Spring Break 2009

This year, I’ll be going off on what will hopefully be a fun filled week to Florida! I’ve never been to Florida when I really had time to just see what’s around so I’m really looking forward to it!

Hopefully I will get to take a lot of pictures. Maybe I’ll even post a few later. ;)

Heading out the door…hope everyone enjoys their breaks as well!

Biden Forgets Recovery.gov’s “Website Number”

I came across this in my feed reader thanks to a friend who shared it. It cracked me up for a little while so I’m passing it along to you.

This morning Vice President Biden went on the CBS early show to promote Recovery.gov, the website that will detail where all of the money in The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be going. Unfortunately, he forgot the actual address of the site during the interview, explaining that he was embarrassed that he didn’t have the “website number”. And thus, we have a new internet meme in the making, as Biden follows in the footsteps of Senator Ted Stevens’s Series of Tubes and President Bush’s reference to the “internets”.

In Biden’s defense, at least he was smart enough not to take a guess at what the website might have been called, only to have an entrepreneural domain squatter grab the domain and start a porn site. The last thing the government needs is something along the lines of NBC’s hilarious Hornymanatee fiasco.

Thanks to Paul Kedrosky for the tip.

Source: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/25/biden-forgets-recoveryorgs-website-number/

How-To: Upgrade to Ubuntu 9.04 and ext4

Getting started

If you’re the kind of person who likes to give software and platforms a test drive early on then I’m sure you’ve been keeping a close eye on Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope and its fresh support for the ext4 file system.

If you’re interested in upgrading to Ubuntu 9.04 then it’s pretty painless and requires one command. Before you get started, please note that the current stage of the Ubuntu 9.04 release is still alpha.

This means that this release is not yet deemed stable and you should not be surprised if you encounter a nasty bug. That being said, I have been using Ubuntu 9.04 for a couple of alpha releases with no major problems and fast updates and fixes on a daily basis.

If you would like to wait until the final version is released then you can mark your calendars for April 23, 2009 and upgrade then. If you’re curious and ready for some exciting changes then please continue reading. ;)

Please take a look at the know issues for the latest release of Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunt Jackalope to make sure you still want to continue with the upgrade. You can find links to release news for each alpha and on up to the final release here.

Upgrade to Ubuntu 9.04

  1. Press Alt+F2 to open the run dialog.
  2. Copy and paste update-manager -d into the dialog and press enter.
  3. When the Update Manager appears, it should prompt you of the availability of an upgrade. Press the upgrade button and follow the few instructions.

After upgrading, you may need to enable hardware drivers for your video card. If you’re using nVidia, then you’ll be happy to see that driver version 180 is now recommended for Jaunty!

You may not notice, but updating your version of Ubuntu does not automatically convert your file system from ext3 to ext4. This is something you will need to manually change with a few commands.

Also note that after converting your file system to ext4, only files created after the conversion will be created in extends mode. This means that files that already exist will still be in ext3 format, but will work flawlessly with the ext4 file system. If you wish to have a complete ext4 file system then you will most likely be required to perform a fresh install of Ubuntu 9.04.

Follow updates from kernel.org on how to convert from ext3 to ext4, or refer to this page in the case that the below information becomes outdated.

Converting ext3 to ext4

To convert an existing ext3 filesystem to use ext4, use the command

$ tune2fs -O extents,uninit_bg,dir_index /dev/DEV

WARNING: Once you run this command, the filesystem will no longer be mountable using the ext3 filesystem!

After running this command, you MUST run fsck:

$ fsck -pf /dev/DEV

NOTE: by doing so, new files will be created in extents format, but this will not convert existing files. However, they can be transparently read by Ext4.

WARNING: It is NOT recommended to resize the inodes using resize2fs, as this is known to corrupt some filesystems.

Conclusion

If you’ve successfully upgraded to Ubuntu 9.04 then it’s time for you to sit back and relax!

You’ll continue to see updates to Ubuntu 9.04 that will update your system all the way up to the stable release of Ubuntu 9.04 by April 23, 2009. You will see fewer and fewer updates after this point with most of the updates being security based.

Enjoy!

Ubuntu 9.10: Karmic Koala

Ubuntu 9.10, as announced earlier today by Mark Shuttleworth, is to be named Karmic Koala.

The full announcement is quoted below, but the interesting parts to me for the Desktop version were the following:

  • Faster boot time than Jaunty Jackalope, which is aiming for 25 seconds for a total boot on a netbook (which is basically an underpowered laptop).
  • A new and shiny boot logo to compliment the release.
  • The login screen will see some interface improvements to make it integrate well with Koala.
  • The default theme for Ubuntu Karmic Koala will finally see some loving updates with the possibility of moving away from the old and boring brown themes that have been used in the past.

That’s a lot of promises for the overall look and feel of Koala, but not much talk about the improvements to the backend. Until Jaunty Jackalope is released, we may just have to wait to find out more of the goodies planned for Karmic Koala.

The Desktop features may also be announced at UDS in Barcelona from the 25th through the 29th of May, however, the announcement only suggests that by attending you will get a preview of the whole new look. This sounds to me like it’s nothing more than inspecting the boot screen, login screen and new theme ideas.

In the meantime, you can keep track of the status and progress in Karmic Koala on the Karmic Release Schedule page.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Karmic Koala, the newest member of our alliterative menagerie.

When you are looking for inspiration beyond the looming Jaunty feature freeze, I hope you’ll think of the Koala, our official mascot for Ubuntu 9.10. And if you’ll bear with me for a minute I’ll set the scene for what we hope to achieve in that time.

Server

A good Koala knows how to see the wood for the trees, even when her head is in the clouds. Ubuntu aims to keep free software at the forefront of cloud computing by embracing the API’s of Amazon EC2, and making it easy for anybody to setup their own cloud using entirely open tools. We’re currently in beta with official Ubuntu base AMI’s for use on Amazon EC2. During the Karmic cycle we want to make it easy to deploy applications into the cloud, with ready-to-run appliances or by quickly assembling a custom image. Ubuntu-vmbuilder makes it easy to create a custom AMI today, but a portfolio of standard image profiles will allow easier collaboration between people doing similar things on EC2. Wouldn’t it be apt for Ubuntu to make the Amazon jungle as easy to navigate as, say, APT?

What if you want to build an EC2-style cloud of your own? Of all the trees in the wood, a Koala’s favourite leaf is Eucalyptus. The Eucalyptus project, from UCSB, enables you to create an EC2-style cloud in your own data center, on your own hardware. It’s no coincidence that Eucalyptus has just been uploaded to universe and will be part of Jaunty – during the Karmic cycle we expect to make those clouds dance, with dynamically growing and shrinking resource allocations depending on your needs. A savvy Koala knows that the best way to conserve energy is to go to sleep, and these days even servers can suspend and resume, so imagine if we could make it possible to build a cloud computing facility that drops its energy use virtually to zero by napping in the midday heat, and waking up when there’s work to be done. No need to drink at the energy fountain when there’s nothing going on. If we get all of this right, our Koala will help take the edge off the bear market.

If that sounds rather open and nebulous, then we’ve hit the sweet spot for cloud computing futurology. Let me invite you to join the server team at UDS in Barcelona, when they’ll be defining the exact set of features to ship in October.

Desktop

First impressions count. We’re eagerly following the development of kernel mode setting, which promises a smooth and flicker-free startup. We’ll consider options like Red Hat’s Plymouth, for graphical boot on all the cards that support it. We made a splash years ago with Usplash, but it’s time to move to something newer and shinier. So the good news is, boot will be beautiful. The bad news is, you won’t have long to appreciate it! It only takes 35 days to make a whole Koala, so we think it should be possible to bring up a stylish desktop much faster. The goal for Jaunty on a netbook is 25 seconds, so let’s see how much faster we can get you all the way to a Koala desktop. We’re also hoping to deliver a new login experience that complements the graphical boot, and works well for small groups as well as very large installations.

For those of you who can relate to Mini Me, or already have a Dell Mini, the Ubuntu Netbook Edition will be updated to include all the latest technology from Moblin, and tuned to work even better on screens that are vertically challenged. With millions of Linux netbooks out there, we have been learning and adapting usability to make the Koala cuddlier than ever. We also want to ensure that the Netbook Remix installs easily and works brilliantly on all the latest netbook hardware, so consider this a call for testing Ubuntu 9.04 if you’re the proud owner of one of these dainty items.

The desktop will have a designer’s fingerprints all over it – we’re now beginning the serious push to a new look. Brown has served us well but the Koala is considering other options. Come to UDS for a preview of the whole new look.

UDS in Barcelona, 25-29 May

As always, the Ubuntu Developer Summit will be jam-packed with ideas, innovations, guests and gurus. It’s a wombat and dingbat-free zone, so if you’re looking for high-intensity developer discussions, beautiful Barcelona will be the place to rest your opposable thumbs in May. It’s where the Ubuntu community, Canonical engineers and partners come together to discuss, debate and design the Karmic Koala. The event is the social and strategic highlight of each release cycle. Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu Community Manager has more details at http://www.jonobacon.org/2009/02/19/announcing-the-karmic-koala-ubuntu-developer-summit/ including sponsorship for heavily-contributing community members.

More details of the Ubuntu Developer Summit can be found at http://wiki.ubuntu.com/UDS.

A newborn Koala spends about six months in the family before it heads off into the wild alone. Sounds about perfect for an Ubuntu release plan! I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in Barcelona, and before that, at a Jaunty release party. Till then, cheers.

Mark

I’m A LinuxTracker.org Give Away Winner!

Lately, I’ve been taking advantage of my school Internet connection speed by using it to share free Linux disk images over BitTorrent over on LinuxTracker.org such as the latest release of Debian 5.0.

As of right now, I have stats on their site of 350.68 GB upload to 5.24 GB download. This gives me a ratio of 66.94 and I think my quick status from leeching to sharing an extreme amount might have helped land me a winning spot in their 4th Anniversary Party Give Away.

According to the message I received and the forum post, it seems that I’ve won a linuxjournal/sticker pack! I think that means that I get a free subscription to Linux Journal along with some sweet Linux stickers, but until I get something in my mail box I won’t have any idea.

Opera 10: Remove ‘Click to activate’ on flash in Linux!

I’ve been working with d.i.z. as he’s found a way to hex edit Opera binaries to disable the “Click to activate” feature that Opera has implemented on flash items. I won’t get into the details of why they implemented this myself, but I’ll just quote from the post that d.i.z. made about this topic.

Some background:
Eolas (E) is a company that patented a certain way of interacting with embedded objects on web pages. This is why in Opera, you sometimes have to click (for example) a flash player to “activate” it before it can actually be controlled. That sucks.

Opera is the only browser that I know of, that currently have this annoying system in place. IE had it, but it reached to a pocket full of money to buy a license from E.

Other (open source) browsers don’t implement this mechanism because E was kind enough to commit not to pursue legal actions against open source browsers that are violating its patent. Why? I guess because it wouldn’t really be able to enforce that anyway. Builds without this future would pop up everywhere in no-time.

Now that you understand a little bit about what is going on and the feature that you can remove, I have to tell you the bad news. So far we’ve only had time to patch Windows builds and most Intel Linux and Linux x86_64 builds.

If you’re looking for the Windows patch files then head on over to d.i.z.’s blog post and grab the download there as I will not be maintaining that one.

If you’re looking for the Linux patches, then you’re at the right spot!

I’ve managed to write three script files that will do everything you want! You will only need to use one of them if you only want to patch your version. The files are as follows:

  1. Patch script
    This script obviously patches your Opera file to remove the “Click to activate” feature. You only need to run this one if you just want to remove that and forget about it. Running it more than once will not affect the file as the hex search will no longer match after being patched, so that is why it will fail if the file has already been patched.

    To use this script, run the following commands in the terminal:

    chmod +x ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10.sh
    sudo ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10.sh
  2. Switch between patched Opera and unpatched Opera script
    This file will, as it says, rename your patched file and unpatched file accordingly so that each time you run it you will be able to alternate back and forth between patched and unpatched versions. This will no longer work if you remove your unpatched version which is created and saved originally by the Patch script above.

    To use this script, run the following commands in the terminal:

    chmod +x ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10-swap-patched-unpatched.sh
    sudo ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10-swap-patched-unpatched.sh
  3. Patch removal script
    This script is a clean-up tool. If you decide for some reason that you don’t want the patch anymore and want to remove it completely, then run this script. It will delete the patched file, so switching between patched and unpatched will no longer be possible until you reapply the Patch script.

    To use this script, run the following commands in the terminal:

    chmod +x ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10-unpatcher.sh
    sudo ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10-unpatcher.sh

Please make sure that you have completely closed Opera before running any of these three scripts.

After using any of the above scripts, you are free to delete the script. You can always grab it again here if you wish, just make sure to bookmark this page!

The example usage commands that I posted are correct for Ubuntu/Debian. I’m not sure how they compare across distributions, but just make sure to make the script executable and then run the script with root privileges.

I’m sure you noticed that the file names are very long. You can feel free to rename them to anything you want to. They run independently of the file name. I just named them very descriptively to help myself keep them sorted and maintainable. ;)

As usual, if you wish to use any of these scripts then you understand that I am not responsible for any damages done to your computer (even if it explodes :P ) and you accept the responsibility on yourself to deal with any results, good or bad.

If you experience any problems with these files then please let me know in the comments. Notice that these only work so far for Intel Linux builds and Linux x86_64 (64-bit), so don’t waste your time with other builds unless you want to help extend the scripts!

Also, please notice that currently this Patch script does not work for the Intel Linux builds that were compiled with GCC 2.95, but hopefully it will be supported soon. If you’re using a build other than this that is Intel Linux or Linux x86_64 then please let me know the version you downloaded so I can look into it!

I extend a special thanks to d.i.z. for making this hex edit hack possible and helping me form these scripts in the first place!

Enjoy!

Crash logging Opera with Inspector IIXII for Linux

For those of you interested, I’ve spent a bit of my time trying to make your crashing logging life easier. ;)

After reading a post from csant‘s blog I decided to try to make the process of starting up Inspector a little less annoying by writing a Bourne shell script to automatically parse the PID and execute Inspector with the proper PID parameter for Opera.

After taking what csant had already posted (and is posted in a couple of other places) I just did a little extending that narrowed down the results to the correct one and parsed the second element divided by whitespace, which has to be the PID. It’s a fairly simple script. ;)

To get started crash logging Opera to help make it better all you need to do is download the Inspector program and create a new file named “inspectr.sh”.

Notice that I named it “inspectr” intentionally, as the linux program file is and has always been just “inspectr” so this helps keep confusion between file names down.

In the new shell file that you’ve created, copy and paste the following and save it.

#!/bin/sh

opera=`ps aux | grep opera$ | awk '{print $2}'`
if [ "$opera" != "" ]; then
./inspectr $opera
fi

After saving it, you’ll need to run the following to make it executable.

chmod +x inspectr.sh

Make sure that you saved both of the files together and also followed the instructions for setting up Inspector (really just chmod 755). After that you can just pop open a terminal, navigate to the inspector directory and run the following command to attach Inspector to the current running version of Opera.

./inspectr.sh

That’s about it! Collect those logs and make sure to send them with your bug reports!

The day the Music Died..in Ruckus

ruckus_shield

ruckus_shieldRuckus, which was once a source of free music in a legal way of obtaining it and was based on advertisements. The way that I was introduced to Ruckus was through my University and I found it to be a pretty good service even with the DRM protected content.

Over the weekend, however, I found that upon visiting Ruckus.net I was greeted with an “Unfortunately the Ruckus Service will no longer be provided” message.

At first I thought I must be at the wrong website, maybe a fake one. Nope, it’s true and it was for me without warning.

Oddly enough, I had just used the service on February 5 and it turned out that the very next day they closed their doors.

For those of you who spend a lot of time building a DRM protected library in Ruckus, I’m sorry to say that your music will slowly become unplayable. Your best bet is to find an alternative or get to cracking that protection as soon as possible. ;)

I turned to a service that I had looked into in the past, but never got around to trying. SpiralFrog will hopefully be a good replacement to Ruckus for me, but so far I’ve been disappointed to say the least with their song and artist selection of available for download tracks.

Another thing that I dislike about SpiralFrog is the fact that the download manager seems to only handle one song at a time and is fairly poor at doing even that!

Ruckus was capable of downloading multiple tracks at once and downloaded them very fast through the client which was a download manager and player all in one (a long with the advertisements).

ruckus-client

Are there any other good alternatives that I should look into that are legal and free?

WordPress 2.7.1 Released

A revision update to WordPress 2.7 has been released today with 68 fixed tickets!

As usual I immediately upgraded my version of WordPress. The upgrade is now as simple as Clicking an upgrade button and ta-da!

If you want to upgrade your version of WordPress 2.7 to 2.7.1, then just open your WordPress admin section. Under the “Tools” menu you will find an “Upgrade” option. Click “Upgrade” and on the next page just click to automatically upgrade!

It is still suggested that you backup your database, however, I ran into no problems during my upgrade process and the entire upgrade took approximately 5 seconds.

For those of you using a version of WordPress prior to 2.7, you will not have the luxury of a built-in automatic update, but you can still use a plugin to automatically upgrade for you. Just make sure to deactivate the plugin later if you intend to use the built-in upgrade tool in the future, otherwise you will see a message similar to the following when attempting to upgrade:

Fatal error: Cannot redeclare class pclzip in /../wp-admin/includes/class-pclzip.php on line 171

Enjoy the easy upgrade tool and WordPress 2.7.1!