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Back In Time : System Restore on Ubuntu

March 24, 2010 2 comments

One of the most treasured features by novice computer users running Windows is the ability to easily roll back their system when trouble arises by using the built-in System Restore GUI. Ubuntu offers the same services to take snapshots of your computer when changes are made and the Back in Time application for Linux is a great tool to achieve the same easy-to-use GUI. The program utilizes existing services including rsync for creating and applying restore snapshots and diff for monitoring system changes. Back in Time allows you to backup all folders and restore any folders with write access in the event of a problem following a system change.

The first thing you’ll need to do is edit your /etc/apt/source.list file; use the following command to open the file in the editor:

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

Add this line before saving and exiting the editor:

deb http://le-web.org/repository stable main

Next you’ll need to add the necessary GPG key information. Use this command to retrieve the key:

wget http://le-web.org/repository/le-web.key

And then use this command to add the information:

sudo apt-key add le-web.key

Once this is complete you’ll just need to update your source list; use this command:

sudo apt-get update

That’s it for system changes – now onto the installation of Back in Time:

sudo apt-get install backintime-common backintime-gnome

Once the installation completes you can access Back in Time under Applications -> System Tools -> Back in Time. You can now use the GUI to select folders to backup and schedule the backups to suit your timetable

Making Sense of DNS

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

DNS or Domain Name Service is the tool that you use to locate web sites, collect mail and generally find stuff on the Internet. In the beginning, users of the Internet, when it was still known as ARPAnet, were forced to use a hosts file called HOSTS.TXT which did the conversion of the IP Address (like 192.168.2.34) to a host (like mail.example.org) by downloading a large file from a central location that listed all of the hosts on the Internet and their IP Addresses. As the network grew, this soon became a situation that could not continue based on the sheer size and the rapid growth of the Internet.

This article will help you figure out how it all works so that you can use this tool effectively.

Making Sense of DNS Tutorial.

Categories: Server Admin Tags: ,

Ubuntu Dropbox

March 20, 2010 1 comment

File synching between machines with different operating systems is rarely an easy task but one program has made it much easier. Dropbox allows for file synching between systems but was designed with compatibility with GNOME at the forefront, potentially leaving KDE users in the cold. Follow these steps to get Dropbox setup on your KDE system with minimal hassle:

Download the Dropbox Linux client that suits your machine (either 32-bit or 64-bit)
Extract the contents of the downloaded archive to your home folder for easy access
Create a Dropbox account if you don’t already have one

To install Dropbox simply navigate to the extracted archive contents and run ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd to get rolling. The initial run of the program will take you through the configuration wizard to help you choose your options and link your Dropbox account to your machine. Enter your account details to complete the installation.

Being such a useful application, you may want Dropbox to start automagically when you power on your machine. You can achieve this easily by creating a symlink from your home folder to your autostart directory using the command below:

ln -s ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd ~/.kde4/Autostart/

Now you can enjoy ease-of-use when synching files from machine to machine, no matter the operating systems!

Categories: Desktop User Tags: ,

Debian Installer

February 20, 2010 5 comments

A Slight Flaw with the Debian Installer

A few weeks ago, I noticed some really good e-Bay deals on used, Opteron-based servers. I mean, they were going for less money than I had to pay for old Pentium III-based servers just three years ago. So, I decided that maybe it was time to upgrade.

Three of the four machines that I bought were Sun Sunfires, each with a pair of single-core 2.4 Gigahertz Opterons and a pair of hot-swappable SCSI hard drives. Since the drives are rather smallish, I figured I’d just combine each pair into one large logical volume.

On the first machine, I installed Fedora 11. When I got to the hard drive setup page, I chose to go with the default Logical Volume Manager setup. The installer then asked me how many drives that I would like to use for the Fedora installation. I chose both drives, and both were automatically added to the logical volume. No muss, no fuss, and everything worked fine. This is typical of the Red Hat-type installers.

On the next machine, I decided to install Debian 5.0. Again, I decided that I wanted to combine both drives into one large logical volume. When I got to the hard drive setup page, I chose the “Guided” option for setting up the LVM. The next page asked me which drive I’d like to use for the installation. I wanted to choose both drives, but Debian doesn’t provide that option. So, I backed out, and decided to use the “Manual” option for setting up the hard drives myself. That didn’t work either, because the “Guided” option had already created the LVM volume group. (That happened, even though I hadn’t been asked to confirm whether to write changes to the hard drive.) So, I backed out again, and choose to open a command-line session. I then used the LVM tools to delete the volume group and physical volumes. I then decided to go “old-school”, and try setting things up with fdisk and the command-line LVM tools. That way, I could get both drives added to the logical volume and continue the installation.

Only one problem. . .

When I finished, I went back to the hard drive setup page, thinking that my new, manually-configured setup would be recognized, and I’d be good-to-go.

Wrong. . .

Instead, my configuration got wiped out, and I ended up with the original single-drive setup.

Okay, no problem. I figured that I’d just continue the installation, and add the second drive to the logical volume later.

Wrong, again. . .

When the installation completed and I tried to boot from the hard drive, I got an error message about how the logical volume couldn’t be found. Apparently, the LVM metadata got messed up when the installer replaced my manual configuration. So, not wanting to waste any more time on this machine, I grabbed my Fedora 11 CD and installed it, instead. Again, no muss, no fuss. It automatically deleted my mess-ups and created the two-drive logical volume.

On the final machine, I gave Debian another try. This time, I just accepted the default single-drive logical volume, and continued the installation. After the installation completed and I had it booted from the hard drive for the first time, I added the second drive to the logical volume. I didn’t want to mess around trying to learn any graphical LVM utilities, so I just did everything “old-school”. (That is, I used fdisk, the command-line LVM tools, and the command-line filesystem resize tool.) Finally, I did a quick “df -h” to verify that the logical volume was resized correctly.

Conclusion

To be fair, I’m sure that Debian isn’t the only distro that has this kind of installer deficiency. And granted, for an experienced Linux user, it’s no huge deal to add a hard drive to the logical volume after the Debian installation has completed. Still though, you have to wonder. . .

If Red Hat can create an installer with an easy-to-use LVM setup, why can’t everyone else?

Categories: Desktop User
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