Ubuntu and Java

Update: This post is a bit redundant now. Please read this post for more information.

I’ve been installing Ubuntu Linux on most of my computers (one to go). One thing that gives the shits about Debian-based distros is Java support (or the lack thereof). To get a java runtime installed, add this line to your /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb http://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/pub/java-linux/debian unstable main non-free

Other mirrors can be found here.

And then apt-get install j2re1.4. Too easy! This gives you Blackdown Java for Linux.

Remote syslogging

Today I was setting up centralised syslogging at work to some plain old syslogd server. I’ve only really setup up centralised syslogging with syslog-ng before.

Anyway, in the syslogd man page, is said to send the syslogs of a server to both the central syslog server and locally, with entries like this in /etc/syslog.conf:

*.info;mail.none;authpriv.none;cron.none /var/log/messages,@hostname

For some reason that didn’t work at all. Depending on how I did it, it either only went to the central syslog server, or it just wouldn’t log at all. I ended up having to do it like this:

*.info;mail.none;authpriv.none;cron.none /var/log/messages
*.info;mail.none;authpriv.none;cron.none @hostname

I managed to find that piece of information on the LinuxSA mailing list.


Yeah, baby. Got to get me one of these sweet IBM OpenPower servers. OK, I know, they’re pretty much a pSeries without the AIX license, but hey. Its niiiice. Now I can have a 64-bit Power series CPU machine without having to pay any money for an AIX or OSX license.

I do wonder whether this server without the AIX license is a response the ongoing SCO vs IBM nonsense


Reading this article over at Wired makes me all sentimental. It reminds of when I first started buying Wired, and when I first started working in IT. Everything felt so new, exciting and crazy promises like being able to run any application on any operating system on any hardware platform with very little overhead, like Transitive Corporation are promising with their QuickTransit “hardware virtualization” product.

I’ll believe it when I see it…

Stateless Linux

This sounds interesting, Stateless Linux.

the goal: a uniform framework to cover all common ways of instantiating a centralized OS install read-only on multiple physical or virtual computers

This could be great for some of the server environments we have here at work. The IBM blade servers come to mind immediately for me, but I guess it doesn’t need to be just for that. Anyway, here’s the fedora-devel-list announcement, a proposal PDF document, a How To and some rpm packages.


I nice piece of software that I haven’t come across before is Synergy, which is I guess acts as a virtual KVM for two or more computers. Swapping control between the computers (Windows, Linux, various Un*xes and Mac OS X) is as easy as moving your mouse to the edge of the screen onto the other one. And it supports full cut and paste between the two computers. And its free.

RPM Packaging

I’ve been occasionally making RPM packages, but I’ve only really followed the method of packaging stuff that came from a tar-ball that needed compiling. Yesterday at work I needed to package a static-binary for some hardware infomation gathering program we use here, and for the life of me I couldn’t find any documentation on how to do it easily for such files. All the howto’s (and even the bloody book I spent all my cash on) didn’t seem to be dispensing much wisdom on it.

After digging through some of Dag Wieers .spec files, I managed to find that using install to install the files from $RPM_BUILD_DIR to $RPM_BUILD_ROOT in the %install stanza of the spec file seems to be the goods (well atleast on my laptop running FC1).


I finally got around to setting up Hylafax on my server at home the other day so that we don’t keep wasting paper with all these darn fax mailing lists that Dad’s fax number seems to be stuck on. I couldn’t figure out why the bloody thing wasn’t answering, so I decided to RTFM. Looks like faxgetty wasn’t running. Once I spawned that, I needed to add it in /etc/inittab like this:

t2:23:respawn:/usr/local/sbin/faxgetty ttyS1

ttyS1 is the second serial port.

GNOME 2.7.x

Dopplereffekt running GNOME 2.7.x
I updated to GNOME 2.7.x last night from Nyquist’s RPM repository, prompted by PhotoMatt’s post on GNOME 2.8. I’m also using jdub’s Indubstrial theme, which has been “suggested” to be the standard theme for GNOME 2.8. Also running is RealPlayer 10 streaming C-B-S. So far it seems to be very stable. Actually the most stable I’ve ever seen GNOME (not to say that it hasn’t been stable for a while). But considering that the PC that its running on has a PIII 733Mhz CPU, I’m pretty impressed.

Setting the default browser in Thunderbird

For some reason (well I guess its only version 0.5), but in Mozilla Thunderbird under Linux, there’s currently no simple way of setting your default browser. To set it, you have to update your user.js file with this setting:

user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.http", "/path/to/browser");
user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.https", "/path/to/browser");
user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.ftp", "/path/to/browser");

This information is also referenced here.

Sniffing JPEGs over the wire

Not to be outdone by BJ with all his fancy schmacy Mac OS X program Etherpeg, I figured there just had to be a Linux equivalent. Well, luckily there was in the form of Driftnet. Easy to install with it only requiring libpcap, libjpeg, libungif and GTK to get build. Oh, and a root password to let the adapter doing the sniffing to drop into promiscuous mode, but you already had that right? 😉

Here’s an example of it running on my laptop:

Driftnet screenshot

Unfortunately since we’re running on a switched network here at work, I can’t sniff anyone else except myself. Perhaps I’ll have to try it out over wireless in the cafeteria here at work. 8)

The little things

Somedays, its nice just to stumble across a little program or utility that makes you day just that little bit easier. Potrace by Peter Selinger is one of those great little programs. Potrace traces a bitmap and then transforms the bitmap into a smooth, scalable image. At the moment Potrace can output the file as an EPS, PostScript, SVG (scalable vector graphics), and PGM file. Very useful for when you want to do something with some crusty old gif file or something, and you can’t be assed tracing by hand in Illustrator or something. Here’s an example of a file that I converted:

Drexciyan Gill Man (before)

Drexciyan Gill Man (before)
Drexciyan Gill Man (after)

Drexciyan Gill Man (after)

And its nice to see that its available for Linux, Sun Solaris, Apple Mac OS X, FreeBSD, NetBSD, AIX and Windows.

Xinerama and an IBM ThinkPad T40

My desktop
Fitting in the category of “it shouldn’t be this bloody hard” was getting my IBM ThinkPad T40 working in Xinerama mode under Linux. My laptop is currently setup with Redhat Linux 9.0 and all the latest updates. I’ve been wrestling with it for a while to get it working. Every site I’ve had a look at seems to have a slightly different setup in their XF86Config with never seemed to work for me. Most users who use Xinerama seem to be either Debian or Mandrake users, so that might be the reason.

Anyhow, here is my XF86Config file. Currently it only has support for doing straight Xinerama, nothing else. When I get the chance I’ll update it and write a script to detect the prescence of an external display using tpctl so it can decide whether to go dualhead or not.

Update: It would seem that cursors aren’t working correctly with them being displayed in black and white instead of the full colour that they’re supposed to. Also there appears to be a bug with Yahoo! Messenger with it hanging whenever someone messages me. 🙁

Update 20/02/04: Alright. No need to fudge around with detecting the second display. It would seem GDM (or is it XFree86?) is smart enough these days to figure out whether the second display is there or not.