How To: Be Bored To Tears While Installing Mandriva 2008

Most reviews start with something like “Distribution this, Mandriva that, user friendly edition, blah blah bleep boop” I don’t play that game.

Downloading the ISO of the Gnome desktop version of Mandriva 2008 is pretty boring. It’s just like any other download, so I didn’t take screenshots. I have an idea – how about a customizable Mandriva Download Theme for Firefox? That would make downloading Mandriva just as exciting as the actual installation! Brilliant.

I like the fact that Mandriva has two different desktop managers bundled completely separate and not calling it something new. It’s like the choice of Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu/bleeepuntu without the extra brand dilution issue, plus I really don’t care for KDE, so we’ll take care of that right off the bat.

Burning the ISO to CD was just like downloading Mandriva. Booring! Ah well, enough on that – let’s have a gander at the file system. Oops! Someone forgot to update the README.pdf, it’s the old Spring 2007 release PDF file:

Mandriva 2008 PDF

Load up Qemu and to get some tasty screenshots of the bootup process:

Mandriva Bootup

Nothing flashy here, what’s the rest of the installation like?

Language SelectionChoose your CountrySign Your Life AwayGnome 2.20

Keyboard LayoutTimezone SelectionDate, Clock & Time Settings3D Desktop Settings

Finally, after pressing “Next” a total of 7 times and wasting a lot of time, we’re looking at the desktop. It’s alright, the background is sorta… meh. The DNA/humans theme does not do it for me.

Live CD Desktop

We’re ready for what we came for – installing!
Mandriva Live WizardPartitioning Scheme

Wow, there’s no warning that you’ll delete everything, it goes straight to deleting and formatting!

Formatting, ready or not!

Next, you wait and stare at products for 10 minutes. Hmmm… Is someone thinking like Microsoft?

Mandriva Plugs Anything and Everything.. you stare at this for 10 minutes.GRUBGRUB

Alright we’re finally done! Let’s get excited!

Done Installing

WHAT? Not even a “congratulations?” Lousy fscks!

Overall, installing Mandriva is a pleasant experience, and ultimately boring, compared to other distributions’ installers. Out of spite, I’m going to backup my /home directory and install Ubuntu 7.10 RC, because I just got The Orange Box (thanks for the early Birthday present!) and I want to get it running in Gutsy Gibbon.


Linux Related Wikipedia Articles That Need Attention

There are currently 200 articles on Wikipedia about Linux that need more information within the page, or they will probably be deleted (eventually).

For example, Ubuntu Studio is one of 34 Linux distributions that are categorized as “stubs”. Why is a distro like Ubuntu Studio is categorized as a stub? It’s simply because we haven’t taken the time to put up a few facts and a short time-line. I’m sure you could catch a developer of such a prominent distro in IRC or in the Ubuntu Forums and not break a sweat helping them out with something that they may not have the time themselves to do.

After looking around a little bit, I created an account on Wikipedia that takes all of 2 minutes. If you use the Ubuntu wiki as a guide, there can be several hundred edits added in very little time using resources such as DistroWatch.

Some people forget that something simple like this can drastically improve the visibility of a distribution – you don’t have to be a coder to contribute to Open Source.


glTail.rb – Visualize Traffic In Real Time On Your Web Server

This is probably the most visual way I have ever used to analyze web traffic. Quoted from the authors website:

“glTail.rb allows you to view real-time traffic, data, and statistics from any log file on any server with SSH, in an intuitive and entertaining way using Ruby, net-ssh, and OpenGL.”

The latest version adds several new features and fixes several bugs which annoyed me.

Release Notes:
13 Oct 2007 – v0.06 – Handle referrals including your site as params
– Handle disabling a block without disabling the source
– Rework coordinate systems, and swap to glOrtho instead of glFrustum
– PureFTPD parser
– MySQL activity log parser
– Background reverse IP lookup
– Use yaml for config file (Ian Ownbey <>)
– Highlight rate/total/avg column
– Split source into several files (Ben Bleything <>)
– qmail/vmpop3d parser (James Grant <>)
– Postfix fixes (Andre Luiz dos Santos <>)
– TShark parser (Landy Bible <>)
– Updated Squid parser (Isuraeru Ochoa <>)

Here is a video in case you would like to see it in action.

Ahhh – I love it.


BREAKING NEWS: Girlfriend Agrees To Use Linux For A Month

A few months before I started writing about Linux, I convinced my girlfriend to switch to using Firefox. This was the first step I took to getting her warmed up to the idea of using Open Source software.

At the time that she switched to Firefox, she absolutely hated Internet Explorer, and really enjoyed the tabbed browsing feature. She said even though it took longer to actually start Firefox, it ran much smoother and was more efficient. Since I’ve started writing on a regular basis about Linux, my girlfriend has shown a moderate amount of interest in Linux and has been reading most of my articles. (*wave* Hi baby!)

About 3 weeks ago, her computer had a MASSIVE infestation of some really, really nasty adware. It took over the TCP/IP stack, and redirected all URLs through about:blank, and was not something I could fix. I tried about a half-dozen different anti-spyware programs, manually removed things, and even in windows Safe Mode, the damn ads kept popping up on the screen, making the computer useless.

I had to backup her documents, pictures, etc and reinstall Windows. I mentioned at the time that we could try installing Linux, and see how that goes, but she adamantly declined.

Fast forward to last night. I asked if we could try Linux out as an experiment. I’d setup the computer to automatically boot up in Linux after 30 seconds of waiting at the bootloader menu, and if she had problems with Linux, she could simply reboot and use Windows. She said, “Ok, I’ll try it.” I nearly had a heart attack.

I decided to try using Linux Mint as a “switcher” distribution for the time being, as it is a very full-featured distribution that has a menu similar to the default Windows XP menu. I originally thought that Puppy 3.0 would be a better option, seeing as she has a little bit older computer, since Puppy Linux runs completely in RAM it would run faster that most other distributions out there. I decided due to some reviews I read that it would not be the best option, especially since I am most comfortable with Ubuntu – and Linux Mint is a “downstream” version of Ubuntu.

Linux Mint Menu

Next, we changed the background to the default Bliss desktop wallpaper, renamed the “Celina” menu to the “Start” menu, and when I woke up this morning, she was browsing the web without any issues in Firefox

What I’ll do from now is provide a weekly “progress report” of things that she needed to reboot into Windows to do, and how she subjectively feels about the switch. I think it will be a successful conversion, seeing as she has expressed just three primary needs in an O/S: Browsing, Picture Editing, and BlackBerry firmware updates.

In other news, Hell freezes over.

By popular request, her picture has been added. 😉



Digg “Linux Nation” for Thursday October 11th 2007

This is the 5th weekly edition of “Linux Nation”, where I comment on the top 15 stories in the Linux/Unix section on for the week.

1.  What the hell is Ogg Vorbis, and why should I use it?
Ogg Vorbis, the redheaded step-child of audio codecs… what’s wrong with MP3?  This article will tell you exactly what’s wrong with MP3

2.  XO laptop, now in final testing, is amazing, a total kid magnet!
Close your eyes and imagine just for a second- If you were a child in a poor country and received anything for free, wouldn’t you be excited?

3.  ASUS P5E3 Deluxe motherboard ships with Embedded Linux, Firefox and Skype
This article made me want to actually go and buy this motherboard.  SplashTop is a instant-on, internet enabled desktop that currently includes a browser, as well as Skype.  There’s more to come, and I am really excited with the possibility these have.

4.  Boot Linux 200% faster with an open BIOS
Where can I get a motherboard with an OpenBIOS?  I can’t find anything anywhere commercially available.

5.  Awn 0.2 released, the best dock on linux just got stable [Pics & Vids]
Video says everything I could say, plus more.

6.  How to keep your old PC alive
Repurpose your old PCs with Linux!  Ideas like using an old PC as a Firewall/Proxy, Development Server, Storage Server, Media Center, p2p, web browsing workstation, etc discussed – all are good ideas.

7.  Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon free CD’s: orders are taken NOW
ShipIt strikes again this week, it’s still a popular topic that Ubuntu (through ShipIt) is sending out free CDs of the latest release of Ubuntu, Gutsy Gibbon 7.10.

8.  Ubuntu Gutsy Makes Automatix Obsolete
Automatix was a great idea at first – make it easy for people to install things like MP3 and DVD support on Ubuntu and other distributions.  The problem is, now it’s really easy to get these things from Ubuntu Restricted Extras.

9.  Giving Away Ubuntu Costs More Than You Think
I made the top 15 again this week, and surely it was warranted because I spent probably more than 15 HOURS researching this article.  It’s certainly worth reading, a nice ‘didja know’ article.

10.  The Perfect Desktop – OpenSUSE 10.3 (GNOME)
The perfect desktop?  I actually REALLY like the new main menu in OpenSUSE.  I installed Linux Mint (which has a similar interface) last night and was really blown away by how usable this is compared to the default Windows Vista start menu.

11.  The Open-Source iPhone Alternative, OpenMoko for Consumers
I had someone tell me to look at OpenMoko instead of an iPhone.  Well, guess what?


Sorry lostdeadmouse, but I’m going to call you on this one.  This article is totally bunk-ass bullshit.  This phone is at LEAST a year away before it’s an option to the iPhone.  In the meantime, I own an iPhone.

12.  Fluxbox-1.0 released!
Some people really like a lightweight, fast, desktop manager.  Fluxbox is a very usable alternative to Gnome or KDE.

13.  Compiz Fusion nearing stable release; new software; cube plugin rewritten
Ahh, new features of Compiz Fusion.  Who doesn’t like new features and stability?

14.  The best Linux system repair distribution gets better
SystemRescueCD 0.4, I’ve used a rescue CD to fix things up on a busted Linux installation – this LiveCD makes it easy.

15.  Shuttleworth on Ballmer
Ballmer spouts off his sweaty face about Open Source software, and Mark Shuttleworth of Ubuntu replies.

That’s all this week!  Our sponsors are…. oh wait, we don’t have sponsors.  Shit.

iPhone Linux

How To: Stream Music From The iPhone In Ubuntu

This is the first how-to article that holds your hand step by step to stream music from the iPhone in Ubuntu over Wi-Fi. This will work on other distributions, simply replace apt-get with your package manager of choice.


– 1.02 Firmware iPhone with OpenSSH installed via
– Ubuntu, or probably any distribution based on apt-get (such as Debian)
– Wireless Router (ad-hoc connection probably works too, untested)

These instructions were performed on brand new Ubuntu 32-bit installation of Gutsy Gibbon (7.10). They have been found to be complete and accurate. Installing OpenSSH on the iPhone is outlined in other articles available online, simply search for “iPhone jailbreak” and follow instructions, you will need a Windows PC or Mac.

Using two programs called FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) and sshfs we can mount the iPhone filesystem in Linux, then configure ssh key pairs so we can connect without needing to sudo or login as root every time we want to sync the phone, then we’ll install beta versions of Libgpod and Rythmbox to end up with something insanely great:


1. Installing FUSE and other needed programs.

On your PC, goto Applications, Accessories, Terminal
Search for gstreamer in add/remove programs and add everything with the name starting with gstreamer, including ubuntu restricted extras.

Note: You can copy-paste every command from this article using CTRL+Shift+V.

sudo apt-get install sshfs

Then, add yourself to the fuse group with this command:

sudo adduser wayne fuse [Replace wayne with your username]

Re-authenticate using su - wayne to avoid /dev/fuse errors later on (or reboot). We’ll be leaving this terminal open for the rest of this guide.

2. Setting up Hosts file, Configuring OpenSSH password, and Configuring SSH Key Pairs
This lets you connect to your iPhone without using a password every time.

Turn off auto-lock on your iPhone by going to Settings | General | Auto-Lock | Never

Adding the iPhone to /etc/hosts
Open a terminal, type:

sudo gedit /etc/hosts

Edit the file to look like this, changing to the IP address of your iPhone:

iPhone Host File Setup

You can find the IP address of your iPhone by either by looking in your wireless router configuration page (now would be an excellent time to make it a static DHCP address) or on the phone by going to Settings | Wi-Fi, then tapping the blue arrow next to the access point.

Save and quit gedit, you’ll be back to the terminal.

In the terminal we’ll generate SSH keys and connect to the iPhone

ssh-keygen -t rsa

Should output something like this:

Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/wayne/.ssh/id_rsa): [ENTER]
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): [ENTER]
Enter same passphrase again: [ENTER]
Your identification has been saved in /home/wayne/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/wayne/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:
xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx wayne@gutsy

4. Logging into the iPhone via SSH, Resetting Passwords, and setting up the iPhone SSH Keys.
ssh root@iphone

Don’t worry, if it takes a long time – the first time you connect, it takes about 30 seconds to generate keys on the iPhone.

wayne@gutsy:~/Desktop$ ssh root@iphone
The authenticity of host 'iphone (' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added 'iphone,' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.

root@iphone's password: dottie [This is the default password]

At the # prompt type the following:
passwd root [Type in the new password twice.]
passwd mobile [Type in the new password twice.]

Configure SSH keys on the iPhone.

mkdir ~/.ssh << [Error that it exists is OK.]
chmod go-w / ~
cp /etc/ssh_config /etc/ssh_config.bak
echo AuthorizedKeysFile .ssh/authorized_keys >> /etc/sshd_config

You should see the following output:
Connection to iphone closed.

5. Configure SSH keys on your Linux PC/
scp ~/.ssh/ root@iphone:.ssh/authorized_keys

You should see something like this:
root@iphone's password: [type the new password you setup here] 100% 393 0.4KB/s 00:00

6. Mount your iPhone using sshfs

sudo mkdir /media/iphone/ -m 777

When running sshfs you may receive errors. Common ones are about /dev/fuse – logout, reauthenticate using su - wayne, or rebooting is a simple solution (although not needed).

sshfs root@iphone:/var/root/Media /media/iphone/
ln -s /media/iphone/iTunes_Control /media/iphone/iPod_Control

7. Install SVN versions of Rhythmbox and Libgpod

Download the debs here. (Thanks funk for packaging these!)
Extract this file with Archive Manager, then double click on each one and install each package.

After installing all of these, when you open up Rhythmbox via Applications | Sound & Video | Rythmbox, your iPhone will magically appear in the devices list, and allow you to stream media via wireless. If it’s not working, make sure that you can still browse to /media/iphone and view files yourself.

To ummount the iPhone:
fusermount -u /media/iphone

To re-mount the iPhone:
sshfs root@iPhone:/var/root/Media /media/iphone/

Did you run into any problems? Comment here and I’ll help you out best I can.

Bonus tip: Mount /var/root/Library/Ringtones instead and load up on ringtones!


Smack For Linux Explained In Plain English

There has been plenty of activity in the Linux Security Module mailing list since Linus Torvalds posted in response to security programmers and researchers who don’t want Smack added to the 2.6.24 Linux kernel, because SELinux can do everything Smack can.

Linux Off-Topic

How To Setup Drivel To Write Posts Using WordPress

I’ve been working on writing a very in-depth, step by step guide on syncing the iPhone in Linux, but in the meantime, here’s a how-to guide on using Drivel.


Warning: Program Called “Songbird” May Rock Your Socks Off! Runs On Linux, Mac, and Windows!

If you have not heard of a program called Songbird, I would love to be the first to introduce it to you.


An Agnostic Objectively Reviews Ubuntu Christian Edition 3.3


I’ve been wanting to review Ubuntu Christian Edition (CE) 3.3 with intentions of giving it a good review. After all, it is Ubuntu, with a little Praise Jesus on the side. I enjoy using Ubuntu, and if someone can put some Jesus in an operating system and I like it, surely it’s an operating system that is worth using.