Posts Tagged ‘ubuntu’

The Ubuntu Lightweight Minnow

March 13, 2009 5 comments

Buy Xubuntu on CDIn the sea of today’s market it’s easy to find whale sized operating systems that run poorly on slim hardware but my interest is with the minnows. One lightweight Linux distribution in particular that I tried recently is called Xubuntu. I’ve used DSL (Damn Small Linux), Fluxbuntu and Puppy, which all have their own strengths and are smaller but I found Xubuntu to be the perfect solution for me.

Xubuntu is a lightweight version of the popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu that can be installed on 1.5 GB of hard drive space and 192 MB of RAM. Xubuntu uses the XFCE desktop environment instead of Gnome. I like Gnome over all desktop environments so I was sketchy on how XFCE would preform but in the end XFCE was very user friendly and capable of doing what I needed. XFCE combined with Ubuntu power is the main reason Xubuntu is a great distro to choose or at least try out on your laptop, netbook or workstation that values efficiency.

While installation wizard was a bit long the distro was proven useful to me after the installation had finished and I found the Synaptic Package Manager. I recognized it from Ubuntu and was very pleased with the way it functions even though by default applications like GIMP, Firefox, Abiword, and Pidgin are right at your fingertips right out of the box.

Selecting a lightweight Linux distribution is about drawing a line. Where you draw the line depends on how many applications, graphics and desktop functionality your willing to sacrifice to get the speed you want or meet the size contains you’re faced with. My line has been drawn between Xubuntu and Fluxbuntu because of the simple fact that it has the perfect amount of apps i want, environment I can tolerate, and community support that I’d be dead without.

Categories: Desktop User Tags: , ,

Ubuntu…Please Don’t Release on Time!

October 28, 2008 15 comments

The update process in Ubuntu has …. well it has gotten out of control. There is no doubt that updates are a necessity for security patches and bug fixes…no argument there. However, Ubuntu seems to want to build the operating system as they go… having you download huge numbers of updates, often daily. Many users have complained bitterly about this as they do not have the bandwidth to justify the updates and they do not enjoy the experience being forced to update almost daily.

I believe this whole issue is forced on the developers because of the release schedule which is rigid. Now Canonical may be proud that they release on time but they should be ashamed in releasing too soon.

Take a look at the LTS version of the server. When it released it did not have LVM2, it did not have all of the updated software raid tools, it did not have acls installed either. Each of these is a standard option that any administrator would want available, especially in the LTS version. They could be installed manually once you installed 8.04 but they were later installed via the update process. The point is, Ubuntu should have released a solid up to date server version in 8.04, not build it as you go with updates. Administrators depend on their servers being up to speed when they install. In addition, adding LVM2, raid tools and acls at a later date after the installation are problematic.

The LTS version of the Desktop was even worse. In fact, there were so many updates that the 8.04.1 version had to be released. Canonical created many angry users over the fact that since 8.04.1 many users thought it was a whole new version so they wiped out there system and installed new. The process was confusing to users and unpleasant. In fact, if users kept up with the updates they had 8.04.1 already installed.

The 8.04 or now 8.04.1 version was supposed to be the long term support version that was more stable and would be a solid foundation for a long time. Unfortunately the constant updates has put that in question.

Locating Information from the Command Line

August 19, 2008 Leave a comment

Specific searches for information can provide excellent resources for troubleshooting. This section will help you examine a number of ways to find the information that you need.

Search Packages

When Ubuntu updates packages it keeps a package cache of .deb files in /var/cache/apt/archives. This archive can be used to review recent changes on your server. Here are a series of examples to help with searching packages.

Search packages added in last week

find /var/cache/apt/archives -iname ‘*.deb’ -atime -7

Note that atime is used because packages in this directory are not modified they are only added.

Search for packages which have a specific name
Be sure to use the “-n” option as it will force the search to be used for file that have the text string, in this example “apache”, in the name. Otherwise it will include those who have that text string in the description.

apt-cache search -n apache

This search will provide very helpful information for what packages were changed on an update. The “reverse depends” list shows packages which require, recommend or suggest the package searched. The “dependencies” list shows which packages are required, recommended, or suggested for your searched package.

Search for Sizes

Find all files over 10 MB
find / -size +10000000c 2> /dev/null

Find all files over 50 MB
find / -size +50000000c 2> /dev/null

The “2> /dev/null” sends all error messages to the trash instead of the screen.

Search User Owned Files

If you want to find files that belong to only a certain user, you can do that with the “-user” switch. Add a second criterion to find only files of a certain type that belong to a certain user.

find / -user tom -iname ‘*.txt’

You can adjust this search by changing the text string which represents the file type. In the example, “.txt” is used but that could be changed to and file type, like; “.rtf”,”.conf”,”.jpg”,”.gif”, etc.

Managing Versions
Using the “-v” option you can show the version of many programs to verify which version is current. Here are a few examples.

apache2 -v
Server version: Apache/2.2.8 (Ubuntu)
Server built: Jun 25 2008 13:54:13

syslogd -v
syslogd 1.5.0

Using Aptitude to Locate Information

Aptitude is a text mode tool with a menu front end for apt. It can easily provide information about packages and the versions that you currently have installed as well as packages that are not installed. You can access aptitude with:

sudo aptitude

When you open aptitude you will see a menu bar at the top of the screen with two panes below the menu bar. The top pane lists package categories and the bottom pane contains information related to the packages and package categories that you select.

Caution: You can easily break your system using aptitude carelessly as you will be running as root and you can easily install or uninstall packages.

— Installed Packages
— Not Installed Packages
— Obsolete and Locally Create Packages
— Virtual Packages (do not exist but the names are required by other programs)
— Tasks (select packages by groups)

Select any of the five categories and it will expand to show groups related to software packages. For example if you select Installed Packages you will see a list of categories that starts like this:

— admin
— main (Fully supported software)
I grub 0.97-29ubu
— universe (Unsupported software)
— base

Select a specific category and you will see the individual repository that the packages come from. When you select a repository you will see a list of applications followed by the version that is used. If you see an “I” it indicates that it is installed on the system. In the bottom pane you will see a description of the package.

Whenever you list packages they will have one of these indicators in front of the package to indicate the status of the package.

i: Installed package
c: Package not installed, but package configuration remains on system
p: Purged from system
v: Virtual package -
B: Broken package
u: Unpacked files, but package not yet configured
C: Half-configured – Configuration failed and requires fix
H: Half-installed – Removal failed and requires fix

You can use the F10 key to access the menu across the top.

Actions Undo Package Resolver Search Options Views Help

Actions – install and uninstall options, clean cache
Undo – undo actions

Package – manage install, remove, purge, etc of packages
Resolver – try to resolve issues with conflicts
Find – locate packages
Options – display options
Views – quick access to various view options
Help – basic help

Using dpkg to Locate Information

The dpkg or Debian Package Management tool is an additional way to locate information about packages. If you use the “-l” option you can provide a topic and it will list the package version that is installed.

dpkg -l apache2
| Status=Not/Installed/Config-f/Unpacked/Failed-cfg/Half-inst/t-aWait/T-pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Hold/Reinst-required/X=both-problems (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name Version Description
ii apache2 2.2.8-1ubuntu0.3 Next generation, scalable, extendable web server

dpkg -l cron
| Status=Not/Installed/Config-f/Unpacked/Failed-cfg/Half-inst/t-aWait/T-pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Hold/Reinst-required/X=both-problems (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name Version Description
ii cron 3.0pl1-100ubuntu2 management of regular background processing

If you want to list all packages installed use “-l” alone. It will list the package name, version and brief description.

| Status=Not/Installed/Config-f/Unpacked/Failed-cfg/Half-inst/t-aWait/T-pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Hold/Reinst-required/X=both-problems (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name Version Description

ii acl 2.2.45-1 Access control li
st utilities
ii acpi 0.09-3ubuntu1 displays information on ACPI devices
ii acpi-support 0.109 a collection of useful events for acpi
ii acpid 1.0.4-5ubuntu9 Utilities for using ACPI power management
ii adduser 3.105ubuntu1 add and remove users and groups

Desktop Virus Scanner for Ubuntu

July 22, 2008 3 comments

The first question you may ask is why a virus scanner for Linux? Well, the level of sharing that is done between Windows computers and Linux computers suggests that it may be a nice option to be able to scan files and directories to protect your Windows machines. In addition, if you are using Wine to run Windows computers you will need to verify that those files are not infected. Who knows, there may be a time when Linux is also dealing with virus activity as well, yes I know there are a few active Linux viruses now.

I found this easy to install and use graphical tool that many will like, called clamtk.

In order to install ClamTK in Ubuntu 8.04 open Synaptic Package Manager and search for clamav. Once you have a list install these programs:


Here are some quick ways to scan with various options.

Type of Scan Command
Scan a File Ctrl+F
Quick Home Scan Ctrl+Q
Full Home Scan Ctrl+Z
Scan a Directory Ctrl+D
Recursive Scan Ctrl+R

Your virus signatures automatically update every hour…nice feature.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Ubuntu: Adding Stock Prices to the Panel

June 29, 2008 2 comments

Applets are just small programs that deliver information to the user. Applets may be added to the panel by right clicking on the panel and choosing to add a selected applet. The applets themselves may be configured by right clicking on the applet in order to make necessary changes, like adjusting the time. Here is an example of the Invest applet to track your stocks. Right click the panel select Invest and then right click the applet to add your stocks.

The applet can track any number of stock you would like to enter. If you enter your stock ticker, the price you paid, and the number you purchased, it will track those stocks from the Yahoo website and give the information on how they are doing.

If you double click the applet you can select charts that will go with your stocks.

Applets are a great way to add features to the Desktop that enhance the working environment.

Categories: Desktop User Tags: , , ,

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