Category Archives: Linux

Linux Mint: my new desktop OS of choice

It’s not new that I really hate the Unity Desktop that Ubuntu‘s been shipping for some versions now.

Last October, I finally got fed up with it and began looking for alternatives. I really wanted to stay in the Ubuntu ecosystem, since my problem is really with the Unity Desktop and not with the ecosystem. So I chose Linux Mint.

For a month or so I used the Mate desktop environment. It’s quite fast and intuitive, but lacked some features, like the 3D environment. So when Linux Mint 14 was released, I switched to the Cinnamon Desktop, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s fast, has all the good features of Gnome Shell yet still using the desktop metaphor of Gnome 2.

I am now a happy camper. I (FEUP, really) even contributed to the Linux Mint Community with some official mirrors (for packages and Debian related files we’re the only mirror in Portugal). I am even considering basing FEUPlive in Linux Mint. Let’s see how that develops.

Ubuntu 11.10: a general improvement

So I’ve been using Ubuntu 11.10 for a couple of weeks now, and the general feeling is that is a lot better polished than Ubuntu 11.04. Unity has come a long way, and I can honestly say that this version is almost useable. In my work desktop, my default desktop environment is now Unity-2D, simply because it runs a lot smoother than the 3D counterpart.

Don’t get me wrong, I still miss Gnome 2. But at least now I can pass the mourning of not having it available anymore and actually use the computer.

The only problem at the moment is this damn bug, that forces me to unount a usb drive from a terminal. I sure hope it get’s fixed soon.

Yet more Ubuntu 11.04 complaining

Sorry, this is another post complaining about Ubuntu 11.04. This time a bug that bothers me a lot… Qt applications with a 1px icon in the notification bar. Really annoying. I personally use only two Qt applications constantly: Skype and Scrobbler, and both applications rely heavly on the notification bar icons. So it’s really annoying having them minimized to a 1px icon. Huge fail indeed.

One alternative, suggested by Nuno Dantas, was to drop Gnome entirely and switch to XFce. I tried it but think it’s not really my cup o tea, perhaps when Gnome 2 is completely dropped from Ubuntu I’ll switch to XFce.

Another option was to find alternative applications in GTK+. So that’s what I did. For Skype, the simplest alternative was installing and activating the Pidgin Skype plugin. It still needs to have Skype running, but now I don’t care if the app has a 1px icon, because I can control it from Pidgin. For I’m now using Vagalume, a GTK+ Player. It has all the features of the official player, is GTK+ based, and even works with libnotify, something that the official player doesn’t support.

So, for the time being, I’m a happy camper… But Ubuntu 11.04 has to be the crappiest release to date…

Cacti: Graphics Galore

One of my objectives for this year is to build a central monitoring and statistical system for our unit. For the statistical part I’ve chosen Cacti.

Last year I’ve already implemented a pilot project using Cacti, which gave me a chance of testing several templates to fit our needs. Unfortunately the machine where I implemented it was rather old (one of the disks died), and was running Debian Sid, so it was kind of broken…

With a new machine available, I now have the service up and running. For now I’m posting a few pretty pictures of the potential of Cacti. In the future I’ll blog about installing and configuring specific templates.

Firstly we have a graphic which analyses the Postfix Log:

Some Apache statistics:

Some MySQL statistics:

Some FlexLM License Statistics:

And, even… Meteorological Statistics:

Upgrade from Debian Lenny to Squeezy

Now that Debian Squeezy has officially been released, here’s how to upgrade from Lenny to Squeeze (at least how I’m doing it):

  1. Edit you /etc/apt/sources.list and replace the lenny entries with squeeze
  2. Run aptitude update
  3. Run aptitude install apt dpkg aptitude
  4. Run aptitude safe-upgrade
  5. Run aptitude full-upgrade
  6. After rebooting and checking the grub chainload into grub2 was successfull, run upgrade-from-grub-legacy

The only problem I’ve encountered was with the MySQL Server upgrade from 5.0 to 5.1, it just simply fails. But I’ve upgraded a machine two weeks ago, so I don’t know if the problem has been resolved.

Centralized Apache Logs with Syslogd

One of the projects I have for this year is the centralization of all Apache logs we have scattered across all our machines.

I know this kind of guide has been done before, but here’s my implementation for our systems.

  1. Install rsyslogd: apt-get install rsyslog. Some older machines we had were still using the older sysklogd, but form what I’ve gathered, it doesn’t support UDP transmission of the logs, so I didn’t fit me.
  2. Add the following rules to /etc/rsyslogd.conf:
    local1.crit @destination-host @destination-host
  3. Restart rsyslogd: /etc/init.d/rsyslog restart
  4. Edit your apache settings to add the new log rules (normally /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default):
    ErrorLog syslog:local1
    CustomLog “|/usr/bin/logger -p” combined
  5. Restart apache: /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
  6. On the central machine add the following rules to syslog (this part is actually recycled from a Nuno Dantas implementation of the central logs for postfix):
    source s_remote { udp(); };
    destination d_clients { file(“/destination-path/$HOST”); };
    log { source(s_remote); destination(d_clients); };
  7. Restart syslog. You should now have the apache logs coming…

After this, I implemented a AWStats central instance which parses all those nifty logs.

Ubuntu 8.04: The Veridict

So Sunday has passed and I’ve decided to keep Ubuntu Hardy Heron installed on my system. So far the only problem was the one with GRUB. Other than the annoyance of calling all my disks xxxGB Media, everything’s running smoothly. I know this Ubuntu version doesn’t bring all that new goodies as one would expect, but honestly the “LTS” flag doesn’t allow for extravagances. For that wait for Interpid Ibex in October…

So here are the new stuff I liked:

  • The new Compiz version + the Nvidia drivers run smoother than ever on my card. I had some problems in Gutsy that kept me from using Compiz. Those are now gone.
  • Transmission is AMAZING!!
  • Vinagre rocks as a Remote Desktop App
  • The new F-Spot version looks really good
  • I simply ADORE the Youtube Plugin in Totem. (hint: even better is this Youtube H.264 plugin)
  • The APT system is super fast. It’s simply incredible

Let’s see how the coming weeks go…

Ubuntu 8.04 = Problems

So since today I’m home sick with a fracking cold, I’ve decided to upgrade my home desktop to Ubuntu 8.04… Boy that was a mistake… Rei was already saying that he had some problems, but since this was already my forth installation I thought everything would go well. I was wrong…

Decided to format the root partition (somethings were wrong already so why not a clean start), so I booted the Ubuntu CD. I thought it was strange that the system detected my disks and partitions in the wrong order, but I didn’t pay that much attention. After the installation was complete, rebooted, and was presented wih GRUB Error 17. What a nice clean way to tell you to greet you after you installed a LTS version! Apparently the detecting the disks and partitions in the wrong order was a big deal since it f*cked up the GRUB config file. Booting the LiveCD again and re-running the GRUB setup didn’t work either… Fortunately I found this guide which worked well in my computer.

But now that I have the boot fixed, I still am encountering problems… In previous versions, every mount point located inside /media would show up in the Desktop as an icon with the mount point as the name. Now they show up as xxxGB Media… Since I have 3 disks with the same size how the hell am I supposed to figure how which is which. I suppose this is just a matter of changing some configuration, but if it was working so well why the hell did they change it?

I’m giving Ubuntu 8.04 until Sunday to win me over. If not, I think I’m reverting to 7.10 for the time being… And no, Fedora, OpenSUSE and all that crap is not an option…

Advanced Linux Administration Course @Porto

Gaspar will be teaching an Advanced Linux Administration Course. The contents:

  • Server configuration: WWW, FTP, DNS, DHCP, LDAP, E-Mail
  • Samba with quota support
  • Linux Security
  • Xen Virtualization

Location: Rua da Boavista, Porto Portugal (link)
Date: From April 22 to June 3.
Schedule: Tuesday and Thursday, 19h-23h (4h)
Duration: 72h
Price: 300 euros (a real bargain) 😉

More information (in portuguese):