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.

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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 Last.fm 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 Last.fm I’m now using Vagalume, a GTK+ Last.fm 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
    local1.info @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 local1.info” 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.