Integrating Asterisk and Ekiga.net behind a firewall

Asterisk is an open source telephone switch (PBX). Although it can be used in complex environments, it can also be deployed for simple home use.

I was planning on Describing the set up and configuration for my Asterisk server, but I found that there are many good tutorials that already cover the general steps. For example, this one from our fellow KWLUGer and Linux trainer extraordinaire rpjday
http://www.crashcourse.ca/wiki/index.php/Asterisk_on_Kamikaze

Normaly you use Asterisk with a telephony provider such as Unlimitel, Voip.ms, MyDivert.com and many others; from which you can get a real telephone number.

Ekiga.net is a free VoIP provider. It does not give you a phone number, but an account name. Very similar to MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger or Skype, the main difference is that you can associate that account with your Asterisk phone system.

Why?
I know that we enjoy being in front of our computers all day, but, when we are away from the computer, it is quite convenient to have the phone ring and receive an ekiga call even when the computer is turned off.

Ekiga is also the name of a free Softphone application provided by Ekiga.net and available in the repositories of most Linux distributions. There is also a Windows version for those friends and family which you haven't converted. During the set-up it will allow them to create a new ekiga account.

So assuming that you have an Asterisk server installed and you are able to call from extension to extension inside your network, I'll proceed to explain the simple steps to integrate with Ekiga.net

First, Here is my target physical architecture for this simple configuration:

While the Ekiga Wiki has good information regarding the integration, It assumes an Internet facing server. If your Asterisk server faces the internet, just follow the instructions. If like me, your server is behind a firewall, you'll need some extra steps.

Ekiga as an Asterisk client explains how to use Ekiga as a SoftPhone (phone extension) registered to your Asterisk Server. I http://wiki.ekiga.org/index.php/Ekiga_as_an_Asterisk_client
There is no problems with these instructions. Just follow them

Connecting Asterisk to ekiga.net explains how to configure Asterisk to send and receive calls through the Ekiga network
http://wiki.ekiga.org/index.php/Connecting_Asterisk_to_ekiga.net
Given that my server is behind a firewall as you can see in the diagram, and that I do not have a static IP; after following those instructions I had to do the corresponding adjustments to sip.conf

No Static IP, server Behind a firewal
To overcome this problem I registered for a free DNS name at DynDNS.com, this way even when my IP address changes I still have the same domain name. Most routers these days have an option to configure a DynDNS account. If that's not your case, you can still run a daemon on the server that will synchronize your IP address and domain name at regular intervals.

Once I had my DynDNS I added the following lines to the [general] section of sip.conf as explained at voip-info.org
externip=<my dynDNS domain name>
localnet=<IP base for my network>/255.255.255.0

e.g.
externip=mynetwork.homeip.net
localnet=192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0

and added the following line to the [ekiga] section of sip.conf
nat=yes

I restarted Asterisk
$ sudo /etc/init.d/asterisk restert

Firewall port forwarding
The final step is to forward UDP ports 5000 - 5100 on your firewall to go to your Asterisk server.

And that is it, you will be able to send and receive calls to and from other Ekiga users, just don't forget to use the corresponding prefix. (e.g. 9 in our example).

Reference:
www.asterisk.org
www.ekiga.org
www.ekiga.net
www.dyndns.com

File Attachments

Attachment Size
RarsaEkigaNetwork.png 48.65 KB

Initial KWLUG meeting announcement

Here is a post that Daniel Allen found announcing our first KWLUG meeting in October 2001.

Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 00:11:15 -0400
From: permute
To: pnij...@uwaterloo.ca
Subject: KWLUG announcement

Hello All
My name is Bill Rieck and I would like to invite you to the first meeting of
the Kitchener-Waterloo Linux Users Group (KWLUG) on Oct. 13, 12-1 PM.
The biggest obstacle to the beginning of a LUG is having a meeting place
booked and some concrete times and dates. I have booked The Working Centre
(free), 43 Queen St. S., Kitchener, ON, for Saturday, Oct. 13, 12-1 PM and
can continue to have them there once a month until we agree on an
alternative. Judging from many other LUG meet times out there, they all meet
on a weekday once a month at 7 or 7:30 PM. The meet time may have to shift
to a weekday eventually, but for now it will be a Saturday, come on out so
you can have your input on this.
We need lots of ideas on how to make a kwlug work, all levels of experience
are welcome, and help of any kind is needed. It's up to you to come out and
help give direction to our group.
It is a great community meeting space that can accomodate up to 40 people.
We have a VCR, coffee, many computers for internet and Linux use, and a
volunteer-run (no charge) computer repair facility.
Mapquest link:
http://www.mapquest.com/cgi-bin/ia_find?link=btwn/twn-map_results&map...
se=1&uid=uay0r8c2gbd0x5sd:tluyyw9wa&aphoto=0&SNVData=3mad3-h.fy%28wb5qfr_%29
r755ft%3bah7-%3d%5b2g%29yy%5dOGSMW%2bGV%2b%15%24%2bYOMYVDLM%14%40%2bIW%40%2b
Y%12%3a%28_%3dLV_qar5hw%28.56rghz%28l%241w-u.wf7%3bxcx5sf7.grfe%7cs%24jdvnd%
7c%5b9r_05%5d%14%11JDL%2bEJ%2bF%26%2bIJ%17L%19MWDC%3a%2bBL%3a%2bLV&pcat
A mail list has been set up that may prove useful. You can subscribe by
sending a text e-mail to majord...@thinkers.org with 'subscribe kwlug', no
quotes, in the body.

Cut-Over Completed

The web site cut over is done. We are now in good standing t perform other changes to the site. We will initially be addressing administrative issues but soon, perhaps, we will work on functionality changes.

Web Site Cut-Over

Thursday evening (around 6 PM) the KWLUG web site will be going into maintenance mode and will be unstable for a couple of hours while the upgrade from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 is performed.

This is an in-place upgrade so although the site will be initially going into maintenance mode and therefore inaccessible we will need to bring the site back on-line to make final configuration changes and for testing. During that time the site's look and functionality may vary wildly.

I'll will post an announcement when the site is stable so that you, our members, can continue to make excellent content contribution.

We have worked to make sure the cut-over will be otherwise uneventful by performing a trial cut-over on another web server. We are hoping that this exercise will reduce both the downtime and inevitable bugs.

If, after the cut-over, you find problems with the site please let me know.

If you are curious about what is involved in the cut-over check out my cut-over notes.

Downtimes ahead

This website will probably go down for maintenance a few times over the next little while, as we do some site upgrades. The next downtime will be January 14, sometime after 6pm.

Configuring Mandriva 2010.1 Spring Free

On my previous Mandriva review I had concluded that Mandriva wasn't for me, but someone at KW LUG convinced me to give it a chance. I started reviewing Mandriva 2010.1 Spring and had exactly the same complaints as my review of the 2010 version so I decided that, instead of a negative review I would write a positive "How to" configure the Free version.

Disclaimers:

  • I still think that a lot of names are wrong and misleading, but I realized I can learn what they mean. Besides it seems to be a translation from other languages into English which would explain the language issues.
  • I also still think that the initial look is ugly, but I accept that it is a subjective opinion and can be changed.
  • Finally I still think that the whole distribution is unpolished compared to other distributions but If this is your first and only distribution you may not notice.

Note:
People have pointed out that some of the steps bellow will be unnecessary if you instead buy the Power pack which includes, non-free components. By buying it you will also support Mandriva in particular and Linux in general.

For the full review go to my previous review.

With that out of my chest Here we go.

The installer DVD is pretty straight forward. Just ignore the confusing parts and accept the defaults. Ensure you have enough time to be around the computer (about 1 hour) as the installation happens in two stages.

Answer the first set of questions carefully because the installer does not show a screen for you to confirm them. The package installation will take about 1/2 hour. You can use that time to read the release notes. That is a welcome feature and a good use of the time.

At the end of the package installation answer the second set of questions.

Confirm your settings and change them according to your needs. For example, I configured the network to have static IP and start when the computer starts. I also set the resolution of my screen instead of using the "automatic" as it chooses the highest resolution available for my card.

If you have a network connection ready, update the packages when asked.

At the end of the update you may get a message indicating that you should restart your computer. Just ignore the message for now. When you continue, the installer will restart the computer on its own.

Here comes the configuration:

Restoring the KDE4 look and feel:

Right click on the desktop and select “Desktop activity Settings”
Click on the “Activity” tab.
On “Type” select “Desktop”
Click “OK”

Right click on the desktop and select “Add Widgets”
Find the “Folder view” widget and drag it to the desktop
Position it wherever you want.
You can now configure it to show any folder you desire.

Mounting other internal partitions:
By default Dolphin does not let mounting other Linux partitions when clicking on them. To be able to do it, you will need to change the security policy by executing the following command:

polkit-auth --user --grant org.freedesktop.hal.storage.mount.fixed --constraint

replacing with your user ID.

Allowing command line escalation of authority "sudo"

In Mandriva you can switch user to root but by default you cannot "sudo" as root. So when you are doing administrator level tasks in the command line, you either execute the following command to gain root access. (ensure you exit the root session at the end of the administrative tasks)

su -

Alternatively you grant your self "sudo" access to execute specific commands with higher rights. I prefer this way as it prevents me from forgetting that I am working as root and doing something I shouldn't.

Edit the sudoers file to add you to the wheel group
su -

visudo

Uncomment the following line by removing the “#” character
#%wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL

Exit the editor by typing “:wq!”

Click on "Configure your computer" and enter the root password.
On the left menu select "System";
Under "Administration tools" select "Manage users on system;
Click on your name and select "Edit" from the tool bar;
Click on the "Groups" tab;
Check the "wheel" group
OK or close all the windows.

Enable non-free repositories
If you want to use non-free components (Drivers, codecs, etc) you need to enable the non-free repository

Options | Media Manager

Check "Mirror list Non-free" and "Mirror list Non-free Updates"

Installing non GUI software

The software manager defaults to showing only packages with a graphical interface. If you don't want to be scratching your head when you don't find a package, change the default:

On the top left dropdown list that says "Packages with GUI", select: "All"

To install non-free codecs (mpeg, DVD, wmv, etc)

Main Menu | Applications | Install & Remove software

Ensure you follow the steps to show all software in the previous section
Search for "gstreamer"
Select the "gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly" package. (Note that the name has nothing to do with the quality of the codecs, just that the packager thinks that proprietary software and patents are ugly)
When asked to insert the "medium named Main Media" just insert the installation DVD and press OK.

Install Flash

The flash-plugin must be downloaded directly from the Flash web site:

Open Konqueror and go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/otherversions/
Select "Linux" as the operating system and click "Continue"
Select the ".rpm" version, and click on the "Agree and install" button

Download, click and follow instructions

Conclusion
I think this is my last dabble with Mandriva for a while, but I hope these tips may help other people.

Removing old sound device from KDE 4,x

When you connect a sound device to a KDE 4.x system Phonon recognizes it and allows you to assign priority. Many people, including me have found that once you remove the device, the entry does not go away and phonon shows a message indicating that the device is not working.

I found this after I plugged in some borrowed USB speakers. They worked but after I returned them. I got the phonon message every time I logged in.

The solution was to edit the file ~/.kde/share/config/phonondevicesrc

and delete the entry that corresponds to the device you no longer have.

I would have preferred to have this functionality on the multimedia KDE control module, but for now this solution worked.

Recover Windows passwords, unlock accounts and more with Linux and chntpw

Today, Linux saved the day... again.

My dad called me to ask me what to do when his Windows computer didn't let him log in.

He has a single account and a blank password.

I searched the internet and found a post explaining a great little utility that allows to reset passwords, unlock accounts, etc.

The command is chntpw

The instructions in the following link use the Linux rescue CD but you can easily use your favourite Live CD and install the utility from the repositories.

My dad has a dual boot computer so I've already installed the utility for the next time he locks his account.

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/change-your-forgotten-windows-password-with-the-linux-system-rescue-cd/

PGP keysigning party instructions

Updated: Maybe you should not generate a key with the default settings. See Step 1 below.

The September 2010 meeting will feature a keysigning party.

Chris Frey (cdfrey at the domain foursquare dot net) is the KeyMaster for this party. As part of the process, you will e-mail him your key.

Here are his instructions for getting started, with some e-mail address obfuscation:

  1. Generate new key:


    gpg --gen-key

    (Accept the defaults, they are pretty good)

    Update: Denver Gingerich notes that one of the algorithms used in the defaults (SHA-1) has vulnerabilities. Although these vulnerabilities have not resulted in exploits yet, if you are generating a new key you may want to use less vulnerable settings. Denver suggests:

    • Generate an RSA key
    • Make it 4096 bits long
  2. Look at your shiny new key:


    gpg --list-keys

  3. Export it to a file:


    gpg --armor --output /tmp/my-public-key --export

    Replace ID with the first ID of your key. For example,
    my key looks like this in the --list-keys display:

    pub 1024D/DC6371D5 2006-12-02 [expires: 2011-12-01]
    uid Chris Frey (cube)
    sub 4096g/C2855553 2006-12-02 [expires: 2011-12-01]

    So my ID is DC6371D5.

  4. Email the file my-public-key to me. (i.e. to Chris)
  5. Show up on September 13, with your fingerprint printed out on a sheet of paper, and ready to read it out loud.


    gpg --fingerprint

    Example:


    gpg --fingerprint dc6371d5
    pub 1024D/DC6371D5 2006-12-02 [expires: 2011-12-01]
    Key fingerprint = 7D71 47F2 3F61 B0E1 5F3C 68A4 819A 39D8 DC63 71D5
    uid Chris Frey (cube)
    sub 4096g/C2855553 2006-12-02 [expires: 2011-12-01]

At the meeting you will have to read your fingerprint and have others vouch for your identity. Some people do this via government ID; other people think this is not sufficient.

Linux Mint Isadora KDE i386 first impressions

This time I decided to install Linux Mint Isadora KDE version. This may sound unfair based my previous review of Mandriva as I've been using Linux Mint for several releases but this is the first time I will use the KDE version, though.

I promise I'll try to be as picky and as unbiased as I possibly can.

The first thing that surprised me is that, although for the Gnome version there is a Live CD which is just 674 MB and a Live DVD which is 763, There is only a DVD version for KDE a whopping 1.3 GB. Still better than other distributions which are 2 to 4 GB.

I downloaded the DVD version which is a Live version. Upon booting I got a normal KDE screen with the Linux Mint background and a Install Linux Mint icon on the desktop folder. The screen looks clean, nothing earth shattering. But it is noticeable that it started on my card/monitor recommended resolution, not the maximum.

In the menu I can see that in includes a large number of applications, I may need to do some clean up after I'm done. For example, It even comes with Wine which I never use. I hope it only installs a basic set of applications.

I tried to use some of the utilities but they weren't configured on the Live CD. so I'll proceed to install by double clicking on the icon.

The installation is quite clean and clear. Quite visual with a very simple language.

Oops, the partition editor cuts the name of the partitions, I can only see /dev/sd... so I need to resize the columns.

A couple of questions and the installation starts. Hey, wait a second. It never asked me if I wanted to install the boot loader or where I wanted to install it. I Don't remember missing that question and if I did then it is not very clear where the option is.

The installation took less than 10 minutes and I reboot... At least the boot loader found all my installations.

Initial boot speed is good but KDE logging is very slow.

Upon boot I am welcomed by a message saying that I have 82 updates I accept them and the update starts. All the messages are very short and clear.

While it installs I browse the menus. Oh, no! all the applications were installed. Maybe that's good for some, but now I know why there is only a large DVD version. This version of Mint comes with the kitchen sink. Not a criticism. just an observation.

Dragon Player
VLC
MPlayer
Amarok
Songbird
KsCD

Each one a great player, but should they include them all? I don't think so.

When I execute dragon Player it very nicely advises me that there are packages that may improve my experience. I accept and... what? it failed? I know it failed because the update manager was already running. I think that there should have been a clearer message telling me that I couldn't install it until the other application finished.

It's time to go to bed but I'll continue reporting tomorrow.

I just got distracted watching a movie. It is nice to have a distro that you can start using as soon as you finish installing it.

Mandriva 2010 First impressions

A week ago someone at the KWLUG was talking about Mandriva, and I mentioned that I never warmed up to it.

That conversation left me intrigued so today I decided to give it a try once again.

This will be a play by play impression while I go through the install. Some of my comments may sound picky, but as first impressions count:

I'm all pumped up and ready to be wowed.

On inserting the disk I remembered why I hadn't been able to fully test it: the DVD is not a live version. No live DVD. Why? Do I need to download the CD to see if I like it and if I do then get the DVD?

-1

I decide to go with the DVD. After starting the installation, things went smooth, until partition time. The installer took some time analyzing if it could shrink Windows and offered me to use that space. I guess it is a good assumption that most new users will have Windows already installed and the people that already has Linux, will know how to partition properly.

+1

I selected the advanced method. Selected my root partition and continued installing until I got to a screen that asked me if I had other sources to use. I selected HTTP to see if it would offer me additional packages, but all that happened is that it asked me for an HTTP address. If I am new to Mandriva, how would I know what address to use?

-1

When it came time to select the bootloader, I decided to ignore it as I already have Grub2 under Ubuntu Lucid.

It configured my network and asked me if I wanted to update the packages. Wow, that's nice, Install and update all at once while I have dinner!! I'm liking it.

+1

Things completed and I rebooted in Ubuntu to update grub. Restarted the computer but It wouldn't boot Mandriva. It's complaining about the root=/dev/sda6 kernel parameter.

I went to Ubuntu, created a 40 level grub2 script to manually add Mandriva and things rebooted properly. I don't know if I should blame grub2 or Mandriva for this one so things are still in favour of Mandriva.

Upon download I was welcomed with the final setup, Surprise! Mandriva selected the highest resolution available for my card and monitor, which is 1920x1440. On a 19" monitor the text on the welcome screens were super small and there was no way to change the resolution at that time.

-1

The welcome screen asked me to register to the Mandriva community. All good and nice, except that it asked for an email and a password. No indication that the password should be different than the login password for the computer. A new user would assume that if he/she just provided a password 3 minutes ago while installing. The password requested will be that one.

-1

Finally I got to the login screen and to the desktop. It looks like KDE3... wait a second, Shouldn't this be KDE4.x? Well it is, but kind of retro. No plasma widgets, no searchable menu. Just plain retro KDE3. Aggghh, Will need to take some time to configure it to look as a default KDE4? bummer.

-1

OK, now it's time to finally change the resolution... Where are the system settings? Nowhere. So I clicked some menu entries that looked promising: "Configure your computer"... Nop, Even though it has a hardware section, configuring the display (hardware) is not there. And by the way, the menu entry does not correspond to the title of the window that opens. Finally I found it under "Configure your desktop", which had an icon similar to the "System Settings"... wait a second... It IS the system settings. with keyboard, multimedia, network sharing. all that, Why would they call it something different is a mystery to me.

-3 (Yes, this one was annoying)

Oh, a pop up advising me of a new version. How nice, but, didn't I just updated during installation? whatever.

+1 for advising me of the new version.

I'm on a roll so I say I want to upgrade. It first shows me two options I didn't know what they meant. so I selected the one that said "download all packages", wouldn't it be clear that if you update over the Internet you MUST download the packages? Well... then it said that it had to download 2.3 GB of data! Sounded like a lot to me considering that the full DVD is less than twice that. I decline the upgrade.

-1 for the confusing wording.

I proceeded to try to find the software upgrade for the current version... I'm searching until I find it buried under: "Configure your computer". This is now just funny. You cannot configure your display under the Hardware section of "Configure your computer" which has an icon that looks like a display but somehow they think that installing and updating software is equivalent to configuring my computer by clicking on a "screw driver and a wrench" icon?

-2

Getting over the naming (after all What's on a name but SEMANTICS) I proceeded to update my system. What? only 5 packages ready to update? I thought that my version was so old that there was even a newer full version. Until I remembered that during the installation It asked me if I wanted to update the packages. Great something to smile about.

+2

I click update and this message is shown: "Rpmdrake or one of its priority dependencies need to be udpated first. Rpmdrake will then restart". What is that Rpmdrake for and will it affect my computer if it restarts? I guess it's not OK to continue but then nothing gets updated... mmmm. I'll click update again and bite the bullet. Everything seems to install and at the end another message:"You should restart your computer for glibc" Who is that glibc and why should I restart for him? My only option is "OK" does that mean that I have no other options?

I click OK and go for some milk while it reboots... I come back but the computer didn't reboot. It is telling me that it needs to contact the mirror. blah blah. I accept and I see that the Software Packages update restarted but has a huge list of things to upgrade. Didn't I just go through this and it was just a short list? I had even awarded 2 points for upgrading while installing. I click "Update" again and... another question asking me to confirm. Haven't I confirmed several times? How many freaking times do I have to say that I want to update? I'm not laughing any more.

Now waiting. I don't know how long because it never told me the size of each package or the total size of the updates just that there are 663 packages to be updated.

-2 (for the points I awarded above)
-5 (for being so annoying)

While it updates I'll go browse the menu to see what's there. Alt-F1... mm, nothing. I have KDE4 in a different computer, that opens the menu. but not here. Check the menu settings and.. the keyboard shortcut is set to none!

Well, then I'll switch to the KDE4 Kickoff Menu style. Good thing I know how to do it. I unlock the widgets, right click on the menu widget and select to switch only to be shown a red X which when hovered over tells me that it is unable to launch the widget. So, no menu, no way to switch back with the right click. I am forced to add the traditional menu widget and delete the malfunctioning one.

I browse the old (windows 95 style) menu and find that some applications have a name and a description, quite useful. But some others, just the name. What the hell is Codeina? Is it for when I am in pain? because I need it right now!

Sitting here still waiting for it to update. I'm starting to guess that I would've been better off upgrading, I don't know how much it is downloading but it seems like a lot.

Finally after what seems like an eternity it finishes, with "Problems during installation" and a list of packages on Dependency Hell!!!. this is a new installation, I haven't added repositories, people had told me that RPM dependency hell was no more. This was the last drop.

Or so I thought... When I click OK, it offers me more updates which leads to an "orphan" package, whatever that means.

Finally no more updates!!

I don't think that I will keep using Mandriva for long but if I find something worth talking about I will amend this post.

Conclusion:

This is crazy, some parts of Mandriva treat you as if you are a total newbie, asking confirmation after confirmation and some others treat you as if you are a Linux expert and know what libraries are required for what and what are the names of the applications (even though the names are different than what shows in the menus and the window title bars).

Mandriva will tell you that it is a modern distribution while at the same time going out of their way to make it look old and fuggly. They even managed to break KDE4.

Things are hidden and out of place, misnomers all over the place. I've been a distro hooper for a while and this is the first time where I've felt really flabbergasted.

I know that this is the free version. But many volunteers worked on it. So, how could so many little and BIG details made it to this release? Could it be so people go for the paid version and this is just sharing the crumbs with the community?

This is sad. Very sad. I really expected better. Honestly.

Comments

I may be a masochist. I just changed the desktop from "Folder view" to "Desktop" to make it look like KDE4 and now I cannot even add widgets or restore it.

I also noticed that when trying to do an admin activity, sometimes it asks me for my password, sometimes for the root password.

How many other annoyances should I find before I declare this a distribution non-grata?

OK, I deleted the ~/.kde folder and after rebooting I was able to switch to the kickoff menu and I was able to change the desktop to the desktop view instead of folder view.

Maybe I'm just used to be advised I need to reboot when there are changes that require reboot.

I finally found where to change the resolution permanently: "Configure your computer | Hardware | Setup the Graphical server".

But when I try to upgrade or refresh repositories:

<cite>Unable to update medium, errors reported:

retrieval of [http://carroll.cac.psu.edu/pub/linux/distributions/mandrivalinux/offici…] failed (md5sum mismatch)
problem reading synthesis file of medium "Main Updates"</cite>

This distribution is the wost I've seen in a long time. Honestly.

What version was your DVD? If you got a popup saying that there was a new version, then I think that you may have installed 2010.0 rather than the latest 2010.1 (Spring), otherwise the popup would have only stated that there were updates available (updates since the release).

Orphan packages are packages that are no longer included as dependencies by other programs after an update and are no longer needed. This will also get rid of outdated kernels after the kernel is updated.

I would recommend that anyone new to Mandriva start with the live CD (Mandriva One) rather than the DVD (Mandriva Free). Mandriva One includes the closed source video drivers that may be needed with many video cards in order to use the 3D eye candy in KDE, while Mandriva Free does not include them. The Powerpack ($$$) also has the proprietary video drivers. If I was going to install an unfamiliar Linux distro, I would prefer to start with a live CD to make sure that there are no problems with my particular hardware. I have read a lot of complaints over the years by Ubuntu users about things not working right after installation.

Mandriva KDE defaults to folder view because when KDE4 first came out, there was a lot of grumbling from people who didn't like the change from KDE3. Same goes with the choice of menu, I think.

RPMdrake is the graphical front end to urpmi, Mandriva's tool for package installation and dependency handling. RPMdrake is one of Mandriva's "Drak tools", the graphical configuration tools accessible through the "Configure Your Computer" menu item ("drakconf" from the command line). If there is a new version of RPMdrake, urpmi or rpm, these will always get updated before other packages.

The installation correctly detected and configured your video card and you complain about it? I spent years frustrated by Linux installations that defaulted to 640X480. The default installation puts KDE's "Configure Your Desktop" icon on the panel, which gives you access to display configuration.

I dispute your assertion that Mandriva broke KDE4, just because they didn't choose your preferred defaults.

Mandriva asks for your user password for admin activities that are user configurable and the root password for activities that are only configurable by root. Linux has always worked that way.

Gary

OK, I finally found and answer to the "update" problem on <a href='http://forum.mandriva.com/viewtopic.php?p=803736&sid=0369df1315cf6ccaac… post </a>

First on the console
<code>su
urpmi.removemedia -av
drakrpm-edit-media --expert</code>

- Open File > Add a specific media mirror
- Select "Full set of sources" when/if asked
- Click OK when asked about contacting the Mandriva servers
- Select a mirror from the list of mirrors

I think I realized that Mandriva is not for me.

Reading <a href='http://www.itnewstoday.com/?p=1233'>this other review</a> it seems that it's for people like the reviewer who like a different experience.

Here are some excerpts with my comments:

<cite>"Everything is custom right from the Grub boot menu." </cite>

yes, in a way that is very difficult to guess where things are. So if you prefer custom to standard it seems you'll like Mandriva

<cite>"The desktop itself is designed with a more retro feel, with double-click being standard to open items, a full desktop rather than a folder view widget, and a classic KDE menu rather than the new Kickoff style."</cite>

So it's not a bug, it's a feature!! I'm sure this guy drives a PT cruiser (Nothing wrong with that, just an observation)

<cite>"a custom Mandriva theme is used throughout the desktop, and manages to prove that you don’t need to stick with KDE’s default theme to have a beautiful desktop,"</cite>

So why didn't they do it? why did they manage to make it so ugly. Yes, the background artwork is very nice, but that doesn't qualify as a customization.

I tried to upgrade, I really did but I kept getting errors about the MD5SUM.

The worst part is that when trying to search for answers I realized that there isn't really a large community. It was very difficult to get responses.

I found a lot of people with the same problem and the only response "It is a known bug still unresolved".

It really pains me to criticize a Linux distribution. I understand hardware issues, I understand small bugs, I understand Big bugs when there are clear solutions. I even understand funny names and cryptic messages from distributions aimed at technical people.

I don't understand how Mandriva let the upgrade issue remain until now or how they assign names that don't make sense or show technical messages that mean nothing to a normal user.

That's it for me, If someone has suggestions I may come back to try it at a later time.

I haven't heard about anyone else having an upgrade problem, however I think that you should have downloaded the latest version instead of the previous one. Reviewing an older version instead of the latest is kind of disingenuous, I think. At least try out the latest Mandriva One live CD and see what you think. I can give you one if you don't want to bother downloading it.

I have been running Mandriva Cooker for a long time on my main system and usually do a constant rolling update rather than a fresh install or upgrade from stable version to stable version, so maybe I don't come across some of the installation bugs that you experienced. (Running Cooker is like running Debian unstable).

Regarding the "look" of Mandriva, some of the choices are due to the fact that Mandriva comes in both KDE4 and Gnome versions, and they tried to make both desktops look similar. I compared the latest Mandriva One to Kubuntu 10.04 and I have to admit that Kubuntu looks a bit nicer. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but maybe it is time that Mandriva reconsiders having folder view and the traditional menu as defaults.

Gary

Thank you Gary,

<cite>"I dispute your assertion that Mandriva broke KDE4, just because they didn't choose your preferred defaults."</cite>

I thought they had broken it because there was no way to switch to the kicker menu and changing to the Desktop view didn't work. I later realized that after upgrading, deleting the .kde folder and restarting the computer fixed it. I had another comment that although the upgrade required a reboot to work well, It never asked me to reboot. Other distributions do.

<cite>"Mandriva asks for your user password for admin activities that are user configurable and the root password for activities that are only configurable by root. Linux has always worked that way."</cite>

No, as I remember, Fedora consistently asks for root password. Ubuntu consistently asks for the user password.

<cite>"you should have downloaded the latest version instead of the previous one. Reviewing an older version instead of the latest is kind of disingenuous."</cite>

I used the DVD that came with one recent magazine (April, which I got near May) I would expect other users to be using that one. Besides it is just one version older. It is clear to me that for Mandriva upgrade really means start fresh every time. That hasn't been my experience with either Fedora, Ubuntu or Mint which I've used for extended periods of time through in-place upgrades.

Thanks for opening that other thread. I read it and saw a lively and for the most part, intelligent discussion.

I like the part where they say I come up like an idiot. And the part where they say that I should have read all the manuals "before" even starting.

I was really trying. I was picky in some cases but I am clear which one those are. But with some I am honestly dumbfounded. I still cannot upgrade and I haven't found any helpful post on how to solve it other than "we know it's a bug".

I dispute the concept of "reading all the manuals". Or that "configure the graphical server" is clear, Not even for me at first glance. Specially when there is another option on the KDE system settings where it has a different name.

Thanks for the advise.

Raul - thank you for the review and the comments. It affirms my impression to stay away from Mandriva as being not worth the specialized effort, in the face of other larger, and thus better supported distributions (in the sense of eyeballs), such as K/Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, or even CentOS. [Or Redhat or SuSe.]

I appreciate that you, and that you acknowledge, you are/were walking both sides of a fence - being 'picky' on one side, and focusing on the 'new user experience' on the other. Your notes clearly delineate which side of the fence you're referring to in any given comment. It is easy to follow.

It is preposterous that you should receive the comment to 'read the docs first', given your level of ('Linux') experience. If someone such as yourself cannot just 'get up and happy' in a very short amount of time, there is something wrong with the distribution. Sadly, worse, to receive such a comment indicates that there is something wrong with the community itself. [Yes, such comments from a few end up painting an entire distribution with the same brush. Deal with it, community, and address.] If <em>you</em> cannot get up and happy in a very short amount of time, then the distribution is broken - if only from the sense of premise and attitude from which the distribution is coming from.

Windows users don't read docs to just get up and going and be productive. No OS is an end in itself. If docs have to be read beforehand, due to a poorer user experience vis a vis windows, then the distribution has failed, and is not worth our time. Unfortunately, evidently, Mandriva doesn't get that.

IMO, the biggest problem with Linux adoption is acquiring mass desktop use. From past experience, and evidently from yours, the Mandriva community does not get that, or does not care. In either case, they doom themselves to irrelevance and obscurity. Which may be ok with them, and that's their choice, but it means that for the new or average non-technical computer user, if they want a distribution they can get up and running on their own, one with which they can learn and grow with via a viable online community of sufficient mass, Mandriva should not be used.

This (Raul's) experience merely reinforces that those currently using Mandriva doom themselves to continued aggravation and pain by staying with Mandriva. At some point, if only for sanity's sake, it's time to move on to a more 'mainstream' distribution, rather than continuing to beat a dead horse. If I am inclined to assist someone, I want their platform to be something by which I can easily dig out resolutions from a vibrant online community, in the process of which I can show the helpee how to fish - rather than just catching a fish for them. I can't do that with Mandriva, so I'll just continue to ignore it, and walk away. It's not worth my time in the face of these other, more widely used, communities. I'm even willing to say, in the face of other more widely used distributions, in these generic communities, please take Mandriva questions elsewhere - I find them simply an unwelcome distraction in the face of trying to move forwards.

As for kde 3 vs. 4, I can understand and appreciate both your aggravation, and the perspective Mandriva is coming from, given the comments in this thread. The transition from kde 3 to 4 did not happen as smoothly as anyone in the world would have preferred. Ubuntu certainly demonstrated that (in the sense of in their attempt, they too delivered a poor user experience). However, to your point, current Ubuntu versions demonstrate that that hump has been surpassed, and that kde 4 is ready for mass appeal at initial installation. To your point, evidently, Mandriva hasn't caught up with that, to their own detriment. However, to Mandriva's point, in many ways I prefer kde 3's interface (I revert to classic menus in kde 4), and using it as the default does make sense in many ways. Raul, in your particular case, I think you are a relatively small, and shrinking, subset of users receiving kde 3 at install, and know and want kde 4, then - you will, unavoidably, experience pain. If Mandriva addresses the issue, as seems possible given the comments in this thread, then I think it fair to say that future new users will have a better out of box experience than you have had. If one likes and wants to stay with kde 3, then all is well. If one likes and wants to start with kde 4, then choosing a future Mandriva version may be a rich and full experience too. However - kde 4 is where the world will be, and for a new user, choosing a (future?) distribution version that starts with that in the first place will result in a happier ongoing user experience.

We all want 'Linux' to succeed, and we want it <strong>RIGHT NOW!</strong>. Enough already, or enough time has passed, already. Success, for me, is 'Linux' taking over the desktop, on a mass basis, exceeding and surpassing Microsoft Windows (all versions). Clearly that is neither where Mandriva is at, nor where it wants to be. It is irritating that the rich set of resources being throwm at 'Linux' across the world cannot get their act together to focus and just accomplish this one goal.

No other goal is relevant. There are too many areas of knowledge to be learned to persist in re-learning how to perform 'regular' tasks in non-standard ways in the face of so many other distributions that pursue this goal. Mandriva is irrelevant. Thank you, Raul, for re-confirming that with the new version. You have certainly saved me a great deal of time. You have demonstrated that I can continue to simply ignore it, and any questions surrounding it. To pursue any such questions is simply a waste of my time, and any knowledge I acquire cannot be well leveraged going forward. There are too many questions to be answered to be continually re-answering the same questions with different answers.

[Door closes, walks away, slowly, and sadly.]

@bswitzer:

Thank you for your comments. I just need to make a few clarifications:

<ul><li>I consider Mandriva to be a mainstream distribution. I wouldn't have been as harsh hadn't I considered it that way.</li>
<li>My experience in this review was an initial impression. It is clear that there are other people that really like it. I don't find anything wrong with that.</li>
<li>The comment to "read the manuals" came from a single person. The rest of the responders made it clear that it wasn't an appropriate comment.</li>
<li>The comment that "I came up looking like an idiot" was bona-fide. Not saying that I am an idiot, just that I went over the top in some comments; which is a fair assessment.</li>
<li>The version of Mandriva I tried comes with KDE4, just that they make it look like KDE3.</li>
<li>I haven't tried the newer version advised by Gary. I'll be on vacations so I may have some time to review it (no promises.)</li>
<li>I consider that success for Linux is different for each person. That's why I think all the resources cannot go against just one goal.</li></ul>

- if we use the kwlug discussion list as typical, out of ~120+ members, much less than half a dozen run Mandriva. IMO it cannot be considered a mainstream distribution. I agree it was at one time. No longer, and not for some time.

- I have no time for those that really like it in the face of other distributions used by many more. If one wants to be deliberately obscure, in the face of so much to be learned, when other distributions have a larger base of everything, they are self-inflicting pain. That's their choice, and fine, but it's not my choice, and I have no time for it.

- idiots are people too. All of us are idiots at one time or another, in the face of more knowledgeable users of the time. Granted, most often such comments are made to users making demands and having expectations, of something that is free - typically, such is beaten out of them rather quickly.

- whether the interface is, or looks like, kde 3, the same comments apply.

- although success for Linux may be different for each person, there is a set of universal common goals for Linux in general. Sure, go off and specialize in particular areas once those goals are accomplished, but not before they are realized. Sure, build a better mousetrap, but within the general effort, first.

USB Webcam mistery under Ubuntu Lucid Linx

Maybe someone with better knowledge of USB can shed some light here:

I have an USB camera that I knew was working several Ubuntu versions ago. But under Karmic and Lucid it refused to work.

I knew that it was listed as supported; but after hours trying things I couldn't make it work.

Then I saw in a forum that someone said that as a final test he disconnected the USB hub and plugged in the camera directly to the computer. After that it worked, so he suspected the hub.

In my case I was connecting directly to the computer already so I thought: "I'll try the other USB port" and the camera worked!!... For a few minutes, then it stopped working.

So it occurred to me that the only difference was that when I switched ports I had disconnected the USB wireless mouse.

I unplugged the mouse and voila! The camera started working under:

gstreamer-properties
cheese
ekiga

This is, everywhere, even Skype!

One clue could be that both devices (the camera and the mouse) are Logitech so the top part of the ID is the same 046d:c50e

Bus 002 Device 006: ID 046d:c50e Logitech, Inc. MX-1000 Cordless Mouse Receiver
Bus 002 Device 003: ID 046d:0870 Logitech, Inc. QuickCam Express

What else could it be the problem here?

Later I will try with this camera in a different computer and also with different mouses.

Do you have any clues for me to investigate or provide better information when reporting the issue?

Comments

It could be power draw.

A USB socket is supposed to supply 500 mA of current, but I know that on my laptop (Toshiba P200D) the USB ports don't supply nearly that much.

If you have several USB devices plugged in there just may not be enough power to go around. Try using a powered USB hub, so that the computer itself doesn't have to power the devices.

--Bob.

(My) Home Network Speed Test Results: wired vs 802.11n 5GHz 300Mbps wi-fi - copper wins, hands down.

So, having acquired a new laptop, an ASUS Eee PC 1201N (Pros: dual core, bluetooth, hdmi out, 802.11n; Cons: not gigabit, not 5GHz 802.11n, takes 2x4GB memory but will only use 4GB of it, very poor battery life, $60 additional power adapters!), it seemed time to upgrade my wi-fi infrastructure too. Something gigabit with 802.11n and USB. So I also picked up a Netgear WNDR3700 Rangemax™ Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router. Eventually, I discovered that the 1201n's network adapter was not gigabit, so picked up a Sabrent USB-G1000 USB 2.0 to Gigabit 10/100/1000 Ethernet Adapter Network RJ-45 Converter [I was curious, more than anything else, and figured USB 480Mbps had to be significantly faster than full duplex Ethernet 100 Mbps - NOT], and discovered that the 802.11n was 2.4GHz only (there are something like 29 2.4GHz wi-fi networks I can reach from my Dining Room, surprisingly, many of them 802.11n). So I also had to pick up a Netgear WNDA3100 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N USB 2.0 Adapter. The house backbone is already on gigabit switches. I've got Rogers Express for my ISP (phone lines too poor for ADSL), which is to say, 10 Mbps up / 512 Kbps down. Not that the ISP really makes any difference for our purposes here - anything internal will be far faster than out the ISP, and it's very, very, seldom that any website comes even close to the download speed limit. Ubuntu torrents do, but that is a very rare exception.

- most of the time, the 2.4GHz wi-fi will only connect at 65 Mbps. There are just too many other 2.4GHz nets around. The 5GHz always gets 300 Mbps. I'm perhaps 6' away from the router at the time of these tests.
- in some senses, OpenWRT has been a boon, in others, not so much. Although I always expected to go to OpenWRT, what drove me to it from the stock Netgear firmware, within the month, is simply that the stock firmware could not set the time - ntp is only used out the WAN port, and I'm not using the WAN port! [Not having the time set is unacceptable, let alone stupid - trying to examine log files with different times is just ... silly.] After a ridiculously large amount of reading, I traversed the OpenWRT learning curve, and OpenWRT 'just works.' [See forum threads at openwrt.org for everything you need to know for OpenWRT on the WNDR3700 - search for threads with 'WNDR3700' in the title.] If I had to do it again, today, it might take me, perhaps, 10 minutes - AFTER confirming the device was supported, and found and downloaded the firmware. Add another 10 to enable the radios and set up wi-fi. Amazing.
- the only reason OpenWRT is not a boon at the moment, is I'm not really using it for anything the stock Netgear firmware, also OpenWRT, by the way, doesn't give me. Except, of course, it gets the time. It's all just routing (to the NTP server), so why the heck Netgear has it only on the WAN port ...
- some day I'll switch DHCP, DNS, NTP, PXE, and the like, onto the router, and kill my CentOS server, but no time for that today. Given the slow speed of the router, relative to today's CPUs, that is, there may be little point to hanging a 2TB USB drive off of it, for backups and video - I don't expect it will keep up, especially to the GB. While still serving the internet. Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps I'll find out some day.
- OpenWrt allowed me to play with channels, and use 2 channels at once [See 802.11n on Wikipedia]. In my area, there are a lot of nets on channel 11, and even more on 6. Channel 1 also has enough to be annoying. For 2.4GHz I tend to get double speed on channel 5, doubled with channel 3. Less so doubled with 9. Curiously, the built-in wi-fi of the 802.11n tends to double at 150 Mbps, while the USB adapter doubles to 130Mbps.
- Not that 2.4GHz is practical, speed wise, but with the USB adapter, and thus 5GHz, 300Mbps isn't so bad.
- Nothing, as you will see, compares with copper. Sadly.

Network speed is VERY important. I can sling GB's of backups around the home network at night. Casual tests in the past have shown that transfers go from days to hours, 100Mbps to Gigabit, full duplex both. All tests were performed under the Windows 7 that came with the 1201n, writing to the ext3 partition. Data file was a new 10GB vm disk file, except for the SD card where it was 2GB, due to the (Windows) FAT32 file size limitation. Source file is on a Windows XP machine (Pentium D, 2.80 GHz, dual-core), reading from an ext3 partition. All hard drives SATA - 300 Mbps / probably 5400 RPM source, 1201n is proably 4200 RPM.
- all results, MBps.

  •  1.08 - ISP, www.bandwidthplace.com
  •  2.32 - 802.11g, 2.4GHz, 54Mbps (linksys usb)
  •  3.34 - 802.11n, 2.4GHz, 65Mbps (1201 internal)
  •  3.46 - SD to same SD copy. {OUCH! wi-fi is faster!}
  •  3.98 - 802.11n, 2.4GHz, 130Mbps (netgear usb)
  •  4.29 - SATA to SD (1201 internal)
  •  4.79 - 802.11n, 2.4GHz, 150Mbps (1201 internal)
  •  6.08 - 802.11n, 5GHz, 300Mbps (netgear usb)
  •  7.60 - 100 Mbps wired
  •  7.90 - 1Gps wired (usb)
  •  8.72 - SATA to same SATA (1201n)
  •  9.00 - 100 Mbps wired - anomalous result, from 20 days earlier
  • 10.19 - SD to SATA (1201n)
  • 17.40 - (Source) SATA to same SATA

NOTE: Nobody should take these test results for their absolute numbers. Too many variables - these results are for my particular set of circumstances / hardware, at that particular time. I do think, however, that you can bank on the speeds relative to each technology. IMO. You could tweak any given technology to achieve better results, no doubt, but generally, for the average user, I expect one can reasonably rely on these results, relatively.

Personal Conclusions:
- since the 1201n has such poor battery life, and so I'm trailing around a power adapter anyways, and since I have wired enough jacks in my home and have sufficiently long ethernet cables, wi-fi is pointless.
- given a netbook, without a Gbps wired ethernet port, the USB gigabit adapter is pointless. The 300 KBps gained isn't worth any cost. Too many other slow technologies are present. But, one doesn't acquire a netbook for extreme speed.
- the SD results were interesting. Especially SD to itself (read & write), Sata to SD (write), and SD to Sata (read).
- 802.11n 2.4GHz is probably pointless, given the number of wi-fi homes. Go 5GHz or don't bother. CHECK THAT YOUR POTENTIAL LAPTOP PURCHASE IS DUAL BAND / 5GHz. DON'T REPLACE YOUR CURRENT WI-FI ROUTER, OTHERWISE.
- since so much of 802.11n is still 2.4GHz, no point in replacing your cordless phones, except to 1.9GHz DECT. Both keeping your 2.4GHz phones, and replacing them with 5GHz phones, is self-defeating.
- copper, particularly Gigabit, really is worth the effort. Particularly once you get over the unnecessary FUD of running cable or poking holes in your floor. Myself, I just made small holes in the corner of a room - didn't even try to go up the wall (studs), or went down the heating ducts. Haven't looked back, since. Except, to pointlessly try 802.11n, largely wasting the $.
- the results show, clearly, that 300Mbps is a fantasy. It may be true, but the associated overhead means that comparing wi-fi speeds to wired speeds is, IMO, fraud on the part of the industry. One would reasonably have thought any wi-fi over 100 Mbps would be faster than wired 100 Mbps. NOT!

YMMV.

Hope this is useful for anyone considering a network upgrade, particularly in wi-fi, and wondering if the speed gain will be worth the $ spent. Not likely. But my results should at least give you an in-home ballpark of what you might be looking at.

Comments welcome.

Comments

>Wait,what?ext3onWin7?
&nbsp;
&nbsp;
B. Jonkman wrote:
>> All tests were performed under the Windows 7 that came with the
>> 1201n, writing to the ext3 partition.
>
> Wait, what? ext3 on Win7 ?
>
>> Source file is on a Windows XP machine (Pentium D, 2.80 GHz,
>> dual-core), reading from an ext3 partition.
>
> What again? What manner of Windows drivers are you using? The
> only ext drivers I know of only understand ext2 at best...
&nbsp;
:-)

The partitions may well be only ext2, lacking ext3 journaling, etc., but I don't remember for sure. i.e. Could be ext3, I don't believe journaling.
&nbsp;
On Win XP, I have been using ext2ifs / ifs drives (http://www.fs-driver.org/), for myself for years, with little complaint. It works for me / I've been happy.
&nbsp;
Initially I wanted larger file sizes than FAT32, and away from NTFS. And the possibility of just popping the drive/partition into a Linux system and just getting on with my day.
&nbsp;
Having said that, there are a couple of caveats, in my experience:
- it *occasionally* gets a little bit of corruption. So you pop into Linux (dual-boot?), or fire up a LiveCD, the standard ext fs checks happen, and you go back. Never lost a file - it's usually an 'inode problem', e.g. power failure.
- hitting things really hard, repeatedly, will cause you grief over time. As a home / data file repository, it's just fine and I've never looked back. When I use it as a backup destination, with GBs of lots of (little?) files, it tends to ultimately fall over. I believe these to be windows bugs, and it feels like they occur when the driver is overwhelmed.
- this has been irritating, but survivable. Since these are backup sources or repositories, when it's really fallen apart I've reformatted the partition NTFS, restored from source or destination (each being on different machines), and gotten on with my day.
&nbsp;
Windows does have the concept of an installable file system. So such ext drivers as this sit on top of that, in Windows, and this heavy activity, going through two non-native file systems, appears to evince a heavy traffic load bug, eventually. (Going to a native file system seems to avoid the problem, but also loses the advantages of ext in the process.) Again, I've only ever seen the problem on the write-heavy destination, not the source.
&nbsp;
So, great for the source of the backups, perhaps not as the destination. (So put the destination on a real Linux / ext machine.)
&nbsp;
Windows 7, or, more likely Vista, but I never did Vista to know, introduces problems and aggravations with system startup services. The software above will not load early enough to be happy. I forget for sure, but this is more than just a UAC (User Access Controls), or signed driver software issue.
&nbsp;
For Win 7 I found http://www.ext2fsd.com/ | http://sourceforge.net/projects/ext2fsd/.
&nbsp;
So, on my netbook, I have at least 3 partitions, and dual-boot. OS (win7), OS (kubuntu 10.04 lts), and data (Ext). Under either boot, the same DATA files and partition are used. Further, I can vm boot linux under Windows, using raw drives (for the OS). data is still accessible to the vm, as a shared (through the vm software) drive. I can also vm boot windows under Linux, but not with raw drives - the hardware changes cause significant ickiness (you need hardware profiles, and so on and so forth.) [The ultimate idea being able to live in Kubuntu, and occasionally fire up the win 7 vm - because some people insist on using MS Office.]
&nbsp;
So, yes, ext under Windows.
&nbsp;
(1) Pre-Vista: http://www.fs-driver.org/
(2) Win 7: http://www.ext2fsd.com/
&nbsp;
YMMV. For me, it all just works. I have used (1) far longer, and so have more faith in it than (2), but Win 7 leaves little choice. (1) is a little more fire and forget, (2) has to run an additional icon beside the time in the lower right - essentially, the icon program satisfies the win 7 introduced startup ickiness.

byobu or Checking your update manager package descriptions

I use Mint, an Ubuntu derivative, and every time I get a notification that there are updates available, I go check the list of updates.

I do this with several purposes in mind:

  • First and foremost, I want to know what gets updated in case something stops working.
  • Second, I want to see how many there are and how large to evaluate how long it's going to slow down my (old) computer
  • and third, to learn a bit about the packages I have installed

Remember when you were in grade school and the teacher (or parents) enticed you to learn at least one new word every day? You end up with quite a wide vocabulary without getting bored studding the dictionary.

In an end-user Linux based system these days we rarely know (or understand) all the packages that are installed by default, so having a look at the ones that are being updated and evolving is quite illuminating.

The Mint updater is nice enough to show the description of the packages it is updating. This is the same description as the one used in the package installer. Reading those descriptions is equivalent to that "one word a day" game.

Today for example, among all the libraries listed there was an application called byobu, Reading the description, I found the following:

byobu includes a set of profiles for the GNU screen window manager. These profiles are quite useful on server machines which are not running a graphical desktop. The 'screen' command provides a number of advanced features are not necessarily exposed in the default profile. These profiles provide features such as status bars, clocks, notifiers (reboot required, updates available), etc. The profile-switcher allows users to quickly switch their .screenrc to any of the available profiles.

The most interesting part is that I wouldn't have know what all that meant without listening to Paul's presentation on "screen".

Thanks Paul!

Have you had the same experience as me finding jewels among the list of updates? What other methods do you use to learn a little about Linux every day?

Ubuntu Lucid Lynx printer troubleshooting wizard was quite helpful

In my previous post I explained how to install the Lexmark printer drivers in Ubuntu/Mint.

What I left out was how was I able to very easily identify what was the problem when all was finally installed and things weren't working.

It really came down to the Printer troubleshooting wizard included in Ubuntu/Mint.

After I installed everything as I had done before, my printer icon had an ! (exclamation) mark and when I tried to print it would just give me an error. I decided to press the "diagnose" button not expecting too much out of it. After all, I've never found such a button useful under any MS Windows OS/application.

The wizard gave me some recommendations, then it asked me if I wanted to turn on debug mode. I accepted, tried to print the test page and after that it showed me the CUPS log! There I was able to find the error, Google it and solve my problem.

I was pleasantly surprised. Kudos to the people that figured out how to make a useful wizard.

Installing a Lexmark x1155 using the z600 driver

Summary:
I've created a small script that does most of the work for me. I've used it successfully on varios versions of Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint and Puppy Linux, so I am certain that it should work in most distributions.

Here are the step by step instructions:

  1. Ensure that the following commands are installed, if not, install them using your distribution regular mechanism: rpm2cpio, cpio, ldconfig. e.g. sudo aptitude install rpm2cpio
  2. If you are using Ubuntu Karmic or newer: Go to the Jaunty repository page for ibstdc++5 and download the package from your preferred mirror: http://packages.ubuntu.com/jaunty/i386/libstdc++5/download and install the downloaded package
  3. If you are using a different distribution, ensure that libstdc++5 is installed
  4. Download the attached file: install_lexmark_Z600.sh.tar.gz
  5. Extract the file: tar -xvzf install_lexmark_Z600.sh.tar.gz
  6. Execute the installation script: sudo ./install_lexmark_Z600.sh
  7. Restart cups using your distribution regular mechanism (or reboot the box). e.g. sudo /etc/init.d/cups restart
  8. Add the printer using your distribution's regular mechanism. e.g. under Ubuntu and Mint "Administration | Printing". Ensuring that you select Lexmark as Make and Z600 as the driver
  9. Enjoy!

Full Story:

Before I started (for the second time) playing with Linux in 2004, I bought a computer. It came with a Lexmark printer.

I almost never use this printer so I haven't seen the need to replace it specially because I found the drivers and installation instructions. So I wrote a small script that installs it for me. It has worked flawlessly up until Mint 9 Isadora/Ubuntu 10.4 Lucid (I skipped Mint 8 and Ubuntu 9.10). It took me an extra few minutes to figure it out why it was failing but I finally got it.

Up until Jaunty Ubuntu included the library libstdc++5; but since Karmic, Ubuntu removed it from the repositories. This library is needed so I downloaded it directly from the Jaunty repository:

http://packages.ubuntu.com/jaunty/i386/libstdc++5/download

The other surprise in Lucid/Isadora was that when I tried to print, it complained about insecure file permissions for the filter so in the script I added setting the appropriate permissions (555) to /usr/lib/cups/filter/rastertoz600

I hope this helps. The following printers are confirmed:
Lexmark 5700 (black & white only)
Lexmark X1100
Lexmark X1110
Lexmark X1130
Lexmark X1140
Lexmark X1150
Lexmark X1155
Lexmark X1180
Lexmark X1185
Lexmark Z513
Lexmark Z515
Lexmark Z715
Lexmark Z55
Lexmark Z615
Lexmark Z705
Lexmark Z605
Lexmark Z600
Lexmark Z25
Dell A920
Z65 (z65 driver)
Lexmark Z33 (z35 driver)
Lexmark Z33 (z35 driver)

File Attachments

Attachment Size
install_lexmark_Z600.sh_.tar_.gz 742 bytes

Comments

Oops, I didn't notice that the site added the underscores when I uploaded the file.

I've added a note in the instructions to rename to

install_lexmark_Z600.sh.tar.gz

Just do that and the file will work properly.