Monthly Archive for November, 2009

Beginner’s Clutter tutorial

Clutter is an “open source software library for creating fast, visually rich, portable and animated graphical user interfaces.” It’s used extensively in the Moblin user interface. The guys over at TuxRadar have created a tutorial for beginners. If that sounds interesting to you, why not check it out?

Fedora with sudo bash completion

By default Fedora does not enable sudo access for any user (other than root). Most administration tasks require the root password, however it’s simple to add your user to the sudoers file and run commands as root. Great.

However, one thing which is annoying is lack of bash completion support when running the sudo command. I like using tab completion, however if I preface anything with the sudo command, it doesn’t work.

It’s easily solved by running the following as your user:
complete -cf sudo


From Fedora 11 onwards, both /sbin and /usr/sbin are in the user’s path by default.

Checking the progress of ‘dd’

Update 2: Version 8.24 of dd (from coreutils) supports checking the status of dd with the status=progress option (thanks to R for letting me know).

[17:41 chris ~]$ dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/file conv=noerror status=progress
697583104 bytes (698 MB) copied, 1.000000 s, 698 MB/s

Update: See comments for a much better (and prettier!) way to do it with pipe viewer. Thanks Bill!

So you’re wiping a drive or writing an image using ‘dd‘ (dataset definition) and you’re not sure where it’s up to. There’s no built in way to check the progress (until it’s finished), so I use kill and pgrep.

On one terminal, run your dd command., something like this:
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdX bs=4096

On a second terminal, run the following:
kill -USR1 $(pgrep ^dd)

Back on terminal one, it should spit out where it’s up to but keep on dd’ing away, like so:
2202+0 records in
2202+0 records out
2308964352 bytes (2.3 GB) copied, 24.3584 s, 94.8 MB/s

This only works with one instance, for multiple instances get the right dd or use a for loop to check them all.

My pinguino air-con unit

It’s not yet Summer time Down Under, but last week was a scorcher! The air-con at work broke down and at my desk it was a steamy 32.1 degrees Celsius (89.78 degrees Fahrenheit).

Fortunately, the week before I had bought a new portable air-conditioning unit for home.

The one I settled on is a Deโ€™Longhi PACW160B, AKA the “Pinguino” – how could I not buy that!? It’s so cute..
Pinguino - image from De'Longhi website

..and it works really well!
(Yes, sometimes I wonder too.)

Edit: Matt Bottrell pointed out that it’s actually “Pinguino” not “Penguino,” however it’s still meant to be a penguin which you can see from the image. That’s good enough for me! ๐Ÿ™‚

Linux on Mac Pro with multiple drives

Update: This is possible using EFI only installs, yay!

The Apple Mac Pro at work has four bays for 3.5″ hard drives. My plan was to have OS X on the main drive with Linux on a secondary drive for virtualised environments. Native Linux could run on drives in the other slots if necessary.

I installed OS X on the primary drive and install rEFIt to manage all operating systems. So far so good.

Next I installed Fedora 12 on the secondary drive, but no matter the installation layout (whether MBR or GPT) I couldn’t for the life of me get rEFIt to boot it.

The install would be detected and come up in the pretty menu, but booting it resulted in a completely black screen. Nothing I tried seemed to fix the issue (for some reason even a single drive with Linux and EFI only wouldn’t work).

At my wits end I decided to Google the issue and came across an entry in the Debian wiki which explains my issue:

rEFIt assumes that you have only one disk drive. If you try and install linux onto a secondary drive, you will probably have found that rEFIt lets you try and boot your newly-minted linux partition/drive, only for you to get a “Missing operating system” error message. This is actually a Syslinux error message. What happens is that rEFIt looks on the primary disk for an MBR record, fails to find one (obviously!), so sticks the syslinux MBR onto the primary disk, and tries to boot that.

So the problem appears to be with rEFIt ๐Ÿ™ Hopefully this will be fixed at some point, because being able to boot the OS from any drive on a Mac Pro would be oh, so handy.

In the mean time, I’ve installed Fedora on the same drive as OS X and will then use the other drives for virtualisation. I guess in theory putting /boot on a small partition on the primary drive with OS X might also work.


Dell releases unofficial Chromium OS image for Mini 10v

The source code for Chrome (Chromium) OS is out and it hasn’t taken long for support to extend to various devices.

Now, there’s an image that works on the Dell Mini 10v:

Me and some other Dell folks noticed that Engadget recently got the Chrome OS running on a Vostro A860 netbook. I’ve been doing some timkering over the lat few days working to get our Dell Mini 10v up and running with ChromiumOS. As of late yesterday, I can report success.

It shouldn’t be long before various images start popping up all over the place.

Nicaraguan schools to move to Linux

Argentia, Brazil, Linux activity is a hot bed in South America. Now the latest country, Nicaragua, has announced that they are migrating their schools to Linux.

The Ministry of Education have plans for developing an Ubuntu-based educational distribution aimed at public and private elementary and secondary schools in Nicaragua…

One of the first tasks is to identify and classify all the free educational software included in the Ubuntu repositories, and see which software packages needs to be adapted to fit the national curriculum for schools and how much new software has to be developed from scratch.

Good on ’em.

The Incredible Guide to NEW Ubuntu (Karmic Koala)

The guys over at “Make Use Of” have released a new free PDF book for Ubuntu. After a quick inspection it looks pretty good, with reasonable explanations about components of Linux.

Sun to relicense X.Org code under standard MIT

Sun has been contributing to X for 21 years and now they have announced that all this code will be made available under the standard MIT license, rather than a derivative thereof.


Vindication for me: “Delay Ubuntu updates,” Bryce Harrington suggests

According to Ubuntu X.Org expert Bryce Harrington, the number of related bugs in Karmic “literally went off the chart.”

In my recent article on Ubuntu, I made two suggestions to improve the overall experience of for users.

My main suggestion was to delay update-manager from prompting an upgrade until initial major issues were fixed. I copped a lot of flack (read hate mail) for my suggestions. Personally, I believe that someone had to say it – it’s been the elephant in the room for a long time.

Now however, I feel somewhat vindicated as Bryce agrees with me:

One suggestion that I think might be good would be for releases like Karmic where we feel it is a bit more ambitious technologically, to make update-manager hold off on recommending users upgrade for a few weeks. This would give time for SRUs to make their way through the system for critical issues people run into. In fact, this might even be a good idea for the LTS. Anyway, just wanted to toss out this as an idea.

Yes! I totally agree ๐Ÿ™‚

Karmic X.Org bugs