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NEWB's adventure's in Linux From Scratch

  Hello again,

   Today I'm going over my amd64 dual box and just realized why I may have gotten some compile errors.... booting up in dmesg I was getting errors that there's a firmware bug in my bios and my cdrom is not operating properly. I seem to remember that anyone using Linux really should check their hardware to make sure of complete compatibility. Something that will make my next attempt at building the LFS a bit easier I should hope.  I've decided my future attempts will be on a pentium4 machine with a single processor.

I'm in the hopes that this action will remove another roadblock to my sucessful building of LFS


Making my own Desktop Manager: A Little Motivation

Realising what I've got myself in for, I'd thought I'd inspire myself with a couple of quick wins...

Firstly I got my ATI graphics card configured so I could start using it for some cool graphics.

I then created an account called 'wmtest' for use of testing my wm (genuis naming convention I know!) and configured it to load (i) xcompmgr, (ii) a program which will eventually become my Window Manager, and (iii) an xterm console which X will wait for until it shuts down.

For now, I decided my WM should be C based & use Cairo for my graphics. I drew a gradient-panel-window, stretched across the top of the screen. This will eventually become my status bar for my manager. 

150 lines later and when I logon as wmtest, I get a rather groovy page like this:

Another quick-win would be to use transset to make the windows slightly opaque and feh to set a background image.

$ transset 0.5

Then I clicked my the panel.

$ transset 0.2

Then I clicked on the terminal. 

$ feh --bg-center /path/to/wallpapers/arch-elegant.png 


Not bad for 150 lines of code! The transset steps will be replaced by xlib code which sets the _NET_WM_WINDOW_OPACIT Atom.

Now I've done that, it doesn't feel like such a big mountain anymore.. I'm ready for some more coding I think! :D

I've also created a photo gallery to showcase my development at various stages. It can be found here.

Also... I need a really awesome name for my wm.. I'm open to suggestions (and yes I know awesome is already taken!!!)



SSH as an alternative to VPN

I wanted to have access to my work PC (Windows XP) from my laptop at home(openSUSE) I had access to a VPN server, but connections were not always reliable. Hence I looked out for alternatives and found this method from some blog posts. I have been working with this setup for a long time and its been 100% reliable than the VPN method that I used before. The method is simple, secure and uses SSH to setup a tunnel between the local and remote machines

The basic requirements are

  • An account on an SSH server (or you could setup one on your work PC)
  • Work PC is a Windows machine with remote desktop enabled.
  • Both machines are on the same network and have static IP addresses

On my openSUSE laptop, I use the following command

ssh -C -L 3389:workpc:3389 vimal@ssh-server

#substitute workpc and ssh-server for IP addresses if they are not in /etc/hosts

After logging in with my password, I use krdc and connect to an remote desktop session(rdp) using localhost:3389 for server and port. After reviewing the keyboard and display settings, I can logon to my work PC. Its that simple.

To avoid typing the ssh command everytime, I created a script called connectwork in my bin directory and made it executable with

chmod u+x ~/bin/connectwork

Now I just need to call connectwork everytime I wish to connect and login to my work computer.

ssh -C -L 3389:workpc:3389 vimal@ssh-server


En quete de solutions...

Aventure dans le merveilleux monde de la virtualisation!

J'avais un probleme a resoudre.. 

Mon PVR prend de l'age et n'a que 60Go de capacite ce qui fais que je suis constamment en train de faire le menage du disque dur du PVR.  Comme nous somme en fin d'annee scolaire et que le temp passez devant le televiseur empietais de plus en plus sur le temp necessaire au etudes de mes deux filles, j'ai passez une entente avec elles.  J'allais enregistrer la totalite de leurs emission favorites qu'elle allaient pouvoir regarder plus tard.

J'ai donc fais l'acquisition  d'un bidule de capture video analog USB Trident Tv-Box dans le buts de me concocte un PVR logiciel a base de Linux de type mythTV ou qqchose de ce genre.  J'ai rapidement fait deux constats:

 1 - Le bidule ne fonctionne finalement que en USB 2.0

 2 - Il n'y a aucun pilote de disponible pour Linux ou BSD pour le machin



My Thumb Drive Toolbox

A very handy thing to have when running around solving issues on your friends' or relatives' corrupted MS Windows installations is a thumb drive with bootable installation of SLAX Linux on it. I never leave home without mine. 

It's also great to have if you're stuck with only MS Windows at the workplace. You can boot SLAX into RAM on your work computer and get a blazing fast Linux fix while at work.Check with your IT boss before doing that, though... just in case.


There is so much you can do with SLAX on that sick Windows system. You can debug. You can access the Internet for information. You can access and backup important data to CD/DVD from an unbootable Windows system. The list of useful things you can do goes on...

Just to be fair, while SLAX is my favorite "pocket" distro for this usage, Puppy Linux works equally well for this purpose. Flash drives are so cheap nowadays, get both and play around with them.


SLAX Linux Homepage -->

Puppy Linux Homepage -->


Here's a brief how-to for getting SLAX on your thumb drive:

1) Most thumb drives will come out-of-the-box already partitioned and formatted with the FAT16 file system (required by SLAX). If yours isn't already formatted or if it's an older one that you want to wipe first, you can use the excellent application Parted from the command line. If you're uncomfortable with the command line, you can use Gparted, which is included in most Gnome-based distros.

 # parted /dev/(your device - sd*)

It is IMPORTANT that you tell the parted application which device you want to work with. WARNING: if you forget this step, parted may choose your 1st hard drive to work on. That would be UGLY. Pay attention when using apps like this as root.

Once you've entered the above command, the parted dialog will begin:


You can type "help" at this point and parted will give you a brief synopsis of its command structure and usage.You can see the entire parted user's manual at this site -->

(parted) mkpartfs primary fat16 1.024 2100

The command "mkpartfs" and its modifiers does the following based on my example above: It creates a primary partition using the FAT16 file system starting at 1.024M and ending at 2100M on the thumb drive.

Of course, your drive may be different, so you should use the fdisk command to determine what your drive's specs are:

# fdisk -l /dev/(your device - sd*)

Here's a screenshot of what fdisk and the initial parted command looks like in Konsole:


OK. Your thumb drive should be all set at this point, so onto the next step.


2) Download SLAX and perform the md5sum check on the download to check its integrity:

$ md5sum slax-6.x.x.tar

If all is well with the download, you can extract it directly to the thumb drive or to its current location. Copy/Paste the "boot" and "slax" directories onto your thumb drive (if you didn't extract it directly in the previous step).

From the command line as root, navigate to the boot directory that you just placed on the thumb drive. Run the following command:

# sh

This will make your new SLAX installation bootable.


3) All done. Reboot your system and choose the USB drive as the boot device. Your SLAX system should boot off your thumb drive now. Try the "Run SLAX in RAM" option if you have enough resources to do so. It is REALLY FAST when running in RAM.


That's about all there is to it, folks. Most of what I did here using the command line, you can also do from graphical frontends to these same apps (fdisk, parted, untar, etc.). If you're a GUI person, do what's most comfortable for you.


Until next time...

V.T. Eric Layton

***Tempus Fugits***



Real Time Collaboration With Openfire

So Openfire is one of those REALLY cool projects that I have happened to stumble across recently. It’s a real time collaboration server program that has made my neighbors and I very happy.

My wife and her friends approached me a few months ago after a huge catfight with some other friends of theirs. They wanted a private place they could chat, swap files, and be happy. This is where Openfire and its sister project Sparkweb came into my life.

The set up of Openfire is relatively straightforward. I built it from source, choosing not to go with a precompiled binary. For Openfire, all you really need is the latest version of Java, MySQL, and an XMPP client like Pidgin or Spark. You could use their built in database but from first hand experience you’re better off with MySQL, PostreSQL, etc. Later I’ll add create instructions for getting a basic Openfire Server up and running.

Now, Openfire's great for stuff around the office or in my case around the neighbor hood. But lets say some one goes on holiday in Florida (like one of them did). This is where Sparkweb comes in really handy. It allows anyone to login via the web browser.  Or in my case, I got sick of trying to get certain XMPP clients to work so I installed LAMP and use Sparkweb to chat.

Aside from the really cool fact that you could be the next Yahoo! of the neighborhood or office its free, open source, and stable.  Administering it is a breeze. All the setup and admin functions are web based. I love the fact that you can install plug-ins that allow you to do virtually everything from broadcasting messages, transferring files, and integration with other networks.



I Just Lost

I'm sorry... But I had to announce it.

 Thanks to this post:

 I just lost.

 Don't know what I'm talking about? Take a quick look here:

I am truly sorry that I just introduced you into a life long game of dissapointment. 

Back on topic next post.





Google Chrome browser gets ‘V8′ engine

Google  announced some upgrades to its Web browser, Chrome, which originally was released about 8 months ago.

Google says the upgrades mostly focus on speed, which comes from a new browser “engine,” which Google calls “V8. The browser tops others because it is able to handle complex Web pages with lots of Java Script very quickly.”

Templates in Aptitude

Small trick with aptitude, package manager in Debian-based distributions.

Aptitude's search understands some templates in search. Several of them:

~ntext -- all packages with name containing text

~dtext -- with description containing text

~i -- installed packages

~c -- removed (not purged) packages

~N -- new packages in repository

~U -- upgradable packages

~Dtext -- packages depend of packages text

~Rtext  -- packages that depend of text

| -- OR

! --  NOT


Case studies:

aptitude purge '~c' -- purge all removed packages

aptitude search ~neclipse -- search all packagse with name containing   eclipse

aptitude search '~i(~nfirefox|~niseweasel) ' --all installed packages with 'firefox' or 'isewease' in package name

aptitude search '!~i~dkde'  -- not installed packages with 'kde' in description


Everyday with Linux

I have tried blogging several times before and it hasn't been a big success, because I usually have so many things going on that I never find time to update them regularly.  I even had a blog before they were called blogs, where I kept notes about Linux and other computer related things.

But I really like the idea of having a blog on, I think it has a certain coolness about it. So I am going to try to blog things here more regularly.

I use Linux every single day.  I have Linux installed on 5 desktop machines here on my desk, that I use for testing: a Dell Inspiron that came with Linux pre-installed, an AMD64 machine, a PowerPC Mac mini, an Intel Mac mini, and an old machine that just happend to be sitting around.  I have Linux on my laptop.

I have an older machine at work that I do all of my web browsing, e-mail, play music, edit audio, etc. on.  Unfortunately, I have to have a Windows machine at work because there is one program that is essential to my work that only runs on Windows.  But everything that can be done on Linux, I do on the Linux machine.

So my plan is to blog about my experiences with Linux, both good and bad.  I also plan to link to other Linux related things that I find interesting.



hello world

here i am! our first blogpost...


hell yeah!

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