, but when the installation finishes and the installed system boots, the display comes up at 800x600.  Ugh.

My first shot at getting around the problem was to just get rid of the X configuration file - although I am careful enough that I simply renamed it rather than deleting it, in case this didn't work

# mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.suse

Then restart the X server, either by killing the running server or by simply rebooting... and it works great!  The display comes up at 1280x800, everything else works, and it's all just beautiful.

For those who are curious, I will be installing this openSuSE release on all of the desktop/nettop and laptop/netbook systems around here.  I will write a more complete report later, but so far I have installed it on this S6510, an ASUS N10J, and my self-assembled Dual Atom nettop, and so far this glitch is the only problem I have had.

 

jw 31/7/2009

 

Android Live CD: Not Quite There Yet

 Originally Published on Igneous Quill

Yesterday I learned that a live CD version of Android was available for download. I've been curious about this OS and have tried out several Linux live CDs of other distros, so I thought I'd give this one a look. I went to the Google project page for the Android Live CD and downloaded a copy of the iso for v.0.2 from a mirror (a link can be found in the readme). I then burned the image to a CD and rebooted my notebook (a Dell Inspiron 1545). I got as far as the Live Android startup screen and everything stopped. I let it set for nearly 10 minutes, but nothing.

After rebooting a couple of times I decided it just wasn't going to work. So I waited until today to try again.

This time, rather than download the complete iso from a mirror, I downloaded the file in two parts from the project page and merged them with the following:

cat liveandroidv0.2.iso.001 liveandroidv0.2.iso.002 > liveandroidv0.2.iso

Again I tried rebooting with the live CD, and once again it froze on the start screen. In all honesty, the *buntu distros (Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu) have probably spoiled me. It is incredibly easy to create a live *buntu CD boot from it and either install or just try it out. Except for the time two monitors were involved I haven't had a problem yet. So, patience with Android.

Since I couldn't get Live Android to run the way a live CD normally does, I decided to fire it up in VirtualBox OSE. Sure enough, there it was.

Having gone through all this I went back to the read me page for the Live Android project and found this: "In liveandroid v0.2, only a few of video card and net card driver added, so if you encounter freeze problem, please feedback to us, we are glad to fix it."

Scrolling further down on the read me page you'll see that this problem of freezing up is fairly common.

The idea of a live CD for Android is certainly a good one, and if you are interested in the OS go ahead and download it. Be aware that you may need to run it in VirtualBox or something similar. Poking around on the OS it should become obvious fairly quickly that this isn't ready to serve as your only or primary OS. It's just something to play with, at least for now.
 

Moblin4Children: Some Ideas

My trip in Moblin4Children is going along. Read this PDF to understand something more about this project.

I don't know if people like these posts. Maybe my English is not so good ... but do you like the content?

Moblin4Children on SourceForge.

Read more... Comment (0)
 

Pardus 2009

So sad because i miss the release. Im at holiday but cant leave the comunity.So happy about our new Pisi :) Here some information about Pardus 2009:

  KDE 4.2.4
 Linux kernel 2.6.30.1
 OpenOffice.Org 3.1.0.6
 Mozilla Firefox 3.5.1
 Gimp 2.6.6
 K3b 1.66
 Xorg 1.6.2
 Python 2.6.2

With this version Pardus start to using its own template called "Milky" you will love it ^^ We made a good first impression with Ozgurlukicin's E-Magazine(turkish). Still you can read first rewiev from here. I hope everyone enjoy this distro. As a user i do!

 

Finishing openSUSE Weekly News #81

Hi Guys. I'm finishing the OS Weekly News #81. If you have any interesting, you can post it to: http://2tu.us/iog

 

HOWTO: VMWare Server 2, Disable Web Server Interface

Here I am, back again with episode 2 of VMWare Server, if you've already read HOWTO: Install VMWare Server 2, I guess you've a linux server with VMWare 2 up and running.

First thing I did after my installation was to reboot the machine to see memory usage and look at security issues. With no surprise I've seen Virtual Infrastructure Web Access enabled and when using netstat -a to see opened ports I've seen few more ports opened by VMWare webserver interface (apache tomcat and catalina folks laying around), I've previously used VMWare Server on a Windows desktop machine and I've already seen it.

When I create a system I always adopt the golden rule: "If you don't have it, you don't break it" and I tend to build servers with the fewest services as possible, this is for saving memory resources, CPU cycles and getting top performances from the machine I've (Gentoo/Debian/Slack users know what I mean); and even: Closing TCP ports is my first task when I want to start to secure a site (the less ports opened, the best control you've)

As most of VMWare users I'm really upset with the web interface: it's ugly, slow and too classy, I always prefer the "dirty and fast" approach, VMWare management console (from version 1.x) was simple, beautiful and damn fast, when I've tried Virtual Server (from Microsoft) I've told: "I'll never use it, I hate web interface for these things". So when evaluating VMWare Server 2 i was impressed by fewer limitations, 64bit support and other things; but the web interface is one of the most important disadvantages

After a good search I've seen you can control VMWare Server with VMWare Infrastructure Client (VIC) used mainly by VMWare commercial products; as you can read from my previous post I'm not so happy about it because the client is windows only (at the moment), but at least is fast and you'll save hundreds of megs of RAM for Apache/Tomcat/Catalina web interface on the server side.

I've seen different methods to disable VMWare Server WebAccess, after reading init files here's my solution, I think it's the simplest, you only need to comment one line.

Locate your VMWare init script (/etc/init.d/vmware on Debian and Gentoo, a quite common name for other distros as well), here's original VMWare code:

service_vmware_mgmt() {
# See how we were called.
case "$1" in
start)
if [ "`vmware_product`" = "wgs" ]; then
echo 'Starting VMware management services:'
vmware_start_hostd
vmware_start_webAccess
#clean up output from webAccess
echo
fi
;;
stop)
if [ "`vmware_product`" = "wgs" ]; then
echo 'Stopping VMware management services:'
vmware_stop_webAccess
#clean up output from webAccess
echo
vmware_stop_hostd
fi
;;
restart)
"$SCRIPTNAME" stop && "$SCRIPTNAME" start
;;
*)
echo "Usage: "$BASENAME" {start|stop|restart}"
exit 1
;;
esac
}

Here's modified code:

service_vmware_mgmt() {
# See how we were called.
case "$1" in
start)
if [ "`vmware_product`" = "wgs" ]; then
echo 'Starting VMware management services:'
vmware_start_hostd
# vmware_start_webAccess
#clean up output from webAccess
echo
fi
;;
stop)
if [ "`vmware_product`" = "wgs" ]; then
echo 'Stopping VMware management services:'
vmware_stop_webAccess
#clean up output from webAccess
echo
vmware_stop_hostd
fi
;;
restart)
"$SCRIPTNAME" stop && "$SCRIPTNAME" start
;;
*)
echo "Usage: "$BASENAME" {start|stop|restart}"
exit 1
;;
esac
}

So just comment out one line (line 1191 on my file) when you see "vmware_start_webAccess" and you're set. I'll suggest you to keep function server_vmware_mgmt() running, just comment the line for disabiling web server startup

In this mode you'll save plenty of ram on server and avoid to use the webserver interface, Infrastructure Client is better and fast, if you work on guest machines as developer you'll notice the difference by accessing your machine through the VIC instead of the web interface

 

Hope it helps someone

Ben

 

HOWTO: Install VMWare Server 2 on Debian Lenny, AMD64 (64bit)

Intro

Everybody knows about VMWare Server, now with stable 2.x version my favorite feature is 64bit host native support.

I don't need to run guest 64bit OSes (yet) but 64bit native support is fine if you've a recent CPU and you'd like to take advantage of new servers outta there, and most important you can use a stable and working real 64bit application on your 64bit Debian system.

I've just installed a Debian Lenny (v5.0) host with AMD64 flavor, so a 64bit compiled OS on a brand new Xeon Quad Core, a bunch of ram (8Gb), hw raid array with hot swap and spare disks as well; in short: HP Proliant DL180G5 machine, hp basic config with no fancy features but stable and fast enough for a Debian host. Lenny with AMD64 flavor is not a surprise, it's a well documented and a stable release, so proceed forward with a common installation, you don't need a lot of software, just proceed with a bare bone install (no X, no additional software), when it just boots you're set.

 

Let's start with VMWare

VMWare Server is now declared stable, at the date release 2.0.1 is available for 64 bit Operating Systems. No deb packages are available from VMWare Site, only .tar.gz source and RPM packages, just download the common .tar.gz, it's working and it's good for us. Take a look carefully at the download page and grab the 64bit version, 32bit on a 64bit system doesn't work at all (without 32 compat libs but we don't want them).
Login as root and start with the configuration

Requirements

As a prerequisite you need to have these packages installed:

binutils
gcc
libc6
libc6-dev
make
linux-headers-2.6.26-2-amd64 (or other version according to your installed kernel)

And install dependent packages as well, with them and with a bare bone install you're able to install vmware server v2

Optional: Create a non administrative user, useful and nice if you'd like to run the service without root privileges (user: vmware for my host), assign an home directory, we'll use that for local vmware storage

 

Download and Install VMWare

At the date this is what I've downloaded: VMware-server-2.0.1-156745.x86_64.tar.gz
AMD64 version, .tar.gz format

decompress it wherever you want:

tar -zxvf VMware-server-2.0.1-156745.x86_64.tar.gz
cd vmware-server-distrib/

And run

./vmware-install.pl

Reply to installer questions by choosing the default answer, these are common for a basic installation, you don't need to worry too much unless you know what you're doing. The only thing I've changed is VMWare virtual machine storage directory according to my unprivileged user (user: vmware)

When installation is complete you'll have vmware three more networks up and running: NAT, HostOnly and Bridged; networking autodetection and assignment is working fine and without troubles

 

Dirty hack on modules compilation (if needed)

If you've just installed GCC and you've a running debian system with a stock image (2.6.26-2 in my case) you'll run into troubles with VMWare modules compilation. VMWare installation script may complain about your running kernel compiled with GCC v4.1 and current GCC version (now 4.3), it refuses to go on until you switch to gcc 4.1.
As a little and dirty hack you only need to switch to gcc 4.1 for a while, compile vmware modules and go back to gcc 4.3 (or whatever version you've)

vmhost:/usr/bin# ls -la gcc
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 2009-07-13 09:20 gcc -> gcc-4.3
vmhost:/usr/bin# rm gcc
vmhost:/usr/bin# ln -s gcc-4.1 gcc
vmhost:/usr/bin# ls -la gcc
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 2009-07-13 09:20 gcc -> gcc-4.1

 

Remember to switch gcc back to 4.3 version when finished with VMWare

And that's it

Nothing more, installation is very easy and without troubles if you take a look at the compiler issue, license key version is provided when you download the package from the web site, write it down on a note and enter later in the installation script when asked, nothing more.

Next step is to disable web access console (ugly and slow for me) and leave VIC (VMWare Infrastructure Client) as your only and fast access.

Sadly if you've a Linux workstation like me you don't have a native Infrastructure client for basic configuration, VMWare provides Windows only clients, if you're upset like me please take a look at this thread and email directly VMWare for requests (I think they're flooded from Linux users like me); WINE emulation isn't stable enough to be used in a production environment

 

I'll come back with web access configuration for the next blog
Stay tuned

New episode: HOWTO: VMWare Server 2, Disable Web Server Interface
Check it out


Ben

 

Disable IPV6 on Debian Lenny (quick howto)

Here's a very quick howto on disabling IPV6 on Debian (Lenny), this is not a new argument and neither an unknown solution, it's just how to disable IPV6 on Debian with less impact as possible on your machine config in "the debian way".

Sometimes you don't need IPV6: you've an already existing IPV4 net and you're happy with it,  you don't want to waste memory or cpu cycles, you'd just like a very basic networking and setup.

There're a lot of way to do this, this mode is more "debian friendly".

Just place a file named for example "00local" in your /etc/modprobe.d directory, it should look like mine:

luke:/etc/modprobe.d# cat 00local
alias net-pf-10 off
alias ipv6 off 

These two aliases should disable IPV6, this is a quite common config used in other distro as well, easy to port if you upgrade frequently or change from a major common release to another one.

 

Hope it helps

Ben 

 

My turn to weigh in on Google OS

The buzz all last week and weekend has been about Google OS.  With more than just one pundit going on and on endlessly about how silly it is for Google to introduce a second OS for NetBooks when they were all ready getting traction with Android blah blah blah blah.  Try this one on for size

Android is Google OS.  Always was. Always will be.

You see Android in it's current form is an excellent platform for smartphones.  However last time I checked you and I want a lot more out of our Netbooks than we do out of our phones.  (though I have to confess I can't find enough ways to explain how much having a smartphone has improved my life.)  But it doesn't replace my netbook or notebook.  So then how can I say that Android is Google OS.  Simple, let's look at what Android really is, even more so, what is any Linux "OS". 

Android is, as any "Linux OS" a kernel with a collection of tools on the backend.  In other words no matter how you stack things on top of the kernel it's still Linux.  Most Linux Distro's are really a combination of the Linux Kernel and GNU tools backed up by X.  Android is the Linux kernel, with GNU tools, backed up by Dalvik JVM.  In short to go from Android to Google OS you need to change drivers, change the compile options (x86 arch instead of ARM)  remove things like dialers and utilities specific to the phone world and poof.  You have GoogleOS. 

Browsers?  Google already has it.  It's chrome.  Office Suite, Google docs.  on and on all those things that so many mistakingly think are part of their OS Google already has.  What Google was and is missing is the one thing they thrive on. Data. The only way to get that data is, as it always has been to poke at the world around them and see what happens.

Since Google announced rather surreptitiously, that there would be a GoogleOS, pundit's have been climbing the walls with their critics of the design of something that existed only in a blog.  In other words, if Google ever wanted to know how best to create a NetBook OS for the masses, they needed only to put out a hint and let the masses design it for them.  

In the end GoogleOS needs only the kernel, toolset and windowing system from Android, and they will be off and running.  In the end the name changes but the players remain the same.  So now you know.  Android is really a Transformer ;)

 

New hardware… Enter Linux Mint 7

It all started a few weeks ago when I got a wonderful fathers day GIFT. As you can imagine I was rather excited. When you are a tech guy like myself there is nothing like getting hardware upgrades. So I unboxed my shiny new toy and got to work moving things around and untangling wires. I decided that rather than just replacing my old flat screen I was finally gonna go dual screen and try to increase my "productivity".

I got everything hooked up and began to try and configure my new dual monitor setup. For the life of me I could not get it to work right in Mandriva! Basically I could get the nvidia settings manager to correctly configure my displays to span the way I wanted, but when I would go to save the config to the Xorg.conf it would give me some permissions error bullshit. I tried to do it as root. Tried logging in a root. I don't know what the hell I was doing wrong. I love Linux but I am by no means a "guru". I kept fighting it a few days. Having to configure it every time I logged in. Only took three or four clicks. But it just ate at me that it wasn't right. About that time I got a good look at some of the screen shots and reviews from Mint 7 and decided to give it a try.

I downloaded the .iso from Linux Mint's website and burned it. Did one last backup and booted to the CD and ran through the installed. Lets just say that things went off without a hitch. We have all read a million reviews with details of this and that. The main thing I want to emphasize it that this edition of Mint is VERY nice looking. Once I ran updates and loaded proprietary drivers for my video card I was able to configure dual displays and compiz fusion with ease. I have been using it a few weeks now and everything is wonderful. Tweetdeck works great. All my hardware worked out of the box. No complaints here. Great Distro. Pulled me away from Mandirva and KDE and that is a hard thing to do. Afterward Picture.

Mint 7

 
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