Saturday, December 31, 2005
Certainly nice to see this support from the community at large--all of us who benefit the most from their worthwhile efforts. Now, hopefully the IRS will leave them alone...
Wishing a Happy & Safe New Year to all!
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Software developer, Philip Copeman, is looking for programmers to build a Linux version of the popular windows-based open source accounting software, Turbocash... The Linux version of Turbocash will have to be re-developed from the ground up... "The database will most likely be Firebird or MySQL," says Copeman. [He] says there are no real Linux competitors in the SME (small to medium-sized enterprise) end of the [accounting software] market... "We estimate that a million users would change to a Linux system if they had the choice." --TECTONICComparison chart can be found here.
Find screenshots of TurboCASH here.
Download TurboCASH for Win32 here.
Tags: TurboCASH opensource FOSS GNU/Linux Linux Windows accounting programming
One of the most common questions... is "How does Google decide what result goes at the top of the list?" Here, from quality engineer Matt Cutts, is a quick primer on how we crawl and index the web and then rank search results...Tags: Google
Friday, December 23, 2005
You can use rBuilder Online to create a Linux distribution that meets your specific needs, or to find an existing distribution that is just right for you.Found this on Digg today. I haven't tried it yet but it's definitely on the TO-DO list! If it lives up to it's claims this is going to be one popular utility!
Use rBuilder Online's collaborative development environment to package open source software and produce complete distributions.
Check it out at rBuilder Online or use the CoralCDN link as the main site seems to be a little busy at the moment.
I can just see it! My own fully customized Linux Audio Workstation distro! :-)
Tags: rBuilder Linux GNU distro
Slashdot featured the shows two stars answering readers/viewers questions recently. I think they unintentionally & eloquently busted a myth right in that post:
Bittorrent? by boatboyPiracy via P2P fileswapping is going to kill off quality media productions. Those who engage in such activities really are ruining it for the rest of us. The myth that this illegal activity is somehow a victimless crime has been busted...
Your show is available on bittorrent networks to download and watch when/where it's more convenient. Some users, however, could download the show without paying for it via cable service. How do you personally feel about this? (Cheated\Angry\Flattered\What's A Bittorrent?)
JAMIE HYNEMAN -- There will likely always be a certain amount of this kind of opportunism, and I suppose it will be self regulating to some degree. If there is too much, then quality programming will be reduced, and there will be nothing to steal. Other similar ways of avoiding commercials are also having this effect, and companies like mine are going to go out of business because the advertising revenues are being cut. Somebody has to pay for good programming, and if you cut out all the ads, and cut out the cable revenues, then you will end up with nothing but the kind of programming that is on public access stations, which is fine if that is what you happen to like, but limiting and a bit of a waste for a medium that is as powerful as TV.
ADAM SAVAGE -- Personally, I cannot condone the downloading of copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder. That being said, I look forward to a future where such a thing will be possible, and encouraged, and conducted in such a way that properly takes care of the needs of the artists, the distributors, AND the end users. We're not there yet, but Creative Commons is a step in the right direction to be sure.
I particularly liked Savage's response. When moderate voices prevail and P2P technology can be employed so that the consumer has on-demand access to media, AND the production companies can still get paid--we will all win.
Tags: MythBusters Slashdot bittorrent piracy media
Thursday, December 22, 2005
164 "copies" of the best Open Source Office Suite available distributed from my lowly cablemodem connection. Bittorrent is a 'good thing'. Everybody should join in...
Tags: OpenOffice bittorrent azureus
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Java applications under Windows 2000 would only display blank windows. Even the Sun Java Control Panel was just a blank box. No tabs, no text, no controls, nothing!
Updated video drivers
As you can see from the problem listed above, Java applications were giving me fits. Arachnophilia (which I use for text editing) was not working, other Java applications wouldn't work either. However, Azureus (Java bittorrent client) has been working just fine the whole time. Displaying everything properly, etc. Where did the problem lie? I didn't bother with Google this time around. First I verified I had the latest Sun Java JRE installed, next I went straight to java.com and found the root of the problem in no time--"The cause of this problem is an incompatibility between the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) and certain video cards."
I currently have an XFX NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 w/ 256MB RAM installed. I checked nvidia.com and found they have a new "Forceware" unified graphics driver out for Windows 2000/XP as of December 9th.
- Verify you have the latest Sun Java JRE installed--if not, get it and install it
- Downloaded the NVIDIA driver
- Uninstalled the old driver from the Start --> Settings --> Control Panel --> Add/Remove Programs
- Restarted the system
- Installed the latest NVIDIA graphics drivers
- Tested it against the Java Console, Start --> Settings --> Control Panel --> Java: OK
- Tested it against Arachnophilia: OK
Tags: Sun Java NVIDIA Windows 2000
Saturday, December 17, 2005
- Archiving & backup. Build a small Linux RAID1 or RAID5 server with 2 or 3 of these big IDE drives and protect your investment.
- "Future proofing" your audio. You will easily be able to batch convert the FLAC files into whatever codec you may need in the future for your Portable Audio Devices and/or other equipment. No need to physically rip the CD's again each time something new comes along.
- Streaming. You can stream the lossless, pristine audio files throughout your house over you home network.
OK, on to the technical details...
- Get CDex (it's free) and install it
- Get FLAC (it's free too) and install it (note: some AV programs think it's got a trojan in it but it doesn't)
- Configure your directories, filename formatting, etc. in CDex
- Open CDex
- Click Options --> Settings
- Select the Filenames tab
- Enter a directory in the WAV -> MP3 & Recorded Tracks fields. I have mine currently set to Z:\flac\ for both.
- Enter your desired Filename Format (for option information click the ? button to the right of this input field). For example, I have set my format to %1\%2\%2-%7-%4. This saves my audio files in the following format: Z:\flac\Band\Album\Album-Track Number-Track Title.flac
- Configure Local or Remote CDDB as you wish with those tabs under Options --> Settings. I have mine configured locally (which means I have to input all the artist, album, track data manually). This data is stored at I:\My Documents\My Music\cddb\
- Once you have the basics configured above, it's time to set up CDex to use FLAC encoding.
- From the main CDex screen click the Options --> Settings --> Encoder tab
- I set Thread Priority to Above Normal
- In the Encoder drop-down field select External Encoder
- Click on the ... button to input the Encoder Path for the FLAC application. If you have used the FLAC installer downloaded from the link above it will most likely be found at: C:\Program Files\FLAC\flac.exe
- Enter the following in the Parameter String field (all one line of course):
-6 -o %2 -T "artist=%a" -T "title=%t" -T "album=%b" -T "date=%y" -T "tracknumber=%tn" -T "genre=%g" -
- Bitrate: any value (it doesn't matter)
- File Extension: flac
- Check all of the boxes:
Tags: audio FLAC Vorbis CDex
Friday, December 16, 2005
My initial point was that FLAC is useful for archiving purposes since the filesizes generated are really too much for use in iPods, etc. (if they even support the format to begin with). That will probably become a non-issue at some point in the future, when virtually unlimited storage fits in the size of these tiny devices. Vorbis & MP3 are much more practical for general daily use, and IMO a Q6 Vorbis file rivals CD audio on my equipment.
I made the following comment regarding lower bitrate MP3s, I think the point is quite valid:
> I never really understood what the big deal was when everyone was downloading 128k MP3's. How could media companies have ever felt threatened by that noise?At any rate, I would suggest following the procedure above. If you have the HDD space: rip your CDs to FLAC first and then use command-line tools to batch convert those FLAC files into whatever lossy format you need for your devices. Here is a shell script that looks like it would do the trick quite well (but I haven't tried it myself yet)...
Because most people aren't pretentious audiophiles, and are quite happy to listen to 128kbps MP3s through the crappy speakers that came with their Gateway box.
Cool! I've always wanted to be a pretentious audiophile! This is a great day! I just wish I had the gear to go along with such an ostentatious title. [sigh]
The treble washout at 128kbps is often times just too much. Have you ever tried to make an audio CD from 128k MP3s? It will generally turn out to be hideous. That's not always the case. I made one from the Brad Sucks: I Don't Know What I'm Doing album and it rocks! Guess I'm not as picky as you would imply--though others would be, for sure. Still you don't have to have a golden ear to be disturbed with lower bitrate MP3s, even on crappy Gateway speakers...
Listening to low quality MP3s can be kind of comparable to the Uncanny Valley effect some people experience when they see photorealistic CG images of humans . They can look really cool but still creep you out at the same time...
PS The Brad Sucks album really does rock!! You should check it out...
Tags: audio FLAC Vorbis MP3 CDex codec bitrate
Monday, December 12, 2005
I check DistroWatch every day or so and I see new GNU/Linux distributions coming out all the time. It seems to me the majority of these new distros really don't add much value over what is already available. That's not always the case, some new distros bring functionality to the table that either wasn't readily available previously or wasn't easily implemented before. A lot of these distros come as LiveCDs (a la Knoppix) with options to install to HDD. That's fine, let them keep coming. Choice is a great thing, but (community) support is also a great thing. Dilute the pool too much and the soup gets pretty bland I would think...
That's not really my gripe or whatever. No, my desire is for some innovative group(s) to come up with the drop in distro (a la LiveCD + HDD install option with support & updates) that employs OpenLDAP directory & authentication with Samba functionality in an easy-to-administer all in one distribution (See Idealx). Add to that calendaring and Exchange-like functionality (again, with easy to use, easy to administer abilities) and you win the day. Where is this product? All of these pieces are available separately, why haven't they come together into a powerhouse server distribution?
Maybe it is already out there and I just don't know it? If it is, please let me and the rest of the world in on the secret. Thanks! :-)
Tags: Microsoft Exchange Active Directory Samba Linux openldap LiveCD
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Cell is an architecture for high performance distributed computing... According to IBM the Cell performs 10x faster than existing CPUs on many applications... The Cell architecture can go further though, there's no reason why your system can't distribute software Cells over a network or even all over the world. The Cell is designed to fit into everything from (eventually) PDAs up to servers so you can make an ad-hoc Cell computer out of completely different systems.
I've read indications that Linux has been ported for the architecture. :-)
Tags: PS3 cell processor Linux
64 Studio is a collection of software for digital content creation on x86_64 hardware (that's AMD's 64-bit CPUs and Intel's EM64T chips). It's based on the pure 64 port of Debian GNU/Linux, but with a specialised package selection and lots of other customisations. It will be marketed to hardware OEMs in the creative workstation and laptop markets as an alternative to the 64-bit version of Windows XP, or OS X on Apple hardware.
You can download the ISO via http here.
Better yet spare their server and use bittorrent. LinuxTracker has a torrent available for this iso. Check here for more details.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I Threw A Brick Through A Window
Who said they could make an album? Let alone two (and beyond)? What made them better then the rest? How did they succeed where others had failed? I mean c'mon, by production standards today U2 wouldn't have made it into the lobby of a real studio let alone accomplish what they have over the course of the last 20 (going on 30) years!
I will admit, Boy & October are, for the most part, albums (opps now I am dated huh?) only fans could really appreciate. War? Probably a little more of a breakthrough for them... The clincher has to be Under A Blood Red Sky. I had it practically the moment I heard about it I'm sure. I taped the whole show off of Nickelodeon back in the day. Yeah, that's right, U2: Under A Blood Red Sky broadcasted on Nick or whatever it's called today. Collector's plates commercials and all...
Why was that pivotal? It showed their power and emotion in a live setting to a lot of us who wouldn't have ever been able to see the tours for the first three albums. That was it, if we weren't hooked before we sure were then...
U2 has (obviously) gone through a lot of changes since those early days, no doubt. I finally got to see them live in Austin during the Joshua Tree tour--it was one of the most intense concerts I have ever seen to this day...
Sadly though, I kind of stopped paying attention to them around their Rattle & Hum days. It was too much of a departure for me at the time.
I didn't totally lose interest in them over the years though, and that interest was recently fueled by their appearance on the Conan O'Brien show a month or so ago. They seemed altogether "real" (whatever that means) and the covers (of more recent material) that they played were interesting. Interesting enough in fact for me to purchase their last two releases...
Maybe we've all grown up after all. Maybe they have at the least...
Tag: U2 music
Sunday, December 04, 2005
I had the week off so I decided to throw together some of the parts I had lying about to make into a fileserver. Based on an eMachines T2080 sporting an AMD 2000+ XP (Model 6) CPU and ECS L7VMM mainboard; 512MB DDR (PC2100); 75GB HDD; DVD-ROM & CD-RW drives. The case and power supply are a joke. I replaced the 250w PS with a 300w Antec PP303X I had in another system. The case has no system fan, and no place to mount one. This posed a problem when I added a second drive to build the RAID1 [Mirroring] device for the fileserver data--heat. The only place to secure a second drive in the case is right next to the first (unless I could scrounge up some mounting rails and put it in one of the optical drive slots). This was not going to work. The heat coming off of these two drives was bad. Until I can find a suitable replacement case, I rigged a fan to blow air in the gap between the two drives. It seems to be working well, but it's definitely an ugly hack especially since I have to leave the cover off. The drives however went from blazing hot to barely warm. The sensors command was returning some way out voltages so I quickly swapped out the PS with the Antec. It's still showing high on the 3.3v rail but it might be something in the config, I don't know yet. I have every peripheral unplugged in the box. No FDD, no optical drives--the PS is running the two HDDs, the system board, a generic RealTek-based PCI 10/100 NIC and the fan for the drives. That's it. The image shown here is an earlier shot, changes have been made:
- I have moved the front drive's IDE cable out of the way so more air gets through the gap between the drives.
- The PS is replaced, with no power going to any devices other then as mentioned above.
- The Promise Ultra100 TX2 IDE controller has been removed (a very useful card to have in your collction. I find it never stays in one place very long. Useful for your optical drive(s) when you are going to use all of the available onboard IDE interfaces for Linux software RAID or if I needed another HDD connection for RAID5--which is a possibility in the future).
Based on my experiences with Ubuntu as a desktop platform I decided I would go with an installation of Ubuntu 5.10 Sever, or as they say, Ubuntu "optimised for server installation." I am not exactly sure what that means, aside from the fact that it installs a very minimal set of applications. Very minimal. You need to have some knowledge of running things from the command line or you will not get very far I believe. That's OK though, a minimal base is generally what you want to use to build a reliable/secure server system. If you have ever done an Ubuntu install previously, you know it's accomplished via a text based interface. No frills but simple & easy enough to navigate (I actually prefer it in some cases to the oft-times bloated GUI installs of other distros). The only daunting part you may come up against if you are new to this sort of thing is partitioning. However if you are familiar with the filesystems used in Linux it should not really be an issue. I don't recall any options for choosing packages during the initial install, perhaps because all you really are getting at first is the base system & tools. Choosing apps was done afterwards via the CLI command, apt-get. No problems there. I love APT!
Initially I started with the following layout: one 120GB Maxtor 6Y120L0 [115GB] HDD with 7.4GB for the root filesystem (ReiserFS--a robust journaling filesystem), 2GB swap partition, and the remaining disk space for the /data partition (also ReiserFS). If I was really going to store "important" data on this thing I quickly determined that redundancy was in order. If I had two more larger capacity drives available, I would have left the Promise IDE card in the box and set up a RAID5 array [Striped w/parity]. Alas, I only had one additional drive to use for the project (the original drive from the eMachine, an 80GB Samsung SV8004H [75GB]). It would have to be RAID1 (Mirrored) for today. I added the Samsung drive and restructured the partitions as follows:
Maxtor 120GB (hda)I have manually built Linux software RAID arrays previously, but these days there is no need to do this (thankfully!). You could set it up initially during the installation or run base-config afterwards. Even easier, use apt-get to install Webmin (along with Samba, SWAT, SSH) and use the Partitions on Local Disks & Linux RAID modules under the Hardware tab to configure it. The following are packages I installed (you won't want the first one if you are not using a 32-bit AMD processor):
hda1 / 7.4GB ReiserFS
hda2 ext'd (remaining drive space)
hda5 swap 2GB
hda6 /dev/md0 75GB
hda7 /data2 31GB ReiserFS
Samsung 80GB (hdc)
hdc1 /dev/md0 75GB
md0 /data1 75GB ReiserFS
apt-get install linux-image-k7 linux-restricted-modules-k7
apt-get install samba
apt-get install webmin-core
apt-get install webmin-samba
apt-get install webmin-software
apt-get install webmin-smart-status
apt-get install webmin-cpan
apt-get install lvm-common
apt-get install ssh
apt-get install swat
apt-get install sensord
apt-get install mondo
Of course all of these packages do not apply to working with partitions and RAID arrays but several of them are useful.
- linux-image-k7 linux-restricted-modules-k7 are specific for my CPU
- Samba is the (ubiquitous) fileserver that I am using
- ssh provides Secure Shell services (I have no monitor, keyboard, mouse or other input peripheral attached to this box--I do it all through webmin and SSH CLI)
- lvm-common is needed for the RAID module
- SWAT is a web-browser based tool for configuring Samba (I don't have it working yet, it is not responding to http://fileservername:901 as it should. I actually like it better then working through the Webmin Samba module. Either that or edit it by hand. nano is your friend.)
- sensord provides hardware monitoring capabilities
- mondo provides the Mondorescue backup functionality, very powerful, easy to use
- For information on configuring automated backups with Mondoresecue, see Section 5 of HOWTO run mondo interactively using cron. Basically you create a script that runs your backup using the screen command. It works!
- webmin-modulename provides the various webmin modules that I required
- Note: I used the Upgrade Webmin module in Webmin to upgrade to the latest/greatest version from the official site. Whether or not this is something you wish to do, well that is totally up to you of course--I have seen no adverse effects from upgrading the Ubuntu server in this manner thus far.
- Open Webmin in your favorite browser (i.e. https://myserver:10000)
- Select the Webmin Tab
- Click Webmin Configuration
- Click Upgrade Webmin
- Select the Latest version from www.webmin.com radio button
- Select the Check GnuPG signature on package? check button
- Click the Upgrade Webmin button
# deb cdrom:[Ubuntu-Server 5.10 _Breezy Badger_ - Release i386 (20051013)]/ breezy main restricted
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu breezy main restricted
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu breezy main restricted
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu breezy-updates main restricted
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu breezy-updates main restricted
## The Universe repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu
## team, and may not be under a free licence.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu breezy universe
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu breezy universe
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu breezy-security main restricted
deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu breezy-security main restricted
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu breezy-security universe
deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu breezy-security universe
Between SSH command line admin and Webmin configuring Ubuntu 5.10 Server was, well, Breezy! With basically throw-away hardware I have built a central repository for my family's data that combines a stable, proven operating system, hardware failure redundancy with a robust journaling filesystem and a powerful backup solution (via Mondorescue which I can easily script to run from cron). The Samba configuration is quite basic1 at the moment but I plan on implementing a more complex model for better permissions controls so my kids don't accidently delete my data and vice-versa. I have plenty of experience in this area so I suspect I will end up with a Samba PDC before too many days pass...
All in all, aside from the HDD heat problem I initially encountered building out the Ubuntu 5.10 server has proved to be incredibly simple. Configuration and adminstration are a snap. Command line familiarity is helpful, but for the GUI inclined Webmin provides excellent support tools. And, the Ubuntu APT repositories provide you with virtually limitless opportunities to apply whatever applications to your server that you might want or need.
Resources for Ubuntu:
- The Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide PDF HTML
- Samba-3 by Example PDF HTML
- Using Samba, 2nd Edition
- SAMBA (Domain Controller) Server For Small Workgroups With Ubuntu 5.10 Found this one today [08-Jan-06]. Looks very good.
1Simple smb.conf example:
# Sample configuration file for the Samba suite for Debian GNU/Linux.
#=============== Global Settings ===============
log file = /var/log/samba/log.%m
passwd chat = *Enter\snew\sUNIX\spassword:* %n\n *Retype\snew\sUNIX\spassword:* %n\n .
obey pam restrictions = yes
socket options = TCP_NODELAY
encrypt passwords = true
passwd program = /usr/bin/passwd %u
passdb backend = tdbsam guest
dns proxy = no
netbios name = MARSHALL
server string = %h server (Samba, Ubuntu)
invalid users = root
workgroup = WORKGROUP
os level = 20
syslog = 0
security = share
panic action = /usr/share/samba/panic-action %d
max log size = 1000
create mask = 0775
comment = Home Directories
directory mask = 0775
browseable = no
writeable = yes
only user = yes
comment = RAID1 Share
writeable = yes
public = yes
user = username
path = /data1/share
comment = Non-RAID Share
writeable = yes
public = yes
user = username
path = /data2/zeta
Tags: ubuntu server Mondorescue Samba Computer Hardware Linux Software RAID
Updated 21 December 2005: Added step-by-step Webmin upgrade instructions.
Updated 22 December 2005: Added sample Samba config info.
Updated 27 December 2005: Added links on scheduling Mondorescue backup jobs via cron.
Updated 08 January 2006: Added link to a howtoforge article to Samba Resources.