KWLUG Copyright / License

What to do? What to do?

B. pointed out that the KWLUG web site (this site) claims © KWLUG at the bottom of each page. It does this because I put it there when assembling the template for the page. What should the content license for the KWLUG web site really be? I think that the cc-by license is ideal for text content.



Not sure I like the free to copy part. Maybe I'm just being paranoid. [Think e-mail forwarded beyond what it should be, with others comments added, getting to the wrong place, such as back to the original author.]

Yet I know that such paranoia is diametrically opposed to the spirit.

Like you say ... What to do? What to do?

Think I recently heard on the news about a bank running an IPO for someone, where an employee let the cat out of the bag. The bank is no longer allowed to participate now.

<code>© B. Switzer - No copying or duplication in whole or in part permitted.</code>

Topic Requests?

So I was saying to Ward (Mr. River), just the other day, here's some presentation topics. Whether or not he was interested, he still got them, and, by the way, I can't do them I said. Nipping that thought in the bud, as soon as possible. As I slunk away ...

Nice guy, that Mr. River. But he's always asking US to DO stuff. Can't imagine why. Probably something to do with these meetings going on, with time to fill, and sometimes having to scratch to get something to fill it with. I guess his alter ego doesn't want the audience to hit a saturation point with him too soon.

"If you want to talk, we want to listen."

"You can even be a Windows user, and escape the building without needing medical attention!" (But we WILL try to convert you!) [Repeatedly.]

Don't forget, at least IMO, K-W LUG isn't so much about Linux, as it is neat things you can do with a computer (preferably under GNU/Linux). It's all about applications. Or news of general interest to the computer world (preferably with a GNU/Linux slant).

So I, not infrequently, ruminate to myself, surely I can present or contribute something, but what? More urgently, how? I know it doesn't have to be long. Even 2 minutes. "Hey, I found this neat web page!", "Discuss!" Then as the moderator's hook comes out to kindly but firmly, and not taking no for an answer, "OK, discuss next meeting then!", "Harumph!!"

You won't find a kinder, more gentle audience, anywhere. If you can take some ribbing, some times. And when you do, the rest will be laughing with you, not at you. That's for sure. Many have been in the same place you'll find yourself, and just as anxious about it. Many still are. But that's a good thing. (Stop cooking with cheese!)

Should have thought of this a LONG time ago.

Assumption: One of the reasons people don't present more is:

  1. fear of the unknown, and
  2. fear of having to take time away from other things to honour presentation commitments made.

So ... make more of the unknown, known.

So here's some calls for separate presentations on:

  • 'Using the K-W Lug website.' Demo what's there. Particularly, how to use it / post content post-meeting if you happen to make a presentation.
  • 'How to MC a meeting'. The mc's themselves know (now?), how much / little work is involved here, but does anyone else?
  • 'K-W LUG Presenting 101'. What facilities are available. Set up / take down. e.g. Bring your own USB mouse! How to post back to website. Most importantly how easy it is (I can only assume) to make up slides / you just need to bring in your USB key, not your computer, etc. [Demo making slides for 'How to make a sandcastle' or something. Presumably using pages. OO Impress templates (]

A key point being ... get the results on the web site. Refer to these every meeting. Re-present them at least once a year, if not twice. And not in August, assuming that's the lowest turnout day of the year. Probably September is good. And January or February? [Catch those sleepy students coming back, unawares!]

Anyways ... so after the last meeting, many of us toddled off to Zeke's again. Arguably at least as good and important a part of the meetings as the meetings themselves. The stuff you hear is simply so interesting and fascinating. (Beer and waitresses don't hurt either! Too bad we missed Oktoberfest!). But even more, the sheer variety and depth and goodwill of the people present is just so astonishing.

I did have to compliment Chris' son. Perhaps so profusely that he took me as ingenuous - which would be unfortunate. At that age, they have so much more time to dig into something than when you're older and have to worry about such things as water bills ... Their enthusiasm and expertise comes through so strongly, and us older (BUT NOT ELDER, YET) folk get to see something really neat.

Anyways. Chris happened to mention that to show a Windows user Linux with Blender, without impacting a computer where the parents are already computer phobic ... one would have to re-master a Knoppix (or other LiveCD). So ...

More calls for separate presentations on:

  • Live CDs (Knoppix, Ubuntu, whatever) - why do they matter?
    Don't descend into:
    - hard disk repair (requires significant expertise as to knowing what one is doing)
    - to introduce Linux to non-Linux/computer people.

    Do descend into:
    - to validate that one's hardware is indeed working, a driver is missing, a file is corrupted, or there is some other reason why something isn't working. But you can prove that what you have isn't broken, or go out and buy something else.

    - perhaps to quickly network 2 disparate friend's computers for file transfer? Samba?
    - ftp, telnet, web? And thus not committing yourself to opening such security holes on a permanent basis?
    - probably too late, but it occurs to me there's going to be a lot of non-functional hardware Boxing Day.

  • Live CDs (mastering, and windows versions) - why do they matter
    - create a Linux Blender demo disk for a Windows ppsychically trapped user?
    - adding drivers as needed for the presentation above.
    - boot windows to prove hardware you don't have Linux drivers for, yet, and perhaps one needs certain windows files to get it working under Linux? Config files? Driver files? Boot internet explorer to get to the download site that doesn't work under Firefox. Or something.
    - presumably Bart's PE, although I think there's another one out there too.



Computer retailng... from a consumers' point of view

Computer retailng... from a consumers' point of view

First of all, I do understand that the computer reseller
business is a very tough segment of the retail business
to be in. Not many folks understand this. This includes
people who have been in computing for some time. Many
consumers do not realise the low markup there is on new
equipment. I know, because I loooked into it. You do not
have to, trust me on this one: profit margins are slim on
equipment. Factor in the the big box stores like Best Buy,
Staples etc and the small computer store has an uphill battle.
There are many items that the small store cannot buy at the
price Staples sells for. But, this is not new, and it has
been happening for years in other segments of retail as well.
On this point, I do not know why people think that a Zellers
is any better than a Wal-Mart.

However, what ticks me off is that so many local stores have the
same products. There is no variety. Try to buy a hardware
modem, for under $50.00 in Guelph. This means a non US Robotics
product, and they are available, TigerDirect has them. Any KVM
switches I saw in Guelph were a tad high in price. I found one
on sale at TigerDirect for $29.00.

As much as I dislike going to a big box store, and as much as
I want to buy locally, my economic means forced me to act
otherwise. A clarification here: I was in Toronto anyway when
I bought my KVM switch from TigerDirect. But if I was going to
buy a new monitor (as I did last month) it was worth the drive
as I had over 20 monitors to choose from, and they were all on
display -- working. Number of new monitors on display at the
local computer shop: zero. Do I blame them? HECK NO!

The reason that I am so happy to see FactoryDirect open in KW is that
they have neat stuff at a good prices. Will they hurt the local
computer shop? Not really, given the low markup on equipment in
the first place. In fact, the off-lease stuff that they sell will
need repair some day, and that is where the little shops come in.

The little shops are better at serving small to medium sized business
as well. Small business is not as price driven either, but they expect
service. Spending an hour on a customer who wants to buy one computer
is not worth their while. In fact they may not be able to afford to.
Unless it is a slow day. Very slow.

If you want product X and you want it NOW go to Staples or Best Buy.
But if you can wait for a sale... a big box discounter is the place...

I do dislike bigboxism, but is there any choice? I think not.

That is my opinionated 2 cents CDN worth.


Site Map vs. Site Menu

The discerning reader will see that there is both a site map and a sitemenu link at the top. Their functionalities overlap. But neither one of them seems ideal:

* Sitemenu expands categories and shows some of the sub articles, but doesn't give RSS feeds and doesn't list blogs, books, etc.
* Site map has RSS feeds, but doesn't expand categories.
* Neither one of them include static pages in the map, which is unfortunate because I would like to link to things like the pages in the "Resources" section.

One of these maps should go, and maybe we should keep a different one. Which should go? Which should we keep?

MarkSmarty plugin


This is my attempt to make *yet another input format*

+ Why do this?
+ I have no idea!
* But maybe it's a reasonable idea?
+ We shouldn't do things without a good reason.

I wonder how you end bullet lists?

System.out.println("This is code.");
System.out.println("Isn't it pretty?");

I guess that Markdown is the "cool thing" to use these days.

If you are curious about the syntax, check out

Here is the [Markdown page](

I am also experimentizing with different site maps.

Maybe it is time to kill the BBCode filter? I don't think anybody has used it yet...

Password hacking

So I have this Norstar Startalk Mini that I have to get going, but we've lost all the Windows software (a real shame), and no one knows the administrator password. I connected the serial cable from the Startalk box to one of the Linux boxes under my desk, launched minicom on /dev/ttyS0 with 300 7N1 and voila: I got to see the box doing system startup tests.

At this point I tried sending some break signals, hoping to stop the box before it loaded the system software... but no luck.

I looked into minicom's internal scripting language, runscript. If you have minicom installed you should be able to just type man runscript to see the commands runscript will take.

When nothing worked for the admin password I decided to try to write a script to send from 1000 to 999999999, the range the phone apparently could take. I excluded having a 0 as the first number, though this was a possible password. Unfortunately my script doesn't seem to be working correctly. When I echo the output I don't see anything being sent, but the script does cause new Password: prompts to appear. Here's the script (yes goto - yuck):

# Password hacking script

verbose on
set password 1000
send " "
timeout 9999999999999999999

if password > 999999999 goto endloop

expect {
"assword:" send password
sleep 5

inc password
log password
goto mainloop


new to KWLUG

I got to KWLUG via the WWITPRO web site. Didn't know that you gals and guys existed .
Richard, can you please contact me? I provide support to WWITPRO, and it occurred to me that KWLUG is equally deserving of support.

Hi All,

As mentioned at KWLUG, I'm enjoying the project. If you have an interest in Maps, GPS, geocaching, GIS or other location related activities you will find this project interesting.


"OpenStreetMap is a project aimed squarely at creating and providing free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The project was started because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive or unexpected ways."

You can support by making a paypal donation by contributing code and / or data and / or gps devices for use by other members.

Linux in Education

From CRN: Linux adopted in Indiana Schools.

Mike Huffman, special assistant for technology at the Indiana Department of Education, said schools in the state have added Linux workstations for 22,000 students over the past year under the Affordable Classroom Computers for Every Secondary Student (ACCESS) program. And that could expand quickly with several new updated Linux distributions, such as Novell SUSE, Red Hat and Ubuntu.

This year, Huffman expects Linux desktop deployments to grow from 24 high schools to 80 high schools, driven by lower costs, higher functionality and early successes.

Mike Huffman also indicated that they were using Novell (SuSE) RedHat and Ubuntu in some districts.

Originally found via /.

What to do with the library...

As many of you know our LUG library has grown pretty large. At one point I was carting down 8 boxes of books, plus the projector, DVD, and speakers (often with the help of LUG members - thank you all). I've managed to reduce what I cart down to 4 boxes because I have quite a few on shelves around Computer Recycling -- but this limits what people see at each meeting. I'd like to make everything available to everyone, but it's a lot of work carting everything up and down, and I like to get out in time to join everyone for the after meeting meeting at Zekes.

I think what I'm going to do is bring down a couple of boxes with a good selection of titles. The library is on the web site. If people email me a couple of days ahead of each meeting I can confirm or deny whether a book is in or out. I think I'll work on managing and updating the library if no one minds.

I should mention that LUG members are more than welcome to sign out books at ANY time of the month. Just give me a couple of days notice before you want to come so I can make sure the book is ready.

If people have better suggestions about managing the library I'm very open.



Multi-site Drupal configuration

Are you using the Drupal content management system?

Want to run more than one Drupal site from your server? This should get you started. I'm presuming that you have root access to your Drupal box and it is called sandbox.local .

0. Set up a single site Drupal installation

Start a default, single site installation working by following the excellent instructions. Make sure that you can browse it by hostname. You do have local DNS , or a hosts file, right? You have it right when you can browse the site at sandbox.local .

How do we add the extra sites? There are only three things that have to be done.

  1. Add tables for the new site to the existing database
  2. Add a settings.php file for the new site
  3. Make sure you can find it

1. Add tables for your new site to the database

You'll need a distinctive prefix for the new tables. I'll use "xyzzy". And you'll have to put it in a few dozen places in the mysql install file (96 places in mine).

If your default installation used /database/database.4.1.mysql, copy it to /database/database.4.1.mysql.xyzzy or something else distinctive.

Modify /database/database.4.1.mysql.xyzzy so that every instance of
CREATE TABLE tablename ... becomes
CREATE TABLE xyzzy_tablename

Modify the database insert statements too.
INSERT INTO tablename
INSERT INTO xyzzy_tablename

As I said, in my set up I made the changes in 96 lines. Your file may be different.

2. Add the settings.php file for the new site

Your current settings.php file is /sites/default/settings.php You took the time to get it right for your default installation, so back it up now. If you install over Drupal, it will wipe your settings. Copy settings.php to settings.php.working for example.

Now add a directory for your new site in the sites directory. Then copy settings.php to this new directory. Your sites portion of the tree shuold look like this:

This settings.php handles the default installation
This settings.php handles the xyzzy_ site.

Now modify /sites/xyzzy.sandbox.local/settings.php it already has your database and password settings, because you copied them in the previous step. Change
$db_prefix = '';
$db_prefix = 'xyzzy_';

3. Find it

Add xyzzy.sandbox.local to your hosts file, or local DNS. It's just another alias for the sandbox.local box.
You'll know that you have it right when you see the default, new site welcome page when you browse xyzzy.sandbox.local

New project

A few months back I did a presentation on how easy it is to create Family Guy's Stewie using Inkscape. Well, I've started using those skills to reinvent the graphics for a video game. I'm not sure if the game is GPL or not - it is available for Linux. Until I figure out whether it is or not I'm holding back the graphics... all I'll say is that my graphics kick the current graphics' butt!

More RAM for the SUN Ultra 2

I have a Sun Ultra 2 at home that I've been building up step by step, it's a sick hobby. There's something about old hardware I couldn't buy 10 years ago that gets me going. I bought the Sun Ultra 2 (a whopping 200MHz processor) awhile back for $19.99 US plus $14US shipping. Considering it weighs about 50 lbs the shipping was a bloody bargain!

It was advertised with 64MB of RAM, which I was sure couldn't be correct, because the RAM must be installed in quads (yes, 4 sticks at a time) and I thought the minimum configuration was (32MB x 4). As it turns out, my box had 8 x 16MB. One of the sticks of RAM wasn't seated properly.

Currently it has Solaris 9 on it, but I'm about to change that with the arrival of my new RAM. I installed Gentoo on it once before (somewhat unsuccessfully because syslog-ng was broken when I finished). I'm going to give it another go next weekend when things settle down a bit.

The gig of RAM arrived with a $9.68US duty on it. I wasn't happy about spending another $10, and then I saw the size of the package -- a foot square, just for RAM! It was packed tight with bubble wrap, and stored in unsealed anti-static bags. I suppose it was well protected enough, but the jostling could have sent the RAM into the bubble-wrap. It didn't, so I suppose I shouldn't care.

I also have a fully functional Sun Sparcstation 5 which has sat in my closet since I bought the Sun Ultra. The Ultra has been a priority up until a few days ago when I added a SB Live Platinum (I know, it's old) kit to my main box: a Pentium III 733MHz with 768MB RAM. The studio is slowly coming together...

New file server

So I set up a completely new Samba server, and made sure there was a little redundancy. The root file system is stored on a 9.1GB UW SCSI drive. I set up a data on a 120GB IDE drive (which was suppose to be a 200GB hard drive, but it got snatched before I could get it). The plan is to mirror both drives. I haven't attached the mirrored OS drive yet.

How can we help?

Here's an interesting rumour for us to consider. First seen on the Yahoo! Financial SCOX forum.

[Microsoft(r) tech support] told me that "in the fall, having the latest WGA will become mandatory and if its not installed, Windows will give a 30 day warning and when the 30 days is up and WGA isn't installed, Windows will stop working, so you might as well install WGA now." -- Ed Bott's Blog

This could be a complete fabrication, a case of broken telephone, FUD, a trial balloon from Redmond or something else. But what if it is close to being true? Any way to confirm or refute this? Anybody know anybody at Microsoft(r) with the ability, the clout and the willingness to get a real answer on this? A written answer, with attribution? Of course, with enough public outcry, Microsoft(r) will simply change their mind on this (if it's a trial balloon) and claim that the speakers were "wrong, misinformed, spoke out of turn," and deny all complicity.

But what if it is true?

How will the Linux community help people effected by this unilateral termination of computer services? How about Installfests? Can we be prepared to host installfests for large numbers of disaffected Microsoft(r) users? How about an installfest every week?

Would you like a Super Computer with that?

Found on the Globe and Mail web site.

The students who use the computer lab at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., probably aren't aware that at night the lab transforms into the equivalent of a supercomputer.

All day long, St. Francis Xavier University students sit at the lab's rows of PCs to surf the Internet, write papers, arrange dates or listen to podcasts. During the day, the machines run Microsoft's Windows operating system. But at night that all changes. At 11 p.m, the students are gone, the doors are locked and the lights are out. It's time to close Windows until morning.

The workstations begin to automatically shut down. But about 400 of them are soon back up and running a GNU/Linux operating system as one big connected cluster of processing power -- a grid computer.

Read the article

KWLUG, now World famous!

The KWLUG (that's us!) was featured in the June 2006 issue (LXF80) of Linux Format (UK) as their Overseas LUG of the Month. See p.102-3 when you run right out and buy a copy.

LVM, Logical Volume Migraine

Migraine time. The past 3 days I've been waiting patiently for a system to finish a file system check on a couple of LVM partitions. The story is complicated by the fact that the hard drive in the system was incorrectly ghosted. The drive in question is a 120GB hard drive, but it was ghosted as if it was a 60GB hard drive.

I came into the picture about a year ago when I added the rest of the drive using LVM. Recently that drive started to fill so I added a second drive to the volume group. I got a call a few days ago saying that the drives on the server were no longer writable. I rebooted (mistake) and ever since the drive has been in a recovery shell (not a normal shell). Doing a fsck results in Illegal block #5020 (90367283) in inode 7 (example) and I have to press y to reallocate the blocks. Originally I just took a lead pipe and put it on the 'y' key before doing a fsck -h and seeing that all I had to do was fsck -y to get the same result (the lead pipe hack is cooler though).

The big problem is that fsck is only at block #25000 after 3 days. At this rate I'll never get the file system up to back it up. Everything is LVM. I'm wondering if it's possible to mount the LVM partitions from a Knoppix or Ubuntu CD? (Tried Knoppix 4.0.2, it didn't seem to have command line lvm tools).



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