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Gentle introduction to “friendly” Linux shell

For this small tutorial I used Ubuntu 9.04 – so it is Gnome and things attempted here should work on any other distro which is using Gnome, but I can not guarantee that. Yes, I will use zenity, but not right away.

Shell on Linux system is very powerful and through time it was made even more powerful with number of utilities and packages which one can call from shell.

To do “Hello World!” click on Applications → Accessories → Terminal. When terminal window is open it will present you with prompt where you can type in command to be executed. We want to print “Hello World!” and here it is:

echo "Hello World!"

And that will result in failure.

bash: !": event not found

Then one is tempted to escape exclamation sign, like this:

echo "Hello World!"

Which results in lesser failure:

Hello World!

At this stage people are quite inclined towards leaving shell for beter times and sticking with point and click world. Some will go and report the bug as well.

What is the problem here?

Due to POSIX spec '!' cannot be escaped within double quotes. Throwing away POSIX compliance is out of question, so what do we do? Single quotes will work well or appending '!' outside of double quotes, like this:

echo "Hello World"!

That will finally print the desired Hello World! Please note that if we decided to create script with the following content:


echo "Hello World!"

we would not have any problems with '!'.

BTW to execute script one must change permissions on it. Open gedit copy, paste the code and save it as hello. Be sure that it contains only new line and not evil new line. Go to the directory where it is saved, right click and from context menu select Properties. The third tab named Permissions contains check box with text 'Allow executing file as program'. Tick that check box and close thedialog – script is now executable. Go back to terminal and cd to where hello is located and finally type into terminal:


That will execute script. That works because we are not in interactive mode. To achieve the same from Terminal, do:


chmod a+x hello


OK back to '!' and interactive shell problem. Shell which we are using is called bash or Bourne-Again Shell and it remembers commands which are issued to it in interactive mode. If we want to repeat some command, we use up arrow on keyboard, in terminal executed commands will appear one at the time as we hit arrow button. To see all executed commands we can type history into terminal and hit enter. That will print something like this:

omitted to save space ...

299 cd Documents/

300 chmod a+x hello

301 ./hello

302 history

Now to repeat command 301 we can do:



Hello World!

Bellow is the result, it first prints and after that executes the command. Now there is a pile of useful additions to it, for example:


Find freshest command starting with dot and just print it without executing it. Now we know how to print 'Hello World!' and why '!' may give us hard time. Next time we will try to read users input and add some GUI to our shell scripts.


A Willingness to Learn

The arguement against Linux that bothers me the most is the one that states that inexperienced users just can't handle the change away from Windows or some such.  In my opinion, the only thing holding these users back from learning Linux is an unwillingness to learn.  If they're willing to learn, then the transition is no problem at all.  If they're not, well, they'd be happier sticking with Windows anyway.

To illustrate, I'll talk about a couple of my own experiences.  The first of these was when my wife bought a Macbook Pro (I know, still not Linux...) to replace her Windows laptop.  My mom was interested in getting a laptop, so we sold her my wife's old one.  When we gave it to her, she was rightly concerned as to whether it had all the proper antivirus, antispyware, and firewall software on it.  After assuring her that it did, I told her that for what she uses a computer for, I could install Linux on it and she wouldn't need the antivirus and antispyware, and that she'd still be able to do what she needed to.  She was apprehensive to learn a different way of using the computer, so she declined and told me that XP was fine.  It's not that she's afraid of technology--as a high school librarian, her library was one of the first in the area to switch to computerized records back in the day--but she was comfortable with what she had.

In contrast, my wife's cousin came over a few months back, and was intrigued at the strange-looking (Gentoo running Gnome) desktop on my computer.  I told her what it was, and proceeded to show her stuff like Compiz, multiple workspaces, installation of programs from the repo, and the like: stuff that Windows couldn't offer.  She really liked what she saw, and was particularly impressed with Conky, so I asked her if she'd like me to install Linux on her computer.  She didn't like the sound of it, but I gave her a couple of live CDs for her to try out.  I figured that she wouldn't want to make the switch, but hey, I could take the loss of a few CDs.

The next time my wife's cousin came over to babysit, she asked me if I could "install that program" on her computer after all.  She complained that Vista was too slow on her computer, and was frustrated with its byzantine UAC and configuration tools and such.  After confirming that "that program" she referred to was Linux, I happily went about installing Ubuntu 9.04 on her computer.  (Yeah, I know, but Gentoo would have taken too long to install, and probably wouldn't have been an ideal distro to learn the basics with.)  Unlike my mom, she was interested in learning, watching me go through Jaunty's installer and asking questions about what I was doing.  She was impressed that Ubuntu installed so quickly, and was eager to get into using it when the install finished.

After she did the post-install setup and played around with Ubuntu for a while, I offered to customize her install to make the adjustment from Windows easier.  As much as I respect the free-as-in-speech aspect of Linux, I find it difficult to run an OS of the likes that the FSF would approve of.  I imagine that my wife's cousin, being a typically-connected teenager, would find it difficult as well given that she listens to mp3s, visits YouTube, watches DVDs, and the like.  Moreover, since I left Vista on her computer in case she wanted or needed to boot back into Vista, I thought I'd set it up so the NTFS partition was automounted, and then symlink her "Music" and "Video" folders to their respective locations on said NTFS drive so that she'd have access to her existing collections.  So, I fired up the terminal and went to work.  She was still interested in knowing what I was doing and why I was doing it, and surprisingly, she was fascinated with the command line and wished to learn how to use it.  She described it as something like "It's so cool, like you're talking to the computer!", which I suppose is pretty accurate.  So much for the old myth that new users don't want to use the command line, too.

After I finished installing the freedom-hating codecs and setting up /etc/fstab and installing a few miscellaneous programs (including Conky!), I set her free to explore her new OS.  She quickly took off, and by the time I looked at her screen again, she'd customized the theme from orange to green, set her own background, and done a few other things to make Ubuntu her own...none of which I'd showed her; she'd figured them out herself.  My wife's cousin hasn't come to visit since then, but I'm curious to see what she's gotten up to with Linux since then.  

I'd say that both my mom and my wife's cousin have comparable levels of computer knowledge, and they use their computers to do much the same thing.  The difference between them, though, is the desire to learn.  With such a willingness, my wife's cousin had no trouble adjusting to Ubuntu.  Granted, I installed it and set it up for her, but if I had been installing Vista out of the box on her machine, I'd have had to do similar setup as well.

So is every inexperienced user ready to switch to Linux?  No, but it's not because Linux is arcane and difficult to use, it's that the user has to be willing to try something new.

Updates to my Linux RAM disk module

In my last post I had posted a link to a *.tar.gz file containing the source code to both a very generic Linux RAM disk module that I wrote for the Linux 2.6.26.x kernel (was tested on Fedora 8 and Debian 5.0.1) and the source to a single purpose user binary that obtains the total device block count (no. of sectors) via an ioctl() and also performs some write(), lseek() and read() operations.This way, if the user were to monitor the /var/log/messages file they would see exactly where the process is in the driver code (I had placed many printk() messages for learning and tracking purposes).

I had made some updates to the device driver. The updates are so minor that the revision level of the driver incremented from 0.1 to 0.1.1. The updates are as follows:

  1. The user has the ability to specify a size (in MB) for the module during the module insertion.
  2. Also I added a second case field. The only one supported in v.0.1 was BLKGETSIZE which returned the total sectors for the default 64 MB size. As of v.0.1.1, the case statement now calculates from the specified size as opposed to the fixed value it was returning before. The new case field is BLKSSZGET which returns the sector size.

Shortly I will add support for later kernel revisions as the field for unlocked_ioctl() has been removed; at least from what I can tell when I view the block_device_operations structure in the include/linux/blkdev.h file of the source tree. Note that I am seeing this in the 2.6.28.x kernel (confirmed at The block_device_operations structure was modified and relocated from include/linux/fs.h to the location specified above.

When monitoring the /var/log/messages, the user may notice that when invoking my test application (rxio), despite the fact that the application writes before it reads to/from the disk, the trace log will report the opposite (read then write). This is a result of the kernel scheduler. When a request (reference rx_request() function in the source code) is made to the block device for a read/write operation and multiple operations are sent to it, the first request to return is what the scheduler believes would be the best to execute next. So there is nothing wrong here and nothing to be concerned about.

To specify the RAM disk size during insertion, you will need to type the following, otherwise it will continue to default to 64 MB:

# insmod rxd.ko sizemb=96

Version 0.1.1 can be downloaded from here. As I update this driver I will post the details on those updates.


Installing Oracle on Linux

Installing Oracle  on Linux


  1. Create Users and groups

  2. Creating directories for installing oracle

  3. Change Kernel Parameters

  4. Install Oracle

  1. Create User and groups

#groupadd oinstall

#groupadd dba

#useradd –m –g oinstall –G dba oracle

#passwd oracle

  1. Creating directories for installing oracle

For Applicaiton

#Mkdir –p /u01/app/oracle

#Chown –R oracle:oinstall /u01/app/oracle

For data

#mkdir -p /u02/oradata

#chown –R oracle:oinstall /u02/

  1. Change Kernel Parameters

Sysctl file

# vi /etc/sysctl.conf

kernel.shmall = 2097152

kernel.shmmax = 536870912

kernel.shmmni = 4096

kernel.sem = 250 32000 100 128

fs.file-max = 65536

net.ipv4.ip_local_port_range = 1024 65000





Limits file

#vi /etc/security/limits.conf

oracle soft nproc 2047

oracle hard nproc 16384

oracle soft nofile 1024

oracle hard nofile 65536

Login file

#vi /etc/pam.d/login

session required /lib/security/

profile file

#vi /etc/profile

if [ $USER = "oracle" ]; then

if [ $SHELL = "/bin/ksh" ]; then

ulimit -p 16384

ulimit -n 65536


ulimit -u 16384 -n 65536


umask 022


  1. Install Oracle

# cd /opt/database


  1. Advance installation

  2. Enterprise edition

  3. Application path  /u01/app/oracle/product/10.2.0/db_1

  4. Create database

  5. Transaction processing

  6. Global database (gtldev.localdomain sid gtldev)

  7. Unicode standard utf-8 AL32F8

  8. File system storage ( /u02/oradata/

  9. Do not enable backup

  10. Password

  11. Install

After installation run two scripts

  1. # cd /home/orainventory

  2. #./

  3. #cd /u01/app/oracle/product/10.2.0_db1/

  4. #./

Web Console



Improving Putty settings on Windows

Improving Putty settings on Windows

If you are using windows machine to connect to Linux machine, putty is inevitable. Here are some of tips you can use to customize to have cool look, more efficient to work 

Configure your Putty first, then make entries.
This is important advice. First configure your environment before you start using it. This is especially true for Putty, since you always start of from the default, it is important to configure the default entry before you create entries from these defaults. It will save you a lot of time afterwards to get things straight.

So before you make any changes, open the default template in Category: Session by selecting Default Settings and pressing the Load button.

Make SSH the default.
If you have an older version of Putty, chances are that you have Telnet as the default protocol. Changing it to SSH will probably save you some time when you start Putty out-of-the-blue. For this go to Category: Session and select SSH.

Increase scrollback buffer.
By default Putty buffers 200 lines of output, which is too little in lots of circumstances. And the moment you actually need this number increased, chances are you already lost some information you wanted. So it is wise to increase this number. What I do is go to Category: Window and increase Lines of scrollback to 20000.

Choose a good font.
The newer Putty binaries are able to make use of ClearType which drastically improves the font quality compared to Antialiased. Go to Category: Window > Appearance, choose ClearType and a nice font. I prefer Lucida Console, 9-point.

When you are there, you might want to change the Gap between text and window edge to 3 pixels.

Use proper character encoding.
Nowadays all Linux systems are able to use Unicode (UTF-8) so to make sure that the output in Putty (especially everything non-ascii) looks fine, go to Category: Window > Translation and change the character set to UTF-8, make sure that also the line drawing characters use Unicode as well.

Linux copy-and-pasting.
I prefer to do an implicit copy when selecting and using the middle mouse button for pasting. So I go to Category: Window > Selection and set the Action of mouse buttons to xterm (Right extends, Middle pastes)

When you are there, also enable the option Paste to clipboard in RTF as well as plain text, which is nice when you are copy-and-pasting to emails or text documents that allow fonts and colours. Your console output will look much the same as it does on your screen!

Change dark colours on a black background.
One of the more annoying things with terminal applications (xterm has the same issue) is that by default dark-blue is too dark to be visible on a black background. Not only is this frustrating, it makes the experience for new users so bad that they prefer to disable colours (or hate the ls colour output or syntax highlighting in vim).

So if you are like me, go to Category: Window > Colours and select ANSI Blue in the Select a colour to adjust to Red:74 Green:74 Blue:255. I do the same for ANSI Blue Bold to Red:140 Green:140 Blue:255.

Keeping idle sessions active.
Another frustrating problem is induced by the time-to-live of inactive or idle TCP sessions on firewall or switch configurations. At some companies this is put aggressively low so that TCP sessions that have no activity for 1 minute or even 30 seconds are being dropped. If you are using an SSH connection over such a network device, you have to take care to send keep-alive packets over your idle session. To do this go to Category: Connection and set Seconds between keepalives (0 to turn off) to 25.

Finally, saving the default.
Now, don't forget to save the changes you just made to the default template. If you loaded the Default Settings at the start, return back to Category: Session and press the Save button. Now you are done !

Putty settings summary.
Category: Session
Connection type: SSH

Category: Window
Lines of scrollback: 20000

Category: Window > Appearance
Font: Lucida Console, 9-point
Font quality: ClearType
Gap between text and window edge: 3

Category: Window > Translation
Character set: UTF-8
Handling of line drawing characters: Unicode

Category: Window > Selection
Action of mouse buttons: xterm (Right extends, Middle pastes)
Paste to clipboard in RTF as well as plain text: enabled

Category: Window > Colours
ANSI Blue: Red:74 Green:74 Blue:255
ANSI Blue Bold: Red:140: Green:140 Blue:255

Category: Connection
Seconds between keepalives (0 to turn off): 25



The mixed blessing of using Dvorak and Linux

I am the one who wants to find the optimal way to complete each task that is set for me. I am therefor the one who's always looking for a more efficient way to do what I'm doing, especially when it comes to computing. This has led me to discover new applications and new ways to handle my computer.

Two great examples of this are Linux and Dvorak. One being an operating-system far more effective than the standard of Windows and the other one being a keyboard layout far more effective than the standard QWERTY. Why use something that is ineffective when you can wrap your head around something new that will make the rest of your life so much easier?

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The sophisticated benifits of using Ajax with XQuery

Discover how you can get the full benefit of using XQuery technology together with Ajax. Your Web application will have the back-end benefit of sophisticated XML querying as well as the client-side benefit of rich presentation without the distraction of repeated requests. A realtime comparison of web apps with and without Ajax and XQuery. You'll see a significant difference.

The ghost of Marc Andreessen comes back as Google Chrome OS to haunt Microsoft

This news is one of the biggest digital tipping points that has occurred since Munich announced that it was moving its 14,000 desktop machines to Linux.  Google announced on 8 July 2009 that it would produce an operating system for netbook computers based on the Linux kernel.  The name of the operating system is Google Chrome OS, similar in name to its Google Chrome browser.  This is the very first time that it has been announced that the titan of the Internet (Google) would take on the titan of the desktop (Microsoft).  This is certain to be a heated battle with tens of billions of dollars at stake.  The outcome of this battle will shape the Internet and personal computing for decades.

Google explained that it is taking this initiative because it wants to make computers start faster and reduce viruses, two chief complaints of PC users.  Google says that it will benefit if people enjoy their computer experiences more, so they will spend more time on the Internet, which is, of course, where Google earns its bread and butter through paid advertising.

This announcement is a huge digital tipping point, for several reasons.  First, it shows that Microsoft is not invulnerable in its home turf, the personal computing operating system.  Google's name is well known, and merely by lending its name to this operating system, Google scores major points by raising question marks in Microsoft's business distribution network, namely, its Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and third party software vendors who write software for Microsoft Windows.  Consumers know and trust the Google name.  For the very first time, consumers have a low-cost alternative to Microsoft Windows in an arena where Apple deliberately did not compete with Microsoft.

Second, Google Chrome OS opens up the world of applications to competition.  Currently, all third party vendors must accept Microsoft's terms when it comes to licensing the information that vendors must have in order to write software for Microsoft's Windows operating system.  By offering competition and by open sourcing the secret sauce needed by vendors to write applications, Google fires a shot at a significant choke point of control that Microsoft held over applications vendors.  Previously, vendors refused to take any action that would anger Microsoft, for fear that Microsoft would not license the secret sauce to them, which effectively would be the kiss of death for these vendors' business.  Now that these vendors will have an alternative arena in which to sell their products, Microsoft will have a much harder time dictating terms to these vendors.

Third, Google offers PC users an alternative for running applications.  Currently, many consumers are tied to Microsoft Windows computers, because the vendors, as discussed above, produce products only for Microsoft Windows, so consumers really have no choice about what kind of computer they will choose.  Now, with Google Chrome OS, there will be a choice.  Google will start out with its own apps, but is partnering with vendors to create choice for the new Chrome OS.  As vendors get more choice in offering their products for new operating systems, consumers will get new choices of applications from which to choose.  It is a big win for everyone but Microsoft.  

Forth, Google Chrome OS is a Linux operating system, which means that it will be possible to innovate on top of it.  The full power of the Free Open Source Software community will be brought to bear to find bugs and squash the bugs quickly and efficiently.  This means that consumer-threatening bugs will be killed in hours, rather than months, as is often the case with Microsoft Windows bugs.

Fifth, Google Chrome OS will allow users to control their own data better, since the data created with Google Chrome apps will live in truly Free Open Standards.  This means that no one company will be able to lock down the data, since it will always be possible for a user to open his or her documents with word processors by OpenOffice or AbiWord or WordPerfect or even Microsoft Office.  Right now, it can be difficult for some users who have created documents with Microsoft Word to open those documents with other word processing programs, especially if they don't know that OpenOffice is compatible with almost all Microsoft Office documents.

Sixth, and perhaps the most important, Google Chrome OS will force Microsoft to compete.  Until now, Microsoft has not had any real competition, and that has created a lag in innovation.  During the US anti-trust case against Microsoft, the US Federal trial judge and the subesequent US Court of Appeal hearing the case both concluded that consumers had been hurt by artificially high prices for software and a lack of innovation in the PC market due to Microsoft's abuse of its desktop monopoly.  That situation is still going on today, for example, in the UK, where schools have to pay Microsoft even if they use a competitor's products, due to Microsoft's abusive end user license agreement.  Google Chrome's competition with Microsoft will force Microsoft to drop prices and innovate to stay ahead.  We are all the winners.  

Ironically, we are finally seeing the fulfillment of a prophecy by computer wunderkid Marc Andreessen, a computer science student who created what would become the Netscape browser back in 1995.  At that time, Andreessen concluded that the Internet browser would render Microsoft's Windows operating system as little more than a "slightly buggy set of drivers", meaning the software that makes hardware components run.  Andreessen foresaw today's world in which many computer users would be able to get their computing needs met on software applications that would run over the Internet, or within the browser on software that had been downloaded for free (as in free beer) over the Internet.  

The problem for Andreessen was that he tried to sell his browser software, which is a mistake that Google is not repeating.  Google is selling services, not software, so Google will not fall prey to Microsoft's tactic of "cutting of Netscape's air supply" by giving away the Microsoft Internet Explorer.  It was impossible for Andreeessen's Netscape company to survive, because Microsoft commoditized Andreessen's key product.  

Now, the shoe is on the other foot, and it is Google which is commoditizing Microsoft's key product, Microsoft Windows.  Google Chrome OS is designed to make an end run around Microsoft Windows by initially focusing on web apps, an area where Microsoft has little control over third party software vendors. One journalist, Glyn Moody, has gone so far as to suggest that Google Chrome OS is "dismissing Microsoft's core products as a sideshow".  The usually conservative BBC acknowledged that Microsoft was in for a tough fight; pro-Microsoft industry observer Rob Enderle said that Microsoft found in Chrome OS its first competition in years; and journalist Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols said called Google Chrome OS " that Microsoft has seen this century".

Truly, Google Chrome OS is a tremendous digital tipping point and a huge win for Free Open Source Software.  


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


More Steps in Scripting the Vim editor

In part-1 you can begin to understand the fundamental components of the Vimscript programming language with simple script examples. In Part-2 you can learn how to create and deploy new user defined functions in the Vimscript language.

Jaspersoft Introduces Unlimited Use Subscriptions to Simplify BI Deployments for Organizations Large and Small

Jaspersoft Unlimited provides customers with a complete suite of BI products and services to address critical business needs in today’s harsh economic environment


SAN FRANCISCO, July 8, 2009Jaspersoft Corporation, provider of the world’s most widely used business intelligence (BI) software, today announced the availability of Jaspersoft Unlimited, a one-year infinite access pass to Jaspersoft’s BI Suite Premium Professional Edition. Jaspersoft Unlimited includes the use of the entire Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite, with no limits on the number of applications, users or systems.


“Smart businesses are investing in BI tools today to inform decisions for tomorrow. But even the strongest companies are challenged with justifying the cost of expensive BI platforms,” said Brian Gentile, CEO of Jaspersoft. “With Jaspersoft Unlimited, customers are now able to move forward with all of their priority business intelligence projects, unconstrained by budget limitations.”


Jaspersoft Unlimited is designed to serve the needs of businesses that are struggling to meet all of their critical business intelligence needs while operating within the bounds of highly constrained budgets. With Jaspersoft Unlimited, customers receive all of the products in the Jaspersoft BI Suite, including premium technical support for all of their Jaspersoft projects, advanced technical documentation, and a four-day training class, all at one low price. Jaspersoft offered a similar package in 2007 and is today reprising the offer with additional features such as training to help customers perform important BI functions today. 


Analyst concur that companies continue to prioritize BI while other IT categories are being cut. Jaspersoft’s suite arms businesses with the essential tools needed to weather any economic climate and emerge stronger than ever before. Open source software has reached a maturity level in features and functionality that when combined with the cost, has become an important remedy for today’s businesses.  


In conjunction with the release of Jaspersoft Unlimited, Jaspersoft is publishing a white paper titled “Open Source Business Intelligence in a Down Economy,” which is available at


Pricing & Availability

Jaspersoft unlimited one-year subscription is available immediately with pricing starting at  $35,000. Jaspersoft Unlimited subscriptions entitle the customer to unlimited use of the Jaspersoft BI Suite within a company, operating unit of a corporation, government department or agency, or educational institution.  For more information on Jaspersoft Unlimited visit


About Jaspersoft Corporation

Jaspersoft’s open source business intelligence suite is the world’s most widely used BI software, with nearly 9 million total downloads worldwide and more than 10,000 commercial customers in 96 countries. The company’s Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite provides a web-based, open and modular approach to the evolving business intelligence needs of the enterprise. Jaspersoft’s software is rapidly updated by a community of more than 95,000 registered members working on more than 350 projects, which represents the world’s largest business intelligence community. More information is available at and




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